Thoughts, ramblings and musings....Where to begin today. As a blogger not only do I write Womanist Musings, I enjoy visiting other blogs. What I have noticed is that some people (and you know who you are) love to derail a perfectly good post by making it all about them, or they insist on having some ridiculous point validated. that is not central to theme presented for discussion. It's not cute, or amusing. What it is, is classic silencing behaviour.
It is quite easy to write a blog about basket weaving, or the latest recipe, but to truly engage with people and challenge their perceptions takes courage and commitment. Society loves the conformist and blogging is no different. We do not embrace originality in thought, or deed because we have embraced the cult of docility. The status quo is safe and for those existing with social privilege it is advantageous to maintain.
Time and time again when WOC attempt to engage in the feminist blogosphere, we are silenced. When we dare to demand that our experiences be validated, our knowledge is discounted. We are held to a different standard with a larger requirement for factual data than is demanded of other bloggers. Of course we are told that this is all about standards.
The elusive standards...why is it that WOC never seem to meet the standard? If you dare to speak about race, and what it means to your life, you are an ABW (angry black woman). If you speak about class, clearly you are not rational because capitalism is working so well. If you dare to speak about women, well you don't classify as one. To see oneself daily othered for the maintenance of privilege is a difficult thing for the heart to bear.
The internet is supposed to be the great equalizer. Everyone with a modem can potentially have their say...well you can have your say, but unless it is reflective of dominant social ideas you will be dismissed and discounted. We are constantly lectured about our tone as though our anger, or thought process has no basis in reality. It is not our tone that is problematic but our message. Even if I were to use the softest, most flowery language to articulate my point, the message would still be dismissed because to embrace me, or women like me, would mean owning your privilege and admitting the ways in which you profit from our social positioning.
When white women strip and loudly protest in the streets for PETA, they are not called angry women. When white environmentalist tie themselves to trees to protest clear cutting. they are not called angry. Anger is used against WOC as a means to keep us from articulating our point.
The other common silencing tactic is quite passive aggressive and could pass as the comforting words of the ally to the uninitiated. A WOC will invest her time writing a particularly moving piece. only to have white people relate it their lives, once again making their experience the referential. You cannot learn to unpack your privilege if you constantly refer to yourself. The only way to truly learn is to listen to the experiences of WOC and validate our truths. When I wrote about black women and our hair, I was rewarded with a discussion of white people and dread locks. There was barely any acknowledgement that this was counter to the topic at hand, or of the co option that had taken place. Some people do not truly seek to learn, they seek to reinforce the audacity of whiteness.
I post this today not to point fingers, or make accusations. It is simply a record of my observations. Just as in real life, the online exchange continues to privilege certain bodies. Even those that claim to be liberal and progressive still actively seek to maintain the status quo. They present themselves dogmatically with an air of didactic formality, however the real message is not in what is produced but how they respond to the writings of others. Principles only mean something when you stand behind them in all circumstances.