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On Seal Press, and the fucking of same

I haven't posted about either WAM or the rest of my trip east because, frankly, I haven't had time — I got back to Portland with a teetering pile of pre-production work about to fall off my already stacked-sky-high plate, and I'm still slogging through it. But I have been reading what others out there have had to say about their conference experiences, and it's a combination of unsurprising, enlightening, and depressing.

Among the postconference musings I read today were those of Blackamazon, one of which has started something of a...situation with Seal Press. Namely, the musing — which came at the end of a long and sort-of-unrelated-to-said-musing post — was "Fuck Seal Press," and the situation was that the ladies at Seal jumped in to defend themselves, with less than satisfactory results. And when I say "less than satisfactory," I mean for everyone.

As a Seal Press author — I just finished a book on feminism and pop culture that's coming out sometime this fall, as part of their new academic series Seal Studies, and I've contributed to two of their previous anthologies, one edited by Lisa — I have very mixed feelings about adding my voice to the already very amplified conversation that has resulted from the whole dust-up. On the other hand, the fact that I am a Seal author also makes me feel compelled to do just that. So I'm gonna say it: Seeing the Seal folks respond they way they did to Blackamazon's post — really, the fact that they responded at all in that space — was like watching from afar as your friend exits the club bathroom with her skirt tucked into her pantyhose and walks straight up to the guy in the "Too Drunk to Fuck, So Just Give Me a Blowjob" t-shirt. You're trying to yell, "No! Retreat! Rewind! Bad idea!" but the music's just way too loud.

Seal Press's subsequent post about the incident, then, was sort of like watching that same friend, a second later, whip out a big bag of glue and start huffing it. I mean, put the glue away! You've done enough damage already!

I'll stop with this analogy now, I think. My point is that it's hard to watch an entity you care so much about dig itself deeper and deeper into a mess. And I do care about Seal Press — Seal books like Listen Up, Adios Barbie, Colonize This!, Whipping Girl, and many more have been part of the bedrock of my ongoing education, and I was honored to be invited to be part of the Seal Studies series. Furthermore, with the rapid winnowing of both feminist presses and feminist bookstores, I feel like it's important to support as many of both as possible. Which is why, when we get the Seal catalog each season, I refrain from wondering if the world really needs another memoir of wacky motherhood hijinks written by an alternative-styled white gal, and instead feel happy that the press has managed to stay kicking. (It's also why I'm a little baffled that Seal, in that response in which they listed the several excellent woman-of-color–centric books they have published, chose to link to Amazon.com. But that's a whole other post.)

The other thing, which I would be remiss not to mention, is that I absolutely understand that it's hard not to be defensive sometimes. There are very likely people out there who've said "Fuck Bitch magazine" for the same reasons Blackamazon said "Fuck Seal Press" — and, indeed, that would feel personal to me, no matter how much I wanted to get past that part of it. So I get it, Seal people, I do. There's much more to this discussion — so much more — but sometimes it's better to apologize, pull your skirt out of the pantyhose, and just listen.

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Comments

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Blackamazon and Seal Press

Did you really intend to compare Blackamazon's complaint about Seal Press to a 'guy in the "Too Drunk to Fuck, So Just Give Me a Blowjob" t-shirt'? Because I've reread this post four times trying to reconcile your analogy with your conclusion that sometimes "it's better to apologize, pull your skirt out of the pantyhose, and just listen," but it's still not making sense to me.

--
http://coffeeandink.livejournal.com

That's not how I read it

My interpretation of the analogy was that Seal Press was the friend coming out of the bathroom, and that their decision to respond to Blackamazon's post was the equivalent to the decision to walk up to the 'guy in the "Too Drunk to Fuck, So Just Give Me a Blowjob" t-shirt.' It's the relative intelligence of the decision that's similar.

As in, my friend is about to walk into a bad, but wholly avoidable situation and I'm powerless to stop them kind of way.

Same here

I read this the same way.

~whatsername~

~whatsername~

I read it this way too, but the metaphor is still *way* flawed

To me, Seal's behavior was (to continue this genre of metaphor) like watching someone I *thought* was my friend--someone who has told me for years that she cares about the same things as me even if some of the things she talks about a lot seem...a tad superficial--walk up to someone who also cares about those things, who maybe we want to be friends with but haven't talked to enough to get there, and slap that woman across the face.

Also a flawed metaphor, but I think it gets closer.

Poor analogy

I assume that was the intention, but that makes it a very badly constructed analogy, because the inference coffeeandink draws seems like a natural one, and its implications clearly have the potential to be quite offensive to Blackamazon. I think as white feminists, this is an important reminder that we need to consider very carefully our contributions to discussions about racism or other forms of oppression and how they may be read by WOC and members of other oppressed groups. It's too easy for us to get carried away by our own rhetoric, especially for those of us whose privilege includes an education that gave more attention to rhetorical techniques than to fostering awareness of oppression and our complicity in it.

