some quick thoughts on blogging at feministe

August 13, 2010 § 16 Comments

honestly, it takes me while to process things sometimes and to find the words.  so in time i may have other things to say, but for now…

–i can look back now.  read the first two posts that caused such a ruckus.  and realize that i still do not have a clear idea why people got their panties all in a twitter.  i understand that it happened.  i accept that.  but honestly, i do not understand the motivation of people to come onto a blog post after the first hundred comments or so and say the exact same thing that twenty other people have already said.  what is the point of that?  do people really think i am going to have a conversion experience: woah. dude. i just hadnt considered what a horrible, selfish, entitled person i am, thanks for enlightening me comment number 547.

–you do not have the right to child free spaces.  you have the privilege of being able to choose child free spaces.  it is a privilege.  it is not a right.  there is a difference.

–i had a hard time with the comparing pwd with children.  but no i dont think it is able-ist to compare pwd to children.  no more than i think it is racist to compare the treatment of black folks to the treatment of pwd.  it is only able-ist to do so, if being compared to children is an insult.  and then we need to interrogate why being compared to a child is an insult in our culture.

–i am still resistant to explain that children are an oppressed class of people.  it just seems so fucking obvious.  and i refuse to do 101 for folks, unless i am getting paid.  so. please go google it, if you still do not understand why the united nations and nearly every other organization that does human rights work, classifies children as a protected class based upon children’s inherent vulnerability and  our civilizations exploitation of children.

–i get so sick of critiques of  ‘parents’ of children in public spaces.  its not ‘parents’!  its mothers.  it. is. mothers. mothers, women, are the ones who are primarily doing the childcare.  so when you insult ‘parents’ you are really insulting women.  women. women. women. and srsly, that there are literally hundreds of self identified feminists who can insult women in such a vile manner and then ask me why i dont identify as ‘feminist’ blows my fucking mind.  srsly. fuck you. its not some genderless parents.  it. is. women. who you have made it clear that you can’t stand.

–i try really hard not to control my kid.  the definition of control is: To exercise authoritative or dominating influence over

i model, i talk, i explain, i make jokes, i relate, i listen, and listen some more, i play with, i describe the social rules of a give situation, i listen, i laugh, i distract, i make paper puppets, i walk with her outside, i calm her down, i ask her what she needs, i pay attention, i listen, i listen, i listen.  i love, i cuddle, i teach.

but even when it is really tempting, i do not want to control her.  i do not want to control any human being.  i do not want to dominate or be authoritative over another person.  especially not my daughter.

–and yeah, she has been to a bar.  ha ha ha.

–simply because you are child free does not give you the right to childfree spaces.  no.  being child free give you the right to live in a world without having to bear or parent children – i will put my body on the line for your right to decide if and when you want to be a parent.  but, it does not give you the right to get to have public spaces where children and mothers are ostracized.  that, as i said before, is a privilege.  not a right.  i really do not know why people cannot make this distinction.

–honest truth?  only once living on this planet can i remember being taken aback when i thought i was trying to help a kid and a mother stepped forth and asked me not to.  she was a bit snippy about it.  i was 9 yrs old.  i shrugged it off, figured huh, she has difft boundaries than the other mothers ive known and…ta da!…went on with my life. with my human life, in which i try to helpful to other human beings the best i know how.

now countless times i have smiled at babies and made silly faces to get them to calm down long enough for their mother to calm down.  i smile at mothers who are obviously having a hard time, because i know that she probably thinks that everyone is judging her thinking she is a bad mother because her kid is making noise, and that (accurate) worry is adding to the stress level.  and if it is annoying for me to have to hear her kid cry, i know it is ten times worse for her, and i want her to know that there is one person who isnt judging, one person who gets it.  and yeah a lot of times it helps.  the mother calms down, the kid calms down.  and my head stops hurting.  ta da!

–i have no idea where people got the idea that i was saying you had an obligation to identify as a mama.  or that i insist upon calling you one.  god. no.  im not even sure how to refute that idea, because i have read the post over and over, and cannot for the life of me figure out where folks got that idea.  hell, even bfp doesnt identify as a mama, and that was clear from the original post.  god.  srsly. folks.  i dont live in your totalizing hegemonic worlds.

i did not say if you are a good person, then you are a mama.  i said, these people identify as mama.  and so do i.  it wasnt an invitation to join us.  it was an invitation to think about why you identify as you do, what does it mean to be feminist, and why do you think others should identify as you do in order to respect them.

see, i dont need you to identify as i do, in order to respect you.

