Elevate Difference

Evelyn Evelyn


“Real art has the capacity to make us nervous.” —Susan Sontag

Evelyn Evelyn is the creation of Amanda Palmer (of the Dresden Dolls and lately a successful solo artist) and musician Jason Webley. Palmer and Webley have built a layered piece of art rather than simply a collaborative musical effort or side project. It includes an intricate back story in addition to its musical content: Evelyn Evelyn are conjoined twins, each one named Evelyn Neville (since neither they nor anyone else could keep straight their given names “Eva” and “Lyn”) who were purportedly discovered via MySpace by Palmer and Webley. Between them they have three legs, two arms, two hearts, three lungs, and a single liver. Born in 1985, there is little information known about the twins until 1996, when they appeared at Dillard and Fullerton's Traveling Circus. In 2007, Palmer and Webley “made contact” with Evelyn and Evelyn and encouraged them to make a studio record.

I first heard about this project at an Amanda Palmer show and thought it was creative, interesting, and different. However, the feminist blogosphere went supernova with rage after the Evelyn Evelyn project became more widely known, claiming Palmer engaged in “crip drag,” and objecting to the idea that conjoined twins “need help” from two able-bodied people. To complicate matters more, the twins' background (as stated on the record) involves a history of sexual exploitation and abuse, which was further fuel for feminist media laser-sights. Afterward, Palmer seemed not to be able to do anything right in the eyes of Internet feminism, and a quick Google search will reveal headlines like “3 Reasons We're Over Amanda Palmer,” “Amanda Palmer Behaves Like An Asshole Part 37,” and “How Amanda Palmer Lost a Fan or, My Own Private Backlash.” (Interestingly, Jason Webley seemed largely spared from the backlash for a project he helped create.)

As for the music itself, the twelve songs on Evelyn Evelyn are catchy, almost jingle-like tunes that rely heavily on piano, accordion, ukulele, and violin, and Palmer and Webley harmonize wonderfully. “The Tragic Events of September” parts one, two, and three are spoken word over a spooky piano background in which the twins tell of their woe-filled life while speaking of themselves in the third person. Each one is punctuated with sound effects and lines spoken by the “characters” in the song. Other songs on the record, including “Sandy Fishnets,” “Elephant Elephant,” and “Chicken Man,” further detail events in the twins' lives.

“My Space,” which is a tribute to the social networking site on which the twins were supposedly discovered, was heralded as the singing debut of Frances Bean Cobain; her voice is layered over many other guest singers, however, and is impossible to distinguish. This song sounds like a parody of every bombastic '80s power ballad in memory, and includes drums and a lengthy guitar solo. The album ends with a very pretty ukulele cover of Joy Division's “Love Will Tear Us Apart.”

This record is of interest to fans of show tunes, noir, cabaret, and Tin Pan Alley. The theatricality and operatic nature of the music and storyline will appeal to ex-drama students, and current fans of Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley will appreciate the interesting tangent in their respective current careers that still maintains the level of cleverness and originality fans have come to expect from each.

Written by: Natalie Ballard, May 7th 2010

Brigade = a group of people organized for a specific purpose

Although this is PS's word choice, I think it is suiting here. Every one of the commenters came here to speak their opposition to Natalie's review and/or FR's choice to publish this review. Of those, at least [half are from the same blog](http://disabledfeminists.com/about/contributors/" rel="nofollow), and some of the other half are well acquainted w/ those bloggers. So, yes, 'brigade' is an accurate description. (Swarming is another accurate description of this kind of abusive--yes, abusive--behavior.)

I'm sorry Natalie's feelings were hurt, and maybe yours too, but I don't see how dwelling on that, again, fosters any genuine engagement. First: No dwelling has happened on Natalie's or my supposed hurt feelings.

Second: So, we have to care about your feelings, but you don't have to care about ours? We should see your POV, but our POV is irrelevant? That doesn't make any sense, friend. Respect must be mutual for genuine engagement. The desire to understand the other person's perspective must also be mutual. Throughout these comments both Natalie and I have been told directly (I don't want to hear about space constraints.) and indirectly that our perspectives are not valid or desired (on our own blog, no less), yet in the hope of being heard and out of my desire to hear others, I continued to engage with people who are clearly disrespecting me--not to mention making (false) assumptions about things like my sexuality and disability status and generalizations about my POV given those (false) assumptions. No one ever thought to ask about those things. Folks simply presumed to know and then to justify their disregard with those (again, false) presumptions.

Third: For the record, my feelings have not been hurt in this exchange, but were they (and given that Natalie's have), I would hope one would demonstrate their own ability for compassion by showing me kindness and respect, as I have shown to all of you. Compassion is so very important in times of disagreement, yet it is one of the first things some people lose sight of when confronted by their own pain and anger. So, I understand the difficulty for some to remain compassionate in times like these.

All of that being said, the comments for this post are now closed. Three days and 43 comments is enough of an attempt on my part, so I’m pulling rank as blog editor and shutting this down. If anyone would like to email me directly (infoATfeministreviewDOTorg), you’re welcome to. However, I will not respond to more of the same.

I appreciate your contributions. All have been illuminating, some more so than others.

Okay. So, this feels incredibly silly to have to do, and no doubt will be read by some as patronizing. So it goes. Let's have a vocab lesson, shall we?

