The podcast is up from my reading for O Fallen Angel! Thanks The Parlor! I begin with the same section from the MP3 from The Collagist, so you might want to skip ahead...At 34 minutes is the Q & A session, which I really enjoyed. I will say I was a bit sick so at the end of the reading I'm feeling kind of strained.
Something I should not post about, should ignore, but cannot, because I cannot, ever, ignore anything. As you know, there was a situation (euphemism) regarding that post about Zelda Fitzgerald I complained about on HTML Giant (which they've now taken down). Anyway, I complained about the post, which was really just a silly post dismissing Zelda, and I felt, hey, why dismiss her, why not offer an alternative to how she's been written before (Mr. Fitzgerald is a novelist Mrs. Fitzgerald is a novelty). Anyway, the comments stream descended into these really personal visceral and vitriolic comments, including this one guy, who recommended that myself and another female commenter who had issues in the post really just needed to get fucked, more specifically in a threeway with a black dude. Yes, I think that was the language, verbatim. And then all these people wrote in to defend me, and this other commenter, and it was a total mess.
I mean, who the fuck wants to deal with that baggage? I do not. I now am uneasy going over to HTML Giant, or at least commenting there, because I feel sometimes things get sweaty boy locker room in there, that when I am witness to it I have to play some hard-nosed feminist ideologue that I am not. That's no fun. It's no fun. So there have been other posts - like about the professor with the nipples, or the recent post on the writer Molly Young - that I have ignored, that I have not commented about. Who wants to go through that trauma? And that's what it is, trauma. Having someone attack you personally - your body, your sexuality - can be fucking traumatic. Or it can also be traumatic to here these attacks leveled against a woman, because she's a woman. THAT DOES NOT MEAN I ALWAYS CONSIDER MYSELF A VICTIM. But yeah, sexism is something we swallow we take inside. That's what Simone deB writes. It's these everyday occurrences of racism, sexism, homophobia, that we are taught to swallow like flies or else we don't have a sense of humor...this is really what Others us. By making us Objects. By silencing us. Think of Frantz Fanon a black man on the street in 1950s Paris in "The Fact of Blackness," having to swallow everyone's stereotypes of him, how this internalizes a sort of self-hatred. Do we internalize this self-hatred, do we swallow it, or do we spit it out, do we vomit it out on others, a medusa? I have always preferred purging to swallowing.
So Blake Butler contacted me to interview me for HTML Giant, for the book, which is so super supportive and great of him. And I kind of said I didn't know. That I didn't really want to subject myself to the comment bile. And we had a back and forth. And I said yeah I would be interviewed if all of these issues were brought up (well that wouldn't be necessary now, they have already been, exorcism and bile and all). And he said sure, but haven't heard back from him. Because I know he doesn't want to be political about this issue, that he feels distracts from the site. And I can't help it. I'm like super fucking political. That doesn't mean I'm humorless. But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it's overhasty to judge HTML Giant for the occasional trolls. Maybe I am being oversensitive. This is something I am aware of.
But, anyway, so the writer who originally wrote the Molly Young post at HTML Giant brought up these issues yesterday, the idea that some women were boycotting HTML Giant, or feeling tremulous about commenting, not wanting to subject themselves to abuse (I've heard this from several women writers I admire). And of course when I do decide, yes, I have to comment, I get attacked. Not by all, of course, the majority were really supportive and made really intelligent thoughtful comments, only by a couple of people. But do these people know what attacking is? how to fucking have an argument without getting personal? And slinging the grossest cliches of feminism? I'm totally down for an argument, critique my line of thinking, yes, please, even be emotional and passionate about it, that's okay. But it's totally different to critique someone's thinking, or argument, and to just go straight from the jugular or lower lower below the belt and get really personal.
