Friday, October 23, 2009

Announcing: Foul-Up Fridays

Like everyone else, I fuck up – in real life, and in this forum – on a fairly regular basis. I’m afraid to fuck up, and it’s hard to face your fears – but it’s the only way to get over it. So I’m thinking about starting a regular feature in which I examine transgressions of privilege and my own behavior.

My central purpose is to answer privilege checks that come up in the course of blogging. I’ve recently decided that I will probably not engage in the comment section. This isn’t because I feel that my work is indefensible – just that I’ve said what I’ve had to say, oppressive or brilliant. If I didn’t say it the first time, and there are questions about it, that probably means a) it’s a flaw in my thinking that I need to consider or b) that I don’t have a clear opinion on it.

This is a way for me to take some time to think about and process privilege checks without evading responsibility. By taking a couple days, I am able to avoid furthering messy mistakes by getting defensive. I don’t want to be bad, and when I am, it can take a sec to own up to it in a manner that’s not superficial. I'm seeking to avoid privilege hand-wringing. This series will inevitably inspire separate posts, but I intend on keeping actual entries short and to the point - identifying the issue, explaining what happened, and apologizing. Reflecting on it in a concise but meaningful way allows me to take a serious look at how I’ve fucked up, and avoid it in the future.

Additionally, it will provide a model of what it’s like to fuck up to those who are new to feminist discourse. One of the central ways that I learn what to say and what not to say is by looking at firestorms and trying to figure out what went wrong and how I can avoid that. The forum is an organized way to introduce people to common mistakes.
Additionally, this will be a place for readers to call me out on overall trends in my writing. I think that the common derailing tactic of “Hey, why don’t/didn’t you address this particular story/oppression?” has some legitimate use. It’s valid critique, but not appropriate in individual posts that are focused on another form of privilege.

At meloukhia’s suggestion, I’m calling this feature “Foul-Up Fridays”, and the first edition will run later this afternoon.

Further reading: How to Fuck Up, on Shakesville.

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