A word on intersectionality, comment moderation and our love for Jessica.

I write this entry with a broken heart. The cumulative effect of hatred spewed via the internet inevitably bogs you down. In light of the conversations surrounding Jessica’s book, I just wanted to touch on some of the issues that have come up. I am going to admit first and foremost, I haven’t read all of them and I am not going to cite any people, just some themes that are coming up and the feelings they are bringing up for me.
Specifically, why is Jessica the face of Feministing? I have been writing for Feministing for 2 years. I am a woman of color and have consistently written about intersectionality in rigorous and radical ways. It seems to me, the only people that have noticed are my enemies, who have grilled me alive when they can. Some blogs calling out Feministing for a lack of intersectional analysis makes me feel like my voice has been erased and silenced. As have the voices of the women of color that write for Feministing and are written about at Feministing. This critique on the “whiteness” of Feministing is doing that which it seeks to ameliorate–erase the voices and contributions of women of color.
That said, I am not a token. I am not here to talk about all WOC voices. My being here doesn’t inherently fix or solve the white-centered nature of the political blogosphere (please believe). And my brown-ness doesn’t make me the spokesperson for all things brown, and similarly Jessica or the other white ladies, spokespeople for whites only. To discount the contributions of all the women that write for Feministing, while upholding Jessica as the embodiment of all that is wrong with Feministing and feminism, erases our contributions and ignores the fact that we are all working TOGETHER. What does it mean when Jessica is singled out for blame for posts or threads that we ALL take responsibility for?
All of the women that write for Feministing, from DAY ONE, have incorporated an intersectional analysis (please go back to archives and read). All of the writers at Feministing believe that a race, class and sexuality lens is necessary to inform our feminist action and writing. It’s an integral part of our work, evidenced not only by what we write and how we write it, but also by who we bring in to work with us and the connections and collaborations we seek on the ground. To argue otherwise not only feels dismissive to us, it feels intensely hurtful and wrong.
The thing with blogs is that you pick who is most heard. We just do our thing and other people link to our work. What does it mean if Jessica is not the only reason Feministing is popular? That perhaps, Vanessa, Ann, Celina, Jen and myself, have had a hand in the popularization and circulation of some of our most controversial posts. It means that Feministing isn’t just one perspective. It means that we have all said things that matter in a variety of arenas and in a variety of ways.
We are one blog, one group blog, we are NOT the holy grail of feminism. All the writers here draw from a variety of authors, feminists, writers and experiences. There is no central conversation, everything is a tangent to something else that someone else wrote and our reflections to it. My voice as a women of color is integrated to the greatest extent that ANY voice can be integrated into a blog. Everything is a tangent, an intervention, an analysis, a (dare I say) BLOG POST.
It seems that some of the frustration is with the way our comments threads go, sometimes unmoderated and frequently offensive. It is important to note that we do not reflect the opinions of people in comments. That is the point of comments, that they are a diverse array of opinions. This is something we have been talking about and dealing with for a long time at Feministing and have yet to come to a solid understanding of what to do. We do not want to silence diverse opinions, but it is hard to find a balance between a dialectical dialog versus things we happen to disagree with (that make us and many of our supportive readers, upset). If one thing can be said about the ladies here at Feminsting, we very passionately believe in the things we write about. So it makes moderating comments very, very challenging.
We have hit a space where it feels like, we are damned if we do, damned if we don’t. For some people, Jessica has come to embody (similar to Amanda, Jill and myself in the neocon blogosphere) all that is wrong with feminism and Feministing, when she is just ONE PERSON, who also worked her ass off and was in the right place at the right time, and yes, wrote a book. She is one voice and one perspective. As my friend just mentioned to me, “she’s become iconic. She’s no longer a real person. Despite the intimacy of blogging, who she really is is no longer relevant to the discussion.” She has become a convenient target.
Critique of white feminism is necessary to keep movement alive. It is true that certain voices get to the top, but there are a variety of factors for that–and white-ness is one of them. But what if we stop to think about what some of the other ones might be? Why is it that I might get a book deal? What are all the rest of us are doing over here? THEN WHAT? DO WE WIN THEN?
No, we don’t. Clearly this is difficult terrain to navigate as it is fueled with not just our politics but our intimate and dearly held feelings. There is no winner, just the vain hope of getting somewhere with what we are doing. If we fail to look at greater systemic issues (like why white women are positioned where they are verses women of color, or WHO decides the marketing of images, products and books) as opposed to hating on someone, who you don’t know, then we all lose.
All of that said, I also want to say, “JESSICA I LOVE YOU and I APPRECIATE ALL OF THE WORK YOU HAVE DONE.”

