Yeah, politics again. Sorry.
It’s just a little difficult to avoid the wider world, at the moment. Every day seems to bring an even more alarming news item, whether it’s one that hits straight home or one that has more frightening implications for other people.
Two things in particular caught my eye this week. One was a flurry of scrapping and panicking on Fetlife (well, more than usual amounts of it) over a change in the website’s policy regarding what images can be shared. While it seems fairly likely that this is a precautionary measure in the light of increased anti-porn authoritarianism, there was a certain amount of muttering about selling out and mainstreaming, along with a bit of scolding of others for being ungrateful to the site’s founders and administrators. UK members, mostly, are already uneasy given the dangerous bullshit that is the Digital Economy Bill; US people seemed to be clutching at the First Amendment in some cases and reminding each other that the puritans are on the rise again in others.
More immediately, it seems that plans for the Women’s Marches, in Washington, London and elsewhere, are struggling to accommodate different groups and different viewpoints. Flashpoints have arisen over sex workers, their allies, and abolitionists, as well as (apparently) antichoicers wanting to join in. While I’m not that much of a veteran placard wielder, I have been on a few demos over the years and I have noticed, more than once, that some of the people marching along with me and whichever mates I’d teamed up with were waving banners that didn’t exactly speak to me, my friends, or any kind of common aim apart from the one specific thing that we were all marching in favour of, or against.
Anyone who gets involved in a demo of any kind must reach a point that feels like trying to organise a wedding – or a funeral – when you’ve got a handful of family members who actually fucking hate each other, and you have to referee the ‘I’m not coming if s/he’s going to be there/Well I won’t come unless you tell them they’re not invited’ arguments. It can certainly be pretty disconcerting to find that members of a group you absolutely despise actually share your views on one particular cause. Obviously, everyone can choose to withdraw their support from an organisation which appears to be pandering to a group they consider dangerous, and there is always going to be the question of: does it taint me to march beside these people? Or is there a possibility of bringing out the good in them by walking with them and searching for common ground?
It seems to me that, in the face of a truly dangerous and powerful enemy, we’re better off searching for ways to come together rather than rush apart, but it may not be possible if those broadly on the same side demand too many concessions for their own particular interests without being willing to give some in return. Because nobody’s right about everything. Not even me.