rhivolution: David Tennant does the Thinker (lost in a good thought: DW/DT)
Rhi. ([personal profile] rhivolution) wrote2010-06-22 22:48

The Privileged Fan's Primer To Not Fucking Up

This ended up just coming out, because I am so fed up that I cannot stand back any longer and not say something. If it goes under the radar, I will be sad, but so be it. Also, when I start sitting down and writing stuff, it ends up being stuff other people have said well before, so this is chock full of links.

Disclaimer: Some places I come from a place of privilege and some places I don't, fyi (and as I said earlier, we all have some privilege if we're reading this). I also think the points here are applicable without much problem on a worldwide scale, but if anything is particularly US/UK-centric, I apologise.

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It's hard to decide if there's a point of most importance, but I think this is it:
Privileged people must learn to be uncomfortable, or no one will get anywhere.
Being comfortable usually means you're riding on privilege. The dominant paradigm's made things easy for you, and you're milking that for all that it's worth, at the expense of other people. If you have to ask 'why should I make myself uncomfortable just to ease up on someone's pain', then GTFO.

Carrying on:

- As I touched on earlier today, fandom is not a unique and beautiful snowflake. It is subject to the same discussion and criticism as anything else. In fact, its transformative and commentary aspects make it actually MORE valid for criticism, not less. Just because it is often pretendy funtime does not make it exempt from analytical thought. (Even in academia; that ship sailed long ago and it is called pop culture studies.)
More on this: the BS 'silencing' narrative and fanfic's relevance ([livejournal.com profile] thoracopagus)

- I have seen this so many places, but it's worth saying again and again and again, in hopes that maybe it'll get through to people. No one is saying Do Not Write What You Are Not. Instead, as a writer or a participant in community discussion, you must be prepared. Educate yourself first, learn the salient issues, and consider possible problem points, before you speak.
More on this: why the J2 Racefail story was disenfranchising, and how to write about things: think first ([personal profile] reddwarfer)

- Then, going back to my first main point, accept that you may mess up some way, and be prepared to accept the consequences and react properly (Teh Portly Dyke). I personally think most vital in a fandom scenario is that you need to be prepare to apologise in an effective way.
More on this: how to not be stupid while privileged ([personal profile] nicki)

- In the long run, privilege and lack of action hurts society, and it's particularly damaging--not just painful--to the disenfranchised. In this situation, criticism is meant to stem this damage. I...really can't say it much better than this ([livejournal.com profile] eumelia, h/t [livejournal.com profile] mao4269).

- If you're angry at being told you've fucked up, I find that it's useful to analyze why you're angry. Take a step back and consider how other people may read your words. (If you can't do that...yeah, I don't even know, mate.) Generally, I find that I'm usually angry either because I've been found out for fucking up, and I'm actually angry at myself for not thinking; or because someone is angry at me and I'm reacting in anger. This could just apply to me as a person with a lot of self-guilt, but hey. Also, remember that being told 'you are being racist/ableist/etc.' does not mean you are being told that you are A racist/ableist/etc. or an unrepentant bigot who deserves nothing but scorn for the rest of your days. Just that you are fucking up rather badly.

- Even if you still don't agree, consider that it is vital to argue with proper tactics, not ones that derail the discussion. If you understand satire, Derailing for Dummies is a handy guide to what NOT to do. Don't use the bloody tone argument even if you're angry that they're angry.

- And if you're still unable to see anyone else's POV, criticism does not mean you are not being silenced or oppressed. It means you are being DISAGREED WITH. Even if people say they don't want to see you or speak with you, you still have a bloody voice. (The US American free speech strawman is taken down quite well here [[personal profile] telesilla].) To claim that no one understands your POV is not true, because your POV is pretty damn present in the dominant cultural paradigms where we're at. To say that you are really disgustingly negates the experience of people who are/have been actually silenced or oppressed. Fuck.

- Some people may volunteer to educate, but don't expect it. Education is not the responsibility of other people; the onus is on you. This post pretty well sums up why this is ([personal profile] stoneself, h/t [personal profile] gloss). It takes a lot of energy and frustration and pain to do so, often as not. As for what's out there, this is just a beginning and barely skims the surface, in regards to race (Stuff White People Do). If you're reading this, you're on the internet. If you don't know how to do net-research and/or use a library, I...feel badly for you.

- It's possible to like stuff that's problematic. Nearly everything I like fucks up in some way. You just have to recognise the issues at hand, be willing to criticise them, and be willing to accept and understand people who are hurt. (See [livejournal.com profile] vito_excalibur's last point here.)

- And, finally...I've been watching Eyes on the Prize in its rerelease on PBS, and one of the many things I've taken away from it is this: consider what ideas have changed in the last fifty years that seemed ridiculous to achieve earlier but now are part of the dominant paradigm. Try to be on the right side of history, and that right side usually involves trying to understand other people's experiences, even when those experiences are so vastly different than your own.

There should be a pithy comment here, but it's late, I've spent hours on this, and there are storms coming in again. Suffice it to say, I hope this helps someone, or at the very least provides a resource of some kind. I'll be in the bar.

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ETA (23 June 2010): I'm loathe to edit too much after the fact, but here are a couple more important discussions that I didn't see until today.

take these broken wings ([livejournal.com profile] glockgal, on intersectionality and the idea of privilege)

a discussion in the comments of [livejournal.com profile] thoracopagus's post (between OP and [livejournal.com profile] impertinence regarding RPF)
jesse_the_k: those words in red on white sign (be aware of invisibility)

[personal profile] jesse_the_k 2010-06-23 16:29 (UTC)(link)
Excellent summary.

Every person, living anywhere, of any class or ethnic background, should watch Eyes on the Prize. It's certainly not perfect, but it brings together the details of history and the texture of the experience. For us pop-culture lovers, that the essential glue is popular music isn't surprising. (Getting rights to all the music is what held up its re-release for decades).

If you're a White USian born after 1965, the series will probably blow your mind, because this stuff has not been taught in our primary schools!
jalendavi_lady: Susan Pevensie reading a dictionary. (Susan with book)

[personal profile] jalendavi_lady 2010-06-23 23:31 (UTC)(link)
The companion book Voices Of Freedom is also good -- it's the oral histories that were collected in the course of making the documentary, and according to the preface includes a lot of things that just wouldn't fit into film format time constraints.

(here via [community profile] metafandom)
hot_tramp: Rita Sue from Carnivale (Default)

Here from Metafandom

[personal profile] hot_tramp 2010-06-24 05:57 (UTC)(link)
Awesome summary/roundup. Thanks.
amazonziti: gina torres looking gorgeous (Default)

[personal profile] amazonziti 2010-06-24 21:46 (UTC)(link)
Hi! Also here via [community profile] metafandom.

I'm hosting a roundup post for entries reacting or relevant to the recent J2 fail, and I've linked to you . If you'd prefer I not link, just let me know.
cesy: "Cesy" - An old-fashioned quill and ink (Default)

[personal profile] cesy 2010-06-24 23:00 (UTC)(link)
Yes, this is the resource I was looking for. Thank you!
srevans: (Default)

[personal profile] srevans 2010-06-28 17:16 (UTC)(link)
I appreciate all the links; these are great. Thanks!