If it’s “stealing”, you’d better prove it: on Amanda Marcotte, BFP, and RH Reality Check

The part of me that likes to avoid conflict wants to stay quiet. That part of me is not on display this morning.

Certain radical women of color bloggers (RWOC) are accusing Amanda Marcotte of “stealing” her ideas for this RH Reality Check piece: Can a Person Be Illegal, from this speech by Brownfemipower at WAM. The speech was given March 29 in Cambridge; the Reality Check article was published on Wednesday, April 2 (and republished by Alternet five days later). Here is Brownfemipower’s post, and Sudy’s,and Sylvia’s, and Rebecca’s.

Amanda has explained, in comments on various blogs, that she had already outlined the Reality Check article in an editorial meeting well before she, Brownfemipower, and all the rest of us were gathered for WAM. Brownfemipower has not acknowledged that claim, and has chosen not to name Amanda, changing her name to an “X” in her comments section.

Radical women of color have rightly suggested that “mainstream”, predominantly white feminist bloggers need to do more to cover broader issues of social concern. Amanda, who has been writing about a wide spectrum of justice issues for years, chose to tackle the immigration/language issue in her Alternet piece because, as she says, immigration is a vital contemporary issue, much in the “zeitgeist.” And inevitably, when people who share the same progressive concerns start focusing on an issue, the chance that they will independently come to similar conclusions is pretty high.

Perhaps the Reality Check article ought to have had more links within it; I don’t know what Alternet’s particular policy is to citations. But the accusation of “stealing” — a charge now being repeated on multiple blogs today in regards to Amanda — is very serious indeed. It’s also a charge that requires far more proof than has been offered, and if that proof cannot be found, it’s a charge that ought to be withdrawn. It’s one thing to be frustrated, as many women of color bloggers are, that radical ideas are not getting published. It’s another thing altogether to accuse a fellow feminist of theft when she does take on, in eloquent and thoughtful terms, the very issue you’ve been demanding that mainstream white feminists address.

Certain words are matters of perspective and opinion. You can call me elitist and pompous; you can call me a clueless, self-serving asshole; you can call me a self-loathing fuckwit. (I’ve had all of these thrown my way in the past year.) It’s not a crime to be pompous; I can’t be sued for being a fuckwit. But to accuse someone who makes their living with words of stealing is a very, very serious charge — one that is normally subject to civil litigation or severe academic discipline. To make that charge without compelling evidence is to damage a writer’s reputation in perhaps the most serious way possible. No amount of frustration or anger justifies it.

There are larger issues here that may be driving some of the anger towards Amanda. Her new book (which I reviewed here) has just been published by Seal Press. Representatives of Seal Press got into a nasty exchange with some women of color bloggers at WAM. The community of “radical women of color bloggers” has suggested that Seal needs to do more to publish serious works by non-white feminists; Amanda’s article in RH, repeated on Alternet, coming so soon after both the publication of her book and the conflict with Seal, is understandably exasperating. Why some folks get book deals and others don’t, why some folks get articles published and others don’t — these are issues worth discussing.

Here’s what’s not okay: assuming that if Amanda Marcotte writes an intelligent and interesting piece about immigration right at the same time that Brownfemipower makes similar points at a conference, then somehow the former has “stolen” from the latter. The struggle for justice for undocumented migrants is an important one. Those who come late to the issue ought indeed inform themselves by listening to those who have been publicizing the struggle for a long time, but that doesn’t mean that the right to publish on the subject is limited to those who were writing about it first.

The charge of theft against Amanda has spread fairly widely, despite her clear statement that she had designed the article well in advance of the WAM conference. BFP’s powerful speech, read side-by-side with Amanda’s article, in no way constitutes a “smoking gun”, proving that Marcotte’s piece was plagiarized. Amanda seems caught between a rock and a hard place: if she doesn’t write about issues like immigration, she’s ignoring an issue of vital concern to women of color. When she does produce an intelligent, provocative piece on the subject, she’s accused of having stolen the idea.

There are some charges for which there are no proofs or disproofs: “clueless”, “racist”, “elitist.” But theft can be proven, and if you’re going to use the language of theft, you need a hell of a lot more evidence than you have so far produced.

UPDATE: The links to Brownfemipower are defunct, at least from my blog. If you don’t go through me but through one of the other links listed above, you can apparently still access the post. I don’t want to link where I’ve been explicitly asked not to do so any longer (Chris Clarke’s Faultline), but since this post is already up for discussion and receiving many hits, I did want to explain the difficulty folks might have in obtaining access.

220 thoughts on “If it’s “stealing”, you’d better prove it: on Amanda Marcotte, BFP, and RH Reality Check

  1. Hugo,

    As a big fan of Amanda’s, I mostly agree with this post, but you should probably watch your language here: “Amanda, like other prominent white feminists, seems caught between a rock and a hard place”. It really does smack of “poor, poor white feminists! They’re so oppressed!” To the extent that any injustice has been done here, it’s against Amanda herself, not to white feminists in general; it would be wise to leave the analysis at that, given the stuff that feminists of color have to put up with that often goes far beyond the occasional (if serious) false accusation.

  2. Hugo: where do you see an accusation of slander? The posts I’ve seen and contributed do not go out on that limb, but suggest that there very likely was a knowledge that the earlier material was out there and therefore an ethical responsibility, if possibly not a legal one, to cite it. And I have not seen a satisfactory response to why this didn’t happen.

    Why place a legal burden on WOC (and white feminisits, because guess what — some of us also have called this out) here? Does something have to be illegal to be ethically inappropriate?

  3. I enjoy spreading memes on a daily basis through commenting and blogging. A million times, I’ve heard an echo in the white progressive blogosphere and everywhere else actually. At first I didn’t mind but I eventually want credit.

  4. I didn’t accuse anyone of slander, and didn’t use that word once. I said that “stealing” is a specific word with a specific meaning — words matter. Several bloggers are using that very word: stealing. Asking Amanda to link to other writers is one thing, accusing her of stealing (which is a very precise charge) is something else. In her post, BFP obliquely compares Amanda to Ward Churchill, of all people, who lost his job for plagiarism. The implication is pretty clear that Amanda has done the same, and yet the evidence simply isn’t there.

  5. Brownfemipower has been writing on the topic of immigration and feminism for over a year at least. She’s one of many people of color in the blogosphere who has written on the themes of immigration in America, language, and dehumanization. This isn’t a 10 day timeline. The speech BFP gave at the WAM conference is an introduction to a whole body of work she has constructed at her blog, specifically looking at the interplay between immigration and feminism. To claim that it is somehow acceptable not to credit anyone connecting immigration and feminism for such an extended period of time is laughable. This is definitely not an example of a zeitgeist; it is an example of people very unaware of the world they live in attempting to reinvent the wheel and expecting to hear no objections to it.

    The person in question has “pitied” people, she’s tried to “keep an open mind,” she’s waffled, and she’s come up with this “zeitgeist theory.” She’s done everything but deny it.

  6. For the record, the overall inspiration behind my piece was going to an ACLU conference that focused on issues of immigration on March 8th. Apparently, a lot of people focus on these issues, enough to fill an ACLU conference that I attended. I hadn’t really thought about the substantial (as opposed to symbolic) links between anti-illegal immigration sentiment and just plain anti-immigrant sentiment until I saw a panel of people working for voting rights talk about how legal citizens are getting purged from voter rolls. Ever since March 8th, I’ve wanted to incorporate some of these ideas into my writing, and the green card-blackmail case that I heard on NPR seemed to be the perfect starting point to connect women’s rights and immigration issues.

    In sum: These are not minor issues that only BFP is paying attention to. I went to a conference about just these issues.

  7. Sorry, a couple of jumps ahead. Let me make myself more clear. Your suggestion that there someone has accused Amanda of plagiarism is in effect a suggestion of slander. Yet, nobody has done so. An oblique comparison does not an accusation make.

    Nobody is trying, to my knowledge, to make out a case for plagiarism that they should need to defend. That’s not the point. Those trying to make it the point are instead distracting from the actual point.

    Which is what Sylvia said above. Does there need to be a legal necessity to do the right thing? Credibility and ethics are separate matters.

    It’s interesting that you are resting on issues like “proof” and getting into legalistic “words matter” minutiae (appreciate the refresher as the Bar was over a decade ago, BTW). That indicates that you are less confident that you can make the arguments on the more nuanced, less “precise” issues of credibility and ethics.

    These are important characteristics of both a scholar and a feminist blogger, however.

  8. You know, Hugo, I read your blog fairly consistently, and I see a whole lot of defending white feminists in these sorts of situations. I actually stopped reading your blog for a while after the FFF issues erupted, because of the way you handled it.

    I don’t know the ins and outs of this one (yet), but you seem pretty damn quick to defend these white women against criticism from women of color every time the issue comes up.

    Once again in this type of situation, you’re focusing on whether women of color have articulated their grievance “appropriately” rather than on the merits or lack there of of the grievance itself. You say that “several bloggers” are using the word “stealing” – but you don’t say that BFP is. Is she?

    It’s a cop out to say, “I don’t have to think about whether Amanda’s course of action was exclusionary/dismissive/reinforcing of racial hierarchies because the criticism of her is clearly over the top.” When you focus on the manner in which the criticism is articulated, you take the focus and attention off the criticism itself. And that is how women of color are silenced. Because then no one’s talking about whether BFP should have been acknowledged. They’re talking about whether women of color bloggers are angry liars.

    You could say you think the “stealing” accusation is not supported, and then discuss BFP’s insights and how they are/are not reflected in Amanda’s piece, and how and why Amanda’s piece will get more recognition in certain circles. But you’ve chosen instead to focus only on whether women of color bloggers are angry liars, and not at all on the criticism they are/were expressing. And I think that’s a shame.

  9. Well, if folks want to retract the stealing charge and get into a discussion of ethics, they can start to move things along. But with the hyperbole out there right now, it’s not happening.

    Amanda has made clear that she didn’t just come up with this out of the blue — she went to conferences, did her homework, and drew from a great many sources. When we get one breakthrough idea from a specific source, we cite it — but Amanda wasn’t simply influenced by BFP or any other one particular writer/blogger, but rather by a host of sources over a long period of time. It’s not as if she was Newton under tree, suddenly bopped by an apple of ideas about immigration falling from one particular branch called Brownfemipower.

    Emily, you’re right that I’m angriest about the “stealing” language. But I also don’t like the implication that Amanda has behaved unethically here, when there simply isn’t any evidence other than the fact that she’s come to a conclusion that is similar to the one being made by BFP and others. I think some folks are falling for the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy, and that troubles me.

  10. Hugo, with all due respect, I think you’re missing the point.

    From what I understand, the complaint is that white feminists often write about WOC topics and do one or more of these things:
    1. Don’t reference WOC bloggers, writers, thinkers
    2. Cite using “this blogger” or “here” with a link instead of using the person’s name
    3. Leave WOC out of the discussion either intentionally or unintentionally

    Regardless of whether or not Amanda outlined the article prior to the speech, her refusal to include WOC who obviously wanted to be included in the discussion is the real issue here. It’s not really about Amanda and Seal Press as it is about an entire industry that listens to white, educated, published feminists more than women of color.

    I’m guilty of this at times and so are many other white feminists. And we need to listen and accept criticism better. Our job as feminists isn’t to write and publish books for our own profit; our job is to change the world!

  11. Elaine, we can all certainly do a better job of naming people. Which is why I actually linked today to the blogs that discussed this issue, with, where I knew them, the actual names of the bloggers. Where I and others have failed to do that, we’ve been wrong, and I learned that in the FFF kerfuffle.

  12. So, does this mean that, since the discourse on immigration and feminism seems to be owned by Brownfemipower, nobody else can talk about it on her/ his blog? Or should the discourse on immigration and feminism perhaps be owned by immigrant women?

    And might there be more important problems to resolve for this entire community than blogger infighting?

  13. Regardless of whether or not Amanda outlined the article prior to the speech, her refusal to include WOC who obviously wanted to be included in the discussion is the real issue here.

    Oh my Jesus, no. It’s not. It’s really not.

    The real issue is the work of women of color gets trivialized or rendered invisible every time our feminisms intersect.

    I don’t know how anyone could read the Seal Press situation as a request for inclusion unless they have a highly inflated sense of their worth. “Fuck Seal Press” is not a cleverly short and provocative book proposal, not a plea for love, or a request for respect. It’s a dismissal. Though it may lack context in the post it’s written in, it is NOT without context in Seal Press’s decline in incorporating and publishing works by women of color.

    I also don’t know how anyone can read this situation as a request for inclusion into dialogue. It is about work and respect for that work which is ongoing, with or without the weigh-in of white mainstream feminists. Just tossing our names in isn’t enough. But it’s a start in showing that the ideas that you’re presenting are not novel and that they have a foundation beyond the “zeitgeist” of the time. This is not a new concept. It’s called appropriation. May not have the force of “stealing” or “plagiarism” but it’s much worse in its impact.

    That’d take knowledge and engagement with the idea that women of color do feminist work, anti-racist work, work involving people with disabilities and LGBT that decidedly does not depend on white feminists noticing them. Yet the ideas and information from the work of women of color find its way into the books and articles of white feminists without attribution.

    Feminism is not limited to one action or conceptualization. There is not only one movement. We are not trying to join anything or to have ourselves included in anything. Once again, please stop ego tripping. There are publishing houses, copyrights, programs, networks, opportunities and consciousness for women of color. We pour our experiences and our passions into the work we present, the work we do, the work we live everyday. We want credit for what we’ve done and what we’re doing when it trickles down and through to white middle-class feminism.

    We don’t want disembodiment from issues that affect us because it reached someone later than it touched us. We don’t want our bodies and our lives and our truths dependent on whims and zeitgeists and bound to arbitrary timelines. Our strongest claim to these issues beyond dates and clear similarities of theory and synthesis is we live in them and they live in us.

    The red herrings tearing this discussion away from this fundamental request for respect are galling.

  14. Failing to mention the work immigrant rights activists are doing is not the same thing as plagiarism. From what I could tell reading BFP’s post, her criticism of Amanda was the former, something which maybe she has a point about but it’s really not an attack on Amanda’s personal integrity. For this reason I think it’s important to separate what BFP actually said with what’s been said on her behalf by others.

    From what I could tell of most of the other posts Hugo linked here, the accusation was of direct plagiarism, something which is, let’s be frank, an attack, and which, as Hugo said, needs something to back it up. They also attribute a lot more in terms of “original ideas” to BFP personally than she herself does, one of them even goes so far as to insinuate that BFP “planted the seed” of those ideas. This is, to me, pretty beyond the pale because the basic ideas in question are

    -That bureaucracy and paperwork create a sort of tyranny: And yet when most people talk about paperwork as a problem they don’t cite any of the 19th century libertarians and anarchists who argued for open borders and an end to government bureaucracy.
    -That the term “illegal aliens” is a use of language that dehumanizes immigrants: This, again, is a pretty old idea, and while I’d have a lot of trouble finding where it was first applied to this term particularily, there’s a certain George Orwell essay where the root idea can be found that predates both the internet and the contemporary feminist (or Muejerista) movement by a hell of a lot.

    Anyone who thinks that anyone comes up with any idea “on their own” is gravely misunderstanding how human ideas and communication happen.

    I feel kind of torn because BFP and Amanda are propably my two favourite bloggers, they’re both tremendously smart people whose basic sense of justice is the basis for their writing. But on the balance, I’ve got to agree with Hugo – meaningful discussion can’t happen amid the negative personal attacks that have happened. That said, I think that BFP was trying to start an interesting and important discussion and it’s really too bad that now this discussion is unlikely to happen.

  15. The real issue is the work of women of color gets trivialized or rendered invisible every time our feminisms intersect.

    This is what Amanda and you, Hugo, are missing. There is a long history of white people taking up a political struggle that has been worked on long and hard by people of color over the years and then COMPLETELY ignoring/erasing all that work and all those efforts.

    Fortunately, bloggers like BFP do a wonderful job of linking to people who have done the work before them and sending their readers to sites where we can learn more and make a difference. We white bloggers should be following their lead. It’s not about ethics or legalities. It is about the best method of creating a broader movement and a better world.

    If you want to make the world a better place, why not learn from and support and recognize those who have done so before us?

  16. I believe as Hugo does that “words matter” and I disagree when Emily writes, “When you focus on the manner in which the criticism is articulated, you take the focus and attention off of the criticism itself.” I’ve found that the opposite is true. Specifically if one is going to criticize, then one needs to learn how to articulate the criticism, otherwise you’ll risk alienating one’s audience and the focus will be on how it is articulated rather than the criticism itself. And I also agree with Labyrus that an important discussion is unlikely to happen.

  17. there’s a certain George Orwell essay where the root idea can be found that predates both the internet and the contemporary feminist (or Muejerista) movement by a hell of a lot.

    I’m tempted to say Politics and the English Language, but I could be wrong?

    While looking at that one (it’s one of my favorite essays on language and ideology and politics), I did spot this Orwell essay that pleased me greatly.

    (And to be a goof, I’m convinced that this essay by Bertrand Russell describes the course of most internet arguments and fighting. :-p)

    Oh, I’m sorry. It’s hard to find links to things! Or even to try! I forgot. Pretend they aren’t there. Some people are good at it.

  18. I find it interesting that you assume that someone who defends Brownfemipower is necessarily a ‘radical woman of colour blogger’.

    Rebecca is definitely white…

    I have to agree with some of the other commenters here… there’s a lot of ‘the WoC bloggers hate us!’ sentiment on this blog at times.

    I am pretty fucking ignorant of race issues, and so I stay out of the debate at this point, cos frankly, I had to eat my words about a variety of issues after reading the words of sex work bloggers, disabled bloggers, and other minority groups, and I don’t feel like offending and then finding out how wrong I’ve been on yet another issue I have the privilege of not being directly effected by.

    In a nutshell, I think that white middle class bloggers should try listening, and then engaging on the home territory of the minority bloggers. Mostly listening… When you *get it* and have stopped stomping all over the minority you are trying to ‘represent’, then speak.

  19. Hugo, I would like to ask you to imagine a scenario. Say you were doing your daily perusing of blogs, and you came across a post titled, “Can A Person Be Inferior?” In this post, a man outlined what he considered to be a revolutionary idea: that women are full humans who should be treated equally to men. He implicitly claimed this concept as his own original thought, and didn’t link or mention any feminists or feminist writings.

    Maybe he isn’t guilty of stealing. Maybe he really hadn’t heard of feminism. But he is sure as hell guilty of something, and feminists would be right to react badly.

    I know this example is an extreme one — Amanda Marcotte didn’t implicitly claim to have originated the concept of racism — but it’s the same phenomenon, essentially.

  20. Daisy, nowhere did Amanda ever say her idea was revolutionary, nor do I find the implicit claim that all of this spawned in her own head. I don’t accept the scenario you provide as applicable here.

  21. Well then, I don’t see why anyone should accept the conclusion you’ve reached that there is more to prove. I won’t play the game of acting like all this handwringing and subject changing directly relates to the specific allegation here.

    You still haven’t made a case for why Amanda did not and could not have referenced the work of Brownfemipower and other people of color who have written on this topic for a year or more. I’ve seen blogs referenced at RH and at Alternet, both within the body of the article and at the end of the article. Netiquette breaks down whenever it comes to crediting people of color for their work. Why is that?

    But I guess people won’t have BFP to steal work from; her work (along with her blog) is now gone.

  22. “I refuse to play the game with the goal posts moving so fast. You can’t even see them.”

    Ah, I see. You’ll only accept criticism if it is one-dimensional and consistent? Is there a form we can file in triplicate and submit to the proper bureaucrat? Should we expect a response in three to six months?

    The issue is neither complex nor shifting. You have shown yourself capable of dealing with complex issues that affect white women. You can choose to use the same abilities on this issue.

  23. Well, okay. The implication that it spawned in her own head is evident in the lack of citations — when one is drawing an idea from elsewhere, one makes the source plain. When one presents an idea with no source attached, the implication is that it’s the writer’s own thought. That’s my understanding, anyway. Do you disagree with that?

    Also, I’m not trying to say that this is a case of plagiarism, per se. I don’t think there’s any reason to suspect malice aforethought. She just happens to have written out ideas that have been discussed at great length for something like years at blogs just down the tubes from hers… And she apparently has no idea this is the case. Why is that? Why are certain feminist — i.e. white ones — totally blind to the lives, works, worlds, and words of others — i.e. women of color? How is it possible that BFP and others have been making this point daily, daily, and other people — people living and reading the same blogtown — straight up didn’t notice?