Contingent = an assembled representative group

Representative = to serve as an example of

You do have a contingent, and one that is, to some degree, centrally organized (see Brigade below). The group in this case are commenters who disagree with Natalie and/or me, of which you are one. No part of this word's definition indicates that those who are a part of a contingent lose their individual identities or agency.

Derailing = to obstruct the progress of

Irony = the expression of something other than (and especially the opposite of) the literal meaning

The accusation of my being the source for derailment is ironic given this tactic did not originate from me, and my comments have actually been in response to those from whom the derailing has originated. Tone arguments began with Annaham and continued through to PilgrimSoul, and my specific comment regarding tone was in response to PilgrimSoul's statement about yelling. I didn't point it out at the time, but will go ahead and do so now because it seems more relevant: even the accusation of Natalie or me yelling is ironic given the placement of caps and !, two well-known indicators of yelling in textual communication, in the comments; the only time either of these appear in Natalie's or my comments is when I wrote a humorously self-referential "LOL!" aside. (Self-referential humor = humorous expression that is directed at oneself) So if any yelling was taking place there, it was me laughingly yelling at myself.

Also, ignoring the many points I've raised and questions I've asked in favor of doing things like nitpicking my (accurate) vocabulary (and, earlier, blowing a spelling error out of proportion) is derailing. As you can see, my comments and questions have still gone unanswered--thanks to other people's derailing.

Illegitimate = not rightly deduced or inferred

To make the claim that I am painting one's POV as illegitimate, you would have to erase the many times in this conversation I have: 1) agreed with people (including stating my own personal disagreement with Natalie's review in my very first comment--and other places--which PS now willfully denies), 2) validated perspectives, 3) confirmed perspectives as 'justified', 4) restated perspectives of others to further legitimize them, 5) admitted to making mistakes, 6) been forthcoming with my statements of understanding of perspectives that differ from my own, and 7) promised to continue to consider points of view I disagree with.

How many times have you done those things, PS? How about the other commenters? Another ironic accusation.

Continued in following comment…

I don't have a "contingent." The incoming link to our blog from MsFeasance's comment pulled me over here. While I'm familiar with some of the people involved here, your painting us as some kind of brigade with an illegitimate bone to pick is exactly the kind of maneuver the review itself makes and to which people validly objected. And it doesn't take us any closer to "dialogue," I'll tell you that.

Natalie's initial wording of her review, the first volley in this exchange, was the problem, and you are refusing to acknowledge that for reasons that rather puzzle me. That people responded in kind should not be surprising, and again, sort of skirts the valid points I think ought to be made about the review.

I'm sorry Natalie's feelings were hurt, and maybe yours too, but I don't see how dwelling on that, again, fosters any genuine engagement.

Wait, "your contingent" Mandy? Really? If you're wondering why your comments are being construed as dismissive, a phrase like that is a prime example. Clearly the FWD commenting here couldn't be bringing individual perspectives and opinions to the table, we're all just a monolith coming in for a coordinated attack on you and Natalie and we need to check ourselves.

If you're honestly going to moderate a so-called feminist space you should acquaint yourself with the basics of derailing, because you're mastering in it right now. Tone arguments and bad faith have been all over this so called "dialogue" and they've all been coming from you and your "reviewer."

PilgrimSoul:

I guess my assumption is that Natalie knows she's coming from a place of able-bodied privilege (or at least, I assume she is b/c I don't actually know if she has a disability or not), and I believed that my linking Annaham's posts was FR's way of acknowledging that place of privilege in this review.

To be fair, I think Natalie has only dished what she's been served (and vice versa), as many of the comments in this thread by other folks are coming from a place of hostility. It'd be lovely if you'd admit that for your contingent's part as well. I think when we feel attacked, our first instinct is to retaliate w/ an attack--which I don't think is the most useful thing to do, but I understand why people do it. That said, I think you're right that I should have stepped in sooner to quell the tone and remind folks to check themselves. I'm sure you can see the difficulty of my position, though, as a commenter myself. My pulling rank in that way can easily be interpreted as another power/privilege play instead of as conflict mediation.

I also understand what you're saying about what you see as flaws in this review and in the FR mission. And I sincerely appreciate the feedback. We all learn by doing, so I'm always happy to listen and consider other folks' perspectives.

Mandy, I don't think the problem is that you're coming across as snotty or emotionless or "academic." I think the problem is with the substance of your position. I.e., I think that your idea that people commenting on something from an place of privilege without reminding them of that is "building a dialogue" is a bit flawed. I also don't exactly see how it conforms to your stated position that it will be tolerated provided the author of those thoughts maintains some basic human respect. Natalie has repeatedly attacked her opponents in this thread, and again, has not yet been called on that by administrators of this site such as yourself.

I don't see how this article's cursory overview of the opposition to the project can count as engagement. I don't think links can do anything in that regard, especially when they are linked with the strong implication that one will only find hysterical overreaction.

Perhaps this is just the fault of the writing, as I don't find this a particularly in-depth review in any event, ablist problems set-aside. But the issue is this: if you want to set up a space where dialogue can be had over difficult issues, it seems to me that the onus is upon you to make sure those issues are treated with a depth and sincerity of thought. Free speech and all, sure, but the job of an editor is also to curate. And again, I don't think you're doing so in accordance with your stated principles here.

I hope you understand that I offer these comments not because I'm trying to be mean, but because I think your mission is flawed, and I'm trying to explain why I think you have gotten some of the backlash here.