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57 Comments

  1. Ann
    Posted May 20, 2007 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    Yes, yes, and yes. This is an amazing post, and I could not have said it better. I am so proud to stand behind this statement with you.
    Thanks.

  2. Vanessa
    Posted May 20, 2007 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    I as well. Brava, Samhita..and Jessica as well, for being the fantastic feminist that you are.

  3. Posted May 20, 2007 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

    Samhita, Jessica and the rest of the feministing crew. Thank you for your amazing work. You are taking on so much, and you say wise, brave things all the time. This is damn hard work and you women do it so well. It makes me proud to be a third wave feminist. You all rock. With admiration and encouragement and thanks, Elizabeth

  4. astrid
    Posted May 20, 2007 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    This was very sad to read. I am so glad you guys are here, because I feel like in most feminist circles I’m not feministy-enough to hang out with them or something, but I feel like I’m welcomed here, even though I rarely ever comment. Thanks all of you for doing what you do.

  5. Charity
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 12:36 am | Permalink

    Ditto what I said in the Jessica-interview-thread. Thank you all for your work here and especially Samhita for posts like this which are so poignant.
    For what it’s worth, I’m no expert and I don’t have any particular gauge in mind for comparison, but I *do* notice Feministing’s efforts to include race, class, and other cultural analysis beyond gender, including the items dealing with discrimination against certain religious practices, regional differences in access to health care and how these differentially affect different cultural groups, the series of interviews with API women (and prior interviews with POC), Samhita’s posts on SXSW stuff, and various updates on women’s situations in different parts of the world (and the opportunity to debate, in the comments, what aspects of our views of *those women’s issues* are shaped by our own privilege, are inherently ‘othering’, or involve inappropriate and oppressive imposition of our own values and worldview). Just my two cents.

  6. prairielily
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 1:04 am | Permalink

    I haven’t really participated in the discussions about Jessica’s book, but Samhita, I just wanted to tell you how much your work here means to me.
    I feel like there’s so much pressure in the brown community for women to both be successful and subservient. We should be doctors, but also married and taking care of our children. I felt like such an outcast for wanting to reject all of that, because I didn’t know anyone who felt anything resembling what I did. And then I came here, and you were unapologetically posting and sometimes I completely disagreed with what you were saying, but it was such a relief to see you here.
    I grew up in a predominantly white place, so I never really paid attention to whether there were voices of colour around me. Until I got older, and we had more and more brown immigrants in Canada, and we started to see them on sitcoms and hosting news programs and sitting in Parliament, I thought that it didn’t matter that I never saw all that growing up. Now I see it, and it really does make a difference.
    In the same way, your presence here makes me feel less invisible as a brown feminist. It makes me feel less invisible as a feminist who is primarily interested in international issues. It even makes me feel less invisible as an unapologetic woman who stands up for what she believes in.
    I’ve found that I can thank each individual contributor here at Feministing for something different, but that’s what I would say to you.

  7. Posted May 21, 2007 at 1:05 am | Permalink

    I have read most of the threads discussing FFF tonight; I want to add that the criticisms of Jessica and Feministing appear to ME to be largely personal attacks of little or no merit.
    I find it particularly galling that so many were willing to jump Jessica without READING THE BOOK.
    I am not a big fan of the cover, but I am not a teenager and I do know that the Publisher has more say that the author when it comes to covers.
    Jessica: don’t let this get you down.