  24. The goal posts have been stuck on the issue of lack of citation to or even mention of:

    (1) arguably the most detailed and re-occurring discussion of the linkage of feminism and immigration to come from the feminist blogosphere of late, published over the course of a number of months by:

    (2) the speaker who presented this linkage at the same conference at which you recently presented. (The syllabus from the conference has been out for months; it’s highly likely that most attendees were familiar with it prior to the conference).

    Is that stationary enough?

  25. I just don’t get it. I am an academic, a writer, and a blogger, and in all three of those pursuits, when I write about an idea that other people have also written about, I refer back to them. In blogging, it doesn’t take nearly as much as it takes in, say, academic writing. All you have to do is say, hey, people are talking about this, so-and-so over here wrote about it, these folks here are talking about it, and I want to add this to the conversation or build on this idea. Even journalists, who frequently do not cite sources as thoroughly as academic writers, do this. As Amanda herself says, these are issues that people are writing about. So why the refusal to refer to her sources?

    I think what happened is that she felt she didn’t have to cite her sources – quite a lot of people don’t cite their sources, and she’s hardly alone. But she got called on it, and it’s embarrassing. The classy thing to do would be simply to say, “yes, quite right, I neglected to cite these sources, here they are, here are links so that you can check out their good work, sorry about that.”

    On a different note is what you are doing, Hugo. You’re suggesting that when a white feminist addresses issues of women of color, then, by golly, that’s all that matters. Further, your conflation of the Seal blow-up with this issue is simply inaccurate and fairly insulting. You are defending Amanda’s professional integrity at the cost of BFP’s. You are essentially suggesting that women of color are only upset (and, FYI, contrary to your assumption, there are plenty of us white women who are upset on their behalfs, as well) because they’re not getting published. You’re making it about personal gain. You’re worried about professional reputations, and they’re worried about the social change they’re trying to effect, the change that is being stalled by white women twisting their words and denying their realities.

    But you are right that there are some of the same dynamics operating in both of these instances, as well as in this very thread, which involve white folks tuning out people of color and not taking their work seriously enough to even think that perhaps, just maybe, it deserves to be acknowledged and given proper credit. Instead, the body of BFP’s work – which was really incredible – has been winnowed down to this one speech, as if she hadn’t been writing about these issues all this time, as if she hadn’t had a tremendous influence.

  26. Thank you for bringing up the moral obligation not to falsely or lightly destroy a person’s livelihood. I haven’t been following the story otherwise; but to turn a claim of “not researching and crediting the work that was done before you” into an accusation of conscious and intentional theft is an act of malice. Brownfemipower’s actual grievances sound like they were both reasonable and reasonably presented, and I’m sorry to hear that third parties who thought they were “helping” took things to such a vitriolic and harmful level.

    Damaging a person’s professional reputation is like taking food from their mouth. Think carefully before you speak in anger.

  27. It doesn’t look like plagiarism but it’s definitely appropriation, which does have negative consequences for the appropriated, especially if they are not given credit.

  28. Also, bfp is quite informed and eloquent about issues of immigration and feminism, and she has put a lot of fascinating original thought out there. It’s got to be painful to watch someone with a relatively superficial understanding of the topic (and who you know to read your blog and who probably learned much of it, if not all of it, from you) regurgitate that superficial understanding to a wide audience…when you’ve been discussing and dissecting and giving eloquent and detailed and well-supported explanations of these issues for years.

  29. Congratulations, Hugo and Amanda: bfp’s nuked her blog now. Please feel free to continue whining about how put upon the mainstream white feminists are and how Amanda is being “destroyed,” though.

    No one destroyed her fucking livelihood. People were saying, as they’ve been saying for -quite- a while now: -would you please acknowledge your fucking sources.- Apparently it’s too much trouble. And no, it isn’t just this piece. It’s. not. that. hard. to understand. Really, it’s not.

  30. and really: you know why I’ve always liked Orwell, myself, is because he had very little patience for fatuous bullshit. “Politics and the English Language,” indeed. It’s about people who don’t want to face up to their own shit, is what that’s about, under the dissection of semantics.

    Not. Hard. To Understand.

    Unless, of course, one doesn’t -want- to.

  31. If there’s one thing women of colour hate more than middle class white women’s ossification of feminism, it’s white men who threaten us when we take issue with the way white women go about things. You really have no place making a post like this, Hugo. To capitalise on the stereotype of angry and emotive woc to trivialise our concerns makes you the predatory one.

    So apparently you don’t take accusations of racism or sexism as seriously as accusations of plagiarism. What the hell kind of moral high ground are you claiming here?

  32. Well, if folks want to retract the stealing charge and get into a discussion of ethics, they can start to move things along.

    Hugo Schwyzer, this is wrong. You must know this is wrong. The ethical discussion is well underway. Surely you see that. You’re participating in it. Unfortunately you’ve made your position very clear so far.

    The legalistic-sounding verbage is irrelevant. “Stealing” can mean “appropriation” just as easily as it can mean “plagiarism.” And yet you are not only refusing to respond to the broader systematic problem of appropriation, you are claiming that it hasn’t been raised properly.

    That’s simply not correct. Please keep in mind that we can all read the thread for ourselves.

    I think one problem here gets lost in the discussion of individuals. The problem is that you are arguing on the wrong side of a system of appropriation. It’s not primarily personal, it’s primarily systematic. How about this time the white people acknowledge the appropriation. We, as a Combine, grabbed “something” out of “the air” without attribution. If you like, we can take comfort in the fact that it’s something we’re programmed to do. But acknowledge it, try to make amends, and put some fixes in place to avoid a repeat?

  33. This is an incredibly vicious attack against Amanda. She’s being accused of what amounts to plagiarism — no amount of trying to refine the attacks now after the fact to “appropriation” or “unethicalness” can dilute the impact of the accusation. Amanda is essentially a journalist, and plagiarism is the most serious, most career-nuking accusation that can be made against a journalist. If BFP and her supporters cannot back up this accusation, then they need to make a retraction or a clarification. Not to do so casts grave doubts on their own ethicalness.

    Short of plagiarism, it seems like what BFP and her supporters are upset about is their “erasure” from popular discourse on feminism — ie, mainstream blogs like RHReality and mainstream popular consumption book publishers. As an initial matter, BFP’s complaints about erasure can only be seen as hypocritical given that she’s now blocked access to her original posts about Amanda, the transcript of her speech, and renamed Amanda as “x” in her comments!

    I think what BFP fails to understand is that if she wants a presence in the popular media, she needs to speak to the popular media, the way Amanda and Jessica Valenti do. To complain that the popular media doesn’t include BFP’s voice is ridiculous, considering that she herself admits that she’s not even making an effort to gain entry into that discussion. The essence of the popular media is that it distills without cumbersome attribution, encapsulating the zeitgeist (as Amanda puts it) in an easily readable form. BFP’s criticism would be exactly correct if Amanda were writing a scholarly article, but the fact is that Amanda is not a feminist scholar. She’s a journalist, and that’s a whole different world. If BFP wants into that world, she has to get there herself, not by attacking Amanda. BFP can’t complain her way into greater influence on popular culture — she has to do the work herself.

  34. Bfp has nuked her blog a number of times since she started blogging over some blowup with “white feminists,” (whoever that might be, are Belledame, Ravenm, Octogalore, Plainsfeminist “white feminists”?) Bfp will be back.

  35. A simpler angle, that I’m almost embarrassed to repeat because so many others have already said it, is that, on the personal level, Marcotte seems to have violated simple netiquette.

    Marcotte has stiffed blogs that we all know she reads, on an article right in the middle of their subject area. It’s not right. It’s wrong. Ok. So we don’t need to compound it, we need to fix it.

    People reacted to a clear violation of netiquette with the word “stealing.” Well?

  36. “The legalistic-sounding verbage is irrelevant. “Stealing” can mean “appropriation” just as easily as it can mean “plagiarism.” ”

    Now that’s just disengenous. It doesn’t matter that the thesaurus gives you alternate definitions of “stealing”; what matters is how most people will interpret it, which will be “plagiarism.” You’re the one being legalistic by saying “Stealing has several definitions and we’re not responsible if people pick the one we didn’t mean.” In fact, that’s one of Justice Scalia’s favorite moves — picking the least reasonable definition out of many available and ignoring context.

    If you accuse a writer of “stealing,” that means “plagiarism” to most people. If you didn’t mean actual plagiarism, then you need to clarify yourself. Period.

  37. Hugo, in the moment I read your “you’d better prove it”, I heard, clear as a bell, the snarl of privilege. Someone has insulted you, or someone who looks like you and whom you identify with, and they’ll justify it, or they’ll pay. I also note the irony of your reference to these women as “radical”; radical as opposed to whom, Hugo?

    Then I looked into the issue in more detail, and it speaks to a serious issue which I have observed feminists of colour take with feminists identified as white. You don’t acknowledge your debts. Tina Lopes and Barb Thomas have helped immeasurably with my education in their book Dancing on Live Embers, Challenging Racism in Organizations. They have a whole chapter on the interaction between two women, feminists and anti-racism educators, which covers this and other topics. They discuss the phenomenon, where a woman identified as white restates something a woman of colour has just said, in a way that suggests that now the “white” person has said it, you should take this seriously. In the book, Tina Lopes refer to this as “capping”. Amanda herself provides a perfect example in this very thread, when she writes:

    These are not minor issues that only BFP is paying attention to.

    I find I have to watch myself daily to make sure I give women of colour credit for the ideas that have shaped my thinking about these and other issues.

    I can’t possibly claim to agree with everything that women bloggers of colour have said on this topic, because I haven’t read everything everyone has written. But I do see a serious issue, I do see anger, and I do see a justified anger that needs taking seriously. I see the expressed concern about unjust accusations as an inappropriate diversion from a conversation that badly needs to take place, and one that deserves more than the snarl of innocence outraged you have so far given it.

  38. Look people, words matter. The language of stealing was used, and used repeatedly. To say “Oh we didn’t mean plagiarism, we meant appropriation, and you’re just trying to derail the issue by going after the verbiage” is absurd. Time and again, privileged folks have said hurtful things to the unprivileged, and then said “Oh, this isn’t what we meant, you should have understood — why are you trying to derail a productive discussion?” In this instance, the situation is reversed.

    And much of the chance for productive discussion is limited now that we no longer have access to BFP’s thread. This is the theme these days: Seal Press deleted a controversial thread for their part last week. It does make it hard to go back and look at what has been said.

  39. “If there’s one thing women of colour hate more than middle class white women’s ossification of feminism, it’s white men who threaten us when we take issue with the way white women go about things.”

    I called my mom to confirm firefly’s assertion, but apparently she disagrees. As many on this thread have noted, its not just WOC who are upset at Amanda, bur also some white women. Now here’s a thought, the reverse is also just as true.

    It’s not aboput race, its about what ideological framework you choose to view the world thru.

  40. This is a hard comment to write. Hugo, you know I have a great deal of respect for you. The same goes for Amanda. In this case, I think you and she are clearly wrong — but partly because of a misunderstanding of the situation.

    I haven’t been following this discussion (if you can call something so fraught with emotion a discussion) too closely, mostly because I only read a handful of blogs and it appears to have been taking place on smaller blogs which are basically off my radar. But, if I understand the claims right, neither side seems to be engaging with the other. (Now, that’s a big if!)

    Let’s see. First, BFP and other radical women of colour bloggers (and those allied with them in this discussion) are — rightfully, I think — complaining about the way white bloggers (and white feminists more generally) repeat themes, claims, analyses, etc., originally developed by RWOC without so much as a nod in their direction. That is, they’re complaining about appropriation and marginalisation. Second, Hugo and Amanda are rejecting (or at least challenging) a charge of plagiarism.

    What’s critical is that a charge of plagiarism is much, much more specific than a charge of appropriation and marginalisation. To accuse someone of plagiarism is, in part, to accuse someone of claiming original authorship, either implicitly or explicitly. While I haven’t read the piece of Amanda’s that is the flashpoint of the current discussion, the responses from her and Hugo seem to be that (1) she never claimed original authorship, and (2) her accusers need to provide evidence that she did (falsely) claim original authorship.

    Did Amanda plagiarise BFP’s presentation at WAM? The answer seems to be no, at least if everyone accepts Amanda’s timeline. Did Amanda appropriate and marginalise the work of BFP and other radical women of colour bloggers on immigration? Here the answer seems to be yes. In one of her responses on BFP’s blog (before that blog was, sadly, nuced), Amanda talked about simply getting her ideas for the piece from `the Zeitgeist’. But these ideas weren’t floating around in some interpersonal thought-ether. BFP and other radical women of colour bloggers created that Zeitgeist, and in neglecting that work, Amanda appears to have (unwittingly, mind you, which actually makes things worse in my mind) contributed to exactly the sort of appropriation and marginalisation that is the real issue.

    Note that I said Amanda `contributed to’ rather than `committed’ appropriation and marginalisation. Appropriation and marginalisation aren’t really things that can be done by a single individual. Like other forms of racism (and, as loathe as I am to use that word with respect to Amanda, that seems to be exactly what this is), the appropriation and marginalisation of black thinkers by white thinkers must be done, systematically but not deliberately, by an institution — in this case, the institution of white feminist blogs. RWOC created a body of analysis and theory about immigration, and white feminist bloggers acted as though all this had simply appeared ex nihilo.

    If the above is right, I would like to make a suggestion to those who are criticising Amanda. Your criticism seems to be focussed far too much on this one article. That’s my impression, at least. There’s a lot of talk about what Amanda did, but the larger pattern is only mentioned occasionally. Make sure you don’t lose track of the real problem. If you’re going to criticise this particular article, make sure you’re very clear that you’re doing so as an example of the larger pattern. At the very least, doing so will help avoid the confusion evident in this discussion.

  41. Ow, this is tough. I greatly admire both Amanda and BFP, so it sucks to see these hurtful developments. I don’t know a whole lot about the particular situation, but what I know is that, hard as it is when things are this hot (And appropriation SUCKS, and accusations of stealing SUCK, and it’s pretty natural to fly off the handle), I know I don’t speak for myself in saying that as a young, relatively-new feminist, I need to see these women, in whom I’ve put my faith, rise above this crap. Somehow. I couldn’t presume to prescribe a solution because one, it has nothing to do with me other than by observation and two, Amanda and BFP are much better-read, more mature and experienced in feminism, and life in general, than I am.

    (And I apologize for not being able to figure out a way to phrase this without words that, to my ears, sound very teenagery and me-centric. I lose patience with my own frequent failures to see outside myself. But I pray that will come easier with time, maturity, and practice. I still believe I’m right though, that other young feminists besides me are watching these events unfold with anxiety at how nasty it’s already gotten, and how much potential for more hurt and division there is. We need a good example on how to get from this level of white feminist/WOC friction we keep seeing, to an understanding that helps us all move forward.)

    By the legal definition of “stealing,” I think you’re probably right that it isn’t the right term to use here. Did Amanda outright steal or plagiarize? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean, IMO, that she’s 100% in the clear here. Not that I as a white feminist have some need or right to validate BFP’s feelings, but I am most definitely not at a loss as to why she’s so pissed off. Amanda could’ve cited her, could’ve at least mentioned by name that BFP and other women of color have passionately written and done much on the subject, or could’ve asked BFP or another woman of color to co-write the piece, or some other act of consideration I’m not thinking of… Like she said, she *did* go to a conference on the subject. She got info and perspectives from women of color and then, intentionally or not, neglected to acknowledge them.

    I think this bit of humility would have added to the quality of Amanda’s article. More than that, I think it would’ve been the right thing to do. I saw BFP’s post on her speech before she took it down, but it’s been a little while, so I don’t remember much as far as details. I wish she hadn’t taken it down because I’d like to see it again. I do remember seeing enough commonalities that, outright “stealing” or no, if the tables were turned and I were in BFP’s shoes, I’d see appropriation of work and ideas, and lack of acknowledgment for said work. Which is friggin’ crappy. I really like Amanda, but she messed up here.

    I also refuse to give up hope that some learning and some good can come from this mess.

  42. It would help minimize the spread of more misinformation about the whole conflict if commenters could read previous clarifications more carefully. There are two conferences in question here — Amanda reporting from one of them, the ACLU conference, is not to be confused with the WAM conference where both she and BFP were speakers. Midgetqueen, it seems you’re conflating the two when you write:

    “Like she said, she *did* go to a conference on the subject. She got info and perspectives from women of color and then, intentionally or not, neglected to acknowledge them.”

    Given people are assuming the blogosphere is the only source of information about these topics (sorry for the snarky tone, but activists have been working on these topics for years, and that’s a far broader category than the RWOC blog community that has been writing about it — by their own timeline — for just the past year or so), it’s really necessary to distinguish one conference where Amanda did independent reporting on the topic, and one where she’s being accused of picking up her ideas.

    It also should be reiterated that journalistic standards about citing ideas are a far cry from academic standards, and there are reasons for that: at the very least, that not many magazines are keen on printing everyone’s footnotes. But to a larger extent, journalists work by digesting and reinterpreting other people’s work and ideas, sometimes criticizing it, sometimes just trying to publicize and make it more widely known. A lot of that doesn’t get credited to one particular thinker, and though you could argue the media would be more transparent if all journalists laid bare their academic influences and positions, that’s a different argument to make than charging outright theft because Amanda has behaved exactly as other journalists do. There’s still room to talk citations within text, and it’s obviously a more sensitive issue concerning the topic and the communities in discussion, but holding a piece of journalism up to the standards of academic journals is completely unfair.

    It also seems to me that part of the problem is the medium itself — a blogger writing a piece of journalism straddles boundaries of categories with their own expectations — Netiquette v. pithy journalism.

  43. Noumena,

    Maybe I’m missing something, but hasn’t Amanda linked BFP a fair bit in the past? In other words, hasn’t she already demonstrated publicly that BFP is an influence on her multiple times? I think that makes it hard to accuse her of appropriation, unless you believe BFP has a right to be linked any time the two ever discuss the same topic.

    If so, maybe every feminist who reads Panadagon should have to link Amanda any time any feminist post is written. But that sure seems a little much.

  44. Hugo Schwyzer said:

    Look people, words matter. The language of stealing was used, and used repeatedly.

    Right.

    To say “Oh we didn’t mean plagiarism, we meant appropriation, and you’re just trying to derail the issue by going after the verbiage” is absurd.

    Excuse me? I thought words mattered. But in the post up top, you insisted on replacing “stealing” by your choice of words, “plagiarism.”

    I objected and you responded by making the switch again, while repeating your opinion that “words matter.” I’m confused. Do words matter or don’t they?

    More about how much words matter. You also leave us confused on exactly whose words, and which words, you’re responding to. I’m not a woman of color. So who is “we?” Are you really responding to my comment? Are you responding to a group of comments that you feel are similar in some way? If so, which ones? Who knows?

    A lot of cloudiness. Cloudiness is not what I expected coming from someone who has the answers and is trying to set everyone straight.

  45. Hugo, in this post you are a middle-aged white man scolding some women of color (and white women, as well) for not being nice to one of your friends, and not using the words *you* think they should be using. Can you hear how astoundingly privileged you are?

    BFP’s entire blog (and a lot of her life, from what I read) is devoted to issues of justice for WOC; she’s written volumes about just this kind of thing. For Amanda to not even acknowledge her (if a citation isn’t necessary, how about a thanks and a link?) or any other WOC bloggers who were onto this issue LONG before Amanda, is a slap in the face.

    And you, jumping in as the all-powerful white male arbiter, with your “you’d better be able to prove it” and your “oh poor white feminists”– you don’t even have a stake in this argument. Why don’t you just *listen* for once?

  46. Look people, words matter. The language of stealing was used, and used repeatedly. To say “Oh we didn’t mean plagiarism, we meant appropriation, and you’re just trying to derail the issue by going after the verbiage” is absurd.

    Again I feel a strong need to point out that there’s a clear distinction between what BFP said and what various folks said on her behalf. BFP is not the one who should be nuking her blog, here.

    However, I’m going to have to strongly criticize the notion that

    BFP and other radical women of colour bloggers created that Zeitgeist

    .

    BFP and other WOC bloggers are great articulators of that Zeitgeist, but the basic ideas in the RH Reality check article actually predate the internet. The ideas that inform the RWOC blogosphere can all be traced to much older sources, if intellectual history’s your thing. But that’s really beside the point. Charging someone with stealing isn’t cool, and yes, there have been clear accusations that what Amanda did was plagiarism. The issue of “appropriation” is one that needs addressing as well, but you know what? I don’t get mad as an anarchist when RWOC bloggers talk about some ideas that have been in the Anarchist community for years without sourcing some Zine writer as the originator of the idea. I’m stoked that there’s some common ground between us since most RWOC bloggers seem to view anarchists as a bunch of privileged white kids who don’t know what they’re talking about (and I’m willing to admit – they’re frequently right).

