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Julie Burchill: "Why I loathe the woke"
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beastlyslumber · 29/11/2021 19:14

Just thought I'd share this piece of joy for anyone else who is fond of Ms Burchill...

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HazelCarbyFan · 01/12/2021 14:07

UN researchers? Academics? Judges of the Ontario Courts? I don’t understand the question. You can read a study by a Justice Michael Tulloch, for example, that shows Black people in Toronto are killed 20 times more by the police (when you control for weapons, etc.) Are you implying he’s just woke? Lying? I don’t even understand what you’re asking.

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HazelCarbyFan · 01/12/2021 14:21

Ah, do you mean you think it’s the “woke” who say Canada is racism-free? Are you saying you think it’s white “wokesters” who pretend this? Are you joking?

Or do you not even understand your own arguments anymore because the term is so confused it means literally nothing except whatever you despise in the moment? You’re kind of proving my point here if “woke” now doesn’t just mean guilty white people “virtue signalling” about racism but also people who deny racism even exists…

But maybe I’m reading it wrong. I don’t understand what you’re arguing right now.

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beastlyslumber · 01/12/2021 14:34

Okay, I'm not even sure I understand this argument now. Maybe none of my business but seeing as I started this thread...

Hazel I don't think anyone "reprimanded" you, called you names for being angry or accused you of lying. There is a difference between asking if someone should be reprimanded for a use of language and actually reprimanding them. So I feel like you're being a bit disingenuous there.

Shed I think with this particular incident that Hazel describes, it's impossible to say whether it was the "woke" racists who were being racist, or the open racists being racist. What Hazel describes sounds more like "traditional" racism to me. Are you saying the "woke" racists and the "traditional" racists are one and the same now? That's how I'm reading your post here.

Hazel, do you have a link to any coverage of this event? I'm honestly amazed that such a thing could happen in any university, but I do sometimes miss big things in the news, especially the so-called "culture wars" as I have to switch off every now and then for sanity.

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Shedmistress · 01/12/2021 14:36

Ah, do you mean you think it’s the “woke” who say Canada is racism-free? Are you saying you think it’s white “wokesters” who pretend this? Are you joking?

Do you think that people who say 'ALL LIVES MATTER' think they are the woke ones?

Or do you not even understand your own arguments anymore because the term is so confused it means literally nothing except whatever you despise in the moment? You’re kind of proving my point here if “woke” now doesn’t just mean guilty white people “virtue signalling” about racism but also people who deny racism even exists…

Yes. That is exactly the issue. I do believe I have mentioned white middle class university students more than once in this conversation. In the UK, these are the people that put themselves up as the purest of thought wokesters that are virtue signalling whilst getting a university education mainly paid for by their middle class parents.

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FlibbertyGiblets · 01/12/2021 14:44

HazelCarbyFan thank you for the work you have done and continue to do. I understand why "woke" is a problematic term. I didn't like it before, and your posts here have crystallised my views. I am aware that you have done heavy lifting on this thread, thank you.

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HazelCarbyFan · 01/12/2021 14:52

@Shedmistress I’m sorry, I really do not understand your points. All Lives Matter is woke? That‘s quite possibly the most anti-woke thing ever, no?

@beastlyslumber please tell me you can see the hostility in this thread by many (not by any means all posters.) It’s a bit gaslighty to act like everyone is being fair and civil and I’m just going off on nothing. Using supposed “anger” by Black women (I said I was upset and hurt not “angry”) to dismiss our arguments has a long history and is really not on. It’s well within bounds for me to raise this, not disingenuous. I think I’ve been quite patient in the face of some quite awful responses, actually.

I’ve never sent a private message but I’m happy to send you privately posts by women sharing their experiences of the meeting. I won’t be sharing them publicly so some person on here can to harass them over incidents in 2015, given the way people are willing to talk in this thread.

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HazelCarbyFan · 01/12/2021 14:55

@FlibbertyGiblets - thank you. Flowers

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Shedmistress · 01/12/2021 14:55

All Lives Matter is woke? That‘s quite possibly the most anti-woke thing ever, no?