–and one of the more bullshite claims made in that whole feministe two week blogging stint was that people had gotten all riled up because i am a bad writer, who did not explain herself or her life well enough, so obviously people were going to make assumptions and that is all my fault, because if i was a better writer then the verbal abuse would not have been so bad.

how much of my life details did you need?  how much of my private life are you required to rummage through before you will not make abusive assumptions about me?  how much of my trauma do i need to dig up and lay before your altar of feminism before i can be allowed to simply speak my truth as i see it?  you need to know about my stint in prison?  about sitting in a room with over a hundred rape survivors as they cried?  about the racial epithets aza has endured?

or did you need to know that we have lived in chiapas mexico as well as cairo egypt?  that aza saw subcomandante marcos in the flesh when she was nine months old?  and used to hang out with sweet boys who were also sudanese ex child soldiers and slaves and current members of refugee gangs in cairo and they loved on her while they painted flowers on the pink walls of their schools?

or do you need to know what exactly it means to live in egypt?  that no bar i know of could make enough money to stay open if it only served alcohol, because this is a fucking muslim country, so most of them end up serving a lot of soft drinks, coffee, tea, and birrell (the non alcoholic beer of cairo).  as well because it is a muslim country, stumbling drunk doesnt really happen, cause a lot of times the bar tenders wont let you get that far into your drinking.   and that i know that aza is often the quietest in a room full of inebriated souls, because most of the time she falls asleep and we put her in a bed in a private room, because here people are much more likely to get drunk in their homes than out in a bar.  and sometimes aza has gone to a bar, because that is where the work meeting is being held.  so, all your omg! you had a child at a bar! is just bullshite.

how much of my life did you need displayed before you, so that you could assume that my life is different than yours?  and what kind of person are you, that you just assume that everyone else’s life is like yours unless you are given explicit evidence to the contrary?  it is an incredible mark of privilege to be so myopic as to not, on default, assume that others lives are different, vastly difft than your own.

and it is just fucked up to assume that i deserved that kind of verbal abuse, because my writing required that you not center your life experience in the reading of my words.  but, it was mighty mighty feminist of you.


§ 16 Responses to some quick thoughts on blogging at feministe

  • 11 says:

    I think your first one or two posts caught flame because you shot a clean hole through a collectively held and cherished sense of entitlement. Hating on or feeling superior to mothers and kids seems to be a way of venting frustration that many women/feminists/people do not want to be told is fucked up.

  • Lisa says:

    Hello mama,
    my, this is beautiful and so full of righteous anger – i simply love it. It echoed a lot of my thoughts a couple summers ago when i guest blogged for feministe. I was glad to be asked and in my first essay about choosing to be a mother, I was pregnant at the time, I got comments about how I clearly had a prolife agenda and the life inside me was a “mongrel” who I should abort. nice, huh?

    but that was nothing compared to the avalanche you received. but it’s so friggin awesome to read your reflect, as though you remained untouched by all the ignorance, asinine assumptions, elitist, and entitlement. You can see through all of that.

    it’s a marvel to witness from my seat.

  • Fabiola says:

    you’re a wonderful human being…aza is so lucky to have you as a mama.

    thank you for sharing your love and brilliance to the world.

  • nudemuse says:

    You inspired me again today. Thank you Mama. Thank you.

  • bri says:

    This is positively wonderful, and so are you. I learn more in one simple and honest mai’a sentence than in years of reading feministe. Thank you.

  • Sumayyah says:

    You’re so beautiful! Thank you, again, for sharing these things and standing up to small-minded people. We need more people like you in this world.

  • Zippa says:

    I’m so sorry that happened over there, and at jez. I read feministe through an RSS and never, ever touch the comments, because they so quickly devolve into a shitstorm anytime the (white)(able)(mostly straight)(cis) feminist agenda is challenged. There are feminist spaces that are not so quick to jump that way, but most of them are not the ones with the kind of comment base to draw guest bloggers.

    Your posts were thoughtful, and should have given people cause to step back and examine their philosophy regarding women and women’s work, but instead everyone got so defensive.

    There was a lot of thoughtful response on other blogs I read regularly, both agreeing and disagreeing but much, much more respectfully than the commentariat. I hope you saw some of those, too.

