[This here's a post from an online feminist pal of long-standing: Nelsolidarida. She hails from England, is an Anarchist, a vegan, and also keeps an avenging army of magical ducks. So don't cross her. She also likes to knit garments and household goods featuring skulls and Deadly Nightshade. I am re-posting this with a few tiny edits and with her express permission, because I love it. A lot of it relates well to online discussion though her main focus in the piece is on IRL events and interactions. Her home page can be found at Solidarida, of course. Enjoy !-- ms_xeno ]
Ok, so i'm out of the 'no blogging while supposed to be working' phase and into a 'maybe this will give me some writing practice and wake my brain up' phase. Don't know how long it will last...
Anyway, 'alternative'. What does it mean? (feel free to contribute here) I don't know what my 'alternative' credentials are, or if i have any. I certainly don't look alternative most of the time. But i'm not convinced i fit the evil, capitalist, tory, tankist, stalinist pig-dog mould that seems to be, if you like, the alternative to alternative.
Know what? I don't hate activists. If you're reading this and i speak to you, bother to engage with you at any level, ever agree with you on anything, etc, then chances are i don't hate you. I don't hate most individual activists, or most of the movements/campaigns i have any common ground with. I don't even hate animal rights activists. I just happen to be around them more and have more scope to be annoyed. Plus, my feelings about particular people or groups don't have a lot of bearing on how I see the issues they represent. I don't stop being a feminist because I'm pissed off with the endless blog wars and general vindictive behaviour, neither are my views on porn changed because certain anti-porn bloggers have behaved obnoxiously at any point. (again, if you're bothering to read this, I probably don't mean you.)
Genuine political convictions, especially ones i agree with, I have no problem with. Unless we're talking BNP-type stuff, natch. [British National Party aka Far Right-Wingers -- ms_xeno] What I do have a huge problem with is the 'scene' that emerges around these, and the policing that goes with that. Yeah, not everyone can go on every demo. Live with it. Stick your guilt trip where the sun doesn't shine. (Seriously, it doesn't shine from there.) Sorry if that sounds bitter. Unless you're one of the people who does this, all. the. time. In which case I'm not remotely sorry.
Also, policing of this sort is unnecessary unless someone's job is totally contradictory to the campaign with which they're getting involved. Or unless it is at odds with having any kind of social conscience. For example, if someone makes electroshock batons, they deserve to be ostracized by everyone except the out-and-out Neo-Nazis who get turned on by such things. Otherwise, maybe excluding somebody from "the movement" because of the job that provides their food and shelter isn't a good thing.
Conversely, geting all single-issue, this is all that matters, everyone else is shit including other activists, is also not a way to get people around to your point of view. No, being a vegan and going to demos doesn't excuse the fact that your mate likes to beat the crap out of his girlfriend. And the person who misses demos because the guy who abused her is there? Maybe not the one you need to crap on.
But the really annoying thing is the people who get all suspicious because you don't 'look' alternative. Newsflash, folks - police informers generally try to blend in. Fake nose studs and all. They have been known to provide a nice little comedy turn at demos when they are really obvious. So maybe, if this is your real reason for looking askance at the person who comes in straight from work in clothes that they wear for a relatively straight job, you could be looking the wrong way. But maybe that isn't why? Guess what. I did look alternative for a long time. I did a long, long, stint of being bullied for it, as well as for having the ideas that went with it. I've had meat waved in my face and attempts made to cut my dreads off from behind. And guess what else? My basic principles haven't changed. The only caving-in was in my own perception of myself - from worth something to worth pretty much nothing. Happy? I hope so, because i've experienced nearly as much grief over being the odd one out in an activist community where i agree with most people on most points as i did in the same position in a group of rather shallow teenagers.
I'm not going to turn into one of those boring people who tells activists that they'll never get their message across if they don't smarten up. Long as i don't see you wearing fur, which is a whole other thing, i seriously don't have a problem. But, please, don't turn being alternative into yet another form of conformity. Closed communities don't change the world. -- Nelsolidarida, April 9th, 2007.