This will not be my last post because I have promised to blog about the Bailey panel - and I will. But after that, I am not sure.
I have been involved in - not directly, but present for them, often commenting on the threads where they explode or on second-tier-out threads - quite a few blogwars. And I've been present at quite a few IRL wars. It used to be that the rage from these things could fuel me for several days. It used to be that I'd jump right in with the best of them, so anxious to prove that I was right about whatever it was (and I'm sure some of you are thinking, "WTF? PF, you did that just yesterday!").
But I'm back now from an annual conference I've been attending for a decade, and this time, I saw it with new eyes. I saw people treat each other so shittily that one of my students was sorry she had come. I saw students and faculty, both, leave rooms in tears. And mostly, what I saw was a complete lack of willingness to communicate honestly, to give the other person any room or benefit of the doubt whatsoever.
What distresses me is not so much that I saw this happen at one particular panel. What disturbes me is that I saw this happen repeatedly - at a panel, at a business meeting, in a social setting.
What the hell are we doing to each other? Is this what feminism/Women's Studies is supposed to be about? This is not productive. It sure feels good to vent, but if what we want to see happen is a change, then this is not the way to do that.
The result that I see is that those who were present at some of these events will not be returning - and this group of non-returnees is a diverse group that cuts across race and class and ability. (And several others I know, also a diverse group, who did not know about these events, had a grand time and will be back, and that's great - I'm happy they had a good time.)
This is one thing that is not the fault of the NWSA as an institution. This is the fault of people who come to the organization expecting it to meet their emotional needs.* And I know this, and I have been one of these people, and we cannot expect all of the practitioners of our discipline to meet our emotional needs.
Somewhere in the past week, I lost the stomach for all of this. I don't think fighting each other is getting us anywhere, not anywhere at all. And I can't seem to find any feminist discussion online that isn't, at some point, about the fighting - even dependent on it.
I'm tired, and I feel like I'm wasting my time fighting with people who I ultimately have more reasons to agree with than not. I'm wearing myself down instead of using my powers for good. So I'm not sure at all that I want to continue this blog in this incarnation.
Maybe tomorrow or in a few days I'll get over this funk, but for now, I expect to begin a serious blog hiatus after one or two more posts.
*Thanks to my airport buddy for pointing this out to me.