PilgrimSoul:

Yeah, I get that the assholery/assholish sentence is directed at Palmer's behavior (though I did misread at first and thought you were referring to me, so I had to re-read). I just find the line very, very thin b/t saying that behavior is assholish/assholery and out and out name calling, so I wanted to make mention of our comment policy and add the bit about ad hominem. All were in reference to the assholery sentence, but not specifically pertaining to it... if that makes sense. (How many times can I write assholery in one comment? LOL!)

I don't see my moderation as 'above it all', though I do see why it may come off that way to others. I think this perception is a result of folks not knowing my personality or my politics, and not being familiar with my tone in general. (One of the most frequent critiques I get of my writing is that I sound 'too intellectual' or 'too academic', which I find ironic and slightly classist given my actual background, so striking the right tone is something I struggle with and am very intentional about.) Also, I come from a social work background, so I try to stay as even-keeled as possible in conflict situations, which I know can be read as snotty or emotionless or whatever, despite what my actual feelings or perspective may be. So anyway, that's my longwinded way of saying, 'I hear you and this is where I'm coming from.'

I thought my previous comment did own what Ms. Feasance said, then more layers to it. If not, let me own it again and ask that folks consider that ownership within the larger context that I described.

As to whether Natalie's review was dismissiveness or engagement, I think we may have to agree to disagree on this one. But please know that I do feel like I understand your perspective on this review and I do think it's a valid one and I will continue to consider what you've (all) said.

Mandy:

I wasn't calling anyone an asshole other than, I suppose, Amanda Palmer. And in fact! I referred to behaviour as assholish, not people. In other words, I'm not doing what you think I'm doing.

I think my comment was actually pretty respectful, considering the tone Natalie is using, and has not been called on in a similar way. The fact that you read it as ad hominem is pretty telling. "Disagreement is not ad hominem," to paraphrase you yourself.

As to my other observations, I'm not referring to your behaviour in this thread, though I do think the sort of "above-it-all" moderation you seem to be trying to do is in itself a political stance, and I think if you want to take that position, you have to own the fact that you are, as Ms. Feasance said, opening the space for a lot of racist, transphobic, and ablist comments that undermine the very spirit of "openness" you claim to aspire to.

But anyway, I was referring to Natalie's drive-by treatment of the critiques advanced by a bunch of internet sites, and her defensiveness when called on it. That's not engagement. It's dismissiveness. And for it to be defended on terms of engagement is categorically incorrect.

I don't follow Amanda Palmer on Twitter, not having a Twitter account of my own, but it appears to me as if those who dislike her the most know the most about her. Why is this? Do those who find her offensive have a masochistic streak?

I don't either, but when you spout off on the internet about some pretty racist and otherwise assholish shite, it gets around, fast. Nice jab at me, though. Cute.

_I don't feel that my language was 'dismissive,' nor did I insinuate that Amanda Palmer was some poor gal that those awful feminists just wouldn't leave alone. She apparently really can't do anything right, and nor can her defenders, judging by what I have read here today. _

Oh, really? Well, since you know so much about internet etiquette, you will also know that intent piles up to about exactly jack when people read it and interpret it a certain way. Obviously a number of people took it thusly. Also:

Afterward, Palmer seemed not to be able to do anything right in the eyes of Internet feminism

Were those not your words? Seemed that you were kind of on board with the "Palmer could do no right" train.

No, I don't think anyone has been polite to us, the people with disabilities here who were trying to explain what the problem was, but no one wants to listen, but that has been my experience with mainstream feminism as a whole, where the world insists that centering anything but the nice straight, cis, able, white lady's voice is the thing to do if we are to have, what was that again? Oh, yeah, discourse.

I just can't figure out which way is up on the polite gauge what with being told what is and is not polite (we would listen to you crippled lady/Native lady if you would just BE NICER)... between this train wreck and that hot mess at MS, I know where I stand. Oy!

Clarification: The sentence should read "Please respect the rules of engagement of our site and the humanity of those with whom and of whom you speak."

@Ms. Feasance: What you’ve done here as an editor is, under the guise of allowing a “dialogue”, characterize your own comments space as a place where racism, sexism, and transphobia are free to roam as long as the commenters expressing those views are women.

I suppose that's one way of looking at it. Another is that one cannot dialogue with those who hold racist, transphobic, ablist, etc. beliefs if one excludes them from participating in the conversation. Additionally, there is the problem that we all hold beliefs of these sorts in one way or another, and so a space that doesn't allow some leeway on the presence of these things is just not possible. The reality is that on all sites, it's simply a matter of to what degree are they allowed and who gets to make that subjective call. At FR, the degree to which they are allowed is dependent on the belief-holder's willingness and ability to maintain a certain level of respect for the humanity of others, and its the job of the editors of the site to make those subjective calls. I'm sure you have a similar scale on your own site.

I assume the rest of the comment is addressed to Natalie, so I will let her respond if she so desires.

@PilgrimSoul As I'm in agreement with you about the critiques of ablism in this review and other places on the Net regarding this album, and given that I've both taken even the most insubstantial critiques with a level of seriousness and validated a lot of the perspectives offered and admitted to mistakes I've made, I'm not sure how the claim can be made that I've been dismissive of anything. Given the lengthy and considered responses I've made to the comments, the word cursory is also misused. What I've been doing is engaging in a discussion about the functional elements of media and what FR's mission and responsibility is within that framework. Disagreement is not dismissal.