  8. jessilikewhoa
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 1:06 am | Permalink

    i dont post alot becos of my own insecurities within the context of the feminist blogosphere as a whole. i feel ashamed of my lack of a formal education and out of place becos of my poverty, but i do read here, pandagon, and feministe on a daily basis, and i have been watching all of the debate and anger about jessicas book happen, and it is heartbreaking. not becos i care so much about the book (i havent read it yet) or about jessica (i dont kno her) but becos while everyone is fighting and attacking and disecting each other, its taking away time and energy that could be used to turn the eyes back towards the real problem, the rich white hetero waspy waspy capitalist exploitative male patriarchy. as a newcomer to this community (by that i mean the feminist and liberal blogosphere)i dont see a community, i see divisions, i see the highschool cafeteria and im just a little bit grateful that i get to sit alone cos im an outsider cos watching this fihting makes me not want to be a part of it.
    really, it reminds me of the way my poor punk rock white girl self got into feminism, reminds me of part of kathleen hanna’s essay out of jigsaw fanzine in the liner notes to “the first two records on cd” that seemed so pertinent and true and important:
    “To force some forever identity on other people is stupid. Point out inconsistencies in their behavior, explain how they are not ‘truly what they say’ because you saw them ‘do this’ one time…why? Because it’s easier to deal with cardboard cutouts than real people, cuz a lot of us pretend like we’re the center of the universe sometimes and everyone is just background extras in the movie we imagine we star in. WELL WHILE WE ARE ALL ARGUING ABOUT WHOSE GONNA GET TO OPEN FOR THE MELVINS, WHOSE GONNA WEAR WHAT TO THE PARTY, WHO IS LAME/TAME BECAUSE THEY PERPETUATE THIS THING WE HATE, WHO IS NOT REALLY A PUNK ROCKER CUZ “I remember when he/she used to listen to Duran Duran”, THE REVOLUTION IS GOING DOWN…no it’s not happening without us, it is just plain not happening at all…it is going down under the gurgling sounds of our own voices, reproducing the voices of our parents in a slightly altered way, the tv people…trying to dictate to each other what is and what isn’t cool or revolutionary or true resistance, what is or isn’t true in other peoples lives we sit around making all these boxes and labels, nothing to put in them, we are wasting valuable time, FUCK THAT SHIT, LET’S START TALKING FOR REAL.
    To be a stripper who is also a feminist, to be an abused child holding a microphone screaming all those things that were promised, in one way or another, “I won’t tell.” These are contradictions I have lived. They exist, these contradictions cuz I exist. Every fucking ‘feminist’ is not the same, every fucking girl is not the same, okay??? Because I live in a world that hates women and i am one… who is struggling desperately not to hate myself and my best girlfriends, my whole life is constantly felt by me as a contradiction. In order for me to exist I must believe that two contradictory things can exist in the same space. This is not a choice I make, it just is.”
    i dont mean to minimize the concerns of woc or the lbgt community. i feel just as out of place in mainstream academic feminism becos i will never be a ceo, or a partner in a law firm. while i navigate my states public aid system i am profoundly aware that my concerns are very different from those of an ivy league feminist. but that doesnt make her my enemy, right? or maybe im wrong.

  9. ed
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 1:14 am | Permalink

    Don’t let the criticism get you down. I read feministing for the posts, all of them. Although the comments sometimes descend into flame-war territory, I and hopefully many other readers know not to associate that with you contributors. I’m also glad to see you recognize the importance of critique of white feminism, and I wish the comments allowed for such discussion with an open mind and civility. Keep the posts coming!

