Saturday, November 28, 2015

Emily Nussbaum: scourge of abrasive women everywhere

I was really pleased to see Michelle Goldberg's piece in Slate, arguing against anti-appropriation insanity. I've been a fan of Goldberg's since she wrote a piece for The Nation in which she exposed identitarian extremist Mikki Kendall as a bully. As identitarians, Kendall and her gang are of course  anti-appropriation, and they hate Michelle Goldberg for the Nation piece.

A mention of the article popped up in my newsfeed so I hastened to like it. Then I saw Siva Vaidhyanathan, cultural historian and media scholar, who is my Facebook friend, responding to the article by saying:
That a few Indians wanted fame and/or money from "exporting" Yoga does not absolve the American yogis of being deeply insulting and misguided.
This really annoyed me and I expressed my annoyance with sarcasm, asking if Indians had contributed to the Internet and Facebook, and suggested that if they hadn't maybe he'd need to stop "appropriating" it. I didn't literally mean that of course - I was making a point that the concept of anti-appropriation is idiotic no matter which ethnic group is telling which other ethnic group to stop using their stuff. 

Interestingly, I found Vaidhyanathan advocating in favor of loosening copyright laws because:
"Copyright is a fluid, open, democratic set of protocols."
Maybe if yoga had been copyrighted he'd feel less threatened by American yogis getting their misguided hands all over it.

Vaidhyanathan and I went back and forth a couple of times and that might have been the end of it, but then Emily Nussbaum, television critic for the New Yorker, had to jump in and trash me - even though she said she basically agrees with my position.
Emily Nussbaum I'm ordinarily sympathetic to Michelle's side of this, but Nancy is being so snide and creepy in this thread, I'm considering switching sides and agreeing with Siva.
LikeReply1November 23 at 9:07pm

Naturally I defended myself, and then tried to turn the discussion back onto the anti-appropriation issue. I wanted to focus on the fact Vaidhyanathan  felt he could disparage American yogis as insulting and misguided without bothering to present evidence. But Nussbaum was having none of that. She had to double down on attacking me using what must be deliberate obtuseness.
Emily Nussbaum Nancy, as I said, I agree with Michelle's piece, which is nuanced, well-argued and beautifully researched. But whether or not I agree with Siva, I'd rather talk with him than anyone who spends a Facebook thread making rude personal comments like, "Oh yeah?? Well Indians didn't create the Internet, so you can't use it." It would be a waste of time, and not because of writing quality. I posted here to offer Siva some support, because it's pretty unpleasant to have someone come at you with this abrasive an approach. And that's it for me. Have a good Thanksgiving and namaste.
LikeReply2November 25 at 7:28pm

Since she makes her living as a writer, I can't believe that she didn't understand that when I said the thing about Indians and Facebook I was being sarcastic.

And clearly Emily Nussbaum doesn't care about the issue of cultural appropriation, what she really cares about is scolding women who argue too abrasively for her liking. It's a curious approach to discourse from someone who fancies herself a feminist, considering the history of women being excoriated for being too abrasive:

The abrasiveness trap: High-achieving men and women are described differently in reviews.

I've mentioned Nussbaum in this blog before, usually favorably. I won't be doing that again. And Michelle Goldberg is kind of an asshole too. The fallen heroes are piling up.