Correct. I guess there just isn't any point in trying to explain how the word has been misappropriated as each time I try and explain you think it is me that is saying they are. When they are absolutely not. Which is the point of people misappropriating the word in the first place.

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HazelCarbyFan · 01/12/2021 15:01

I guess I just don’t understand your point. You keep quoting things and saying cryptic sound bites instead of just saying clearly what point it is you’re making. Perhaps it’s just me but it feels like you’re writing in mystery code instead of just saying “my opinion on this word is this for this reason. This is why I’m for or against it.”

Maybe I’m doing you a disservice, but you keep asking me questions that don’t seem very related to what I’m saying and I can’t follow, especially as I’m also fielding accusations of being dishonest, angry, and controlling at the same time as I’m trying to parse your posts for meaning.

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FlyingJo · 01/12/2021 15:02

Hazel, I'm also struggling to understand the point that ShedMistress is trying to make. It's not just you. Perhaps it's the nature of internet forums.

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flytterbugsdog · 01/12/2021 15:07

I don't normally post here but long time lurker. I also feel quite uncomfortable with the word woke - mostly because its such a broad and loaded term that means different things to different people. Its easy to be dismissed if you over-use it. But I think @HazelCarbyFan has helped sum up most the problems with it. I really don't want us to throw the baby out with the bath water on this (you can be GC and still feel racism, sexism , homophobia etc etc still exist). Also, while I don't believe in over-policing language being thoughtful, precise and clear in the language we use matters (otherwise why would it matter if the word woman/mother etc was replaced by menstruator.) Which it does. Some people are already using the situation to argue that sexism is a load of made up "woke" nonsense too. Lets not do the same thing with racism (I am not saying anyone here is. But that's why language matters).

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Shedmistress · 01/12/2021 15:16

@FlyingJo

Hazel, I'm also struggling to understand the point that ShedMistress is trying to make. It's not just you. Perhaps it's the nature of internet forums.

I guess I just don’t understand your point.

Lets just leave it at my opinion is that non-woke people have misappropriated it [ie use it to make out that they are woke, when they are completely not]. A bit like how Jimmy Saville aligned himself with charities to appear to be charitable when he was an abuser.

It has come to mean the opposite of its origins. Which then confuses some people when they read that Julie Birchill loathes the woke.
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HazelCarbyFan · 01/12/2021 15:17

Yes, I know women on here care deeply about women. I think we are all now just in a posting spiral. I’m sure over a drink or meal we would be more able to hear each other.

Peace, all. I’m going to leave this thread, not as a flounce but just because I think everything I can say has been said.

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CharlieParley · 01/12/2021 15:48

Even if we do come to different positions on the usefulness of the label "woke", what is the actual distinction between how we think feminists should navigate the discussion? I can't see the difference...

We actually agree on the use of "woke" I think. It's not a word I go to when I want to talk about what's wrong with the ideologies the left - my political background - is pushing.

And when you said

At the same time I think it's right to be challenging racism and actual transphobia in our own ranks, even when that's uncomfortable...

I understood this to refer to the discussion in this thread. And language policing, micro-aggressions, implicit bias accusations are not where I believe healthy disagreement lies in a movement. I'm an immigrant and hyperaware of cultural differences leading to misunderstandings that can blow up into big rows, both privately and in public groups. Add in problems arising from not being a native speaker and I'm looking back at a quarter of a century of such misunderstandings, from both sides. (Plus outright xenophobia as well as discrimination from UK officials and professionals.)

Then there's differences in education levels and snobbery about class and there's more than one good reason to focus on actual misconduct (abuse, fraud, bullying etc) rather than what is often focused on now.

I guess what I could have said is that yes, we ought to challenge racism and transphobia. Those are not acceptable in any movement, whatever its aims. In my experience though the problem is that there are now widely diverging ideas about what constitutes racism and transphobia. And it's not at all clear to me how to resolve that problem.

