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Really Julie Burchill? Privilege On Parade

January 14, 2013

Dear Ms. Burchill,

What the hell were you thinking?

Actually, having read some of your history, I can only presume you were thinking that someone else was getting more negative attention than you and you felt the need to rectify that situation. Well done.

Please allow me to begin by giving you some information which should not matter but about which you will most certainly care a great deal. I am a cis gendered female. You appear to be the type of person who thinks that information makes a differences as to whether I am or am not a “real” woman and thus qualified to speak on feminist topics. I am also what you would call “working class,” and what most Americans would call poor. Further, I am of mixed race. Most important I am a human being with a brain that connects to my eyes and controls the things I type from my fingers. You might want to look into that because clearly your control program is defective.

Lady, you have made a profound mistake. In truth, you have made several.

I understand the basis of that mistake. You are not the first, nor will you be the last to leap to the defense of a friend who is wrong. She was wrong, by the way. She used a term that was hurtful to others. The correct response when one finds oneself in that situation  is to apologize and not use that hurtful term anymore. To her credit, Ms. Moore did attempt to do just that. Then she messed it all up by typing without engaging her own brain to finger control program.

As a writer you should be aware that the failure of an article to extend its point to the reader is entirely the fault of the author. Thus your claim, that Ms. Moore was “misunderstood,” is truly and indictment of her abilities. Point of order; we didn’t misunderstand either of you. She said a stupid thing and you said a bunch of hateful things. Both of you were wrong. None of us were confused.

When you say something stupid or hurtful and people point out your stupidity or the hurtful nature of your words that is not bullying. That is what adult human beings call consequences. You might want to meditate on that word, consequences. In the coming days, when the world responds to your vitriolic hate speech I want you to hear that word in your mind often. Consequences. They are what happen when you descend into the worst, most blatant kind of privilege, the kind expressed by someone who actively pretends to know better. Your cis, formerly working class, white woman’s tears are not impressive.

Don’t get me wrong; trolls gonna troll. I don’t mind. Hell, if I could make a living by being a bitch in public, I would be all over it. But I wouldn’t hurt people for fun and profit. That is what makes you a troll. You litany of words designed to do damage to the trans community, and don’t think that I missed that little racial slur there.

Given your behavior, I’m revoking your feminist card. You are free to continue to troll the whole of Internetlandia for attention but could you stop pretending to do it in our name because you’re clearly not one of us. The blatant disrespect you’ve show to other women, just because you don’t consider them as validly female as you are, makes it clear that respect and support for other women are beyond your limited abilities. So troll your troll self onward. Just stop pretending you give a shit about women in the process. If you can fill up a moron BINGO card in one post, you don’t get to use our name for street cred.

So here’s the thing. We don’t want you on  our team anymore. You’re embarrassing us.

I very much hope you read your friend’s article on female anger closely. You are going to see some outstanding examples of it very soon.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. January 14, 2013 3:53 AM

    I honestly can’t believe that The Observer gave the go ahead to publish this. I only got linked to it last night, and I’m still wtf ‘ing over how horrible it is, and it’s the next day, dammit.

    UK feminism, boy. Jeez.

    • dinosaursinsocks permalink
      January 14, 2013 7:34 AM

      This is exactly the reply I was dreading happening. She is NOT an example of UK feminism. She’s a troll. No-one takes her seriously. Do not judge a group of ppl by the actions of one

      • January 14, 2013 1:40 PM

        Given the number of self-identified poor, non-Caucasian, trans and disabled feminists who have responded to Burchill post with some variation of ” UK feminism, boy, Jeez,” and the number of self-identified middle class and above, Caucasian, cis, and outwardly abled feminists whose first reaction seems to be “She doesn’t represent us!” I think there may be a larger issue there.

  2. dinosaursinsocks permalink
    January 14, 2013 5:50 PM

    Would you like to back up your anecdotal points with some evidence?

    Have you seen anyone agree with Burchill as right/an example of what UK feminists (I’ll use this term, though really we don’t all agree on anything, not even what ‘feminist’ means but it will suffice for “majority of ppl who self-define as feminist” for now) think?

    Could it be here? CN is a trans activist, they must agree right? http://sosogay.co.uk/columns/the-julie-burchill-transphobia-scandal-cn-lester-writes-for-so-so-gay/ (this one starts a little academically dry, but stick with it, it’s a good piece)

    Or how about here? (this writer is white and cis I’m afraid, but does tick the female, bi and immigrant boxes, does that add up to enough ‘points’?) http://milenapopova.eu/2013/01/intersectionality-is-not-rocket-science.html

    Or what about in the right-wing press, they must agree, right? http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/9800041/We-dont-need-Suzanne-Moore-and-Julie-Burchill-to-police-the-borders-of-womanhood.html

    and this from the same paper, by a much more right-wing commentator? http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/timstanley/100197903/feminists-versus-transexuals-julie-burchill-suzanne-moore-and-the-observer-spark-civil-war-on-the-left/