...and we all know what

...and we all know what happens when Blackamazon is offended...

Tired of Keeping Silent While This Shit Hits the Fan

Fuck Blackamazon. Fuck anyone who thinks Blackamazon speaks for brown ppl- she DOESN"T> She doesn't speak for me and she most certainly doesn't speak for my hermanas.

Fuck anyone who thinks the shit she says in a BLOG is her "private space." Fuck her immediate first response: an attack- and fuck her second response: throwing her hands up and saying "I didn't do anything wrong"

Fuck a podiddly shit blog crying about a small publisher who at least TRIES (Colonial was a life changing book for me and others- what has blackamazon done? Set feminism and race relations in this media space back 10 years.)

Yeah, maybe not on purpose, and not with her first phrase but with her subsequent attack that in essence CHALLENGES THE LIVLIHOOD OF THREE WOMEN WHO HAVE AT THE VERY LEAST TRIED.

FUCK anyone who decides to imbue an innocent, if even naive sentence (Seal Press' first comment) with all this EVIL.

Fuck this argument and best to Seal. I'm going to go seek out their books RIGHT NOW and BUY THEM.

Re: Tired of Keeping Silent While This Shit Hits the Fan

actually, blackamazon has openly said on MULTIPLE occasions that she does not speak for all brown people. she has challenged people who've tried to make her the voice of woc every time that's happened. so if you or other readers are assuming that she does, that's on you. not ba.

"podiddly shit blog?" tell us how you really feel, lastofthemayoricans. where did you see ba "crying" about seal press? i don't read you saying "fuck" as crying just like i didn't read her saying "fuck" that way either.

as well, how do you propose a "podiddly shit blog" is capable of setting back "feminism and race relations in this media space back 10 years?"

"Are you serious?" is becoming my new greeting for people

Black Amazon has never claimed to be the voice for women of color. Seal Press just mistakenly chose to treat her as if she were, and then tried to take the opportunity to tear her down.

And yes, the things you share in a blog are 1) your opinion, 2) your space to regulate (meaning that Black Amazon, if she wanted, could have trashed Seal's comments the way they trashed an entire thread of comments about the situation on their space), and 3) not the same as testifying on the floor of Congress or being telecast from Yankee fucking Stadium.

Black Amazon has never claimed to speak for you, either. So buy and do whatever you want. Just don't express your opinion of all those Seal Press books you're buying with the word "Fuck" online; I heard the organization tracks you down and starts berating you about being a hater if you don't tell it how to improve.

Fuck a podiddly shit blog crying about a small publisher who at least TRIES (Colonial was a life changing book for me and others- what has blackamazon done? Set feminism and race relations in this media space back 10 years.)

Yeah, maybe not on purpose, and not with her first phrase but with her subsequent attack that in essence CHALLENGES THE LIVLIHOOD OF THREE WOMEN WHO HAVE AT THE VERY LEAST TRIED.

It's funny you think her blog is a podiddly shit blog when you're using her actions to go out and spend a lot of your money at Seal Press. Guess she has more influence than you thought, huh?

And explain me this, Last of the Mayoricans: why is it fine and dandy for you to challenge Black Amazon's existence as a person with as many crass words as you can string together (not very many), and yet Black Amazon challenges an organization about their practices and she's charged with hurting feelings and breaking feminism? To me, that charge doesn't make much sense and it's very off balance. Why is it okay to tear down one woman at the expense of a publishing company? Doesn't that go against feminism?

Finally, Coffee and Ink, that "too drunk to fuck but give me a blowjob" comparison rubbed me wrong as well. You can't pick and choose what parts of your analogy apply when it's convenient. I'm guessing that portion's in there for a reason, like the part about Seal Press being the girl with her skirt tucked into her pantyhose.

problem chylde, runnin' wild and free as far as this world gives me

LastoftheMayoricans makes me cross

People have the right to get upset and to say "Fuck [WHOMEVER]" on their own blogs. It might not be a "private space", but it's definitely an outlet for someone's personal opinion.

I am not your hermana, but I am a feminist Chicana and I completely empathize with BA, though I realize she doesn't speak for me.

It's racist to even clarify that she "DOESN"T" speak for brown people. Why would she? Why would people assume she does? Is it because she is brown and outspoken? That an offensive assumption on your part, no matter your ethnicity.

I'm not going to say that we WOC need to stick together, (ethnically oppressed groups are far from homogeneous and all members shouldn't be required to get along), but can we Human Beings be respectful to one another? It's something I have to work on too, so I don't mean to just call anyone out on that.

with love and besitas,
Cwisto