Seven days ago, Sady Doyle of the feminist blog Tiger Beatdown wrote "#MooreandMe: On Progressives, Rape Apologism, and the Little Guy" - thus launching a wide-scale Twitter based protest under the header of #mooreandme against left-wing icons Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann for their poor conduct in talking about the Julian Assange rape allegations, and their outright dismissal of his accusers. I did my best to catalog the most important articles on the subject in this post, along with my own feelings as to why I felt it was important to get involved, though if you're looking to familiarize yourself with the campaign in a way that doesn't require you to navigate my poor organizational skills, I'd suggest you look at the time line of the events as they played out as presented, with quotes, by Sady herself on Tiger Beatdown.
The manner of the protest was particularly fitting, practically reflective of Moore's own in-your-face interview methods employed in his movies [ingenious, as Doyle had grown up a fan of Moore and his films, and was, in a way, schooled in this sort of confrontation by the director himself] . With Twitter offering angry and confused feminists, many progressive themselves, many fans of Moore and Olbermann, a direct line to the men, they were able to bombard both men with questions and entreaties for retractions. Olbermann himself would engage, then block users, then half-apologize, then block again before the first seven days of the protest were over -- but Moore, the true target, remained surprisingly silent throughout.
So when news broke that Moore would be appearing on the Rachel Maddow show [12/22/2010], tactics changed dramatically. Those who had been lobbying the director for answers, while battling various misogynistic trolls and other, more reasonable, but still belligerent Assange supporters turned instead to demand [politely] that Rachel Maddow address the #mooreandme campaign with the man himself, and perhaps get those involved some the answers they'd been looking for. I have always been very fond Maddow [then again, I was a big fan of Olbermann before all of this] and considered her reporting incredibly forthright and intelligent, however, I don't think it's to her discredit that a great many Twitter users participating in #mooreandme were a little shocked when finally, someone listened.
The Maddow Blog - The Michael Moore Interview
Sady Doyle herself mentioned marking the occasion with tears -- she likely wasn't the only one, as the past several days have been very emotional, in both moving and hurtful ways, and to get even this small recognition from Michael Moore that, to quote "Every woman who claims to have been sexually assaulted or raped has to be, must be, taken seriously. . . .For too long, and too many women have been abused in our society , because they were not listened to, and they just got shoved aside. . . .So I think these two alleged victims have to be taken seriously and Mr. Assange has to answer the questions." no doubt felt like a great victory. And it was. But, it was also only part of a victory.
Wikileaks remains a contentious part of the story, an attention grabber that the media seems unable to completely separate from the allegations against Assange. Maddow herself came to the subject explaining how it was a complicated issue, and had her own agenda to push, on the validity of the kinds of information gleaned from "leaks." Moore still supports the site, and obviously still believes there is a political aspect to Assange's sudden persecution [which there could be and likely is -- but that doesn't excuse rape apologism, and shouldn't be a reason to question or harass Assange's accusers]. There was still no apology from Moore, no "I'm sorry, I was out of line, or working from bad information," and as of my writing this, he hasn't engaged with #mooreandme. He still could, and the campaign isn't going anywhere yet.
But for right now, what has been accomplished is getting Moore to state that rape victims shouldn't be persecuted or endangered, and that they should always be taken seriously. Which may seem underwhelming, at first, though I feel, if discouraged, it is important to remember Sady Doyle's own words after the interview, that of course "The goals of #mooreandme were not fully accomplished. You know what one of our goals is? ENDING RAPE CULTURE. It's long-term." That the fight is a long and tireless one "to to move a mountain 3 inches." But always remember, you still moved a mountain.
For now, those involved are handling Day 7 in various ways, some not nearly satisfied with Moore's statements yet, others willing to take a much needed and much deserved break, willing to bask in the momentary warmth of the accomplishment of at least being recognized, at least being significant -- finally being listened to, until tomorrow, where Sady Doyle has already promised a blog post about how this win isn't "a win," though it feels like one [ADDITION: 12/22/2010 - At 1:57 PM, Sady posted "#MooreandMe: And Then He Came Down" on Tiger Beatdown... which includes a "thank you" from Moore himself to Sady.].
As in all things, as it concerns writing about this on my blog, I cannot resist to relate it in some way back to me. It is probably noticeable in my language that I am hesitant to name myself as one of those involved in #mooreandme, though anyone following my Twitter will say I clearly was. It is not out of embarrassment, or a want to distance myself from the protest that spurs this on in me, quite the opposite, actually. Speaking candidly [as though I do anything else here], I still feel like a very young feminist, not necessarily in age, but in how long I've actually pursued or thought about this with any kind of actual seriousness.
I am very naive. I don't like that about myself, and a lot of cynicism is a reaction to that. I've lived a lot of my life naturally believing all men and women were created equal, that no matter your gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, we are all the same, and should be afforded the same rights. And as one person moving through the world, sans those prejudices, that's fine, that may keep me from ever intentionally being a bigot or a misogynist, but it's not an accurate representation of the kind of world we live in, and just because I believe what I do doesn't mean we're all on an even keel. Especially since, as I've stated before, I am white, middle class, and male, with blond hair and blue eyes, and a liberal arts degree. I'm only now coming to terms with concept of privilege.
