The unbearable tired/heavy ness of IWD
It's easier to pretend that nothing has come before this moment than to actually confront these trends
March 8 has a particular way of making me feel extremely tired. International Women’s Day — a day that ususally passes me by without any more notice than March 14 or June 16 or October 2. You know, other days. Days that are as mundane as the days that passed before, that will be as mundane as days that will pass. Not days like my birthday or June 21 or October 31. Just days like any other day. It’s a day for women. I am a woman. It’s my day. Just like every day is my day.
In Quebec City, it’s a day that is filled with activism. It’s great. I’m too tired and too busy dealing with kid stuff to do the night activities. Or the day activies. But we at least have these.
In the digital era where we all act like goldfish forgetting what came three weeks ago (and being skeptical of anything that came before 10 months ago), IWD is a day for corporate powers to celebrate women. To make gaffes that we will all laugh about. For special media programming. To remind women that we exist. Did you know this? I had forgotten.
But it all seems so useless and heavy. Gender fascism hangs heavy in online spaces. The most boring and basic feminist takes being RT’d to oblivion thereby being rendered meaningless. Things that are said over and over and over and non stop and again that are supposed to make us stop and say: wow, $71 on the dollar? That’s so unjust.
Useless because none of this actually advances any organized thing. Heavy because the stakes are way too high.
Back in 2019, I wrote an article that wasn’t groundbreaking or anything, but it did feel like the kind of thing I’d only ever be able to write once, or else become a goldfish with big purple glasses. It was called “Online harassment endangers our political health.”
The article focused on the harassment that Rachel Notley in particular had received while premier, but it easily could have mentioned journalists too, as the attacks are all political in nature.
I concluded: “Using online harassment as a political tool will make things even more difficult for women and racialized politicians to win elections or rise through the ranks of their parties. While the federal government focuses on what they say is the big threat facing the 2019 election, foreign influence in politics, the real threat is domestic. And if we don't figure out how to address it, our political scene will look more like 1930 than what we imagine it should be in 2030.”
In 2019, it was obvious: there was no hope in hell for women politicians to get into politics and not face a ton of harassment. Obvious. Couldn’t have been more obvious. And today it’s worse.
It wasn’t just attacks on Notley, or Kathleen Wynne. Gamer gate-style tactics were practiced and practiced and refined against any woman with a profile. And every time a new outgrowth of this cancer was discovered, there would be another round of goldfish responses.
When everything’s already been said, what more is there to say? Things are even more more worse? Things are even even more worser? Things are so super bad but will be worse tomorrow and no one is organized enough to make anything better? Tiresome and heavy.
Things today are far worse than they were in 2019, by every measure. Journalism jobs are even more precarious. There are fewer journalists, leaving them even more open to attack. The attacks are more vicious and relentless and, frankly, random. (It’s one thing to harass someone who talks about white supremacy into silence. It’s entirely another to tell a young journalist to kill herself simply because she was laid off.) But all of this is the product of a media establishment that enables and even thrives off of this kind of behaviour. The establishment at best ignores it and at worse, pours hydrogen over the embers.
Would they care if it were their emails that were inundated by threats? Would they take it seriously if Postmedia’s profits took a hit thanks to the actions of a mob? Does Global’s EIC Sonia Verma need to have a fake backpage ad made about him, attached to his email address, just so he can see what it’s like?
If Rogers Communications Inc. or Corus or BCE or CBC/Radio-Canada or Quebecor decided that having a traumatized workforce is bad for business, would they actually do something?
Probably not. Because they know that through fear, they can keep their journalists in line. Fear and the promise of promotion, if they don’t colour too far outside of the lines. All while they nervously watch the mob that grows more rabid and more furious because they think that media is lying to them about everything.
Because for fuck’s sakes … they kind of are. And rather than being honest about it, they hang their journalists out to the hungry dogs who are looking for something to rip apart.
I got my last online death threat yesterday. But big deal; they roll off my back. They have to because that’s the cost for women to stay in this game. This is what is heavy in the air this IWD. And there’s no solution to it. Or, there is, but we are an industry of cowards.
this article was edited to update that Sonia Verma is the EIC of Global News. They have an orphan page with better SEO that contains incorrect information. Maybe they need to hire some folks to clean up their web presesence …
Comments of the type where some entity or group thereof are provided the unnecessary and wasteful suggestion to engage in the art of cessation of breath are quite Canadian, as I have learned over the course of several decades - I recall hearing such statements regularly while I was a human-shaped consumer of space at the University of Waterloo. In fact, one student turned to me during a 3-hour long lecture for an introductory Macroeconomics course and shared, unprovoked, that he was a gentleman who fancied the notion of taking up the popular profession of soil-nutritioner.