Remember when I said I was going to see Caitlin Moran and I was genuinely worried I would wet myself? And then how I never mentioned it ever again? That was odd.
Here is the story of meeting Caitlin Moran and why I felt weird about it. Told backwards. Enjoy.
Just two days after the Caitlin day, a crazy twittershitstorm broke out which led to the whole of twitter sharpening their pitchforks and baying for Caitlin Moran’s blood. This ruined my Caitlin joy quite a lot.
I didn’t feel like writing an excitable account of meeting Caitlin Moran and how SHE TOUCHED ME (not in an inappropriate way...) while there was so much angst going on. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it myself.
For those* who may have been magically unaware of the horror of that weekend, here are the facts:
One: Caitlin Moran had interviewed Lena Dunham (writer, director and star of TV show Girls and the film Tiny Furniture) and the interview came out in the Times the Saturday after Caitlin day.
Two: Lena Dunham has been criticised for having an entirely white cast in Girls, when there are a hell of a lot of people of colour in New York.
Three: Caitlin Moran was asked (in a really irritating and goading way) if she had brought this up with Dunham. She said “Nope. I literally couldn't give a shit about it” Meaning that she likes girls and Dunham and doesn’t think it such in interesting show should be destroyed because of its flaws.
Four: Twitter went mad talking about intersectionality and privilege and how feminism isn’t just for white women – all things that are true and important. There was a lot of anger.
I agree that it was a flippant and very very stupid thing to tweet. But I think all of us could do this at some time. I think that I could be tempted to write “I couldn’t give a shit” if I was being asked why my interview with an interesting and talented person I admired wasn’t just me yelling: WHY DIDN’T YOU WRITE A BLACK CHARACTER? YOU SELFISH, PRIVILEGED, WHITE GIRL.
I felt sick and conflicted for a week after it happened – could my hero be a blithe privilege-denying racist?
So much hatred was spewed out. People had obviously waited a long time to have an excuse to vent all this Moran-hate. I felt like I had to have a really serious position on it. Did it make me complicit and secretly (even from myself) racist if I thought it was just a mistake and didn’t need to be taken too seriously? If I thought it was awful, would I have to renounce Caitlin? Burn my newly signed books and hate her forever? We can't accept feminism that only cares about how white, straight, cis women are portrayed. But does this mean that every single tv show has to represent everyone? of course not. But it does matter. And when feminism is so linked with class and race that to be a woman of colour can be so different to being a white woman, we can't ignore race when we talk about feminism. Worrying about shaving your armpits or the feminism (lack there of) of cupcakes is pretty fucking sickening when you think of other feminist issues, like FGM or education, abortion rights and the experiences of women in war zones and in extreme poverty. In the face of that, how can a tv show that gives a voice to a very small group of white girls in the richest country in the world be important for feminism?
(I hope that made some sense)
But I remembered sitting in a tiny bookshop so close to Caitlin Moran that I accidentally bumped her shoe as I re-crossed my legs, hearing her talk about 'Normal'. How our society makes anyone feel abnormal if they aren’t white, or male, or cis, or straight etc. How white men are the default and everyone else is other. I realised that she is a human and not perfect and no one should expect her to be.
This is a really excellent piece by Bim Adewunmi: What the Girls spat on Twitter tells us about feminism she makes more sense than me.
*Ha 1. at the idea of having more than one reader and 2. that it could be anyone but Laura who definitely knows all about this.
This month-late post was brought to you by NaNoWriMo procrastination