Okay, okay, I know–holiday season over, moving on. But remember that ad that ran on television before Christmas with two shoppers and one holds up something and says that it is just like the one the other person asked for and the second person sadly says that it isn’t? That is an apt analogy for Michael Moore’s self-serving apology to Sady Doyle a few days before Christmas for not responding to her sooner regarding the #MooreandMe campaign that she began to call out his grossly inappropriate remarks to Keith Olbermann regarding the Assange rape charges (see here for a lot more about that).
A week after Countdown host Keith Olbermann and guest Michael Moore sparked a Twitter protest over their dismissive treatment of rape allegations against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, Moore made an appearance on The Rachel Maddow Show in which he failed to address the protest directly, but made their imprint obvious in his transformed rhetoric on rape accusations. In a crowning irony, the man whose zeal for transparency-God Julian Assange started this protest finally made direct acknowledgement of it…in a private Twitter message to #MooreAndMe creator Sady Doyle.
Keeping with the seasonal theme, let’s unpackage that. Nice that he apologized for not getting back to her sooner. And at least he didn’t stoop as low as Olbermann who attacked his detractors while pompously declaring he was a major feminist ally.
But Moore is seriously naughty for not apologizing for what he said that she rightly called out in the first place and the major arrogance of the notion that he needed airtime to re-state his remarks without ever acknowledging those that called him out in the first place or apologizing to them while on the air or heaven forbid, giving the microphone to Doyle instead. But since he didn’t, here is the take-away that Doyle offers on her blog,
We fought for basic human decency for over a week. We fought, tirelessly, at great risk and expense, to make a mountain move. The mountain moved, like, three inches to the left. If you weren’t looking closely, you wouldn’t notice that it had moved at all. You definitely wouldn’t think to thank or acknowledge the incredibly hard work of the people who moved it. But we moved a mountain. We did the impossible. We went from just a random bunch of frustrated feminists, a random bunch of people on Twitter, to a force capable of changing the rape apologism in the narrative of one of the world’s biggest news stories.The mountain moved. The man came down from the tower. And we still live in a rape culture; we’re still not done fighting it; the narrative around Assange, in particular, is still hugely misogynist and hugely dangerous for those two women and will still encourage rape survivors not to report. We didn’t get a full apology and correction from Michael Moore; we didn’t get a full apology and correction from Keith Olbermann; neither of them have donated to the many rape crisis and anti-rape organizations to which we’ve provided links; heck, we didn’t even get credit on air. But we know what we’re capable of now. And that is immensely important.
Another point that bears emphasis–the women bringing the rape charges are not the only ones being disparaged–feminists are also being hauled out to the woodshed. When calling his accusers honeypots didn’t get him enough traction, Julian Assange offered this analysis:
Sweden is the Saudi Arabia of feminism,” he said. “I fell into a hornets’ nest of revolutionary feminism.
I’m not even sure I understand what that means, but the blame it on the feminists mantra comes through loud and clear. And here is another one of that genre from the World Socialist Website,
Feminist opinion—as the Assange case and the Polanski affair before it have demonstrated—has become one of the means of legitimizing the suppression of nonconformists and political dissidents, and of changing the subject from the great social issues, above all, class oppression and social inequality, to stale and self-pitying concerns.
Translation: Feminists don’t understand the big picture and therefore are damaging and shouldn’t be taken seriously.
Rape and sexual assault are “stale and self-pitying concerns”? In a word, well actually two, up yours.
In her Winter Solstice message, visionary pagan Starhawk wrote,
…take a good look at what you want to shed. What are the behaviors, the beliefs, the patterns that no longer serve? Let them go. Make the commitment to change.
…envision the future you want to create. What world do we want to see? How will we step up to face the huge challenges of healing our communities, our economies, our climate and our environment? What risks will we need to take? What will we need to let go of, and what will we need to embrace?
Well I for one am well and ready to let go of the patriarchal left. Yes we should be on the same side, but we aren’t when men like Moore and Olbermann use their positions of privilege to trivialize and dismiss violence against women as well as those of us who stand up to tell them that they are wrong and damaging. When that happens, then I am done listening.
And yes I know, this is only the latest in a long, long history of left-wing misogyny. But for me it is a break point. I am tired. Bone and soul weary tired of having to address this kind of damaging spew. So in answer to Starhawk’s challenge, that is what I need to let go of. I’m not going to listen to assurances that we are really on the same side or that you care about what I care about when the evidence says otherwise. It is a toxic waste of time and energy.
As for what I’m embracing, it is that awesome wonderful capability that Doyle writes about. That is what sustains me and lets me believe that we absolutely can and will move beyond the absurd notion that leftwing misogyny is acceptable collateral damage for the greater good.