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beastlyslumber · 01/12/2021 16:50

t’s a bit gaslighty to act like everyone is being fair and civil and I’m just going off on nothing. Using supposed “anger” by Black women (I said I was upset and hurt not “angry”) to dismiss our arguments has a long history and is really not on. It’s well within bounds for me to raise this, not disingenuous. I think I’ve been quite patient in the face of some quite awful responses, actually.

Hi @HazelCarbyFan Not trying to gaslight you - I didn't see any of the comments you claimed had been made to you, the accusations about your character and so on. I do agree that one poster in particular has been quite hostile to you and also made it difficult to have a conversation as they refused to explain what they meant.

I don't want to dismiss your arguments at all, and in fact I have engaged with your arguments, as have others here. I know you've said you've left the thread now but if you want to post more about your point of view then I think you should, or indeed, start your own thread where the discussion might be focused on the specific things that concern you.

No need to send private messages about the meeting. I assumed that something like that would have had been in the press, but it obviously went under the radar. That surprised me at first, but then reflecting on this, I realise it makes sense, in a sick kind of way. The [people we are talking about] are not interested in addressing actual racism, only in using the accusation of racism as a way of cancelling people they ideologically oppose. They aren't interested in the rights of black people, for example, if they voted Trump (see Biden: "you ain't black") and they call people like John McWhorter white supremacists! They don't have a problem with racism as long as it fits into their agenda.

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Shedmistress · 01/12/2021 17:10

I do agree that one poster in particular has been quite hostile to you and also made it difficult to have a conversation as they refused to explain what they meant.

Do you mean me?

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beastlyslumber · 01/12/2021 18:23

Yes. Your comments were confusing and it would have been good if you could have explained your point of view more clearly.

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LobsterNapkin · 01/12/2021 18:27

@HazelCarbyFan

Also, good to know that women on this thread think Black women lie about our experiences of racism. Nice solidarity there.

People who actually went to the University if Toronto have documented their experiences of racism quite extensively - a mere google will show you many results - but you don’t believe them because you prefer to believe myths about Canada as a racism-free leftist paradise despite the many reports - such as UN report on racism in Canada - saying the contrary? Again, on a thread where people complain about applying a US-lens to racism - arguing you need to consider local context - but then blithely dismiss what actually happens in Canada shown in data, studies, reports, books, experiences, etc. in favour of the most debunked mythologies about Canada as a racial paradise?

A Black woman wrote a good book about her experiences of racism at a university in Canada - Eternity Martis. Perhaps read it before you claim Black women are lying.

I said “please don’t do this” at the beginning of this thread - an actual polite request after an explanation. And that is treated as some near-violent act, but all of the subsequent attacks in this thread are what? Reasoned? Civil? Feminist debate? It’s really sad.

AS a Canadian I don't believe tat. I also think that it's a completely incredible story. No because there are no racists at UofT, but because a whole room full, at some sort of mixed event, where no one objected to what was going on, seems really unlikely.

It's so incredible a story that I can only conclude that either it was a crazy incident, or that something somewhere has been lost in the retelling. Maybe the friend who recounted the incident left out some detail that would make it clearer, or something. I wouldn't totally discount any poster as being purposefully misleading without clear evidence, but at the same time, none of us know anything about who is really posting, so stories that sound so strange, it's pretty understandable that people might tend to tuck them away without believing or disbelieving.

More generally though, people here are very sensitive to anyone attempting to control language on the basis of it being offensive. It's been used too often as a weapon in recent times, and frankly the evidence that this particular use of the word is widely considered offensive in the black community isn't there, and we're all aware of it.

