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Discussion Point November 16, 2007 7:46 AM   Subscribe

A post about how women experience street harassment has been deleted. The one about how the psychology of exhibitionist men remains. The grounds: This post was deleted for the following reason: one exhibitionism post per day is enough. This is linked in the thread just below this. Please don't use MetaFilter to forward your point from metatalk. -- jessamyn My point was to continue a discussion some people thought valuable from a previous thread deleted apparently because that post was poor. Just can't get the hang of this thing. Hey ho.
posted by jennydiski to MetaFilter-Related at 7:46 AM (1163 comments total) 53 users marked this as a favorite

link
posted by iconomy at 7:57 AM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


This thing is not about continuing discussion.

The psychology of exhibitionist men thread should be axed too, for the same reason.
posted by yhbc at 7:57 AM on November 16, 2007


My point was to continue a discussion

That's not the point of Metafilter. The point of Metafilter is to share interesting content from the web.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:58 AM on November 16, 2007 [15 favorites]


The post that was originally deleted is currently being discussed in the MetaTalk thread about it. Starting a new post on that topic when there's one on a related topic still a few posts down on the front page seems a little bit like using MetaFilter to make a point, not to highlight something you found on the web. I'm sorry the other post from today was there first, but MeFi is not a call and response battleground for competing posts coming at both sides of a topic and that's what your post looked like.

To be more clear, most times when there is a post on a topic that is already being discussed in a post on the front page, the second post gets removed as a double. This is not true for all topics but it is true for most topics. This has nothing to do with whatever "side" of the issue or topic the original post came from. So, for an example

post 1: OBAMA SUCKS
post 2: OBAMA RULES
result 1: Obama rules post removed
result 2: metatalk thread about how we're against Obama because we left the sucks post and removed the rules post.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:59 AM on November 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Also, it was your post. I don't know why you got so passive voice all of the sudden.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:01 AM on November 16, 2007 [12 favorites]


As the originator of the other post, let me state that my reason for creating it was a statement by cortex in the MeTa thread that sometimes pulled FPPs get reworked and shared in the different and more appropriate way. So I thought I would make the attempt; shortly after posting it I felt some regret at doing so because the MeTa conversation was still in full bloom and I felt that I all had done was to create a second thread that would pick up the MeTa discussion, and keep both going.

All of which is a long way of saying that I'm quite fine with the mods shutting down my post, if they deem it a good idea and a way to calm everything down. If they decide to leave it, it's just another meh post on the Blue.
posted by never used baby shoes at 8:07 AM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


"I don't know why you got so passive voice all of the sudden."

Some women get the vapors when their posts are deleted. She merely threw up this MeTa mid-swoon.
posted by klangklangston at 8:08 AM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I flagged this post earlier because it was rubbish and trying to make a point. No axe-grinding or anything like that.

As an aside, I hope this 'debate' ends soon, it has been one of the most tedious that I can remember in my two years or so of using Mefi.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 8:11 AM on November 16, 2007


Jessamyn: Because I was more interested in the nature of the deletion than in the fact that it was my post that was being deleted.

The two posts are not at all oppositional and weren't intended to be. I was not competing with the interesting post on the psychology of exhibitionism, but wanting to continue a conversation that was stopped.
posted by jennydiski at 8:13 AM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


That's not the point of Metafilter. The point of Metafilter is to share interesting content from the web.

I think that if TPS and I agree about a statement down to the letter (which, in this case, we do), you can probably consider it statistically significant at around the α=0.00001 level.
posted by Wolfdog at 8:15 AM on November 16, 2007


Some women get the vapors when their posts are deleted.

Vapors? Hysterics? Yes, this is a really cool place for women.
posted by jennydiski at 8:16 AM on November 16, 2007


Well, Jenny, how about you post something to the front page so we can discuss that?
posted by klangklangston at 8:18 AM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


There are already way too many "let's discuss this" posts on MetaFilter as it is.

What's wrong with getting The Vapors? I've been getting them since the 80s.
posted by iconomy at 8:19 AM on November 16, 2007


I had real bad gas at the last full moon.
posted by cog_nate at 8:19 AM on November 16, 2007


"What's wrong with getting The Vapors? I've been getting them since the 80s."

I didn't know you had turned Japanese on us.
posted by klangklangston at 8:20 AM on November 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Vapors? Hysterics? Yes, this is a really cool place for women.

Klang's comment was clearly a joke.
posted by OmieWise at 8:20 AM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


* exposes his RCA socket *
posted by [@I][:+:][@I] at 8:22 AM on November 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


That's not the point of Metafilter. The point of Metafilter is to share interesting content from the web.

Isn't that the same thing I said, just one comment above that? So how come she gets the favorites - because she's a GIRL?!?!?!?
posted by yhbc at 8:24 AM on November 16, 2007 [11 favorites]


never used baby shoes, I think the post you made was fine, and a good example of reacting to a deletion with a solid followup (as opposed to the occasional Oh Yeah Well Then Delete This! rawr post we see come out of these sometimes).

jennydiski, your post in a vacuum is fine too, and it's the sort of thing where if you had waited a few days to post it it'd have probably been fine, but following right on the above-mentioned and the still-very-open metatalk conversation that inspired it is exactly the sort of too-much-too-soon reaction posting that tends to read as an attempt to make a point.

As a decent example of the Osama Sucks/Rules situation jessamyn mentioned above, here's a pair of posts where order of succession was (at least a significant part of) what drove the deletion of the second:

Ron Paul, November 5.
Ron Paul, November 6.

That second post had other problems, too, but even if it had been rock solid it'd probably have been canned by the same reasoning.

Call 'em "trend posts", or "trend doubles", or something. If folks get to posting followup posts along the lines of "oh, hey, well here's my take on the topic", the filter starts breaking down. Sometimes it means you're stuck with the post that exists already, or with waiting a little while to give the topic some room to breath. That sucks if you're excited and don't want to compromise, but it's a pretty reasonable situation from the POV of the site as a whole.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:24 AM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


jennydiski, one of the unwritten rules of metafilter is that you will lose at metatalk 99% of the time when posting about a deleted post, just stop playing it.
posted by 517 at 8:24 AM on November 16, 2007


wanting to continue a conversation that was stopped.

Again, MeFi is not in the business of creating conversation. It's about posting links to the best of the web. That interesting conversations arise from those links is a nice perq but not the goal of a post. And we certainly shouldn't be making posts for the purpose of continuing a conversation.
posted by Durin's Bane at 8:25 AM on November 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Isn't that the same thing I said, just one comment above that? So how come she gets the favorites - because she's a GIRL?!?!?!?

The beginning of the "Metafilter is a Girlzone!" theory. And I was there. So proud!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:26 AM on November 16, 2007 [7 favorites]


"Klang's comment was clearly a joke."

It was as sincere as my advocacy of phrenology and phlogiston.
posted by klangklangston at 8:26 AM on November 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


FOR WHICH I AM WELL KNOWN.
posted by klangklangston at 8:26 AM on November 16, 2007 [11 favorites]


I was not competing with the interesting post on the psychology of exhibitionism, but wanting to continue a conversation that was stopped.

I cannot express enough how clearly The Pink Superhero answers this concern. Threads are not created for discussion. Discussions, even tangentially related ones, can happen in existing threads. Your intention is admirable, but posts must stand on their own, outside of any interesting discussion that might ensue. Part of the criteria for a post standing on its own is the prevalence of similarly themed posts on the front page already. Especially when there has been a hotly contested deletion recently. Your post would likely have stayed if it had been posted a week from now.
posted by shmegegge at 8:27 AM on November 16, 2007


* Ejects SDHC card *
posted by Plutor at 8:28 AM on November 16, 2007


Vapors? Hysterics? Yes, this is a really cool place for women.

The word is "snark". You do have dictionaries at NYT, yes? I'm pretty sure it's in one of them.
posted by aramaic at 8:31 AM on November 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


The point of Metafilter is to share interesting content from the web.
posted by PugAchev at 8:31 AM on November 16, 2007


As the originator of the other post, let me state that my reason for creating it was a statement by cortex in the MeTa thread that sometimes pulled FPPs get reworked and shared in the different and more appropriate way

That was also the basis for making my post.

517: Lose? I'm not doing winning and losing. But as I said, I think I probably hadn't got the hang of this place at all. My misunderstanding.
posted by jennydiski at 8:33 AM on November 16, 2007


Isn't that the same thing I said, just one comment above that? So how come she gets the favorites - because she's a GIRL?!?!?!?

She gets favourites (well, at least one favourite) because she's ThePinkSuperhero.
posted by davey_darling at 8:33 AM on November 16, 2007


Heh. I originally ended my comment with "This place is such a girlzone!" but I decided that would be overkill. Shoulda left it.
posted by yhbc at 8:34 AM on November 16, 2007


"So how come she gets the favorites - because she's a GIRL?!?!?!?"

No, it's because she's a cute girl.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:34 AM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I like FPPs that generate discussion - even shitstirring discussion. They're fun. But some of the best FPPs I've seen have mostly been ten or twelve comments long, each comment some minutes apart (while people take time to read the content that's linked), and each comment some variation of Wow! or Nice post! or Thanks!

But maybe that's just me.
posted by rtha at 8:34 AM on November 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


That was also the basis for making my post.

And since yours was the second such reworked post, it got removed. It's no big deal, its mostly just timing. Basically shmegegge's got it, context matters. A week from now a post like this wouldn't probably get deleted. This is not to say, by the way "oh please someone make a post almost like this in seven days time" just that this site is one with a semblance of a heartbeat and a memory and this was wrong place wrong time. Plus, what everyone else said about not making a post solely for the purposes of discussion.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:37 AM on November 16, 2007


While I do think that discussions are important part of what makes MeFi great, this whole thing rubs me the wrong way. The post from yesterday, good discussion or not, was very clearly well-below the standards of a MeTa post. Miss Lynnster acknowledged as much in her more inside. It was deleted late, but it was a righteous axe.

The subsequent MeTa post was an appropriate place to discuss that. Of course there is room for disagreement, but it seems, frankly, childish to repost something to the front page in order to "continue a conversation that had been stopped," when there is an ongoing thread about the fact that the conversation was "stopped." Now, this MeTa thread contributes to my sense that pique is driving your actions, jennydiski. You've said before that you think that there is not enough criticism of the mods, and you may well be right, but I don't think that this is really an appropriate way to go about protesting their actions. It seems more like setting up a situation in which to complain, rather than addressing your concerns in any kind of reasoned way.
posted by OmieWise at 8:38 AM on November 16, 2007


No, it's because she's a cute girl.

I'd like to think people favorite the things I say because they want to favorite the things I say (for their own favorite purposes: agreement, remembering it for later, spite). Those of you who are favoriting me because of what I look like should move on to more successful methods of getting my attention. Like sending gifts of cold hard cash.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:40 AM on November 16, 2007 [8 favorites]


Just can't get the hang of this thing

This is no country for old men.
posted by yerfatma at 8:41 AM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


...
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:44 AM on November 16, 2007


jennysidki, But you get my point. Just smile and nod at the hazing, the front page of metatalk is pretty short.
posted by 517 at 8:45 AM on November 16, 2007


FWIW, links to the NY hollaback (which has links to other hollabacks--which are not affiliated with it but done as a courtesy--on its lefthand sidebar) have been posted within threads before.
posted by brujita at 9:08 AM on November 16, 2007


I have also been wondering, from a completely dispassionate curiosity, why there haven't been more posts addressing Astro Zombies and the needs of said Astro Zombies. Nothing to do with myself, of course; just something that I've noticed and wanted to bring up in a roundabout way.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:20 AM on November 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


Somewhere a kitchen has lost its cleaner.
posted by dios at 9:21 AM on November 16, 2007


Man, this place has turned into SUCH an astrozombiezone.
posted by yhbc at 9:21 AM on November 16, 2007


Can't we talk about anything without it devolving into a discussion about Astro Zombies? God.
posted by aramaic at 9:23 AM on November 16, 2007


Astrozombiezone? Devolving? Yes, this is a really cool place for Astro Zombies.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:25 AM on November 16, 2007 [5 favorites]


Won't someone please think of the Terrestrial Living?
posted by brain_drain at 9:30 AM on November 16, 2007 [5 favorites]


Yes, this is a really cool place for Astro Zombies.