  47. Julia wrote: “Bfp has nuked her blog a number of times since she started blogging over some blowup with “white feminists,” (whoever that might be, are Belledame, Ravenm, Octogalore, Plainsfeminist “white feminists”?) Bfp will be back.”

    BFP is not down. It’s just that some posts are hidden/private and the front page is currently blank. The archives remain and there’s good reason to believe Julia.

    Tom said: “The legalistic-sounding verbage is irrelevant. “Stealing” can mean “appropriation” just as easily as it can mean “plagiarism.” And yet you are not only refusing to respond to the broader systematic problem of appropriation, you are claiming that it hasn’t been raised properly.”

    I agree with Tom here.
    But, my opinion doesn’t matter at all. This isn’t about me or about you, Hugo.

  48. You still haven’t made a case for why Amanda did not and could not have referenced the work of Brownfemipower and other people of color who have written on this topic for a year or more.

    Amanda talked about simply getting her ideas for the piece from `the Zeitgeist’. But these ideas weren’t floating around in some interpersonal thought-ether. BFP and other radical women of colour bloggers created that Zeitgeist

    Nezua, XP, Migra and BFP wrote a great deal about immmigration for a year. One day, kos said let’s talk about immigration! and Color of Change. Dave Sirota wrote an Alternet piece on immigration and suddenly, everyone was writing about it. POC/WOC including myself are constantly marginalized in this way and uncredited. This is stealing.

  49. As far as the bit about “a rock and a hard place,” no one I’ve seen has said that Amanda shouldn’t write and talk about these issues. What she should do is credit the people who developed the ideas. If we as white people are going to use our racial privilege to amplify the voices of people of color, we should give credit to the people of color whose voices we are amplifying. Otherwise, it is appropriation and, yes, stealing.

  50. Also, when Amanda says that she isn’t surprised that people are coming to the same conclusions at the same time given the “zeitgeist,” that’s offensive. It implies that these are new ideas for BFP, as though she’s just discovering this “hot new trend” along with Marcotte now. Ridiculous.

    BFP cites her sources, btw.

  51. Pingback: Feministe » This has not been a good week for woman of color blogging

  52. >are >Belledame, Ravenm, Octogalore, Plainsfeminist “white feminists”?

    Yes.

    and to be clear, at least that I’m aware of, the blowup was not -with- bfp, as in, we were blowing up against her.

    and yes, she’s deleted her stuff before. It sucks that she feels she needs to do it now.

  53. The assumption that these issues are “new” to Amanda is kind of insulting to her, too, though, don’t you think? And that’s the undercurrent of all of this: Amanda, because she mostly writes about cultural issues that seriousradicalactivistbloggers look down on as fluff, is clearly just not informed enough to be able to write about what’s common knowledge and rhetoric in the immigrant rights/no one is illegal movement. And, yes, it is, nothing that people seem to want to claim was “stolen” from BFP didn’t appear on Indymedia or elsewhere years ago. Anti-Immigrant movements dehumanizing people in the US isn’t exactly a new phenomenon.

    Except, wait, there’s a whole category up at Pandagon about immigration, and hey, even the not-as-radical-as-you Amanda has written some stuff about it (much of it actually more than a year old).

    Again I repeat: I’m a huge fan of BFP and mean no disrespect to her, but the commenters who want to do a pile-on of personal attacks against Amanda should at least come up with ones that maybe apply to her. This is really not fair and as Hugo said, an attack on Amanda’s integrity as a writer is an attack on her ability to make a living.

  54. Did Hugo just claim that this is a case of reverse racism?

    Wow, Hugo. You’ve got some nerve. You are a seriously creepy, sexist human being.

    Again, I repeat, what business do you have making threats and playing adjudicator in a conflict between feminists? You’ve already proven that you have no basis for making judgements in this conflict. It’s bloody patronising and insulting that a white man step between women of colour and white women to play judge.

  55. What Fire Fly and Kathryn said.

    Also, calling out appropriation of another’s writing and ideas, and a lack of citation / credit where it is due, is not a “personal attack.” Make up your mind. If *the way things get written* and *careful language* matter when Amanda is on the receiving end, if they THEN fall in the realm of professional ethics, then they sure as hell matter, and sure as hell fall in the realm of professional ethics when Amanda is on the “doing” end. They do not magically then cross over into the realm of “personal attack.”

    It’s funny to visit Pandagon and see the monikers I recognize from other feminist blogs, and realize they are the ones on those other blogs who consistently dismiss / don’t get race/class/privilege issues, who get defensive and claim things like, *I don’t see color.* It’s nice they can all find a home, I guess.

  56. And, yes, it is, nothing that people seem to want to claim was “stolen” from BFP didn’t appear on Indymedia or elsewhere years ago.

    Immigration is just one issue developed by POC/WOC. Many ideas are developed by POC/WOC then stolen.

  57. Gah…posting while fatigued is ill-advised. Should read: if you are taking us to task for our conduct in how we write / don’t write about Amanda and this is somehow driven by and couched in professional ethics, then at LEAST acknowledge that us taking Amanda to task re: how she writes / doesn’t write is similarly driven by and couched in professional ethics, and similarly valid – not a “personal attack.”

  58. Hugo, weren’t we just here, in November? Didn’t you talk then about reading a poem and realising what was being said, thinking about it? Didn’t you write then how you were going to examine your reactions to RWOC bloggers? You were going to think, weren’t you?

    Why are we back here?

  59. hasn’t Amanda linked BFP a fair bit in the past? In other words, hasn’t she already demonstrated publicly that BFP is an influence on her multiple times?

    No.

  60. Amanda is essentially a journalist, and plagiarism is the most serious, most career-nuking accusation that can be made against a journalist.

    Well, the way to protect oneself from that is to point out where the conversations are happening that spurred your awareness of an issue, and to give credit where credit is due. If you fail to do that, and if people notice that you regularly clip ideas from their writings, someone is eventually going to call you on it.

  61. hasn’t Amanda linked BFP a fair bit in the past? In other words, hasn’t she already demonstrated publicly that BFP is an influence on her multiple times?

    Nope. Plainsfeminist has this right.

    Moreover, when asked to link to BFP after blatantly cribbing BFP’s blog entry (my exact words were, “If you’re going to quote BFP, you really ought to link to her blog.”), Amanda claimed I had “assumed ill intent.”

    No ill intent was assumed; I was just pointing out a relatively straightforward fact (if you quote someone’s work, you really ought to cite to the source), yet she immediately jumped to the conclusion that it was. It was a really weird reaction.

  62. Nezua, XP, Migra and BFP wrote a great deal about immmigration for a year.

    Yes — and bfp has admitted on several occasions that she’s made no attempt to engage the mainstream media. But to conclude that immigration is in the popular zeitgeist because of their work is logically flawed reasoning — and, not coincidentally, the post hoc ergo propter hoc error Hugo mentioned earlier. If their work were the cause of the current debate, we would have seen feminist concerns raised (or at least alluded to) from the start.

    Like it or not, the reason why immigration has become a huge issue is because the conservatives have made it one because they know they need an Evil Other to mobilize their base in November.

  63. Sauce for the goose, it seems to me. Pandagon is notorious for its hatchet jobs on any idea or person who it finds objectionable; fairness and common decency go out the window anytime Amanda decides someone is eeeevil. And now people are being a little loose in their terminology around her uncredited appropriation of other people’s ideas? Fine, it isn’t “stealing”. It’s still pretty crappy. Why not focus on that, instead of standing in solidarity with your white sister?

  64. This “It’s not about you” response to Amanda is interesting.

    I wonder what would happen if after a Muslim man proclaims his innocence over terrorism charges, his accusers reply; “It’s not about you. Radical Islam is a systemic form of bigotry that affects the entire Muslim community.”

  65. Lindsay, I don’t think we need to prove it. It’s happened continuously through the first, second and third waves of feminism. For example, the third wave of feminism originated in the 80s with WOC feminist theorists. But no one knows that. The second wave was inspired by the CRM. Elizabeth Cady Stanton met Lucretia Mott at an anti-slavery conference in London and this kicked off the first wave of feminism:

    Prior to living in Seneca Falls, Stanton had become a great admirer and friend of Lucretia Mott, the Quaker minister, feminist, and abolitionist whom she had met at the International Anti-Slavery Convention in London, England in the spring of 1840 while on her honeymoon. The two women became allies when the male delegates attending the convention voted that women should be denied participation in the proceedings, even if they, like Mott, had been nominated to serve as official delegates of their respective abolitionist societies. After considerable debate, the women were required to sit in a roped-off section hidden from the view of the men in attendance. They were soon joined by the prominent abolitionist, William Lloyd Garrison, who arrived after the vote had been taken and, in protest of the outcome, refused his seat, electing instead to sit with the women. Mott’s example and the decision to prohibit women from participating in the convention strengthened Stanton’s commitment to women’s rights.

  66. Gloria Steinem’s first published feminist article, “After Black Power, Women’s Liberation,” (1969) piggybacked on the Civil Rights Movement.

  67. You don’t need to convince me that appropriation happens.

    The question is whether there’s any evidence that Amanda appropriated BFP’s WAM speech in her RH Reality article or her AlterNet post about the effects of anti-immigrant rhetoric on violence against women.

    So far, I haven’t seen any evidence that bfp’s presentation was even a substantial influence on Amanda’s thinking.

  68. Pingback: So True: "You all engage best through negative discourse"

  69. Oh poor Amanda Marcotte, whatever will she do, what with her book deals and such?

    I really think you need re-read this post, Hugo. It smacks of the exact entitled privileged shit that BFP, ABW, BA and others write about all the time.

  70. Lindsey – why didn’t you need EVIDENCE before you claimed elsewhere that Bfp’s taking down her blog was suspicious and insinuated it was to hide something? Does she not get to have a reputation as well? Does she not have a professional life and a character that you should give two shits about? Is it because she’s not your pal? Is it because you CLEARLY don’t read her, or you would realize how ridiculous those claims sound, and you would realize the manner in which she brought attention to this issue in the first place. It speaks a million words to me and many others that the only reason you and Amanda (she said as much, so I am not putting words in her mouth) *care* that Bfp’s blog is down is because it gives you less opportunity to “expose” some imaginary conspiracy against Amanda. Not because of how much it means to you, to so many, many others within the WOC community and outside it, hell to the entire blogosphere…or because it signifies the depth of pain she hersefl was feeling.

  71. This entire situation illustrates why I avoid professional feminists and womanists as much as possible. I’m too much of an amateur.

  72. Does she not have a professional life and a character that you should give two shits about?

    I never read bfp’s blog unless it was linked to by Hugo or the other handful of cites I read, so I’m not sure if what I’m about to say is correct. But I do remember reading a post of hers in which she said that she said that 1) she does not engage the mainstream media and 2) she does not have any desire to participate in mainstream politics.
    Both of those statements imply that she’s not a journalist or published author whose livelihood can be razed to the ground with insinuations of plagarism.

    While we should care about bfp’s career (which I’m not even sure what it is, frankly) and character because she is a person, your argument is comparing motorcycles and Boeing 747s.

  73. you would realize the manner in which she brought attention to this issue in the first place.

    Also, I know none of you know me because I’m a professional lurker, so I know none of you has any reason to believe what I’m about to say.

    This is one of those cases where the blogosophere generally thinks it’s more important in shaping the dialogue than it actually is. One of my roommates is currently a lawyer for the ACLU,* and I can guarantee you that no one in her practice group has read bfp’s blog — they developed the ideas about the relationship between immigration, civil rights, and women’s rights through a completely different intellectual history. An intellectual history which, juding by my cursory search through Westlaw, actually predates bfp’s writing on the subject by about a decade.

    Finally, the only reason why they addressed the topic at all is because the Republicans — who have absolutely mastered the art of mass media — made it a zeitgeist worthy issue.

    *The ACLU has different branches, divisions, and offices, so it’s entirely possible that people at different offices did read bfp and were inspired by her work. But I can guarantee that at least one of the major fact sheets and policy papers was free from her influence, simply because the only blogs S. reads are AbovetheLaw and PostSecret.

  74. You know, I don’t think it’s that difficult to acknowledge the work of a blogger you KNOW, a blogger you READ. I don’t think it’s difficult to acknowledge that BFP has been writing about this for far longer than any of us. It is not as if she’s some random blogger that Amanda never heard of. Fine, Amanda, you saw the posts and the text of the speech and thought “zeitegist,”–is a link back such a horrible thing? Is acknowledging the work that WOC have done on these issues so bad?

    And you know, given the rancor between White feminists and WOC feminists, it would be nice if we could refrain from snippy and childish comments about how BFP nuked her blog in the past (yah, ’cause we NEVER DO THAT) and about their tone (FFS, haven’t we heard this from entitled and sexist progressive men?). It would be nice if we could stop acting like certain white male progressive bloggers who take any sort of criticism or anger as a HORRIBLE! PERSONAL ATTACK! I screw up all the time, and when I’m called on it I might feel defensive, but I also consider the source. BFP, BA, and Donna have *always* acted in good faith.

  75. M. said:

    your argument is comparing motorcycles and Boeing 747s.

    And we expect everyone will just naturally side with the 747. Because if somebody doesn’t have much, then how can taking it be a big deal?

  76. And we expect everyone will just naturally side with the 747. Because if somebody doesn’t have much, then how can taking it be a big deal?

    Really? I expected everyone to naturally side with the motorcycle — it’s something that rebels viscerally relate to. As far as I can tell, my expectations are being met: the only prominent bloggers I see supporting Amanda are Hugo and Lindsay.

  77. Both of those statements imply that she’s not a journalist or published author whose livelihood can be razed to the ground with insinuations of plagarism.

    What gets me here is that you are concerned about the impact of the accusation, and I am concerned about the impact of the act. You know, I’ve heard men argue that rape accusations harm them for life, that they can never get out from under, even if they are found not guilty. They never think about what the impact of actually being raped is on the woman, just as you are not thinking about what the impact of actually having your work appropriated is on the author.

    One of my roommates is currently a lawyer for the ACLU,* and I can guarantee you that no one in her practice group has read bfp’s blog — they developed the ideas about the relationship between immigration, civil rights, and women’s rights through a completely different intellectual history. An intellectual history which, juding by my cursory search through Westlaw, actually predates bfp’s writing on the subject by about a decade.

    That’s fine and dandy, but the issue is that BFP has been writing her own analysis on her blog that Amanda has been reading. Amanda didn’t cite any of her sources. You’re just listing more sources that Amanda should, presumably, have cited.

  78. It’s a personal attack not because a white man has declared it so, but because it’s an extremely personal attack, with bloggers and commenters supposedly defending BFP by calling Amanda “disgusting,” “asshole,” “toe fungus” and more. There’s anger and there’s criticism, and then there’s a free-for-all pile-on that justifies its nastiness by arguing that Amanda, as a bigger fish, should be able to handle it. Obviously there’s a power difference and a history that needs to be taken into account, but saying someone’s skin should be miles thick because they’ve got a popular blog is just an excuse to heap on abuse without conscience. As others have noted, that wasn’t what BFP did, but if challenging this level of insults is going to get written off as white girls telling “uppity WOC” to “watch their tone,” it’s pretty clear that no one’s looking for conversation.

    Also, re. Donna’s comments on Seneca Falls and Steinem’s column as appropriation, that’s just an absurd comparison. If the hypocrisy within one social justice movement — imposing sex-segregation at a abolitionist meeting — inspires a second movement, is that by any stretch of definition “appropriation”? Certainly not in the pejorative sense Donna clearly intends it. More like inspiration. To follow that argument through would invalidate any social justice movements that came after and borrowed from feminism as well. Which would be equally absurd and to the detriment of all social movements which look to and learn from eachother. Since those examples do nothing to further Donna’s larger argument about white feminists appropriating the work of people of color, the only reason I can grasp that she would include it is that it’s an inadvertent demonstration of how this argument is leading people to disavow any contributions that white feminists have made. In the zeal to prove white feminists’ contributions are “a dime a dozen,” as it was put in one recent discussion, why not throw out two founders of the movement as well?

  79. That’s a lie. I cited NPR and the newspapers I got the stories from.

    I apologize – I take that back. Thank you for correcting me. I should have said that you hadn’t cited all of your sources. And I will add that I think that you and I have different expectations of what it means to consider something a source. I feel like I’m just repeating myself at this point, so I’ll say it one last time to be clear and then stop – I think you have to point to the discussions that you are aware of, to the ideas that have helped your understanding of the issues, even if they’re not the ones that you feel inspired by or that you are quoting directly.

  80. Also, re. Donna’s comments on Seneca Falls and Steinem’s column as appropriation, that’s just an absurd comparison. If the hypocrisy within one social justice movement — imposing sex-segregation at a abolitionist meeting — inspires a second movement, is that by any stretch of definition “appropriation”? Certainly not in the pejorative sense Donna clearly intends it. More like inspiration. To follow that argument through would invalidate any social justice movements that came after and borrowed from feminism as well. Which would be equally absurd and to the detriment of all social movements which look to and learn from eachother. Since those examples do nothing to further Donna’s larger argument about white feminists appropriating the work of people of color, the only reason I can grasp that she would include it is that it’s an inadvertent demonstration of how this argument is leading people to disavow any contributions that white feminists have made. In the zeal to prove white feminists’ contributions are “a dime a dozen,” as it was put in one recent discussion, why not throw out two founders of the movement as well?

    None of this is absurd. And in terms of who is considered a “founder” – well, that really depends on your perspective. Certainly, they were some of the founders, but feminism didn’t begin in Seneca Falls, and Gloria Steinem has been one very vocal and active figure, but there are lots and lots of other leaders and shapers. Yet, we still think of Stanton and Steinem as “the” founders. Why is that? Why don’t we look to the feminist activism and theory that came out of ethnic and racial and class movements, all over the world and all over the U.S.?

    What Women’s Studies is doing, as a discipline, is working to re-center women of color in our understandings of feminist history and the feminist present, and that means giving up on the notion that feminist was invented or is owned by White women. It’s not that White women haven’t also played important roles and contributed important work; it’s that they’ve not been the only ones doing so, and that they’ve often appropriated the work of women of color to do it.

  81. Who said “the” founders? You did. I said “two founders of the movement,” which most people who aren’t trying to misrepresent the other will agree doesn’t limit the number of possible founders to two. Disingenuous representations of what people are saying is pretty par for the course in this conversation. But yes, there are certainly many other leaders, often people of color, who are underrecognized.
    But the point was that Donna brought up Stanton and Steinem drawing inspiration from the anti-slavery and civil rights movements as an example of white feminists appropriating POC/WOC movements. Not only does that stretch “appropriation” beyond a usable definition, but it indicates a level of reaction that doesn’t bother to make distinctions between cultural influences and cultural appropriation, and that seems so intent on dismissing mainstream feminism that it criticizes the Second Wave for drawing inspiration from the Civil Rights movement and abolitionism as “piggybacking.” Work that out in a sentence: “Freedom was our idea first.” It’s sloppy thinking made into a personal accusation that then falls back on generalities when challenged. And worse than that, it muddies the whole issue of legitimate claims of appropriation and intellectual theft, so that people who genuinely did have their work plagiarized now have to also contend with distinguishing their personal, individual claim of theft of their independent, personal work, from the overblown charges that the entire feminist movement is theft.

  82. hasn’t Amanda linked BFP a fair bit in the past? In other words, hasn’t she already demonstrated publicly that BFP is an influence on her multiple times?

    Yes, and if the search feature over at Pandagon worked I could prove it

    I think you have to point to the discussions that you are aware of, to the ideas that have helped your understanding of the issues, even if they’re not the ones that you feel inspired by or that you are quoting directly.
    That’s an interesting way to look critically at what are current standards of professional ethics, but it doesn’t substantiate a charge of “stealing” (which means direct plagiarism, not appropriation), nor does it justify singling out Amanda, since she in no way overstepped the bounds of professional ethics by not citing everything written about the topic that she was aware of.

    Immigration is just one issue developed by POC/WOC. Many ideas are developed by POC/WOC then stolen.
    Yes, but that’s changing the subject, since we are actually talking about a specific case of alleged plagiarism here, not the general concept of appropriation (and I might add, most of those ideas developed by POC then “stolen” predate blogging and the internet.

    Again I’ve got to say, BFP was, to my reading, talking about appropriation and unfortunately a lot of people who want to talk on her behalf alleged plagiarism, which made this about Amanda, not about BFP or the general concept of appropriation.

    I’ll add that trying to make the discussion more vague by using a non-specific term like stealing – which is indeed a personal attack – and then hiding behind the vagueness of your words is pretty fucking lame, in my opinion. As George Orwell wrote in the essay I mentioned earlier (yes it was Politics and the English Language):

    “As soon as certain topics are raised, the concrete melts into the abstract”

    But then again I propably shouldn’t cite George Orwell, because there’s likely some blogger who’s written about it whose fans assume they invented the concept.