There is a significant and important difference between any of us not personally preferring a particular usage, and it being offensive. Even if the reason we don't like it relates to some sort of identity characteristic. By all means, none of us need to bring words we don't prefer into our own use, but sometimes when we speak about issues with other people, we just have to accept that others don't have the same views about the word. I asked upthread whether we are meant to be saying McWhorter's new book, Woke Racism is offensive. Why are we supposed to conclude? That it's offensive when we talk to some people, but not others? How do we know ahead of time? Are all demands to modify language on a public forum like this one, with a wide set of readers, just meant to be accepted? I would suggest the opposite is true, on a forum like this, where people have widely different backgrounds, live in entirely different nations, may have different first languages, we should be as tolerant as possible of others using words in a way that is different than what we would choose.
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LobsterNapkin · 01/12/2021 18:35

[quote HazelCarbyFan]@lobsternapkin
I actually didn’t understand what was happening in the exchange with @Momobeats - that’s why I asked her, “are people seriously saying…?” I was asking her for clarification as it seemed the argument going on was she was rightly offended by that stereotype and seemed to be saying that people were defending it as true and saying Black people do indeed like jerk and weed and that liking it makes you Black.

Then I also backed her up on why that is a harmful thing to say wherever it was said on this board.

But go ahead and “reprimand” me. Good lord, the language being used towards Black women on this thread. I’ve been called “angry” (not like there isn’t a whole demeaning history of “angry Black woman”) on the very same thread as people brag about being “not kind” - so white woman can embrace being not kind deliberately, but a Black woman is raging for sharing experiences and making points. I’m a Stalinist. I’m a totalitarian. I’m controlling language, but if I ask another Black woman a question in a hostile thread to figure out what the argument is about and send her love as we experience the same hostility and demeaning comments I need to be chastised? Some of you really get off putting us in our place I guess.[/quote]
The answer was no. People were not seriously saying that. The comment was saying that basing whether or not someone is a women on whether they embody offensive stereotypes about women is no different than saying someone is black because they embody offensive stereotypes about blacks.

I appreciate that sometimes people misunderstand comparison type of comments and they do so completely honestly, and it's something that seems to be more and more common, especially among younger people. But I really wish there was less tendency to jump on them right away as if they were meant to be statements of belief and truth. It's always possible to ask someone who makes that kind of post what they meant. Reading through the relevant thread and the comments of that poster, it doesn't seem to have been a very likely thing for her to have said as a straight statement of belief.

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beastlyslumber · 01/12/2021 18:46

Thank you @LobsterNapkin for your voice of reason here! Maybe I am naive, but I didn't expect this thread to start any kind of argument; I just wanted to share the joy of Julie Burchill with those who might have missed it. I feel a bit stupid now.

I think that policing the language used here is probably always going to invite some pushback, but worse is the twisting of language to make accusations against posters that they have said one thing when they have absolutely said the opposite. I like to give the benefit of the doubt, but it's hard for me to not see that as a deliberate tactic. I guess maybe some on this thread realised what was up from quite early on, but I was not prepared, and for that, I apologise.

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Shedmistress · 01/12/2021 18:49

I originally said

'it is the white middle class snowflakes that have adopted it that are the problem, not the ones saying how much they despise the middle class white snowflakes who are misappropriating the term.'
And then
'What's wrong with loathing these people that are misappropriating the word?'

What was so confusing and unclear about that?

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LobsterNapkin · 01/12/2021 18:50

@flytterbugsdog

I don't normally post here but long time lurker. I also feel quite uncomfortable with the word woke - mostly because its such a broad and loaded term that means different things to different people. Its easy to be dismissed if you over-use it. But I think *@HazelCarbyFan* has helped sum up most the problems with it. I really don't want us to throw the baby out with the bath water on this (you can be GC and still feel racism, sexism , homophobia etc etc still exist). Also, while I don't believe in over-policing language being thoughtful, precise and clear in the language we use matters (otherwise why would it matter if the word woman/mother etc was replaced by menstruator.) Which it does. Some people are already using the situation to argue that sexism is a load of made up "woke" nonsense too. Lets not do the same thing with racism (I am not saying anyone here is. But that's why language matters).

