Comment: I wish the Guardian’s Suzanne Moore would stop digging
In a comment piece for PinkNews, Zoe Stavri argues that Guardian columnist Suzanne Moore should apologise for her recent transphobic outburst.
On Tuesday columnist Suzanne Moore wrote a reasonably decent article about anger. I say “reasonably decent”, because it contained a rather problematic line: We are angry with ourselves for not being happier, not being loved properly and not having the ideal body shape – that of a Brazilian transsexual.
This line, when viewed in the context of the sheer number of trans Brazilian women who are murdered, is not a good thing to write, as
this blog explains really well. At that point, when this was drawn to Moore’s attention, she could have apologised for a thoughtless,
flippant line, and we could all go on to appreciating her reasonably decent article about anger. This wasn’t the case. Instead, she responded with open, vitriolic transphobia about “cutting dicks off”, and complaints that we were not focusing on the “real issues”. It was almost a textbook example of columnist-rage, moving into complaints about intersectionality swiftly. I storifyed the first 24 hours of it. You don’t have to take my word for it and can view the whole thing in context.
I’d hoped that was the end of that, and we could all go back to our lives, but apparently I was wrong, and Moore’s still digging, deeper
She wrote an article in the Guardian, complaining. She starts off with the “some of my best friends are trans” argument in record time,
moving swiftly into listing some books she’s read that (possibly) show she’s right. Then she dips her toes into how the big mean intersectionals are shutting down discussion, claiming she’s read bell hooks. Then comes Suzanne Moore’s point: that we shouldn’t care about tiny little things like the oppression of trans people and her contribution to it, but we should instead focus on the cuts, literally saying this:
“So to be told that I hate transgender people feels a little…irrelevant. Other people’s genital arrangements are less interesting
to me than the breakdown of the social contract. I am asking for anger and for alliances. Less divide and rule. So call me a freak.” For all her having read bell hooks, it looks like Suzanne Moore missed a vital bit: bell hooks often talks about how privileged women contribute to the oppression of other women. In her call to unite around the thing she wants us to unite around while sweeping her own contribution to the oppression of other women under the carpet, Moore has been part of the problem hooks highlighted.
Ultimately, Moore does apologise. She flat-out tweeted “I’m not going to apologise. Get it?”
This sort of reaction is horribly unhelpful and stands in the way of ever being able to unite against other forms of oppression, such as
the brutal government attacks on anyone vulnerable. Moore messed. It was minor at first, but with her reaction, it escalated into something far uglier and far harder to heal. Moore feels like we can never move ahead if we worry about such trivialities as the oppression of trans people, but the reality is that this oppression is far from trivial.
It might seem tiny to Suzanne Moore, but that’s only because it’s something that she doesn’t have to worry about herself. In order to
build a movement that can actually unify, though, she should care about it, and should monitor her own contribution to oppression of
other people–a lot of whom are women. An apology would be a nice place to start. It’s quite sad, really, because Moore’s article on anger was reasonably decent, and did make some points about gigantic problems in society. It’s a shame, then, that as well as addressing some, she also contributes to others herself. No one oppression is so important that all other oppressions must be neglected and ignored. There is no “let’s do this tomorrow, after we’ve fixed the real stuff.”
This is all real. It’s all important. You can be good on one thing and absolutely terrible on another. And isn’t it better to try not to be
terrible on anything?
Zoe Stavri runs the blog Another Angry Woman – she describes herself as “Part anarchist. Part feminist. All angry” and blogs about “a mishmash of feminism, psychology, politics and navel-gazing.”