Last year, I did some blogging in response to the #thisbook hashtag started by from the Baileys Prize on twitter. It was nice to be involved in their conversations and feel like I was getting noticed.
Shortly after the winner was announced I got an email from their press office enquiring about my website and the reach of my articles. This was pretty exciting for me, because I would love to start getting my writing more noticed. So I was really hyped for this year’s shortlist, nominations and judges announcements and what might follow in terms of further involvement.
I recognised Laura Bates (who wrote Everyday Sexism, which I reviewed last year) and was all set to get even more excited.
But then I recognised Cathy Newman and Grace Dent. I couldn’t place the names immediately in the crazy media shitstorms of the last 12 months, but Media Diversified put them into context immediately for me – and even better? They had a plan.
When Media Diversified announced they were writing an open letter in protest at the appointment of these two women as judges on the panel, my first instinct was to support them. Absolutely. To sign the letter and throw my support behind them, such as it was. I didn’t really think twice about it.
This morning, I was filling out my comment on the site and that nasty little self-serving voice spoke up in the back of my head.
‘You do realise that if you sign this, if you throw your name behind this, you can kiss goodbye to ever hearing from their Press Office about doing writing for them again…’
I won’t deny, I stopped for a minute. I mean, I’m one voice. Would one signature matter that much?
Then my common sense and sense of self decency kicked in.
OF COURSE IT MATTERS.
It’s crap like this which stops intesectionality getting off the ground. Which keeps feminism from engaging with race issues and sexuality issues. Oh of course I’m a feminism, I support the rights of white cis-gendered straight women. What bullshit. This is exactly the sort of crap I want to be speaking out on, and here I am being tempted by the devil to stay silent.
Fuck that shit.
I signed the letter. As should all of you by the way, regardless of what race, colour or creed you are. Giving an extra spotlight to the views and opinions of two racists is not a good idea. Not even a little bit.
I also made another decision. If the Bailey’s Press Office do get in touch, I won’t be reviewing any of their short list this year in connection with the prize while these two are on the panel. Come back next year and ask when you’ve picked some new judges. If the books are good, I will read them and review them on their own merits. But I don’t really want to be linked with the opinions of this year’s judges. At the end of all things – I don’t want to be writing articles for an organisation which promotes and respects the views of racists.
Now yeah, Ok, I’m small fry. I have a reach of hardly anyone in terms of my website stats, and certainly few people who matter in the grand scheme of media things. This won’t really matter to anyone but me, in the long run. But it matters to me. And if we don’t stand for something, we fall for anything. I refuse to fall for this. I’ve spoken out on the inherent racism in the media before, as well as sexism, and I would be a hypocrite of the highest order if I fell in line over this to further my own ends.
Sorry, no. This is more important than that. Standing up for important principles and doing what I believe is right has always been more important than furthering my own personal ends.
One of my favourite fiction characters taught me that. (click to play)
So if I do this I may never ‘sit in the Captain’s Chair’ again. But I will be able to live with myself. Warp Speed. Warp speed indeed.*[Got something to say? Submit to Project Shandy]*