OK, so are you saying critisism of wokeness, or maybe we can say identity politics, is problematic because it means critisiing the anti-racist movement? Except with feminism and gender, where the critisism is correct?

People who are critical of identity politics, or things like the BLM approach to identity politics, or wokeness, are not saying that racism, homophobia, or whatever, are ok. They are saying that the particular way that identity politics, or cultural marxism or whatever you want to call it, approach those things is seriously problematic.

The typical response to that is essentially the claim that the only way to be anti-racist is to embrace the identity politics/Robin DiAngelo/privaledge and whiteness way of thinking. That is simply untrue.

The whole premise of McWhorter's book is that this brand of anti-racism, aside from being paternalistic, is basically a kind of 19th century race essentialism. Or Adolph Reed, who argues quite persuasivly that as an approach to racism it's basically meant to keep neoliberal economic structures intact. daily.jstor.org/adolph-reed-jr-the-perils-of-race-reductionism/

There has been a lot of pushback in teh US recently by parents worried about race essentialism being taught in schools. They've tried to describe it as being part of Critical Race Theory, and those who opposed them basically said, that's not the right word, sorry. So they have tried using DEI, but they were told that is wrong too.

It is hard to look at this apart from the attempt to stop people from identifying a set of beliefs they think are incorrect and what's more, deeply bigoted.
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LobsterNapkin · 01/12/2021 19:00

@Shedmistress

I originally said

'it is the white middle class snowflakes that have adopted it that are the problem, not the ones saying how much they despise the middle class white snowflakes who are misappropriating the term.'
And then
'What's wrong with loathing these people that are misappropriating the word?'

What was so confusing and unclear about that?

I can see that you don't think it's unclear, but I would say three or four other posters, including myself, found it hard to understand what you meant.

From what you've said on the last page, I am gathering that you are saying that you think that the people in the incident described, who were saying the black women were like maids, thought of themselves as being woke in the older sense. Whereas really, they were only woke in the new sense that is really paternalistic race essentialism.

Assuming the description of what happened is accurate, that would really surprise me. I cannot see a whole classroom full of Canadian students behaving that way and thinking they were being right-on. I can easily imagine them being paternalistic and race-essentialist in other ways or pushing them out of the space in a totally thoughtless way, and being self-congratulatory about it. But what was described would cross the line of some of the big taboos the pseudo-woke have around language and I think someone would have celled it out.
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beastlyslumber · 01/12/2021 19:02

@Shedmistress

I originally said

'it is the white middle class snowflakes that have adopted it that are the problem, not the ones saying how much they despise the middle class white snowflakes who are misappropriating the term.'
And then
'What's wrong with loathing these people that are misappropriating the word?'

What was so confusing and unclear about that?

Nothing. Some of your later comments did confuse me, though. I didn't understand why you were saying the racist students were woke, for example. I do think there is "woke" racism, or even that "wokeness" is inherently racist, and that a person can be both "woke" and racist. But the description the pp gave didn't seem to reflect the typical "woke" style of racism, but a more open racism which I would normally not normally expect to see from a woke-style of student.

(I do see lobster's point that this scenario in itself is unlikely, but I can also see how it could have happened, because the "woke" really are only interested in the kind of "racism" they can weaponise against people they don't like.) But either way, your comment on that confused me, and I think it confused others too. Then your responses to questions about that grew ever more cryptic, from my point of view, at least. Maybe if I'd understood that initial point, the rest of what you said would have made sense.
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beastlyslumber · 01/12/2021 19:09

But what was described would cross the line of some of the big taboos the pseudo-woke have around language and I think someone would have celled it out.

Reading back over the comments and what was described, I think I agree with this. I can see lots of ways the students could have been racist that would have been considered fine and ignored. But if it happened as described, I think it would have been called out and made a big deal of. But I don't know, honestly - nothing surprises me with these people anymore! Some of the things I've heard "woke" people say are literally disgusting. But as long as they stay within the linguistic and ideological parameters, they are considered anti-racist, even when they're saying unbelievably racist things.

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