You say that as if "Astro Zombies" is some sort of monolithic entity lacking individual opnions and emotions and reactions. I'm not sure that's the case. In fact, I'd like to hear Astro Zombie 3's take on the matter. I suspect it would be enlightening not just for us, but for you as well.
posted by dersins at 9:32 AM on November 16, 2007


Narf.
posted by Astro Zombie 3 at 9:34 AM on November 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


See? Don't we all feel enlightened now?
posted by dersins at 9:35 AM on November 16, 2007


Astro Zombie, it's all about you. I don't know why you got so third person all of the sudden.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:38 AM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


“Klang's comment was clearly a joke.”

Apropos of what? Invoking a sexist stereotype had nothing to do with anything. So it was a sexist joke. The knee-jerk tolerance of this sort of thing is exactly what makes MeFi a boyzone and why a lot of women don't feel welcome here. And they tell you this and your response is..."you're being hysterical, you're overreacting, it's just a joke".

Fuck you, klang. Grow up.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:39 AM on November 16, 2007 [16 favorites]


*huffs vapors*

*gets hysterical*

Dude, you gotta try this stuff...
posted by quin at 9:41 AM on November 16, 2007


I love you too, EB.
posted by klangklangston at 9:41 AM on November 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


"Astro Zombie, it's all about you."

Man, dios comes to another thread and makes it all about Astro Zombie.
posted by klangklangston at 9:42 AM on November 16, 2007


Invoking a sexist stereotype had nothing to do with anything. So it was a sexist joke.

No, it wasn't. It was satire of a sexist (and gender bound) position, or that's how I took it.
posted by OmieWise at 9:47 AM on November 16, 2007


I used to say "but what about the discussion?!" but I have since realized that the posts which are centrally driven by the idea of talking end up being lame chatfilter, and the really great posts can sometimes be like rtha said above - the comments just become "wow, thanks!" because -- at least in my case -- I can't think of anything to bitch about.

... that's what comments are for, right ... ?
posted by blacklite at 9:47 AM on November 16, 2007


Can't we talk about anything without it devolving into a discussion about Astro Zombies? God.

At least we aren't talking about jonmc's ass, or my (quite large) penis.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:48 AM on November 16, 2007


Sorry, hit post too soon:

As satire it's not knee-jerk to "tolerate" it, since its whole purpose was to point out the idiocy of the position sent up. Not understanding satire may make some people feel uncomfortable, but it shouldn't outlaw the practice.
posted by OmieWise at 9:49 AM on November 16, 2007


BITCHFIGHT!
posted by quonsar at 9:50 AM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


“No, it wasn't. It was satire of a sexist (and gender bound) position, or that's how I took it.”

Really? I don't see the context. But I didn't read all these threads, either. Somewhere in all this have there been people arguing that women shouldn't be disturbed by this and they are overreacting?

...

Well, of course there is, isn't there? This is MetaFilter.

So, if that's what your joke was referring to, I take back my accusation and response, klang.

You'd think that jennydiski would get the reference, too, if it was so obvious. I think she has read these threads. Maybe if even she doesn't get it, it indicates the joke wasn't well-considered. And jokes such as these ought to be well-considered.

Even so, again, if it was intended to parody sexist comments that have appeared in these threads, I apologize for misunderstanding it.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:52 AM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


YOU KNOW that there are people reading this thread who are, indeed, serial flashers or public masterbators. There HAVE to be.
...
Well, of course there is, isn't there? This is MetaFilter.

posted by and hosted from Uranus at 9:57 AM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Somewhere in all this have there been people arguing that women shouldn't be disturbed by this and they are overreacting?"

I saw it as a riff on four panels' crazytalk title of his Meta thread from the other day, but I have a soft spot for the fuzzy gun-toting porn worker, so I may be biased here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:57 AM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


The knee-jerk tolerance of this sort of thing is exactly what makes MeFi a boyzone and why a lot of women don't feel welcome here

No. False. Didn't you and I have a long discussion about how generalizations are bad and all people who make generalizations are mean and evil?

The problem with the boyzone remark is that it often stands in for something else. Most often, it stands in for "This isn't going the way I think it should. Things should be different, in my favor." As with the allegorical boy with a lupine problem, this screws things up for those currently suffering from the actual problem. There may be plenty of chauvinism going on at MetaFilter, but deleting a post that's simply a link to a craigslist post about some guy rolling out his personal welcome wagon is not evidence of a problem.

And why is the Internet male by default? Why MetaFilter? Because a man made it? The problem with staking out victimhood is it becomes self-fulfilling. Someone defend me from boyzone because I, being born a woman and thus distressed, am unable to do it myself. Ride to my rescue, Internet cowhands!

On a more personal note, the whole "feminist" position you've staked out has left "deeply felt sensitive guy" territory and rolled into "trying to get laid" territory. Too bad you couldn't have socked klang right in the nose so everyone in the lunchroom could see what a Good Guy you are. Had I but time and a time machine, all those John Hughes movies would be erased from our collective expectation sets of How the World Works.
posted by yerfatma at 10:00 AM on November 16, 2007 [28 favorites]


Maybe if even she doesn't get it, it indicates the joke wasn't well-considered. And jokes such as these ought to be well-considered.

Yes, I agree, and, again, this is my interpretation, but I think it was a general response to things like fourpanels's using "Hysterics" for the title of his ill-conceived MeTa post below. The point of my post was not to defend klang's as good or funny, but just to point out that I think it was being taken the wrong way, as a sexist joke, rather than a joke about sexism. I could have been more clear.
posted by OmieWise at 10:00 AM on November 16, 2007


On preview: EB, I never even considered you might not have gotten the joke. My white male chauvinist fault.
posted by yerfatma at 10:01 AM on November 16, 2007


"I saw it as a riff on four panels' crazytalk title of his Meta thread from the other day, but I have a soft spot for the fuzzy gun-toting porn worker, so I may be biased here."

Yeah, that's pretty much it, but I've given up on explaining jokes to EB, because he gets apoplectic and then gives a mealy-mouthed apology a few comments later.

And it distracts me from trying to come up with some quip about how hysteria and The Vapors are linked by masturbation.
posted by klangklangston at 10:01 AM on November 16, 2007


Ethereal Bligh: my take on it is when someone starts bitching about the patriarchy or some other claim of oppression when there is a completely unbiased, non-oppressive reason for an action, one probably ought to expect that their complaints will be mocked through usage of stereotypical "bigoted" statements.
posted by dios at 10:04 AM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


'Turning Japanese'? Fuck that noise. When I hear 'vapors,' I think of Biz Markie, and maybe, just maybe, Snoop.
posted by box at 10:07 AM on November 16, 2007


Well I'd like some clarification on this.

I don't believe the discussion is continuing in the Metatalk thread at all. The Metatalk thread seems to be yet another "boyzone or no" discussion, with a healthy mixture of "fourpanels sucks! does not!". But there is no discussion like was being had on the original FPP.

Like Jenny, I don't think I've got the hang of this just yet. The original FPP consisted of a bad post, interesting discussion. Jenny argued rather incitefully in the Meta thread that discussion has to matter, and it's a shame to lose it. But the rule seemed to be that MeFi is about posts, not comments. And that's been pretty consistent.

So what is the remedy if there is a bad post that spawns the kind of discussion Mefi should be proud to have? Do we just lose what could have been? My thought was that you re-do the FPP and make it better, and hopefully a good discussion would ensue. I've seen others encouraged to re-do FPPs and that sounds like a good solution.

So that's what Jenny does, but then it is deleted, and the deletion reasons don't make much sense to me. If it was deleted for being a bad FPP then I'd understand that.

First, it is claimed that the discussion is ongoing in the Meta thread. I disagree. I don't see any discussion there that is relevant to Jenny's FPP. And considering the history of Meta threads, there never will be. Women sharing their experiences on this topic is not going to happen there. It's more defensiveness and snark and jokes. Witness this thread, which I am replying in perhaps against my better judgement.

Second, it is said that somebody else already made an FPP on a similar topic (from a completely different angle), and so too bad Jenny didn't start hers in time. Considering all of the computer games threads Mefi has been inundated with recently, I'd think similarly themed posts could be handled better than just deleting the second.

I'm one of the people who tries to avoid Mefi but since it's the main selling point of this website, I try every now and then. I don't think most of the posts are even close to "best of the web", and often posts that are great are followed by very disappointing comments. I guess I saw what Jenny was doing as experimental in a way, and I don't understand what rules were broken.
posted by Danila at 10:10 AM on November 16, 2007 [9 favorites]


“On a more personal note, the whole ‘feminist’ position you've staked out has left ‘deeply felt sensitive guy’ territory and rolled into ‘trying to get laid’ territory.”

Gosh, if just once I'd get laid because I'm a feminist male, this whole last twenty-five years of activism will have been worth it. I guess I've just been wasting my time.

Sarcasm aside, it's also not the case that my feminism and complaints about sexism are the result of being a “sensitive guy” with “deep feelings”. I'm trying to figure out what the analogous stock comment is when it's a white person attacking racism. Oh, yeah, the claim is that it's “out of guilt”.

One possibility y'all might consider is that, in general, I really hate seeing people being treated like shit and it pisses me off. Like most (but not all) places on the Internet, MetaFilter is dominated by men. Men make sexist comments all the time, and they do here on MeFi. When women complain, they're told they are too sensitive and that it's just a joke. Or they're asked if they're having their period. There's a long history of women complaining in MetaTalk that MeFi is a boyzone where sexist comments are tolerated. It's not just been one or two women who have said this. It's quite a few. And they are ignored or ridiculed. This pisses me off, and every time it happens, it pisses me off more.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:12 AM on November 16, 2007 [16 favorites]


Danila: So what is the remedy if there is a bad post that spawns the kind of discussion Mefi should be proud to have? Do we just lose what could have been? My thought was that you re-do the FPP and make it better, and hopefully a good discussion would ensue. I've seen others encouraged to re-do FPPs and that sounds like a good solution... So that's what Jenny does, but then it is deleted, and the deletion reasons don't make much sense to me.

No, that's what never used baby shoes did. Jenny's post came right after, as in directly after, and therefore was superfluous.
posted by koeselitz at 10:15 AM on November 16, 2007


sorry, not perfect link, scroll up
posted by koeselitz at 10:16 AM on November 16, 2007


“So what is the remedy if there is a bad post that spawns the kind of discussion Mefi should be proud to have? Do we just lose what could have been?”

Yes. Is that so bad? Really?

“I don't think most of the posts are even close to ‘best of the web’...”

