Recently, MGK made a delightful post in which he calmly and eloquently asked all of the sexist/racist/homophobic assholes in fandom to kindly fuck off out of our collective lives. I wholeheartedly approve of this gesture. This probably doesn’t surprise many people, because if I wasn’t the sort of person that wholeheartedly approved of this gesture, I wouldn’t have been the kind of person who gets asked to do guest columns for a site that makes this gesture.
The post spawned comments, which is unsurprising. One of the occasional themes in these comments was, “But if these people fuck off out of our collective lives, how will we ever convince them to be better people? We can’t be continually hostile to them. We have to engage them and sway them with well-reasoned discussion instead of attacking them.” This is a theme I wanted to address further, while making it very clear that I am not speaking for the site, only for myself, and that MGK reserves the right to make his own further responses on this topic. With that said, here goes.
This is an understandable impulse. We all understand the way that people get defensive when someone makes them feel like they’re in the wrong, and we all want to believe that we can bring people around to our point of view. Plus, there is kind of a deep-seated social conditioning against actively telling someone, “Fuck off out of our collective lives”, at least directly to their face. So I can get wanting to find a different way to handle the racist/sexist/homophobic assholes.
But that presumes that these people are arguing in good faith. It takes as a basic assumption that when someone shows up on a message board, forum, comments section, private email of a person who criticized their favorite comic book, voicemail of someone whose phone number they dug up, whatever, that they are attempting to engage in an actual discussion about the subject of whether sexism/racism/homophobia in comics and fandom is genuine and undesirable. And it also assumes that even though they have staked out a position and feel strongly about it, they are willing to listen to counter-arguments.
This is obviously wrong. If someone has gotten to the point where they say this (which is an actual motherfucking thing that was actually sent to Janelle Asselin):
“Women in comics are the deviation, the invading body, the cancer. We are the cure, the norm, the natural order. All you are is a pair of halfway decent tits, a c*nt and a loud mouth. But see, it doesn’t matter how loud you get. It doesn’t matter how many of your lezbo tumblr and twitter fangirl friends agree with you and reinforce your views. You can be all “I’m not going to be silent about misogyny so f*ck you!” all you want. In the end all you are is a pathetic little girl trying to effect change and failing to make a dent. You might as well try to drain the ocean of fish. That’s the kind of battle you face with people like me. We won’t quit. We won’t stop attacking. We won’t give up. Ever.”
Then I think it’s pretty goddamn safe to say that they are no longer arguing in good faith. At that point, I think it’s pretty motherfucking safe to say that their only intention as far as engaging you in dialogue is concerned is to punish you for continuing to talk. This is not speech as an exchange of ideas. This is speech used as a weapon to threaten, harass and intimidate. There is no longer any point in attempting to discuss the issue with these people. At this point, all you can really do is fight back.
So yes. This is the point where people like me make it clear to people like whoever wrote that message that no, they will quit. They will stop attacking. They will give up. Because people like me will shout them the fuck down just the same way they’re trying to shout down women in comics. And despite their pathetic, miserable, whiny delusions, there are more of us and we are louder than they are. And yes, this means that they may never change. They may persist in the belief that they’re the real victim here, and we may never have the chance to convince them otherwise.
But at least they’ll shut the fuck up about it, which is more than they’re doing now.