Mutual guest blogging: intermission and discussions

by: JonPincus

Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 11:11


Update: for more context on why this is important,
please see Amy Alexander's The Color Line Online in The Nation

We're now at the midpoint of our first, more-leisurely-than-anticipated mutual guest blogging series.  Thanks to Melissa McEwan, Sara Robinson, Pam Spaulding, and rikyrah for their time, energy, and extraordinary posts.     In retrospect, our original plan of getting all the posts on OpenLeft and the mutual posts on the guest bloggers' blogs all in one week was a little over-ambitious.  Oh well, live and learn.

Another thing that didn't go as planned was that we didn't stick narrowly to the initial topic.*   Pam and the Jack and Jill Politics folks both said they'd like to take a more forward-looking approach than in our framing.  Since our primary goal is diversity of voices on the front page, I said "sure."  Apologies to all for not having communicated this better, and thanks to desmoinesdem, sb, dr anonymous, and Paul for their replies when plukasiak brought this up in rikyrah's thread.  Apologies also to any who see this as resulting in false advertising, biased discourse, or disrespectful towards the concern of feminists/womanists; that wasn't the intent, but I can see how it could look that way.  OpenLeft readers had said they wanted to hear from these bloggers, and I thought their proposed subjects related well to the initial theme.  Was this the right decision?  If not, what should I have done?  It's a good discussion for the comments.  On the communications, all I can say is "oops".

JonPincus :: Mutual guest blogging: intermission and discussions
And on a similar "oops" theme, apologies to Sara for missing her email and not promoting her post; thanks to Daniel for stepping in and helping.  Not one of my better moderation efforts, alas.
That said, I think the results so far have been outstanding: incredible posts, vibrant discussions, diverse perspectives.  Thanks once again to our guest bloggers; and to OpenLefties as well, for enthusiastic participation.  I would especially like to acknowledge Aviva and sb for all their help with this behind the scenes.

So a hearty round of applause, please!   And to show appreciation in an even more meaningful way, consider chipping in and helping to send Blenders to Denver.

  Pam's House Blend to Denver...


Our "stated purpose"


Before talking about what's next, it's a good time to revisit how we're doing against our goals.  I'm going to go into some depth here, and start by mocking a remark somebody made in rikyrah's thread:

what bothers me is the idea that Jon and OpenLeft think that they are actually acoomplishing anything close to their stated purpose of including a feminist/womanist perspective on the primary campaign.

This is one of those comments where there's so much wrong with it, I don't know where to start.  For example, the incorrect restatement of the topic leaves out a lot including the all-important "... and why it matters to progressives".   And it certainly seems to me that the guest bloggers are writing from a feminist/womanist perspective.**   So these posts are squarely on-topic; and some consistent themes in their posts and the discussions relate to lessons from Hillary Clinton's withdrawal from the race.

For example:

  1. dudez in the progressive blogosphere (with many exceptions of course) and elsewhere are remarkably clueless about issues related to gender and race, unwilling to examine their language or privilege, in some cases actively misogynistic and racist, and get hostile while this is discussed
  2. they don't get intersectionality either
  3. this is a real problem for the progressive movement, the Democratic party, the Obama campaign, Michelle Obama,  and more generally women, blacks, persons of color, and most especially women of color everywhere.   As Jane Hamsher says And the Big Announcement Is..., the conversation in the blogosphere is -- I sincerely hope -- about to change.  So now would be very good time for OpenLeft to take a leadership role in addressing these problems in the progressive blogosphere.

Returning to the comment, it's also an unusually clear case of confusion between "topic" and "purpose".   The specific topic we chose, which did indeed change, is just a means to an end -- and I had already modified it once without mentioning it (changing "feminist" to "feminist and womanist" in the invitation).

Our stated purpose with mutual guest-blogging hasn't changed.   From the initial proposal:

If you look at the front page posts on OpenLeft, it's rare to see anything by a woman, a person of color, anybody 26-and-under ("Facebook generation") or 60+. OpenLeft is dedicated to building a progressive governing majority, and understanding the great movement of left-wing activism in America today.  Neither of those will happen if most voices continue to be marginalized.

So let's start changing it.


A good start


Indeed, I think we are off to a good start with the posts so far, and discussions in the comments.  Encouragingly, a lot of the people in the meta-thread on Shakesville spoke very positively about this effort, even though reviews as to OpenLefties' (?) collective performance were decidedly mixed.

Overall the discussions of these difficult issues went far better than I had expected.  Of course the posts were magnificent, exceeding even my absurdly-high expectations.   The commentary was great too, here and elsewhere; for example, rrp made an excellent point on Shakesville about how  one of the posts took advantage of "the length and the form" here which is a great way of looking at all the posts.  [Note to self: use graphics in different ways.]    From a personal perspective ... wow, what a privilege to be part of this; and how exciting to have a measurable impact on demographic diversity in the netroots!

The original proposal also suggested

The result is improved mutual understanding, links with other tightly-connected networks, and a base for more collaborative and effective strategic actions.

We've already seen some tangible evidence of that in a totally unanticipated way with the Get FISA Right movement: the connections, shared experiences, and developing trust relationships around the guest-blogging project made a big difference in our ability to use OpenLeft as an early base and start up quickly on Facebook.  It also helped us keep the rapid growth going after key links from Nancy Scola, Dawn Teo, Jane Hamsher, Susan G, mcjoan, digby, Sarah Lai Stirland, danah boyd, and many others.   A focus on diversity almost always brings some unexpected benefits; this was a doozy.

So it's a great start, and there's a lot to build on.

Now what?


We're still only partway through this first iteration.  The next step is the "mutual" aspect: posts by OpenLeft founders on the guest bloggers' own blogs. There's a lot of interest in this from our guests, so while we still haven't worked out any details on this yet, it's still planned. Also, there are still open invitations to Egalia and brownfemipower; we should once again reach out to them and see if they're interested.  And we have about 20 nominations for followon posts on this subject; we should find a way to expand the discussion to give them all a way to participate -- details TBD.

And we'll try to get re-started on choosing a subject for the next round; momentum kinda petered out, but hopefully these stimulating posts will recharge it.  More on this front soon as well.

There are certainly ways to improve on the guest-blogging process; please use this thread for discussions and feedback about the series as a whole: things that worked particularly well, what you observed or learned, ways to do better next time, etc.

And shifting to a broader focus ...

Mutual guest blogging has taken a concrete step on the path to getting more diverse perspectives on the front page of OpenLeft, an important step in working through the challenges of becoming an inclusive and multicultural space.  

How do we build on this promising start?

jon

* this paragraphs was revised after the discussion in the comments over the weekend; the previous version was more cavalier and less specific about the issues others saw about the change in topic

** or so it seems to me.  See the discussion in the comments for an alternate view

Update, July 21: the "oops" theme continues with difficult-to-read poll results.  Oh well.  We learn by doing ...

Poll
A couple questions, really ...
How many of the guest blog posts have you read?
4
3
2
1
0
How many cross-posts have you read elsewhere?
more than 4
4
3
2
1
0

Results


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Useful background reading (4.00 / 2)
If I can get slightly professorial for a second here ... as a social computing researcher who's been spending time in the progressive blogosphere over the last six months, I think it would be helpful if we all had knowledge about some basic texts here.   A good place to start is with the pairing of Guys don't link and Women and children last: the discursive construction of Weblogs.

Shelley Powers 2005 classic Guys don't link on Burningbird discusses the interaction of links and "Google juice" (ewwwwww).  A brief excerpt gives a flavor:

Point of fact, if you follow the thread of this discussion, you would see something like Dave linking to Cory who then links to Scoble who links to Dave who links to Tim who links to Steve who then links to Dave who links to Doc who follows through with a link to Dan, and so on. If you throw in the fact that the Google Guys are, well, guys, then we start to see a pattern here: men have a real thing for the hypertext link.

Well, huh. How about that. Not being a guy, I couldn't understand this male obsession with the link, so I decided to call on an expert on gender roles about the issue: Lawrence Summers, Harvard's current President.


If you don't know the specific guys she's talking about, you probably know the types. It's a great party game: which netroots personality would you cast in which role for the upcoming Guys don't link Showtime series?

In a more traditionally academic style Women and children last, Susan C. Herring, Inna Kouper, Lois Ann Scheidt, and Elijah L. Wright discuss the how media coverage skews towards a particular kind of blogs:

It is [these] blogs that are privileged, consistent with the notion that the activities of educated, adult males are viewed by society as more interesting and important than those of other demographic groups. However, the blogs featured in contemporary public discourses about blogging are the exception, rather than the rule: all the available evidence suggests that blogs are more commonly a vehicle of personal expression than a means of filtering content on the Web, for all demographic groups including adult males.

So-called "objective" measurements of influence like Technorati and Memeorandum reinforce these tendencies. For a quick deconstruction of how this works in the tech blogosphere, see my comment here.

Relating this back to the progressive blogoshere: see Kay Steiger's The "new" new left is white, male, Morgaine's and my comments on  A.J. Rossmiller's Myth of the meritocracy, blogosphere edition on Americablog, Kirsten Powers Net-roots ninnies in the New York Post ... and many other discussions.  It's not like this is a big secret or anything.   It's just not something the dudez talk about.


insulting... (4.00 / 2)
since this hasn't gone up yet, allow me to fully vent my spleen here....and feel free to delete this if you want to.

First off, I'm not "confused" --- I read EVERYTHING tagged "guestposting" and at no point was there any suggestion that the topic was not going to be the one that was announced.  

And the reason that I'm not confused is that you asked three bloggers to write about an extremely important topic from a womanist/feminist perspective --- and all three of them told you that they didn't give a flying fuck about the topic "feminist and womanist perspectives on Hillary Clinton's withdrawal from the race -- and why this matters to progressives" -- they wanted to tell women to 'get over it' and take a black see to the patriarchy (sara), talk about the politics of [black] hair (pam), and blame antipathy toward Michele Obama ENTIRELY on her race (rikyrah).

