This morning I took down a post I’d written the night before. No one asked me to and I didn’t feel particularly bullied or intimidated into doing so. I took it down because I tried really hard to achieve a particular objective and I failed, badly. I know writing stuff isn’t magic and most of it makes no difference anyhow but sometimes, the feeling that you rarely, if ever, have genuine exchanges with people who see things differently – and that all that really happens is you gain the approval of people who would have agreed with you anyhow – is just a bit grim.
I don’t think there is anything at all I can add to debates on feminism, twitter, intersectionality, privilege and bullying – other than that I think no one else can add much, either. It has reached a point where, in essence, in order to try and defend people I like without appearing to be “one of them” or “taking sides” I feel the only option is to defend them badly, with so many qualifications and ifs and buts that what I’m writing becomes impenetrable (or rather, it becomes terribly nuanced, so nuanced that anyone who so wishes can see a “hidden message” – and such a message can mean different things to different people). Hence there’s no point. If every single argument you make has no value because it’s just the kind of argument you would make – because your argument itself demonstrates your bias, hence invalidating itself – then there is absolutely no point in making an effort to connect. You might as well just patronize people by pretending to agree with them all the time or shut up.
To be perfectly honest, I think this has sod all to do with whatever blind spots and privileged assumptions we all, myself included, might have. If I was so bloody naïve, it wouldn’t be so easy to predict the kind of criticism I’m likely to bring on myself and/or others for saying this or that. It is really, really easy to predict these days, like having a vicious Microsoft paperclip pop up every now and then to ask you if you really want to risk writing something nice about X because that will upset Y and Z, who will then think it’s all to do with that one time X said something ambiguous to W, which will then mean that the “W incident” becomes a thing all over again, meaning that your desire to be nice about X has actually made X’s life a whole lot worse. So hey, don’t be nice about X, especially not if you like X. Niceness just isn’t worth risking in the twitter age.
How weird is that? How fundamentally weird is it? That you can’t just, you know, like people (in a non-Facebook-clicking way) and therefore object to them being hurt. That it can’t just be about that – the goodness of people – and not a power structure with which you’ve sided. And yes, now the paperclip is back telling me well, I would think that, what with me having sided with a power structure without wanting admit it because obviously, those who make these compromises never admit it to themselves, do they? I just would make that argument because I’m precisely the kind of person who would. In addition, I’m even the kind of person who’d see fit to comment on the circularity of such a situation, mainly because it means I don’t have to engage with discrimination which actually, in this abstract instance and in some actual, real, live instances, has fuck all to do with the dynamic I’m discussing here.
“It’s all very well wanting to be nice”, people say. And “good intent isn’t magic”. Evidently not. But I don’t expect it to be magic. I just wish that, for starters, there was a little more of it.