Friday, 27 April 2007


I tried to post a comment on witchywoo's thread to point out that these blog wars DO affect real life activism, but it didn't make it through. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Anyway, here it is, with some grammatical clean-ups and clarifications:

verte // Apr 26th 2007 at 9:34 pm (edit)

I’m a latecomer to this, and I want to point out something:

These blog wars DO affect feminist activism in ‘real-life’. I was one of the organisers of that workshop at Ladyfest.

It was a workshop on porn and censorship. I am anti-censorship, but my stance on porn is neutral and I advocate massive changes to the sex industry. When Charliegrrrl went digging aruond she noted that two of the organisers are also part of the BDSM community and therefore our views on porn were misinterpreted as being ‘extreme’ pro-porn, which was unfair and untrue. A press release was eventually put out to every newspaper and magazine, naming and shaming us, again conflating and misinterpreting us and Ladyfest organisers.

It went on and on, and some of the insults hurled our way were distressing and unpleasant. I admit I said some pretty angry things on Charliegrrl’s blog, but I felt she was personally insulting and targeting me, and also told an outright lie about a speech I gave at another feminist event. I admit it - I got angry and defensive. I did not agree with everything said by the BDSM community either, to be honest, but that's the problem: I sit in the middle. To begin with we - both Ladyfest organisers and workshop facilitators - attempted to communicate with and invite anti-porn feminists to take part in the discussion by email, but were met by silence or dismissal.

What was most ridiculous about the whole furore is that BDSM was hardly brought up at all in the workshop - because it was on, guess what, PORN AND CENSORSHIP. So why did it matter what our personal sexual preferences were? Why was a big deal made of that in the OBJECT press release and on the blogs, and why did Charliegrrl and co carry on lying despite being told they had misinterpreted our stance on porn? To be honest, it made me and other SM feminists angry. Really angry. It was obviously slanderous, but because comments were censored we had no chance to defend ourselves. Sorry, I got defensive in my own space. I apologise to Charlie for accusing her of shouting at me at a conference if it wasn't her. It's just very odd that the picture of her in a newspaper and the girl who made me cry in front of 150 people looked startlingly similar, and others agreed..

Eventually a threat was made over on Theda's blog saying there were going to be attempts made to sabotage the workshop. Whether this was intended as a joke or not, Ladyfest spotted it and had no choice but to take it seriously and warn the venue. So Ladyfest (which IS a third wave feminist event, to be honest) ended up wasting over £100 on security because the venue demanded it. £100 which was supposed to go to charities promoting gender equality.

So you see, this shit DOES affect stuff in the real world. It isn’t just about hurt feelings. Please, no more threats, no more convenient lies - from either side. When it affects our collective efforts, the things we all agree on and fight against, it’s really, really not worth it.


So there is is. I want to post more succinctly on why I have some personal issues with radical feminist activism because, I'm afraid, I was rejected, chastised and pushed away when my sexual preferences were 'outed', and it's only recently I've had the courage to try and stand up for myself and other feminists who don't fit exactly into the rad fem mould.

But that's for later.

While I remember, here's another speaker, Sofie, from the same panel at Fightback writing on the Ladyfest furore:

Feminists who ally with the right

Aaaand, here's Ladyfest's statement on the whole thing:

Ladyfest's position on the Feminism, Censorship and Pornography workshop


Trinity said...

I'm beginning to think we should just ignore them. If I could think of some way to protect Ren from the potential outing that being discussed, I would do it. But I think that the people in question are absolutely convinced that what they're doing is OK. No amount of making drama is going to calm them down, and making it may just be likely to bring the hammer down on our friends.

belledame222 said...

well--treat them like any other trolls or disruptors, i guess.

belledame222 said...

...what's important isn't appealing to their nonexistent reason or empathy; what's important is making sure the audience is on your side, and not just inclined to write the whole thing off as "infighting" when it really does involve one faction actively going out of its way to harass the other.

Cassandra Says said...

What's troubling me about all this is that it's starting to look like a pattern. Whether or not the women who made Verte cry during a debate was Charliegrrl, it was clearly someone coming from the same philisophical position, and CG clearly doesn't care that Verte was hurt by what happened. The thread at WWs place is full of people who are quite willing to hurt Ren to get what they want. And the question then is this feminism?
I know I keep banging on the same drum, and it's partly because I have a lot of contact with younger women (mid teens through mid twenties) and hear what they say about feminism, but...we can't afford to just ignore these people. We can't afford to ignore them because in the eyes of the mainstream they ARE feminism. Most people think that the issues those women focus on are the only ones any of us care about. Sure, it's a dumb stereotype, but it's out there, and I think that all the recent crap is all abuot making sure that things stay that way. A small group of radfems has siezed the microphone and is actively trying to silence other feminists, to make sure that their voices are the ones that get heard. That's a problem, not least because it's turning young women away from feminism in droves.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Cassandra, in that the "radfem" side have succeeded in the past in setting their agenda as being the public face of feminism, to the extent that some media will question whether it is possible to be "true" feminist and question the "radfem" perspective - if they do present an alternative feminist viewpoint, it is always with a subtext of "look what an unusual creature we've found"

Partly, I suppose, it would be possible to ascribe this to patriarchal propaganda: present the challenge to the existing order as being extremist, fanatical, absurd; but partly, it is also to do with the fact that the "radfems" seem very willing to scream at the tops of their voices to get attention.

I am not sure we need to engage directly with them, though - it isn't possible to ignore them completely, but the best path forward may be just to make sure we have loud voices too, expressing a different model of feminist thought from theirs.

belledame222 said...

I think though that the best way to counter this is to work harder on building a movement of our own; and/or join up with already-existent movements, build coalitions. Yes, you can't just ignore them; but you also can't just keep reacting to them, because it lets them frame the terms of the debate. know what I'm saying?

belledame222 said...

uh, iow, what sde said, pretty much.

as per just ignore--i mean, there are different "thems." i don't think it's wise to "just ignore" someone at the level of a Catherine MacKinnon, say; on the other hand i think the fappings of some internet fool(s) who clearly can't find their ass with both hands and a map and no one's really paying attention to them anyway--well, it's time at least to maybe "examine" what we're really getting out of engaging with them.

because, there's "stuff that impacts the body politic," and then there's "working out our own shit via intranets flamewars."

and i'm not saying those things are so very easily delineated, mind you;

nonetheless, i am more and more convinced that they are in fact two different things.

belledame222 said...

btw, verte, what's going on with the "let them eat..." space?

Kim said...

Just found you!
Expect to be making you my regular reading from now on.

Katie/David said...


I discovered charliegrrl's blog last week, by accident. If you'd like to find out what happened when I posted a comment as an openly transgendered person, please click on the link to my website below:
Thank you & best wishes

Katie/David said...

Apologies! Link is on my name above:)