YOU made the choice to IGNORE THE TOPIC, and allow your guestposters to pretend to give a flying fuck about womens issues.  Their abject refusal to discuss the topic at hand shows that they are NOT interested in explaining/representing a feminist perspective, rather they are simply interested in EXPLOITING feminism to promote the candidacy of Barack Obama.

Secondly, you take a quote from a "discussion" that I was having with someone, and then criticize me for not including the whole quote.  IN THE ORIGINAL COMMENT, I INCLUDED THE ENTIRE TOPIC, WORD FOR WORD, TWICE -- criticizing me for NOT wasting bandwidth by quoting it in full a third time is COMPLETE BULLSHIT.

then you ask "And how could the commenter have missed that the guest bloggers are writing from a feminist/womanist perspective?"

because they weren't writing from a feminist perspective -- their perspective was primary 'racial', and their posts made it overtly clear that the feminist perspective is at best secondary.

Simply because someone has a vagina doesn't mean that they are writing from a feminist/womanist perspective -- and its the height of sexism to assume that they are writing from a FW perspective.  You show not the slightest awareness or understanding of an FW perspective -- and your willingness to simply allow three Obamaniacs to hijack the topic and write about racial issues (something that has been covered extensively already throughout the blogosphere) and IGNORE THE IMPORTANCE OF THE FEMINIST PERSPECTIVE ON THE PRIMARIES show how little regard you have for women's issues.

As I noted in my discussion with desmoinesdem in the rikyrah thread

while I agree with you that a comprehensive critique of the campaign needs to address far more issues than gender, the fact is that most of the other perspectives have been part and parcel of the so-called "progressive" blogosphere (i.e. what devolved into the Obamasphere).  The feminist/womanist perspective has not played a significant role, and in fact attempts to present the FW perspective have been consistently degraded, mocked, and vilified throughout the Obamasphere.  

The fact is that the impact of race and racism have received more than adequate attention for progressives to include them in a comprehensive critique (indeed, that was part of the reason I cited the 'reclusive leftist' post above; it presents a counter-reality in which the questions of race and racism are simply ignored or 'played for laughs).  
...
But, if a comprehensive progressive critique/understanding of what happened during the primary season is ever going to be formulated, it is going to have to include an FW perspective -- and one that is taken seriously.  And what we've been getting is a series that pretends to address the FW perspective, but except for the original post by Melissa, essentially ignores that perspective.
....
The fact remains that that the Obotosphere (of which OpenLeft is part) remains resistant to incorporating an FW perspective into a comprehensive critique of the primaries -- and the "progression" of the posts in this "guestpost" series is an example of that.  And unless and until the Obotosphere understands and accepts that the FW perspective is as just as valid as the purely "racial" perspective of people like rikyrah, no truly "comprehensive" progressive understanding of what has happened is possible.
....
A 'racial' perspective on the FW perspective is perfectly valid and important (just as an FW perspective on the racial perspective is -- or would be if we ever get that far).... but IMHO people at least understand and accept the FW perspective as important before we get three straight posts that are supposedly about the FW perspective, but ignore it in favor of racial perspectives?

Finally, as to exclusion of 'riverdaughter' and other non-Obama supporters who are feminists/womenists .... this is an "Obama blog" -- if you are going to have a real discussion of the feminist perspective, you are going to have to open it up to the ideas of progressive women who are not on board with Obama because (to quote what YOU told me I had 'forgotten') IT MATTERS TO PROGRESSIVES.

You screwed up.  In a major way.  And now you are trying to blame your critics for your screw-up.

Allowing a trio of women who may wish to exploit the feminist perspective when it comes to Michele Obama, but clearly don't give a flying fuck about the sexism and misogyny directed at Hillary Clinton, was a mistake -- a big one.  Admit it, apologize for it, and then move on.  Don't blame those of us who call you on your own sexism and complete disregard for the feminist perspective for telling the truth.
 


Again, as banal as reality can often be, (0.00 / 0)
I did go to a fair amount  of trouble to compile links that included Riverdaughter's. YOU did not vote for hers or for any other blog, so you can't turn around and lay this wholecloth at the feet of others. As boring as it may be to click a dot here and there, it can count for something in the end.

          And, furthermore, really, you're intimating that the politics of hair, one of the ultimate intersection points between public and private, is somehow insignificant? My feminist education was through visual studies and film theory, which, I guess, you're arguing, is a skewed take, because the whole femininity-as-performance  business is kind of A-number-1 over in that world.
         


[ Parent ]
response... (0.00 / 0)
there is a reason why I didn't vote for riverdaughter -- I stopped reading this blog when it became Obot central.  The only reason I showed up here was because Melissa's piece was (belatedly) linked by Corrente.  I THOUGHT when I saw that it was being promoted as part of a series of guest post providing a FW perspective, that I was looking at a sincere effort by the OLboiz to acknowledge the validity of the FW point of view on what happened in the past year....

then I started reading the rest of the guest posts in the series.  And I was, quite honestly, shocked.  Sara's intellectually dishonest defense of the patriarchy left me agape.  Pam's piece was so off-topic it wasn't funny.  And rikyrah's piece, which tries to present the criticism of Michelle Obama as if there was no FW perspective ("Its because she is black") was insulting.

Now that I understand that all three women asked for, and were given permission, to write about topics having nothing to do with the topic under discussion, I don't have much of a problem with Pam's piece as written.  (although I'm still bothered by her refusal to confront, as a feminist, what was done to Clinton during the primary campaign, Pam's piece was not insulting to the FW viewpoint in the same way that Sara's and rikyrah's is.  The fault for this fiasco lies with the OL Obamaboiz, and their refusal to make the effort needed to show respect for the FW perspective.

(on a side note, Bowers demonstrated his complete cluelessness at a panel that was (partially) about how Clinton was treated by the blogosphere -- its pretty obvious that OpenLeft doesn't give a damn about misogyny, except in the abstract.)

As to the question of 'the politics of hair', its an interesting topic -- and it would be worth discussing in terms of Michele Obama's own hair.  But Pam's piece was, IMHO, pointless in terms of the election.   First off, it was about that New Yorker cover -- and if the Obotosphere is offended by it, well, as Obama said to Bernie Mac after 'criticizing' Mac's series of off-color and misogynist 'jokes' -- "we're just messin' with ya".  Pam's refusal to confront the sexism of the Obama campaign makes it difficult for me to take her objections to the New Yorker cover seriously -- her 'offense' mechanism is far too selective.

More importantly, the New Yorker cartoon had nothing to do with 'the politics of hair.'  The cartoon presented Michele Obama as "Angela Davis", and that large round 'fro is a key aspect of Davis's image during her 'revolutionary' days.   The cartoon was not about the hair in any way shape or form, and writing about  it as if it was related to "the politics of hair" is more a reflection of Pam's monomania on the subject than anything having to do with anything under discussion.  


[ Parent ]
There certainly were some screw-ups here ... (4.00 / 3)
plukasiac,

You screwed up.  In a major way.  And now you are trying to blame your critics for your screw-up.

Well, yeah, there were lots of screw-ups here, and I discussed a chunk of them at the beginning of the post.  Since I took personal accountability, so I don't know where this "blame the critics" stuff is coming from.  dr anonymous raised some good points in rikyrah's thread about the consequences of extending the discussion to race partway through, and I can also see how this comes across as disrespectful to the FW perspective by not concentrating on it for the full series.   Despite this, I still think it was the right choice: our goal was to get diverse voices to the front page, and I think we succeeded quite well in that.      

And you're just plain wrong on "exclusion" of other perspectives.  I invited Egalia, followed up with her, and asked a friend to contact her directly.  It was disappointing that she didn't accept the invitation (although I certainly don't blame her); that doesn't mean it was exclusion.  

This was our first effort, and unsurprisingly it was far from perfect.  You showing up at the end without having put in any effort and attacking the guest posters as "pretend[ing] to give a flying fuck about womens issues", and hurl around other invective at them, the organizers, and all of us here at OpenLeft isn't a particularly useful way of helping improve the situation.

Hopefully you'll get involved in a more productive way in future iterations of this project.

jon


[ Parent ]
Revisions in response to the discussion so far (4.00 / 1)
This essay was originally written last Friday; I got reviews on an early draft elsewhere, then posted a revised draft here for discussion.  In response to the comments here, before promoting it I modified the second paragraph, and added a footnote, in response to this initial discussion.  

The previous version of the second paragraph started with

Some people were confused by the unannounced broadening of the topic.   Oops.

This wasn't a great choice of words on my part.  Even though I didn't mean it as snark -- a couple of people I checked with in email really had described their reaction as "confused" -- the the first sentence could come off wrong; I can see why plukasiak, and presumably others, were offended by it.  And the "oops" sounded very flippant on my part, as if I was hadn't heard or was ignoring the red flags that some commenters raised about this.  Hopefully my revision, combined with my comment above, addresses these concerns.  

In the interests of space, I cut out another sentence even thought it was making a point I see as important.

In the future, when something like this happens, rather than attacking the guest poster in angry posts, consider simply asking "did I miss something?" or perhaps even contacting the people involved (me and rikyrah in this case) directly.  

In rikyrah's thread and this one, plukasiak made several posts that I would describe as attacking and angry before saying here "Now that I understand that all three women asked for, and were given permission, to write about topics having nothing to do with the topic under discussion, I don't have much of a problem with Pam's piece as written."    Wouldn't the discussion as a whole have gone better if it had started by clarifying this in a neutral tone?

The discussion so far certainly has been useful, and I it's a much stronger thread as a result.  Thanks to plukasiak and sb.  I'm now going to promote the revised version.


[ Parent ]
You had a topic You should have stuck to it Be an editor not a will o the wisp (0.00 / 0)
In addition if the point was to discuss the feminist perspective on how th e blogoasphere responded to Hillary Clinton, her supporters in the blogosphere are the ones you shold have reached out to.

This was just as silly (I am being nice) as the Netroots Nationa panel that was supposed to discuss Hillary Clinton and the blogoaspere and had not one Hillary Clinton supporter.

Voting in this case only had the appearance but not the reality of fairness.  This is an Obama blog and most people would have voted for Obama supporters....as was exactly the case.  What you should have done is you should have reached out to others who didn't get voted on for the sake of discussing the topic and fundamental fairness.  You should have pursued these others more assiduaously,
like riverdaughdaughter and anglachel and the folks at correntewire.

