Okay, go read this:
Basically, Meg Clark points out a bunch of stupid things said by Jonathan Franzen about women, women writers, and (in particular) Edith Wharton. Her response is super smart and, you know, pretty funny.
But what I was thinking was that when a White Dude says something stupid on this general topic, a few things occur:
1) A bunch of really smart women write really awesome replies, and you can often find them on the blogosphere. Like Meg's. If you haven't read it yet, do so now. (If you don't, I will take away all your cookies and beer)
2) The mainstream response is limited. Perhaps publications simply don't want to go against the status quo (especially a status quo they've helped build), or perhaps they think it a given that these responses by women simply aren't valuable (the "Oh, those are just the angry feminists" response that completely pisses me off). Mainstream avenues for replies to such comments seem limited, particularly for women. Mostly for the above reasons, I'm guessing, but partly, perhaps, because some of the women who do have mainstream influence won't step up, or at least typically haven't done so -- for fear of rocking the boat? for fear of being labelled and written off? for fear of not being taken seriously? Which is a valid concern, in the sense that there is a large cultural arena in which the depowering response to the lash of such voices is to simply laugh them off. "Oh, those are just the feminists." Which infuriates me, as it is utterly arrogant to dismiss other viewpoints without even being willing to engage them. Ignoring honest discourse is a response of the worst kind. Of course, the problem is that we allow people to get away with this. We don't call them on this. And we should.
3) You don't hear much from other White Dudes. I'm guessing, speaking as a White Dude, that many of us don't notice the problem (failing to see the ramifications, for instance, of what Franzen says), have fallen prey to the "Oh, that's just the feminists" argument, or are simply nervous about stepping up, either to challenge the manly manly words of the Franzens ("Maybe people will think I'm not masculine enough!") or for trying to say something when the lovely Meg Clarks of the world can say it better (and the feeling might be that the Meg Clarks have more of a right to speak on the matter -- which may even be true, I don't know, but that doesn't excuse silence).
So! I'm calling out the Whtie Dudes. First, for the White Dudes like me to stop saying stupid White-Dudeish things. And second, for the White Dudes to stand up when another White-Dude says something stupid and say "That's stupid." Well, you can be more polite than this. I mean, I am Canadian (though some of us aren't polite: shhhhh). But silence is permissive. Silence says "Keep talking, Mr. Franzen, we're all in your corner."
But I kind of like Meg Clark' corner. So, you know, I'll hold her spit-bucket while the fight goes on, and I ain't throwin' in the white towel.