I like to hope in the past two years I've gotten better. A lot of that comes from music -- Riot Grrrl music, queercore music set me on a lot of reading [remember all my Girls to the Front rambling? Or my admitting how the unabridged Second Sex had thoroughly whipped me?] about gender, feminism, rape culture and a lot of other complicated ideas that I don't necessarily have to engage with in my day to day. But to say I'm the person I claim to be, that I support gay rights, that I'm a feminist, etc., I can't just pay lip service to these ideas. I have to learn. No more half-assing it, and feeling enlightened. From what I'm seeing, probably no more feeling enlightened.
Which brings me back to why I'm uncomfortable to declaring myself Randall Nichols: #mooreandme guy. Because in a way, I used all this as a learning experience. Dipped my little toe in the pool, as it were. I observed more than I got involved -- I could have done a whole lot more, I know I could have, could have tweeted more, certainly with the amount of free time I have on my hands. Could have blogged more, could have made every new development a new entry here. Could have spoken more about how I was feeling about things, could have opened up comments, and fielded real questions and criticisms of what I was doing. But I also use this space for other things, to promote other people, to promote other works, and losing a reader who feels the opposite to me on the subject would have hurt them, that would have been one less person to tell about this friend's project, or that friend's story. And, yeah, as someone who has to sell himself as a writer, who is not very good at that, that could have hurt me too. It's cowardly, I know it. Really selfish, to an embarrassing degree. And I know deep down if I'm really good, people won't care what my politics or my beliefs, and if I was really that steadfast in either of those things, I wouldn't give a damn if they did or not. I need to work on that.
But that's not all of it either. Because, again, I'm self-teaching a lot of this stuff. I am extremely fallible. I go off half-cocked all the time, I love hyperbole, and I am not afraid to use shock value to get people's attention. And all these ideas, they're not all mine, they're all on sort of shaky mental ground, even the ones I already truly believe, and if my recklessness were to hurt what #mooreandme was doing, what any movement I supported was doing, then... yeah. I don't know that I could live with myself. So there's some fear there too.
Which even as I write I know to be absolutely ridiculous, as these women, Sady, and so many others, undertook this, and many other causes, where they get threats every day, that threaten violence, that threaten rape, the very thing they fight against. They are bullied, and treated poorly, and as if the things they say don't matter, that they're making mountains out of mole hills. I invoke Mia Zapata too much to not have an idea [though can I ever *really* know?] the dangers that are faced by the people who champion these causes every day.
In the face of all of that, I feel very small. And for someone who calls himself a writer, who embodies the very post-modern cliché of self-interest, that is a sobering feeling. And fair is fair, it's probably not the worst thing for someone like me to get taken down a peg. But still.
A few twitter posts, and the handful of people who found out about all this from my one, nigh-constantly updated blog post can't compare. And I really hope, deep down, that I haven't belittled this in any way by calling it a learning experience, by expounding endlessly on what it has meant to me.
There are real heroes in all this. I was following Tiger Beatdown before; but through this I found Kate Harding, an incredibly insightful writer who I will, like several others, draft into my continuing education in all this. And I'm going to keep digging, through #mooreandme posts, through archived Harriet J. posts, through... everything, as much as I can, on the schedule I keep. If I can do anything here to help, if I can do anything worthwhile, it would be to suggest that if any of this prattling of mine has moved you, go out and pick up a book on feminism, or a CD by a band who wants the girls up front at the stage. Give money to RAINN, or a local charity or an organization of a similar nature.
Do what you're comfortable with... but push that comfort. I know I've talked here a lot about what I didn't do, but just... engaging with all this was a little outside of my comfort, I didn't feel entirely ready for it. Even in my little comments here or there, on various blogs, I wouldn't be surprised if I made mistakes, stepped out a little. I sit here, mortified of them. But glad I did them anyway.
And most importantly, support one of the big heroes of this - Sady Doyle. She spent the better part of seven days doing nothing but this. Can you imagine? But there was almost no choice, nothing else she could have done, because the internet moves so fast, and things are forgotten so easily, and something like Twitter, that is so disposable, where so much is just gone like a memory the next day. She never stopped. She sacrificed for this. I imagine she'll do a lot more before it's over. And she needs the support. I've seen a lot suggestions, from a spa trip, to an award, to... well, anything you can think of. That might be a little outside what we can do. I don't know if there is anyway to properly thank her. But you can donate to Tiger Beatdown, or even subscribe [right sidebar].
I don't know if I'll write more on this. The Mojo Wire is mostly about creative endeavors, and it seems like a bad idea to make a habit of this sort of thing, but that's never really stopped me before. And I'd be lying if I said some of this hasn't inspired me in some ways, for stories, and I'm not sure... how I'm going forward with that, because there are all these questions in my head as to what's exploitation. And there's a part of me that says I probably shouldn't worry about that when actually working should be my prerogative. So we'll have to see.
For more information on #mooreandme, make sure to keep checking Twitter, and any and all of the blogs I've linked on the site.
Also, I've found this article on "Millicent and Carla Fran: Protagonists at large" called "How #MooreandMe Worked." Good resource, and a much better look back at the previous 7 days.
ADDITION: [Only one, probably. 12/22/2010 - 7:38 PM]
At 5:55 PM, Sady added a short post on her tumblr site, headlined by a comment she received during #mooreandme - "Anonymous asked: Thank you for everything you're doing. You're kind of my hero." It's... lovely, and speaks entirely for itself, and you should go and read it. She also makes some very good points about the things that #mooreandme didn't address, that were either outside of its wheelhouse, or wrongfully over looked, including RAINN's trans-exclusion, and the unreachable Naomi Wolf, who has made statements during this controversy that I can't even bring myself to link, they're so stomach turning. Sady also has a request, of us. Very worth everyone's time.