  10. Posted May 21, 2007 at 1:14 am | Permalink

    I joined a fairly large “feminist” listserv a few months ago. Introduced myself as a NOW officer. Immediately the moderator shot back:
    “How desperate is your NOW chapter that they elected a man? This is why I don’t take NOW seriously.”
    Then there’s this weird blog entry, where some strange person cut-and-pasted a week’s worth of forum posts, then started comparing black women to dogs and me to a bad dog trainer, or something. To be honest, I’m still not sure what the hell she was on about, though I’m reasonably sure she was trying to say Tom Head is racist and sexist and so forth because he once disagreed with Nubian, which is about as sophisticated as discourse generally gets on the blogosphere.
    I have discovered two home truths from all this:
    1. When someone on a blog accuses you of being sexist, milquetoast, racist, “playing the race card,” prudish, slutty, judgmental, nihilistic, etc. etc. etc., they are generally doing it to make themselves feel better. This is how most prejudices work. Blogosphere antifeminist/antiracist/etc. analysis of people is, in most contexts, junior high shit with an upgraded vocabulary. The best way to make sure I’m a good feminist? Call other people bad feminists. The best way to convince people I care about race issues? Call everybody else a racist. It’s cheap, easy, and usually works.
    2. The people who do this the most don’t generally do much, if anything, else in their lives to support the causes they claim to support. This stands to reason; they’re the ones who most badly need the cheap ego boost that attacking others provides.
    I’d say things will get easier, but I’d be lying. I’m reasonably sure things will get harder. As Jessica becomes more of a public figure, as she becomes more successful–and she will, to a point that I think will frighten all of us a little bit–she will be perceived more and more by these critics as “fair game.” A quote from Gloria Steinem comes to mind:
    “Any woman who chooses to behave like a full human being should be warned that the armies of the status quo will treat her as something of a dirty joke. That’s their natural and first weapon. She will need her sisterhood.”
    Fortunately, she’s got her sisterhood. Something tells me she’ll do just fine.
    Cheers,
    TH

  11. Samhita
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 1:26 am | Permalink

    prairielily–You make Samhita tear. Thanks for your support.
    Thanks to all of you for your support!

  12. Posted May 21, 2007 at 2:51 am | Permalink

    I nearly achieved a women studies minor at a top-tier University without answering many of my day-to-day questions about feminism that Jessica directly addresses in her book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I have recommended it a half-dozen times already. It’s approachable and true, rare qualities in any book.
    In my opinion, people who read these previously mentioned negative qualities or god-forbid something lacking, should ask what they themselves brought to the table or what they should be contributing to the movement as a whole.
    Attention, even negative attention, means you’re generating conversation and in no small way, that is PROGRESS. How many well-meaning pundits were thrown under the bus to get to where we are today? My grandmother would say “Get to work or stand clear!” when people fretted over unsubstantial procedural changes to a work-in-progress. It holds true here as well. If all you’re going to do is bitch over how “youâ€? think it should have been done, no one needs to hear it. Go try it yourself.
    My congratulations to Jessica for a great book.
    My praise to her, Ann, Samhita, Vanessa, Celina, and Jen for continuing great work.
    Sending you thoughts of strength to weather the storm, let’s hope it gets worse! Equality NOW!

  13. Posted May 21, 2007 at 3:38 am | Permalink

    I wouldn’t read if I didn’t generally really love you guys, so, yah.

  14. a_human
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 4:15 am | Permalink

    Great post, just please don’t let feministing break up. :(

  15. Posted May 21, 2007 at 6:42 am | Permalink

    I’m sorry you’re feeling hurt. It sucks. I don’t want to tell anyone not to criticize, or to be nice; but sometimes being in the blogosphere is so bruising. Some of it is necessary, but not all of it.

    We do not want to silence diverse opinions, but it is hard to find a balance between a dialectical dialog versus things we happen to disagree with (that make us and many of our supportive readers, upset).

    I share your frustration on this; finding the right way to moderate comments is a constant headache. What really drives me mad, though, is when people act like there’s One True Style of Politically Acceptable Comment Moderation, and if “Alas” doesn’t adhere to that style that must mean I’m insincere in my politics.
    In the end, I really think moderation style is something that people of good faith can disagree about without being traitors to the cause. It’s a big blogosphere; there’s room for multiple styles of moderation.

