Thus Spake Zuska

Sometimes You Just Need To Be Angry

Here’s the story:

Samia was hacked off about something.

I know I recommended white science bloggers link to other bloggers in a show of link-lovin, but some of the stuff I see just seems tokenizing/LOOK AT ME I’M OPENMINDED! Ew. Fuck a bunch of wannabes.

This kinda got Isis hacked off.

What the fuck??? No, I mean seriously. What the fuck?…
…So what has you upset Samia? Is it a particular incident or the blogosphere in general. Either way, you’ve got to offer more guidance than today’s brief blog-lashing. You’ve established yourself as an advocate for diversity and as someone who is interested in educating allies. Surely, you can do better than “fuck a bunch of wannabes.”

Samia, in response, let us know she is not of the opinion that it is her personal responsibility to school white science bloggers.

I do my work in real life. Not only is this my prerogative, but it’s also much more effective than flinging poo across the internet. It’s also why I’ll frequently see something dumb online, vent and forget about it rather than make it my life’s work to fix everything everyone says. I’d be here for a while if I took on every potential project I see.

and

Soooo I can’t complain about something unless I also plan to offer some kind of training course for white people, and they’re allowed to demand it as rudely as they like because it’s my responsibility as an aaaadvocate to dig through all the screaming and appreciate their “valid points.” Got it. I like how my going about my business, chancing upon a dumb webpage, and quickly venting = “waiting for someone to screw up.” Nice one.

I love both Isis and Samia, but I am actually pretty sympathetic with Samia on this. I’ve had a lot of people tell me in the past that I am complaining in the “wrong” way or that I should not be complaining about something without simultaneously offering a solution or holding the hands of the white dudes and telling them how they ought to behave. Sometimes you just want to be angry. I think it is difficult for all of us – even those of us who are angry a good deal of the time – to get used to seeing that anger expressed publicly, just out there as pure anger, with no “redeeming” features attached to it.

Is the problem that Samia is being inconsistent – calling for support from majority bloggers but then criticizing them when they offer it? I am put in mind of this quote from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself”:

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Mind you I’m not even saying she is being inconsistent. I’m just saying, if that were the case – so what? We all are at one time or another. It’s freakin’ hard work. It drains us. It also makes us sometimes have all sorts of crazy expectations and desires for our fellow travelers. You know, over there you expect your fellow blogger to be more specific and educate the white dudes, over here you desire your fellow blogger to stop oohing and ahing over those high-heeled tools of the patriarchy. We all gotta give a little. Me, personally, I’d like to see a lot more chicks in touch with their Inner Pissed-Off Woman, spouting off, making people uncomfortable. It’s good for all of us.

Comments

  1. #1 Samia
    February 8, 2009

    I wasn’t “calling for support” from majority bloggers so much as offering tips for people who care about that stuff (partly because the conference was supposed to focus on online content). Personally, I don’t worry too much about online allies, a sentiment I’ve expressed before. My blog has a tiny readership, and I’m not going to bend over backwards to ask or hope for support because I’m not aiming for bloggy fame here.

    I’m working on the people I interact with everyday, because those are the folks who affect others’ livelihoods and futures, you know?

    This is really all my fault for assuming no one reads me except my best friend and my sister. I didn’t expect anyone to pay much attention, and I certainly didn’t intend to write a “calling out.”

  2. #2 Zuska
    February 8, 2009

    Well, I sorta don’t think it matters whether you assumed lots of people or no one reads your blog. Your blog is your blog, and you say what you want on it. People, of course, are free to react however they wish to what anyone writes on any blog. My point is, I think we ought to be able to have some place – and a blog ought to be such a place – where we can express how angry we are about things. Just to say how angry we are. I think beyond the individual good it does us to get that anger off our chests, it does some good for others to be reminded that there is lots of boiling anger under the surface out there. Just because you aren’t hearing it all day long doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Good to remember that once in awhile, especially if you are a member of a group that is privileged not to have to know or think about or feel that anger on any regular basis. And all of us, more or less, in one way or another have some sort of privilege – age, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, ability, class, etc.

  3. #3 Isis the Scientist
    February 8, 2009

    You know, over there you expect your fellow blogger to be more specific and educate the white dudes, over here you desire your fellow blogger to stop oohing and ahing over those high-heeled tools of the patriarchy.

    Hm.

  4. #4 volcanista
    February 8, 2009

    I think this is a thoughtful post, and a good point to make overall. Anger is justified and deserves a place in public discourse about these subjects. And Samia, I agree that you absolutely have no responsibility to educate white bloggers, you’re right. But maybe it’s a good thing that your blogging is making people think critically. Even if making white bloggers think doesn’t directly enact the kind of real-world concrete changes you’re talking about.

