RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM! RACISM! SEXISM!
Let me give you an example of how the Internet is just one giant troll of itself and all of us, kay?
A self-described skinny white girl wrote a post on XOJane about how a “heavyset” black woman came into her yoga class and gave up on doing the moves almost immediately. In the post, she ended up saying a lot of shit that is pretty uncool and has been dismantled thoroughly in other posts, so I’m not going to do that here. The piece was also made fun of on Gawker and elsewhere (that’s a link to my friend Calvin Cato’s blog, and his satire of the piece is hilarious and brilliant, but not unkind). When the shitstorm began, XOJane editors decided to try to hide the skinny white girl’s identity (but duh this is the Internet) by taking down her photo and changing her last name, while the writer began to lock down her entire online presence to avoid being attacked on her various platforms.
On Twitter, Rebecca Carroll, the new managing editor of XOJane (which I have written for in the past), began to answer questions (mostly from other feminist writers/bloggers/editors) about what happened and how that piece could have been published when it was racially offensive and made the author and editors look foolish. Carroll admitted that she assigned the piece to the writer after the yoga class came up in casual conversation between them.
Now this is where I want to break shit down and get very specific with you about what the Internet does to you/us, what it demands from you/us, especially those of you/us “creating content” for the tiny little bit of money most sites offer for that sort of thing.
Are you ready? Cuz here’s how I’ma break it down.
Two women, in conversation. Face to face. (That’s what I got from the description of the convo, anyway. That they were talking in person.) Talking about something that happened in a yoga class, and the way the skinny white girl felt like the fat black girl was jealous of and hated her because the skinny white girl could do yoga and the fat black girl couldn’t.
Now, I don’t know what was actually said during this conversation between the skinny white girl and the black (her race is relevant here) managing editor, except for one thing: I do know the black managing editor said, “You should write about that.”
You should write about that.
It’s a phrase that’s innocent enough. Or so it seems. It’s a nudge to begin the beginning of an idea. “Oh, that’s interesting. There’s something going on here with what you just told me. You should write about that.” Followed by the tacet implication, “Because people would want to read that.”
In other words, “You would get a lot of hits.”
So, intrepid bloggers, working freelance, some of us with proper J-school training, some of us with English degrees, and some of us who just fell into the shit, BEWARE. When someone says to you, “You should write about that,” what they mean is, “YOU ARE HOLDING A GRENADE AND ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS PULL THE PIN ALL OVER WHATEVER BLOGGING PLATFORM YOU HAVE ACCESS TO IN ORDER TO GENERATE EYEBALLS.” To paraphrase an idea from this book, as if eyeballs have some kind of inherent value. The idea is that eyeballs will translate to “success.” Because other platforms will recognize you as someone who can generate eyeballs and will also offer to pay you the going rate for a blog post, which is on average a big fat whopping $50.