  16. Samhita
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    Thank you Ampersand. Sometimes I think it is about the mood you are in too. Like how much can you take, what is constructive debate etc. And sometimes, something I learned from my co-panelist Lynne D Johnson at SXSW, it is amusing to leave them there to let folks know exactly how fucked up some people are.
    But yes, clearly, since this has been a steep learning curve at Feministing, we have lost many cool points for not doing it effectively enough in our earlier days.

  17. Posted May 21, 2007 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Samhita, I just wanted to say that your posts here are some of my favorites. As a white woman who is currently trying to learn more about WOC perspectives and how to consistently recognize and incorporate them in such a white world, I find your posts to be particularly insightful. I also enjoy them completely on their own merits; I’m always wishing that you would post more.
    Also, I have been one of the readers who is pretty vocally critical of the comment moderation policy. I stand by my opinion that your policy is not one that I would choose for my own blog and that I find it to be often inconsistent. However, I’m fully aware that this is NOT my blog (I wish!), and so I apologize if I have been in any way disrespectful of that fact.

  18. Barbara P
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    First: jessilikewhoa, awesome comment
    And Samhita, I’m glad you are here, because I’ve really appreciated what you’ve added to feministing. For example, stuff from India which I might not have heard about otherwise. But I’ve also seen that you do post on a wide variety of topics and that other posters post on race issues too. I don’t know if the balance you provide ideal. Maybe it’s not. But I definitely don’t think it makes sense to dismiss the entire site because of that.
    Also, the book was great, but no, that does not mean Jessica = feministing!
    Finally, the internet is a great tool for communication, but the huge downside is that we can’t easily discern the sincerity (or lack thereof) in the voices we hear. Plus, angry communication style is a bad habit of our (meaning mostly U.S.) culture. It’s incredibly unproductive, even among sincere people. And by angry communication, I don’t mean swearing or even passionate writing, but a sort-of quick-to-anger, blaming, nit-picking hostility. I see it everywhere, not just on feminist blogs. (And sadly, I get caught up in it myself.) The internet seems to amplify this hostile tone, probably because it is so impersonal. Trolls sure as hell don’t help. (I curse them all – anyone that’s ever purposely disrupted a productive feminist conversation – to trip and skin both knees today.)

  19. DT
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    Don’t you dare let these jerks get you down. You know why feministing works for this reader (and commenter, when I’m in the country)? Because you’re accessible. You can be read by real women who are feminists, not just by people who have devoted their lives to being feminists. I’m a feminist, but I’m a scientist first. And I can read and understand your blog. How’s that for diversity?
    The fact that you allow trolls to post shows that you’re not afraid of them.
    I haven’t read the book yet, but I will the next time that I’m in the US for more than two weeks.

  20. Posted May 21, 2007 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    I just don’t know what to say, actually. I read Feministing every single day, every single entry. And I hate that I or any other faithful reader could let you down. But I think we have. And I’m sorry.

  21. Celina
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Thanks Samhita for compassionately putting into words what’s been stewing in our heads for so long. It’s definitely been a rough and frustrating ride, and I really hope this post helps clear up future rushed assumptions about all of us.

  22. Posted May 21, 2007 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Thank you, Samhita, and Jessica, and Vanessa and Ann and Celina and Jen and everyone who make feministing go. I’ve been watching this fiasco unfold and feeling helpless and like I don’t have too much to add. I agree with jessielikewhoa that it’s the wrong conversation to be having altogether. Which isn’t to say there isn’t room for respectful criticism of each other, etc. — but imagine if we put the kind of energy and righteous anger coming from all sides in these threads into, say, holding our representatives to the fire on this immigration bill that’s making it’s twisted way to The Decider as we speak? (Of course, some of us are doing just that, but I’m willing to bet that waaaay fewer of us spent time on it this weekend than spent time in those threads.)
    Anyhow, blessings and gratitude. You are heard, Samhita. And you are loved and appreciated, Jessica. By me at least. And the group project in genuine intersectional feminism that is feministing never fails to inspire me. That’s why I read you every day.

