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