  83. Sarah,
    which most people who aren’t trying to misrepresent the other will agree doesn’t limit the number of possible founders to two. Disingenuous representations of what people are saying is pretty par for the course in this conversation.

    …or the other possibility, which would happen to be true, is that I misread your comment re. the founders…but I see that you’ve already come to your own conclusions about my purpose in this conversation.

    labyrus,
    Since you were responding to my comment, would you mind pointing out where I said Amanda was “stealing?” I have very specifically avoided using that word. The word I have used is “appropriate,” which, it seems, you and I agree has a different meaning from “plagiarism.”

  84. Finally, the only reason why they addressed the topic at all is because the Republicans — who have absolutely mastered the art of mass media — made it a zeitgeist worthy issue.

    See, that’s a huge part of the problem. WOC have been addressing this topic for years, because they have been living it for years. Then all of a sudden it’s the issue of the day, and white women start talking about it, and they do so without acknowledging or recognising the fact that WOC have been talking about it for years. So the voices of WOC continue to go unheard.

    I mean, you’re basically saying that white women didn’t start caring about this until the the Republicans started making a big deal of it, even though it’s been a problem for a long time. Don’t you see how that’s worse? How it’s a perfect example of the way WOC are constantly ignored and marginialized by white feminists?

  85. That’s fine and dandy, but the issue is that BFP has been writing her own analysis on her blog that Amanda has been reading. Amanda didn’t cite any of her sources. You’re just listing more sources that Amanda should, presumably, have cited.

    Huh? My point is that “bfp’s ideas” predated bfp’s blog by at least ten years — and probably more. If citation and recognition is really so important (and I agree that it is), then why aren’t we criticizing bfp for failing to cite the researchers who came to her conclusions a decade before she did?

    The reality is that intelligent people are going to look at mass media coverage of a subject and come to similar conclusions. It’s not just the mass media, either — it’s any body of knowledge. Honestly, this kerfuffle reminds me of Leibniz and Newton’s arguments 400+ years ago over who developed infinitesimal calculus first.

    Finally, I’m not terribly involved in the blogosophere. I know Amanda has linked to bfp’s work in the past, but I’m not sure if she “reads” the posts in the way you suggests. There are a lot of us who skim our RSS feeder’s titles before deciding whether or not to read the whole post. Because Amanda does this for a living and presumably has a much, much larger blogroll than I do, I wonder if she did this with bfp’s on-point posts.

  86. Plainsfeminist, that part of my comment was more of a general comment responding to quite a few people, sorry I didnt’t distinguish, I didn’t mean to attack you.

  87. M – I saw BFP linking all the time and talking about how her ideas on something had been informed by others’ writings. All the time. So, the reason that I personally am not criticizing her for failing to cite is because she *did* cite.

    labyrus – no problem. I just wanted to be clear. There are a lot of different people in this, and they are not all saying the same things, though there are certain ideas that each “side” seems to agree on.

  88. sarah,

    Steinem’s 1969 article states she and other women learned from the CRM, got their ideas from the CRM that there could be a movement that did the same thing for women. Is that not stealing ideas and not respecting the source. I keep going back to stealing because that’s the best term to use. Taking someone else’s ideas and not crediting is stealing not appropriating.

    Cady Stanton learned from abolitionism, got her ideas from abolitionism and never credited them. I’m sure she never credited it in her speeches at the time. Her Wikipedia entry written a hundred years later is not crediting. This is stealing ideas.

  89. Appropriation:

    To take or make use of without authority or right

    Stealing is a better term because it’s to take without crediting. Payment so to speak is crediting. Appropriating is merely taking without the right to do so. Both stealing and appropriating happens on a constant basis. A recent example for me is the election. A couple pro-Clinton bloggers besides myself noticed the Clinton campaign echoed things we wrote verbatim whether on big blogs or, in their case, their own.

  90. “Steinem’s 1969 article states she and other women learned from the CRM, got their ideas from the CRM that there could be a movement that did the same thing for women. Is that not stealing ideas and not respecting the source.”

    Honestly, I fail to see how that’s disrespectful, especially as she’s saying both that she learned and got ideas from the CRM. And I know that in the kiddie history of feminism I got when I was 8 or 9, the story of Seneca Falls was laid out as coming from an abolitionist meeting — which in itself was not solely a POC movement. So I see acknowledgement there, and respect. But larger than that, I find it troubling, and kindof telling, that something as basic as women’s rights & the movement for greater freedom of more than half the world’s population is being written off as “stealing.” Doesn’t it run completely counter to the idea of freedom to assume that one person or group is the originator of the idea? That it’s, you know, “self-evident”?

  91. The more I read about this, the more I’m pretty sure that Amanda’s words in the Feministe thread on the topic pretty much sum up what’s so fucked up about this. You have all these people who start by tearing her down then call her arrogant for actually, you know, speaking for herself.

    “Piggybacking this on a direct attack on my ability to make a living as a writer is distressing. This isn’t theoretical. People are trying to hurt me personally.”

    “I’m not sure if I’m hurt more by scurrilous accusations about my intellectual honesty, or the assumption that I’m too stupid to make connections myself without someone holding my hand.”

    “What if I called you a lying thief and then said, ‘It’s not about you. I only made up accusations against you because I wanted to make a larger point about lying thievery.'”

    These are all pretty straightforward points that seem obvious to me, but which many people seem to want to write off as “distracting from the real issue: a bunch of appropriation that Amanda has little or nothing to do with”. Seneca falls has shit-all to do with this. And if it did, I might point out that liberal feminism has as many roots in the french revolution as it does in the abolitionist movement, and that white marxists were never absurd or arrogant enough to call it “appropriation” when the Black Panthers fused their ideas with black nationalism.

    Beyond that there’s this twisted arrogance in the blogging community, where it’s just assumed that nobody gets any ideas from anywhere except other blogs, and all this despair because BFP’s “important work” (her blog) is gone. As an activist I find this kind of insulting, since I know BFP does some actual important social justice work with Incite, which is a real group that actually does practical things, they don’t just blog about them. I know whether or not BFP leaves blogging behind that she’s going to be doing actually important social justice work that involves real-life interactions with people.

    The sort of talk about immigration whe are talking about has been commonplace in activist movements for at least as long as I’ve been involved, and my experience is in a predominately young, white, and middle-class punk community. It isn’t revolutionary or new and BFP didn’t invent it. BFP deserves credit for a lot of what she does, but no, she doesn’t deserve credit for these ideas, they are not hers, she doesn’t own them.

  92. I saw BFP linking all the time and talking about how her ideas on something had been informed by others’ writings. All the time. So, the reason that I personally am not criticizing her for failing to cite is because she *did* cite.

    It’s one thing to be informed by another’s work, and another to have the exact same argument as someone else. I’m referring to the latter. See, e.g. Lan Cao, Note, Illegal Traffic in Women: A Civil RICO Proposal, 96 Yale L.J. 1297 (1987); Joan Fitzpatrick, The Gender Dimension of U.S. Immigration Policy, 9 Yale J.L. & Feminism 23 (1997); Joyce Antila Phipps, Immigration and the Latin Community, 17 Women’s Rts L. Rep. 279 (1996); Nancy Ann Root & Sharyn A. Tejani, Note, Undocumented: The Roles of Women in Immigration Law, 83 Geo. L.J. 605 (1994).

    And that’s just from what I remember of the speech that Hugo linked to. Given how much ink has been spilled on critical race theory in law as well as immigration over the past thirty years, I’m sure her other posts had more. Second, I seriously doubt she would have been able to link to these articles because they require a Westlaw and/or LexisNexis Law subscription. I don’t know what she does for a living, but from the few posts I saw, I noticed that she neither wrote nor argued like a lawyer. (Which is probably why so many people respect her.)

    My point is that truly original thoughts are incredibly rare creatures. Frankly, if you don’t have a Nobel Prize, chances are you haven’t come up with one. Like it or not, intelligent people given a similar body of knowledge frequently come to the same conclusions using remarkably similar reasoning.

    Now, I agree that journalists and bloggers you should cite their influences. (Unless you’re a professor in certain fields, in which case you need to do due diligence and cite everyone.) But the commonly understood definition of “influence” is someone who inspired you to write the piece, or someone whose ideas you’re extending/contradicting/exploring/etc. In short, it’s someone you actually thought of when you were writing.

  93. the story of Seneca Falls was laid out as coming from an abolitionist meeting — which in itself was not solely a POC movement.

    You’ve got to be kidding.

    So I see acknowledgement there, and respect. But larger than that, I find it troubling, and kindof telling, that something as basic as women’s rights & the movement for greater freedom of more than half the world’s population is being written off as “stealing.”

    Isn’t it telling Cady Stanton got her ideas for the first wave from an abolitionist meeting? Isn’t it telling Steinem’s first published feminist article — and won a journalism award to boot — stated she and other women got their ideas from the CRM? And that no one know this? I’m sure neither Cady Stanton not Steinem made this known either. It’s disrespectful and stealing when you don’t give credit.

  94. Abolition was never solely a POC movement. From Cady Stanton to the Grimke sisters to Sojourner Truth herself, it was an alliance and a complex multi-racial coalition. And it began, virtually everyone agrees, among Quakers. (Heck, if the Quakers demanded credit for every social justice movement they spawned, they’d have buildings bigger than that Mormon compound in Texas in every city and town.)

  95. Somewhat off topic: You say “There are some charges for which there are no proofs or disproofs: …“racist””

    If there is no disproof, and once the charge is made, it generally sticks, why should someone accused of racism even bother to try to clear themselves? What incentive is there to not just decide “ok, well I’m a racist”, and start acting that way. If there’s no way to avoid the consequences of such a charge, why not be guilty?

  96. Hmmm…that’s an interesting spin, “M”…that the reason no one aside from Hugo and Lindsey are *siding with* Amanda on this one is because the rest of us are rebels who are viscerally drawn to…what, the underdog or something? Or, instead, could it possibly be that the transgression is simply so heartbreakingly obvious to most people–of various backgrounds, political persuasions, and identities, incidentally (people who are not just blindly defending their friends, that is)? And by *most people* I mean, even individuals who have defended Amanda in the past, who formerly championed her work, and/or who have previously dismissed or minimized issues of racism or been unaware of their own privilege. Maybe, just maybe (to further your analogy) it’s as if this is the freaking Mack truck of mistakes…pretty hard to miss, even for folks with bad vision…unless you’re busy gazing at your own reflection in the rearview mirror, of course.

    Further, that you are unfamiliar with Bfp’s career does not mean she does not *have one*, and that she prefers not to engage with the mainstream media does not mean we should not respect her reputation and professional identity *anywhere*, let alone on the WOC blogs and feminist blogs where she DOES engage and where people like me first learned of her activism. Honestly, you are falling into the “if I don’t know it or value it, how can it be important” school of thought with those comments…not very flattering.

  97. Abolition was never solely a POC movement. From Cady Stanton to the Grimke sisters to Sojourner Truth herself, it was an alliance and a complex multi-racial coalition. And it began, virtually everyone agrees, among Quakers.

    You’ve got to be kidding. WOC have allies too but we’re talking about WOC’s ideas. Abolitionism and the CRM were about black people, anti-racism is about POC. Everyone has allies but we’re talking about appropriation of ideas from WOC and blacks in the 1800s and 1960s.

  98. Hugo: Heck, if the Quakers demanded credit for every social justice movement they spawned, they’d have buildings bigger than that Mormon compound in Texas in every city and town.)

    No we wouldn’t: they’re too big and impersonal. Not to mention gaudy — Mormon Temples are the La Croix of American architecture.

    However, we would probably seriously instituting the Mural Arts project in every city from Baltimore to Oakland. If nothing else, it’d be a very fitting memorial to Ed Bacon.

    /tangent

    Hmmm…that’s an interesting spin, “M”…that the reason no one aside from Hugo and Lindsey are *siding with* Amanda on this one is because the rest of us are rebels who are viscerally drawn to…what, the underdog or something?

    Re-read the thread: Tom was trying to use my words out of context in an attempt to create a strawman argument. If want to play the strawman game, you should at least take the time to craft one that can stand on its own two feet. His didn’t even do that.

    could it possibly be that the transgression is simply so heartbreakingly obvious to most people–of various backgrounds, political persuasions, and identities, incidentally (people who are not just blindly defending their friends, that is)?

    All logical fallacies appear obvious. It’s why you see them again and again and again, and why people from every background fall for them again and again and again.

    The only way to avoid falling for them is to see them — and that requires a pretty specialized cognitive skill set that takes a while to develop. In fact, law school curricula are designed to teach students how to simply spot these fallacies. Somehow, three years isn’t long enough for half of the student body.

    Not surprisingly, most people — even intelligent, well-educated people — don’t even know what they should watch out for.

    Maybe, just maybe (to further your analogy) it’s as if this is the freaking Mack truck of mistakes…pretty hard to miss, even for folks with bad vision…unless you’re busy gazing at your own reflection in the rearview mirror, of course.

    Huh? I really have no idea what you’re getting at.

    Further, that you are unfamiliar with Bfp’s career does not mean she does not *have one*

    I’m well aware of that. In fact, I openly acknowledged it in my original post. However, your point does not undermine or counter my point: which is that accusing a journalist of plagarism has a radically different impact on her career than accusing a teacher or social worker of it.

  99. Since I’m mostly debating on this thread, everyone should read Sylvia’s post if you haven’t already with every idea hyperlinked from the blog.

    The same phenomenon happened to me too many times to count so I sympathize 100%.

  100. This discussion has become absurd. Women’s Liberation as a movement and the Suffrage movement were not about stealing ideas or creating theories or writing careers or getting published or getting your byline on alternet or getting cited. They were movements for human and civil rights. All women, including white women, were chattel in the 1800s and until the 1920s through 1960s-70s in various ways. Raping your wife, without regard to race, was legal in most states until very recently. With rare exceptions women, including white women, in the 1800s could not vote, own property, divorce, retain custody of children, sign contracts, serve on juries, hold public office, attend college, be employed in most jobs, have bank accounts in their own names. They could be and were legally beaten and raped by their husbands. They didn’t steal ideas from anyone. They had their own battles to fight and fought them with every tool they could find without looking around to see whether someone was stealing their ideas, citing to something they wrote once, what the hell. Second wavers left the civil rights movement and the peace movements in droves because they were lied to. Men didn’t care about women’s issues. In those movements, women were treated like shit by the men, black men and white men both, raped, battered, forced to clean the communal houses, storefronts, bunkers, encampments, forced to clean the toilets, make the coffee, do the laundry, endure the sexual harassment, forced to sit by as the men published porn and sexist bullshit in their “civil rights” and “anti-war” and leftist publications so called. The women got wise, got out and worked for their own human rights with every tool they had. They “stole” nothing. 9 times out of 10, it was their ideas which were stolen by the men as has been true throughout history, men signing their names to what women have done. Not to mention, the suffrage movement was a movement, always of black and white women, as was the second wave.

    Someone, many someones here, need to read Patricia Hill Collins’ “The Race for Theory” and perhaps gain some perspective. While you’re at it, read “The Grand Coolie Damn” by Marge Piercy and “To Fear Jane Alpert” by Barbara Deming.

  101. she prefers not to engage with the mainstream media does not mean we should not respect her reputation and professional identity *anywhere*,

    Where did I say that? I agree that we should respect her reputation. However, respecting her reputation does not mean citing her in every immigration article referencing women just because she writes about immigration and women. Respecting her reputation means giving credit where credit’s due — and if Amanda developed the concept at an ACLU conference, then credit isn’t due to BFP.

    If it’s the same ACLU conference my roommate attended a month ago, then this whole kerfuffle has entirely new depths of blogosophere irony. Amanda definitely would have heard “BFP’s arguments.” Why? Because law professors beat BFP to the punch, and developed the virtually identical arguments — more than a decade ago. In short, what bfp considers to be her original thought is neither original nor hers. In fact, if BFP were a law student, she could expelled for failing to adequately perform due diligence in her research because such failures constitute plagarism in most law schools.

    The bottom line? Smart people really do think alike.

    let alone on the WOC blogs and feminist blogs where she DOES engage and where people like me first learned of her activism. Honestly, you are falling into the “if I don’t know it or value it, how can it be important” school of thought with those comments…not very flattering.

    Ah, the ad hom — the logical fallacy beloved by those who can’t develop an actual argument.

    For the record, I’m a first-generation* American whose family escaped from Stalin only to spend time in China and Mexico before winding up in America. Not only do I know a hell of a lot about abstract immigration policy issues, but I also know what it’s like at the personal level.

    It seems like you’re mistaking my dry writing style — which is merely the product of my legal education — for a lack of concern and empathy. I’m willing to bet that I care about these issues as much as — if not more than — anyone else here. I’m just not going to let my emotion blind me to blatant logical fallacies.

    *Or is it second? I can never keep these terms straight.

  102. The same phenomenon happened to me too many times to count so I sympathize 100%.

    Give me a link with what you consider to be one of your original thoughts, and I’ll bet that there’s a non-blogosphere book or journal predating it with the exame exact argument.

    The only reason why I spotted it in this flamewar was because I was already familiar with the legal literature on immigration and women’s rights.

  103. Sorry, last post:

    Amanda definitely would have heard “BFP’s arguments.”

    If they used my roommate’s work. They almost certainly did because law firms and legal NGOs always recycle internal memos and research for use in official briefs, policy papers, and fact sheets. But since I wasn’t directly involved and haven’t talked with the exact attorneys there, it’s possible that he relied on a local associate’s work. (Which still should have spotted the same key issues.)

  104. Nobody’s saying that BFP was the first person, ever, to think these thoughts. I think the issue is more that WOC are never acknowledged as sources of ideas in discussions like this. Even reproductive justice and third-wave feminism are being treated like white ideas in academic feminism circles.

    As white folks, we need to do better. It’s admirable to be loyal to people we’ve come to know on the blogosphere. I was loyal to Jessica Valenti and out of loyalty I showed an incredible lack of respect towards Nubian; a lot of y’all are loyal to Amanda Marcotte and out of that loyalty are showing an incredible lack of respect towards BFP.

    Whether you agree with the specific point being made or not, the overall point about white feminism and the marginalization of WOC and the anonymization and appropriation of WOC contributions to the feminist movement ARE COMPLETELY CORRECT. Dead on. Accurate. Getting caught up in technicalities about whether BFP would be able to graduate from law school by submitting her blog entries is kind of beside the point.

  105. Tom, your point about marginalization is worthy of discussion. But it can’t be discussed when accusations like “stealing” and “plagiarism” are being thrown around. The fact that I know and like Amanda has damn all to do with my outrage at these accusations. It’s not derailing the discussion to insist that career-poisoning charges like these be retracted as a condition for further discussion.

  106. Julia, you’re still talking about white women in the CRM. Sure there were many white men and women in the CRM. But what does it mean when Steinem herself wrote she and other women got their ideas from organizing in the CRM. What does it mean when history books say Cady Stanton and Mott met at an anti-slavery conference and got their ideas for the first wave when they weren’t allowed to participate in the conference? How can you miss this point? Where’s the respect? The acknowledgement? Most people do not know the origins of feminism.

  107. Okay, for anyone that feels strongly about this whole event being appropriation, help me through this.

    For those that have read Amanda regularly at all, do you sincerely feel that she generally fails to link/attribute her inspirations and influences? Because I’ve found her to be diligent when it comes to this. In other words, do you feel that this issue extends beyond this one article? I see that as a hard claim to make, but I would be curious to know if the accusers are making it. Because if you generally feel that she’s good about linking people (like, y’know, the times she linked and promoted BFP when she was an influence/inspiration on a post), then I think that factors in greatly, don’t you?

    Now, on this one article, people seem to take on its face that BFP is an expert and Amanda is uneducated on immigration, and therefore Amanda must be appropriating. But do those who feel this way know that Amanda has lived in a border state her entire life? That she lived *on the actual border* for a good chunk of it? That her grandmother was a Mexican citizen? I mean, this issue has been one that’s been a very real part of her life.

    If Amanda can generally be said to be good about linking her influences (including the person she supposedly erased), and she actually has a strong background on the article’s topic, then why are folks so certain she’s appropriating? The certainty and venom directed against her with so little context is all just so strange to me.

  108. Pingback: Listening to Minority Voices « Cheerful Megalomaniac

  109. There are two points here that are only vaguely related:

    1. That Amanda stole from BFP
    2. That white western feminists often get undue credit for ideas that originate with other feminists.

    Honestly I haven’t seen anyone disagree with #2. Is that even an issue? It seems that nearly everyone takes it as a given.

