Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Self-Censorship & Being Anti-Feminist

It's taken me a week to write this because I guess this post involves calling myself out on my own sexism. My apologies for the delay.

The short version of the story goes like this: there was a party where people were pretty obliterated. After the party, people started sending emails suggesting that instead of consuming too much alcohol we had all been "roofied" (who knew it could be turned into a verb). The first mention, I let it slide. I liked these people and I knew they didn't really mean it. Then there was another email and another and another. Finally, I decided I had to say something not just because it was a bad and innappropriate joke but also because I'm always frustrated with people who see and hear offensive and insensitive things and remain silent.

So I wrote the following email:

Hate to be the token feminist . . . and I don't really think it's a solely "feminist issue" but this roofies/date rape joke isn't so funny. It happens a lot at Yale. It happened this week to a girl. I know you all don't really mean it and would never mean it and I realize it is just a joke, but I think I have a decent sense of humor and joking about roofies just isn't a good idea. Sorry to be a debbie downer.

Talk about eating your own words: "hate to be the token feminist". I was surprised by my self-deprecating tone in the email and yet I did it, deliberately. Looking back, I believe I wrote that particular email partly out of my own insecurity about my role as the one (and only) voice of dissent in this particular group. I also wrote it in a less combative tone because I wanted to get my point across. (I received apologies shortly after the email was sent.)

But I can't help but feel disturbed by what I wrote. For me, my email tells me I've bought into the very anti-feminist ideas I so often critique and resent. It also tells me that I'd rather get my point across than be ignored and dismissed because my tone is too combative, too hysteric, to feminist. Which leads me to the following, difficult questions: what is the most successful strategy for feminists and for all people voicing dissent and concern? Should we be appalled and show our outrage or should we tacitly, calmly disagree in hopes that others might see the light?

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