  • My dear, dear sister and fellow mama,

    I am so very sorry to hear what you went through. My experiences with Feministe last year really changed how I viewed A LOT about feminism. I decided to take a break from the overwhelmingly white blogosphere and limit my online interactions to conversations with people of color. I made an exception for two white women–Kay Olsen from “The Gimp Parade” and Kara Sheridan Ayers–who are PWD who have NEVER engaged in the behavior that is so typical of white self-identified feminists. It was to be a time of healing for me. Well, I haven’t looked back since.

    I generally avoid talking to white folks in the blogosphere, because–no matter how much of a relationship you have with them and no matter how you explain yourself, nearly all of them will either sell you up the river or leave you hanging in your time of need. The overwhelmingly white team over at Feministe are more than willing to ask a few women of color to guest-blog over there. However, when their commenters turn into an angry online mob of privileged white women directing vile and bigoted statements at the person of color guest-blogging there, they are unwilling to do what it would take to put a stop to it.

    With my own blog, I take complete responsibility for what appears on it. If someone attempts to make a vicious and untrue statement in my comment box, I’m not going to post it unless I have the time and energy to call them on their shit. I don’t care how big your blog is, if you allow someone to use your space to attack women of color, PWD, children, et cetera, then you are partly responsible for that attack.

    Sadly, many of these mega-blogs have become spaces where white, non-disabled, privileged feminists can come and say whatever they want about oppressed people without having to worry about whether there will be others around to back them up. They can say whatever bullshit they want and still have a mob full of other white, non-disabled, privileged feminists who will join in and cry Special White Lady tears about how mean and unreasonable you are being if you refuse to coddle them.

    I have yet to see a woman of color guest-blog over there without being given the same treatment. It isn’t anything you said, my love. It’s the same reaction you’d get no matter what you said over there. I’m soooo very over trying to explain things to white feminists. Either they get what I’m saying or they don’t. I no longer care about sharing my experiences with them. They don’t really want to understand our lives, so explaining it is just a waste of our precious and very limited energy.

  • Isabel says:

    you are just so awesome. reading the things you write makes me feel better about the world because it has people like you in it.

  • EP says:

    Found you on feministe and so gladly–as ill as your reception there made me, it led me to your own blog and writing elsewhere. And it was funny to me from the beginning that rather than have so many of your readers answer their questions about you through this site–your positionality, the breadth of your experience–they expected to have the privilege of using the comment space to scratch their various and sundry itches about issues that had nothing to do with what you actually wrote. The comparative “radio silence” on your last three posts says it all to me. V. interested in hearing more about your religious perspective as you’ve mentioned Ochun in the past, and Ramadan now…but mainly I want to say thank you, mama.

  • roam says:

    Mai’a how do you find the strength. And I’ve only seen what got through the moderation and not what was deleted, but you still saw it.
    And here my heartbeat quickens when I encounter some ‘101’ stuff and I get angry. Not appalled-angry, but raw-angry like my heart will jump outside of me and explode.

    I did not comment on feministe, but listened, listened. I came to say thank you.

  • Ruth says:

    I loved your posts at feministe and I wouldn’t normally read there but someone sent me the link so I did.

    I think a lot of feminists still hold onto this idea that children are the *actual cause* of women’s oppression, and therefore the answer to oppression is…… to not have kids, and to hate on women that do, and to hate on kids. Or something, I’m still not entirely sure what it is…

    Aza is lucky to have you as a Mummy. 🙂 ❤

  • EP says:

    P.S. The lowercase ‘mama’ was not intended as a lack of respect, but merely indexes my Latina-ness.

  • Gerri says:

    mai’a –

    I’m sorry that the comments turned out to be so rough for you. I wanted to thank you for sticking it out and contributing such thoughtful posts. your perspective was very eye-opening and educational for me, and I really appreciated it. I’m sure I’m not the only one…please don’t think that nothing came from your guest-blogging! stay strong, peace.

  • rj says:

    People try to dump their own personal shit on you so that it also becomes your problem. This should be called the White dump, but it is not exclusive to color so I shouldn’t even have added that marker to it. They only want to know more details about your life so that they can piss on it while making their arguments. They need more proof that you are a horrible person to back up their callousness. I think that it is the realization that their truth isn’t everyone’s truth, and that if Black women are having this hard of a time, then maybe feminism hasn’t had as many gains as they claim. That hurts. Nobody likes to admit that it is “White feminism.” (There’s a book by that name-I haven’t read it yet though)

  • […] spring of last year. (The final nail in the coffin was last summer in which the site did a post on Maia’s week of guest blogging over at Feministe about child-free spaces and the shit.hit.the fan. as […]

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