    Let’s go even more right wing, with the Daily Mail, they think that women should be at home barefoot with babies, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2262373/Julie-Burchill-article-Observer-removes-content-website-issues-apology-Twitter-storm.html (I’d recommend not reading the comments anywhere on the Mail’s site if you value your blood pressure)

    Or a tabloid? One that used to have breasts on the 3rd page, surely THEY think trans ppl are XYZ/bad thing, right? http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/suzanne-moore-apologises-to-transgender-community-1533986

    A left-wing broadsheet, where the writer calls Burchill a bigot? http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/to-julie-burchill-suzanne-moore-and-all-feminists-the-absence-of-trans-people-in-the-media-is-as-important-as-the-absence-of-women-in-the-media-8450401.html

    Or the same paper where a trans woman calls for less in-fighting? http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/burchills-attack-follows-the-same-pattern–trans-stories-are-only-of-interest-if-we-star-as-villains-8449812.html

    Or here, in the leading lesbian/bi magazine? http://www.divamag.co.uk/category/comment/an-open-letter-to-suzanne-moore.aspx

    how about a previously-US focused news outlet? http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/scottee/julie-burchill-and-feminism_b_2470879.html

    Or a piece by a popular sex blogger? http://www.girlonthenet.com/2013/01/14/julie-birchill-suzanne-moore-trans-women-empathy/

    Or maybe a couple of blogs that focus on sexuality/gender issues? http://www.lesbilicious.co.uk/transphobia-in-the-guardian-no-excuse-for-hate-speech/ and http://stavvers.wordpress.com/2013/01/13/burchills-defence-of-moore-sadly-inevitable/

    Here’s a couple of tweets from well-known left-wing commentators, and activists, coming out against Burchill: Owen Jones https://twitter.com/OwenJones84/status/290386398970777600 and Caitlin Moran https://twitter.com/caitlinmoran/status/290424999800623105

    There’s nothing yet in the (very) left-wing non-mainstream sites, but I’ll include those links for completeness and transparency http://www.indymedia.org.uk/ & http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/

    There’s a helpful piece on intersectionality from (what I feel is) the leftest mainstream media news weekly, if you’ve not yet googled that term http://www.newstatesman.com/lifestyle/2012/10/intersectionality-let-me-google-you

    The UK left isn’t devoid of its issues, certainly last year there was a ‘storm’ when a cis-women-only event was announced. Except it ended up being closed, because “UK feminists” shouted about the unfairness of it (http://www.lesbilicious.co.uk/the-responses-to-radfem2012-show-our-queer-and-feminist-communities-to-be-standing-strong-against-transphobia/). We are not perfect by any means, but my experience of my own community is that we are relatively good at tackling issues when they arise. Of course we won’t always be aware of what others who are marginalised in different ways go through, but we can listen and adapt when we are educated.

    I’m trying to ignore the passive-aggressive implication that I belong to the latter grouping in your comment as you can only judge what you see. You may wish to read the above link on intersectionality though and rethink that part of your reply. Or you could carry on judging me by my outer shell, but that seems kind of hypocritical, no?

    I said to you last night that using Burchill was a bad idea because people will assume she’s the voice of *insert group*. And they did. I think it detracts from the issue which I believe should be about the bigotry trans people face.

    • January 14, 2013 7:47 PM

      Would you like to back up your anecdotal points with some evidence?

      No, you’re right. Burchill’s behavior; leaping into a criticism that had nothing to do with her, making it about her, throwing out insults, (your “race activist,” comment on Twitter was really over the line), creating an insult where none existed, and playing the victim while employing White Woman’s Tears is totally singular to her. Oh, wait.

      Check yourself before you make yourself look even more foolish.

      • dinosaursinsocks permalink
        January 14, 2013 8:00 PM

        I mentioned that on Twitter because I expect more from you as a race activist. I expect you not to make assumptions about me based on demographics you’ve presumed I belong to.

        I have never defended Burchill, and no-one in the evidence I have provided has either. I repeat, she is a troll, she is not representative of UK feminism.

        You really do want to read the intersectionality thing, trying to say I’m lying/playing victim/have less of a voice because I’m disagreeing with you is bad form.

        Do you want to try again and answer the reply this time?

        • January 15, 2013 1:29 AM

          I mentioned that on Twitter because I expect more from you as a race activist.

          I don’t care why you said it and said it again. Don’t.
          Reducing me to an activist of one kind based on my race, as opposed to an activist in general; because I am also an activist when it comes to queer, economic and feminist issues as well as as much of an ally as I am able to be to those groups of which I am not a part, is no kind of acceptable.

          I would expect that anyone, activist or not, would, once it had been made clear that they had made a statement that was demeaning, not make that statement again.