Except for Melissa, and somewhat Pam (who while discussing feminism seriously sequed too quickly into the issue of race)  Sara's post was exactly the outrageous thing she had personally written to me...wait your turn.  I am glad that Alice Paul disn't take that advice.  And rikyrah went on forever without ever discussing Michelle Obama as a WOMAN. It was disgraceful.Intellectually and conceptually so...Shirley Chishom always said that being a woman was more of an impediment in her political careet than being a black person.  


"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"
Stoller


[ Parent ]
I think I understand what you are saying, but (4.00 / 2)
I don't agree that this is an "Obama-blog".

I've read some of the least favorable analyses of Obama on this site.  I admit, I've rarely seen a positive diary about Clinton, but the commentors - yourself included - have often been supportive of her.



"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Obamablogs... (0.00 / 0)
While OpenLeft is one of the least "toxic" of the Obamablogs, its still an Obamablog!  ;)

[ Parent ]
It's a Democratic blog (4.00 / 2)
They're almost all Obamablogs now. The ones (NoQuarter and the like) which aren't are delusional or carrying Republican water. The difference is in the level of scepticism.

You have the very sceptical ones, such as Corrente, which tend to have been havens of Hillary support (although you could also include Greenwald and others who concentrate on a particular issue), you have the much more positive ones (sections of DKos, for example) and then you have a whole spectrum in between. OpenLeft is definitely more suspicious than most.

What on earth do you define as non-toxic?

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog


[ Parent ]
Open Left is a civilized Obamablog (4.00 / 1)
but one who took their rosy glasses off after it was too late to matter in terms of the discussion.  

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"
Stoller


[ Parent ]
Civilized is all I expect (4.00 / 2)
anything else is gravy.

Its politics - flavored with radicalism and demographics - I'd be suspicious is there were NOT heated discussion, propaganda, and offense taken.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Given the current level of discourse (0.00 / 0)
elsewhere, keeping the discussion as civilized as it has been here is an amazing accomplishment.

[ Parent ]
I think we just see things differently (4.00 / 2)
debcoop,

It sounds to me that you think I would have better accomplished the goal of getting diverse voices on the front page of OpenLeft by telling Pam and the Jack and Jill Politics folks that they were not permitted to post here unless they stuck to the narrowly-defined topic we had arbitrarily chosen for our first experimental iteration of this project.  I just don't see how this would make progress on the under-representation of women, persons of color, and women of color here on OpenLeft.

As to whether the process as a whole was fair, everybody can make their own judgments for that.  The way I see it, we had an open nomination process, which led to seven nominees.  I proposed inviting them all, and after getting positive feedback, I did.  I sent several emails to all those who had public email addresses; I asked people to contact those who didn't.  When people declined, I attempted to change their mind; when people didn't respond, I wrote to them again, and asked others to contact them on my behalf.  As I've said several times, the invitations to Egalia and brownfemipower remain open, and we're considering another round on the same topic.

While I view being described as a "will o' the wisp" as a compliment, I'm not completely sure you meant it that way.     I don't particularly see myself as an "editor" here.  I see my role much more as a facilitator.  In any case, I think if you look at the goals -- in the original proposal, included in the invitation letters, and republished here -- you'll see that they've remained consistent.  

jon


[ Parent ]
a suggestion... (4.00 / 2)
How to diversity your front page in three easy steps:

1) Read PHB and J&J regularly
2) If you see something good, link to it
3) If you see something really, really, good, ask if you can crosspost it here.

I just don't see how this would make progress on the under-representation of women, persons of color, and women of color here on OpenLeft.

what you are trying to achieve isn't diversity, its tokenism.  

Saying to someone "we're having a series of posts on Topic X, and you've done some writing on that subject, and we'd really like to include your perspective" is diversity.

"We're a bunch of straight white males, and you're a black woman, will you post here please?" isn't diversity.


[ Parent ]
Jon I commend your efforts and your good will...even if you didn't achieve it (0.00 / 0)
But this is still a very important topic.  And what is needed is to go out and recruit those who can discuss the topic with seriousness and from a truly feminist perspective.

Voting is not the issue. Matt and Chris chose you for certain reasons.  The blog didn't get to vote on your choice.  They chose Paul to fulfill a certain role.  Wedidin't vote on him.  Contact the people I mentioned.... the Talk Left People. also ..are a good idea...Jeralyn ( who is probably less interested in writing about this) and certainly Big Tent Democrat, aka Armando, discussed this a lot.  

Don't get lost in the weeds of the process.  Look at the goal. The goal in this case was not just diversity but the topic of Hillary Clinton from a feminist perspective.

As a long time feminist I still think thee is a lot to talk  about...invite Melissa back....she's clear, precise and very articulate about the issue.  

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"
Stoller


[ Parent ]
But the blog did get to vote for Jon's idea, (4.00 / 1)
which was the point of origination of this whole process. It was put up for vote in the American Blogger. I'm a little unclear as to which Paul you're referring to there, but it strikes me as pretty skewed to suggest that Jon shouldn't be the one to execute his own idea.
  I do hope, though, that you choose to post yourself at some point, debcoop.  

[ Parent ]
The process, and TalkLeft (4.00 / 1)
debcoop,

As sb says, Matt and Chris didn't choose me.  Several of us proposed some similar ideas and OpenLeft readers selected the merged proposal in American Blogger.  Working with the others, I then wrote up a detailed proposal, incorporating and crediting suggestions, making the goals as clear as I could.  Matt and Mike both expressed support, as did many others.  I offered to lead the first iteration, and it was accepted.  The process was about as open and transparent as you can get on a blog.  

The TalkLeft people declined the invitation to post in this round, although expressed interest in future guest-blogging.  As with Pam and Jack and Jill Politics, I followed up and encouraged them to take a different interpretation of the topic if that would work; however, they felt it was too far out of scope.  Oh well.

Melissa and the other Shakesville bloggers are clear, precise, and very articulate about this and many other issues.  Apparently a handful of OpenLefties signed up over there, and I hope others follow their lead and continue to visit frequently.  We still haven't thought much about "repeat visits" from guest bloggers.  Hmm, maybe I'll take my own advice and follow up on this in a top-level comment of my own ...

jon

PS: there's probably still more to discuss on this front ... if you'd like to continue, could you please do it as a top-level comment?  i think we're all feeling a little squeeeezed right now.


[ Parent ]
the whole first portion of my piece (4.00 / 4)
If you did read it, pointed directly at the mysogyny directed at Hillary Clinton by the MSM, and in fact all women who run for political office, and included the incessant fixation on style rather than substance that has openly gay women even further boxed in for "political consumption."

The cartoon was not about the hair in any way shape or form, and writing about it as if it was related to "the politics of hair" is more a reflection of Pam's monomania on the subject than anything having to do with anything under discussion.  

Wow. Is that off-base. Clearly you don't read my blog on a regular basis, because, while I have discussed the politics of hair from time to time (something few progressive bloggers do), I am hardly fixated on it, as you suggest. I simply pointed to it in this particular piece precisely because no one was blogging about this aspect of the radicalization of Michelle Obama. That you cannot see any connection to it is unfortunate, but it is your opinion generated from the lens with which you see the world. I respect your POV, something you are not generous enough to do in return.


[ Parent ]
what I take offense at (4.00 / 10)
Is the framing of this position:
Simply because someone has a vagina doesn't mean that they are writing from a feminist/womanist perspective.
That would be true, if you were talking about Ann Coulter. I'm on board with that. However, what is a pure expression of "a feminist/womanist perspective?"

This campaign season has shown all of us that there is a clear schism in terms of some feminists (another less than diverse movement in terms of organization) as having burned their feminist card for their support of Barack Obama. And that's even as there was strong black female support of Hillary Clinton early on.

The rift has been visible enough to draw attention to the differences, and not the obvious commonalities within the movement, and the passion for the supported candidates has exacerbated tensions already there.

Common goals of equal pay, reducing domestic violence and misogyny, reproductive freedom and many other issues that WOC and non-WOC share seem to have taken a back seat to establishing what it means to be a feminist based on a presidential candidate preference. That's particularly grating, shallow, and not helpful in advancing shared goals when the Right is quite clear about its Cro-magnon view of the role of women in society.


[ Parent ]
I fully concur with paul (0.00 / 0)
The only feminist perspective was Melissa's.

And I say this as a long time feminist who helped founded women's groups and organizations at the beginning of 60's/70's feminism.

In another venue before the primary was over,  I wrote that Michelle Obama was going to face the very same animosities that HIllary Clinton faced in 1991/92 and for the very same reasons.  They were both non traditional, strong, competent, professional, assertive women.  And the right was going to attack her for that ...even more so than for her race....her race may make it worse or not...but what she doesn't fulfill is the right wing idea of how women were supposed to be.  riyrah's post was ridiculous.

And the other posts ere just what paul siad...not talking about hillary or frminism...or aggressive feminism.

Melissa was Alice Paul and the others were Carrie Chapman Catt.  Alice Paul demanded anad fought for suffrage and Carrie Chapman Catt thought if she waited and supported the powers that be that suffrage would be their reward.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"
Stoller


[ Parent ]
there's a serious problem (4.00 / 5)
if there's only a narrow band in which "correct" feminism exists and can be discussed, and all other points of view are dismissed as anti-feminist or off-point. Given how white privilege often also results in dismissing voices of WOC who see themselves as feminists (because they are not on precisely the same line on the same page as the dominant feminist culture) is just as toxic as certain circles of the black community hurling charges of who is or isn't "black enough."

The infighting and sniping is tiring, given the state of things in this country.  


[ Parent ]
When women (0.00 / 0)
When women (regardless of their "OC" status) make false and malicious accusations of racism directed at the first woman who has a shot at winning the Presidential nomination, that is not feminism, that's race-boating.

When a woman of color perceives, and discusses, issues solely from their "of color" perspective, its not a feminist perspective.  

