Occupying language: There is a fine line between victim blaming & being my sister’s keeper part 2

Dec 30, 2011 @ 4:48 pm | By TheFeministGriote | 1 Comment

“You’re never truly a whole person if you remain silent.”-Audre Lorde

Dear Self, the only cosign you need is from yourself, others validation of who you are and your body of work will come on its own organically! I often tell myself a variation of these words, but recently, I failed to put my own philosophy and words into praxis.On December 16, I wrote a blog titled There is a fine line between victim blaming & being my sister’s keeper which I published on my blog site. What prompted this particular blog was a piece I read on Theloop21 which was written by Keli Goff  titled Are feminists Hurting Women by opposing Controversial Campaign.I read the article and saw her rant on the Dylan Ratigan show and I agreed with the overall point Goff was making. So I penned my own response, I also took it a step further. I submitted the article, I had written for my site to TheLoop21 to see if they would be interested in publishing it. I thought this would be a win-win. I would be accessing an audience that I would not under normal circumstances have access to which would drum up some new traffic to my blog site and also I would be supporting a fellow feminist (Keli Goff) in the process. TheLoop21 was more than happy to run my piece and I was told via email that there would be some “light editing” and that I would get an email so that I could approve the final product. That email conversation took place on December 19. I spent the entire week fretting checking my email like a mad woman and stalking TheLoop21′s website. I eventually let it go and forgot about it.

On December 27th, I woke up and rolled over my first-first world reaction is always to grab my phone. To my surprise I had a google alert. I opened the email it was my article that I had submitted to TheLoop21. I was ecstatic. I was on a mini-staycation with friends and we were all celebrating my “fame,” I pull out my macbook and go to the site and low and behold I see “the title.” The title slapped me in the face and leveled any happiness I had. My 700+ word article was still intact and the content was not messed with, but it was the title that TheLoop21 chose to use that I took umbrage with and that painted me to its readers like a rape apologist and a female chauvinist pig. They named the article To Prevent Rape, Women should Go Easy on the drinking W-T-F!

The title takes a deliberate stance that the actual piece does not take at all. The title colors the readers perspective and perception before they even interface with the content. The majority of the comments posted were by women who were deeply offended. Grant it there were a few people who read the article critically, who did not allow the flagrant title to deter them, but those people were in the minority. As I stated before, I was on a mini-vacation of sorts therefore initially, the gravitas of the situation had not really dawned on me. The feelings eventually caught up to me. As I was doing some research on twitter it really hit me that I grossly being misunderstood.  My name was being tossed around and essentially my character was being discredited.

I felt the way Toure must have felt when he penned his ESPN article on Michael Vick and ESPN decided to name his article, “What if Michael Vick was White?”  Alongside that horrible title was an even more ridiculous picture depicting Michael Vick in white face. The weekend that story went viral, I along with many other twitter folks read his timeline, the myriad of responses for and against the article, and offered our opinions on our timeline about the situation. I learned a major lesson that weekend, even seasoned writers are in the same boat like us writers who are unknown. Writers do not have control over the titling of their work nor do writers have power over the images that will be accompanied with their work when writers write for a publication that they’re not the sole proprietor of. That responsibility lies squarely in the hands of the editor. The same way ESPN screwed Toure is the same way TheLooop21 screwed me over. Both blog sites decided that trolling for negative comments, infuriating its readers, and coloring the readers perspective, and not trusting their audience to think and read for themselves was far more important than maintaining a certain level of integrity.

Feminism is not a hobby for me, feminism is as a part of me as my blackness is. As bell hooks said, “feminism is a political commitment,” that I am fiercely loyal to. Therefore for me to be characterized as some rape apologists and someone who participates in ‘victim-blaming’ makes me literally sick to my stomach. In the article, I was talking about a very specific type of drinking which was binge drinking. I still stand behind my comment that binge drinking can put a woman in grave danger if a rapist is present. That is not victim blaming that is a fact. According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network) 38% of all rapes that happen to women are committed by a man the woman knows. If we know that and can discuss that fact with the brevity it deserves, why can’t we discuss openly and honestly the precautions that women should take? Binge drinking is dangerous for both men and women, but men do not have to navigate this world under an imposed rape schedule. Alcohol is not illegal, but rape is and I am not suggesting that people with ovaries not drink, but what I am suggesting that women be careful and protect themselves. At the end of the day we do not know who the rapist among us are.

The most valuable lesson that I was reminded of is that I need to focus on my blog more intensely and should not make a habit of giving my work for free to a blog site. Like a great mind recently told me, “In the blogosphere comments are currency and like all currency one must be very clear what you are willing to do and not do for currency.”  I don’t want my blog to live in obscurity forever, but nor do I want to negotiate my agency and integrity away for a few extra clicks on my site. Today DreamHampton tweeted some prophetic words, that is no surprise she is a brilliant writer, but her words today cut me deep right into the marrow and the core of myself. She tweeted, “..If your dreams are tied to an audience you’re likely far too malleable to be truly interesting as an artist.  I will digest these words like daily bread. My focus should be on perfecting my content not trying to get cosigned by every major blog site. I can’t pimp myself to blogs who have a different ethos than I do for comments and traffic sake.

It is fitting that this happened to me the last week of 2011. I decided weeks ago that this year, I would be foregoing resolutions, but I will add one resolution. I think it’s safe to say, that I resolve to never doing business with TheLoop21 or any blog site that trolls for negative comments by having inflammatory titles. That is a resolution that I can surely keep.

Yours In Equality,

Lutze B. Segu

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