manifesta: (Battle Eyeliner)
manifesta ([personal profile] manifesta) wrote2010-08-05 02:05 pm
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I can't even think of a title for this

ALSO EDITED TO ADD: Please read [personal profile] ephemere's post Patalim first. (Trigger warning for descriptions of violence.)  I just now ran across it and it is so, so much more eloquent and important. I tried to choose a quote that best encapsulates it, but you should really read the whole thing. Go on. This post will still be here when you get back.

Elizabeth Bear really, really should have gone away and thought long and hard before commenting.

Words associated with historical representations are not "mythologized."
To convert into myth; mythicize.
1. To construct or relate a myth.
2. To interpret or write about myths or mythology. #
The background behind "deathmarch" is real. There is nothing mythic about respecting the experiences of those who have been systematically dehumanized and slaughtered or the people who belong to one or more cultures scarred by those experiences.

While I do not equate "deathmarch" with gender, sexuality, or ethnic insults, they belong to the same spectrum of violence and reflect very similar attitudes. "Deathmarch" resides at the very end of that spectrum, but casual insults that enable some groups of people to marginalize other groups of people and wittle them down to lesser-than-human are at its start. Tell me: does choosing not to use "gay" as an insult mythologize the word? I ask because I have a feeling that people who will cheerfully defend the use of "deathmarch" would be less inclined to defend the use of less socially acceptable insults such as "gay," even  though those insults do not hold the same resonance as a term that implies large-scale murder.

Words have power. Pretending they don't have power, or shouldn't have power, only increases the power they do have--through ignorance. By using words related to marginalized groups' identities or experiences in such a casual context, we choose to erase and mythologize what those words represent.

From [personal profile] megwrites:
"Because what's a deathmarch to you, after all? Just a word for you to play with. Because it's not part of your history as a white citizen of the U.S. Because you don't look back and get to say "I don't know what nation any of my ancestors come from because they were rounded up, enslaved, had their names stripped, and became animals to those who bred, sold, and used them like property." Because nobody's ever rounded up your friends and neighbors and family members and shipped them like boxes or cattle to a place where they were intended to be worked to death or killed outright. Because nobody's ever come to you and said "sorry, this home you live in isn't yours, gotta go" and held a gun to you and make you walk from GEORGIA TO OKLAHOMA. Because your home, the place where you reside, has not seen active aggression from a foreign combatant in centuries. Because of course murder and torture and genocide are banal to you. They don't touch or affect you personally or culturally, so why shouldn't you play around with those words.

They don't hurt you after all. So why shouldn't you say "Soup Nazi" or "deathmarch" or any of those things. It isn't like it hurts you, and if it doesn't hurt you, it's obviously not important, is it?" #
Edited to add a few things and shuffle the post around for clarity. I apologize for any confusion.
trickster_tree: An impressionistic painting of a woman in draped garments, arms crossed, gazing sternly at the viewer.  (Stern)

[personal profile] trickster_tree 2010-08-05 10:28 pm (UTC)(link)
At this point I assume Bear enjoys the taste of foot. Thank you for the links; I needed my weekly reminder of what privilege sounds like.
kaigou: I'm going with head-explodey on this one. (3 head-explodey)

[personal profile] kaigou 2010-08-06 01:11 am (UTC)(link)
At this point I assume Bear enjoys the taste of foot.

All the way up to the hip.
kaigou: Skeptical Mike is skeptical. (1 skeptical mike)

[personal profile] kaigou 2010-08-06 01:12 am (UTC)(link)
WTF is a Soup Nazi?

(also, I think perhaps I need an icon that says, "So what did Elizabeth Bear say this time?" because clearly I could get at least semi-annual use out of it, if not quarterly.)
Edited 2010-08-06 01:33 (UTC)
megwrites: Reading girl by Renoir.  (Default)

[personal profile] megwrites 2010-08-06 11:34 am (UTC)(link)
There was an old Seinfield episode a long time ago that featured a character who got nicknamed "the Soup Nazi" because he demanded that customers order their soup a certain way and was very strict and regimented.

And people since then have raised objections that nickname as making a joke of what the actual Nazis were like and that they weren't just organized or strict, they were mass murdering fuckheads (as many important historians and Eddie Izzard have said) and that it trivialized what the victims of their regime endured. Others have dismissed these objections and want to keep using things like "Soup Nazi" or "Grammar Nazi" and whatnot because apparently, people who mass murder other people are funny, ergo, piles of emaciated bodies stacked to room height are just HI-LARIOUS.

And that's the "Soup Nazi" reference, which just proves that Elizabeth Bear not only doesn't get it, but is actively taking steps to ever avoid getting it in case she trips, falls, and somehow accidentally lands on some empathy or understanding or "political correctness" as she calls it.
starlady: Raven on a MacBook (Default)

[personal profile] starlady 2010-08-06 07:51 pm (UTC)(link)
How the fuck she can call herself a writer and not understand the power of words, and of language, I just don't even know. Willful ignorance, it has to be.

Anyway, thanks for this post.
gehayi: (gwen (crazy_in_lost))

[personal profile] gehayi 2010-08-06 10:49 pm (UTC)(link)
It sickens me when people ignore historical blood and pain and anguish and death, or try to pretend it never happened. It sickens me when people use "death march" to mean "edging toward completing a book I've chosen to write" rather than "forced march by a despised group of people en route to a place where they will be imprisoned indefinitely or killed outright" and "Nazi" to mean "person who is a little stricter about details than most people" rather than "MASS-MURDERING BIGOTED FUCKTARD." I hate it when people turn reality into a myth.

Because myths are safe. Myths don't bleed. Myths aren't filled with bewilderment and horror and pain. Myths don't demand that the nightmares they describe be fought or eliminated; in fact, the nightmares are necessary for the myth to be entertaining.

A good writer can see the blood and bones beneath the winding-sheet of myth, and can can put flesh on those bones and make them live again and show people what the reality was and is. But it's easier to reduce people to stories. To blunt the power of words and memory and render them and their suffering less powerful, less important, less vivid, less worth thinking about, and ultimately, less real.

And once something isn't real, you don't have to worry about it any longer. Mythologized reality reduces everything to a handful of tropes and cuts away all the messy, uncomfortable, awkward bits that might cause privileged people to speculate on the notion that privilege wasn't something they deserved. A myth says, "This is the way things are supposed to be. This is the way things are meant to be."

There are people in the world who don't like having their history bent, folded, spindled or mutilated in order to make a society or a dominant race in that society feel good about itself. That's irrelevant to a myth.

But it shouldn't be irrelevant to real people.
gehayi: (winteriscoming (sasha_davidovna))

[personal profile] gehayi 2010-08-07 03:25 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you and the other posters for posting about this. And thanks especially to [personal profile] miir for calling Bear on it.