Reading George Fox

Being Blind Outside of One’s Domain

Dave Winer is an amazing programmer who’s done a tremendous amount for the open web. His comments on technology are insightful.

However, his thoughts about society and culture come from a deeply privileged place.

He contends that a women-only Wonder Woman screening, “left us with a wound and one more political division to deal with.” As if a safe-space for women to celebrate the first modern female superhero film was the equivalent of a men’s rights march. The world is a safe-space for men, especially white, cis-gendered, straight men. They have had millennia to celebrate their achievements and glory, all while subjugating and tyrannizing half of humanity. That power dynamic, while slowly changing still exists; the context renders female-only spaces different from male-only spaces1.

More recently, he wrote about Bill Maher and the N-word, arguing that its use in “pop culture” absolved Maher of responsibility.

“I’m not saying what the answer is and I don’t like Maher, but I think it was inevitable this was going to happen, and I’m pretty sure it’s not fair to blame him.”

This is such a naive view. Yes, Black Americans have taken an extremely offensive word and made it their own. The N-word carries centuries of oppression, enslavement, denied opportunities, and extreme violence, yet they, the marginalized, have transformed it into a term of solidarity and even affection.

That doesn’t mean that Whites can use it. Out of their mouths, the horror still brutalizes. Maher’s not an idiot; he should know this. The desire of the oppressors2 to retake the N-word is an extreme display of privilege. History does not disappear.

  1. Morever, Winer might have a point if the theatre had banned men from all the showings. But it’s only a few special screenings, a few chances for women to celebrate together, without having to worry about the male-gaze. 
  2. And if you think blacks are not still oppressed by American’s structural racism, take what just happened to LeBron James as a tiny example. 
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