    I don’t think Isis is really wrong, either – it can be frustrating as a person with privilege to feel like you should do something to make changes in society for the better, and at the same time to feel like you can’t contribute much, or like your efforts are not successful or appreciated. But ultimately, if this is about a POC’s expressions of frustration and anger, it is precisely not about white bloggers and our feelings.

  5. #5 Barn Owl
    February 8, 2009

    I agree that a blog is an excellent venue in which to express anger and frustration, and that a blogger is under no obligation to educate others, or even to engage in unmoderated discourse. However, after about a year of reading, and occasionally commenting upon, many blog posts dealing with gender and diversity issues in academia and in the broader community, I have to say I’ve learned very little of practical value required to address such issues.

    Some might say it’s because I’m close-minded or not very bright, but I would say it’s because it’s easier, more direct, and more productive for me to discuss and act upon gender, diversity, and disability rights issues with RL colleagues, students, and friends. And also because, IRL discussions, I rarely have to endure a load of passive-aggressive or grandiose monkey puckey.

  6. #6 meh
    February 8, 2009

    Except that all of us women get excoriated for offering criticism of men without enough ‘schooling’, so join the club honey. That’s the unfortunate cross to bear of any minority. If you haven’t figured out that everyone from your mom, to a Masai at an internet cafe, can/will read your blog if they ever feel like it, then you should start paying a bit more attention to what you’re writing. Otherwise don’t dialog with people if you ‘don’t care’ so that they won’t think you are speaking with purpose. And the ‘wannabes’ are still putting the links out there for other, less wannabe, people to come across it and be influenced.

    It’s your choice to be ‘in’ or ‘out’ of discussion on the internet, but don’t think you can do both and not have these kinds of reactions.

  7. #7 Stentor
    February 8, 2009

    I hate inconsistency, and the Emerson and Whitman quotes that get cited to excuse it. But I’m not seeing the alleged inconsistency in Samia’s posts. As I read it, she says people should do something, then later complains that some people are following the letter of the request but missing the spirit. Seems perfectly consistent to me.

  8. #8 Donna B.
    February 9, 2009

    Stentor, in that sense it is perfectly consistent. In the sense that the blogger asks for something, and then is pissed off about the way someone responds either deserves no post or one that is a bit more explicit about why said blogger is pissed.

    I have a feeling that Samia does not want to offend someone. And THAT sort of pisses me off. But to make it out to be a problem that stems from her race, to basically say “It’s a color thing, you wouldn’t understand” is insulting.

    Do any of you honestly think that being white or male keeps someone from being put in a position of anger with someone who has lots of influence on their success?

    If the anger and rage makes you feel better, in a victimized sort of way… go for it.

  9. #9 Luna_the_cat
    February 10, 2009

    “If the anger and rage makes you feel better, in a victimized sort of way… go for it.”

    Gee whiz, Donna B., do you think that you could possibly be more patronising, oblivious and dismissive? …I don’t. So, to imitate Physioprof, fuck you too. Aw, ya poor wee dear — you don’t think that people have a right to just be angry over something they can’t explain to someone who hasn’t lived it. What a lovely little sheltered, privileged life you must have had, that you have never had that experience yourself and that you can still think that anyone who has is just playing the victim card, and/or that such a person must be denying that other people could legitimately be pissed off for similar-but-different reasons.

    No, you just don’t get it. What’s offensive is that you “just don’t get it” in conjunction with being a dismissive asshole to everyone else.

  10. #10 Name withheld out of fear
    February 10, 2009

    Luna_T_Cat feels much better now, but not victimized.

    I have been accused of not being on board because I don’t like the anger. At the same time I’m a progenitor of anger when I feel like doing it. I admit that the anger works, but I also feel that ally building is sometimes hampered by it. What bothers me most is when I see cliquish behavior overriding good strategy, and I laugh when I see Zuska and Isis in their new state of palpable but manageable tension.

    Setntor: I have reason to believe that you are a white heterosexual middle-class cisgender non-disabled raised-mainline-Protestant tall thin college-educated married male from a happy intact nuclear family background, and I it shows. So fuck you. But what I really want to say to you is this: Embrace the inconsistency. It is the nature of the beast. And you are the beast. Stop the de-nile.

  11. #11 Silver Fox
    February 10, 2009

    I still don’t get why the original source wasn’t approached in comments or email instead of a pissed-off post.