The fact is that Obama and his supporters have made it impossible to discuss race (let alone the intersection of race and gender) openly and honestly -- why HAVEN'T you written about Michelle Obama's hair -- if there was even an opportunity to explore the choices that black women in public life have to make in terms of their appearance, MO is a perfect starting point.  


[ Parent ]
If I hadn't been reading your comments (0.00 / 0)
for years, I'd suspect you were trolling. You seem determined to shed more heat than light.

"When women (regardless of their "OC" status) make false and malicious accusations of racism directed at the first woman who has a shot at winning the Presidential nomination, that is not feminism, that's race-boating."

When anyone makes malicious accusations of racism, that's race-baiting. However, that's not only obvious, it's a complete non-sequitur. I'm not sure that accurate accusations of racism directed at a women is feminism, either. The more I read that, the less I understand.

"When a woman of color perceives, and discusses, issues solely from their "of color" perspective, its not a feminist perspective."

Can a woman of color perceive these issues solely from an 'of color' perspective? Is that really possible? Our perspectives aren't more deeply rooted in gender than that?

"The fact is that Obama and his supporters have made it impossible to discuss race (let alone the intersection of race and gender) openly and honestly -- why HAVEN'T you written about Michelle Obama's hair -- if there was even an opportunity to explore the choices that black women in public life have to make in terms of their appearance, MO is a perfect starting point."

Obama and his supporters have made it impossible to discuss race openly and honestly? That's a bizarre statement, so sweeping it dissolves into gibberish.


[ Parent ]
Ooops, a quick apology (0.00 / 0)
Joel, I mistakenly left you off the list of acknowledgements on the promotion.  Sorry 'bout that.  Unfortunately I can't edit without repromoting.  Anyhow, thanks as well for your participation, and I'll make sure to include you in the final credits.

jon


[ Parent ]
black women don't have an independent existence (4.00 / 3)
This comment reflects theory that not only do black feminists not "count" but the many white women who supported Obama are just dupes.

The "feminist" perspective is defined to be a particular political take from which  Code Pink, Kate Michelman, and certainly Barbara Lee, Barbara Smith, Alice Walker, Lani Guinier are excluded.



[ Parent ]
Well said indeed! (0.00 / 0)
rootless2, not sure how I missed this post earlier, my apologies ... totally agreed, on both counts.   first of all, the notion of "the" feminist perspective is already a problem; secondly, it's pretty clear just which feminisms get excluded.  

as a side note, it was interesting to me how womanism kept vanishing from the conversation....


[ Parent ]
Huge thank you to the guest writers. (4.00 / 6)
This series has been wonderful - and getting to read these pieces a real pleasure.

John McCain thinks we haven't spent enough time in Iraq

I appreciate this effort (4.00 / 3)
It is a huge turn off to see only (or 95%) white males on the front page of a progressive or "Blue" blog.

Quite hypocritical in fact.

I think the first round of this went very well and as with any new effort, I expect it will be an evolutionary process.

Finally, many thanks to the guest bloggers!


responses to Jon (4.00 / 1)

Despite this, I still think it was the right choice: our goal was to get diverse voices to the front page, and I think we succeeded quite well in that.

In other words, you think that insulting feminists/womenists by saying that you are going to do a series of posts on a certain subject, then allowing three posters to denigrate the concerns of FWs was the right decision?

I urge you to "walk a mile in someone else's shoes" here.  Imagine if the situation was reversed, that this was a Hillbot blog, that Clinton had won the nomination, and that African American voters were disenchanted with the progressive blogosphere because it had not only been silent in the face of overwhelmingly racist media coverage, but that racism was tolerated, if not actively encouraged, throughout the "Hillosphere".  

And you announced that you were going to do a series of posts featuring African American perspectives on the primary, and its importance to progressives.  And your first post presents a genuine African-American perspective, and some of the responses in the comments are clearly racist.   Then, the next three posters happen to be African American, but take the attitude that blacks should just "get over it" -- that blacks should wait their turn while white women get their shot (Sara), that the racism in the progressive blogosphere isn't worth mentioning, and that characterize the expressions of concern about racism as "hand-wringing", and that (despite the overwhelming racism of the media) the reason Michele Obama was criticized was because she was a woman.

Do you think that scenario is something that you would congratulate yourself for accomplishing?

And you're just plain wrong on "exclusion" of other perspectives.  I invited Egalia, followed up with her, and asked a friend to contact her directly.  It was disappointing that she didn't accept the invitation (although I certainly don't blame her); that doesn't mean it was exclusion.  

achieving true diversity of viewpoints -- especially when you are asking people to write to a hostile audience -- requires more effort.   And as we saw in the responses to Melissa, most of the responses to her efforts to simply explain a feminist/womanist perspective were hostile and/or dismissive, and some were outright sexist.  

You showing up at the end without having put in any effort and attacking the guest posters as "pretend[ing] to give a flying fuck about womens issues", and hurl around other invective at them, the organizers, and all of us here at OpenLeft isn't a particularly useful way of helping improve the situation.

lets be clear -- the phrase you cite is from this thread -- and its based on what you write about the lack of interest in writing about the subject of this series. (and since you've revised your comments to suggest that it was only two women who told you they didn't give a flying fuck about the topic -- apparently, in sara's case, she just decided to denigrate the feminist perspective on her own.)

As to getting involved in a more productive way -- as I've already noted, the only reason I'm here is because Melissa's piece was linked from Correntewire... the fact is that your utter obtuseness and defensiveness -- and your willingness to applaud viewpoints that are insulting to a feminist/womanist perspective, means that you, and OpenLeft, are incapable of contributing in a productive manner to the creation of a fully inclusive progressive movement.  

Wouldn't the discussion as a whole have gone better if it had started by clarifying this in a neutral tone?

no.  This was three straignt posts that were dismissive of the concerns of feminists/womenists (and I include pam's among them -- see my response to her when I get around to writing it.)   You made a conscious decision to allow the topic that was supposed to be discussed be not only ignored, but denigrated.  

The Obamasphere has consistently treated Clinton and her supporters as if they were acting in bad faith -- especially when it came to racial issues.  The fact that it has taken a PUMA movement for you to even notice that there is a need to understand the FW perspective on this campaign leads one to suspect that your concerns are simply "partisan" -- and the three posts that denigrated the FW perspective that you allowed to be posted here merely adds fuel to the sense that you are interested only in giving lip service to the concerns of FWs...


Thanks (0.00 / 0)
I've appreciated your comments and stamina.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
really? (0.00 / 0)
Paul is unable to participate in a meaningful discussion because, like other Pumas he insists on, as axioms, a number of either false or absurd points.

1. All real feminists were outraged at Obama's supposed misogynist campaign (everyone else is a fake)

2. It's perfectly ok for him to refer to "obamabots" etc. and then get annoyed when people are rude back to him.

3. Any discussion of the race-baiting tactics of the Clinton campaign is dishonest, fraudulent, and racist in itself.

4. It is perfectly acceptable for Paul and others to recycle idiotic republican spin points e.g. about Obama's supposed close association with Bill Ayers.


[ Parent ]
What's your point? (0.00 / 0)


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
point: cannot have dialog with monloguist (0.00 / 0)
Paul and his colleagues are convinced that Obama is unspeakably horrible and only blindness, misogyny, anti-white racism, or venality can explain any disagreement. It's impossible to have a dialog in this situation.

[ Parent ]
I think the discussion is bigger than Obama vs Clinton (4.00 / 1)
but that recent primary campaign brought forth some very real anger that is/was being vented (at least partially) via this diary and the others in the series.

I agree: venting is not necessarily conducive to dialog, but we have to work to get through the anger and the resentment (not get over it) if we're ever gonna have the kind of dialog you are espousing.  

BTW: Who is "Paul"?  

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
paul = plukasiak (0.00 / 0)
Well, any real dialog has to start with the admission that the point of view Melissa Mcewan advances and that Paul Lukasiak supports is not the definition of  "The Feminist View" and that, in fact, many very well respected and prominent feminists supported Obama and did not accept the theory that his campaign was particularly misogynistic. Furthermore, it would be useful if it was admitted that black feminists actually do exist, do think, and have their own perspective that, even though it is very different from what Paul and Melissa call "the feminist/womanist" point of view, may still be a valid point of view.

But frankly, I think the real barrier to discussion is the vitriolic defensive white anger displayed by many PUMAs regarding the racist undertones of the Clinton campaign. In a campaign where Senator Clinton at one point openly claimed that she represented "hard working white voters", the hysterical tone of Clinton defenders like Sean Wilentz is so classical an expression of privile resenting exposure  that it makes further discussion difficult.
 


[ Parent ]
You are right (4.00 / 2)
No one person, or group of persons, can solely and completely define any political/social/cultural movement.

But that does not invalidate the positions of Paul, debcoop, or Melissa McEwan.  

The identity politics of the Democratic primary were like a perfect storm because it encompassed so many cultural divisions: race, gender, generation, etc.  All topics that most Americans would rather avoid discussing with those that don't hold the same views.  If I've been reminded of only one salient fact, its that these divisions are very deeply held and felt by a number of people on all sides of the debate.  

At this point, it will take some major effort on the part of those in opposition to each other to continue the discussion (as your post suggests, and the absence of the others confirms). I can only hope that this initial contact will not become the sum total of the discussion, rather than a step toward understanding, if not acceptance.

Thank you for continuing - I appreciate the effort (and the links).

 

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Essentialist crap (4.00 / 3)
Agreed.  The big issue I have with the arguments being put forth by debcoop and plukasiak is that they're arguing two things: 1) there's a fundamental, essential feminist viewpoint and 2) they're the ones who have the direct line into it.  Paul is explicit about this in his response to Pam:
When a woman of color perceives, and discusses, issues solely from their "of color" perspective, its not a feminist perspective.  

White women, because race is not an issue for them, are able to speak more purely from a feminist perspective.  While the feminist perspectives of black and brown women are fatally colored (pun intended) by their experience as non-whites.  the racial issues is a separate axe to grind that has no place in a discussion about women's issues.

There is one feminism and only white, middle-aged women (i.e. debcoop's argument that her views are worth more than others because of her personal history) can speak purely from it because all other women's views are tainted by their racial experiences.  Sorry, but that's complete bullshit.


