YDS just hosted an important international exchange, one that I was able to come very close to.

Actually, Cherie Blair just paid a social call and walked past me. Three black sedans with NYC plates in front of the school, with black suited men with ear pieces and ill fitting jackets….something is going on, right?

We looked around, but she was dressed quite casually, and we didn’t put it together until she was walking past and we realized they were all in formation around her. I feel famous by association! Teehee!

Anyhow. Back to the substantive agenda for the day. There’s something I didn’t want to let pass. Twisty made the following remarks in defense of her pot stirring, and for conflict in the blogosphere.

Here’s where I think the difference between us might lie. I think it’s possible to break the revolution.

I’m not sure that if you pressed Twisty on this, that she would really say that the grand change is inevitable. But i don’t know how the statements there work unless you assume this. The twistolution is always formulated in fairly vague terms to begin with, and it has a kind of distantly eschatological function, discussing our actions not in terms of if they bring it about, but if they are in conformity with it.

But if one believes that the revolution can be screwed up, put off interminably, or even foreclosed by our choices…

Then perpetual infighting may not look like the best possible choice. I don’t dismiss her point entirely, and conflict can function as a forge for ideas and commitments. But the organization of that conflict matters. Internecine purity war is not the same as externally aimed struggle. And while the trace of historical movement does indicate that time does seem to favor the progressive, it does not do so in an uncomplicated fashion.

So, moving past her thinly disguised sarcasm in the “little old me” self-deprecating language, because surely she can’t miss the fact that she has in fact touched off some pretty bloody interesting fights. She is neither the determinate or monolith of online feminism, but… Can we all agree that BlowJob Wars started there? She has a talent for surfacing pre-existent tension and for rhetorically creating remarkably stark contrasts between the available positions. It’s the second part that I have a problem with.

There is such a thing as bad linkage. Traffic and discourse alone doesn’t get us shit. And if you want to pin me about just why I think that Twisty has some eschatological feminist determinism going on, it’s her assertion to the contrary. The structure of our discourse matters.

Just look at how the liberal blogosphere been talking lately, and I think you’ll see why.

Racist caricatures.

Using Muslim women as a bat against western patriarchs.

Dehumanizing gay men in order to get at compulsory sexual expectations of het men.

I could go on. There is something as bad linkage. There is crap in the discussion that is not redeemed by our reaction against it. There is part of our discussion that is simply not helpful. Our content matters. Our means matter.

-sly