Friday, December 27, 2013

The Knights of Shame, the People's Voice

Freddie deBoer:

The question is whether some of the people making these critiques actually care about education, about changing people. I think part of the reason that misogyny has become the term of choice is precisely because it is more inflammatory. As I will continue to point out, political critiques are subject to competitive social behaviors, and in the social networks where so much political critique happens– Tumblr, Twitter– what is rewarded is the critique that is most brutal, not the critique which is most effective for creating change. In that context, the word misogyny is a better tool than the word sexism; if sexism is X bad, then misogyny is X+1 bad, and so that term gets used, regardless of whether the situation described actually involves the hatred of women. I find this, frankly, a deeply misguided way to conduct a movement for social justice, and I think the people who take part in this kind of critique– many or most of whom are white and affluent, given the demographic nature of social networking– are ultimately privileging what makes them feel good over what is effective, even if they are completely sincere in their efforts. And this is very challenging for a lot of people who engage this way online, because they are deeply invested in a vision of politics in which there is no space whatsoever between the nobility of their intent, the purity of their politics, and the value of what they say. For me, the most important political lesson of my adulthood has been the sobering knowledge that I can be entirely noble in my intent and entirely destructive in my effects.