[ Parent ]
Our agreement is getting redundant! (0.00 / 0)
Although, I took debcoop's comment in a different way. When she claimed to have a clearer perspective for having "been there from the beginning", I figured it was an experience argument.  


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
response to Pam... (4.00 / 1)
Wow. Is that [characterization of Pam's interest in the 'politics of hair' as 'monomania'] off-base. Clearly you don't read my blog on a regular basis, because, while I have discussed the politics of hair from time to time (something few progressive bloggers do), I am hardly fixated on it, as you suggest.

you're right -- monomania is a gross exaggeration.  "Over-emphasis" (as demonstrated by your post here) would be more accurate -- and given the complete irrelevance of Cynthia McKinney to the primary season, I think "fixated" on the subject might be an apt description.  (At least if you had written about the 'politics of Michele Obama's hair' it would have had some relevance -- but then, you'd have to actually criticize her, given your publicly stated antipathy toward straighted hair....

I simply pointed to it in this particular piece precisely because no one was blogging about this aspect of the radicalization of Michelle Obama. That you cannot see any connection to it is unfortunate, but it is your opinion generated from the lens with which you see the world.

you didn't just 'point to it'... you made it the centerpiece of your guest blog.  And as I noted earlier, the cartoon really had nothing to do with "Michele Obama's hair" or "the politics of hair" at all.  The "big round afro" hairstyle on women is not considered "radical" -- Diana Ross turned in into high fashion decades ago and it has turned into a cliche of 70's black female empowerment --- nowadays its most closely associated with Beyonce Knowles' character in the Austin Powers film.

I respect your POV, something you are not generous enough to do in return.

I think you displayed contempt for my point of view...

the whole first portion of my piece  
If you did read it, pointed directly at the mysogyny directed at Hillary Clinton by the MSM, and in fact all women who run for political office, and included the incessant fixation on style rather than substance that has openly gay women even further boxed in for "political consumption."

in fact, you were dismissive of the sexism and misogyny aimed at Hillary Clinton.  Here is 'the first portion of your piece'

In looking back at the MSM treatment of Hillary Clinton over the course of the primary season, there was an expected eruption of misogyny -- from Chris Matthews Greatest Hits and The Tweety Effect, to the infamous Hillary nutcracker -- yet what I found most interesting was the handwringing over the whole matter.

HANDWRINGING?!?!?  

I mean, could you be anymore blase about sexism and misogyny?  

And you know what -- it isn't the "expected eruption of misogyny" in the mainstream media that concerns me -- its the fact that the Obamasphere not merely ignored that eruption, it participated in it.   Describing the concerns of feminists/womanists about the blatantly sexist/misogynistic coverage of Hillary Clinton as "handwringing" is an example of the contempt of Obama supporters shown toward the legitimate concerns of FWs.  

Similarly, there was desperation by some on the left (and right) to declare 2008 a "post-racial" election; they saw their hopes dashed as the bloody chum was tossed out to the hungry media sharks by Clinton surrogates and the usual GOP shills, rife with allusions, counter-charges and just plain old race-baiting idiocy (see Geraldine Ferraro, Andrew Cuomo, Bob Johnson).

and, like most Obama supporters, the minute you are even asked to think about the sexism and misogyny of the campaign, you make completely unsubstantiated accusations of racism directed at the Clinton campaign.   There was no 'race-baiting' by the Clinton campaign -- but there is a massive amount of evidence of "race-boating" (false and malicious accusations of racism by the Obama campaign).

The closest that the Clinton campaign came to "race baiting", IMHO, was the "bitter/clinging" inspired ad they did in Pennsylvania.  The fact is, however, that the exact same ad would have been made if Obama had been white -- my criteria for "dog-whistling" was to try and see the advertising as if it was coming from Republicans.... and that ONE ad, had it been a GOP ad, would have struck me as "dog-whistle".

But the Obama campaign, and his supporters, did everything in their power for well over a year BEFORE that ad came out to falsely and maliciously portray the Clinton campaign as racist -- and that is obvious when you look at the primary season from a 'feminist/womanist' perspective.  



wrong again (4.00 / 6)
 Describing the concerns of feminists/womanists about the blatantly sexist/misogynistic coverage of Hillary Clinton as "handwringing" is an example of the contempt of Obama supporters shown toward the legitimate concerns of FWs.  

I was referring to the handwringing of the MSM, not feminists. You seem hellbent on tagging Obama supporters as sexist no matter what (I was actually an Edwards supporter until he dropped out and undeclared until primaries were nearly over, but whatever).

falsely and maliciously portray the Clinton campaign as racist

Mark Penn and that crew are well-versed in old-style race-baiting -- they know it's a tried and true winning tactic, it simply didn't work this time around; the fact that they were called on it in this cycle says nothing about Hillary Clinton herself, other than she allowed it to continue to occur on her donors' dime.

And if you think surrogate Bob Johnson's comments about Obama weren't intended to race-bait (and blacks are equally adept at that), you're smoking something strong.

I'm a strong supporter of an honest, open dialogue about race, but we won't get anywhere unless there's an admission that there were a lot of dog whistles being blown, and it played on white fears about loss of privilege. At least there was ample admission that misogyny was occurring (not that it wasn't defended once called out, but it wasn't denied).  


[ Parent ]
the puma ideology does not admit any of your points (4.00 / 1)
First of all, the PUMA supporters agree with Sean Wilentz's "race man" article in which pointing out the racism of the Clinton campaign is defined to be "playing the race card".

Second, the PUMA supporters insist that not only was Hillary Clinton the shining representative of feminism, but that the black and white feminists who endorsed Obama do not exist.



[ Parent ]
A comment to plukasiak (4.00 / 1)
In other words, you think that insulting feminists/womenists by saying that you are going to do a series of posts on a certain subject, then allowing three posters to denigrate the concerns of FWs was the right decision?

Most of the feedback I've gotten from feminists and womanists (sic) has been positive, much of it extremely so.  Overall, it's probably 90-95%, and from a pretty large sample set.  Thus far you're the only person who's described him or herself as insulted.  So I think that you're in a very small minority here.

You've had ample opportunity to put forward your point of view -- I believe at this point you've contributed more words than any of our guest bloggers.  Would you please be respectful enough to be quiet for a little while and let other people their voices heard as well?

Thank you,

jon


that was uncalled for (4.00 / 2)
I agreed with Paul's characterization of most of the non Melissa posts.  Paul is blunter than I am.

I am a feminist...an older one and an old line one at that. I was one of the founders of the first women's group in Boston at the beginnning of the new feminist movement of the late 60's early 70's, Bread and Roses named after the 1912 women textile workers strike in Lowell mass.   I carry a lot of knowledge and a lot of history.  I think I carry a lot of weight. Enough to reduce your percentage way down.

Most of the  ones who angry are too disaffected to write here.  That's why you only got positive responses.  By the end...with rikyrah's post I could barely get through it...it was not from a feminist perspective at all.  An entire post suposedly about the feminist issues with Michelle Obama and she ascribes all of it to race.  Well Michelle is doubly blessed....she's black and she's a
woman.   The second characteristic didn't make it into the piece.

This topic is still unexplored.  And Paul is persistent not rude.  And I thank him for fighting the good fight even if he's a guy.  In case you don't know Paul was the person who did all the initial, then continuing researcj on what is known laughingly as George Bush's record of "service" in the National Guard.

Now that was perserverance.  

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"
Stoller


[ Parent ]
WIth all due respect ... (4.00 / 1)
I think I carry a lot of weight. Enough to reduce your percentage way down.

Your opinion counts for a lot -- just as everybody else's does.  I'm not sure why you feel entitled to have your voice count more than others here, or your definitions of what is/isn't feminist and womanist trump others.  Reading the threads here and in the cross-posting on other blogs, and looking at the verbal feedback I've gotten from others,  most feminists and womanists who have read this thread don't share your opinion here.  If there's a huge mass of angry and insulted feminists, then please encourage them to post here.

And in my opinion Paul is being extraordinarily rude.   Whatever valuable contributions he's made elsewhere don't legitimize being an asshole here.  Look back at this thread and how THE SHEER VOLUME OF HIS WORDS* have monopolized the conversation: it's all about his viewpoints (repeated again and again) and people's responses to them.  

Above, I mentioned to you that I saw myself as closer to a facilitator than an editor.  When I see somebody being as disruptive as plukasiak is here, I consider stepping in.  This is all the more important when in situations like guy disrupting a conversation about feminism: Paul's behavior here strikes me as unarguable case of my points #2 and #3 above.  (And the same goes when it's a white person disrupting a conversation about race.)

jon

* both in terms of quantity and his use of all-caps which in this context is SHOUTING



[ Parent ]
Why? (0.00 / 0)
Because I was there at the beginning....before there were revisonists and backlash.   Because I was a founder, because I helped promote ideas and issues and created organizations.  I know the history.  That's why.  It the same defernece you would give anyone with knowledge and history.

(Now you can complain quite legitimately about my typing....which in my day was a feminist issue...just like hair matters in the black community.  If you typed well you became a secretary not a manager)

It would be the same level of respect and deference you would give to people who were active founders of any movement.  If you were writing about suffrage and had a time machine...you would want to talk to Alice Paul and Susan B. Anthony.  (not that I put myself in that category by a very long shot)  not just whoever happened to show up as you exited the time machine.  That's just happenstance. That's why it's important to search out feminist voices who weren't voted on.  It's why if the topic was Hillary's treatment in the blogosphere and sexism...you absolutely must have a Clinton supporter writing.

 

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"
Stoller


[ Parent ]
Agreed about respect ... (0.00 / 0)
I totally agree that there's no substitute for being there at the beginning, and that  I also agree that founder status justly confers some additional privilege.  Similarly there's huge value in knowing and having lived the history -- and the wisdom of years of experience; that too should be respected, and it far too often isn't.  

That doesn't mean your vote counts for more, though.  There are other founders of other movements here as well, and other histories that have been known and lived.  They deserve the same respect and privileges.