Yes, and that's because people have come up with all sorts of excuses for sub-par posts. Such as: good discussion is what's important.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:16 AM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Danila, I'm not sure anyone has argued that the discussion from the first deleted FPP has continued in MeTa, I think the contention has been that a discussion about the merits of that deletion is continuing in that thread, making subsequent threads which are at least partly a response to that deletion (jennydiski's FPP and this thread) superfluous.
posted by OmieWise at 10:20 AM on November 16, 2007


“because he gets apoplectic and then gives a mealy-mouthed apology a few comments later.”

I don't think that's fair. This time, my apology was mealy-mouthed. I admit it, it was ambivalent. Because while your comment still doesn't sit quite right with me, I also see that it was satire and I took it completely differently and wrongly.

But I've admitted I was wrong and/or apologized to you a couple of previous times in the last couple of weeks and I'm certain that at least the first of the two was absolutely unqualified. And the second, as far as I can recall, was unqualified, too, though I'm not certain. So I don't think it's fair for you to accuse me of making faux apologies.

I don't like it when people do that, myself. I shouldn't have done so in this instance. I wasn't trying to have it both ways, though, I was just typing at the same time as I was thinking about it.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:22 AM on November 16, 2007


because men are such pigs, chapter 17,459. hey, am i gonna get the girl at the end of this story?
posted by bruce at 10:31 AM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


hey, am i gonna get the girl at the end of this story?

Signs point to "no."
posted by dersins at 10:39 AM on November 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


No man has ever gotten laid for being feminist. However, they do get the dubious pleasure of comforting female friends when they are fucked over by their asshole boyfriends.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:41 AM on November 16, 2007 [12 favorites]


So there are two reasons that I don't like the "insert sexist statement here" jokes.

First of all, sometimes that kind of joke isn't really a joke. Usually it is, but sometimes it's a way of putting women (or some other marginalized group) in their place and reminding them of their marginalized status, but doing it in such a way that they can't call you on it, because then they're humorless losers who can't take a joke. In real life, it's generally pretty clear whether it's a joke or a "joke." You can tell from tone of voice and from your general sense of whether the person is or isn't an asshole. It's harder to tell on MetaFilter. It's hard to keep track of which posters are and aren't assholes, and there is no tone of voice. You know you aren't an asshole, but it's harder for the rest of us to know how to take it.

Second of all, it's not really funny. It's not clever. It's not original. And if you're going to risk making people uncomfortable, I think you should at least have something genuinely amusing to say.
posted by craichead at 10:48 AM on November 16, 2007 [25 favorites]


jennydiski is four panels?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:56 AM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jesus, Alvy. That was low.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:02 AM on November 16, 2007


Second of all, it's not really funny. It's not clever. It's not original. And if you're going to risk making people uncomfortable, I think you should at least have something genuinely amusing to say.

I actually disagree with this, and for one specific reason: "Funny" may be the most subject experience in the world. There may be reasons for criticizing jokes -- I myself am not fond of bullying that passes itself off as comedy -- but "not funny" is not really an effective critique. Because somebody probably finds it funny. And transgressive humor is always going to be hideously unfunny to someone who does not appreciate the transgression, but it might be uproariously funny to someone who does.

On he post 9/11 issue, The Onion was going to have a story titled something like "Business back to usual at the Septagon," but they decided to pull it. They explained that one of the risks of satire is that its not always certain who or what is being satirized. They're right. It's the risk you run when you tell jokes that cross lines. But comedy needs to be able to cross those lines. Otherwise, all we have left are knock knock jokes, and, except for the interrupting cow one, there has never been a knock knock joke that was worth a damn.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:03 AM on November 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


Jenny argued rather incitefully

I cannot argue with that.

I really hate seeing people being treated like shit and it pisses me off. Like most (but not all) places on the Internet, MetaFilter is dominated by men.

Whoa, don't stake out too radical a position. The question for me is: why are places on the Internet dominated by men?

1. How do you know I'm even a man?
2. Online, what advantage do men have that allows them to dominate a discussion? I can't physically frighten anyone, so what am I doing that's planting the Penis Flag in the ground?

If you mean that men tend to make a bunch of noise and flame each other in some tired repetition of real-life pissing contests and this causes women to give up on sites on the Internet, I can't argue with it. But it rings a bit hollow: if I signed up on TheKnot.com or TheNest.com right now and started flaming the hell out of the place, would I be able to take the place over by sundown tomorrow? Unlikely. It's more likely I'd get torn to virtual shreds by the community elders there. That would be a girlzone.

The shitty fact of it is people tend to be bores who engage in territorial pissing contests out of fear and insecurity. To somehow assign blame for this truth to the male population just because they are either more practiced at it or simply more populous at MetaFilter is to once again encourage a culture of victimhood that doesn't need to exist on the 'net. There's no obligation to play through the same tropes you do in real life. Assuming a certain amount of safe anonymity, a site on the net could be a level playing field where words really are just words and only have the power to cause fear if you let them.

I realize that's theoretical and I'm sure everyone's got an example of a sister-in-law's maid of honor who got attacked via Nonfriendster or something, but I think rushing to the defense of aggrieved women in castles is giving them a fish rather than letting them figure out how to operate the pole themselves*. I spent a long time treating a female relative as a delicate, hot-house flower and worrying myself sick about how stable she'd be on her own. I'd have been better off helping to push her out on her own, because she's done fine.

Any whiff of sexual innuendo or lady parts you might catch in that sentence is a result of your poor breeding, dear reader.
posted by yerfatma at 11:05 AM on November 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Ouroboros thread.
posted by bru at 11:07 AM on November 16, 2007


There's no obligation to play through the same tropes you do in real life. Assuming a certain amount of safe anonymity, a site on the net could be a level playing field where words really are just words and only have the power to cause fear if you let them.

This seems like an astonishingly un-nuanced view of human psychology to me. We live in the world, with all of its well-documented sexist imperfections, of which the internet is a very small part. It would be nice to think that the rest of reality would have no bearing on what happens online, but the argument about MeFi being a boyzone is precisely that sexism is used as a source of power (often through humor), and this replicates and reinforces unacceptable behavior that women encounter throughout their lives. The argument that this should not be a problem through effort of will is unconvincing, as it assumes that that effort of will should be something that women should be happy to expend. It's a perfectly legitimate criticism of this place (or any other) that it makes one feel shitty because one belongs to a certain class of people and that other members of "the community" should act with more civility.
posted by OmieWise at 11:14 AM on November 16, 2007 [5 favorites]


That was low.

Meh, one is coming from a position of sincerity and the other is just bored of jerking himself off to sleep (Guess which is which, and get a shiny nickle!), but both posted deletionbait to the blue, and both 'Took it to MeTa' for disingenuous purposes. Motivations may be different, but both are just trying to stir the shit.

I can't physically frighten anyone

Well, now that there are profile pics...
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:14 AM on November 16, 2007


I'm such a freakin' troublemaker. Damn. Honestly, in the beginning I just cracked up over a little sketch of some guy's banana & apricots. That's all it was. I'll stick to not posting silly from hereon out if I can avoid it since apparently it just leads to no damn good.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:18 AM on November 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


Ok, AZ, you're right that there may be people who find drive-by sexist comments high-larious. But I'd still submit that they're un-clever and unoriginal. And it's a bit goofy to suggest that there's anything transgressive about a joke that stale.
posted by craichead at 11:20 AM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm such a freakin' troublemaker. Damn. posted by miss lynnster

Don't take it personally (and don't take the credit, either); this is an ongoing issue here and I have a feeling it will outlive both of us.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:21 AM on November 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


except for the interrupting cow one, there has never been a knock knock joke that was worth a damn.

This is possibly the truest and least disputable thing said in this whole thread.
posted by rtha at 11:23 AM on November 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


“but I think rushing to the defense of aggrieved women in castles is giving them a fish rather than letting them figure out how to operate the pole themselves.”

I'm not rushing to the defense of women, I'm just complaining about bad behavior just like I would any other bad behavior. You keep coming up with ulterior motives for why a man would be upset at sexism against women. Can't it just be that I don't like people treating other people like shit? Why, yes, yes it can.

“Online, what advantage do men have that allows them to dominate a discussion?”

This is unbelievably disingenuous. I don't even know where to begin. Do you really think that sexism relies upon the immediate threat of physical violence?

Also, what OmieWise said.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:25 AM on November 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


Otherwise, all we have left are knock knock jokes, and, except for the interrupting cow one, there has never been a knock knock joke that was worth a damn.

I had no idea that this would end up being apropros on multiple fronts three and a half months later.

posted by cortex (staff) at 11:26 AM on November 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


Odd how when a handful of women actually speak out to say that they aren't happy with the social/political attitude of the site, we are told that we are claiming victimhood. Victimhood is shutting up, not speaking out.

Women in castles? What goes on in your head? No one is asking anything of you, only objecting to you.

But OmniWise is right, I have got other things to do.
posted by jennydiski at 11:27 AM on November 16, 2007 [6 favorites]


knock knock
posted by Stynxno at 11:38 AM on November 16, 2007


Moo!
posted by item at 11:40 AM on November 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


Have you heard the dead interrupting cow one. Here goes:

Knock knock!
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:42 AM on November 16, 2007


"Who's there?", he asked expectantly.
posted by yhbc at 11:45 AM on November 16, 2007


And the joke is that I never answer, but it's hard to represent that in a thread.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:47 AM on November 16, 2007 [5 favorites]


Odd how when a handful of women actually speak out to say that they aren't happy with the social/political attitude of the site, we are told that we are claiming victimhood. Victimhood is shutting up, not speaking out.

How is this 'best of the web'?
posted by KokuRyu at 11:48 AM on November 16, 2007


I've got a great knock knock joke.
posted by dersins at 12:00 PM on November 16, 2007


You start.
posted by dersins at 12:00 PM on November 16, 2007


Knock knock!
posted by yhbc at 12:02 PM on November 16, 2007


Who's there?
posted by dersins at 12:05 PM on November 16, 2007


Boo Fucking.
posted by yhbc at 12:05 PM on November 16, 2007


...Control Freak: now this where you type in Control Freak Who ?
posted by y2karl at 12:06 PM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yay Knockers!
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 12:06 PM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Who's he fucking?
posted by dersins at 12:06 PM on November 16, 2007


er, this is where you type in Boo Fucking Control Freak Who ?
posted by y2karl at 12:07 PM on November 16, 2007


"Ouroboros thread."
posted by bru

How long have you waited, bru, to snake that word into a comment?
posted by Cranberry at 12:09 PM on November 16, 2007


Well goddammit I'm not a victim and it irks me to even POSSIBLY be painted with that brush, so fuck whoever said that.

There is validity to the boyzone... thing... but it's not gonna change by making up new PC adherence rules, it's gonna change when people fight their battles to their personal satisfaction.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:09 PM on November 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


This here is a tricky issue:

"Invoking a sexist stereotype had nothing to do with anything. So it was a sexist joke."
No, it wasn't. It was satire of a sexist (and gender bound) position, or that's how I took it.
posted by OmieWise at 12:47 PM on November 16 [+] [!]

and
So there are two reasons that I don't like the "insert sexist statement here" jokes:
First of all, sometimes that kind of joke isn't really a joke. Usually it is, but sometimes it's a way of putting women (or some other marginalized group) in their place and reminding them of their marginalized status, but doing it in such a way that they can't call you on it, because then they're humorless losers who can't take a joke. In real life, it's generally pretty clear whether it's a joke or a "joke." You can tell from tone of voice and from your general sense of whether the person is or isn't an asshole. It's harder to tell on MetaFilter. It's hard to keep track of which posters are and aren't assholes, and there is no tone of voice. You know you aren't an asshole, but it's harder for the rest of us to know how to take it. [...]

posted by craichead at 1:48 PM on November 16 [1 favorite +] [!]


