Dear X, I Once Said That I Hope You Never Change

The name of the person I am addressing has been removed from this post, per request. I sincerely regret the fact that my language contributed to the idea that plagiarism was involved (I wouldn’t be equipped to comment on plagiarism in any way shape or form, as a matter of fact). HOWEVER, appropriation is NOT some “fall-back position” I utilized for the sake of character assassination. This is NOT some dumbass tit-for-tat.

In light of that comment, I am feeling like quite the dumbass at the moment.

X, you are a gifted individual, and I would like to consider you an ally. Hence it is especially frustrating for me to observe you using someone else’s ideas without so much as a simple acknowledgment.

You know what I’m talking about, what others are talking about too. This is stealing, and stealing sucks (No, I am not making the accusation of plagiarism, and I want to make that very clear. I am talking about appropriation.).

Please change, X. For the love of God

People like Bfp have been sounding the alarm as to the crimes perpetrated against immigrants and WoC’s and immigrant WoC’s for years now. As an immigrant and naturalized citizen, I find that these issue hit close to home for me as well. We should all be in this together, but appropriating another person’s thoughts and hard work with nary a nod in their direction is going to achieve just the opposite.

Speaking of immigrants, I noticed Twisty has given a review of your book, and took the trouble to quote this particular tidbit:

Once a Nice Guy has slid into racist fetishizing, he is usually unsalvageable. The best thing you can do is wait until he brings home potential mail-order brides from Russia and slip them pamphlets explaining how to get a green card outside of marrying a Nice Guy.

You know, a lot of Slavic women come to the States and make mince-meat out of the men who “order” them as if they’re at a buffet. I’ve met several women like that. I’ve also met several women who met potential husbands through online dating portals, got to know them (as opposed to just sending them their bra size), got married, and lived happily ever after – with kids, and barbecues, and watergun-fights on sunny beaches.

Finally, having also encountered a guy hunting a runaway mail-order bride (think they’ll make THAT one into a cutesy Julia Roberts movie?) with a gun, I have to say that seeing this entire phenomenon being used as a throwaway punchline in mainstream feminist circles makes me feel like punching a hole in the wall, or a hole in the fabric of space-time, or something equally drastic.

I haven’t read your book, X, having been abroad and unable to settle down in one place long enough to actually begin ordering books again, so for all I know, you’ve actually included a thoughtful word or two about foreign mail-order brides outside of how they might impact an American woman’s dating pool (and yes, I’ve noticed you advise women to give out unspecified pamphlets… can you blame me for thinking you were being flippant there?).

If you haven’t – well, I know you’re not Santa Claus, you can’t span the globe in one night and deliver penetrating insight on every feminist issue in existence – though then I’d have to wonder as to why mention the phenomenon at all, if not for the sake of instructing the American feminist on how to condescend to (as opposed to actually engage) the unwashed and unenlightened huddled masses.

Once more, with feeling:

Please change. You can, and should, do better.

24 thoughts on “Dear X, I Once Said That I Hope You Never Change

  1. I would be careful not to believe every accusation tossed around. I outlined the piece on Tuesday on our editorial call—before the conference. Did not see BFP’s speech. Wrote my piece over the weekend. Sent it to the editor, and then later saw BFP’s piece. Thought, “Well, interesting that a lot of people are piecing it together at once, but that makes sense, since it’s in the news so much.”

    I really want to be very open and generous, but it’s not easy when people are resorting to accusing you of stuff you didn’t do.

  2. Amanda, this isn’t strictly about Bfp’s speech. She has written SO MUCH about the issue, and I clearly see her ideas reflected in your piece.

    I am not accusing you of plagiarism, I don’t think I even know the proper definition (I learned high-falutin’ concepts in school… but then drinking came along, har har).

    I DO think it’s important to give credit to the person who has been there for so, so long, before anyone was paying ANY attention (hell, I wasn’t paying attention and I AM a bloody immigrant).

  3. I DO think it’s important to give credit to the person who has been there for so, so long, before anyone was paying ANY attention

    Indeed. How hard is it to say, “As feminists like ____ have been saying for a long time,”–and include a link? It’s just polite.

    When I cover issues and I’m not exactly sure where other folks’ ideas start and mine begin, I just say, hey, I didn’t notice this before reading….links, links links. (Because that’s the truth.) It’s just a *nice* gesture.

    Our politics did NOT spring from the forehead of Zeus (Hera), you know.

  4. I agree with Natalia. It’s not about nit-picking the timing around BFP’s speech. It’s about recognizing that she’s blogged about this long before the speech, and acknowledging that out of respect and ethics. She’s been linked and discussed enough for authoritative feminist bloggers to be well aware.