It's why if the topic was Hillary's treatment in the blogosphere and sexism...you absolutely must have a Clinton supporter writing.

No argument there.  We're only partway through the first iteration; there's still plenty of time to address this.  If you send me some email, I've got a suggestion that I think could work ....

jon


[ Parent ]
why? (0.00 / 0)
It's why if the topic was Hillary's treatment in the blogosphere and sexism...you absolutely must have a Clinton supporter writing.

Why is it not interesting to hear the viewpoints of respected feminists who supported Obama and/or who did not accept the analysis you prefer?

Respect is a two way street.


[ Parent ]
we have already heard from Obama supporters (0.00 / 0)
All of them were Obama supporters. Even Melissa I think may have been an Obama supporter...(though of that I am unsure)

I wasn't reading her blog early enough to know...for that I am sorry...she's great.

"Incrementalism isn't a different path to the same place, it could be a different path to a different place"
Stoller


[ Parent ]
some comments (4.00 / 1)
1. i'm thankful for all the work that people have put into this series, from OL bloggers to people who crossposted.
2. this is not fair:

Whatever valuable contributions he's made elsewhere don't legitimize being an asshole here.  Look back at this thread and how THE SHEER VOLUME OF HIS WORDS* have monopolized the conversation: it's all about his viewpoints (repeated again and again) and people's responses to them.

I disagree with a couple things that has said and have one major disagreement plukasiak with the way that he/she deals with plurality in the writing, but for the large part, I think he/she is perfectly within their rights to contest the idea of feminism being used here.  let's step back for a second.

We started with the idea that there wasn't enough of a feminist perspective presented on this blog on Hillary Clinton's role and position in the primary campaign.  Then we got a series of posts.  Then we got a series of objections.  One person's objections, though logically coherent are one person's objections - and they're extremely difficult to defend as that one person in a group context.  So if we could all be a little more charitable, and despite the rancour in this conversation, appreciate that there's actually, finally, a conversation about feminism and this blog taking place with some really interesting fodder for thought, that would be really happy-making :)

Jon, I understand where you're coming from and like I said, I do appreciate all the work you're doing, but I think you're not fully conscious of the power of a collective space against dissenting opinions (in any context) and that you're standing in for it here (which is perhaps a bit unfair, but then you are accorded some leeway in making choices).

You've had ample opportunity to put forward your point of view -- I believe at this point you've contributed more words than any of our guest bloggers.  Would you please be respectful enough to be quiet for a little while and let other people their voices heard as well?

This is a very common refrain from the people in power in any space towards dissenting opinion, and it is not fair.  Wouldn't a simpler solution be to simply invite plukasiak or debcoop or someone else that you disagree with to write a guestpost in the series?

Again, I'm  not trying to belittle the hard work that people are doing in this series - I think that it's arrived at this confrontation is a positive sign - an opportunity to sort things out - if people are willing to do it.  It just involves dropping a bit of internet bravado on all sides, being conscious of the power dynamics involved, and being comfortable disagreeing with each other's opinions without hating each other.


[ Parent ]
Re: some comments (0.00 / 0)
dr anonymous,

#1: thanks!  and no belittlement taken.

#2: behavior like Paul's marginalizes women in online communications; see for example Susan Herring's Gender and Power in Online Communications.  

Look for yourself in this thread: how many words are from women, how many from men?  of the words from all genders, how many are talking about the guest blogs or the topics the facilitator suggested, and how many are talking about Paul and his topic of choice?

Also, I think this highlights a significant misunderstanding:

We started with the idea that there wasn't enough of a feminist perspective presented on this blog on Hillary Clinton's role and position in the primary campaign.

No, we started with the idea that many kinds of voices were marginalized on OpenLeft: women, people of color, anybody 26-and-under ("Facebook generation") or 60+, and that mutual guest-blogging was a strategy that could deal with it.

After some discussion, we then chose the topic "feminist and womanist perspectives on Hillary Clinton's withdrawal from the race -- and why this matters to progressives" as our first step to get there.

In retrospect, I think a lot of people read into this something they wanted to see.  With MyDD and the whole PUMA community, it's really hard for me to see "underrepresentation of Clinton supporters" as one of the highest-priority diversity problem in the progressive blogosphere these days as compared to the groups we listed: women, people of color, anybody 26-and-under ("Facebook generation") or 60+.  

Don't get me wrong, I certainly wish Egalia had accepted (just as it would have been great to get something from brownfemipower, who I think was the youngest invitee), and we certainly should find a way to get pro-Clinton voices in here as well.  However, it's just not true to imply that it's the the problem we're trying to address with the mutual guest-blogging project.

jon


[ Parent ]
thank you for such a civil reply :) (0.00 / 0)
it's really hard for me to see "underrepresentation of Clinton supporters" as one of the highest-priority diversity problem in the progressive blogosphere these days as compared to the groups we listed: women, people of color, anybody 26-and-under ("Facebook generation") or 60+.

I agree with you about the first point (Clinton supporters).  However, I think there is an important set of points here in response to this reasoning.

Being a MEMBER of a subordinated group and representing a political ideology that represents the INTERESTS of a subordinated group are not one and the same thing.  While a feminist is most likely a woman, a woman is not necessarily a feminist.  This distinction is VERY important, not for the purposes of policing thought or making sure that male feminists or White anti-racists are included as much as to make sure that it is the IDEAS that are focused on in addition to the DEMOGRAPHICS. (Sorry for the caps lock :)  I've been watching a lot of V for Vendetta :))

Secondly, identity is not based on either/ors.  It is not that one is White or Not White (i.e. a person of color), but there's a range of options from the very tippy top all the way down to the bottom.  So it's important to avoid making sure that the right person gets slotted in the right place--e.g. to put me, a South Asian-American from a fairly well off background in a diversity slot for "people of color" would, solely from a racial viewpoint, is often problematic, because it's taking up a slot for a more disempowered person that would likely give a potentially very different perspective.  So it's important to understand this in terms of power (arranged by social hierarchies like class, race, gender, age, etc.)

Thirdly, identities intersect.  This doesn't just mean that power imbalances are compounded (e.g. a woman of color vs. a White woman, all else equal), but that intersectionality is a space unto itself that is way too often ignored and has its own issues.  If you extend the understanding of intersectionalities to encompass the entirety of the population of the world, you start to understand what diversity is fundamentally about.

I realize this stuff might be obvious to some, but I've learned a lot of this stuff the hard way (or, rather A hard way ;), so I thought I would share for people who are capable of doing it the easy way :)


[ Parent ]
I basically agree ... (0.00 / 0)
The original proposal talks about diverse voices and perspectives; both are important.  It's crucial to take into account multiplicity of identity,  differentiation within artificial groupings like "persons of color", and intersectionality.   I tried to take all this into account,  but as you say it's very challenging.  Suggestions welcome on how we can the processes to better reflect this in the future.

That said, when I look at the full set of seven invitees, I think it's pretty impressive what a broad spectrum of voices and perspectives they cover.  The subset of four guest blogs and specific individual bloggers was somewhat incomplete; it introduced a filter based on who had the time and interest in participating.  It's really hard to see how to avoid that ...

jon

PS: it's a useful thread of discussion ... if you want to continue it, could you please restart as a top-level comment?


[ Parent ]
This statement confuses me (0.00 / 0)
"Most of the  ones who angry are too disaffected to write here."

In a medium that promotes a kind of public discourse, and where no one has to actually be physically present - that is, where anger has no possible physical consequences - I'm very surprised (saddened?) that such is the response to an open invitation to express the views one holds dear.

Please, let me in on that anger. Let me have a chance to begin to understand it.  

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
oh oh (4.00 / 1)
be careful of the consequences thing.  As feminists, anti-racists, queer theorists, and others have taught us, there are a lot of forms of violence besides the physical.

:)


[ Parent ]
The polling so far (0.00 / 0)
9 people (I think) have posted in the thread.  Here are the results

# posts read:
4 = 4 people
3 = 1 person
no answer = 4 people

# cross-threads read
more than 4 = 1 person (me)
4 = 1 person
3 = 1 person
0 = 1 person
no answer = 5 people

Even with such a small data set, it's a very interesting result.  Please continue to respond!


Tuesday night polling update (0.00 / 0)
# posts read

4 = 7 people
3 = 2 people
2 = 3 people
0 = 1 person

# cross-posts read

more than 4 = 1
4 = 2
3 = 1
1 = 1
0 = 7


[ Parent ]
Thanks (0.00 / 0)
I didn't read all the pieces, since I've had less computer time these past few weeks, but what I did read was thought-provoking. As an admitted insensitive white guy, I think you're doing something very positive and necessary - providing a platform for others to puncture our bullshit where we might not expect that to happen.

Keep it up.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog


Re-promoting ... (4.00 / 1)
I'm once again going to promote this to the front page.  The lack of participation here is troubling for many reasons.  Most pragmatically, this is the first place that future guest-bloggers will check to see if it's worth their time.  If  they see that only a handful of people are participating, it's a pretty tough sell.  

On top of that, there's nothing at all from any of the founders.  Zip.  Nada.  A couple of them have had time to make a half dozen or more front-page posts of their own during this time.  Again, this sends a message to future guest-bloggers -- and current ones as well.

I want to be clear that I'm not saying this as an attack.  Everybody's incredibly busy, and still recovering from Netroots Nation.  Still, I think it's worth continuing to keep this thread on the front page as a way of encouraging people to participate in this discussion.


I'm disappointed as well (4.00 / 2)
The lack of front pager participation, given they have had time to write on other topics since the series began, may or may not suggest a lack of enthusiasm for either the voices or the topics covered; it would be good to at least know why for future efforts of this kind.

The importance of bringing guest perspectives on OL was to engage with the content, not simply to provide a place to post a thought piece of some kind. That's not diversity in action, it ends up being window-dressing.

Then again, if you look at the other blog I contribute to, Pandagon, there is a common theme when when I discuss certain topics, mostly when it involves race --  participation in the comment thread is usually MIA. It's sometimes true of Jesse Taylor's posts as well, but incredibly, I don't think many of the readers know he's black and that could be a factor. (He mentioned this phenomenon to me at NN).