It's hard to know who's parodying assholes and who's just being an asshole. And once the fake-asshole stuff is thick enough, normal humans won't want to hang around.

For a recent thread, the middle of which was a funny-at-first and then uncomfortably-realistic "we're being macho/sexist/lame-o internet Dudez -- but it's ironic! so we will do it some more! Also may I present you with a picture of my weiner!", please see Spock LOL fatties. Tell me how someone could tell the different between the middle of that thread and a comparable thread on another site where people meant it.

I'm not saying "no humor please", but I'm saying that the line between boyzone vs. note-perfect-parody-of-boyzone is awful thin.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:11 PM on November 16, 2007 [5 favorites]


The "cult of personality" is useful in this way, and like I said in the other thread, it's really important that so many of us mefites care about one another enough to allow greater judgments of where people are coming from into the mix. Take klang's low-hanging fruit gender jokes. I make those, too, because they are funnay, but they sure aren't unique around here. I know from reading the site so blooming much that he's not a sexist, just a sonofabitch.

And as I said in the other thread, too. Laydeez, use the social networking features you are supposed to be so deft at maeuvering to gin up a foundation of girl support. It's here. I got your back and a bucket of cocks.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:16 PM on November 16, 2007


maeuvering

This typo sounds like some 40's era powder room feminist movement... lead my Mauve Maeve, the Men-Murdering Maven
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:18 PM on November 16, 2007


Yeah, I know klang was joking with "vapors" above, and I actually think that was fine in this context. I have a pretty good bead on who's joking in general. I'm saying after a while, in cases where the whole background of a discussion becomes ironic-fake-boyzone, that might really not be all that different from its just being a real boyzone, in terms of its being tedious and discouraging certain kinds of participation.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:28 PM on November 16, 2007 [6 favorites]


So, having just jumped into this, I have to say that two things become immediately apparent to me.

1. Apparently figuring out how to use Metafilter appropriately is super hard for some people.

2. EB is an asshole.
posted by kbanas at 12:33 PM on November 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


I've just realized I sort of do feel obliged to pop into every feminism/boyzone thread, building up my cred over time as a reasonable feminist with a penchant for filthy humor and a willingness to take my licks.

...A quivering eagerness even.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:33 PM on November 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


You'll have to take a number, honey.
posted by Floydd at 12:40 PM on November 16, 2007


Ethereal Bligh: my take on it is when someone starts bitching about the patriarchy or some other claim of oppression when there is a completely unbiased, non-oppressive reason for an action, one probably ought to expect that their complaints will be mocked through usage of stereotypical "bigoted" statements.

I just wanted to repeat this comment from dios. I think it explains klangklangston's comment, and it's definitely a practice I've seen employed in MeTa before.

Also, I really hate it. If someone is making a good effort to be a reasonable member of this community, then I think it's poor form to mock them instead of seriously addressing their concerns or questions. Just because it's MetaTalk, snark is not always appropriate, especially this particular brand of snark.

I mean, in the real world if I tried to have a serious conversation with my peers about something, this wouldn't work as a response, even one intended as humorous -- it would come off as crass and sort of cavemanish. I've seen this tactic used in MeTa threads on women, homosexuals, republicans, oversized people, whatever, and sometimes the comments even get favorited so I guess someone really does find them to be funny. It just seems really puerile.

Possibly I am still just annoyed at klang for his comment in this thread (advice re girlfriend in high school).
posted by onlyconnect at 12:43 PM on November 16, 2007 [5 favorites]


I'm saying after a while, in cases where the whole background of a discussion becomes ironic-fake-boyzone, that might really not be all that different from its just being a real boyzone, in terms of its being tedious and discouraging certain kinds of participation.

This makes perfect sense.
posted by OmieWise at 12:45 PM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


1. I wish the FPP hadn't been deleted, as I think it was well put together, just poorly timed. A discussion of the hollaback phenomenon would've been enlightening, especially because the women behind that site seem to believe any compliment from a stranger is evil and bad.

b. Discussions like these aren't necessarily bad things.
posted by waraw at 12:51 PM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


"I'm saying after a while, in cases where the whole background of a discussion becomes ironic-fake-boyzone, that might really not be all that different from its just being a real boyzone, in terms of its being tedious and discouraging certain kinds of participation."

There's that, and there's also the problem that emerges of the generalized "sexist" ad hominem regarding discussions of "boyzone," something I felt Jenny leaned on pretty heavily with her insinuations about the moderation and tenor. That means that a male respondent has to navigate the Scylla of publicly agreeing to something false through false piety toward gendered concerns, and the Charybdis of sincere disagreement being discounted as a product of andronormativism.

That's combined with a handful of theory arguments back and forth about whether, say, someone's "aggressive" dismissal of concerns regarding the contested space of Metafilter discussion is a legitimate expression of their feelings or if it's part of the culture that evokes those feelings.

Combine that with a handful of bad faith assumptions, some positional soapboxing and the very fact that absolutely nothing will be accomplished beyond the idea of having a discussion (even a fruitless one) on the ways that gender impacts conversation here is somehow positive (as certainly nothing will happen with regard to Jenny's dead post) and it's hard to come up with anything but bored snark, especially if you've seen this conversation before.

Could something positive come out of one of these discussions? Yes, I believe, if there were some sort of project formulated to move forward with, especially one that could be implemented structurally within the collective consciousness. Yes, if there was an attempt made to separate the legitimate concerns of boyzone culture from the attempt to justify this shitty call-out (which is why I believe that most people are talking past each other).

As it stands? The only people that will stick around for stuff like that are the exact ones that shouldn't be leading the project (just like how often the most active activists are the same assholes that you wouldn't want running a tea party).
posted by klangklangston at 12:52 PM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Re: Anal ultimatum— I explained it here, though I suppose I should be more careful about using in-group slang on MeFi.
posted by klangklangston at 12:56 PM on November 16, 2007


Does anybody wanna go in on some stocks with me?
posted by vito90 at 1:00 PM on November 16, 2007


You mean like a pillory, vito? BDSM is hawt.
posted by dios at 1:02 PM on November 16, 2007


Could something positive come out of one of these discussions? Yes, I believe, if there were some sort of project formulated to move forward with, especially one that could be implemented structurally within the collective consciousness.

You know that, in John Gray's petri dish at least, this is the quintessense of andronormative thinking. We Venutians supposedly prefer freeform continual exchange of perspectives, with steadily improved mutual understanding and empathy, to a format of communication that preferences only lines of discourse that result in the rectification of problems.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:12 PM on November 16, 2007


I agree with LobsterMitten.

Coincidentally the AskMe thread I linked to above was about a guy who got used to talking to his girlfriend mainly through irony and sarcasm, to the point where it was hard for him to tell even in real life when she was being serious and when she was kidding. Some people in the thread even thought that she really meant all the sarcastic bad stuff she was saying about him, and was only hiding it with humor. So, yeah, sometimes in these threads it's hard to decypher who is being an asshat and who is just trying to be ironic, and it can also just really wear a person down.

klangklangston, are you saying that your comment in that thread was ironic, given the origin link you provided? I didn't take it that way in the thread, and I'm not sure it's clear to the average reader you meant it that way.

and it's hard to come up with anything but bored snark, especially if you've seen this conversation before.

I don't know the whole history of this particular series of threads, but I don't think bored snark is a good response to any discussion that you'd like to see "something positive come out of."
posted by onlyconnect at 1:13 PM on November 16, 2007


but I have a soft spot for the fuzzy gun-toting porn worker, so I may be biased here.

'Poodle with a mohawk' of your very own, I suppose.

And I'm not too happy with the image of you as the Ma Barker of Metafilter your remark tends to evoke in my mind, Jessamyn.
posted by jamjam at 1:15 PM on November 16, 2007


The point that is getting lost in the midst of the stupid derails is that as usual within a few responses to this "why was I deleted" post Jessamyn provided a perfectly clear explanation of usual practices in front page moderation: "most times when there is a post on a topic that is already being discussed in a post on the front page, the second post gets removed as a double."

I would feel sorry for jennydiski being subjected to the usual gratuitous MetaTalk flogging if it weren't for the fact that all her comments subsequent are steadfastly ignoring this simple and straightforward explanation. You want to encourage the examination of a perspective of direction of discussion under a general cateogory (i.e. exhibitionism)? Post your examples in the existing thread on the topic.

The subject has now had three FPPs and two MeTas, it's ridiculous. pruning the FPPs down to one seems to me totally reasonable and the general policy of discouraging "here's a different angle on that topic below" posting is a sound one.
posted by nanojath at 1:15 PM on November 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


“Could something positive come out of one of these discussions?”

Of course it could. People like you could stop your obscurantist bullshit and listen to the numerous women who are telling you that a) MetaFilter is unfriendly to women in a typically sexist way, and b) jokes like yours, even when satire, are among the ways in which it's unfriendly.

Bored snark in this context is sexist and the fact that you don't realize this is revealing. When several women are complaining about what they perceive as sexism, bored snark from a man in response is indisputably sexist. It's also typical of the tactics men use to marginalize women who dare to speak up.

“Some people in the thread even thought that she really meant all the sarcastic bad stuff she was saying about him, and was only hiding it with humor.”

I come from a family steeped in sarcasm. We make sarcasm an art form. And you know? It's disguised hostility. Don't let anyone bullshit you that it's not.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:17 PM on November 16, 2007 [5 favorites]


Reading these threads exhausts me, because I usually get onto them when they're 100+ comments long but I still persist. I've read similar threads to these on MeTa over and over again and in the vain hope that something will change, I still do. But it never does. No one changes their view on what they're certain they're right about and arguing on the internet has got to be one of the most pointless exercises to date.

Oh, and why does being a male feminist automatically mean you must have a hidden agenda? Is that because people are so astounded that men might actually CARE about the welfare of women?
posted by liquorice at 1:18 PM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know what I would like? If people stopped explaining that there was no point in discussing this.

I often feel uncomfortable, as a girl on MetaFilter. I'm really trying to approach this in a sensible way and not be all screechy about it. But I feel how I feel and I'd appreciate it if y'all would stop telling me to hush.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 1:19 PM on November 16, 2007 [13 favorites]


"You know that, in John Gray's petri dish at least, this is the quintessense of andronormative thinking. We Venutians supposedly prefer freeform continual exchange of perspectives, with steadily improved mutual understanding and empathy, to a format of communication that preferences only lines of discourse that result in the rectification of problems."

Yes, yes. On the other hand, I tend to view that as too reductive a view of women and generally something that's culturally constructed.

Further, as someone who has ordered pizzas with an anti-war group more than once, I may have a lower-than-average tolerance for privileging discussions of food over than getting food. With the number of things that are available, a conversation has to either be productive or entertaining to be worth continuing.

"klangklangston, are you saying that your comment in that thread was ironic, given the origin link you provided? I didn't take it that way in the thread, and I'm not sure it's clear to the average reader you meant it that way."

The "anal ultimatum" is an immature and passive-aggressive way of breaking up primarily. I probably shouldn't have posted it, given that it's only a way to make the lives of two jerks worse, rather than move them past jerkdom.

"I don't know the whole history of this particular series of threads, but I don't think bored snark is a good response to any discussion that you'd like to see "something positive come out of.""

