I was turning this question over in my mind last night, after spending the evening catching up on feminists blogs. There is currently a stoush on between a couple of blogs which began last week (I think) and is ongoing. There have been attempted apologies, dissections of why those apologies don’t actually address the issues arising from the comments on the original post, further attempts at getting it right and lots of commenters insisting that the original comments on the original post did nothing wrong and lots of people are just being loudmouthed bullies. I’m sure by now many of you will know what I’m talking about. As I don’t want to re-hash it all over here I’m not going to go into detail because that isn’t the point of this post.
I found myself agreeing with one side in the debate, but more than that I found myself learning a hell of a lot. I haven’t commented at all on any of the blogs involved, preferring to sit back and soak it all in and gain a better understanding and hopefully be able to put that into practise as a better ally. But should I be doing more than this? Should I be going to the blog of the person I agree with and adding my support? Should I try to show solidarity? I’m not going to the blog whose post comments started this all because I don’t have skin in this fight and I don’t want to just pile on. I think the bloggers there are having to deal with a whole heap of privilege being pointed out to them and that is difficult at the best of times, as well as having a small but determined chorus tell them that they haven’t done anything wrong. I think they are floundering at the moment, and there are plenty of people, intimately involved in the issues, who can tell them and are telling them where they went wrong, why and how to fix it.
So as a lurker, should I be thanking them for blogging this? Or do I just sound like another cis, het, white privileged feminist expecting a cookie?
ETA: Since people from both blogs have commented here now, I will state my position. While I respected and sympathised with the writer of the original post, and the fellow authors who were also trying to understand the issue, I really felt for the people on the other side who were offended and had to yet again explain and defend their position. Not that I am in a position to cast any stones, it was a comment that I could easily have made without realising the offensive nature because it is not something that is uppermost in my mind.* It was the realisation that I could have easily made this mistake that led to a lot of reflection on my part.
The several of the people on the blog have tried to engage in a dialogue, as noted by stargazer above, but when tempers get high the going gets rough. There were also people who couldn’t see what the issue was. It wasn’t so much pile ons that I was thinking of, but those comments by people who mean to be supportive but end up either explicitly or implicitly implying that the other side of the argument is bullying or being unreasonable, which doesn’t help and only ramps up tensions. This is what prompted the question of lurking. Would adding my voice be supportive, or just further muddy the issue. In the end I decided to hold my tongue and leave it to the people involved.
This post is not designed to be a re-hash of the stoush, as the participants are doing fine on their own and I don’t want to start another stoush on an unrelated blog.
To the people hurt and angered by the post – I’m sorry for your hurt and hope that I have learnt enough to avoid doing that myself. Thank you for the 101.
To the owners of the original blog – I can see that you were trying to understand the issues and I know, from personal experience, that it is hard to put yourself in someone else’s shoes when you have no idea how to even begin to guess what that might feel like. But you tried anyway and I respect that.
*To make things clear the response that started the stoush began with “Guys” being used to respond to a transwoman. She, for obvious reasons, didn’t like this and things went from there. As has been noted in comments by Deborah there is also history here, which I’m not clear on so I’m going to leave it at that.