    The bone of contention here is #1. Amanda is being used as a proxy for all that is wrong in white feminism because her actions appear to be in line with the overall narrative.

    However treating people as proxies is wrong. As we saw in a certain unmentionable case, people who appear to fit a certain compelling narrative aren’t always guilty of all they are accused of, even if the narrative itself has merit.

    Is the issue what Amanda specifically did or is the issue broader? It cannot be both at the same time, which is the point Hugo is trying to make. To Amanda the “technicalities” obviously matter a lot. It’s really quite absurd to charge someone with something then claim that the specific charges don’t really matter; if that’s true then retract them and move on.

    Again it’s not fair to use Amanda as a punching bag for every bad thing a white feminist has ever done to take credit away from a WOC.

    The truly absurd thing here is that BfP apparently took her blog down in part to avoid this ruckus, and because of that many don’t even know what her original objection was or how closely Amanda’s writing mirrored her own. Instead of the immediate stakeholders battling you have idiots like J. Goff who simply enjoy fighting going at it with each other. At Feministe right now you have two white guys sparring – the fuck?

    BfP and Amanda are both big girls. If BfP has a complaint against Amanda let her persue it herself and let Amanda defend herself. Let them fight their own battles, I don’t see why either needs an army of white knights to fight on their behalf. Especially when BfP herself is entirely absent by her own choosing.

    I’m not saying that Amanda is in the right here; she may well be wrong. But why aren’t we letting the immediate stakeholders hash it out? A whole bunch of people piling on is counterproductive and what leads to these pointless clusterfucks.

  110. Wow. I bet the anti-feminists are having a field day with all of this. It reminds me of watching Clinton and Obama tear each other apart, ultimately challenging the likelihood of a Democratic president being elected in the fall. Sigh…

  111. Unfortunately Hilary, I think you are right…all the infighting and accusations turn off people and the message gets lost. What’s gets remembered is for all the wrong reasons. It creates a lot of divisiveness and how beneficial is that. It reminds me of the saying about winning the battle and losing the war…

  112. Nobody’s saying that BFP was the first person, ever, to think these thoughts

    She nuked her site, but I’m pretty sure BFP said that the ideas were hers (i.e., original thought and development).

    I think the issue is more that WOC are never acknowledged as sources of ideas in discussions like this.

    Then why are two very specific people’s names at the center of the debate?

    Amanda and BFP are the issue. What you’re referring to is the context surrounding the issue. They’re two very separate things.

    a lot of y’all are loyal to Amanda Marcotte and out of that loyalty are showing an incredible lack of respect towards BFP.

    What about those of us on the outside of the blosophere? I, for one, am not involved in blog society. (I leave a few comments on Hugo’s blog about religion every now and again, but that’s about it.)

    Further, I’m not loyal to anyone because, frankly, I think of most bloggers as bylines — not people. Intellectually I know real people are behind the screen, but emotionally? There’s just no connection to either love or hate.

    Whether you agree with the specific point being made or not, the overall point about white feminism and the marginalization of WOC and the anonymization and appropriation of WOC contributions to the feminist movement ARE COMPLETELY CORRECT.

    I agree. But I don’t see how that justifies scalping one, specific white woman’s career.

    Getting caught up in technicalities about whether BFP would be able to graduate from law school by submitting her blog entries is kind of beside the point.

    Not at all. If you’re claiming that ideas are yours, but work was published ten years earlier, then the ideas aren’t yours. Further, it lends credibility to her opponent’s claim because she did the exact same thing.

    Finally, if the panel Amanda attended did indeed rely on the work S. did for the national ACLU office, then it would explain how her inspiration would so closely mirror BFP’s ideas.

  113. In short, what bfp considers to be her original thought is neither original nor hers. In fact, if BFP were a law student, she could expelled for failing to adequately perform due diligence in her research because such failures constitute plagarism in most law schools.

    That’s quite a statement from someone admittedly unfamiliar with her career (and her blog).

    She’s an academic. Everything she writes is incredibly well-researched and well-cited.

  114. And there was development and original thought on her blog, IMO. But ideas that predated her? Cited and contextualized.

  115. Folks, BFP deleted her entire blog. I don’t know what else anybody expects in terms of a retraction, particularly since (if I’m not mistaken) she had already either written or revised the relevant entry so that it would not mention Amanda by name, presumably out of consideration for her career.

    The “precondition” approach is one that immediately shuts down mutually beneficial discussion of issues affecting WOC. e.g., “We’ll discuss appropriation, sure, but only after everybody who ever referred to Amanda’s article as ‘plagiarized’ rather than merely ‘appropriated’ retracts what they said.” Since that won’t happen, the discussion of appropriation won’t happen, either.

    This is similar to the precondition I tried to impose when criticism was being made of FFF. “We can discuss the way white feminism marginalizes women of color, but only after everyone who criticized Jessica retracts what they said.” While the intent is to protect people we’ve come to know and care about, both of these arguments have the net effect of shaming and silencing women of color, and they do no favors for Amanda or Jessica because every time we MENTION the specific concern that brought all of this up, we stick the words “Amanda Marcotte” and “plagiarism” in Google. If you google the two phrases right now, this blog entry turns up as the #1 match. BFP’s blog entry, of course, does not turn up at all. So what exactly is it that she needs to retract?

  116. jb: But ideas that predated her? Cited and contextualized.

    Not in the posts I read before her site was nuked. It’s why I’ve taken the time to delurk.

    That’s quite a statement from someone admittedly unfamiliar with her career (and her blog).

    I may be unfamiliar with her career and her blog, but I am very familiar with American immigration law — both personally and professionally.

    She’s an academic. Everything she writes is incredibly well-researched and well-cited.

    That’s the first time I’ve heard this; everyone else here emphasized how much she cites other blogs.

    Second, I have to admit I’m quite surprised because the posts I read didn’t have the academic “non-accent accent.”

    Unfortunately, since she nuked her blog, I can’t confirm whether and/or to what extent she cited academic literature. However I Googled the 1990s immigration writers I mentioned earlier, and her posts don’t come up. I know she nuked her blog, but wouldn’t such the pages still come up as cached, the way the Spitzer prostitution ring’s nuked website did?

  117. The website you link to in your name is full of “appropriated” content. In particular the post “The Prisoner’s Dilemma” does not credit any of the ex-convicts you based your post on. I assume many of them were minorities while you are a white male.

    Maybe we should be discussing how you are helping to silence the voices of minority ex-cons? In fact you’ve done exactly what Amanda was falsely accused of doing, attended a speech by people without much voice in society then turned what they said into your own piece without crediting them. I did notice you included a link to another white blogger though. Well done!

    You have a another post about about ENDA and LGBT rights. I don’t see any links to something like Pam’s House Blend or any transgender/transexual writers. I see a single link to a white woman on About.com. In fact your linking policy appears to be to link to other white About.com contributors almost exclusively.

    You know, when I started writing this post I did so to mock your reasoning by presenting my own devil’s advocate argument, but I’m starting to convince myself.

    Maybe something constructive can come of this conversation if instead of focusing specifically on Amanda while pretending we aren’t we focus specifically on you. The stones you’ve lobbed appear to have badly damaged the walls of your fine glass domicile.

    How would you feel if I took my argument above, made it much more incidiary and personal, then replicated it across 20 blogs?

  118. That was directed at Tom.

    I think it is useful to point out that peple could do a better job of including minority voices in the discussion, and those people appear to include Tom and probably myself as well. (Though I rely mostly on primary source material)

    However I don’t think starting the discussion with “Tom Head is thief” is particularly constructive or high-minded.

  119. Lindsay wrote:

    If you’re going to allege theft or plagiarism, make your words available to substantiate the charge. [...]
    So far, I haven’t seen any evidence that bfp’s presentation was even a substantial influence on Amanda’s thinking.

    The trouble in that line of thinking is that it puts the burden of proof upon the person who has been victimized.
    Sure, that’s the way we do it in a court of law, like if BFP were actually claiming copyright violation, but she’s not claiming that. She’s claiming her words have significantly influenced Amanda’s writing and Amanda won’t acknowledge that.

    It feels like a slap in the face. It’s like if you lead someone to water and then they take that water and bring it back to their family and act as if they found the water themselves.

    You’re basically accusing BFP of lying and concealing the evidence. We should not assume BFP removed her blog to “hide” evidence. There are TONS of reasons she might remove her blog.

    In fact, I believe BFP’s decision to yank her blog was to express how this has made her feel invisible. The current invisibility of her blog demonstrates the invisibility of many WOC bloggers, thinkers, and activists.

    And this:

    Pandagon is notorious for its hatchet jobs on any idea or person who it finds objectionable; fairness and common decency go out the window anytime Amanda decides someone is eeeevil.

    Is true. I’ve felt it personally, having been evicted from mainstream white feminist land because of my oh-so-eeeevil vegan perspective that oppression of women is related to oppression of animals and that in fact, all oppressions are related.

  120. Pingback: Invisibility : Elaine Vigneault

  121. I don’t want to go through old blog posts if they’ve only been cached…since I suspect there was a reason she took the blog down, and looking through old posts anyway feels like it would be a violation of her wishes there.

    However, she certainly did discuss the work of other academics, both those who predated her and contemporaries. In her blog, of course (leaving aside her academic work, with which I am not familiar beyond my knowledge that she is an academic), she wasn’t writing academic papers and posting them every day, of course, she was sharing her thoughts on issues like most bloggers do. However, her standards for citations and sources were well above that of the blogosphere in general. It’s pretty ridiculous to act as though BFP’s *personal blog* is a collection of academic papers, but she did credit other writers, other thinkers, and other academics whenever she used them as sources or wished to discuss their ideas. I think her blog was actually the best I’ve ever seen as far as citations and such. Lest you think Amanda is being held to the standards of academia, she most certainly is NOT. She is being asked to give credit where credit is due, to those who most assuredly did influence her thinking, such as BFP, whose blog she admits to having read regularly for some time and who discussed these issues in far more depth and detail and with far more original and critical thought than Amanda ever has or probably ever could, Nina Perales, a woman Amanda freely admitted was a very strong influence on the article we are discussing (in the course of trying to defend herself, oddly enough) but who was also not credited, and numerous others, especially women of color, who have discussed and developed and experienced the effects of ideas to which Amanda is a relative newcomer. Amanda’s article was completely superficial and devoid of context, and she gave credit to virtually no one but herself. It really could have only been improved if it was at least somewhat contextualized, in terms of the credibility of the ideas she was presenting, so either she wanted all the credit herself regardless of how it made the ideas look or she made a stupid mistake or a series of them and is just acting bullheaded in the aftermath.

    One last thing, M.: to imply that BFP would be expelled from law school? Seriously offensive. How can you even remotely make that judgment when you aren’t familiar with her work at all?

  122. Wow, with regulars like M and Margalis, I can see why this is such a happening (and “feminist”) place! “Both big girls,” Margalis?

    And M – for someone who claims unfamiliarity with the blog-world, you certainly retreated to the favorite chestnut of white male “progressive”, professional blog commenters – the accusation of the “ad hominem attack” when someone takes issue with your arrogance, poor language choices, and ignorance of an issue’s context. Sorry, no dice.

  123. Margalis, actually I did credit the panelists (who were all people of color)–that’s why you know there were panelists. Then I spun off from that to talk about the Second Chance Act, which they had made me aware of. Appropriation would be if I repeated what they told me without attribution and put my white face on it, as if I’d just dreamed it up.

    But I’m very glad you posted what you did, because it demonstrates that you actually have no problem with the fact that BFP accused Amanda of appropriation–because you just did the same thing! The tactic, obviously, is not the problem. The problem is the identity of BFP and the identity of Amanda.

    I don’t consider Amanda some kind of villain, by the way. Not by a long shot. But we ALL appropriate stuff without intending to, putting our white faces on the ideas and experiences of non-white folks. Perfection is not going silent, because we have a responsibility to advocate for justice just like everybody else. Rather we should acknowledge our imperfections and make a humble and constant effort to better include, honor, and cite the voices of women of color.

    Fighting appropriation isn’t a simple matter like plagiarizing vs. not plagiarizing. We all know that simply stealing someone’s work outright, intentionally, is wrong. But fighting appropriation does require us to honor our sources. The conspicuous “integrationist” tone you see from me now–the WOC in my photo from Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Summer and on my Facebook profile, the mention of the panelists, and so on and so forth–represents a conscious effort on my part to honor the people who are shaping the way I think.

    If BFP wrote to me about, say, my amnesty piece and said that I’d stolen my ideas from women of color, I like to think I would have told BFP that damn, you wrote some amazing stuff; I would have linked to it; and I would have acknowledged the bigger problem of appropriation. I then would have humbly told my own story of how I encountered those ideas, and how my own thinking on the subject has changed over time.

    I’m pretty sure I would have gone out of my way to make sure nobody else tore into BFP over this, and if her blog was gone, I’d grieve it whether she had gone after me on it or not.

    That would have accomplished several purposes. It would have defused the plagiarism accusation. It would have honored BFP’s work on the subject. It would have brought the exchange into a necessary, broader discussion about appropriation. And it would have transformed the situation into what I’m pretty sure BFP intended it to be (hence why she removed Amanda Marcotte’s name from the blog entry): An opportunity to fight a systemic problem.

  124. Charity: Wow, with regulars like M and Margalis, I can see why this is such a happening (and “feminist”) place!

    Re-read my posts: I’m a regular reader, not a regular commentator. I’m only commenting on this because I have non-blog knowledge of relevant events and law.

    Second, your comment is a perfect example why I don’t spend a great deal of time reading blogs. If you have an argument, explicate it. If you don’t, don’t resort to ad homs. Not only does it make you look like an idiot without anything meaningful to say, but it completely shuts down productive dialogue.

    you certainly retreated to the favorite chestnut of white male “progressive”, professional blog commenters – the accusation of the “ad hominem attack” when someone takes issue with your arrogance, poor language choices, and ignorance of an issue’s context.

    Ok, how is mischaracterizing my posts as the ” ‘if I don’t know it or value it, how can it be important’ school of thought with those comments…not very flattering” not a personal attack? How can describing my point as a “retrea[t] to the favorite chestnut of white male ‘progressive’, professional blog commenters” not intended as a personal attack?

    Logical fallacies are logical fallacies, regardless of who uses them and who spots them. If you don’t like it, you probably shouldn’t be “debating.”

    Now, let’s talk about “poor language choices.” What, exactly, were my “poor language choices”?

    Second, if you’ve read the thread, you will notice that I mentioned my immigration status, which implies that English is not my first language. My question for you is, how can you claim to care about giving WoC credit for their thoughts when your insults are specifically targeted to silence immigrant voices? Hypocrisy much?

    Third, just because I don’t read many blogs does not mean I’m ignorant of the context. In fact, the whole reason why I delurked was because I have special knowledge of the larger context that was being ignored. I may not read BFP or other blogs, but I’ve read almost everything published in legal academia about immigration over the past twenty years.

    My bigger point — since you appear to have missed it — is that bloggers have this weird belief that if something isn’t easily available online, it doesn’t exist. Amanda understands that; BFP appeared not to. From what I can see, this belief seems to be one of the key issues underlying the debate.

  125. I should add that timing plays a huge role in this. If I’m not mistaken, the sequence of events went like:

    1. BFP gives a WAM! speech on immigration, which Amanda (according to Rebecca) attended.

    2. Amanda writes an Alternet article hitting many of the same bases as BFP’s speech, without mentioning it at all. BFP is, I should add, NEVER mentioned in articles like this.

    3. BFP accuses Amanda of appropriating what she’d said.

    So really, we’re talking about a situation where, even if BFP’s speech played absolutely no role in shaping Amanda’s thinking, it would be understandable if BFP were a little peeved. The fact that she removed Amanda’s name from the blog entry speaks well of her commitment to dealing with appropriation as a systemic problem.

  126. jb: since I suspect there was a reason she took the blog down, and looking through old posts anyway feels like it would be a violation of her wishes there.

    I can understand that. I, however, don’t have that qualm, if only because I searched for the writers I’m familiar with, not for La Chola itself.

    The bottom line is that she didn’t cite to key articles I mentioned, which undermines your assertion. Now, it’s possible that she’s citing sources from a different field, of course. But since immigration law is central to immigration policy, I don’t understand how someone can really “cite” academics while ignoring some of the most seminal legal articles on the subject.

    jb: However, her standards for citations and sources were well above that of the blogosphere in general.

    Less bad =/= good.

    jb: It’s pretty ridiculous to act as though BFP’s *personal blog* is a collection of academic papers

    Strawman. Where did I say it is?

    jb: She is being asked to give credit where credit is due, to those who most assuredly did influence her thinking, such as BFP, whose blog she admits to having read regularly for some time and who discussed these issues in far more depth and detail and with far more original and critical thought than Amanda ever has or probably ever could

    So you’re telling me to ignore a woman’s statement about the thoughts going through her mind on the basis of her blogroll?

    Yes, everything that we read influences us subconsciously. But the key word is “subconscious.” “Influences” in this context generally refer to who or what we were consciously thinking of when we wrote an article. Unless you can read Amanda’s mind, you’re going to have to demonstrate that the similarities are not a post hoc ergo propter hoc error. So far, no one has.

    One last thing, M.: to imply that BFP would be expelled from law school? Seriously offensive. How can you even remotely make that judgment when you aren’t familiar with her work at all?

    First, when I wrote the comment, I had read the posts Hugo had linked to. I may not have been reading her forever, but those posts definitely had uncredited ideas in them.

    Second, just because it’s offensive doesn’t mean it’s untrue. See, e.g., Georgetown Law’s Disciplinary Code. (It’s basically a three page way of saying that the only statement that does not require a footnote is “the sky is blue” — and even then you should use See generally cite help those just getting started on your work.)

  127. “For those that have read Amanda regularly at all, do you sincerely feel that she generally fails to link/attribute her inspirations and influences? Because I’ve found her to be diligent when it comes to this. In other words, do you feel that this issue extends beyond this one article? I see that as a hard claim to make, but I would be curious to know if the accusers are making it. Because if you generally feel that she’s good about linking people (like, y’know, the times she linked and promoted BFP when she was an influence/inspiration on a post), then I think that factors in greatly, don’t you?”

    There have, in fact, been a number of complaints over the years, yes. About Amanda lifting material, if not word for word copy, no, rather blatantly from smaller blogs (not just bfp or even WoC, although those were a lot of them) without attribution, yes. Mostly people let it slide, because, well, they can’t -prove- it, and they don’t want a reaction like this. It doesn’t seem worth it, most of the time. A good chunk of this was that this felt like the final straw, in a number of ways.

    As for whether bfp felt sufficiently respected/attributed by Amanda over the years, or what that even means to her: you’ll have to ask her that, won’t you. If, you know, she ever comes back.

    (and no, before you ask: I was not one of the people who was making that charge wrt my own blog. I’ve been privy to those conversations and seen the compare and contrast for several years now, though. And no, in fact, it’s not all from the same “cadre.”).

    But, no, in fact, the larger issue of cultural appropriation is not separate from this, because it’s precisely the fact that white people tend to be listened to over PoC that enables this sort of casual lifting and makes it “okay.” Is it conscious or deliberate? People are saying: -it doesn’t matter-. It may matter to -you-, but it doesn’t matter to THEM, because it’s THEIR material, THEIR work, THEIR issues, THEIR LIVES. And no, no one wants to put Amanda’s “career” over that, particularly when in fact there is absolutely no realistic impact this is going to have on her “career;” if anything, her behavior is causing her more harm, but truthfully I doubt even that’ll make a dent; as the woman herself has said, she’s weathered worse.

    But it’s exasperating. -This is not an equal playing field.- And, you people -aren’t listening.- Haven’t been. Look, the very confusion over the term “appropriation” is a part of this. It has more resonances for some people than “edged me out for the book deal, the limelight, the star career.” Yes? No?

    Look, bfp said it herself, what a good chunk of the problem was by her lights, before yanking her blog (and no, she didn’t do it to get at Amanda ffs, she’s TIRED. I would be too. Anyone would. She gets to be human, TOO, goddamit, -finally-):

    “What I *DO* believe is that I made a massive and horrible mistake in emphasizing that immigration is a feminist issue. In comments, a Chicano blogger said very politely, thank you for talking about this Ms. Feminist, but this has been going on for a long time.

    I don’t give a shit about being published, I don’t give a shit about the interviews or the jobs or the fame–I DO give a shit that a Chicano is reading a white feminist talking about immigration and politely distancing himself from a gendered analysis of immigration because the author exhibits no historical or contextual awareness of women of color led feminist interventions into immigration.