This discussion was fucked from the outset. I believe that in a different context, a different and productive conversation could be held.
posted by klangklangston at 1:26 PM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


miss lynnster: I'll stick to not posting silly from hereon

It's actually spelled "heroin."
posted by koeselitz at 1:32 PM on November 16, 2007 [6 favorites]


klangklangston writes "I believe that in a different context, a different and productive conversation could be held."

Well, despite three FPPs and two MeTas, we haven't found that context yet. That leaves me feeling somewhat disappointed.
posted by never used baby shoes at 1:35 PM on November 16, 2007


Yes, yes. On the other hand...

Yeah no fucking kidding. But I think a lot of the "when do we get change out of this, please get to the point" types of comments actually feel silencing to women who just need to jam, and be listened to, about how they're not listened to about how they're note listened to ad infinitum. I think it's a valid observation that there's not a lot of validation here.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:36 PM on November 16, 2007


"Oh, and why does being a male feminist automatically mean you must have a hidden agenda? Is that because people are so astounded that men might actually CARE about the welfare of women?"

It doesn't. It does mean that you have an overt agenda.

"I often feel uncomfortable, as a girl on MetaFilter. I'm really trying to approach this in a sensible way and not be all screechy about it. But I feel how I feel and I'd appreciate it if y'all would stop telling me to hush."

I really hope that this isn't directed at me, since that's not what I'm trying to convey—I think that there could be an intelligent and productive discussion about women being uncomfortable on Metafilter. I do not believe that this or the other thread is an intelligent and productive discussion about women being uncomfortable on Metafilter. I would support a new MeTa about that, but I feel like the well was poisoned here from the first post on.

"Bored snark in this context is sexist and the fact that you don't realize this is revealing. When several women are complaining about what they perceive as sexism, bored snark from a man in response is indisputably sexist. It's also typical of the tactics men use to marginalize women who dare to speak up."

Oh, EB, how about you stop trying to divine what's revealing about what I say, and what I don't realize. I know that you've carved out a position as patronizer-in-chief, but this is exactly what I mentioned prior regarding ad hominems and false piety. Perhaps you were too busy rifling through your library for the proper Greek spelling of Scylla and Charybdis?
posted by klangklangston at 1:36 PM on November 16, 2007


I would feel sorry for jennydiski being subjected to the usual gratuitous MetaTalk flogging if it weren't for the fact that all her comments subsequent are steadfastly ignoring this simple and straightforward explanation.

Shit, how am I going to cope without your pity?

One of the problems here is that there are some people who quite wrongly assume that this is the wittiest, most savage arena on the planet. So far (to quote a UK politican) it's like being savaged by a dead sheep.

Being big, bad and dangerous is OK for playtime, but the world is in deep shit and could do with a lot more considered discourse. This may not be the best place for it.
posted by jennydiski at 1:40 PM on November 16, 2007 [5 favorites]


I agree with EB.
Also, among strangers, err on the side of caution when it comes to possible offence. If nothing else, you'll be funnier working against the constraint.
posted by Abiezer at 1:40 PM on November 16, 2007


Ethereal Bligh: The knee-jerk tolerance of this sort of thing is exactly what makes MeFi a boyzone ---

Metafilter is a boyzone? You don't get around much - in real life or on the net - do you? The discussions here are almost always a notch above the rest of the internet.
posted by Termite at 1:41 PM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


“Oh, and why does being a male feminist automatically mean you must have a hidden agenda? Is that because people are so astounded that men might actually CARE about the welfare of women?”

Apparently. I'm getting really tired of it. And, as you say, it also says something sad about how people think about these issues. In fact, I'm not really comfortable with how you formulated it yourself. I'm not a feminist because I have a specific motivation to care about the welfare of women qua women, I'm a feminist because women are a class of human beings who are being treated unjustly, every day, the world around. I don't care because sexism happens to be an injustice that is inflicted upon women, I care because sexism is an injustice that happens to be inflicted upon women.

I care for the same reasons as I care about racism. Except, you know, that sexism affects 52 percent of the world's population and while race slavery has largely been eradicated from the world, sex slavery has not.

On Preview:

“Oh, EB, how about you stop trying to divine what's revealing about what I say, and what I don't realize”

I don't have to “divine” it. You revealed, it's there for everyone to see. Likewise, you also demonstrated your lack of understanding. My saying so is neither an ad hominem nor false piety.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:41 PM on November 16, 2007 [6 favorites]


I've just realized I sort of do feel obliged to pop into every feminism/boyzone thread, building up my cred over time as a reasonable feminist with a penchant for filthy humor and a willingness to take my licks.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:33 PM on November 16 [+] [!]


Just stopping back in to say: This rings very true to me. Not about you specifically, but as an experience that smart and spirited people have in trying to stay in groups that are in some way exclusionary -- spending a lot of time "keeping up one's cred" as being "not one of THOSE types". God knows I spent my life from ages 14-21 in pretty much a continual spasm of this mindset -- including trying to stay cool in the eyes of some real genuine assholes -- and this is still my immediate, uncontrollable response to certain situations. (Eg in my male-dominated academic sub-discipline.) Feeling as if you need to make a big point of being a certain way (tough, sex-talking, un-offendable), so that the people who are controlling the discussion will take you seriously.

Probably guys have their own version of this -- witness the hassley attitude toward guys who speak up here to say "that's offensive" or other un-tough things. So maybe it's just the price that everyone pays to get into this pub. Dunno. But now, in real life or online, when I find myself wanting to comment in a way that shows off my macho side, I usually just don't comment -- exactly because when I get that "defend-my-macho/sextalking/etc cred" feeling it's a sign to me that the tenor of the discussion sucks.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:44 PM on November 16, 2007 [23 favorites]


Being big, bad and dangerous is OK for playtime, but the world is in deep shit and could do with a lot more considered discourse. This may not be the best place for it.
posted by jennydiski at 3:40 PM on November 16


Shit. You are so right. But really, you are clearly an enlightened above-it-all British sophisticate that can spot these complex paradigms in the world and work to change them. I wish I could help you, but I'm just a dim-witted American Neanderthal who can't think about these things because I am too busy trying to figure out which woman I am going to club over the head with my freakishly large cock and drag back to my cave.
posted by dios at 1:46 PM on November 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


I really hope that this isn't directed at me, since that's not what I'm trying to convey—I think that there could be an intelligent and productive discussion about women being uncomfortable on Metafilter. I do not believe that this or the other thread is an intelligent and productive discussion about women being uncomfortable on Metafilter.

Well, first: I generally find you a fun and amusing dude, and I want to point out that I recognize that the men who are willing to sincerely enter into conversations with women about this are ...kind of unfairly taking the hit for the many men who won't even engage. So... I guess I'm sorry if you're getting caught in that.

But I hope you can hear me when I say that I am having an intelligent and productive discussion about this, with or without your blessing. There are a lot of meaningful things in here for me. Such as reading about LobsterMitten and AmbrosiaVoyeur talking about the ways in which they come into these debates, for instance.

I'm not macho at all, and I often find women who are really intimidating, so it's really useful for me to hear ladies talking about the how and why openly.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 1:47 PM on November 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


I don't want to read about internetscene boyzone.

I don't want to read about why flashers flash.

I want to read about innovations in flashee responses to flashing.

Two FPPs that hinted they might eventually fill the bill got deleted. One sucked, the other sucked less but got canned as a "double."

Jenny Diski's post may not've been spectacular, but it was not a double of the FPP on why flashers flash. Flashee does not equal flasher. Unless we're assuming that the subaltern experience is lesserthan or subsumed within the experience of the dominantyaaaaadadadaaaa, but again whether or not the world is kind to the subaltern is not what I want to read about. That is not the can of worms I want to open because it is open already and the worms all crawled out and dried up and died about fiftytwo years ago. The can of still-juicy worms I and Jenny Diski and a BUNCH OF PEOPLE want to open is forever getting kicked out of reach before we can really bust into the thing properly and get a look at the wiggly goodness inside. Every foray into the dark unexplored gets the axe--I'm not even quibbling about the reasons for the axings, which after all have so far been pretty solid, but nevertheless I want to open the can, if there even is a damn can, and look at the worms in it.

If Jenny Diski finds something other than hollaback out there, can she post it in, what, two days? Three weeks? If somebody else finds something other than hollaback on this topic can he/she post sooner than Jenny Diski?

If it gets posted can it be sidebarred? 'Cause I'd really like to read about it. I haven't seen it before and find it interesting, you know, in a "best-of-the-web" kind of way.
posted by Don Pepino at 1:50 PM on November 16, 2007


Jesus christ, dios, try to be less reflexively defensive if you want your sarcasm to sting.
posted by OmieWise at 1:50 PM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Well, despite three FPPs and two MeTas, we haven't found that context yet. That leaves me feeling somewhat disappointed."

Two (rightly) deleted FPPs, and two disingenuous MeTas? The one FPP left I haven't really read.

There's a remedy for that disappointment: A new MeTa that explains why these discussions aren't working and cites posts and comments that form a broader context to support the idea that there is a boyzone and that something can be done about it.

"Yeah no fucking kidding. But I think a lot of the "when do we get change out of this, please get to the point" types of comments actually feel silencing to women who just need to jam, and be listened to, about how they're not listened to about how they're note listened to ad infinitum. I think it's a valid observation that there's not a lot of validation here."

I can understand that, and (NOT IRONIST) I think it's a valid complaint. It's just that I think something as complex as contested gender relations in MeFi is a problem that requires more than just validation, and I'll also cop to coming at it with the (likely poorly communicated) point of view that OF COURSE those complaints are valid, as I've remarked frequently prior, which leads to a bit of impatience when I feel like there's wheel-reinvention abounding. It ends up feeling like kabuki, with the socially-mandated validation of feelings needing to happen prior to any change, when "we" all know (perceived ideological cohort "we) that those feelings are valid.

I also like to skip the reading of the minutes at board meetings.
posted by klangklangston at 1:51 PM on November 16, 2007


This place is really starting to depress me, lately.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:54 PM on November 16, 2007


*eats popcorn*

I don't even know what the hell you people are talking about, but I'm glad half you dorks tipped your hat to jennydiski when she signed up, and now she's gleefully shitting in your plate o' beans. I, for one, think she is a lonely idiot, and don't feel the need to further explain myself.
posted by phaedon at 1:54 PM on November 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


You're probably right, Omie. But I wondered if I was just misreading her earlier in this thread, so I went and read that website linked to in her profile. Re-reading her comments here, I think I was responding to something implied in her comment.
posted by dios at 2:03 PM on November 16, 2007


Everything is offensive to somebody.

Some people fetishize being offended. Some people will parse and parse and parse.

If we bow down to that kind of thing... well... just kiss Metafilter goodbye. Is that what we want? People getting kicked for saying "cunt", "pussy" or "cock sucker?"

Just like any other kind of expressive form you can't always fret about people taking offense.
posted by tkchrist at 2:03 PM on November 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


This place is really starting to depress me, lately.

Me too.
posted by tkchrist at 2:04 PM on November 16, 2007


as someone who has ordered pizzas with an anti-war group more than once, I may have a lower-than-average tolerance for privileging discussions of food over than getting food.

klangklangston: that is lovely, and thank you for it.

Also - I think this has moved beyond the stated purpose of the thread (it was a good deletion, and someone can post some good anti-flasher stuff in a few weeks), and also isn't really about what the site as a whole Should Do About Sexism. I think the only solution to the constant ironic-sexism thing I was mentioning is just for people who post that stuff (who I think are mostly not sexists) to realize that it can be silencing in its effect, and to voluntarily hold themselves back sometimes.

