Welcome To The Bitchery

Sorry for the silly title.

I want to talk about something else, completely unrelated to food or to deliberate misunderstandings and Internet Egos.

I want to talk about something I saw being discussed, briefly, on threads, both recently and not so recently. That is .... I think the academic language used in discussing issues of all sorts, but more specifically, feminism, is creating a barrier between groups, both here, on this board, and out wherever it's being discussed outside the Academic Internet Bubble of Protection.


Many of us are very well educated.

With education, comes an unconscious kind of privilege. As has been noted many times, in various ways, language is power. And, sometimes, I think language, and the power it has, potentially separates poster from poster, and from person to person here in this space and out there in the world. The vocabulary derails the conversation. The words separate, instead of clarifying and bringing people together.

And if it's been happening here, in this tiny place, what about for the person who hasn't taken that Women's Studies class or who hasn't even crossed the door of a university? Not because of brains, but because of time, interest, money, or just, you know, LIFE HAPPENING.

I've noticed some concerns about this issue raised, and usually immediately dismissed, REALLY QUICKLY, by people on the board. Despite the push for all inclusiveness, sometimes, people are being silenced by their concerns over whether they can discuss what appears to be an academic argument.


There's more than merit to this point. The discussion of feminism hasn't just been about white feminists occupying and dominating the conversation; it's also been about educated women dominating it as well. The movement has been taken over by an incredible amount of jargon, special words that are used by particular groups, like feminism, that not everyone can understand. This jargon has been adopted and not explained fully always, or explained once, and then, it is assumed one must google one's way out of the situation.

I do not think this is the right road to take on this issue.

Because it's happened on the Internet, it's moved really rapidly. It's also been skewed rather oddly at times, because people have moved forward, with complete confidence, in either misinterpreting words, or appropriating them without understanding their fuller meanings and history, or only hearing one history and one meaning from one person and assuming that meaning as the ultimate truth. This creates both confusion and misunderstandings, but mainly, it just excludes a large group of people from the conversation.


(A small piece of history. Academics have heated conversations over the Oxford comma, that comma that goes in a list just before a conjunction like and, or, but, and so on. So, you can imagine the kinds of arguments over jargon and how wonderfully that's gone and how confusing and off-putting that must be.)

Sure, one can say, "Well, that person can educate him or herself. If that person chooses not to do that, it is his or her fault." Or, one can say, "There are definitions everywhere. Just look!" Or, one can even say, and I don't agree with this point at all, "It's the responsibility of every GOOD feminist to read those important pieces. If they don't, that is their fault that they don't know."


But, not everyone who is a feminist, or who believes in feminist ideals, has the time for, pardon me, this shit. It's the same thing as saying, "Those poor people should just get jobs" in terms of its cluelessness.

I haven't got an ultimate solution to this point. Does there need to be an appendix with vocabulary words strapped to it, straight from the Oxford English Dictionary? That is pretty patronizing, in its own way. Links in posts are helpful, sure. I think links to important potential writing can help for a lot of people. For example, it might be good to link important ideas, like Peggy McIntosh's essay on privilege to posts. But, I'm not sure that is the main solution.


In the meantime, we are losing potentially valuable voices. The jargon is silencing people. It's a bit of privilege (privilege and privilege and privilege) unchecked, and it's not actually okay.

I feel like, essentially, by limiting the language necessary to participate, exclusion is happening and also, speaking for other people in a group as a whole, without their permission.


And I recognize spending two days discussing a small point of the history of logical fallacies, the hill I chose to stand on, in the pursuit of very little, makes me a participant. I am guilty of this very exclusionary action.

I don't want to be anymore. I think it's time to rethink the jargon and check privilege.

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