  23. SarahS
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Thank you Samhita, you managed to put everything I was thinking into one package. I’ve been having a lot of thoughts about the book discussion (I’m still waiting for the local bookstore to call me and say my copy is in) but I don’t feel qualified to address them, having not read the book yet. However I was having a real hard time last night, trying to decide if I should jump into the fray over at Feministe… I don’t want to be another prissy white feminist coming off like I was telling feminists of color what for so I just kept my mouth shut. I just kept thinking that Jessica is not the sum total of feministing, and to ignore your contribution and the contribution of the others (Vanessa, Ann, Celina and Jen) was suspect. Jessica isn’t the only one to moderate comments, so it is unfair to blame her entirely for the comments directed towards nubian. And I felt like people were dismissing your voice on the blog in particular by implying but not saying you were some kind of token. The whole thing is just upsetting, but thanks for this post.
    And thank you and Vanessa and Ann and Celina and Jen and Jessica for all the wonderful work you do.

  24. sojourner
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    I can‘t help but think that a lot o f the attacks are out of petty jealousy, because Feministing is so successful, because Jessica got a book deal and frankly yes, because of her good looks.
    You don’t have to agree with Samhita or Jessica on everything to appreciate their work.

  25. Posted May 21, 2007 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Fundamentally, there’s no line of argument stupider than alleging that women of color are not “real” women of color, and that goes triple when people make this offensive argument in order to support a fact-free a priori narrative about a site’s content.

  26. Nancy in NYC
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Thanks to you, Samhita, for this post, and to all the Feministing staff for the great work you do. I’m sorry it’s been such a crappy couple of days.
    True confessions: I’ve barely read a word of the attacks on Jessica, her book, and Feministing, because I read some of the comment threads on other blogs that came out even before the book did, and I’m a veteran of feminist and queer infighting, and I already knew what was coming.
    You’re correct, Samhita: if the kneejerk accusations of some of your critics are to be believed, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Neither you nor the other women of color at Feministing are really women of color if you work with white women. And the white women who work with you and the other women of color at Feministing aren’t *really* working with women of color because any woman of color who works with them is, defacto, not *really* a woman of color, whatever the hell that means (though as a queer woman and a Jew, I have my suspicions, and what’s being implied here is both essentialist and ugly).
    So here are a few observations:
    1. People can really suck–especially when they’re feeling jealous. I’m going to say that word again: JEALOUS. I’m not saying that that’s what all of the critics’ concerns boil down to, bottom line, pure and simple, but without that word on the table, there’s a very large elephant that isn’t being acknowledged in this room.
    2. Anonymity, which equals lack of accountability, improves no one’s manners–and neither are conducive to meaningful discussion.
    3. I’ll always get your back–not because I’ll always agree with you or the other Feministing chicks, but because my every interaction with the staff convinces me that y’all are willing to be part of the discussion, even when it gets hard. (That’s part of what sucks about this: I’d bet hard cold cash that you and the other staff would have gladly entertained any kind of serious attempt on the part of concerned critics to sit down and talk with you.)
    If we want to be any kind of movement, if we want to make any real kind of social change, we’re going to have to figure out a way to disagree, and to have the really hard discussions, without eating one another alive.
    Please accept a cyber hug–and those of you who are close by should also feel free to take me up on my offer of a very real drink.

  27. Posted May 21, 2007 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    This must have been very difficult for you to write, as well as difficult to live through. Certainly, it’s been a rather interesting weekend.
    Much love.

  28. Posted May 21, 2007 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    All the good and wise things have been said, just adding my voice to the chorus of support.

  29. Posted May 21, 2007 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    I don’t have much to add, but I just want to express my appreciation for Feministing.com & each of your perspectives. You’re all amazing women; don’t let The Man get you down! My attitude is this: if you’re pissing them off, you must be doing something right.

  30. Raging Moderate
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    The best way to make sure I’m a good feminist? Call other people bad feminists. The best way to convince people I care about race issues? Call everybody else a racist. It’s cheap, easy, and usually works.

    All too common on the internets. This site included.