Unfortunately, the effect of speaking online leaves the interpretation of tone nearly entirely up to the reader, and it is regrettable that your reading of the tone in the comments is 'yelling'. That is not the only way to read the tone, however, and it is not my interpretation of the writing here that anyone is yelling. For my own words, nothing I have written here would have been verbalized in anything other than a calm tone. Perhaps that will change your reading of my words. Perhaps it will not.

I will issue the warning that FR's [comment policy](http://feministreview.blogspot.com/2007/05/comment-policy.html" rel="nofollow) does not tolerate personal attacks or name calling, which, aside from being utterly disrespectful and unnecessary, rob people of their humanity. Being indirectly called an asshole counts as name calling. Other elements of your comment are also personal attacks. Please respect the rules of engagement of our site and the humanity of those with whom you speak. Ad hominem is not an appropriate use of this space.

As the person who coined "Amanda Palmer Behaves Like An Asshole, Part 37," I must say I stand behind my phrasing, "mean" or no. Nor do I seem to see any rebuttal of that point other than, "I think the music is pretty!" Which isn't exactly on point.

Furthermore: it's not a "dialogue" when the person speaking isn't engaging the ideas presented in a serious fashion, Mandy. I understand and respect the impulse to want to keep conversational lines open, but I think it's been really poorly applied here with this dismissive and cursory treatment of what seems to me to be pretty valid criticism of the assholery (oh, I'm being mean again) of which Ms. Palmer is guilty. Nowhere have any of the posters here claimed that they are holier than thou, but you're letting people yell at them in the comments under the name of "dialogue." Time to re-evaluate. IMHO, of course!

"There are women who are racist, PWD who are transphobic, POC who are sexist, etc. All of these groups are marginalized in some fashion, and if you say you welcome everyone in all of these groups then there is bound to be conflict." Yes, but the essentially beneficial part of that conflict is to allow people with one oppression to learn from people who deal with others. What you’ve done here as an editor is, under the guise of allowing a “dialogue”, characterize your own comments space as a place where racism, sexism, and transphobia are free to roam as long as the commenters expressing those views are women.

Look, no one’s saying they’re more feminist than you are—what would be the point? There’s no trophy awarded for most perfect feminist on the Internet, and even if there were, I’m not sure anyone would win it because everyone fucks up. But what Lauredhel, Jha, Astraea, Coldneedles, Anna, Annaham, Ouyangdan, Amandaw, and myself were doing was calling out able-bodied privilege and white privilege when we saw it, and asking you to consider that part of your privilege is utterly distinct from playing Oppression Olympics. To the contrary it's an important part of intersectionality--the idea that being a part of one marginalized group does not exempt you from acknowledging the privilege that you have in other areas.

Good grief... it was only a matter of time before the 'you spelled that wrong' brigade came out to play. Mandy's post referenced Annaham's name three times, with only the third instance being misspelled in what looks like a quick-fingered typo. Somehow, even that gets construed as 'systematic erasing' of a marginalized voice. I myself spoke directly to Annaham several times in my responses, so no, she's not been left out of the debate.

As for my and Mandy's 'behavior' - I think I've been exceptionally polite, as has Mandy, especially in the face of such anger and humorlessness. Yeah, I said it - anger and humorlessness. My God, don't the media, patriarchy, and a thousand other social institutions do enough of a job of 'divide and conquer' without us having to engage in it too? I've seen a very ugly side of feminism in the past couple of days, and it's saddened me greatly. My identity as a feminist, whether anyone chooses to believe that or not, is very important to me.

I have admitted at the very least that I can see beyond my own perspective. Can any of you?

Spelling mistakes happen, friend. It's not a systematic erasure of anyone to make a spelling error one time. Neither is adding two links to what she wrote to this review, but like I said before, you're really quick to dole out criticism and really reticent to give credit to those you've chosen to take issue with. People aren't all good or all bad; actually, we're all a little of both, and that's okay to admit, you know? I hear that you're hurt and angry about a large amount of the blogosphere's response to the valid critiques y'all have made of this album, and having read a lot of ignorant commentary around the Web, I think your feelings are completely justified. I'm just not convinced I should be the one to bear the brunt of your anger and pain because I accidentally mistyped one letter of Annaham's name.

I really hope you're right that my behavior stands on its own because I believe I've shown a great deal of compassion and respect in this exchange, despite not always receiving it.

It's not substanceless. She has a name. She has been systematically erased during this entire E-E clusterfuck. It's nice that you at least deigned to use some fascimile of her name at all, considering everyone else just snickered at "disabled feminist" but it's somehwat disrespectful to continually misspell someone's name when it's not that hard to find out how she actually spells it.

I didn't want to get into anything further because you so thoroughly misconstrue everything that we say. I think this thread, and your and Natalie's behavior in it, really stands on its own.

Yeah, I'll ignore the wholly unnecessary snark in that substance-less comment, amandaw, and humor you: Annaham. I got it right the first time around though. Does that qualify me for getting credit with my crit? ;-)

It would be lovely if you could get Annaham's name right, Mandy. It is right there in front of you, a mere seven letters long.