Look at this post -- Black Blogging: Beyond Obama. You'd think that an entry that includes video of a Netroots Nation panel with black bloggers (as well as an appearance by OL-supported Donna Edwards) about the state of black politics and netroots activism would merit commentary of some kind, particularly since this weekend the Blogging While Brown conference will be held. Alas, no one was willing to step in and share their POV regarding the panel. The readers certainly participated on the entries where videos of other NN panels were posted, and feminist threads are wildly popular -- no one holds back in those posts.

Readers have at least admitted their discomfort with race on Pandagon, even with the safety of being able to post anonymously. That's how messed up we are as a country on that topic.

It's a lot of work to do to make non-diverse blogs a safe space to discuss certain topics, but thanks for making the attempt.


[ Parent ]
speaking for this "front pager" (4.00 / 3)
(Though you probably meant Chris, Matt and Mike under that term)

I've followed the guest posts, and feel I've been exposed to some vastly different (and sometimes not agreeable) perspectives on these topics).  I'm leery of wading in for some of the usual reasons, and also from a feeling of inadequacy to the task and lack of expertise in the subject.

I am glad the discussion is taking place.

I was perhaps waiting for others more senior and respected here to do so, but cannot omit my own obligation to act.

I'll post something soon.


[ Parent ]
"a feeling of inadequacy to the task and lack of expertise in the subject" (4.00 / 4)
The irony is that so many bloggers have no reservations pontificating on a wide range of subjects without feeling inadequate or that they lack expertise. I don't see many straight bloggers shy about discussing LGBT issues, for instance, or holding back on commenting on the activities of the religious right (goodness knows we don't have many evangelical bloggers on the left who would have first-hand perspective that "qualifies" them to have an opinion).

The major problem is no one wants to express an opinion, informed or uninformed on race, for instance, for fear of being accused of being racist. And that's even of the benign sort that results from all of us being steeped in institutionalized white privilege. The reticence to comment is exacerbated by often defensive knee-jerk hostility by a member of the oppressed group. It's all toxic and result in dancing around the issues on both sides.

That's the main difference in discussions about feminism (as long as race stays out of the picture) -- people have no trouble speaking their minds, even if there is wide gulf of disagreement that must be bridged.

However, people do have to put themselves out there and trust there are voices of sanity on both sides when it comes to race. I've been able to have difficult and productive long threads of discussions on PHB, but only because my readers trust that I won't bite off their heads if asked what seems to be an obvious, even ignorant question about race or LGBT issues, and I open the trap door on commenters when things escalate into personal attacks. Passion is ok, personal attacks simply cannot be tolerated or the conversation just shuts down, particularly when it comes to race.

I also feel that it's important, as the blog host, to be present and responsive in the comments of those difficult threads, rather than posting and running.

The country is thisclose to electing a black man as POTUS, and yet we're so paralyzed when discussing race and its impact on our politics, the country and this mosaic of a society in any depth with one another. You can't tell me that this isn't going to cause a boatload of problems down the road.


[ Parent ]
Fear and putting it aside (0.00 / 0)
"The major problem is no one wants to express an opinion, informed or uninformed on race, for instance, for fear of being accused of being racist. And that's even of the benign sort that results from all of us being steeped in institutionalized white privilege. The reticence to comment is exacerbated by often defensive knee-jerk hostility by a member of the oppressed group. It's all toxic and result in dancing around the issues on both sides.

That's the main difference in discussions about feminism (as long as race stays out of the picture) -- people have no trouble speaking their minds, even if there is wide gulf of disagreement that must be bridged."

I don't see that difference.  There's plenty of fear concerning being labeled a "sexist", too.

Thing is, I don't think this discussion has actually gotten around to the topic(s) yet.  Disclaimer: I think the topic is the influence of sexism in the Democratic primary and how it was (or was not) addressed by the pundits and bloggers.  So far, we've learned that, even in a group as small as this, there does not appear to be consensus on what "sexism" actually means.

We've seen a number of people stake out their positions, and some vent their bile. That's all well and good, IF that's the beginning of the discussion.

I'll put aside my fears and make an effort on both fronts:

1) One of the reasons I will vote for Obama in the fall is because of his race. (please note, I said ONE of the reasons). I think that is a powerful, even if symbolic, message to my fellow Americans and to the world. Has little, or nothing to say about whether he'll be a GOOD president.

2) I don't think that commenting upon Hillary Clinton's choice of clothing (with the exception of the stuff about her cleavage) is sexism.  I think its a consequence of the pundits trying desperately to find things to talk about that are not substantial and the lack of "proper" clothing choices for men running for public office.  I'm relatively certain that if any one of the men running against Clinton had showed up for a debate wearing a pink suit, the pundits would have had a field day passing judgement.  Sure, a few commentators made remarks about Clinton's pantsuit, but if Obama wore a skirt (no matter how far below the knee it was cut) the reaction would be louder and far more negative.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
A few observations from the discussion so far (0.00 / 0)
A lot of people have identified voices and perspectives that would have been useful to include.  Agreed; no list of 7 invitees can reflect all the different points in the interlocking matrices of oppression, nor all the different perspectives from those at the various points.  On top of that, participants self-selected based on availability and interest.   Of course it's imperfect.  

It can certainly be better, and so it would be great to get ideas or suggestions for the second half of this iteration and future series.  Please don't be shy!

Also, there was a response somewhat far down in the comment tree that it was easy to overlook -- I didn't notice it until earlier today -- and think is worth highlighting:

black women don't have an independent existence  (4.00 / 3)

This comment reflects theory that not only do black feminists not "count" but the many white women who supported Obama are just dupes.

The "feminist" perspective is defined to be a particular political take from which  Code Pink, Kate Michelman, and certainly Barbara Lee, Barbara Smith, Alice Walker, Lani Guinier are excluded.

by: rootless2 @ Mon Jul 21, 2008 at 17:23

Well said indeed.  And related to this, it's been interesting to me how OpenLeft readers overlooked womanist perspectives -- nobody even brought this up in the original topic discussions, and nobody remarked when I unilaterally added it to the invite.  Womanism similarly has consistently disappeared in the comments.  Combined with the privileging of a narrow range of "feminist" perspectives, this further marginalizes certain voices and perspectives.

jon

PS: The conversation in this thread over the last 36 hours or so has been great -- thanks to all for the continued participation!  


i'm sorry for my ignorance (0.00 / 0)
but can someone tell me what "womanist" means and its significance? :)  I'm asking this not because I can't simply go look it up in wikipedia or someone else, but because I beleive in conversations and processes as a way of mutual learning.

[ Parent ]
Re: i'm sorry for my ignorance (0.00 / 0)
a process suggestion/request: could you go off and research it in wikipedia and elsewhere, and write up a diary on what "womanist" means and its significance -- in general, and to this discussion?  i think that'd be very helpful, and the basis for another good discussion.

jon


[ Parent ]
i'm sorry but i can't (0.00 / 0)
1. on principle, i don't think someone who has no idea what they're talking about should initiate this discussion--it's too important.  I think a self-identified womanist should.
2. i don't have time really :(

[ Parent ]
re: i'm sorry but i can't (0.00 / 0)
In terms of your concerns that you wouldn't do a good job, please see Pam's post above titled "a feeling of inadequacy to the task and lack of expertise in the subject".

In terms of time, first of all, I'm sure it's not how you intended it, but your post certainly reads as if you're expecting others to do the work of educating you about on a subject you really should know about if you are discussing topics like intersectionality.  In any case, sorry to hear it; thanks for all your posts in the threads so far, and please let us know when you will have time to be involved with future iterations of the project.

jon


[ Parent ]
no it wasn't (4.00 / 1)
The irony is that so many bloggers have no reservations pontificating on a wide range of subjects without feeling inadequate or that they lack expertise. I don't see many straight bloggers shy about discussing LGBT issues, for instance, or holding back on commenting on the activities of the religious right (goodness knows we don't have many evangelical bloggers on the left who would have first-hand perspective that "qualifies" them to have an opinion).

The major problem is no one wants to express an opinion, informed or uninformed on race, for instance, for fear of being accused of being racist. And that's even of the benign sort that results from all of us being steeped in institutionalized white privilege. The reticence to comment is exacerbated by often defensive knee-jerk hostility by a member of the oppressed group. It's all toxic and result in dancing around the issues on both sides.

The first lesson I was ever taught as a writer is "write what you know."  What I take from Pam's comment is that it's incumbent upon us to engage in the conversation and fight through the internal and external policing that keeps us from doing it, not that we should lead it or set the terms of it, if we're ignorant.  It annoys me when people talk authoritatively about issues that are deeply personal to me (South Asianness, sexuality/gender, the notion of intersectionality) or that I have spent some time learning about (South Asia, immigration in the U.S., global economics, development, suppresion of dissent in the U.S., race in the U.S.).

So if you wanted me to write on one of those themes that I actually do know about--which I've offered before--I would be more willing to consider doing that.  Perhaps a better way to say what I said would be that between the level of time that it takes to develop a reasonably decent understanding of how to frame an initial conversation (I can barely do this on South Asian identity issues after years of experience talking about it) and what I have the time and energy to do, I wouldn't feel comfortable or be willing to write about something like a term in debates among feminism that I've never encountered.  How would I even know who's misrepresenting "womanism" and who's not without doing a serious anount of research (which I already have to do for my work)?

our post certainly reads as if you're expecting others to do the work of educating you about on a subject you really should know about if you are discussing topics like intersectionality.

I don't expect others to do the work of teaching me - I do it in a different context - through conversations with people I know and people I love and trust.  And in the process, hopefully, they get something from me as well.  What i take issue with is if this project is fundamentally a one-way process of people "educating" other people about a topic - rather than about people sharing their perspectives on topics that are deeply personal to them and that they can offer something others on.  For example, I could write a post on foreign policy in Burma, and I've followed it and met people from Burma, but I would NEVER put myself forward as an authority on the topic unless I absolutely felt I had to and no one else was around.

