Thanks for this, Jesse. Speaking as someone who has been more involved in the Zach Wells/Citric Bitch discussions than in the conversations around Of the North, I want to agree with all you’ve said here and add that for me, Parr’s essay is a potpourri of things that are true-ish and useful sounding (these issues are structural — well of course!; let’s reflect on the times when the “disgusting thing” has been in each of us — okay, sure, I mean, we should all sometimes reflect on that…) mixed up with assertions and implied equivalencies that are definitely untrue, sometimes to the extent of being ridiculous (The discussion was vitriolic? Not that I saw… Naming misogyny or racism=name calling?! Not being invited to read at Reading Series X=censorship? In this case I have been censored my whole career by Reading Series X… Asking someone to apologize for hate speech=censorship?! Come on…)
Ultimately, as you’ve said, the essay directs us to a place of inaction by implying that people have to be morally pure, devoid of any guilt or complicity in the various structural bullshit that goes on in our society before they can call anything out. By this token no one can ever call anything out, but also — I am a queer woman writer. I may be complicit and mixed up badly in a lot of things, but one thing I am reliably not complicit and mixed up badly in? Hate speech against queer women writers! I’m allowed to say no to it. I have to say no to it, for my survival. NOoOOooOOOoooooooO! If I feel like it, I’ll stick my tongue out. I do not have to reflect first. Tanya Tagaq is my idol, but the idea that there is a “right way” to call something out (“this hurts me,” as opposed to “enough with this b.s. already”)=tone policing.
I believe in calling people in when that strategy is possible and appropriate. I believe in forgiveness when it’s reasonable. Accountability has to happen first though. It’s not really that complicated.
And of course these strategies — calling in, forgiveness in the way I’m talking about — were invented by oppressed groups in order to further their survival and activism. To see them alluded to here for the purpose of hushing people up is really kind of upsetting.