I don't think it's anything that a site policy could deal with effectively. I, and hmsbeagle and others, are trying to make the case that this stuff has an (unintended) effect that people (nonsexist men) should be more aware of when they post. Talking about it isn't venting or seeking validation. It's meant to be informative to people who might choose to change their behavior once they're informed.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:04 PM on November 16, 2007


Holy crap tkchrist, let me just say you have no idea the world of hurt you just walked into. Learn from my mistakes, pull back while you still can.
posted by aramaic at 2:05 PM on November 16, 2007


Being big, bad and dangerous is OK for playtime, but the world is in deep shit and could do with a lot more considered discourse. This may not be the best place for it.

If you think you've found the Archimedean point from which to change the world for the better, may I be the first to suggest that you go there and start hefting that long, long lever?
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:08 PM on November 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


But now, in real life or online, when I find myself wanting to comment in a way that shows off my macho side, I usually just don't comment -- exactly because when I get that "defend-my-macho/sextalking/etc cred" feeling it's a sign to me that the tenor of the discussion sucks.

Everything you've said in this thread is so right on, LobserMitten. Anyone who thinks this isn't a productive conversation should take the time to reread all you've written here.

I've done it too -- made the crude joke at my expense before someone else could, or got returned insult for insult with a lightning quickness -- and the point is that it is a sucker's game. It shuts out the quieter and more thoughtful from participating. It convinces the jerks that it's all good, because you are aping them. It hides whatever you might have said that's meaningful in more heat than light.

I'd much rather see everyone who feels the same focus their energies on writing what's smart and real and true than on cheap snark. You can't fight every gender battle on metafilter or in general, and it's okay to be tired and to disengage when you need. But gunslinging and pitch perfect boyzone parodies don't provide any lasting satisfaction -- they just generate more of the same, until we're drowning in it.

This place is really starting to depress me, lately.

This is right on, too. Sad to say.
posted by melissa may at 2:08 PM on November 16, 2007 [15 favorites]


tl;dr
posted by Stynxno at 2:10 PM on November 16, 2007


IRFH and tkchrist: "Lately"? These are discussions we've had before and will have again. Nothing new about it. Plus, I can't imagine why they would impact you in any way. Do you think there's some kind of movement on to encourage banning people who say "cock" too much? There isn't, and that's an unrealistic thing to worry about, seems to me. Most of the women who are chiming in here have extremely healthy senses of humor, come here partly for the funny, and don't want to see Mefi get boring. The thing I was suggesting is that a whole thread of "wanna see a picture of my wang" isn't exactly high-octane humor, and isn't exactly the stuff that sets Mefi apart from other places online.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:11 PM on November 16, 2007


"I don't have to “divine” it. You revealed, it's there for everyone to see. Likewise, you also demonstrated your lack of understanding. My saying so is neither an ad hominem nor false piety."

Bullshit. Feel free to go back and read what I wrote in context, then trot off another one of your wife-beater apologies. If you can't see how discounting what I say based on "sexism" due to my gender is, at least, the literalist epitome of "ad hominem" fallacy, you're a fool. If you say that you can't, you're a liar.

As for the lack of understanding, not everyone who disagrees with you doesn't understand your position—you may simply be wrong.

"But I hope you can hear me when I say that I am having an intelligent and productive discussion about this, with or without your blessing. There are a lot of meaningful things in here for me. Such as reading about LobsterMitten and AmbrosiaVoyeur talking about the ways in which they come into these debates, for instance."

Fair enough.
posted by klangklangston at 2:11 PM on November 16, 2007


This thread has a sour vibe that only inline images could remedy.
posted by brain_drain at 2:12 PM on November 16, 2007


everything comes full circle..
posted by phaedon at 2:17 PM on November 16, 2007


Having read this thread in its entirety, all I can do is reiterate what I said here:
...many men find comprehension just gets in the way of a good discussion. In fact it's OK that you don't really "understand" us, because that's just not what we're about. In fact, most men would rather you just not worry your pretty little heads about comprehension and understanding and listen to our advice whether we know what we're talking about or not, because that's what we do. We solve problems. We're problem solvers. If you have a problem we can't solve, we'll tell you that that's really not the problem you wanted solved and we'll go ahead and tell you what problem you should want solved and we'll solve that.
You don't have to thank us, that's just what we do.
posted by Floydd at 2:20 PM on November 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


"Do you think there's some kind of movement on to encourage banning people who say "cock" too much?"

There is, however, a movement to encourage banning people who enjoy the comic strip "Crock." Also, people who like "Wizard of Id."
posted by klangklangston at 2:22 PM on November 16, 2007


Feeling as if you need to make a big point of being a certain way (tough, sex-talking, un-offendable), so that the people who are controlling the discussion will take you seriously.

I'm a lawyer and I've totally done this many times at work without really thinking about it. It is even fairly effective. In fact, I really need to think about what is better: doing that or calling someone out and standing my ground. I think it's very possible that blending will often get to a better result. At least in the short term, maybe not the long term.

But anyway, I thought this was a really salient observation and it made me look at my own behavior more carefully. So, thanks.
posted by onlyconnect at 2:26 PM on November 16, 2007


LobsterMitten: Your reading of my comment is way, way off base. I can't imagine why you took it as complaining about any particular view in this thread, let alone the one you arbitrarily decided to assign it to. My point, such as it was, was more in line with the first part of brain_drain's subsequent comment: This thread, and those connected with it, and frankly a number of other threads around the Blue, Green, and Gray these days strike me as containing a "sour vibe." That's not a complaint about the subject of the thread, or the discussion in general, or a passive-aggressive attempt to shut anybody up. It's an observation. Perhaps it's just bad timing or confirmation bias, but the general tone around here has seemed kind of poisonous lately. Yes, lately.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:28 PM on November 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Did we get to the part of the thread where I call four panels a dick, yet?

Or is that one of the seventeen other threads on the same god damn topic in the last day-and-a-half?
posted by dersins at 2:32 PM on November 16, 2007


IRFH: Sorry for putting words in your mouth. I was obviously quite wrong about what you were objecting to.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:36 PM on November 16, 2007


No problem.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:37 PM on November 16, 2007


Okay, why the hell is this still open? This should've been closed at least around here, after the person who made the post said their question had been resolved.

This isn't really a trainwreck, but it is sort of an accident involving a bicycle, a wagonload of puppies, several small children, and a certain amount of bruises, blood, and whinging.
posted by koeselitz at 2:38 PM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Personally I think this may be the most move-the-ball-forward boyzone threads we've had on MetaTalk since the "would a woman really feel strange driving cross country alone?" thread. All these different voices in here, it is just really nice.
posted by onlyconnect at 2:38 PM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


many men find comprehension just gets in the way of a good discussion.

The entire comment is a clever piece of writing, but it's just a generalization which gives one group just another reason to ignore the other group.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:41 PM on November 16, 2007


Margaritas all around!
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:42 PM on November 16, 2007


Feeling as if you need to make a big point of being a certain way (tough, sex-talking, un-offendable), so that the people who are controlling the discussion will take you seriously.

I also want to say that this is very enlightening. I myself don't do this, and I have often watched other women do this and experienced a sense of betrayal, and a general complete bafflement as to why someone would do that.

This is very helpful in understanding it. Thanks!
posted by thehmsbeagle at 2:49 PM on November 16, 2007


women!
posted by de at 2:50 PM on November 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


The thing I was suggesting is that a whole thread of "wanna see a picture of my wang" isn't exactly high-octane humor, and isn't exactly the stuff that sets Mefi apart from other places online.

Lobstermitten, I'd like to add my voice to those praising your contributions in this thread. I like hearing your account of working in and through a community dominated by snark and irony. But I'd like to ask you to consider something about bad, humorless snark: it quite clearly marks its users with the taint of dim-wittedness.

Metafilter is a space where we talk about a lot of different topics, it's relatively open to contributions at a number of levels, and it functions through communal shaming. We insult each other's positions as a method of finding points of weakness in those positions. We try to mix careful argument with rhetorical flourish. And the result is that wit and humor sometimes beat good sense, and cutting sarcasm can be more useful for exposing a weak position than a syllogism.

That's the nature of the public sphere: we don't grant each other a hearing or a reading. You've got to make yourself heard, on metafilter as anywhere else. It's clearly the case that a misogynist culture has prepared fewer women with the capacity to force uptake than men. It's also prepared fewer men to hear and take up female points of view. But I reject the implicit claim that it's unfeminine to be brash or distinctive: that's some dangerously essentializing old school feminism, and I refuse to grant that the opposite is essentially true about men.

It's true that public sphere theory often gets criticized as potentially chauvinist, but I like Iris Young and Seyla Benhabib on these matters: you get heard by couching your claims in the language of your interlocutor. We can expand the kinds of uptake we grant to a certain extent, but this always happens through combination and mixture. There's no pure voix feminine, nor a pure masculine style.

Talking about it isn't venting or seeking validation. It's meant to be informative to people who might choose to change their behavior once they're informed.

It seems like the response to weenie-waving online should be the same as it is in public: "That looks like a penis, only smaller." You wouldn't go discursive with a flasher, so why go confessional with an asshole?

Bad, tasteless jokes mark their tellers with the stigma of not being very funny. They suggest that this or that dimwit is probably not going to have anything bright to offer in more serious matters. They reduce the commenter's overall uptake, in a number of nonlinear and difficult-to-quantify ways, but they still do it. Perhaps we need to more clearly demarcate irony from semi-ironic sexism. I think we should preserve a space for the first while shaming the second. I'm not sure why we have to drag the whole of the joke-swapping, fun-loving, and occasionally deranged rhetoric that permeates this site into a discussion that was started, I thought, with some clear examples of unalloyed misogyny. It's a strange slippage, and one that hasn't, I think, been properly justified.
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:52 PM on November 16, 2007 [5 favorites]


Being big, bad and dangerous is OK for playtime, but the world is in deep shit and could do with a lot more considered discourse. This may not be the best place for it.
posted by jennydiski
Shit. You are so right. But really, you are clearly an enlightened above-it-all British sophisticate that can spot these complex paradigms in the world and work to change them. I wish I could help you, but I'm just a dim-witted American Neanderthal who can't think about these things because I am too busy trying to figure out which woman I am going to club over the head with my freakishly large cock and drag back to my cave.
posted by dios

Jenny's comment (this one - not others) came across as pompous and ill-advised but the response from dios reads appallingly.

Still - both are a wonderfully telling examples of what this thread is about.

(Another vote of approval for lobstermitten's smart words about women feeling they have to act unoffendable to join the club. I know it well - and I just end up sounding like a shrill jerk anyway!)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 2:55 PM on November 16, 2007


“All these different voices in here, it is just really nice.”

I assume you mean “a bunch of women have chimed in with their grievances/experiences on MetaFilter in this thread”.

And, yeah, that's great. I think it proves the assertion that there's a problem.

But I don't think that anyone is listening. In this and the other thread, is there a single example of a man saying, “oh, I guess you're right, making those sorts of jokes creates a hostile atmosphere?” Is there any indication that there will be stricter moderation against sexist comments?

When I said in the other thread (or this one?) that I've watched the women who speak up against sexism progressively silenced here, obviously I don't mean that every single one has been entirely silenced. But it's certainly true in general. Occihiblu is a good example; there are many others.