  31. Posted May 21, 2007 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    I was trying to articulate why the criticisms of FFF were grating on me so badly, but this really sums it up. The indictments not only of Jessica personally, but of Feministing, were poorly grounded. If people have specific critiques about her book, that’s fine, but Feministing isn’t JUST Jessica, of course, it’s a group of bloggers who deserve to have their work looked at on its own merit, not by its relationship to Jessica. That said, I think all of you ladies are great, and I wish you luck with dealing with all of this.

  32. Posted May 21, 2007 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Samhita, thanks for sticking up for yourself and Feministing. There’s a difference between constructive criticism and cheap shots, and there are unfortunately both going on lately – it’s good to talk about what the difference is.

  33. Posted May 21, 2007 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Rock out with your cock out, Samhita. (If I didn’t say something sexist here, I’d be failing in my mission as big failure to feminism.) There are some accusations that are so intellectually vapid, that the introduction of them is a good signal that the person using them is just trying to make hay. Or else, you know, they’d say something substantial. Telling someone their racial identity rests on their ability to agree with you instead of, you know, their lived experience as a person of color, is right up there. Holding someone accountable for opinions held by aggressive commenters is one—which is different than saying you’d prefer a certain kind of comment section. But to conflate the opinions of the commenters with the bloggers is a fallacy. I also classify the attempts to get on someone’s case for not responding fast enough or to every single accusation—when it’s physically impossible to do so, due to the dogpile phenomenon—as up there, as well. Attempts to force someone to respond in haste and in anger instead of allowing them the time to consider the criticisms (and accusations) are made in order to provoke the person into saying something she’ll regret so you can “win”.
    Once you’re in this to “win” over on someone instead of engage in constructive dialogue, then it’s time to reassess what you’re doing.

  34. Posted May 21, 2007 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Feministing is an essential daily read for me, because of the diversity of the voices and writers here.
    I learn something new everytime I read.
    You all have my admiration and respect for the work you do here.

  35. florafloraflora
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Any fighting at all about “a lack of intersectional analysis” breaks my heart. That’s the kind of jargon-y foolishness that makes feminism look like something that sprouted from the head of an underemployed professor, and makes people (me included) not want to identify themselves as feminists. And I say this as a woman of the type of national/ethnic origin that some people call “interesting”, who cares intensely about women’s rights.
    In other words, forget about the haters. Keep doing what you’ve been doing.

  36. Posted May 21, 2007 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    It’s funny that women who tear other smart, successful, feminist women down use the term “tool of the patriarchy.”
    Doesn’t “the patriarchy” want us to do exactly that–pick each other apart, infight, and stop ourselves from making change?
    Bravo to Feministing for being an inclusive space.

  37. bettieclem
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Great post. When I first started reading this site (and still now sometimes), I found some of the comments very shrill and grating. But I don’t think I ever confused a few anonymous voices with the real women writers producing content for this site. I think you have all done a great and graceful job of growing a feminist site under increasing scrutiny and it sucks that a few loud voices want to take that away from you.
    And word sojourner, maybe ya’ll are ALL just too pretty for the haters to stand ;-)

  38. UltraMagnus
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    To all the ladies at Feministing: You rock. Keep up the good work and don’t let the bastards get you down. This is best blog I read all day and I make sure it’s the first thing (after email, of course;)that I read in the morning.

  39. RacyT
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Great post, Samhita. I have been watching this go down from the sidelines, and I must say it has been horribly depressing to see the insane infighting, the accusations, and the hatred and vitriol being spewed towards Jessica. The work you women do is to be commended, and most of us do really appreciate it.
    You have said pretty much everything else I could. Thank you so much and keep on keepin’ on.

  40. Furious|T|
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Bravo, Samhita. It’s a shame you needed to post this at all, but I’m glad you did.