    Maybe I’m just dumb. As in, duh. Or Doh!

    Great pseud, Name W/held Out of Fear.

  12. #12 Zuska
    February 10, 2009

    What bothers me most is when I see cliquish behavior overriding good strategy, and I laugh when I see Zuska and Isis in their new state of palpable but manageable tension.

    HAHAHAHAHAHA! What the hell is that even supposed to mean? Isis and I luv each other. What two goddesses wouldn’t??!!?!?! Name Withheld Out Of Fear, methinks what you don’t know about good strategy would fill several volumes…by the way, withholding your name is more effective if you don’t also provide a link to your blog. Don’t you have far more important things to be doing than reading this blog????

  13. #13 Hope
    February 10, 2009

    “Me, personally, I’d like to see a lot more chicks in touch with their Inner Pissed-Off Woman, spouting off, making people uncomfortable.”

    I don’t know what world you live in, Zuska, but I see no shortage of this around me. Maybe I’ve been spending too much time reading blogs like this….

    I think that Isis overreacted, but I disagree w/your views on anger and its place in public discourse.

  14. #14 Greg Laden
    February 10, 2009

    methinks what you don’t know about good strategy would fill several volumes…by the way,

    You may be right. But I am good at certain things…

    Don’t you have far more important things to be doing than reading this blog????

    Even though you really really piss me off sometimes, I love your blog. Honestly.

  15. #15 Stephanie Z
    February 10, 2009

    Hope, anger isn’t all (or even mostly) about shouting or intimidation. Anger is what frequently stands behind the simple but important acts of looking someone in the eye and saying, “No,” or, “Why?”

  16. #16 Greg Laden/Name Withheld
    February 10, 2009

    I should clarify, because I goofed up: “Greg Laden” = “Name Withheld Out of Fear.” Sorry for not being consistent. (One could infer that from the links.) I use that pseudonym now and then, but it is not an anonymous pseudonym.

  17. #17 Hope
    February 10, 2009

    Give me a break, Stephanie Z. That aspect of anger is clearly not what Zuska was talking about.

  18. #18 Stephanie Z
    February 11, 2009

    Hope, how much of this whole to do could be avoided if people stopped assuming they clearly understood what everyone was talking about all the time–especially on the bleeding internet? Samia’s original comment on her blog was little more than, “Whatever.” It was a short, personal statement. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t spouting off (and how much does it really take to be told you’re spouting off?). It certainly doesn’t mean she didn’t make people uncomfortable.

  19. #19 Hope
    February 11, 2009

    Stephanie, I think that *you* are the one that misunderstood my comment (#13). As for what Zuska meant, I’ll let her address that if she wants. In a way, I think that she already has, with “Sometimes You Just Need to be Angry – But You Can’t,” which I didn’t see before posting #13 here.

  20. #20 Greg Laden/Name Withheld
    February 11, 2009

    Sometimes the attempt to assert what one understands about what is being understood or misunderstood in and of itself steps on the larger issue of whatever it is that is being understood or misunderstood.

    My personal feeling, and I know many people disagree with this but I steadfastly maintain my right to hold and express this opinion, is that there are certain tropes that while on one hand can be very effective as rhetorical tools (the anger thing, for instance) also make this process (sometimes) more difficult in a way that causes a step backwards rather than forwards. The issues at stake (racism, sexism) are more important than the egos of the players in this tired old drama.

    This is really all I’ve been saying on any of these comments or on my own blog. The fact that this has brought severe judgment to bear on me is … well, proof of the pudding.

  21. #21 the real {...}
    February 12, 2009

    ngit I am gonna go read the Vagina Monologues–the part where the woman rapes the 13 year old but its a “good rape”, just to diffuse my anger at the patriarchy long enough so that my digeridoo doesn’t look like a b ig penis anymore…
    then, I will visit www. feministing.com, and vent my rage at the men who control my world; that part of my world that I reveal long enough to get my selfish purposes met, and pay a few bills later…
    then: a healthy poopoo followed by a long bath with candles…and on to the sock drawer…

  22. #22 Nathan Myers
    February 12, 2009

    Maybe I’ve been reading the wrong blogs, but I’m not used to reading this sort of whining, squabbling and pissing and moaning. Greg, nothing you can say in this environment can possibly help yourself or them; it just doesn’t engage your strengths. They will learn or not learn without you.

    Instead of getting used to it, I just won’t be back. Life’s short. There are lots of blogs that offer something to learn from every day. I’ll be reading those, instead.

    Sheesh.

  23. #23 chat
    February 12, 2009

    very good sites