Monday, November 07, 2011


So, a trending hashtag on Twitter right now is #mencallmethings, and that takes me back to the halcyon days of the web.

Why are there no pictures of Sidra online?

Well, I'll tell you why: Toupsie's Babes of the Web. Remember Toupsie's? And other things like it. I don't remember others by name. Toupsie always just struck me as a really good name for a miniature poodle, so I remembered it even after all these years.

Here's what horrified me about Toupsie and his ilk: the idea that I'd be sexually objectified by men I couldn't even see, that I couldn't even know were looking at me, was fucking creepy. More importantly, that I'd be judged before I opened my mouth, before I even posted a blog, all of that, just pissed me off. So I implemented a no-pictures policy from my first days online.

Now that I'm in my 40s, and therefore, by definition, fat and ugly (should be so lucky to be raped, amirite, all you woman-hating trolls out there?), I have allowed a very small number of pictures online, still just for marketing purposes when you get down to it (Writers of the Future, JAWS Symposium, my legal fellowship, etc.).

Yeah. If I sound bitter, it's because I am. It's because I watched feminist associates, higher-profile bloggers, get subject to the Internet equivalent of a mob screaming rape and death threats at them.

So, this is why I'm going to tell a story now. This story is about racism, and feminism. The moral of this story, is that if you haven't lived it, you don't know what the fuck you're talking about, and you need to sit down, and shut up, and listen to those who have.

I've been reading bells hooks' ain't I a woman? the past week or so. I never read it before. I had one of those epiphanies you have when you realize you're being a privileged jerk. Hence, my moral. hooks was talking about black women's experience of the word 'matriarchy', among other things.

And I, reading along, was comparing it to what I thought I knew about race and being female in America, and was basically pooh-poohing it because the word didn't bother me. It was like my own private version of intersectional examinations of the Slutwalk phenomenon. So I got about halfway through this particular chapter, and suddenly thought to myself, "Sidra, you are being a racist jackass." Why? Because I was sitting there, *white*, questioning this report of black women's experiences drawn from multiple in-person interviews and other sources, and because it had no immediate connection to my experience of growing up white and female, I was prepared to blithely discard it as simply inaccurate. I was making white the meterstick. What an idiot.

Remember the moral of my story: if you haven't lived it, sit down, shut up, and pay attention. 'It' - racism, sexism, happens all the time, you just don't notice it so much if it's not happening to you. And you really don't notice it if you're at the top of the heap doing it to other people and thinking that you're righteous.

So, to any man who reads tweets tagged #mencallmethings and says "but...but...but... this just doesn't make sense!" I say unto you, "Patriarchy: you're soaking in it."

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