Hellooooo! Dear god, where does the time go? I did spend a considerable amount of it putzing around on Tumblr (I deleted mine in the interest of not wasting any more time on the internet than I had to). While I did see some fairly interesting discussions, I eventually became disillusioned with the sheer number of times I saw social justice language applied to utter nonsense. Hey, you know what “singlet privilege” is? It’s when your parents refuse to acknowledge you’re sharing a body with anime characters. MOOOOOOOOM!
I also, unfortunately, became more familiar with s.e. smith. While it’s true I don’t really care for most professional internet feminists (and yes, I know s.e. smith doesn’t identify as a feminist, but ou still seems to write quite a bit about it), that’s mostly because I think their writing is not very good/creative and just tends to go the easy route of “glancing blows at wide-open targets.” (A good example of this is Tiger Beatdown’s post on the Song of Ice and Fire series, which sorta-kinda broadly covers the main issues with George Martin’s treatment of women, but also grossly misinterprets a lot of stuff and totally ignores what I thought were some obviously objectionable storylines, because…I don’t know, reading is hard, and why bother when you can skim things and dash off something snarky that will automatically make 10,000 people internet-high-five you?)
smith’s e-fame, on the other hand, is something I actually find kind of troubling, because so many of ou’s written pieces reflect what I see as the toxic runoff of internet social justice. This horrible piece on mental illness, for example, in which smith basically upbraids strangers for not wanting to act as ou’s therapists. While I certainly don’t think that people who act “crazy” in public should be mocked or belittled, there is something to be said for managing one’s mental illness and not expecting randos to come up and help you. If I see someone displaying mental illness symptoms, I will feel bad for them and hope they get what they need. But I am not going to try to help them because I have no context for how they got like this. Abusive family? Toxic social environment? Just the demons in their own head taking over? I. DON’T. KNOW. And speaking as a (recovered! don’t fret!) self-injurer, I think that smith needs to stop speaking for me right the fuck now when ou mourns the fact that people ou barely knows won’t acknowledge ou’s self-injury scars. You know what I like? When people don’t bring that up, because either they don’t think it’s worth commenting on (because I am more than my crazy) or they know that those scars are from a very dark and sad time in my life that I don’t want to discuss right at that moment. Also, I don’t bring up other people’s scars for the same reasons, and because I find such discussions triggering. Hi, s.e. smith, sometimes the way other people manage their crazy precludes everything being about you.
And ou’s criticisms of feminism make me want to spew burrito chunks. Now, if you don’t want to do the work of reading the rest of this blog to find this out, I will state right here that I am all for criticizing the shortcomings of feminist movements when it comes to intersectionality. I think it’s crucial to do so in order for feminism to stay relevant and evolve. So, my gripe with smith is not that. My gripe is this: in pieces like this one, smith names famous feminists who have said and done some awful things, and rightly calls them out on it…but totally fails to acknowledge that women (some who ID as feminist, some who don’t) have been voicing criticisms of these folks for years. In fact, ou implies that these criticisms have yet to happen: “Until we start talking about this, until we start exploring the roots of the feminist movement and the origins that lie behind some problematic feminist thought, we cannot even begin to hope to create a truly intersectional feminist movement.”
“START TALKING ABOUT THIS”?! LOLOLOLOLOL but seriously, fuck that shit. We don’t need to “start talking about this,” we need to acknowledge women like Sandy Stone, bell hooks, Chandra Mohanty, Angela Davis, Uma Narayan, and so forth, who have spent quite a bit of time deconstructing the -isms within feminism, and we need to continue that dialogue. Oh, but why admit that these criticisms of feminism have been voiced already when that would detract from your Internet Social Justice fame?
Weirdly, smith said it best: “Privilege is not having to bother naming the people you take from, and getting away with it.” Yeah, so like how you mention the writer of “The Transsexual Empire” with nary a peep about “The Empire Strikes Back”? Or how you mention Mary Daly without mentioning Audre Lorde’s well-publicized open letter (to name ONE of the many criticisms of Daly I’ve seen that are far from recent)? You know, those people who were articulating anger at these ideas before you were born, and whose anger you appropriate but don’t acknowledge? Yeeeeah.
And do not get me started on “queerplatonic.” It’s called “friendship,” you try-hard assholes.