    I give a shit about that because not only does this erase the work that women of color are doing within racist white dominant structures, but it erases the work we are doing within our own communities. It makes it ok for men of color to dismiss the need for feminist interventions into our communities–AND it makes it ok for white women to continue beating up women of color with the idea that showing any concern for what happens to men in our communities is ridiculous, because, see, they don’t approve of feminism!

    Poof! Just like that, feminists of color are made invisible even as we are the ones laying our bodies down for the foundation of the communication between men of color and white women.

    ****

    It’s not just a question of dueling individual “careers,” in other words (and whatever one thinks of this, bfp appears to have mostly ceded the floor wrt personal acclaim or “mainstream” recognition). Something gets lost in the translation. The lens gets subtly shifted. This idea that it’s all about the individual’s “career” has multiple layers, in fact: the point is about communication, bridging gaps. What bfp is saying here is that it’s -not- just a question of putting a white face or byline on exactly the same content; it’s that the emphasis is just shifted enough that it becomes, again, about centralizing the white woman/en/people.

  128. The trouble in that line of thinking is that it puts the burden of proof upon the person who has been victimized. . . . She’s claiming her words have significantly influenced Amanda’s writing and Amanda won’t acknowledge that.

    The trouble with this line of thinking is that it assumes the accuser can read the accused’s mind.

    Ultimately, that’s really what giving the rape victim the benefit of the doubt is really about. Only the woman knows whether or not she consented, because she’s the only one who has access to her mind.

    To support BFP without her posts available and justify it on “burden of proof” grounds, you have to warp its underlying rationale as much as racists have warped the idea of “colorblindness” to create “reverse racism.”

  129. I shivered a bit as the realization of what Shelby Steele (1) articulated came to light. Thanks for the case study; it was enlightening.

    (1) Shelby Steele, “The New Segregation,” Imprimus 21 (August 1992):1–4.

  130. Professor Hugo, I haven’t read through all 145 comments yet, so someone may have brought this up already.

    There is actually more than one type of “stealing” (leaving aside analysis of literal theft, and theft by fraud, which are — arguably — less relevant in this context).

    There is “copyright infringement”.
    There is “plagiarism”.

    And then there is “cultural appropriation”.

    I believe, in the long discussion between white feminists and feminists of color, it might be advisable to meditate both on the distinction and the intersection between the three.

    Especially as it pertains to credit for ideas on issues that affect the latter, as discussed by the former.

    Especially in this context.

    And if that’s something that an academic thinks shouldn’t be taken seriously, my only rebuttal is the title of an earlier post on Amptoons:

    “Denial — It’s a White Thing”.

  131. The bottom line is that she didn’t cite to key articles I mentioned, which undermines your assertion. Now, it’s possible that she’s citing sources from a different field, of course. But since immigration law is central to immigration policy, I don’t understand how someone can really “cite” academics while ignoring some of the most seminal legal articles on the subject.

    I don’t understand what the problem is. She cited her sources. She was clear about linking to larger conversations that were happening in various places. You’re upset because you think she didn’t cite the sources you wanted her to cite, which we can’t know as we can’t read her blog (and no, the fact that you can’t find it via an internet search does not mean it doesn’t exist, just for the record).

    But in any case, it’s not at all uncommon for people to cite – and read – only within their discipline. Generally, a sociologist would be expected to cite other sociologists, and legal scholars would cite legals decisions and other legal scholars. The important thing is not that one cite *all* of the research on a particular topic. What’s expected in academic writing is that one cite the larger discourse in a particular field, and BFP did that. She wouldn’t have had to cite the people you mention, since her analysis was outside of the field of legal discourse. (Unless, of course, she’s reading legal scholarship, in which case she would have had to cite that, as well. The assumption is that we are each reading and working in our own disciplines.)

    Further, if a person claims to come up with an idea out of their own head, that’s fine. The problem is, if it turns out that someone else beat them to it, then they need to prove that you got there first. Those are the rules of the game – I didn’t make them, but there they are.

    On a totally different note – Hugo – I’ve taught Conquest and will teach it again in the fall. Why are you nervous about teaching Andrea Smith? Why does she make you wince? I don’t understand.

  132. littlem: And as donna darko has said, if ANYTHING would “prove” it, this might:

    I don’t see how it addresses my points that a) bfp’s ideas were common in legal academia ten years before she began blogging, and that b) those ideas were incorporated into the recent ACLU conference through conventional legal research?

    Correlation =/= Causation. Correlation can be evidence of many things, including a mutual cause.

    I don’t understand what the problem is. She cited her sources.

    The whole point is that she didn’t — at least not how some people are using the term “source.”

    You’re upset because you think she didn’t cite the sources you wanted her to cite, which we can’t know as we can’t read her blog (and no, the fact that you can’t find it via an internet search does not mean it doesn’t exist, just for the record).

    First of all, I’m not upset about anything. I’m just pointing out the flaws I see being made in various people’s arguments while trying to put the discussion in a larger context. It just happens that I see many, many more flaws being made by the anti-Amanda crowd.

    Second, how is this any different from what Amanda and her supporters are saying? Amanda’s saying that BFP’s upset because Amanda didn’t cite BFP the way BFP wanted to be cited. However, we can’t know whether BFP was really Amanda’s source because we can’t read Amanda’s mind. Further, the fact that two people come to similar conclusions for similar reasons doesn’t prove a causal relationship.

    Third, I could find BFP’s blog because Google cached it. I don’t work for Google so I don’t know if it cached the entire site, but I could definitely find a number of posts on immigration. The posts I could find did contain ideas that were written about long before bfp ever started blogging. If you’re going to go with the strict definition of “source” (i.e., whoever came up with an idea before you did), then BFP’s just as guilty of “stealing” as Amanda.

    But in any case, it’s not at all uncommon for people to cite – and read – only within their discipline.

    So anything outside the blogosphere doesn’t have to be cited as a source by bloggers? Doesn’t that lead to the conclusion that it would have been ok for Amanda to refuse to cite NPR, even though that was, in fact, a source?

    Second, most researchers don’t stick exclusively to their field’s journals. ProQuest, JSTOR, et al. provides structural incentives not to — and it’s reflected in academia’s increasingly interdisciplinary footnotes.

    he wouldn’t have had to cite the people you mention, since her analysis was outside of the field of legal discourse.

    How do you have a discussion about immigration policy without discussing immigration law? Immigration policy is what immigration law should be. How can you discuss what something should be without an understanding and acknowledgement of what already exists?

    Further, if a person claims to come up with an idea out of their own head, that’s fine.

    First of all, where did Amanda claim that? Opinion pieces are designed to persuade, not implicit claims to innovative arguments.

    Second, BFP implied that she came up with the ideas out of her own head when she used the phrase “hers.” I don’t know her very well, but I believe that she’s capable of coming up with the ideas out of her own head — just as I believe that Amanda is. If Leibniz and Newtown both developed calculus simultaneously, then why wouldn’t two feminists who are living in similar media environments come to the same conclusion? Smart people with access to similar information can easily come to the same conclusion.

    The problem is, if it turns out that someone else beat them to it, then they need to prove that you got there first.

    If you’re writing an academic piece, yes. I’m pretty sure RH Reality Check doesn’t fall into that category. (Unless you’re a law professor: we just translate non-legal ideas into legal language. Fields that worship precedent aren’t terribly fond of innovative reasoning.)

    Further, as I pointed out, BFP’s posts don’t meet your standard, either. Some may, but the ones I found cached simply didn’t.

  133. So anything outside the blogosphere doesn’t have to be cited as a source by bloggers?

    Upon re-reading, I realized that my pet peeve made me take this sentence out of context, which turned it into a strawman. My pet peeve with blogs is that many commenters appear to believe that if something can’t be accessed online, it doesn’t exist. Although I live and die by my computer these days, that kind of thinking just drives me insane. I know that’s not your point, and I apologize.

  134. Wow. This thread is a brilliant example of white privilege and the ways that white feminism ignores, marginalizes, and tramples on the feminism of persons of color.

    White feminism has ALWAYS stolen from other movements, has taken credit for their success.

    Hugo’s assertions that abolition and the CRM was not necessarily a movement of POC is astonishing and will tinge any word I ever read of his or Marcotte’s, if I choose to read them at all. If this is an indication of either of their beliefs, their thoughts and words are not useful to me. I encourage others who are similarly disgusted to follow suit.

  135. M, for the love of pete, *high blog traffic and ads for T-shirts on a blog* does not a “journalist” make. The fact that Bfp didn’t seek out venues like AlterNet or the Huffington Post or whatever else YOU consider “mainstream” enough, does not mean she is the *social worker* to Amanda’s *journalist*. As people have been saying all along, Bfp’s writing was substantive, informed, and analytical. It was poetic, certainly, but it was not just art. It was every bit as journalistic as “Pandagon” in the sense that I believe you are using the word “journalist” in that comment. I really think, as I stated before, you have conflated popularity with quality in your comparisons, and have demonstrated an inability to appreciate that reputation is important regardless of how *mainstream* one’s current or intended writing outlets are.

  136. So basically, bfp’s blog needs to read like an academic/legal journal but Amanda’s piece in all its “glory” was fine citing almost nothing and almost nobody.

    This really pisses me off. Taking a break now, maybe I’ll come back to the discussion later.

  137. Folks, BFP’s blog is gone. Nubian’s blog is gone. Most of the remaining WOC feminist bloggers are anonymous, and very few among that number are still comfortable identifying as feminists. You WIN already. What more do you want? Who are you trying to get rid of now?

  138. So basically, bfp’s blog needs to read like an academic/legal journal but Amanda’s piece in all its “glory” was fine citing almost nothing and almost nobody.

    This really pisses me off. Taking a break now, maybe I’ll come back to the discussion later.

    I’m with jb on this.

  139. Um, okay, I changed my mind because I have other things that I want to say.

    So you’re telling me to ignore a woman’s statement about the thoughts going through her mind on the basis of her blogroll?

    Yes, everything that we read influences us subconsciously. But the key word is “subconscious.” “Influences” in this context generally refer to who or what we were consciously thinking of when we wrote an article. Unless you can read Amanda’s mind, you’re going to have to demonstrate that the similarities are not a post hoc ergo propter hoc error. So far, no one has.

    No, she probably wasn’t thinking about BFP consciously, and that’s unknowable anyway. When I said BFP influenced Amanda, I didn’t mean it HAD to have been conscious influence. I don’t think BFP necessarily thought it was conscious either, but I don’t see how that excuses Amanda. It definitely doesn’t sound like it would excuse someone in law school, from what you’ve said, but my standards aren’t even that high. If she’d just cited Nina Perales, I don’t think there would have been this outcry, though I still think she ought to have linked BFP on the subject too, and that it was unfair of her not to. The bigger picture, of course, is the silencing and erasure (and, yes, the appropriation), and like I said my standards aren’t high. Just some citations and some acknowledgment in the article, especially of the women of color (and/or immigrants; note that she cited NO ONE from any of these groups)…would be something, I guess. Some realization that it’s not all about Amanda. Those are way below the standards for citation BFP had on her blog.

    It would have strengthened her article to do these things, too. Give it more credibility. If she can still fix it, I don’t see why she doesn’t.

    Second, just because it’s offensive doesn’t mean it’s untrue. See, e.g., Georgetown Law’s Disciplinary Code. (It’s basically a three page way of saying that the only statement that does not require a footnote is “the sky is blue” — and even then you should use See generally cite help those just getting started on your work.)

    Right, maybe if she’d submitted her blog entries for her law school classes, as though anyone would ever actually DO that, but what blog author wouldn’t be expelled from law school by those standards? Would you object if I took some random letter you had written to the editor of a newspaper, or something else you had published under other circumstances, or hell, maybe one of your comments here-I don’t see any footnotes- and told you that based on that writing, you’d never make it through law school? Even if you’ve made it through already, you’d never make it through again? I’d be acting like you were stupid. That’s why this is offensive; you are acting like this woman is stupid. Based on *blog standards*, BFP’s was excellent about sources, as one might expect from an academic. Amanda, on the other hand…

  140. J.Milkos: This thread is a brilliant example of white privilege

    You really may want to read a thread before commenting on it.

    Charity: M, for the love of pete, *high blog traffic and ads for T-shirts on a blog* does not a “journalist” make.

    You’re right. But the last time I checked, writing for news magazines makes you a journalist. Freelance journalists aren’t traditional, full-time journalists, but they’re still journalists.

    The fact that Bfp didn’t seek out venues like AlterNet or the Huffington Post or whatever else YOU consider “mainstream” enough, does not mean she is the *social worker* to Amanda’s *journalist*.

    And I said this where, exactly? Oh, wait. I didn’t.

    I said that BFP said in her post she didn’t court mainstream media outlets. I also explicitly stated that I didn’t know what BFP’s profession was.

    Stop putting words in my mouth so that you can have a pet Strawfeminist. Law school’s kinda twisted, but there’s a reason why people pay us $200-300 an hour to debate the second we graduate.

    Bfp’s writing was substantive, informed, and analytical.

    Where did I say it wasn’t? Strawfeminist.

    It was poetic, certainly, but it was not just art. It was every bit as journalistic as “Pandagon” in the sense that I believe you are using the word “journalist” in that comment.

    Where did I say her work was either poetic or journalistic? Again with the strawfeminism.

    Also, you appear to be conflating a journalistic writing style with being a journalist. One is a characteristic of writing, the other is what someone does to earn income.

    I really think, as I stated before, you have conflated popularity with quality in your comparisons

    How? I never said Amanda’s work was “better” than BFP’s. I’m also unclear how someone who doesn’t spend a great deal of time blogging can differentiate relative popularity among other bloggers. In fact, judging by the comments I’ve read, I was under the impression that BFP is a lot more popular than Amanda.

    demonstrated an inability to appreciate that reputation is important regardless of how *mainstream* one’s current or intended writing outlets are.

    How did I fail to appreciate that BFP’s reputation is as important to her as Amanda’s is to Amanda? I simply pointed out your argument was flawed because your argument assumed that the amount of professional damage done by the same charge is comparable across careers. Further, I only pointed out that the contextual clues in BFP’s posts suggested that BFP was not a journalist, and therefore she may not have realized just how destructive the charges could be to Amanda’s career.

    Also, noting that threats to professional reputations vary from field to field =/= claiming someone’s reputation doesn’t matter to them in their chosen field.

    jb: So basically, bfp’s blog needs to read like an academic/legal journal but Amanda’s piece in all its “glory” was fine citing almost nothing and almost nobody.

    Strawman.

    My point is that intelligent people come to the same conclusions when exposed to the same media messages. Just because someone happened to publish something before you did does not necessarily mean that the first publication is a source. A source is someone you were consciously thinking of and writing your article about.

    Appropriation may be involved, but I’m not really clear what the relationship is between bloggers and academic immigration research (which began with white male professors, if only because the academy was closed to everyone else), nor do I understand the relationships within the blogosophere enough to gauge whether or not appropriation occurred here.

    That said, there is a clear distinction between appropriation and stealing. Stealing is almost always conscious and individual; appropriation is almost always unconscious and systemtic. Stealing is almost always intended to benefit the stealer; appropriation is sometimes intended to benefit the appropriated and sometimes isn’t.

    The more I follow this blog war, the more concerned I become: very, very few people here have a basic understanding of logic arguments and logical fallacies. Neither women of color nor white women will make progress if we can’t convince those in power that we’re right — and those in power damn well know that correlation doesn’t equal causation; that something can occur before something else without being a cause; that it’s pretty easy to spot a strawman once you know what you’re looking for; and that someone loses all credibility the second they rely on an ad hom instead of a logically valid counterargument.

    I don’t spend much time reading blogs, and honestly, I think I’ll be spending even less: you really suck away my hope for feminism’s future.

    Tom: Folks, BFP’s blog is gone. Nubian’s blog is gone. Most of the remaining WOC feminist bloggers are anonymous, and very few among that number are still comfortable identifying as feminists. You WIN already. What more do you want?

    Strawman. Whoever said that “winning” consisted of getting BFP to shut down her blog?

    I think most feminist bloggers would believe that winning consists of a) understanding why everyone’s upset, b) understanding why we’re all talking past each other, and c) understanding what the differences are between stealing, plagarism, and appropriation.

    After participating in the dialogue, I, personally, would also add that “winning” should include understanding that blogs are not the center of the world: people develop ideas and concepts that can’t be found online. Second, winning would also consist of learning what post hoc ergo propter hoc, non sequitur, non causa pro causa, argumentum ad hominem, cum hoc ergo propter hoc, strawman, and equivocation mean. Understanding contraposition, reductio ad absurdum, false dichotomies, and the fallacy of the excluded middle would probably also be helpful, but I haven’t seem much of them in this particular blog war.

    For the record, I’m referring almost exclusively to the commenters. The blogs I keep up with (namely, An Animal-Friendly Life, Angry Black Woman, Feminist Law Professors, Feminist Philosophers, Harlow’s Monkey, Hugo, Ms. JD, Resist Racism, Republic of T., and Shakespeare’s Sister) almost always have logically valid arguments, and rarely fall for it in others’.

    I know this comes off as arrogant, which will result in very few people actually listening. But frankly, your community needs some hard-core tough love in the logic department if it wants to create real change.

  141. Okay, look. The people who alleged plagiarism were wrong. Those people did not include BFP herself. The people alleging appropriation and improper attribution? I don’t see how you can even argue the point, *especially* in light of the fact that she admitted drawing heavy inspiration from Nina Perales, in the course of trying to defend herself, and Perales ALSO wasn’t cited.

  142. Three more things:

    1) Racism is not about your intentions. I believe Amanda has said that herself.

    2) It sounds like Amanda has a history of appropriating from small bloggers.

    3) Amanda’s actions are part of a larger pattern of white appropriation from people of color, and they are pretty blatant.

  143. Clarification: I guess in law school, Amanda would have plagiarized. From the sound of things. From where I’m sitting, she just appropriated, erased WOC and their work from the discussion they largely built, and then acted like a jerk afterward. And she didn’t even give a shout out to the biggest blogger on these issues, who she read regularly and who undoubtedly influenced her thinking on the topic.

  144. Tom, I wrote what I wrote not because I really believed it but to show how few people, including yourself, live up the standards you are setting.

    Charity:
    I am not a “regular”, period. I used “big girls” purposely to illustrate that it’s somewhat patronizing to fight battles for two intelligent and capable grown women.

    People keep making reference to “what BFP is saying.” Only she isn’t saying it. She’s not posting in threads and she took her blog down. It’s everyone else that is doing the talking.

    Others:
    Why wasn’t BFP the one writing the article for RH in the first place?

    Instead of talking about what people like Amanda can do to include you why isn’t anyone talking about what you can do to get force the issue? Relying on the thoughtfullness of others isn’t going to get you very far.

    You want a WOC to be the public face for immigration issues? Then figure out how to get more exposure for WOC. And no, a white woman simply linking to a WOC from her article isn’t what I mean. It should be the WOC writing the damn thing to begin with no?

    From what I hear BfP is a great writer. So encourage her to approach larger publications with her work. If she doesn’t want to then find someone else to do it. WOC will get the credit when and only when they are the ones presenting the content on the larger stage. For better or worse this is how life works: popularizers get credit.

  145. No, she probably wasn’t thinking about BFP consciously, and that’s unknowable anyway. When I said BFP influenced Amanda, I didn’t mean it HAD to have been conscious influence.

    Then you’re talking about appropriation, not stealing. Journalism’s a-ok with the former, but not the latter.

    Some realization that it’s not all about Amanda.

    Strawman. Where did I say or insinuate it’s all about Amanda?

    Now, I am saying that this is about two very specific
    people. If you want to talk about appropriation, talk about appropriation, social structures, etc. But the second someone accuses a specific person stole their ideas, then it is all about the specific people involved — especially if the accusation has the potential to destroy one of their careers.

    I don’t think BFP necessarily thought it was conscious either, but I don’t see how that excuses Amanda.

    The term “stealing” implies conscious intent. BFP appears to be a very intelligent woman with an excellent understanding of language, so I’m pretty sure she knew what she meant when she used the term.

    It would have strengthened her article to do these things, too. Give it more credibility.

    Credibility is contingent upon intended audience. My constant use of citations here makes me look arrogant, not credible. Credibility in journalism has everything to do with the publisher’s history of accuracy, and virtually nothing to do with in-text citations vaguely referencing others in the field.

    As for blog credibility, I’m not a blogger, so I don’t know what the hell you look for. But I personally find a blog credible if it combines reliable evidence with logically valid arguments. I just didn’t see that in BFP’s post as it related specifically to Amanda.

    Right, maybe if she’d submitted her blog entries for her law school classes, as though anyone would ever actually DO that, but what blog author wouldn’t be expelled from law school by those standards?

