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Growing: An Example

December 23, 2010

We have got to be the change we seek. That’s why it saddens me so much to see folks who should be allies, often men who should do right by feminists, say counterproductive things. And it’s so rare that they have the maturity and self-awareness to grow when called on it.

I’ve been on the sidelines in the #mooreandme campaign because I’m not a Twitter user and because I’ve been a bit swamped, and I managed to get just one short post up about Assange. But I’ve followed some of it as it unfolded — including Jaclyn’s powerful appearance opposite Naomi Wolf, where Wolf made it clear that in her mind, men can stick their peni into sleeping or unconscious women and that’s a “model negotiation.”

There isn’t enough praise in the world for Sady Doyle for taking this on, and for all those who lent their support. So often attacking rape culture is like banging heads against a wall.

With progressives, it shouldn’t be. Are we not the people who listen to each other, learn and do better? I had this notion that Michael Moore might not be stubborn and thin skinned, that he might just have the capacity to self-check and to say that there was more to say, that someone needs to stand up for all the rape survivors who are routinely disbelieved, doubted and hounded.

And then he did. On the air with Rachel Maddow, he said the thing that so often men don’t say, which is that rape survivors have to be heard. And then he did something that was also important, but is far more rare: he thanked Sady. That’s the difference between Michael Moore and Roger Smith. Only one of these people has the capacity to hear criticism, think about it, and be grateful for the growth.

None of us will indefinitely avoid saying something busted. Each of us will have occasions when we ought to say, “I was wrong, and thanks for pointing it out.” That’s how to handle it.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 23, 2010 12:43 pm

    “With progressives, it shouldn’t be. Are we not the people who listen to each other, learn and do better”

    I would hope that there are people in every group that bears a label with genuinely support, standing up for those, and with those that step out and risk so much. While you and I have opinions that do not walk hand in hand down the street together, this one… rape, assault, consent, blame, responsibility…. this one we are kindred spirits on.

    Together we are stronger. I have not always thought this way, that labels divide and conquer the power we have together…. But, I was wrong, and I’m glad it was pointed out to me.

    Thank you for what you are doing to stand up for and stand with people like my own daughter. I wish you the very best.

  2. Alex permalink
    December 25, 2010 7:56 pm

    Thank you posting this, Thomas. I’m glad to hear that about Michael Moore. I hate to think in terms of feminism vs. the Left, because I’m both an ardent feminist and leftist and I have a lot of heroes. The Assange case is very disappointing to me because I thought (naively, I suppose) that the Left was better than that, which is why most feminists tend to be leftist. But if it comes down to feminism vs. the Left, I will choose feminism, so I’m happy that at least one prominent leftist can admit that this case isn’t being handled very well.

    • February 8, 2013 7:28 am

      It’s more about humility than political inclination I believe. I’ve seen assholes on both sides of the barricate.


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