  41. Posted May 21, 2007 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Samhita, your heartfelt post breaks MY heart! Don’t let the bastards get you down! I credit Feministing, your whole tribe of awesome, diverse feminist voices, with inspiring me to start my own little blog out here in Las Vegas. I know I don’t represent every woman or every feminist and thus have assembled a crew of contributors who can speak to their own truths, just as you do here on Feministing.
    Perhaps part of the problem with all this negative FFF/Jessica bashing is the intersection of old media (print/TV) and new media (blogosphere/podcasts). As someone who works in print journalism, I have seen my editors sometimes have a stilted approach to welcoming new media and its relevance. (It’s often considered a slap in the face of “true journalism.”) And in the mores of traditional media, it’s always goes back to that *convenient* trope of 2-sides to every story (even when there are actually a dozen sides). And in the age of new media, traditional forms have a tendency to balk or feel under attack by the “amatures.” And, of course, with media’s predelection for sexism, it often reduces any subject to its most simplistic metric regardless of the plurality of reality.
    Anyone who actually reads Feministing knows it is not about one voice (Jessica’s or otherwise). And to reduce it to that is just a convenient myth.
    Stay strong Samhita and ALL the Feministing ladies! There are so many of us all around the country who love and depend on your fresh feminist words every day!

  42. kpsisu
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Samhita- I know that dealing with hate is hard to stomach. I’m so sorry.
    The attempts to conflate Jessica with Feministing as a whole, and as ‘the icon of the 3rd wave’ is dehumanizing to all concerned. It makes it much easier for them to dismiss feminism and feministing if they can tie it up in a little package that way, ignoring reality.
    What you, and everyone at feministing, are doing is revolutionary. That’s why you have so many readers, so many adoring fans and commenters, and yes, so many detractors trying to ‘put you in your place’ and erase you, silence you, and negate the value of your work and existence.
    There is a difference between simple and easy. It’s simple to see that the solution is to perservere. It’s not easy to go on, when they have you second-guessing your work.
    Just my two cents…

  43. flyinfur
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    I rarely comment, but I have to say that of those who write at feministing (and I like and appreciate all of you), your posts, Samhita, tend to be my favorites.

  44. roro80
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful post on a fantastic website.
    But I think I’m missing something. Did something happen on the site over the weekend that was taken down? I can certainly remember reading some nasty comments about FFF a few weeks ago, but I can’t find what would have brought this to a head recently. A little help?

  45. Samhita
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Yes, there have been conversation all over the interwebz about Jessica’s book, our comments policies and how we lack intersectional analysis at Feministing. They have been disheartening to read and this was an ameliorative move, for us and our readers.
    Specifically, some of the threads at Feministe.

  46. roro80
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Thanks.

  47. nausicaa
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    Ladies (and mens), we have so many important things to fight for *together.* Let’s not get distracted!

  48. jane
    Posted May 21, 2007 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    I know this is a little off topic, but I wanted to chime in. Much of the criticism I’ve read smacks of elitism. Here’s the thing: Jessica is intelligent. And it’s precisely because she’s intelligent and secure with her intellect, that she can sum up an issue with a succinct “suck it.” And g-d bless her for giving us “suck it” in lieu of a verbose tome peppered with SAT words. The people who write the pretentious tomes? IMO those people are insecure with themselves and do so to show other people how smart they are.
    Open letter to feministing: I’m sure the criticism stings. But please don’t change.

  49. Posted May 21, 2007 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    Unfortunately, sometimes the critics are more inclined to share their thoughts.
    However, there are many of us out here who appreciate what you do and feel enriched by your words. No one person or group can be all things to all people. At the end of the day, we can only do our best work and know that we’re acting with integrity. That is more than enough.

  50. Posted May 21, 2007 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    It is the obligation of the activist, the changemaker to agitate, to irritate, to move the mass in the road which releases energy. I am 58 and want you to know, to really know that push-back is society’s way of informing you that they are receiving your call to change. You are hard at work at changing the world – and I know when I am gone – it is in good hands. With each time you hear resistance, you be glad~ it is society saysing to you “WELL DONE!” Emerson told us, “For your non-conformity, society whips you with its displeasure.” Heal your broken heart and carry on.

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