RE: linking

In choosing and adding links, I chose pieces I believed Natalie was referencing (apparently incorrectly) and which I felt both best stated a PWD critique of this album and would lead people to read more posts on the topic. I also am responsible for choosing which words to hyperlink for which link. It seems that choosing to hyperlink 'supernova with rage' with Annaham's post put an emphasis on the phrase's direct correlation to Annaham's post specifically instead of the feminist blogosphere in general. So, I just want to own up to and apologize for that choice/mistake.

RE: safe space

How do you protect every marginalized group and still maintain all marginalized groups right and ability to speak freely? The reality is that you can't because someone's legitimate grievances will always be excluded in lue of someone else's 'safety'. There are women who are racist, PWD who are transphobic, POC who are sexist, etc. All of these groups are marginalized in some fashion, and if you say you welcome everyone in all of these groups then there is bound to be conflict. If you police what everyone is allowed to say for safety, you end up with what Natalie is calling an echo chamber, which serves to segregate, create a hierarchy of oppressions, erase nuances of intersectional identities and oppressions, and reinforce oppressive power structures in addition to providing an emotionally safe space for those who have chosen to exist in a space where difference is minimized. (The latter is the only characteristic of a safe space that is being acknowledged in the comments.) Safe spaces are absolutely necessary for all kinds of reasons, and if one is in need of that kind of environment (as I think we all are from time to time--some of us for longer periods of time than others--and this is completely a justified need) then I fully support one getting what one needs. What I think needs to be acknowledged here, though, are the other aspects of safe spaces that I've brought up just now and in my previous comment. Safe spaces are simultaneously chosen self-marginalization and they are also marginalizing of others (and some those 'others' are marginalized by the broader power systems). Bringing up the idea of a safe space begs a lot of questions (like safe for whom? for how many? to what degree? where do agency and paternalism come into play? what conflict is allowed?), and a safe space isn't itself unproblematic.

It is FR's belief that difference across a broad spectrum should be both acknowledged and valued, and that valuing difference cannot truly happen in a space that is safe in the way it's being spoken about in the comments. This is why FR doesn't claim to be a safe space in that way. While we support those kinds of safe spaces and promote their necessity, our function is to provide a platform for all people on the margins to voice to their perspectives so that differences can be represented, explored, and valued. As a public blog that welcomes everyone's participation, FR is as safe as it can be for those who are marginalized in a complexly oppressive world.

RE: incomplete title

Annahem: I've changed the title of your post in the review and apologize for the misrepresentation.

It's sad that this has become 'battle of who is most marginalized' and 'who's more feminist than who.' I've been more than polite in all my responses, so the degree of vitriol in here baffles me.

I've had to repeat a hundred other of my points that have been misrepresented, so why not again? FR does not claim to be a 'safe space.' As I said in my first comment, media criticism could not even exist in a 'safe space.' I'm one of 150 writers on this blog, and you aren't going to agree with all of them. I don't. What I also don't do is essentially revoke anyone's Feminist Card if something is said with which I do not agree. I'm content to change the channel, or surf away, if I find myself offended by any particular content. I find that to be a practical solution.

There will always - always - be people who will challenge your assumptions and beliefs. And that's fine. The world - and this blog - would be fairly boring otherwise.

I don't follow Amanda Palmer on Twitter, not having a Twitter account of my own, but it appears to me as if those who dislike her the most know the most about her. Why is this? Do those who find her offensive have a masochistic streak? (Hope I didn't offend the BDSM feminists with that one.) It isn't that interesting to me to hang onto every potentially upsetting word anyone has to say.

I don't feel that my language was 'dismissive,' nor did I insinuate that Amanda Palmer was some poor gal that those awful feminists just wouldn't leave alone. She apparently really can't do anything right, and nor can her defenders, judging by what I have read here today.

Natalie, I deleted my earlier comment because I thought I'd been more than a bit mean. I apologize for my earlier ire.

I still think that the incomplete title is obscuring some stuff, however, regardless of whether my views represent some sort of "applecart." Since it is clear to me that we will not come to any sort of agreement or understanding on this issue, I will stop commenting.

in order for the album to deserve the label "feminist." _ Gah, I meant "in order for the _review to deserve the label 'feminist.'" Sorry.

It's also worth pointing out that "Amanda Palmer Behaves Like An Asshole, Part 37" was not, in fact, the title of the blog post written by SparkyMonster, but a title bestowed in a linkspam roundup by bloggers at [The Pursuit of Harpyness.](http://www.harpyness.com/2010/03/26/friday-linkaround-no-really-im-gonna-do-this-for-real-this-time-version/" rel="nofollow) The actual blog post was entitled "A Lesson in Good versus Bad Irony Thanks to Amanda Palmer." But hey, why do due journalistic diligence when you can paint the people who don't agree with you as a bunch of reactionaries who were super-mean to the nice temporarily ablebodied cis white lady?

I deleted my earlier comment because I thought that I had spoken out of anger, and that perhaps I'd been overly harsh on the review. Your continued comments in this thread have shown me that my earlier comment was entirely justified. Were I writing a review of this album, at baseline I would feel like I should have used my limited space to examine the slut-shaming language and casual ableist appropriation sprinkled all over the album in order for the album to deserve the label "feminist." But you've made it very clear that there's no room for PWD in your feminism.

No, just because you didn't include the links doesn't let you off that easy. You used dismissive language, not just "supernova with rage", also "further fuel for feminist media laser-sights", and going on about how poor, besieged AP could do no right after that.