There have been some seemingly productive conversations, but they've usually been when it's a number of like-minded participants. And the problem of sexism on MetaFilter isn't going to be resolved by conversations among the few of us who are like-minded in believing that there's a problem.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:59 PM on November 16, 2007


anotherpanacea:
I'm not any kind of essentialist about gender or communication styles. I also work in a field which also in many cases "functions through communal shaming. We insult each other's positions as a method of finding points of weakness in those positions." so this is something I've thought about a looooot.

I'm all for communal shaming of lame sexist (and other) crap, and I think for the most part Mefi does a fair job of this. I'm grateful for the people who are tireless in calling it out, because lord knows I don't put much energy into that.

why go confessional with an asshole?
I think the "confessional" stuff that women have posted here and in related threads, about how sometimes the tone of discussion here is silencing/unpleasant for them, has not been for the consumption of assholes. It has been for the consumption of the dudes (and ladies) here who are not assholes, who are not sexist, but who may not realize the effect that their choice of jokes has. The idea being that most people don't intend to be exclusionary, don't intend to be silencing, and could in some cases hold back.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:04 PM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


The idea being that most people don't intend to be exclusionary, don't intend to be silencing, and could in some cases hold back.

I understand this point: my problem with it is that you seem to be tarring sarcasm and sexism with the same brush. It's not clear to me that that's a justified conflation.
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:08 PM on November 16, 2007


is there a single example of a man saying, “oh, I guess you're right, making those sorts of jokes creates a hostile atmosphere?”

EB, I don't think this shows that nobody's mind has been changed. Men pay a heavy price for piping up ("in a PC way") about this stuff, as you know. As thehmsbeagle said in the other thread -- in a lovely insightful comment -- earnestness isn't funny, and so it must be mocked. So I think we just can't tell from the silence whether there have been any receptive eyeballs out there.

(At any rate, purely selfishly, I have found the discussion here interesting - I think AV's initial comment about how she felt she needed to rush into these threads to establish her credibility as a feminist but not a humorless feminist was a terrific insight, definitely an experience I've had and I've been glad to see other people noting that they have too.)

I don't know that there's a lot that could be done through moderation, though.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:11 PM on November 16, 2007


EB, I think people are listening, but I am getting the impression from you, that you simply won't witness any change in the status quo. You sound so fatalistic! What do you think should be done to make change? I, and maybe I'm a blowhard and maybe I'm not, think that continually ginning up "girlpower" (questionable term, I know) works! I think offering to be considerate and supportive to other mefites helps! I'm doing it, we're doing it. Right now. I don't want to hear any more descriptions of silencing in a tone that implies it's "the way things are." Not anymore, not from this moment.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:13 PM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Being big, bad and dangerous is OK for playtime, but the world is in deep shit and could do with a lot more considered discourse. This may not be the best place for it.

You mean MetaFilter won't save the planet? Matt, I want my five bucks back.

If "considered discourse" is the pious crap that's been floating in this thread, then you're right, it's not the right place for it.
posted by doctor_negative at 3:13 PM on November 16, 2007


ap: I think certain instances of sarcasm end up being functionally equivalent to sexism, for reasons I noted above. When you've got a whole culture of ironic-boyzone, it becomes hard to distinguish from a real boyzone.

Myself, I was mainly talking here just about comments like "my wang this" and "eat a bucket of cocks" and whatnot. Too much of that, even if people don't mean it, and it just feels to me like there's no point in trying to break into the discussion. I would have to do too much macho posturing to get heard, and I think it's moronic even if it's meant ironically. I said "too much" which of course means there's a sliding scale of how much is too much; judgment call, gray area, I know.

I'm not really talking about the conversational style of challenging people -- I think that's a separate, though related, issue which has been a problem for many people who don't dig the aggressive, confrontation style. This is being discussed in the other thread by thehmsbeagle et al.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:16 PM on November 16, 2007


Is there any indication that there will be stricter moderation against sexist comments?

Ethereal Bligh, this is exactly what I find so condescending and obnoxious about the whole discussion.

What are sexist comments? Surely a comment is not a "sexist comment" based on the reaction of the reader. It must be one that is intended to be sexist. And therein lies the problem: you have to guess at to whether it was intended that way. Granted, sometimes you can make informed guesses. But other times, its apt to be wholly wrong. For instance, this very thread seems to be a (wrong and uninformed) guess that a deletion was made out of some sexist reason. Yet, even when it was clearly pointed out that there is no conspiracy, the poster continued her crusade of assumptions about the relative tolerance and intelligence of the crowd here. It is condescending and obnoxious when certain users claim to be able to spot invidious and latent sexism, especially when it only exists when the writers intend it.

Ethereal Bligh, I have a lot of respect for you, and I do not doubt the genuineness of your analysis and the good faith in which you look at things. But if you take someone who is already preconditioned to see sexism everywhere--as the poster appears to be--then there is likely going to be a lot of misreadings and bad assumptions made. If we were engage in a war on sexism here, I might not mind if you were in charge of it. But it would be bad if the original poster was in charge, as she apparently thinks we are all a bunch of chauvinistic troglodytes. Sure it would be great if we all gave voice only to the better angels of our nature here. But crying sexism where it doesn't exist is likely to have the opposite effect than intended.
posted by dios at 3:16 PM on November 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Astro Zombie: This is a foolishly nitpicky point, but the proposed headline was to with the the Quadrilateral, the joke being, of course, five sides minus one gives you four sides. Septagon, or more properly, Heptagon would be gaining two sides.

---

More to do with the actual thread, there's been a subthread for a bit about the agendas and rationales of male feminists. Putting aside the point that all people should be feminists in the same way that all people should be non-racists or, you know, all around decent people, I have a bit of an admission to make. I'm a male feminist, and I've come to it, not from abstract concern for women's welfare; although that certainly helps; but more immediately for selfish reasons, and from my own experience.

In many respects, I am not particularly masculine. Never have been, and don't desire to be. As I began to explore these issues more thoroughly, I became increasingly aware of the sexism, both internal and external, that said I should be more masculine. This sort of gender experience comprises a minority of modern feminism, and that's why I began to find myself distinctly and strongly identifying as feminist.

Of course, I've been engaging in the process of informing myself with the broader experience of women in our society, and the full force of modern feminism, but at the core I'm a feminist not from concern for the welfare of any subgroup of humanity but because sexism hurts all genders, and feminism is the fight against sexism.

I don't really care much for the delineation of 'male feminist' out from 'feminist', for a lot of these reasons. There are some good reasons to do so, depending on both the situation and the theoretical underpinnings of your brand of feminism (I suspect I will never really agree beyond some superficial stuff with difference or separatist feminists because of this stuff), but for the most part I think it's unneeded.

What's really going on is that the identity of male or female is being used as shorthand to access the fact of the experience of male or female, which is useful but ultimately painfully reductive. My version of the male experience is different from other peoples, and the same goes for females, and the same goes for people whose identity is neither. I don't like putting my identity before my experience, even if it is a vaguely decent shorthand for the set of experiences and privileges that I've had in my life. I'm weakly gendered in the first place, so where I don't have to bring it up, I won't.

The base assumption on the internet that a poster is male unless otherwise specified is unfortunate to this end, but sort of an unworkable impasse. Don't address it, get assumed to be male; address it, be confirmed as male. On my part, I am generally successful in not assuming a gender, but that's not a help with how I think people should approach my comments and persona.
posted by Arturus at 3:17 PM on November 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


“EB, I think people are listening, but I am getting the impression from you, that you simply won't witness any change in the status quo. You sound so fatalistic!”

Well, I'm in a pessimistic mood about this issue at the moment.

It's too early to say whether this particular discussion will make a difference. But I've been observing and participating in these discussions on MeFi for almost four years, almost six if you count lurking time. And I have watched the women who continually spoke up about it get slowly silenced. They contribute less, they stop talking about sexism, they confine themselves to AskMe, they leave. I'm pessimistic because there's a long-term pattern. This issue has been raised repeatedly in MetaTalk threads, and so far the community has responded, every time, with “there's no problem, women are too quick to cry ‘sexism!’ ”.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:23 PM on November 16, 2007 [5 favorites]


*starts a rousing can-can version of We Shall Overcome*
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:25 PM on November 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


On non-preview:

What are sexist comments? Surely a comment is not a "sexist comment" based on the reaction of the reader. It must be one that is intended to be sexist.

This is dead wrong. The worst sexism is that which isn't done from a place of intentionality, but rather from a place of 'just how things are' or 'not actually bad/just a joke'. There's a fine line here, of course, but it's fully possible to be sexist without intending to be, and that's the worst, institutionalized kind. The wage gap (largely) doesn't exist because people are deliberately paying women less, it's because of systematic, institutionalized, and largely unconscious actions which create sexism.

The idea of no sexism without intentionality is what allows people of every degree of sexism or non-sexism to decide that they are now completely nonsexist, and that every push against something that they are currently doing is overreaction and shrill.
posted by Arturus at 3:31 PM on November 16, 2007 [7 favorites]


what
posted by boo_radley at 3:35 PM on November 16, 2007


So, what exactly should happen as an end result of these threads? It's fairly obvious that people -- men and women and in-between -- aren't always conscious of the way they're coming across. I'd like to say that it'd be nice if people didn't have to say "You're being a sexist asshole" when they felt offended, but I really don't see that changing. All I can do is accept it when I'm called a sexist asshole, and try to alter or limit that behavior as necessary. Can we agree on that much?

Keepin' the username, tho.
posted by waraw at 3:42 PM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Astro Zombie: This is a foolishly nitpicky point, but the proposed headline was to with the the Quadrilateral, the joke being, of course, five sides minus one gives you four sides. Septagon, or more properly, Heptagon would be gaining two sides.

Ah. Thanks.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:44 PM on November 16, 2007


Arturus, I think you're right that it cannot just be conscious intention that makes a comment sexist. Certainly there can be comments that are sexist because of a speaker's unconscious assumptions etc.

Next: Can there be comments that are made by someone who, themselves, is not at all sexist (even unconsciously), but which nevertheless have a disproportionately negative effect on women? Yes, or so I've been arguing. Are such comments properly called "sexist"? Dunno.

Next question: What should be done about it?

It seems to me that moderation can't be based solely with intentions, because as dios points out we don't have perfect knowledge of intentions, and also some comments can be so bad that they should be deleted even if made with innocent intentions + very poor judgment. What matters is usually not the intention of the poster but the overall effect of a policy on the site -- too much deleting vs. too much letting garbage stand will each have their down sides. (Sometimes intentions matter, but not always, and they're not the only thing that matters.)

But, moderation can't and shouldn't nuke everything that might be sexist in the third sense above. I don't think that's a realistic or even desirable goal. (I don't know if that's the kind of thing EB was proposing, though.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:49 PM on November 16, 2007


it's like being savaged by a dead sheep

Well said, even if it is a bit suggestive of bestiality. Just kind of weird. Because I don't know if I've ever seen the red carpet rolled out for a member like it was for you, for the simple talent of holding down a full-time job* at a The Old Grey Lady (I assume you are working feverishly to have the nickname erased). Instead of basking quietly in the adulation, you're here burning your flannel undergarments over the cessation of a discussion about someone exposing themselves. Not a deletion, mind you, just a closing of the comment box. In a thread about Wee Willy Someone. But without that comment box, no comments, no adulation.

It seems like maybe you do understand how it all works.

* Something of a lie. Adam Savage got the same treatment. At least he acted like he'd been there before.
posted by yerfatma at 3:52 PM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm saying after a while, in cases where the whole background of a discussion becomes ironic-fake-boyzone, that might really not be all that different from its just being a real boyzone, in terms of its being tedious and discouraging certain kinds of participation.

