I ran Cross Country in high school. Hence the lame joke.
My offline experiences with self-identified radical feminists have tended to be very positive. Someone whom I consider a mentor is a radical feminist and a heavyweight thinker and academic (and a damn fine human being). A lot of my own thinking about life in general has been shaped by amiable back-and-forth discussions with radical feminists and about radical feminism. And even during times of disagreement and strife and mistrust (the Duke Lacrosse case comes to mind) – somehow, in the offline world, civility was still the standard.
So you can understand how baffling and distressing it is for me to enter the world of radical feminist blogging, and read comments like the ones in this thread (scroll down to #21 to see what I mean).
Now, for a bit of context, blogger Renegade Evolution recently had a horrible day at work (please proceed with caution here – the description of what went on is jarring to say the least). She was harassed, threatened, subject to vulgar, racist, and sexist insults, and had to leave the gig early. She is a stripper. When she wrote about what happened, she received sympathy from her regular readers, as well as from radical feminist bloggers with whom she had conflicts in the past. She also, of course, received anonymous comments that framed her experience in the crushingly familiar rhetoric of “you basically asked for it.” It didn’t take long for the situation to degenerate.
Some of the results of that degeneration can be read here.
The Internet was created fairly recently, blogs even more so, but already it feels as though these blog-wars are as old as the world.
Here’s my (fairly uncomplicated, I think) take on this situation: a sex-worker posting about a terrible experience is not automatically “running to the rad fems” or whatever. Framing the issue is such is pretty damn presumptuous and, oh, the irony, completely paternalistic.
I personally don’t think that Renegade Evolution has an overarching problem with all radical feminism. I think she has a problem with certain bloggers who have decided that they alone represent radical feminism – or, for that matter, any form of “real” feminism in general. I think this situation once again proves that the invocation of feminism can be used against people in damaging, hurtful ways, if the situation presents itself. Funnily enough, a radical feminist WOC cautioned me about this, years ago.
A Dalek by any other name…