A short response to "things lib-communists say that you hate hearing all the time", on being accused of sexism, and in jokes.
This thread seemed to nose-dive after the conversation took its inevitable turn towards talking about how words like "manarchist" and "privilege theory" and "kneecapping" get thrown around anarchism a bit too much. We could throw in "trigger warning" too for good measure, lots of people really hate that one.
Some really excellent points were made in response to this thread that I wanted to highlight, like
I know y'all seem to be having a great time complaining about how sexism is being addressed in the movement right now but please consider how positive it is that it is being addressed, finally. It has been my experience that when sexist behaviour is called out, men rarely come around to taking responsibility for it. They bob and weave and then fall-back on the exact same critique that you all are using as the bases for your jokes. They downplay the accusations against them by going on about how stupid/annoying it is when folks talk of "manarchists" and privilege checking, ultimately, they refuse to take accountability. That failure for men to take accountability for their sexism has alienated my comrades and also, less importantly, fucked with projects I've devoted lots of time and energy into. Its been pretty disappointing to see these posts.
...which, to me at least, seemed to fall on deaf (or maybe just a little hard of hearing) ears, as the rest of the thread (so far) has been a mixture of trying to talk about sexism properly, and also posts describing various times when people have had their behaviours or words questioned as being racist or sexist when they definitely weren't. Also interesting was the idea that being accused of racism or sexism then makes meetings/anarchism/the "scene" or whatever an unsafe space for the accused, and I can see where people were going with this, but it kind of misses the point.
No one ever likes being pulled up on actions or words or whatever that has been perceived by others as directly or indirectly perpetuating oppression. Whenever this has happened to me (which is fairly often), my initial response every fucking time is to start explaining how actually I wasn't really saying anything offensive to anyone, and that's not actually what I meant, and if my intention was something else then really people should give me the benefit of the doubt blah blah and I get all defensive and outraged and really upset that anyone would think I'm racist/homophobic/ableist/transphobic or whatever when I'm totally not, I defintely know I'm not any of those things. I don't think this is that uncommon a reaction.
Problem is, even if I've been unfairly targeted as being racist or homophobic or something when I haven't been (I still haven't got round to dealing with my tendency to Britsplain, which involves me not actively supporting Scottish Independence), the fact that I get upset about it really, really isn't the point here, and I'm aware that I need to try and keep that in check and just suck up that feeling of social embarrassment and deal with what's actually happening. As we have all grown up in hierarchical cultures where patriarchy, white supremacy, heteronormativity and ableism are the norm, we will all say or do things from time to time, maybe totally unintentionally, that perpetuate this so it's really not that big a leap to accept that maybe sometimes when people point this out to us they might actually be right. And even if they're not right, being accused of racism or sexism or whatever when you aren't isn't really much of a match for actually having to navigate life with these oppressions all the time, so... maybe we should try and be a bit less defensive.
There was also a criticism that words like "mansplain" and "manarchist" are too in-jokey and subcultural and no one else understands them1 . This criticism entertains me to be honest, as we're steering dangerously close to the good old "try saying that to a real working class bloke down the pub, see where that gets you" test which is invoked now and again mostly when women or people of colour of queers use BIG LONG WORDS like patriarchy, or intersectionality, or whatever word is annoying the gatekeepers of True Working Class Politics at any given moment. Not only is our man down the pub an embarassing, patronising fiction, but he never seems to be invoked when we're talking about, say, Heinrich vs. Kliman, for example. And more to the point, in a "movement" that shits out in-jokes and memes and essays about memes at an amazing rate, I find the criticism of in-jokes and memes primarily used by women a little disingenuous. I'm not a mad fan of in-jokes and things that make anarchist communists even easier to sideline and ridicule, but in the grand scheme of things I think "manarchist" is the least of our worries.
I guess the original thread did start to annoy me for the exact reasons bozemananarchy points out in the quote above. Yes, terms like mansplaining and manarchist might make people do a little lefty vomit but what really, really annoys me about listening to feminists within the anarchist movement or elsewhere is that we all sound like fucking broken records having to keep on repeating the same shit time and time again, giving little 101s on what should be the utter fucking basics, and having to keep on defending the tiny tiny amount of ground we've managed to carve out for ourselves within the anarchist movement where we can talk to each other and raise issues that never really got raised when there were less women involved in anarchism. So yeah you can now hear women saying things and sometimes they'll use in-jokey words that you find cringey or they'll talk about getting violent or they'll criticise the things you say, and jesus it's so annoying, and some of them will even make it quite clear that they think you're a dick and they don't like what you have to say!!!1! But yeah that's pretty much what being a woman and trying to join in male-dominated conversations within the anarchist movement is like, but if you'd like I could call for a waaaahmbulance2 .
Note - I am crankier than normal due to being really sick today, and I don't think any of the posters on the original thread are misogynists, and I do have a sense of humour honest, I've got witnesses who've seen me laughing at comedy shows at the fringe all month.