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Thursday, 14 February 2013

On Names and Anniversaries

By: Liberate Zealot

Everyone I have a confession to make. With it being our one year birthday I thought it time to discuss the naming of Feminist Armchair Regime and how I'm so not qualified for that name.  You see... this is hard for me to say... but... I don't have an armchair.  In fact, I normally blog from a futon. I know, I'm disappointed in me too.

In all seriousness though I do want to discuss the naming of this blog and the Hive who created it.  I was not there for the initial inception and naming of either the Hive or F.A.R. so this is very much my own interpretation of these things and other members might have a very different view.

As mentioned in our About section, the Hive began through a bunch of us posting on the same Feminist and Anti-Rape pages, specifically about us counter-trolling the trolls, MRAs, and victim-blamers that would often show up in these pages and groups.  Over time we created our own chat (of which I was one of the last active F.A.R writers to join) which we sarcastically named after the various charges leveled at us by the trolls we encounter (misandrist, feminist HiveMind, gendercide supporters).  And a little over a year ago we decided some of our responses were so awesome and educational we should turn them into something a little more lasting, and hence the blog was born. The name itself came from a charge made by a group (RINJ) that some of the Hive were battling.  Feminist Armchair Regime a name that encapsulates an idea we've encountered before, a charge leveled against many who take their social justice activism to the internet: that we, and our causes and concerns are not real.

This is formed partially by the idea that what takes place on the internet isn't real. That what we say has less meaning than what we say in person. Also that activism on the internet is slacktivism, and that those of us who do internet activism are armchair warriors who never take our activism into the "real world". Lastly, many people mention how no one calls them out in their personal lives, so call outs on the internet are by overly sensitive social justice warriors who don't know "the real them".

To all of which I say:

When we write on the internet it is really us typing those words and there are real people reading them, even if we're all protected (somewhat) by pseudonyms.  Even though they're in computer code the words really exist and are really capable of doing real harm or help. And as every careless and half way famous twitter user knows, the internet never forgets. Just because it isn't happening in meat space doesn't mean the interactions we have aren't real.  Likewise trolling, and thus adding to the culture of oppression, doesn't negate the harm we do just because we wouldn't act like that or say those things to people face to face.

Similarly writing about social justice, acting to protect safe spaces, educating people, are real actions, whether they happen over the internet, in newspaper articles, or in person.  They all have equal ability to effect the lives of people. Likewise, us internet social justice activists are activists over the internet because we hold these beliefs in person, and we act on them in our daily lives.  Yes, even off the internet. We organize and attend protests, we volunteer at feminist related organizations, we study and work in fields like Law and Psychology and Education and unite these with our feminism.  And even if we weren't involved in a single formal or professional feminist action we would still be feminists.  We would be feminists when we were with our friends and families, when we were at our jobs, in all our interactions with strangers, and this colors all our interpretations and interactions with people and work. Even when we fail (as all who live in our Kyriarchal world do) we are still feminists, and trying to be better.

Lastly there is the attack of privilege, of silencing and erasure.  The "no one says this to me in my personal life" as if that negates any call outs about sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, transphobia, or ableism. When really it means they have privilege, and have either surrounded themselves with people who share their privilege and unconcern about it, or people without privilege who do not dare call them out when they are oppressive. To have the power and position where one's privilege and sense of self is never challenged, checked, or called out, is its own privilege.  Because no matter how good or awesome we are some or most of the time that doesn't undo when we mess up, when we're hurtful or oppressive. "He's really a good guy" or "She's done these awesome things" are not real defenses, they don't address the specific harm done.

So when we write about feminism and intersectionality and our concerns and oppressions in this Kyriarchal culture, when we call people out for perpetuating these, we are real people, engaging in real feminist actions. Doing so over the internet, while sitting in armchairs (or futons) doesn't change that.  If anything the internet has leveled the playing field and brought more voices to feminism and social justice.  Voices that are often shunned by those in power, both in formal social justice organizations and the larger mainstream.  Where once you needed the means to publish, or appeal to those who had such means, now all you need is a computer and internet access, which libraries make free.

So we gladly take the name Feminist Armchair Regime.  Because we are feminists, and the fact that many of our actions and interactions take place on the internet does not diminish or negate them, if anything it expands them to touch a larger audience. Likewise, we're so proud to be this "Regime" a group of friends and feminists who support and learn from and educate each other.

Thank you to each and every member of the Hive, and every other social justice warrior.

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