    I agree. The problem, though, is these are the standards BFP’s supports are implicitly arguing for. We have an entire academic discipline that bases credibility on the whoever-spoke-first-“owns”-the-idea principle, and it’s not very pretty — not to mention rather silly.

    Would you object if I took some random letter you had written to the editor of a newspaper, or something else you had published under other circumstances, or hell, maybe one of your comments here-I don’t see any footnotes- and told you that based on that writing, you’d never make it through law school?

    Re-read my post: BFP’s legal success isn’t the point. The point is that there’s a very good chance that she independently came up with the same ideas other people did ten, twenty, thirty years earlier. If she’s done it, why can’t someone else — especially if that someone else happened to attend a conference addressing those ideas two or three weeks earlier?

    based on that writing, you’d never make it through law school?

    Law school has nothing to do with quality of writing and everything to do with your arguments’ logical validity. But that’s beside the point.

    Based on *blog standards*, BFP’s was excellent about sources, as one might expect from an academic. Amanda, on the other hand…

    My point isn’t blog standards, because my point isn’t about appropriation. Rather, my point is how people develop ideas, and how that relates to stealing and plagiarism.

  146. Why wasn’t BFP the one writing the article for RH in the first place?

    If I remember correctly, she said in her post that she has never had an interest in engaging the mainstream media.

  147. Others:
    Why wasn’t BFP the one writing the article for RH in the first place?

    Instead of talking about what people like Amanda can do to include you why isn’t anyone talking about what you can do to get force the issue? Relying on the thoughtfullness of others isn’t going to get you very far.

    You want a WOC to be the public face for immigration issues? Then figure out how to get more exposure for WOC. And no, a white woman simply linking to a WOC from her article isn’t what I mean. It should be the WOC writing the damn thing to begin with no?

    From what I hear BfP is a great writer. So encourage her to approach larger publications with her work. If she doesn’t want to then find someone else to do it. WOC will get the credit when and only when they are the ones presenting the content on the larger stage. For better or worse this is how life works: popularizers get credit.

    Privilege parade. I would love to have read a similar article in a similar venue from BFP or another excellent WOC blogger. But you seriously don’t think that it’s actually their *fault* that we don’t see this very often, do you? Systematic racism? Inequality? Those things aren’t relics from the past.

  148. If I remember correctly, she said in her post that she has never had an interest in engaging the mainstream media.

    I really don’t think that’s what she said, but if not, I don’t think it’s grounds for dismissal. It might mean it’s time to look at what’s wrong with the mainstream media.

  149. Tom, the person who got rid of BfP’s blog is BfP.

    jb, not crediting an inspiration may be a bit thoughtless but it happens all the time and quite frankly I rarely see anyone online credit people who provide inspiration. Is Nina Perales herself offended? At some point isn’t it a little patronizing to be offended on behalf of other people?

    As far as “acting like a jerk” Amanda is a stubborn defensive person and she is also a human being. She was accused of plagiarizing from BfP’s speech, an accusation that was clearly false and that few if any have apologized for. Instead of getting a private email asking her to cite Nina or BfP she got a giant shitstorm of blogs calling her a liar and a white bitch. What do you expect from her? Yeah, she’s circling the wagons a bit but only a robot would refrain from that.

    You are calling her a thief, making false claims, flogging her as a stand-in for all white feminists then chastising her for not being the bigger person? Get real.

  150. “At some point isn’t it a little patronizing to be offended on behalf of other people?”

    Yep. So I guess Hugo being offended by sexism against women is patronizing to them. As is a white person being offended by racism or white privilege. Excellent point.

  151. Margalis, where is this “giant shitstorm” to which you refer? Again, the main blog that shows up in Google as discussing Amanda Marcotte and plagiarism is this one. A search under Google Blogs turned up few matches, perhaps because the few folks who did comment on this issue took BFP’s lead by not listing Amanda by name, but the ones that existed primarily excoriated BFP (sometimes in over-the-top racist terms), not Amanda.

    I am also amazed at the racial double standard here, frankly. When white feminist bloggers get upset about something, it’s a legitimate problem. When non-white feminist bloggers get upset about something, we use defecation metaphors–back when I defended Jessica, I accused Nubian and her supporters of “pissing all over” her work. You’re using the phrase “giant shitstorm.” Where’s the part where we treat folks like human beings with legitimate concerns?

    And who the hell is going to cover issues affecting immigrant women, day in, day out, now that BFP isn’t blogging?

  152. “But you seriously don’t think that it’s actually their *fault* that we don’t see this very often, do you?”

    I had a line in there about that that I must have deleted. No, it is not their fault. Suggesting courses of action isn’t the same as assigning blame.

    My question is why is it taken as a given that Amanda is the public face, and the question is simply over what she should do to credit others?

    Maybe Amanda shouldn’t be the public face (at least on these issues), and maybe there is some way to make other more deserving people into the public face instead.

  153. M, yes, I am talking about appropriation. I have always been talking about appropriation. Appropriation is exactly what I said this was. And I think appropriation IS stealing, and I don’t think stealing has to be conscious. We can really only judge people on their actions anyway (and what they say about them I guess, to some extent), not what was running through their brains, because that’s unknowable. BFP’s post was perfectly logical and supported wrt Amanda, because, as I understand it, she was talking about appropriation too. This specific instance of it wasn’t even the main thrust of the post.

    Let me clarify about credibility. It would have given her more credibility among people who might be suspicious of a white person writing about issues that largely affect people of color if she had talked about the work and thoughts of people of color, especially since she USED those thoughts. A good example is the Chicano commenter BFP mentioned, who appeared to have been put off from a feminist approach to immigration because of Amanda’s superficial article, which was devoid of both historical context and of any mention of the people of color who inspired her to write it and whose thoughts she used.

    BTW, I am not arguing for law school standards or a whoever-spoke-first-owns-it approach. I am arguing against appropriation, including this specific instance of appropriation. Look at who is getting the credit here. If “popularizers” get the credit, look at who gets to be popularizers and why. In the absence of doing away with prejudice and inequality (or even systems of giving people credit for ideas) completely, the least popularizers can do is make an effort to pass some of the credit on to the hard-working people they piggyback on.

    Also, nothing that I said that you deemed a “strawman” had anything to do with any of your arguments. When I said I wanted some recognition that it’s not all about Amanda, I meant I want that from Amanda, not from you, for example.

    And you misunderstood me when I said, “based on that writing.” Maybe I should have said, “based on the way you cite your sources in that writing.” But that’s beside the point.

    Margalis, not crediting an inspiration has a different meaning in different contexts. Here, it’s part of a larger pattern, and it’s part of systemic racism. Also, I have no idea if Nina Perales even knows about what happened. I’m not offended on her behalf, just pointing out that Amanda admits not having cited her either…which means she admits to exactly what she was accused of. But I think you’re missing the part where this is a LARGER PROBLEM. The larger problem is the main source of my offense, though I will admit to also being offended on BFP’s behalf.

  154. I had a line in there about that that I must have deleted. No, it is not their fault. Suggesting courses of action isn’t the same as assigning blame.

    My question is why is it taken as a given that Amanda is the public face, and the question is simply over what she should do to credit others?

    Maybe Amanda shouldn’t be the public face (at least on these issues), and maybe there is some way to make other more deserving people into the public face instead.

    Huh. Great. Something on which we can agree.

    Though, I do think since she is already the public face in this instance, the least she can do is to credit others.

  155. I’m in complete agreement with jb et al.

    I’m reposting a comment I wrote @ Shakesville that I feel is germane here:


    “From what I’m hearing, even a “we wrote eerily similar posts” or “for more on this, check out this blog” kind of acknowledgment would have appeased most people.”

    And I find it most telling — although I’m not surprised — that Amanda continues to refuse to do this.

    Neither for BFP, nor for Ms. Perales of MALDEF, whom she also noted was an “inspirational source” for the unique framing of the ideas at issue.

    But then of course, “LeBron as Kong” on the cover of Vogue wasn’t a big deal to her either.

    (She “didn’t see” the problem.)

    Nor were Rush Limbaugh’s comments about Representative McKinney’s hair looking like that of a “pickaninny” worth public rebuke — neither out of respect for a Congresswoman, nor for any WOC that might be upset or harmed by association.

    (It was a “First Amendment” issue, you see.)

    So is anyone really surprised that Amanda is not offering an actual acknowledgment of the framework(s) for a unique commentary on a particular set of issues — if those frameworks happened to originate with WOC instead of with white feminists?

    Because I’m not.

    And before anyone sighs or has the vapors about “character assassination” or “flame wars” (because it’s only WOC that get “so angry”, right? because that’s just not feminine) —

    I would submit

    1) that the textbook definition of “infringement” under no less than Title 17 U.S.C. is NOT “word for word copying”, to paraphrase other commenters here. It is comprised of “access” and “substantial similarity” to the work in question. (The arguments that go on for days are what actually does constitute said access and similarity.)

    2) that Amanda’s point blank — and continued — refusal to acknowledge that the “source of her inspiration” for her work currently at issue is the work of more than one WOC blogger is at the dead center of the necessity for discussion of the larger collective issue.

    If she’s acknowledged, by Shakesville and others, as one of the most powerful and prominent white feminist writers in the blogosphere, why would others just as prominent not be concerned that her continued LACK of action be representative, symbolic, even, of the type of conduct to be expected of the “mainstream” feminist blogosphere???

    Or is it all just a bunch of placating BS by said “mainstream” to get WOCs to hush up, sit down, be quiet, and “know their place”??

    Because here’s the thing — not only is she continuing to refuse to acknowledge these “sources of intellectual inspiration” in her bibliography, but no one else — not Shakesville, not Feministing, not Lindsay, and certainly not Professor Hugo — is encouraging her to, either.

    And in the absence of actual action, petitions and words (like “Oh, next time we promise to Do the Right Thing”) — no matter how pretty, warm, and fuzzy — still ring just a touch hollow.

  156. Oh, and Professor?

    Just because someone is a WOC, or a WOC blogger, does NOT make them Radical (RWOC).

    I generally like you, and think you’re incredibly intelligent, and some people may have missed that little subconscious semiotic sleight of hand of yours, but I’ve read more than my share of Roger Ailes.

  157. This is my last comment: there must be some better way to spend this energy. Very litle of any of these conversations has been productive.

    I wish we would all think a little more about what we are accomplishing and what we could be accomplishing.

    Good night.

  158. And for anyone wondering why cultural appropriation — and its attendant relatioship to infringement, whether intentional or “just” negligent or unconscious — is “suuuuucch a big deeeaaal”, this woman — who is *gasp* white! — breaks it down pretty succinctly:

    http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/2008/04/borrowing-and-appropriating_09.html

    (And if you’re still shaking your head, “confused”, perhaps “Elvis was the ‘acceptable’ white face of black music” might make it a little clearer. Although anyone with a real death grip their own personal piece of white privilege is probably not going to want to hear it. At all.)

  159. Spoken with the ring of true privilege, Margalis.

    I would submit that communication and confrontation of problems with an eye to their resolution is a positive expenditure of energy.

    But your view — not your personal problem? You don’t have to see it. You don’t have to deal with it.

    Congratulations. Take your blue pill and go back to sleep.

  160. Ugh, I lied. Once more. littlem this is what I mean. All threads combined this has got to be the 600th or so comment. And now you are introducing the Vogue cover as a feminist litmus test?

    What did you expect to accomplish when you pressed “Submit”?

    This is what I expect to accomplish: very little. Which is why I’m done. At a certain point this is nothing but ego-gratification.

  161. Sociologically and philosophically, this is quite an interesting problem. The basis for intellectual property, at the end of the day, seems to be nothing more than “I thought of this years ago.” Without entering the respective heads of BFP and Amanda Marcotte, we may never know the real answer as to what has happened here. I’m distressed and saddened to see so many people turn vicious so quickly. I would like to see a statement by Marcotte and BFP, or a discussion between the two on this subject, since as third parties, most of what we can say is nothing more than speculation, projecting our own experiences of taking someone’s idea for our own, feeling we’ve been stolen from, or reaching a conclusion independently and worrying that others will perceive it as plagiarism or that someone else has plagiarized us.

    While it’s vital to give credit where credit is due, ideas are not tangible property, and trying to defend them from burglars is a draining enterprise. Our cultural perceptions of what original thought is are key to this debate.

  162. Margalis –

    Interesting that you would pick out what you would out of the whole entire post. Why am I not surprised?

    What did you expect to accomplish when you pressed “Submit”?

    Read the last 4 paragraphs of the longest post — you know, the part you appear to have completely skipped — then use your deductive powers.

    You should have those. After all, you’re one of those smart, privileged types who’s entitled to run the world and dictate how everyone should behave, right?

    Oh, sorry — did you want a lullaby to soothe you back into blinkered oblivion? I’m afraid I’m out of blue pills.

  163. Pingback: The BfP/”X” Files: An Update | The SmackDog Chronicles (Ver. 2.5)

  164. Argh, I think my post was too big to go through. So I guess I’ll have to break it up.

    Charity: M, for the love of pete, *high blog traffic and ads for T-shirts on a blog* does not a “journalist” make.

    You’re right: bloggers aren’t necessarily journalists, no matter how much traffic they get. But the last time I checked, writing for news magazines makes you a journalist. Freelance journalists may not be traditional, full-time journalists, but they’re still journalists.

    The fact that Bfp didn’t seek out venues like AlterNet or the Huffington Post or whatever else YOU consider “mainstream” enough, does not mean she is the *social worker* to Amanda’s *journalist*.

    And I said this where, exactly?

    What I said was that BFP claimed in her posts she didn’t court mainstream media outlets. I also explicitly stated that I didn’t know what BFP’s profession was.

    Stop putting words in my mouth: I have no desire to be your pet strawfeminist. Law school’s kinda twisted, but there’s a reason why people pay us $200-300 an hour to debate the second we graduate.

    Bfp’s writing was substantive, informed, and analytical.

    Where did I say it wasn’t? Strawfeminist.

    It was poetic, certainly, but it was not just art. It was every bit as journalistic as “Pandagon” in the sense that I believe you are using the word “journalist” in that comment.

    Where did I say her work was either poetic or journalistic? Again with the strawfeminism.

    Also, fun factoid: I learned to read before I learned the alphabet. When people learn to read that way, we tend to think of words as pictures that are coincidentially correlated with entire words– not as symbols representing separate phonetic syllables. As a result, most of us develop a very different conception of poetry. (Not to mention truly abysmal spelling.) It’s also why Chinese poetry just can’t be translated into English the way Spanish or Italian does: because relation of written to spoken language is so fundamentally different, poetry “works” in profoundly different ways that can’t be captured by the second language.

    To be honest, BFP’s work didn’t strike me as poetic. That’s not a reflection of the quality of her writing; it’s a reflection of the unusual way in which I learned to read and write.

    Also, you appear to be conflating a journalistic writing style with being a journalist. One is a characteristic of writing, the other is what someone does to earn income.

    I really think, as I stated before, you have conflated popularity with quality in your comparisons

    How? I never said Amanda’s work was “better” than BFP’s. I’m also unclear how someone who doesn’t spend a great deal of time blogging can differentiate relative popularity among other bloggers. In fact, because of the comments I’ve read, I was under the impression that BFP is a lot more popular than Amanda.

    demonstrated an inability to appreciate that reputation is important regardless of how *mainstream* one’s current or intended writing outlets are.

    How did I fail to appreciate that BFP’s reputation is as important to her as Amanda’s is to Amanda? I simply pointed out your argument was flawed because it assumed that the amount of professional damage done by the same charge is comparable across careers. Further, I only mentioned that the contextual clues in BFP’s posts suggested that BFP was not a journalist, which may imply that BFP may not have realized just how destructive the charges could be to Amanda’s career.

    Also, noting that threats to professional reputations vary from field to field is not a claim that someone’s reputation doesn’t matter to them in their chosen field.

  165. jb: So basically, bfp’s blog needs to read like an academic/legal journal but Amanda’s piece in all its “glory” was fine citing almost nothing and almost nobody.

    Strawman.

    My point is that intelligent people come to the same conclusions when exposed to the same mass media. Just because someone happened to publish something before you did does not necessarily mean that the first publication is the source or influence for the second writer. A source is someone you were consciously thinking of and writing your article about.

    Appropriation may be involved, but I’m not really clear on two points, so I’m staying out of that sticky wicket. First, with the exception of the law blogs like Feminist Law Professors, I don’t know exactly what the relationship is between bloggers and academic immigration research (which was actually started with white men, and initially focused on Asian, Irish/German, and Russian waves of immigration). Second, I don’t really know much about intra-blog relationships and communications among the specific participants. Third, I don’t think anyone outside the blgosophere has come up with a reliable way to distinguish appropriation from situations in which intelligent people come to the same conclusions because they were exposed to the same mass media. Fourth, if Huang and her organization came to similar conclusions as BFP, then doesn’t that clear Amanda of the most egregious of the appropriations charges — especially if RH Reality check has a policy requiring writers to link to their writers’ posts before independent writers’ blogs? (For the record, I don’t know if RH Reality Check has that explicit policy, but I know other NGO-supported sites do. They tend to be really quiet about it, so if you haven’t written for them, chances are you’re not going to know about it.)

    Second, isn’t the Asian woman Amanda cited a woman of color? Aren’t Asian women just as marginalized by immigration policies, albeit in somewhat different ways?

    Third, the fact that everyone has ignored Amanda’s link to Huang’s work suggests that a lot of people unconsciously view Asians as “The Other White Meat”. Huang graduated from law school around the same time BFP began writing about these issues, NAPAWF has been working on these ideas 1995.

    Finally, there is a clear distinction between appropriation and stealing. Stealing is almost always conscious and individual; appropriation is usually unconscious and due to systemic inequalities. Stealing is almost always intended to benefit the stealer; appropriation is sometimes intended to benefit the appropriated and sometimes isn’t.

    The more I follow this blog war, the more concerned I become: very, very few people here demonstrate a basic understanding of logic arguments and logical fallacies. Neither women of color nor white women will make progress if we can’t convince those in power that we’re right — and those in power damn well know that correlation doesn’t equal causation; that something can occur before something else without being a cause; that it’s pretty easy to spot a strawman once you know what you’re looking for; and that someone loses all credibility the second they rely on an ad hom instead of a logically valid counterargument.

    I don’t spend much time reading blogs, and honestly, I think I’ll be spending even less: you really suck away my hope for feminism’s future.

  166. There’s nothing like a bunch of white people “circling the wagons” around their little white heroine…

    This entire discussion is just ridiculous. And to go even farther and accuse BFP of being the original “at fault” for not giving credit to Priscilla Huang is just a flat out dishonest attempt to shift blame. First of all, Priscilla has guest posted on BFP’s blog before, so clearly they understand each other. Second, in BFP’s post asking Amanda was she not at the same damn conference and attended Priscilla Huang’s workshop and therefore obviously knew about this subject a whole year ago just from Priscilla’s work, Amanda never answered the question. In fact, some commentors on that thread specifically pointed out that instead of answering direct questions, Amanda went to the childish “you shouldn’t have to pull this shit”. What shit? Calling her out for what is an OBVIOUS case of theft? Amanda has made this whole thing all about her, disregarding the work of both Priscilla Huang and BFP, and countless other men and women who have been active on this matter for a long time. To try to shift the focus and say BFP didn’t give credit where due is just a flat out lie because anyone who read BFP’s blog would know that she was constantly giving credit to others for the work she built upon.

  167. I don’t spend much time reading blogs, and honestly, I think I’ll be spending even less – M

    Best thing I’ve read all week!

  168. I just looked through her article again, no citations for either Huang or NAPAWF that I can see, maybe I missed it.

    What I do see is a discussion of a 22-year-old Columbian immigrant raped by her immigration agent and a Honduran immigrant who was charged after trying to abort with ulcer medication (and a 22-year-old Mexican immigrant who was jailed for essentially the same thing).

    Certainly, Asian women are women of color and certainly, immigration issues affect many Asian women (and white women too, and even men!). But the focus of Amanda’s article (as well as the focus of the current debate) was not Asian women or white women or men. Perhaps her original article should have been broader, but if you do feel that way, you should probably take it up with Amanda. If Amanda linked to Huang’s work (and I still don’t see where she did; I only see three links and none of them are to Huang), I’d personally be a little happier with the article than I was, but honestly. How does this excuse her from ignoring the influence BFP’s extensive writing has clearly had on her? How does it excuse her from stating Nina Perales was a major influence on the specific article at hand and then failing to mention either Nina Perales or MALDEF in the article?

    Also, point me to where I made any of the fallacies you mentioned. I’m a scientist and I would be quite angry with myself if I EVER conflated correlation and causation or committed post hoc ergo propter hoc, but I honestly don’t think I did. If others did, that’s their thing, I guess. I don’t care as much about the “strawman” shit because most of that was an misunderstanding on your part of what I was saying and who I was even saying it to.

