[rant] Fuck it, everything is problematic.

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[rant] Fuck it, everything is problematic.

Post by PintsizeBro on Tue Nov 24, 2015 2:09 pm

The mention of "problematic" as a dog-whistle word on DNL Prime did kick this rant off for me, but this has been festering in my mind for a while now. None of the examples I use in this post are made up, all of them have come up in my Facebook feed, posted or re-shared by people I know.

It seems like in some circles everything is just a "race to the least problematic." They'll pay lip service to how it's okay to like problematic things, you just have to accept that they're problematic and think critically about the media you consume, right? Except now people are problematic, and they only have to say or do one thing to get completely discounted.

A few months ago, Miley Cyrus was a progressive darling for the things she said about sexism and gender expression. But then it came to light that she has a pretty stock-standard rich white person perspective on cultural appropriation, so now she's "problematic." It's totally fair to criticize Miley for making racist statements! I don't want to suggest that she should be immune from criticism just because she has also said good things! Her statements about sexism don't negate the fact that she's also said racist things. But the inverse is also true: the racist things she's said don't negate the important things she said about sexism.

George Takei, a survivor of a fucking concentration camp who has spent pretty much his whole adult life fighting racism and homophobia, posts a news article about a transgender teenager being bullied in school. Did he have a problem with the bullying victim? No, he was supportive of the victim and critical of the bullies. But he didn't moderate the comments on the post, so commenters got away with saying hateful things on his page, and that means he's "problematic."

Aydian Dowling is "problematic," not even for anything he's said or done (I've seen internet commenters make claims that he's racist, ableist, and femmephobic, but I've yet to see these claims substantiated, and I actually spent some time Googling him myself. Certainly the people making the claims have never offered evidence of him making prejudiced statements.), just because most trans men don't look like him. Uh... he's a model. Looking good is literally his job. Most cis men don't look that good either!

The examples I chose are intentional because none of them fall into the "cishet white man" category. Aydian gets the closest, (he's a straight white trans man) and he's the one who hasn't been criticized for anything he's actually done.

Most of the time I make a good effort to listen to people who are more marginalized than me. Black Lives Matter, I get it. Stonewall was bullshit, I get it. But then I see "Is Aydian Dowling problematic? No, he hasn't actually done anything wrong and in fact is a voice for trans acceptance, but he's an attractive white man, so I'm going to invent reasons to not like him." And I think, what's the fucking point?

No, I don't expect any women or people of color or more visibly-queer than me to pat my head and say it's all right, I just wanted to vent and this seemed like the most appropriate place to do that.

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Re: [rant] Fuck it, everything is problematic.

Post by Enail on Tue Nov 24, 2015 2:31 pm

I know what you mean. There's a line between acknowledging problems and seeking targets to attack, and there are some spaces where that line gets obliterated. I find it frustrating, too, and occasionally a little bit scary. I think it's a bit of a product of people who lack nuance taking up otherwise good ideas and running with them with great enthusiasm. Nuance is really important, IMO, and I'm not sure it's possible to usefully address the kinds of problems they're responding to without it.
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Re: [rant] Fuck it, everything is problematic.

Post by reboundstudent on Tue Nov 24, 2015 2:37 pm

I'm actually right there with you. I've struggled mightily over the last few months because, while I agree with the idea that racism is systemic and we need to make sure to hold cops to justice, I disagree with the way my city's BLM movement protests.* This has gotten me labeled problematic, racist, anti-justice, and so on. It sometimes feels like, if I'm not perfectly in line with everything said in a movement (and let's face it, that's impossible. Even glancing at the LGBT community, which is usually presented as fairly uniform in their goals and viewpoints, confirms there are huge schisms and different points of views) I'm 100% against it, and being 100% against it means I am (not my viewpoints, not my beliefs, but who I am) horrible, through and through.

There was a recent example where someone got shouted down because they called them an "egalitarian" instead of a "feminist." There was no effort to understand exactly what they meant or why they labeled themselves that way.... just a straight-up if you use X instead of Y, no matter your actual viewpoints and beliefs, you are Bad and deserve to be criticized.

It frequently seems like in progressive circles, there is no room for nuance or difference of opinion. It's an Us-Them mentality. It's making Perfect the enemy of Good. I'm super sick of it as well.


