I'm actually the friend that donnaidh_sidhe was talking about in this post. I am rather sad about leaving the community (my decision after 3 weeks of silence), but I'd like to share my experiences because I think they relate to a greater divide in the feminist community between parents and chilfree people.
Note: Names and communities have been edited out. The community will be referred to as [community], and the person who attacked me will be referred to as [feminist], and all other inconsequential names will be referred to as [person a, b, c...].
It all started with a ban of a chilfree woman who had started out by saying that she felt that bringing kids into a world this awful was selfish (or something like that). The moderator response was basically an "angry mama smackdown" in which the soon-to-be-banned got defensive, put her foot even further into her mouth, and the mods gloated about banning her on the thread and then started a new thread that (yet again) gloated about the ban.
About halfway down into the flamewar that was started by all this, I put my two cents in. I got an angry response from [feminist] and instead of returning fire in the thread, I decided to e-mail the mods about the breach of safe space.
My first e-mail:
I don't know exactly how to start this, so I'll just jump in. Obviously a lot of drama has been started over the recent bannination. I voiced my concern about the situation in a reply to [person a]'s comment.
For those of you who haven't read it, my intention was not to dispute the ban or warning, but rather to express discomfort over the way the matter was handled. I stated that I felt that I had to be twice as careful if I chose to write on childfree topics than I felt parents had to be writing about parental topics. I was not trying to put down parents, but rather to note that I do not always feel that childfree issues are given the same respect as parental ones. If I did not convey a proper respect for non-childfree women, then I am truly sorry.
I am writing to all of you because of a response I received from [feminist]. I considered simply replying to her post, but I am worried that any rebuttal, however polite I may think it is, will cause needless drama. I feel that [feminist] went out of her way to attack me by going into my profile, seeing that I am childfree, then telling me that she does not believe that I "could be a reliable marker of what was offensive or inappropriate in [person b's] post." It also upsets me that she represented my wish to feel that my concerns are considered equally to those of parents as my saying that there is "a renegade gang of mamas going around talking about how selfish/ignorant/draining on society [my] choices" are.
The last thing I want to do is to widen the divide between parents and childfree people. I firmly believe that we, as feminists, can offer much support and love to each other regardless of what choices we make in our lives. However, [feminist]'s response is an example of why I sometimes feel marginalized in this community. I feel dismissed - like my thoughts and opinions are less valid because I do not, and will not, have children - and I feel maligned - like I have been misrepresented as someone who looks down on mothers.
I understand how difficult it is to moderate a community, especially one that often touches on issues that we are all emotionally invested in. I would like to end this e-mail with a word of thanks to you all. Despite my concerns, I really am appreciative of all the hard work each and every one of you has put into making this space a safe and supportive one.
Today (three weeks and no response to me later), I fired off another letter:
I sent all of you an e-mail over three weeks ago regarding another [community] member, [feminist], breaking the safe space rules and attacking me regarding my concern that your community's policies are not applied equally to your childfree members.
Your silence on the matter, both in not responding to me as well as not addressing the issue when you were so quick to ban others for much lesser offences (like the people who did the obnoxious "I'm leaving!" posts), only confirms that my concerns were well founded.
Let me point out that, by going into my livejournal to find information specifically to dismiss my words, and falsely accusing me of saying nasty things about feminist mothers, [feminist] was, in fact, breaking community rules.
From [community] userinfo, under 3) Safe Space:
This is a safe space for feminists... All genders and sexualities are welcome here and the mods will do our best to make sure everyone feels safe.
[Feminist]'s comment made me feel dismissed, diminished, and upset. It made me feel that I had no right to speak up in the space, no matter how politely, because I would be attacked and belittled. Your refusal to address what happened to me in any way made me feel that I, as a rule-abiding member of [community], am no longer safe there.
In the wake of the first banning post, the moderators posted a long rant about how we're supposed to be a *community*. Up until all of this happened, I had thought what that meant was a community of feminists supporting each other in our individual fights against the patriarchy. I was relieved in having a safe space in which I belonged. But, your silence on the malicious attack on me by another member makes it clear that, because I care about my childfree subculture and want us to be treated as equals in the feminist community at large, I am not welcome in your community.
I don't expect a response to that one, either, but I did it for my peace of mind. Once this whole thing has gotten some distance, I'm going to blog about this general issue because this isn't the first time I've encountered hostility from parented feminists directed towards me simply because of my reproductive choices/political label.
Update: Well, I got a reply. After all that had happened, I can't say the type of response is unexpected. But, still, ugh.
So sayeth the mods:
You feel how you feel. I hope you find a community more suited to your needs.
This whole thing started when I politely put that I was, in essence, beginning to not feel as safe; as if I, as a chilfree woman, had to be more careful with my words than a mother did. Lo and behold, a mother came in and blatantly attacked me. To the point where multiple members pointed out it was inappropriate.
My e-mail to the mods about this went ignored, and then my second one (in which I pointed out said breaking of rules) was met with, "You feel how you feel." Uh, isn't that the point of a safe space? To protect our feelings from being hurt from unjust attacks? Isn't that what the mods were doing when they banned the childfree woman in a harsh and rude manner, then gloated on it on not one thread but also a post?
But they, as those in power, have the means to act on "feeling how they feel", whereas they expect me to just sit back and take it - or do what I did and leave. If they had a clause that was open about their policies towards chilfree women, then, honestly, I wouldn't care so much. But they purport to be a safe space for all who abide by the rules and that just isn't so. Their reaction to the banned woman and their reaction to me shows hypocrisy; one stupid comment that was found offensive by some mothers deserved personal attacks in addition to the warning/ban, while a personal attack on a chilfree woman warranted silence and, when silence wasn't acceptable, a dismissive, "You feel how you feel." W. T. F.
Dear community moderators:
Please, get your double standard, chilfree feminist hating selves out of my feminism. You are not welcome here.
Ugh. Just. Ugh.
x-posted (more or less): tekanji