    I don’t think that Amanda was influenced by BFP just because BFP said these things before Amanda did. I think BFP influenced Amanda because Amanda was a regular reader of her blog, because Amanda has a poor track record when it comes to racial issues, and because the similarities were just so eerie, even though Amanda’s article was superficial, and, as BFP pointed out, devoid of historical context.

  169. Finally, about stealing and appropriation. There are forms of stealing that aren’t described very well as “appropriation.” But, I don’t see how any appropriation is not “stealing,” in the sense of taking something that isn’t yours without permission. I don’t see why it has to be conscious. More than that though, I don’t see why this semantic argument is so god damn important to you. Amanda fucked up. Does that work for you?

  170. Aaminah, I think M. was saying that Amanda cited Huang in her article. I don’t see where. Does anyone else?

  171. P.S. I wasn’t trying to minimize the issues Asian women (or anyone else) have with immigration. In case anyone takes it that way. I’m cringing a little re-reading what I just wrote. And I know there’s a lot of overlap. And of course those things should be discussed (though I don’t think Marcotte did that, nor do I think that she cited Huang). I do think Marcotte’s own emphasis was on women from Mexico and Latin American countries, and also that she erased a few very specific people (and a whole slew of other people).

  172. P.S. Since you mentioned white immigrants in your post, Amanda doesn’t have a perfect track record there either. From Natalia Antonova’s blog:

    People like Bfp have been sounding the alarm as to the crimes perpetrated against immigrants and WoC’s and immigrant WoC’s for years now. As an immigrant and naturalized citizen, I find that these issue hit close to home for me as well. We should all be in this together, but appropriating another person’s thoughts and hard work with nary a nod in their direction is going to achieve just the opposite.

    Speaking of immigrants, I noticed Twisty has given a review of your book, and took the trouble to quote this particular tidbit:

    Once a Nice Guy has slid into racist fetishizing, he is usually unsalvageable. The best thing you can do is wait until he brings home potential mail-order brides from Russia and slip them pamphlets explaining how to get a green card outside of marrying a Nice Guy.

    You know, a lot of Slavic women come to the States and make mince-meat out of the men who “order” them as if they’re at a buffet. I’ve met several women like that. I’ve also met several women who met potential husbands through online dating portals, got to know them (as opposed to just sending them their bra size), got married, and lived happily ever after – with kids, and barbecues, and watergun-fights on sunny beaches.

    Finally, having also encountered a guy hunting a runaway mail-order bride (think they’ll make THAT one into a cutesy Julia Roberts movie?) with a gun, I have to say that seeing this entire phenomenon being used as a throwaway punchline in mainstream feminist circles makes me feel like punching a hole in the wall, or a hole in the fabric of space-time, or something equally drastic.

    I haven’t read your book, X, having been abroad and unable to settle down in one place long enough to actually begin ordering books again, so for all I know, you’ve actually included a thoughtful word or two about foreign mail-order brides outside of how they might impact an American woman’s dating pool (and yes, I’ve noticed you advise women to give out unspecified pamphlets… can you blame me for thinking you were being flippant there?).

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  174. A blog post quoting another blog post quoting a review quoting a single sentence from a book that wasn’t actually read by anyone making the complaint. Damning!

    M, I suspect you might enjoy my most recent blog post. (Click on my name) Everyone else not so much.

    Clearly you don’t read a lot of Feminist blogs. Outrage over accuracy is the general rule. The only difference here is that the outrage is directed at Amanda rather than the usual suspects.

  175. More than that though, I don’t see why this semantic argument is so god damn important to you. Amanda fucked up. Does that work for you?

    That works for me! Thank you for saying it.

  176. As far as I know, Nina Perales has a grandfather named Welsh and an immigrant Italian grandmother. Her wedding was announced in the style section of the New York Times. If you saw her on the street, I wonder what category you would assign her to. Have you met her, know her? She might not fit so neatly into the agenda being pushed here.

    I think it rather unfair to have included her in this nasty exchange without understanding who she is first.

  177. And if Hugo has no response to the “outrage over accuracy” *general rule for feminist blogs* (i.e., *those angry irrational wimminz*) comment, I think that will speak volumes about the nature of this site and what being a self-professed ally actually means…

  178. I haven’t seen many people disagree that it would be nice for Amanda to add a “Further reading” link.

    Check out the RH website and specifically the women’s issues section. I’m clicking through articles right now, I don’t see a single one that has a “Further reading” section nor do I see many that site blog sources (or any sources) that provided inspiration. I’ve only seen one that linked to a blog at all. For the most part the links are only for direct sources of information.

    Again my point has been that flogging Amanda as a stand-in for every fault of white Feminists is unfair. And it’s clear that some people are trying to turn this into an “air your grievances” free-for-all; Amanda didn’t react to the Vogue cover, Amanda is not into veganism, Amanda wrote a sentence in her book that someone didn’t like. Amanda smells.

    Many of the people in this thread cannot withstand the same scrutiny that Amanda is being subjected to.

    If there is a problem here it is an institutional problem at RH and other sites. Why not contact the people who run RH and ask them to be more liberal about linking to blogs and point out some specific examples of articles that could have used those links?

    Here is the RH contact page:

    http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/contact

    You could also comment on the owner blogs, linked to here:

    http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/about-us

    I know this comes off as an arrogant white man telling the poor helpless wimmens what to do. I can’t help that, and in fact I am an arrogant white man. But that doesn’t change the fact that contacting RH and asking them to change their policies is a constructive way to put this energy to good use no?

  179. You know, when I read folks on Amanda’s “side” of this issue, I see folks talking about academic citation, whether or not she did anything horrible in this case, damage to careers, and other drastic stuff. The stakes are very high, indeed, among the folks defending Amanda.

    When I read folks on BFP’s “side” of this issue, on the other hand, I see folks talking about simply nudging white feminists in the general direction of mentioning the contributions of women of color more often when they blog about this stuff. Unless there’s something I missed, nobody’s really saying Amanda’s a creep. They’re just saying she can do better, and they’re specifying exactly how.

    The latter approach is obviously the one BFP favored, since she removed Amanda’s name from the blog entry to avoid causing any damage to her career. I’m pretty sure she wasn’t interested in penitence, character assassination, or any of that sort of drama. It sounds to me like she just wanted white feminists to be more conscious of this sort of thing–to not be to WOC activism what Elvis was to black music–and was using Amanda’s article as an illustration of broader concerns.

    So I see one side wrapped up in personalities and personal drama and personal loyalties and personal condemnation and preconditions for discussion and all that, and I see the other side focused on naming concrete stuff that I can actually do, as a white feminist (though I am growing increasingly uncomfortable with that label in light of discussions like these), to write in a fairer way.

    That the latter group is being classified as irrational, hostile, and negative–the typical “you all engage best through negative discourse” crap–is a testament to the role that racism, or at least the tendency of white feminists to defend “our own,” still plays in the feminist movement.

    When I read discussions like this, I hear the echo of Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s “should we let ‘Sambo’ in the kingdom first?” or Betty Friedan’s “lavender menace” remark or Marcia Pappas’ recent suggestion that feminists will vote for McCain over Obama if the white woman doesn’t win the nomination, and it helps me understand why so many black women in my own community–including some of my mentors, people who have been in it for many years–have left the feminist movement in recent memory.

    I’m not mad atcha, Hugo. You either, Amanda. I lit into Nubian a year ago, defending Jessica, worse than anybody has lit into BFP. But you know what? We white feminist bloggers by and large are “circling the wagons around our white heroine.” Again. And BFP’s blog, quite possibly the most valuable in the entire feminist blogosphere, is gone. Nubian’s blog, which was nearly as good in its prime, is also gone. And I see no indication that you or Amanda or I are going to pick up where BFP and Nubian left off. The fact that some of y’all clearly see this as no major loss demonstrates that the concerns of women of color have not been integrated into the mainstream feminist movement–that we’re still very second-wave, with few exceptions. That makes me very sad.

  180. I don’t pretend to speak for anyone but myself. Hugo is not my friend, he’s not my “ally” and my comments don’t reflect on him in any way.

    Given the situation that was a stupid thing for me to post. Mea culpa, no excuses. I should have taken my own advice and thought a little more before hitting “Submit.”

  181. Meh, by other post is in moderation due to links I suppose. Indulge me as I reproduce part of it.

    Check out the RH website and specifically the women’s issues section. I’m clicking through articles right now, I don’t see a single one that has a “Further reading” section nor do I see many that site blog sources (or any sources) that provided inspiration. I’ve only seen one that linked to a blog at all. For the most part the links are only for direct sources of information.

    If there is a problem here it is an institutional problem at RH and other sites. Why not contact the people who run RH and ask them to be more liberal about linking to blogs and point out some specific examples of articles that could have used those links?

    RH has a contact page that allows you to email them and you can also comment on the owner blogs.

  182. Aaminah: And to go even farther and accuse BFP of being the original “at fault” for not giving credit to Priscilla Huang is just a flat out dishonest attempt to shift blame.

    Re-read my comment: this is not what I’m saying, and I’m not going to be your pet strawfeminist.

    Aaminah: Calling her out for what is an OBVIOUS case of theft?

    If it’s so obvious, then why hasn’t anyone come up with a legitimate response to the post hoc ergo propter hoc and common cause counterarguments? Logical fallacies appear obvious, but they’re still fallacies that lead to flawed conclusions.

    Aaminah: I’m a scientist and I would be quite angry with myself if I EVER conflated correlation and causation or committed post hoc ergo propter hoc, but I honestly don’t think I did.

    Good. Then please demonstrate how it’s a case of neither. (I suspect the common cause one will be particularly hard to demonstrate, considering that the ACLU conference Amanda attended relied on immigration law research that a) closely resembles BFP’s writing, and b) predates BFP’s work by a decade.)

    The major problem I see has to do with how people are influenced. People are more persuaded and think about ideas more if they’re physically in a room with others discussing the topic than if they’re reading a bunch of ideas written by a bunch of different writers. Personalization and physical proximity makes concepts much more salient than abstract symbols on a computer screen.

    Amanda has made this whole thing all about her

    So if someone accuses you, personally of stealing, you shouldn’t take it personally — even if it could destroy your career?

    If you make a personal accusation against a specific person, that specific person has every right to make it all about them. The accuser made it all about them the second they made a personalized accusation.

    To try to shift the focus and say BFP didn’t give credit where due is just a flat out lie because anyone who read BFP’s blog would know that she was constantly giving credit to others for the work she built upon.

    Re-read the thread: I demonstrated the work I did going through Google cache. I’m sure if you do it yourself you’ll find the same results — computer searches are consistent that way.

    Second, I’m not trying to shift focus I’m just trying to point out that if BFP and her supporters are going to go with the “I was here first, so the idea is mine” theory of credit, then they’re going to have to come to grips with the fact that their heroine is a hypocrite.

    Finally, my point is that she’s not “guilty”: rather, a) the whole “I was here first” notion is flawed and useless because smart people with access to the same knowledge develop the same ideas, b) virtually no ideas are original, c) no one “owns” an idea, and d) bloggers have this weird belief that if an idea doesn’t exist online, it doesn’t exist.

    jb: Aaminah, I think M. was saying that Amanda cited Huang in her article. I don’t see where. Does anyone else?

    This is correct. The citation is at the bottom of the original RH Reality Check article published April 2d, not in the text itself. I suspect that’s part of the reason why AlterNet cut it entirely when AlterNet ran the piece; different organizations have different citation guidelines.

    jb: But the focus of Amanda’s article (as well as the focus of the current debate) was not Asian women or white women or men. Perhaps her original article should have been broader, but if you do feel that way, you should probably take it up with Amanda.

    Wow, you really missed the point. The point was that she did link to a woman of color in the original article as related posts — just not a Latina woman of color. See: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2008/04/02/can-a-person-be-illegal

    Also, point me to where I made any of the fallacies you mentioned.

    Re-read the thread: towards the middle I started citing most of them directly.

    Second, scientists are only trained to see logical fallacies as they exist occur in making the jump from experimental findings to conclusions — not how they exist in political and social arguments. (I suspect it’s why science majors don’t do very well once they’re in law school, despite their disproportionate aptitude on the LSAT.)

    Here’s a refresher: http://www.don-lindsay-archive.org/skeptic/arguments.html#straw

    jb: I would be quite angry with myself if I EVER conflated correlation and causation or committed post hoc ergo propter hoc, but I honestly don’t think I did.

    There are other fallacies, you know. The ones I’ve seen you rely on are equivocation (stealing == appropriation) and straw men (where cited earlier).

    To be fair, you really don’t have to deal with those in most types of experimental research.

    most of that was an misunderstanding on your part of what I was saying and who I was even saying it to.

    It wasn’t a misunderstanding on my part. When you say that you want “some recognition that it’s not all about Amanda” in a discussion with someone who’s not Amanda, then you’re implying that you want the recognition to come from the person you’re speaking to.

    I don’t think that Amanda was influenced by BFP just because BFP said these things before Amanda did. I think BFP influenced Amanda because Amanda was a regular reader of her blog

    I hate to break it to you, but that is what a post hoc ergo propter hoc error looks like in a non-scientific setting. It boils down to “BFP wrote about these ideas before Amanda and Amanda read it, ergo, Amanda was thinking about it and is guilty of stealing.”

    The problem is that people are more influenced by the individuals they physically interact with than by people they read. Reading’s abstract, and isn’t likely to sink in if it’s read alongside numerous other authors on numerous other topics.

    because the similarities were just so eerie

    Then I suggest you get the immigration law articles I recommended — the similarities between BFP’s ideas and theirs are equally creepy.

    because Amanda has a poor track record when it comes to racial issues

    I’m not terribly familiar with her work, so I’m not quite sure what you’re referring to. Do you mean she’s stealing because she wants to make up for the track record, or the stealing’s in keeping with the track record?

    But, I don’t see how any appropriation is not “stealing,” in the sense of taking something that isn’t yours without permission.

    Because ideas aren’t owned. Stealing’s about ownership; appropriation is about structural inequities.

    More than that though, I don’t see why this semantic argument is so god damn important to you.

    Frankly, I don’t care about either BFP or Amanda: I’m not a blogger, I don’t know them, and I don’t identify with either.

    What I care deeply about is the atrocious reasoning skills I see being fostered in the feminist blosophere because of the emotions. Even when I’m furious about something, I usually don’t make basic reasoning errors — and when I do, I apologize for it the second I notice it. We need to think about using the blogosphere to train feminists to fight effectively — and you can’t fight effectively if you can’t make a valid argument.

    Charity: Best thing I’ve read all week!

    It’s depressing to see how much time someone can spend on something, and yet learn so very little.

  183. Margalis: M, I suspect you might enjoy my most recent blog post. (Click on my name)

    Actually, I don’t. It’s flawed on so many levels that I don’t even know where to start. But the three things that jumped to mind were “straw man,” “false analogy,” “profound misunderstanding of how environment influences human behavior.”

  184. Aaminah: I’m a scientist and I would be quite angry with myself if I EVER conflated correlation and causation or committed post hoc ergo propter hoc, but I honestly don’t think I did.

    Aaminah didn’t say that. I said that.

    jb: Aaminah, I think M. was saying that Amanda cited Huang in her article. I don’t see where. Does anyone else?

    This is correct. The citation is at the bottom of the original RH Reality Check article published April 2d, not in the text itself. I suspect that’s part of the reason why AlterNet cut it entirely when AlterNet ran the piece; different organizations have different citation guidelines.

    Ah, found it now. I was looking at the alternet article. My mistake, she did cite one woman of color originally. I don’t think it excuses her from not citing anyone else who influenced her, but yes, that is something.

    jb: But the focus of Amanda’s article (as well as the focus of the current debate) was not Asian women or white women or men. Perhaps her original article should have been broader, but if you do feel that way, you should probably take it up with Amanda.

    Wow, you really missed the point. The point was that she did link to a woman of color in the original article as related posts — just not a Latina woman of color. See: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2008/04/02/can-a-person-be-illegal

    Nope, I think you missed my point. My point was that in an article where she herself writes pretty much exclusively about Latina women of color, it would have been better to cite a Latina woman of color. Perhaps she should have broadened her focus to other immigrants, but again, you would have to take that up with her. But, thank you for pointing out that she did cite at least one woman of color. I think that most people missed that because it did not show up in the alternet article. Which is a problem with alternet, rather than with Amanda.

    Also, point me to where I made any of the fallacies you mentioned.

    Re-read the thread: towards the middle I started citing most of them directly.

    The only fallacies you cited in relation to me were “straw man” fallacies. There may be some truth in this, particularly the one post I made in anger (BFP’s must read like a legal journal, etc.) but again, the rest due to a misunderstanding on your part.

    jb: I would be quite angry with myself if I EVER conflated correlation and causation or committed post hoc ergo propter hoc, but I honestly don’t think I did.

    There are other fallacies, you know. The ones I’ve seen you rely on are equivocation (stealing == appropriation) and straw men (where cited earlier).

    That’s funny because from my understanding, if you use a word (and someone else misunderstands what meaning associated with that word you are using), it’s only equivocation if you were glossing over the fact that you are using a different meaning or if you were intending to deceive the other person. I haven’t accused you of equivocation for your use of the word “stealing,” though I thought about it (I decided that you aren’t actually trying to gloss over which definition you are using either). You insist that someone must be conscious of what they are doing in order to “steal” something. Actually, I think my definition is the more common one.

    To be fair, you really don’t have to deal with those in most types of experimental research.

    Nope, can’t think of a time that I’ve had to deal with either in that context, but I still know what they are.

    most of that was an misunderstanding on your part of what I was saying and who I was even saying it to.

    It wasn’t a misunderstanding on my part. When you say that you want “some recognition that it’s not all about Amanda” in a discussion with someone who’s not Amanda, then you’re implying that you want the recognition to come from the person you’re speaking to.

    Bullshit. I can talk about what I want to see from Amanda to whomever I want. The context of the comment made it pretty clear that I was talking about Amanda.

    I don’t think that Amanda was influenced by BFP just because BFP said these things before Amanda did. I think BFP influenced Amanda because Amanda was a regular reader of her blog

    I hate to break it to you, but that is what a post hoc ergo propter hoc error looks like in a non-scientific setting. It boils down to “BFP wrote about these ideas before Amanda and Amanda read it, ergo, Amanda was thinking about it and is guilty of stealing.”

    Maybe if I had actually claimed that Amanda was thinking about it. I claimed that Amanda read it. In reading it, she was influenced by it. If you like, we can drop the word “stealing.” Amanda is guilty of appropriation, or of participating in appropriation.

    The problem is that people are more influenced by the individuals they physically interact with than by people they read. Reading’s abstract, and isn’t likely to sink in if it’s read alongside numerous other authors on numerous other topics.

    BFP wrote about these issues a lot. Virtually every day, sometimes. Amanda was a regular reader.

    because the similarities were just so eerie

    Then I suggest you get the immigration law articles I recommended — the similarities between BFP’s ideas and theirs are equally creepy.

    I believe you. Are you sure Amanda has read those law articles? Either way, I’m sure she was influenced by BFP since I know that she actually did read her, so I don’t see that it matters too much.

    because Amanda has a poor track record when it comes to racial issues

    I’m not terribly familiar with her work, so I’m not quite sure what you’re referring to. Do you mean she’s stealing because she wants to make up for the track record, or the stealing’s in keeping with the track record?

    I mean that it’s in keeping with her track record. Which by itself is not enough to “prove” anything, but yes, she’s done this sort of thing before.

    But, I don’t see how any appropriation is not “stealing,” in the sense of taking something that isn’t yours without permission.

    Because ideas aren’t owned. Stealing’s about ownership; appropriation is about structural inequities.

    Let’s just drop the word stealing already. I don’t care what it’s called. I guess I’ll just repeat that Amanda fucked up.

  185. The information above about Nina Perales is misleading. She looks latina (well, you did ask how we would categorize her if we saw her on the street) and her father both looks and appears to identify as hispanic (from what I am able to find and read online). She and her father have both been active in litigating for the latin@ community for a long time, it seems, with the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (and in redistricting and voting rights legislation, etc.). I don’t know exactly how she identifies (I mean, of course you would have to ask her that), but you seem to be implying that she is white.

  186. What I thought was odd was the fact that the talk Amanda heard by Perales was about voting rights, whereas Amanda’s article was about women’s rights, which BFP wrote about extensively. If she was inspired by legal literature or something else regarding immigration and women’s rights, not BFP, wouldn’t it have served her better to mention that source of inspiration, rather than Perales?

  187. Okay, folks, as promised, I’m closing the thread here. We’re down to a few participants, and the real tofu of the discussion has happened. Time for all of us to step back.

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