    Additionally, even if the info was outlined before the speech, a glance at the program and realization that the speech did occur should have been enough to give credit to it. The fact that this didn’t happen is problematic, no matter how one slices and dices the timeframes.

  5. ::Rolls eyes::

    It’s not all that hard, even after recognizing an “oversight” on your part, Amanda, to amend whatever statements you’ve made with links, or notations, or nods to people who’ve been blogging about your latest shiny topic for years, made countless posts and speeches about it, and bring their words and analysis to the masses. A link is a pretty easy thing to do, after all. It’s also something the majority of bloggers do, yet it seems painful for you to actually create one sometimes. Why? I’m sorry, I simply can’t buy that you had no clue whatsoever that folk like bfp blog and speak about issues such as these all the time.

    And we can’t really act like this isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened with you, either, because it’s not.

    I mean really, how hard is it to share the ‘love’ and all?

  6. Sigh.

    Instead of feeling accused, as though the whole universe revolved around you, Amanda, why don’t you, I don’t know, *examine* your fucking behavior to see if maybe the jillions of people pointing something out may be right?

    How hard would it be to include something like, “this issue, blogged about extensively by bfp,” in your piece? Or would that take the spotlight off of the brave young white feminist crusader, coming to the rescue of the WOC?

  7. You know what I really love? How -quickly- Amanda manages to descend on posts that have her name in the title and attempt to do damage control; that, -that- you have time for, you betcha.

    Amanda, I know you’re not that dense unless wilfully so; but okay, let’s say you -really don’t get what people are saying here-. Go rent “Bring It On” as a remedial lesson, hm?

  8. “Well, interesting that a lot of people are piecing it together at once, but that makes sense, since it’s in the news so much.”

    *** “…people are piecing it together at once…”***

    No, “people” are NOT “piecing it together at once”. SOME people have been living it their whole lives. SOME people have been blogging about it for nearly two years and have had certain other people comment on said posts, so those people should GIVE CREDIT to the person from whom this ever even hit their radar to begin with. It was not just last week that people began to piece this issue together, but perhaps only last week that certain people decided it was a sexy enough issue to matter to them, while it’s still a “hot” topic.

  9. To be fair, she’s never desecended upon my blog when mentioned. Hostile territory and all. But yes, precious, we sees things, we sees!

  10. No, “people” are NOT “piecing it together at once”. SOME people have been living it their whole lives.

    I think Aaminah is making a very important point.

    Personally, I have been very lucky. I came to the United States legally, and was eventually granted citizenship.

    But I know the sheer terror of having my life tied up in paperwork (in fact, am going through that right now, since some of my important paperwork appears to be missing). Knowing that it can be much, much worse just scares the living hell out of me.

    For a very long time, I refused to believe it was systematic, even though I myself heard stories that made my blood run cold. But it is out there, all right, and has been for a long, long time.

  11. Also, on the mail order bride comments, I think it dovetails nicely with the whole “coming to the rescue” theme that people of a certain ilk like to play.

    Because a mail order bride would *need* Twisty or X to give them some pamphlets and come save them with feminism, just like undocumented immigrants *need* X to write an article in alternet, WOC would *need* Seal Press to publish them, etc, etc.

    This video comes to mind.

  12. “The name of the person I am addressing has been removed from this post, per request.”

    …just a note on keeping someone’s identity somewhat anonymous… Amanda’s name is in the URL for this post.

  13. Sorry, but unless I get a specific request from “X” to remove her name (and even then, I might claim “fair use” rights since it’s her article and her theft), her original name stays on the title of my post. Whatever arraignments may exist between “X” and other bloggers are theirs and theirs alone; I retain my own rights and my own words.

    If you want to delete the trackback that contains “X”‘s real name in the title and the brief excerpt, Natalia, that’s fine with me, though…I will simply add the link to my own entry here.


  14. And….it should be noted in the record that it was BfP, not “X”, who came up with the idea of using the latter to describe the person being addressed in this essay; mostly to avoid the pretension of the important debate being reduced down to an individual piefight. In fact, “X” was only mentioned tangentally in BfP’s original article; and only by proxy; her real name was never mentioned at all.


  15. A store in Toronto called ‘Good For Her’ sent me a press release regarding their Third Annual Feminist Porn Awards… a friend of mine is an advocate for “sex-trade workers” in Toronto. I’d be curious in your reaction (if any) to this:

    According to their site ‘Good For Her’ is “Toronto’s cozy, comfortable and accessible place where women and their admirers can find a variety of high quality sex toys, books, DVDs, workshops, sensual art, and much more.”

    The biography’s at the bottom of the page are really interesting…

  16. I came to this post via your comment about it on Feministe.

    I’m Filipina, so you can imagine that I, too, am disgusted by the casual cutesy use of the mail-order bride in the snippet quoted. AUGH.

    Yet another reason to avoid the book & its author.

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