Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Just too far

"James Chartrand" seems like a huge jerk. There's been a story circulating the web about blogger "James Chartrand" coming out as a woman, complete with a sob story about how it was just the glass ceiling keeping her stuck at the level of mediocrity, and all of a sudden, she changed the name under which she published and found great success. She's been called an Uncle Tom for stepping atop the glass ceiling and watching the women milling around below her - and it's true. I don't necessarily think it's a big deal to access privilege without making sure it goes to everyone else who was wrongly robbed of it. It's slimy, but a girl's gotta eat.

Being wronged doesn't obligate you to protect everyone else from the same fate (Of course, it's not that simple. The classic example of this dilemma is women who don't report sexual assault. But lots of rapists are successfull prosecuted, and we still have an epidemic of rape.), but regardless of whether or not you've been wronged, you don't make thing worse for people (other than by perpetuating the original problem). It's a classic case of "Just because I'm black, it doesn't mean I have to fix your racism.)

As Amanda Hess of the sexist has reported, "Chartrand" engaged in some active misogyny with her online persona. Hess speculates that misogynistic jokes Chartrand made were in fact tongue-in-cheek jokes, given that the blogger herself is female.

Even in that case, the damage has already been done. Minstrelsy is as damaging to a group's reputation when they're the performers.

The thing that really twists the knife is that she made a coy attempt to come out without taking responsibility for the damage that James Chartrand inflicted against female writers.

Even when the story is extra-tidy and she's just a lady trying to get around the glass ceiling, people don't believe her, and loudly proclaim that discrimination against female writers is a myth.
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