I was going to blog about Death’s Door, because I started playing it, but this happened.
First, I want to make it clear, I am not discussing the Lindsey Ellis situation in specific, it just happens to be the latest in a long line of shit like this, and I’m not agreeing with either side here. We can talk about that later, but right now I want to discuss something else.
If there is a phrase we need to retire, it’s “The Left eats its own.”
Apparently Lindsey Ellis is stepping away from social media, maybe from content creation because she’s gotten a bunch of crap for something she tweeted comparing Raya and Avatar. Again, not here to discuss that.
What I want to discuss are the accusations from both Right and Left that this is yet another case of “The Left eating its own.” From those on the Right, it’s said with glee and hope we’ll all self-destruct under the weight of our outsized hearts, consciences, and ideals. On the Left it’s said by people who worry that they’ll be next.
We’ll get to that.
At least one tweet or quote in an article, or message board or some shit, trotted out the “I know it’s easier to come after people on your own side than to go after the ones who really deserve it.”
Which is wrong.
First, they’re operating under the assumption that the people who come for people on the Left who fuck up aren’t also going after the Right for their more egregious bullshit.
Second, they’re assuming that we can take all people who say they’re on the Left at face value. (No, I don’t think Ms. Ellis is a Right wing plant. But we’ve had enough examples of folks who did claim to be on our side, until they got called out, who then leapt to the Right, cough, Louis CK, cough.)
Third, there’s the assumption that stating you aren’t racist/are an ally is enough. That if you vote the right way, the world should ignore your microagressions and move on.
Now, lets talk about why being called out by your own side hurts worse than the worst the other side can throw at you. Because it calls your identity as a Good Person ™ into question.
And this is something that we see all the time, and it’s something that I’ve struggled with in the past. If Right Wing assholes, Gamergaters, and misogynists want to call me all sorts of horrible shit, that’s fine. I’ve gotten to the point that it rolls off my back now. Because I finally realized that they are never going to like me. I am never going to be correct in anything I say as far as they’re concerned, and that’s fine.
But when people I ostensibly agree with, and share common interests and values with criticize me, some more politely than others, man, that hurts. It hits deep and hard, no matter how mild. Because part of my identity is wrapped up in the people I associate with and who I view as allies or co-conspirators.
It’s why feminists have been telling men for DECADES that they need to call out other men. Because sexist men can ignore or blow off the opinions of women no problem, but when men they identify with or even look up to call them out, that shit has an impact.
It’s why we joke about “men’s tears” when the Gamergaters, Comicsgaters or other misogynists start in on us. Because we know that they are never going to share our values, short of some intense therapy or some sort of transformative near death experience.
So, no, the Left in fandom or anywhere else, is not ‘eating itself.’ It’s attempting to correct* some real issues and problems, with varying degrees of kindness.
It’s the Left attempting to make itself better. It’s the Left telling you, hey, that thing you did is not ok. Sometimes they’ll tell you why, sometimes they’ll let you try to sort it out on your own, and whether or not you bother to do that is a test.
Basically, if I hear you say that “The Left is eating itself,” and you’re ostensibly on the Left, I am reasonably sure you know that you have done or are doing some not ok shit, and now you’re worried.
*The Geek Husband What Rules would like to add that he’s not sure how the Right corrects themselves but suggests some sort of arcane ritual involving Budweiser and lighting farts.