Would you like to see the tweets she left, belittling PWDs and disabled feiminst? I have many of them saved as screen caps. Would you like to see the ones where she went on and on about how the Klan is "ironic"? Would you like to see the ones where she went on and on about Justin Beiber being trans as if trans is a pejorative and what a train wreck of a conversation that was between her and her fans?

Yeah, that is someone you should be defending here against the Galactic Empire that is the enraged feminists, innit? Those are some solid feminist concepts, and I am glad that this is one of the "many feminisms" that FR wants to support here on its site.

I completely resent that a "safe space" is an echo chamber. It happens all over the place. I can name sites that do it w/ degress of success. If you don't want to protect marginalized folks, that's your thing. At least I know where I am not welcomed, but hey, I guess you don't need the readers.

A little Google search would have done a lot of good for you. And I don't want to hear about space constraints. I can do a lot better w/ 100 words less and not disparage swathes of marginalized feminists.

Annaham,

I don't know what to tell you, since you disbelieve that I don't know who you are. I don't really see what I stand to gain from denying any prior knowledge of you or your work. I searched for the post from Tiger Beatdown via my Google Reader, having vaguely recalled that the subject had been raised there. Mostly what I was after was the title, since I used blog titles to represent the discourse in my review. And again, the other links to FWD were placed by FR editorial staff, who likely are familiar with you. I am not.

... oh. That part of your post has been deleted.

In any event, I get that there are very specific reasons why people are offended by the feminist applecart that Amanda Palmer has upset. I just do not personally agree, and I will continue to disagree. I stand by my review and everything else I have said here today.

Also, just FYI: The full title of my post on Tiger Beatdown is "How Amanda Palmer Lost a Fan or, My Own Private Backlash." I believe that the incomplete title included here obscures some REALLY IMPORTANT things--namely, that I did not just "turn on her" for the lolz or something. She lost me for very specific reasons, which are outlined in the post.

Natalie:

Thanks for your response. I assume that you can see why the phrase "supernova with rage" at least reads as dismissive, (even though it was not directed at me, before Mandy added links) correct? While it may not have been your intention, it still kind of reads as dismissive of people getting upset at all, instead of as "factual." And, speaking as one of the people who supported Palmer during the "Leeds United" controversy, as I recall she did not use that as a platform or an excuse to rip on an already-marginalized group. So, please forgive me if I was not immediately willing to back her up for mocking me and my co-bloggers for daring to critique her work.

If you want to know more about the threats, you can read my post on the subject here: http://disabledfeminists.com/2010/02/22/a-few-words-on-some-previous-words/

Annaham,

I have already discussed why I did not include links in my review; further, there isn't any guarantee any links I may have included would have made the final edit, since there are editors who polish up the reviews before they are put up on the site. A link I included in my last piece for FR did not make the cut, for instance. Therefore, I was not referring to you or your blog when I used the turn of phrase 'supernova with rage.' To be honest, before today I had never heard of you or your blog. The article titles I referenced came from blogs I do read on a regular basis. I do not claim to speak for Mandy or any other FR editor, but perhaps she included posts from your blog to illustrate a disabled perspective rather than the 'white, abled, cis' perspective that seems disallowed for this subject. I do not believe it to be a misrepresentation of your words, intentional or otherwise.

I was unaware of any threats that bloggers received as a result of criticizing Amanda Palmer or Lady Gaga, but if I had... well, again, space constraints. For every FR piece I have written in the last year that I've been associated with them, there is plenty more I wanted to say about each. This is why I generally link to my GoodReads account on my posts; if anyone interested enough would like to see anything additional I have to say, they have the avenue to do so. Of course threats against anyone for any reason are unacceptable.

Also, I don't believe I dismissed any criticism of Amanda Palmer; I stated (rather factually) that the feminist blogosphere was upset at the perceived ableism inherent in the Evelyn Evelyn project. I still remember when Amanda was a feminist heroine after her video for 'Leeds United' was almost canned by her record company due to her 'looking fat' in it. The tides can quickly turn on a person.

Are you not seeing that people have critiqued Lady Gaga on disability - and many other things in her presentation (Ms Google can point you in the right direction)? No one is "letting" Lady Gaga off some sort of hook.

And frankly, I'd rather Amanda Palmer had ignored criticisms than sent people to threaten and harass Annaham.

Natalie, if you had just written a post talking about EE with your 600 words, probably people would be annoyed, but not like this. Instead, you used some of your 600 words to dismiss feminist-based critique of Amanda Palmer, state that no one critiqued Jason Wemblay (they did and Wemblay apologized and contacted people personally about what happened, didn't mock the criticisms on twitter, and didn't make a joke of the whole thing on t.v.) and now are shocked - shocked - to find out that somehow this has caused people to be angry.

If you had just talked about the music without your dismissal of the criticism the presentation of this album had generated, people would be a lot less angry. You'd just be yet another person writing about Amanda Palmer.

Wow.

Thanks for totally misrepresenting my words, FR! If anyone had bothered to read my posts on both Lady Gaga and EE, you would probably figure out that my tone wasn't all that "supernova with rage" (sic). And I also think it's interesting that there was no mention of the threats that I and other FWD contributors got for even talking about Evelyn Evelyn, thereby making Amanda Palmer look like the victim here because she "can't do anything right." I don't think that making racist "jokes" on Twitter and setting her critics up for mocking on TV are things to be celebrated, actually, but if you all think so, then so be it.

