Sunday, April 20, 2008

Why I *Heart* Little Light and Why Witchy-Who Doesn't Represent Women of Color

Over at Lisa Harney's "Questioning Transphobia" blog, a discussion has been going on regarding Witchy-Woo (from "Well I'll Go To The Foot Of My Stairs...") and her latest "anonymousing" around the internets. As I've been sitting here, I was thinking about whether I actually wanted to link to Witchy-Woo's blog. On the one hand, I don't think her writing is anything more than tripe and I have no desire to be associated with anything she supports but, on the other hand, I think that if I'm going to talk about someone, those who read it should have the opportunity to go and examine things for themselves.

While that's not what this post is primarily about, it is one of the many differences between me and Witchy-Woo's merry band of bigots. I think that people are intelligent enough to decide whether or not my conclusions are valid. Therefore, I don't need to beat around the bush and treat the internet like some big Harry Potter chapter book.

I mean, what's up with talking about someone, showing that you're keeping up with their every word and action, but then acting like you are afraid to name who you're talking about? What does she think will happen? What, is Voldemort going to pop out and grab your ass if you use Renegade Revolution's name? It's really quite bizarre.

Here's the background story:

Renegade Revolution (aka "Ren") has been invited to speak at a debate about porn and sex work over at The College of William & Mary. She and Jill Brenneman will be debating Samantha Berg and John Foubert. For those who aren't familiar with any of these people, Renegade Revolution is a sex worker who has a blog where she writes about her experiences and discusses issues concerning the lives of other sex workers. Jill Brenneman is the coordinator and director of the Sex Workers Outreach Project Program (SWOP-East). Samantha Berg is the co-founder of the Anti-Porn Activist Network and owner of the Genderberg website where she argues against the legalization and de-stigmatization of sex work. John Foubert is a professor who recently fought to ban the Sex Workers' Art Show from appearing on campus because he believes that viewing nudity causes men to rape women. Yeah, I'm not even exaggerating, unfortunately. Check it out for yourself.

Anyway, when Berg found out that Ren was going to be one of the panelists, she tried to get the event organizers to uninvite her. She claimed that Ren had threatened her and her posse a while back ago. Ren does a good job of explaining what nonsense that is here. Meanwhile, Witchy-Woo decides to burst forth with (self)righteous indignation and talk about how she can't believe that someone would actually want to have Ren on a panel. After all, why should a sex worker who writes about and advocates on behalf of other sex workers actually be included in a discussion about sex work? Surely, those who have never spent a day in their life as sex workers would be qualified to speak about what it means to be a part of it, right? I mean, doesn't this person sound like she's the sort of person that is qualified to speak on behalf of all women?
"I’m told that I type the way I talk (or vice versa) so what you see is always what you get any way you look at it. I make people laugh, I make them think, I’m challenging and honest."

Yeah, except for the fact that she's not challenging. Her views are the same ol' soup warmed over twice. Women who disagree with her views don't know what's good for them. She knows how to save us all, as long as we shut up and do exactly as she says. What's challenging about that? What's so different about yet another white, Western woman trying to dictate what constitutes proper behavior for the rest of the world? What's challenging about claiming that women--who want to make choices for themselves and live as they please according to the dictates of their own conscience--should silence themselves and follow yet another white woman wannabe savior for the good of all humankind? After all, for hundreds of years now, we've seen how beneficial (not!) it has been for the rest of us when white women and men were allowed to make decisions for us.

And what does she call her post? "On Professionalism". That's funny. To me she just looks like another professional bullshitter trying to define right and wrong for other women. Exactly how is that any different from all the other kinds of anti-choice advocates that radical feminists are supposedly against? I have news for Witchy-Woo: You ARE the patriarchy.

Then there's this gem of a comment with regards to those who choose to engage in sex work:
"They negate the lives of those suffering for the choices they make and then have the audacity to promote themselves as the ‘one true voice’ in the well of silence centred in the poverty of those they argue they represent."

Evidently it never occurred to this very white, very Western woman living in a country that is responsible for the permanent silencing (i.e. murders) of millions of women around the world, that, before she starts looking overseas, it might be a good idea for her to figure out her own culture's very substantial role in contributing to the suffering of women around the world. Of course, it's much easier to address what those "fallen women" are doing instead of addressing the many unearned privileges that she revels in on her blog.

The funny thing is, she's not even content to just write about being the savior of all mankind on her own blog. When that doesn't get her the attention that the little megalomaniac wants, she periodically starts trolling other people's blogs and leaving anonymous comments or using sockpuppets that don't link back to her blog. Unfortunately, the fool hasn't figured out that everyone knows it's her doing it. It's the same IP address every time. Does she really think that no one notices this stuff? To show you the full extent of her delusions of grandeur, check out the comments she left on the Questioning Transphobia blog.
'Transwomen' are usually male and white. It is wholly offensive of any white male person to lump his self in with black women and prostituted women, and to appropriate the language of civil rights - 'marginalized' - in order to increase the sexual excitement he derives from inhabiting those identities. But then, neither black women, prostituted women or prostituted black women would expect white males to understand this.

Once again, please explain to me what makes this very white, very Western woman qualified to speak on my behalf, to claim that she knows what's offensive to me and every other woman of color, to claim that sex workers or women of color actually agree with her claims about we expect her white brethren to understand in the first place? Talk about appropriation! What does she think she's doing when she pretends to speak for women like me when she has never spent a single day of her life as a woman of color? And does she really think she's being any different from her white brethren when she acts as the self-appointed spokesperson for women who wish to have nothing to do with the likes of her or what she stands for? Which one of her minions gave her the impression that she had the authority to decide who women of color and women who are sex workers will ally ourselves with?

On that thread, the ever fabulous Little Light chimed in and totally schooled little miss second-coming of Christ
Hi Brown trans woman here.
Bring it. Because I'm not backing off from my sisters, and I'm not going to get condescended to as "one of the good ones," and I haven't had any "sexual excitement" since September besides.
Keep kicking, keep lying about us, keep on hating.

It's not our job to swallow it for you. And it's not our job to accept that we're unacceptable. You want to shame us, do some homework and do it competently, you childish bigot.

In the end, it boils down to this:
Witchy/Punk could NEVER speak on behalf of women of color. Her whiteness blinds her too much. When it comes down to it, that's what this is all about. How dare we define womanhood in terms that don't center those of white, Western, cis-gendered, non-disabled folks like her! I mean, imagine the audacity of us cheeky, ungrateful women of color thinking that we can create and maintain alliances with whomever we please!


little light said...

Back atcha, Bint. You're a rock star.

Lisa Harney said...

And of course, she reframed what I was saying as "speaking for sex workers and women of color." Because it is apparently impossible to say "Hey, I'm experiencing some of what those women experience" without also claiming to be exactly the same as those other women.

Or in other words, she's saying trans women have no right to allies.

Meanwhile, by saying what she said there, she's trying to speak for women of color and sex workers, in exactly the appropriating manner that she just accused me of doing.

There's a lot more of exactly this kind of invective a few posts back in her blog, the one titled "I'm no longer a woman, apparently" or something like that. Multiple radical feminists get in and let their transphobia hang right out there in the breeze for all to see.

Lisa Harney said...

Also, her second post (unapproved) was after you and Monica came into the thread and said she was being racist.

In other words, in trying to say I'm appropriating WoC voices, she steamrolls over WoC voices. Talk about centering whiteness.

belledame222 said...

real charmer, ain't she?