I'm sure some of you that have been feeling cringy about my recent posts about violence and female murderesses (I understand your cringing, I am trying to work this out, my relationships to my fascination with the female criminal as well as my own intense empathy with victims) will be surprised to know that I am really just a permanent victim! That all I do is think of myself as a victim and feel paranoid inside the world! And that I have a million cats! But really just need to play with my pussy! Really I just need to get fucked! This same toad who commented on the Zelda post came back with a vengeance (you have to scroll down way in the comments it's at the end.)
And what did I do? Of course I commented. Again. (And this time I did get personal, because now to me it is really personal). Because last time he made that comment about the threesome he successfully silenced me, and I let others defend me, and I hated myself for that. Because I feel this sort of abusive attack is meant to silence. A shut your mouth woman. But how much time do I need to waste defending myself? It's like the comments stream equivalent of walking by a construction site. And what is the idea? That I don't fuck men? And if that were true, that I hate men? Because I have feminist ideals? Because I cringe at overly sexist language or hate speech? And if I fucked more men, in multitudes, that would somehow be the equivalent of a spa session?
What I wanted to do was match his id with id, what I WANTED to write is, Hey, asshole, I have fucked and been fucked in multitudes in my life, I have been good and fucked as Henry Miller writes, and you know what? Jerks like you still fucking piss me off. What kind of arrogance is that, really? It's old man Freud shit. The cock is the cure. The cock and the baby (the last one is Freud and Nietzsche). So what's the idea? If I have a cock in my mouth I'll somehow be silent? If I have a cock up me at all times I'll somehow be calm? What kind of language of violence is that? I really just need to be penetrated. I need my brains fucked out, who the hell needs brains. What I WANTED to write is, Hey, asshole, I do yoga every day, I get pleasured quite frequently, thank you, I do breathing exercises and you still piss me the fuck off assholes like you will piss me the fuck off will drive me will make me alive with hate and rage until the day I fucking die.
THIS is what I wrote (much more considered and rational):
When I “attacked” Jimmy, I was critiquing his post, not attacking him personally, I believe. I said it was a dumb post and I called him on it. I wasn’t saying that Jimmy is unintelligent, I actually think many of his posts are quite clever. But I thought this one on Zelda was way uninformed and offbase, and I felt compelled to defend a writer I very much admire. I was not one of the posters saying they felt sorry for his girlfriend. Do you know how to engage in an argument? I don’t think you do, at all. And I don’t see myself as a permanent victim. And I’m allergic to cats. But thanks for the totally infantile carciature of a feminist which you are obviously so frightened of. It’s like you learned about feminism from the Rush Limbaugh Community College, complete with a minor in bloviating hate speech. If you knew one iota about my writing, or my blog, you would know that my writing deals frequently with violence and pornography, and not in an easy way, and doesn’t follow a completely ideological line in terms of feminism. But it’s easy for you to completely dismiss me as opposed to considering anything. If you don’t know *why* proposing that someone have a three way with a black dude is racist, then you’re completely lost. And then when I call that racist, you instead call me racist. It’s like your rhetorical style has languished into namecalling on a playground. You are honestly more lost and closeminded than any student I have ever taught (I teach gender and sexuality and race studies, btw). If you don’t know why it’s really troubling to suggest that a woman just needs to go get fucked because they have legitimate issues or concerns or ideas, if you don’t realize that’s a way to totally invalidate them, then there’s no way to have any sort of dialogue with you whatsoever, because you don’t want it.I hate having to act humorless! Who wants to play the feminist police! I don't! But when you read obvious hatefilled language, or troubling characterizations, are we supposed to ignore it? Isn't that like the banality of evil? I mean, it's not like I spend my time policing stupid comment streams, like Fox News. And I have spent ALL MORNING writing this, and was supposed to work on the novel and/or the book of essays and/or this interview with Kate Durbin I'm super enjoying. But I guess I would expect or want or desire a communal literary blog to include me, and a lot of the bile feels like an exclusion, or I exclude myself because I don't want to deal...sticky sticky it is yes.