As for your comment on intersectionality - I think it's off.  I understand it in a different context - as a male-bodied South Asian-American. - than a woman of color or a queer woman would.  It makes me feel somewhat angry for someone to imply that because I don't know a particular label used in an ongoing debate among feminists and that I don't think I should go do some Internet research and then write it up as if I know what I'm talking about, that I have no place in the discussion.

Again, as I said above, I don't view this as an exercise in "educating" others - I see this as an exercise in social education - in which we teach each other about the things we know.  Otherwise, on what knowledge base are we coming from?  Some other person's thoughts that don't really add anything of substance and we have no real capacity to evaluate without a LOT of work?  Moreover, I feel like you're demanding that I provide more unpaid labor (in a broad sense) than I already am, simply for asking a question that I don't know the answer to and that I think it would benefit others to know the answer to as well.


[ Parent ]
Notes and one perspective on identity and feminism, from an excited MGB reader (4.00 / 3)
Hi Jon, Pam, and everyone else,

Just a note to say that I've read every thread in this post, and most of the earlier series, and am finding it enormously valuable.  

While I haven't felt that I had as much to contribute content-wise to the discussion about feminist-womanist perspectives, Clinton and Obama, etc., I do want to say this much:

I find myself strongly agreeing with those advocating what we might describe as a "third wave feminism" model for Mutual Guest Blogging, one which discourages absolutism and exclusionary/essentialist arguments, and instead embraces a more cosmopolitan, integrated, and tolerant approach to "feminisms" and other movements seeking to achieve social, political and economic gender equality.  

Plukasiak has made it clear that they disapprove of this approach, and depcoop tossed around the epithet of "revisionism" to describe it.

The "2nd-wave vs. 3rd-wave" discourse is probably one of the most current, relevant and heated in feminist/womanist movements today.  This alone suggests to me that the MGB series is succeeding!  

My perspective is admittedly partial, but it's informed by two tremendous books which I recommend, in order to get a sense of the strengths and weaknesses of both of these approaches:

Catching a Wave: Reclaiming Feminism for the 21st Century

Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future

I'm also a compulsive reader of the blog feministing, which I think embodies this open-discourse perspective, though many readers/commenters bring "non-3rd-wave" perspectives.  



And finally, I want to share a quick note on identity:

For better or for worse, and whether I avoid self-labeling or not, others in my society will surely identify me as a young, middle-class, white, male heterosexual American (and oh, how the list goes on!).  

This set of identity attributes assigns me to a demographic that has demonstrated horrifying indifference to progressive political and social struggles for justice and equality - including and perhaps especially feminist and womanist movements - but that doesn't mean I wish to be counted in their number.

Essentialist second-wave feminist arguments can have a terrible chilling effect of excluding me, a priori, from being part of the solution.  

Of all those labels above, I wear none of them proudly or openly, but I do proudly self-identify as a feminist.  I don't believe it's right for me to be pre-defined out of existence by someone who thinks that they're more entitled to a voice in this or any discussion simply because they "were there when it started."  That simply isn't in line with my progressive values, nor with those we've seen demonstrated on Open Left at its best.  


And looking forward in Mutual Guest Blogging... (0.00 / 0)
Jon, it looks like there is a lot more to be done as we continue to "dive into the wreck" as it were, on the difficult topics (process-wise and content-wise) of feminist-womanist perspectives, Open Left, and the rest.  I hope we'll be seeing more cross-posting on these topics, and keep deepening our collective engagement.

But I'd like to keep our eyes on the ball, too, of Mutual Guest Blogging tackling other underrepresented corners of the progressive blogosphere, as well!

I'm passionately committed to seeing some cross-posting develop in the area of environmental policy and advocacy.  This is my area of personal and professional expertise, and I have an abundance of topic ideas, interesting problems to tease out, likely bloggers, etc.  

Are you thinking about what topic comes next?  


P.S. Bonus points to anyone who got my reference above without clicking the link: it sure as hell is topical.


continuing from below (4.00 / 1)
I don't know if this is as interesting as what we were talking about below, or as accessible, but I wasn't sure how to continue the discussion :)

The original proposal talks about diverse voices and perspectives; both are important.  It's crucial to take into account multiplicity of identity,  differentiation within artificial groupings like "persons of color", and intersectionality.   I tried to take all this into account,  but as you say it's very challenging.  Suggestions welcome on how we can the processes to better reflect this in the future.

That said, when I look at the full set of seven invitees, I think it's pretty impressive what a broad spectrum of voices and perspectives they cover.  The subset of four guest blogs and specific individual bloggers was somewhat incomplete; it introduced a filter based on who had the time and interest in participating.  It's really hard to see how to avoid that ...

jon

PS: it's a useful thread of discussion ... if you want to continue it, could you please restart as a top-level comment?

To be honest, I don't know who the seven invitees are, which is my responsibility.  However, I think that the practical realities are always a part of life--and stem in part from random factors as well as who has the time, the power, the privilege (including comfort level), and willingness to blog.  I didn't put any time into this project despite that it was my idea, and the willingness to put work in (above and beyond the factors above) is relevant as well, and should be appreciated.  Labor is important and I won't denigrate your labor, particularly when I put in none of my own :)

I think, though, the notion of what is "broad" and "incomplete" needs to be expanded and refined.  There is no complete (pick your example of a disempowered person in the world that has no access to this kind of space - there are billions), given the limited availability of resources and sapce the dynamics described above.  So I would say there is only moving forward, striving towards greater inclusiveness (both here and elsewhere), and this is the respect that I  think this discussion thread has been useful--and I think as you intended it.  The question that plusiak posed was relevant - to rephrase it - the question is whether the way in which the project of actualizing the value of diversity of identities and perspectives has been fruitful.  I would agree that despite the nature of the dialogue, a stronger and more radical feminist critique of the process (whether from a woman of color or a White woman or a transgender person or even someone socialized as a man) would have been useful, despite that the work that has been put into this was great.  Again, I didn't do any work, so I'm trying to offer these thoughts with some humility, because I do respect the work that others have done.

As you mentioned in the initial process post, there is a selection bias factor, and this is inevitable - so I guess maybe some ways of refining would be useful - I think the people who have done this work like you would be in the best position to understand and incorporate this given the critiques that have been put out here.  

Some suggestions for next steps might be - to have a broader discussion about what is missing and what is not in OpenLeft (in the context of the blogosphere, yes--but also the world)--particularly since we've now had guestbloggers that have participated and could offer their critiques of the process and the space (here or elsewhere) - and have in some instances :)  The suggestion I saw from someone (can't rmemeber from whom) was to look for interesting perspectives, link to them, and if they're particularly interesting, ask them to crosspost - in other words to make this not just a "series" but integrate it into the overall processes of the blog.  Similarly, gradually moving towards a greater real inclusion of diverse perspectives (the way that Paul presents a more radical and theoretical perspective on American politics than a lot of the other bloggers and Natasha presents a very different perspective across a range of issues) - would be useful.

The original proposal talks about diverse voices and perspectives; both are important.

We differ somewhat on this - I think I would weight the perspectives far more heavily than you would, and deweight the identity component.  Essentially, it's the difference between valuing someone for their ideas and valuing them for what position in the social hierarchy they occupy.  So I would simply suggest weighting the diversity of perspectives of disempowered people (i.e. if the project shifted to including neocon voices, that would be pretty useless).  A gross example is Clarence Thomas- another gross example is Condoleeza Rice- another gross example might be Bobby Jindal  (if you're a woman or a poor person)- another gross example might end up being Barack Obama (if you're Palestinian or Iranian or one of the American servicemen who would have to fight in a broader war, anyway).

Finally, I'd encourage a more transnational perspective even though this is an American blog.  The American elections - which is a lot of what this blog is about right now - affect  a lot of people who can't vote.  They affect them perhaps more than they affect American voters, since American voters (to a lesser extent than well organized lobbies like AIPAC or the Armenian lobby or corporations, to be sure) have some say.  But American voters are not going to be bombed into oblivion in the developing south or have their government overthrown or be deported.  The perspectives of some of the people that can comment on issues relating to the American election but from a different vantage point are out there.  It would probably be feasible to simply post the plea of Valery Joseph, the mother of the 23-year-old immigration detainee who died in detention or any number of other cases like this, or to post the continuous immigration raids that are happening, or stories of the impact of the food crisis on various places int he world or other issues of import - without abandoning what the blog's core work is, but steadily diversifying and increasing its reach.   Global Voices Online is an extremely good resource for finding people.  In this sense, the idea is not to value "diversity" for the sake of progressives, but simply to expand the idea of what it means to be progressive--to support the disempowered--which to me is what a progressive movement entails.  

For example, Al Jazeera had put up a series of comments from people in other countries a few months ago about what the American elections meant to them.  I put it in the quick hits, but the division between posts and quick hits is of course a division :)

But as you say, this is a constant struggle that I have seen in many spaces - I think the trick is to know what you can do and what you can't, be okay wth that even  in the face of occasionally sharp criticism, and take the sharp criticism as an indiciation of a direction that one might be able to move forward in the future (since the voice is there).  I am happy that you seem genuinely willing to engage in it and again, I offer these as tentative suggestions because I'm not familiar enough with the process that was undertaken to give a thorough evaluation.


actually, this is even better - it's called "Voices Without Votes" (0.00 / 0)
and the subhead is "Americans Vote.  The World Speaks."
Here it is.

Some currently fronted or featured posts are:

Obama's Ripple Effect in the Egyptian Blogosphere (two parts - 1,2)

What Barack Obama Means to South African Politics

Palestine: Obama in the News

But I'd also suggest the Global Voices Online section on Elections for those that relate to the American elections.

I believe all of these are creative commons with attribution licensed, but you'd have to check.


[ Parent ]
I found the guest (4.00 / 1)
pieces extremely interesting.

I found Melissa's particularly challenging, but all of them have have definately added to the discussion here.

Lately I have been thinking about the relativly few blogs that I read.  I personally seldom go beyond DKOS, MYDD, here and a couple of others.  I like the idea of extending the network of blogs via this mechanism.  


Same here (0.00 / 0)
This is a way to preach beyond the choir - in both directions.

And then, of course, to hear from the choir and rewrite the music... :)


[ Parent ]
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