And what do you get on top of that $50? Heartache, shame, fear, regret? And that is if your hastily strewn together piece takes off. And of course it’s hastily strewn together because the Internet moves faster than the speed of sound, the sound of your inner-voice saying, “I want to take more time to develop these ideas BUT I HAVE THIS DEADLINE AND IF I DON’T TURN THIS PIECE IN THAT I WAS COERCED INTO WRITING BY AN EDITOR WHO HAS NO EMOTIONAL INVESTMENT IN WHAT HAPPENS TO ME AFTER MY WORDS ARE THROWN UP ON THE WALLS OF THE INTERNET AND WHO WILL SAY SHE DIDN’T EVEN ANTICIPATE THAT PEOPLE WOULD REACT NEGATIVELY TO THIS PIECE EVEN THOUGH SHE READ IT AND ASKED SOMEONE ELSE TO READ IT AND WHO WILL HAVE NO PLAN IN PLACE TO DEAL WITH ME OR PROTECT ME DURING THE SHITSTORM SURROUNDING THE IDEAS SHE SLYLY URGED ME TO WRITE ABOUT BECAUSE THEY’D GET EYEBALLS, IF I DON’T TURN IT IN I’LL NEVER BE SOMEBODY. I’LL NEVER MAKE IT. AND I WANT TO MAKE IT, BECAUSE I WANT TO SOMEDAY BE ABLE TO AFFORD A PRIVATE FUCKING YOGA TEACHER WHO COMES TO MY HOUSE, DAMMIT. Because I’m tired of worrying about how I’ll pay the rent on this shitty freelance pay, dammit. Because I know I’m a good writer and I have a voice that I want to share, even if it needs some massaging, even if what I need is an editor who will stop me and ask, “Is this how you want to express yourself to the entire readership of the Internetosphere?” instead of exploiting my neuroses and privilege for clicks. Exploiting my inexperience. Exploiting — even if inadvertently — my willingness to be honest about strange feelings that if handled live and in person in conversation — where they came up to begin with — if discussed in a real life, real live conversation between a black woman and a white woman that had come to full fruition without being interrupted by that ugly phrase “you should write about that” might have resulted in something that would ACTUALLY make for really interesting, engaging, powerful reading.” A reflection on the full breadth of a complete conversation. That might have come to be a *real* epiphany on race and body issues.
But that’s not what we got. Instead we got a black editor who has written books on race setting up a white girl who clearly had no idea what she was getting into, for what? For clicks. Not to forward a conversation on race, for content. CONTENT. CONTENT.
I used to be a full-time professional blogger. I’ve said and been told “you should write about that” many times. I’ve taken on controversial topics without much fear of not being able to handle the reaction because I’ve been blogging since blogging began and I got swarmed early on by a bunch of neo-Nazis who introduced me to the underbelly of the Internet and how cruel people can be. Once I faced that, I knew I could face pretty much anything. But that leads me to part two of the Internet’s hunger and its propensity to eat itself …
It’s not just the writer and editor who fucked up here. Now the entire Internet has to pile on. (Including me!) The noise, the echo chamber, the outrage! It’s disproportionate to the size of the original post, but of course any post that sets off a ripple effect is going to get just that. Ripples. Choppy water. Waves. It’s ugly. So I want to be clear here now: I’m not trying to be ugly to anyone at XOJane. I’m not trying to be hateful toward any individuals. But I am angry at the way the Internet works in instances like this. If, like the skinny white girl — we want to talk about systems that fail us, let’s talk about how paying people to be controversial is unwise, unkind and unfair, and how very often you don’t know it’s not a good or safe idea to participate in that kind of system until you have participated in it. Let’s talk about an unending vampiric thirst for the next victim to eat. Let’s talk about accepting a set-up that you both recognize and don’t recognize as a set-up because you can’t resist the idea of success or just finally being heard, let’s talk about setting someone up when you simultaneously recognize and yet are ignoring the fact that you’re setting someone up. Let’s talk about the mandates from the top that make you want to wittingly/unwittingly set someone up. Let’s talk about the seduction, ego and greed that fuel this shit.
Let’s talk about that. That’s what I wanted from Rebecca Carroll's apology. For her to — as I mentioned to her via tweets — get to that whole “I am compelled to think more deeply about my own intentions in publishing it” part she mentioned in her apology? explanation? of why the piece was published.
Let’s talk about that.
1. We’re not always loud.
2. Sometimes we’re quiet.
3. We have feelings.
4. But we also act like jerks!
7. Fuck you, laundry!
8. Just kidding.
9. DO THE DISHEZZZZZZZZZZ.
10. I wish I had a maid.
11. Parties are fun!
12. I WANT TO CRAWL IN A HOLE AND DIE.
13. I like reading.
15. I hate my mom.
16. I love my mom.
17. I wanna run around naked!
18. Jesus Christ I’m cold.
19. Breakfast for dinner.
20. Dinner for lunch.
27. Your face.
35. The subtle pang of jealousy you feel when you see your ex-lover talking to someone else even though you ended it.
37. Wall Street.
38. Occupy Wall Street.
42. The Buffalo Bills.