I'm not advocating letting Amanda Palmer off the hook because Lady Gaga seems to have been. I pointed out that Gaga's own 'crip drag' appears to have no substance, justification, or artistic statement behind it. Someone earlier mentioned that Amanda Palmer has ridiculed disabled feminists in the press; Gaga has simply remained silent. Whether she intends to let her art speak for itself or just has nothing to say at all is yet to be seen. Furthermore, it is also many white, abled, cisgendered feminists who have criticized Palmer while waving Gaga past the Feminist Bouncers. I do not think that one's race, ability, or gender presentation has much to do with this disparity. I don't claim to know what does. However, I have no interest in stifling others' criticisms of Gaga, Palmer, or anyone else; see my previous statement about not wishing to live in an echo chamber.

Someone said earlier my review didn't 'engage the criticism.' What is it, exactly, that's happening now? Also, I did need to focus on the musical content in addition to the ableist criticism, since the record itself is what I was actually reviewing. FR writers have only 600 words to play with in the reviews, and already much more than that has been spilled just in the comments. Obviously, it's an issue that needs space to breathe. I pointed to certain articles that contain further reading, as did Mandy when she included links to FWD.

FR's own mission statement says that there are 'many feminisms.' This does not mean that each of these feminisms cancels out another or can't coexist with its sisters. All of our opinions as feminists have validity and importance, and disagreement will - and most certainly does - occur. There is room for all of us.

but the disparity in the feminist feting of Gaga vs. the vitriol directed at Amanda Palmer is a bit of a pop-cultural curiosity.

Wow, that's exactly what Amanda Palmer said on twitter at the time. Then she pushed the disabled feminists from the peripheral of her mind.

Also, I will be more concerned about whether non-disabled people are being prevented from portraying people with disabilities in their art, music, films, books, etc when it actually starts happening. Currently they do it all the time, often filled with stereotypes and misrepresentations, while actual people with disabilities are ignored or not hired or told they make others uncomfortable.

Natalie:

I did choose to review this record because I knew it was a controversial subject in the feminist world, and I don't believe in living in an echo chamber. If a piece of art can't challenge one's worldview, what can?

I don't really see how your review engages the criticism, you just seem to dismiss it as going on a "supernova of rage" and then discuss the music, without any attention to the issues you brought up by including the criticism. Furthermore, I don't see any discussion of how the project challenged your or anyone else's worldview. From what I've heard of Evelyn Evelyn it seems to mirror an ableist worldview rather than challenge it.

the disparity in the feminist feting of Gaga vs. the vitriol directed at Amanda Palmer is a bit of a pop-cultural curiosity.

But Annaham, who wrote the orginal article about Evelyn Evelyn also wrote about Lady Gaga and disability [ here](http://bitchmagazine.org/post/the-transcontinental-disability-choir-disabililty-chic-temporary-disability-in-lady-gagas-papar" rel="nofollow). The feting of Lady Gaga you describe, seems mostly to have come from [white](http://www.racialicious.com/2010/05/05/a-contrarian-view-of-lady-gaga/%22" rel="nofollow), abled, [cis](http://gudbuytjane.wordpress.com/2010/03/12/lady-gaga-sets-the-record-straight/" rel="nofollow) feminsts.

Besides if Lady Gaga's problematic use of disablity goes ignored, then perhaps we should talk about that, rather than let Amanda Palmer off the hook because Gaga does it too.

What constitutes an acceptable representation of disability in art? If a film, album, or book is created by an able-bodied person, then is that person not allowed to create images of anyone other than able-bodied people?

No one said this was the case in any of the criticisms of Palmer. There's a big difference between creating art about disabled people and dressing up and pretending to be disabled. There was also far more to the criticism than the problem of crip drag.

There has been plenty of talk in here about silencing marginalized voices, but snarking attacks and barbed comments only serve that same purpose.

There's a big difference between being marginalized because you're disabled and people calling you out on the way your review centres abled people's voices. I don't see how your character is being assasinated.

Natalie, with the simple google search you recommend you would find critique of Lady Gaga's representations of disability. Such as [this piece](http://bitchmagazine.org/post/the-transcontinental-disability-choir-disabililty-chic-temporary-disability-in-lady-gagas-papar" rel="nofollow) written by Annaham of FWD.

Feminists are far from having any kind of unanimous on... well, anything, let alone Lady Gaga. But Lady Gaga has at least not gone on a national radio show to mock feminists with disabilities or any other feminists, AFAIK, who critique her work.

Natalie the reviewer here. Thanks to everyone for their comments, and to Mandy for her defense, even though I am aware she doesn't share my view here.

First of all, as Mandy mentioned, I did not choose the links that are in the review. I didn't include any at all, thinking that if anyone were interested, Google would easily turn up the verbatim article titles I quoted. These came from blogs and websites as disparate as Jezebel, Feministe, and Tiger Beatdown.

I think it is an unfair statement to claim that I have made FR an 'unsafe space.' When was it ever claimed that this is a safe space? Criticism cannot exist in safe spaces, and the act of reviewing media can and does lead to criticism.