*Long explanation: I don't understand choosing places like the MoA or the State Fair for marches, if the primary goal is to call for actions against police officers. I really don't agree with protesting on a major highway.
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Re: [rant] Fuck it, everything is problematic.

Post by litterature on Tue Nov 24, 2015 3:38 pm

Personally I think this is bound to happen when movements focus more on ethics (both of each individual and of the community as a whole) than on goals (as in the abolition of patriarchy, or the abolition of wage labour). Politics is not a supermarket where you have to choose wisely (or, more fittingly, politics is not a social network where you have to carefully pick your retweets.) But at the same time, I'd say tarring and feathering is actually a way of elaborating demands and future dreams when there is a lack of actual political organisation. It's a way of formulating what shouldn't be acceptable, and in an incomplete way it can pave the way for actual proposals, kind of like ersatz political discussion, although I also think that negativity alone will never be enough.

The problem comes when it ties into authenticity - "if you follow X then you're an enemy", at which point I'd say it crosses into class/gender/race policing. But as long as it doesn't, it does get annoying but it's basically harmless.

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Re: [rant] Fuck it, everything is problematic.

Post by BasedBuzzed on Tue Nov 24, 2015 10:29 pm

This can magically weed much of the rage from your FB(or you just manually turn off updates for the people who do nothing but repost angry shit 24/7): https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/buzzoff/jhnikgadddmapihkfbadhpghihphphcb?hl=en

Then, what helps stem the frustration(at least for me) is finding ways to help ideological causes you support in a concrete and direct manner. I did a small stint supply-packing for refugees a week ago and there was a face-to-face discussion in the car with peeps that was miles less loaded than the ones I had on FB. Feels good, much better than winning an FB debate.

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Re: [rant] Fuck it, everything is problematic.

Post by PintsizeBro on Wed Nov 25, 2015 1:30 pm

Huh, some pretty interesting responses here.

Food for thought that this might just be inevitable when people focus on ideology over goals. Though, to me, that just emphasizes the need for focusing on goals over ideology. If the discussion does actually help them figure out what they want, I suppose you can write off the tarring and feathering as just something that comes with being a public figure. Still, it strikes me as a circuitous route to clarity and one that seems more concerned with posturing than coming to any workable conclusions. Maybe I'm not seeing the solutions part because I generally tune these discussions out at a fairly early point.

I don't argue with people on Facebook over things like this because I operate on the assumption that nobody's going to be convinced of anything via a Facebook argument. And I don't want to unfollow the people who post this stuff because if I didn't like their posts more often than not, I would have already unfollowed them. Mostly it just bothers me that yes, sometimes my more social justice-y friends (who I do like and respect) really are just looking for a reason to get mad. I read the news and think, don't you have enough real reasons to get mad? Even regarding these same public figures? Like... isn't the guy (who probably liked the movie Stonewall) who comments, "Still wouldn't fuck him... gross" on a post about Aydian more of a problem than Aydian himself, who, I feel the need to reiterate, hasn't actually done anything wrong?

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Re: [rant] Fuck it, everything is problematic.

Post by BasedBuzzed on Wed Nov 25, 2015 1:38 pm

The way I see it, you're not arguing to convince the other person, you're arguing to convince the undecideds reading along, mostly. Also, big chance your friend hates Stonewall because of the whitewashing if he takes most of his cues from virtue signalling.

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Re: [rant] Fuck it, everything is problematic.

Post by PintsizeBro on Wed Nov 25, 2015 1:45 pm

My crack about Stonewall was about someone who liked it, not someone who didn't.

I hate Stonewall for the whitewashing. It's a movie based on a historical event, for fuck's sake. But the director was so far up his own ass that he made the movie about a younger, better looking version of himself instead of about what actually happened.

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Re: [rant] Fuck it, everything is problematic.

Post by eselle28 on Wed Nov 25, 2015 2:18 pm

I wonder if that plays back into the "everything is problematic" theory. Even people who advocate for worthy causes can be shallow, hypocritical, and blind to their own flaws - and people who don't want the finger pointed at them sometimes go into overdrive to make sure other people's flaws are highlighted.
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Re: [rant] Fuck it, everything is problematic.

Post by PintsizeBro on Wed Nov 25, 2015 2:29 pm

I think when you get right down to it, that's pretty much it. "I don't want my flaws to be on display" + "I hold people I agree with to a higher standard" + [general human weakness] = Everything is Problematic.

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Re: [rant] Fuck it, everything is problematic.

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