          Ironically that is exactly the point of this post. When a person does something wrong they can either stop and think or they can let their privilege take over their brain to fingers filter and dig deeper. Moore chose to dig deeper in the face of criticism. Birchill chose to leap in front of the negative aspects of a criticism of someone else. You have managed to do both.

          I repeat, she is a troll, she is not representative of UK feminism.

          So did I. I specifically called her a troll and made clear that she wasn’t anything that any rational person would consider a feminist. And yet, you decided to start defending UK feminism against an accusation that I never made.

          The person who did make is from the UK and has experience of the day to day issues that trans, poor, disabled WoC face in feminist circles there. In reading the comments on Birchill’s “article” you would have seen a not small number of the same sentiment. A shrug and some version of “Well, that’s UK feminism for you.” None of them consider Birchill representative of UK feminism but all of them appear to see exactly the same issues of which Birchill is the far extreme.

          So now you have two choices, you can listen to the voices of the women in the UK who are all seeing the same problems, or you can continue to find a problem with a post you had decided was a problem before it have ever been written, and keep making it clear that Birchill’s behavior is not so very rare, just extreme.

  3. dinosaursinsocks permalink
    January 15, 2013 8:29 AM

    (WordPress does an annoying squishing thing, so I’ve put this as a new comment for ease of reading)

    “Reducing me to an activist of one kind based on my race”

    Could you point to where I’ve based anything on your race? Cause I’d assumed you don’t have to be non-white in order to argue on matters of race? (whilst we’re enlightening, Caucasian isn’t a term that’s really used any more. I thought it was just in the UK, but a quick glance at Wikipedia suggests it’s the US too. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caucasian_race#Usage_in_the_United_States )

    I use/d the term as I believe it’s an accepted one (a UK link http://blackactivistsrisingagainstcuts.blogspot.co.uk/ it does seem less common in the US, racial seems to be preferred, but it is used to describe two people on this page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Great_Floridians). As you may be aware, Twitter only allows a small amount of characters. This is the 2nd time you’ve tried to imply something bad/bigoted about me because of having to edit to fit into a tweet. You might want to keep an eye on that. I chose it from the variety of things you’ve blogged about because it is the most frequent. “Activist” alone felt too close to “career protester”, which is a derogatory term here. If you’d like to explain why that’s offensive, please do. (I usually here add that I’ll attempt not to use it in front of you in future, except unless you actually answer my question, which I’ll ask again shortly, this is my final attempt. You’re doing a very good job picking only the parts of my replies that you want to, I know you’re aware of derailing so it seems fruitless to ask you to educate yourself on that)

    “let their privilege take over”

    You don’t seem to have read the articles on intersectionality yet? You really do want to. Or you should at least stop assuming that I’m somehow ‘higher’ in the points game than you. That’s kind of what intersectionality is about really. Not assuming the ways in which you’re marginalised are more worthy than other peoples.

    “And yet, you decided to start defending UK feminism against an accusation that I never made.”

    No, you didn’t. A reply to your post did. That is what I originally replied to, not you.

    “The person who did make is from the UK and has experience of the day to day issues that trans, poor, disabled WoC face in feminist circles there.”

    I’ve asked, and I will again, for something about this? I’ve checked various places, written by various people, and I can’t find anything. I’d actually like to find something so that I could, at the very least, alert a few people I know who might be able to shout louder and start making changes. It would genuinely be helpful if you could answer my replies from earlier and give me something tangible to work from.

    “you can listen to the voices of the women in the UK who are all seeing the same problems,”

    You are aware that I’m in the UK, right? That I am in these circles of people, experience the things you’re telling me I’m wrong about and need to learn about?

    “you can continue to find a problem with a post you had decided was a problem before it have ever been written,”

    And you had decided would make good blog fodder http://twitpic.com/bvge83

    “and keep making it clear that Birchill’s behaviour is not so very rare, just extreme.”

    I’ll again use the example of West Boro. Burchill isn’t so much ‘rare’ as a one off. She’s made a living out of being offensive. Hence telling you I thought it was a bad idea to equate her with the topic (there’s a screenshot of that here, in case you wanted it http://twitpic.com/bvg557)

    ———–

    So, would you like to try again? Give me some examples/evidence of “self-identified poor, non-Caucasian, trans and disabled feminists who have responded to Burchill post with some variation of ” UK feminism, boy, Jeez,””? (I am going to assume that you’ll not, in which case I bid you farewell and wish you all the best for your endeavours).

    • January 15, 2013 10:36 AM

      Give me some examples/evidence of “self-identified poor, non-Caucasian, trans and disabled feminists who have responded to Burchill post with some variation of ” UK feminism, boy, Jeez,””?

      I already did. There’s one right there in the comments on this post. But I want to be clear, Birchill is not the best example of the perceived issues in UK feminism. You are.

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