I did choose to review this record because I knew it was a controversial subject in the feminist world, and I don't believe in living in an echo chamber. If a piece of art can't challenge one's worldview, what can? Furthermore - and I wanted to include this in my review, but had to be mindful of space limitations - I've long been curious as to what I perceive to be an interesting bit of artistic hypocrisy vis a vis the intersection of disability in feminism. Lady Gaga, who more or less has been issued a Feminist Pass, consistently features disability imagery in her work, including visuals of women who have obviously died violently (I am thinking of the 'Paparazzi' video in particular.) She doesn't appear to have anything to actually say about her co-opting of disability; they seem to be just props to her. I'm not saying necessarily 'if you're offended by X, then you should be offended by Y,' but the disparity in the feminist feting of Gaga vs. the vitriol directed at Amanda Palmer is a bit of a pop-cultural curiosity.

What constitutes an acceptable representation of disability in art? If a film, album, or book is created by an able-bodied person, then is that person not allowed to create images of anyone other than able-bodied people? I think the art world would be the poorer for lacking films like 'Twin Falls Idaho' and 'My Left Foot,' and books such as Katherine Dunn's amazing 'Geek Love,' were this truly the standard.

I find it disconcerting and a little troubling to have my feminist credentials called into question based on a piece of music that I found to be creative and different. However, I'm a big proponent of fostering debate; and by that I mean DEBATE, not wholesale character assassination. There has been plenty of talk in here about silencing marginalized voices, but snarking attacks and barbed comments only serve that same purpose.

I do welcome any further views the readers of FR have, and will happily respond. Thank you all again for your comments.

Jha: You have brought up a couple of really good points that are well taken and I'd like to reiterate them here with a little more context: those who are marginalized can contribute to the marginalization of others while attempting to decrease their own marginalization through an artistic or political vision that excludes, ignores, or reinforces 'others' (so providing a platform that represents the broad spectrum of those who occupy a space on the margins will necessarily, at times, hold voices that are both marginalized and marginalizing simultaneously; the hope is that the site's value will be judged as a whole and not on one review and that a dialogue will emerge from those/these conflicts that facilitates a better understanding of these conflicting perspectives and struggles and complex experiences of marginalization), and that dialogues pertaining to personal/political issues tend to happen primarily amongst those who we view as 'like us' or having a similar level of investment in a particular issue. When the latter happens, it can be (as Lauredhel points out) for reasons of emotional safety or (as you point out) it can be to maintain systems of oppression. Unfortunately, in both cases, bridges are not built across established borders and boundaries.

I am glad for your perspective and presence in this conversation. As a result, I'm pondering if there are more and/or better ways to honor less heard perspectives than linking to them, encouraging dissenting comments like the ones here, and representing them in other reviews on the site.

The paragraph about feminist criticism is just thrown in there to discredit that criticism through hyperbole and sly insinuation without having to engage with the criticism before talking about how pretty pretty the music is. And do I understand correctly that the original reviewer didn't even bother to link to feminists she was accusing of going "supernova with rage"?

Of course it doesn't prevent dialogue. It just silences those who have been marginalized all this while, whose voices are rarely heard as it is already. You'll still have a dialogue! It'll just... be between people whose opinions are shared by most people that have no investment in the ablism that one of the project's creators has demonstrated.

This is a review that can be found anywhere, and I have no doubt anti-feminist review sites would say similar statements about the backlash against AP. So sure, you can preserve the heterogeneity of your site, but this review goes against your mission of seeking to "give voice to communities that remain on the margins."

Lauredhel: I feel what you're saying about FR not being seen by all as a "safe space," though I doubt there ever really is such a thing when it comes to online media that facilitates interactions among complete strangers. And then there's the problem of "safe space" being subjective. These are just a couple reasons why FR doesn't claim "safe space" status. However, the absence of a "safe space" doesn't have to prevent dialogue of all sorts. If you're not down, though, I certainly won't force you to stay and chat with me. :)

Can you clarify what you mean by "dominant perspective?" Are you referring specifically to issues regarding disability?

Mandy, I don't believe this is remotely close to being a safe space to have "difficult dialogues" or to "explore" these "differences", except perhaps for those coming from the dominant perspective.

Thanks, Lauredhel, for your comments. Feminist Review wants to be about facilitating difficult dialogues, and for that reason, we don't censor the opinions/perspectives of our writers, which are necessarily heterogeneous and in conflict as there are over 150 people who write for this blog.

That said, as the founding editor, my hand does get a bit heavy at times, and I intentionally linked to Annaham et al. articles not simply because they are the ones being vaguely referenced in Natalie's review, but because they provide a perspective that I believe our readers should be exposed to--particularly in concert with this review, which I admit does not conform to my own feelings about this album/project.

So, I'll let Natalie know that she's got a comment, and I hope she responds. For my part, though, I can only speak to FR's mission to "provide a space where those differences can be represented and explored." And that exploration ain't always gonna be easy or fun. But I hope it's useful.

"Supernova with rage"? Did you read the post you're linking to?

Jason Webley was relatively "spared" because he didn't spend a whole lot of time and energy acting like an asshole. He didn't, for example, go on national television sneering at and mocking the very existence of feminists with disabilities. Is defending artists who do that really what Feminist Review wants to be about?

That behaviour is why some people are, now, angry. But to point the finger at Annaham for supposedly being "supernova with rage" in that original post is exactly the same tactics antifeminists use against feminists, dismissing us as being "too angry" and therefore not worthy of respect. If you're feeling tempered, well-explained critique from a fan as "supernova with rage", perhaps you've got some assumptions of your own to examine.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

More information about formatting options

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.