Maybe it's too late, but I agree with this. It would be nice to have the non-asshole snarkers maybe not take every opportunity to make a "choke on a dick" joke or hold back on yet another witty fat/ugly chick rejoinder. That level of what may seem like edginess just comes across as tiring more often than not to me personally, and I would guess a lot of the other females here who have spent far too much time trying to disambiguate edgy humor from "don't let this guy follow you to the parking lot" angry humor. You want to encourage women to stay on the site, do your part to make the place seem less like a frat house.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:53 PM on November 16, 2007 [13 favorites]


*removes beer can sculpture from living room*
posted by Floydd at 3:59 PM on November 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


Okay. My problem is this. Who defines what is sexist?

For instance my wife can read this site and rare if ever define many of things a few people here would typically say is "sexist" as, actually, sexist. An Ann Coulter thread comes to mind. A couple of busybodies were screaming how sexist the thread was and so I was really concerned. I had my wife read some of the posts in question and she just rolled her eyes.

A few very squeaky wheels will ALWAYS be offended no matter what. Who do you listen to?
posted by tkchrist at 4:08 PM on November 16, 2007


From Kate Harding:

You, dear male reader, are totally not one of those men. I know this, and I appreciate it. I really do. But here’s where all this victimy girl shit concerns you:

* every time you don’t tell your buddies it’s not okay to talk shit about women, even if it’s kinda funny;
* every time you roll your eyes and think “PMS!” instead of listening to why a woman’s upset;
* every time you call Ann Coulter a tranny cunt instead of a halfwit demagogue;
* every time you say any woman–Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Phyllis Schlafly, Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, any of us–”deserves whatever she gets” for being so detestable, instead of acknowledging there are things that no human being deserves and only women get;
* every time you joke about how you’ll never let your daughter out of the house or anywhere near a man, ’cause ha ha, that’ll solve everything;
* every time you say, “I don’t understand why thousands of women are insisting this is some kind of woman thing”;
* every time you tell a woman you love she’s being crazy/hysterical/irrational, when you know deep down you haven’t heard a word she’s said in the past 15 minutes, and all you’re really thinking about is how seeing her yell and/or cry is incredibly unsettling to you, and you just want that shit to stop;
* every time you dismiss a woman as “playing the victim,” even if you’re right about that particular woman

You are missing an opportunity to help stop the bad guys.


You’re missing an opportunity to stop the real misogynists, the fucking sickos, the ones who really, truly hate women just for being women. The ones whose ranks you do not belong to and never would. The ones who might hurt women you love in the future, or might have already.

‘Cause the thing is, you and the guys you hang out with may not really mean anything by it when you talk about crazy bitches and dumb sluts and heh-heh-I’d-hit-that and you just can’t reason with them and you can’t live with ‘em can’t shoot ‘em and she’s obviously only dressed like that because she wants to get laid and if they can’t stand the heat they should get out of the kitchen and if they can’t play by the rules they don’t belong here and if they can’t take a little teasing they should quit and heh heh they’re only good for fucking and cleaning and they’re not fit to be leaders and they’re too emotional to run a business and they just want to get their hands on our money and if they’d just stop overreacting and telling themselves they’re victims they’d realize they actually have all the power in this society and white men aren’t even allowed to do anything anymore and and and…

I get that you don’t really mean that shit. I get that you’re just talking out your ass.

But please listen, and please trust me on this one: you have probably, at some point in your life, engaged in that kind of talk with a man who really, truly hates women–to the extent of having beaten and/or raped at least one. And you probably didn’t know which one he was.

And that guy? Thought you were on his side.


As long as we live in a culture where the good guys sometimes sound just like the misogynists, the misogynists are never going to get the message that they are not normal and that most people–strong, successful men included–do not hate women.

When you trivialize what even the women you love are saying to you, when you let sexist remarks slide, when you insist that women view things from your perspective (rational! calm! reasonable!) because you don’t feel like trying to see theirs (emotional! hysterical! nuts!), when you sit around laughing with other men about how crazy chicks are before you go home to the wife and daughters you love more than life and always treat with respect, when you say the fact that online harassment disproportionately affects women somehow doesn't mean we should be considering it through the lens of women’s experiences in particular, you’re not fucking helping. You’re being willfully obtuse. You’re enjoying the luxury of not having to take what we’re telling you seriously–and that’s why we get so goddamned frustrated and angry and hysterical. Because we don’t have the option of not caring about this shit, and you just keep telling us not to.

And because the really bad guys don’t pop out of thin air as fully formed misogynists. They need encouragement and reinforcement in order to completely miss the fact that there’s something deeply fucking wrong with them. Subtle sexism gives them that. Keeping your mouth shut about overt sexism gives them that. Not really listening to the women you love, let alone women you don’t even know–thereby being one more guy sending a message to women that we’re only worth listening to on men’s terms–gives them that. Telling yourself and anyone who will listen that that’s just the way it is, and people need to quit whining gives them that. How can they clue into the fact that there’s something deeply fucking wrong with them when so many guys are acting just like they do in public, or at least never calling them out?

[Related: "We believe this [study] shows that humorous disparagement creates the perception of a shared standard of tolerance of discrimination that may guide behavior when people believe others feel the same way."]
posted by occhiblu at 4:11 PM on November 16, 2007 [187 favorites]


This is a pretty good discussion, all things considered. Kudos to all the women who persist in presenting their divergent points of view, and for listening and responding openly. Makes this old codger get all sentimental.
posted by languagehat at 4:14 PM on November 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


Whaaaaaaat? Who are you, and what have you done with the real languagehat?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:16 PM on November 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Keepin' the username, tho.
posted by Ladies, I sure do love cunnilingus

I bet you will:)

Just out of curiosity, though, are there any women around with a username like, say-

Guys, I sure fancy licking cock?
posted by Jody Tresidder at 4:16 PM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


No, that's totally gross.

You want to encourage women to stay on the site, do your part to make the place seem less like a frat house.

Ok, but what specifically do we do? Because, to me, the kind of guys you're talking about might be vocal members1 but not important ones. They're just noise to me and I never even see it, which is probably why I'm tone deaf to some of this, because I do just tune out the guys on the spectrum occhiblu is talking about (and thanks for the post).

1. Phallic.
posted by yerfatma at 4:22 PM on November 16, 2007


tkchrist, what if we didn't call it "sexism" but said that the "I'd hit that" etc, even said in jest, but said 1000 times, made it an unpleasant environment for the women around here? And that if the men here said stuff like that less, we'd enjoy that, and also that stuff is usually rote and not very funny anyway so there'd be little loss?
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:24 PM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ok, but what specifically do we do? Because, to me, the kind of guys you're talking about might be vocal members1 but not important ones. They're just noise to me and I never even see it, which is probably why I'm tone deaf to some of this, because I do just tune out the guys on the spectrum occhiblu is talking about (and thanks for the post).

You specifically realize that many of us can't tune that out. You specifically choose to stop exercising your ability to tune it out, and you specifically start paying attention to it. You specifically say, "Hey, not cool" when you see it happening.

Really, that's it.
posted by occhiblu at 4:26 PM on November 16, 2007 [5 favorites]


Yes.

And I don't want to speak for anyone but myself, but it's absolutely pathetic how grateful I frequently am to adult males gently guiding the younger, wackier ones.

An occasional "Hey bro, settle down with the BUCKET OF COCKS, all right?" goes a long way.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 4:28 PM on November 16, 2007


what specifically do we do

Refrain from making those little jokey comments that build up the Dudez vibe (I'd hit that; my dick is so big; ...)

Don't encourage folks who make those comments; or, encourage wittier stuff of theirs.

When someone makes a more-egregious sexist comment, call them out or make fun of them for it, rather than just letting it pass silently. (Men are often in a better position to set the tone on this issue than women are, since people making those comments are more likely to care what guy's -- a fellow frat brother -- approval or disapproval.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:31 PM on November 16, 2007


You can have my bucket of cocks when you pry it from my cold, dead... Ah, shit! Which oriface did I stash my bucket of cocks in this time?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:33 PM on November 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Okay.

I guess my experimental foray into being earnest hasn't worked out.

Back to advice about pasta on AskMe.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 4:44 PM on November 16, 2007


IRFH: that's pretty tone-deaf, even as a joke.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:46 PM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


And, when someone shows up in MetaTalk with some clearly crappy "what the fuck is up with all these uppity women" questions, tell him he's completely and totally full of shit. And comments like these should perhaps not be met with silence.

"Hey bro, settle down with the BUCKET OF COCKS, all right?"

There are a lot of people here who do this really well, but I wish there were more.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:47 PM on November 16, 2007


IRFH: that's pretty tone-deaf, even as a joke.

IRFH: bleah.

See? Simple.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:49 PM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hey bro, settle down with the BUCKET OF COCKS, all right?

But my problem comes when I look at trying to hit the finer points of occhiblu's long post.
posted by 517 at 4:51 PM on November 16, 2007


IRFH: that's pretty tone-deaf, even as a joke.

Yeah. I was in a hurry, and rattled off a crappy one-liner instead of saying: I think the bucket of cocks jokes are not really good examples of the problem here, IMO. Now, my Quattro formagi saucei s getting lumpy. Gotta go stir.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:51 PM on November 16, 2007


They're piling in the back seat. They're generating steam heat. Pulsating to the back beat. The Blitzkrieg Bop. Hey ho, let's go.
posted by item at 4:52 PM on November 16, 2007


Ethereal Bligh, your point about silent women has some merit. Take this comment by jokeefe about "leaving thread now," favorited 30 times mostly by women. The thread was one about ads that some women find offensive, and there was about a 4 to 1 male to female ratio of participation ... yet many more women silently favorited those women who did speak out, indicating that there are a lot of lurking women. Why don't these women speak out too? Why don't they participate more?

In particular, some women-oriented issues and threads can be teh suxor, hellish places indeed. Sometimes the topic interests me but when I get the tenor of the thread, I decide to walk on by. I am not reluctant to speak out, but eh, it takes an energy I can't or don't always want to sustain; life is short, how much of it do I want to spend jousting with internet assholes who evaluate women by whether they'd "hit it" or not? (Bless you, Ambrosia Voyeur for your energy and unflagging enthusiasm for taking up the cause).

Mostly, I like the guys here on mefi and find some so refreshingly and astonishingly egalitarian, sensitive and just plain great that it warms my heart. I think it has gotten better for women not worse in my four years here, but I can still have my days of despair. I am fairly aggressive with thick skin earned in corporate boardrooms so I am willing to jump in the fray. But I see so many women here that I admire whose participation starts out strong and then peters off; later, in threads like these they attest to their discomfort. So we aren't there yet. Just as we aren't "there yet" in pay parity, corporate boardrooms, or congress.

Lord_Wolf's comment about a whitezone (in this flasher meta, or the other one, I may be confused) also resonated with me. As I was looking at the pic page I was thinking how we are very white male as a group, and very much so when you consider the most active participants. (Granted, the pic page is not a good sampling because it is a self-selected group of people who chose to post photos and many are cartoons, illustrations, or icons. But still, the point stands.)

I think these conversations are worthwhile at least now and again. I have an enhanced measure of regard for some people based on wonderful things they've said, it inspires me. It behooves us all to try to understand "the other" more, however pitched the battle to do so, and to engage in talk and behavior that is inclusive rather than exclusive.
posted by madamjujujive at 4:56 PM on November 16, 2007 [11 favorites]


But my problem comes when I look at trying to hit the finer points of occhiblu's long post.

That's ok. Start small. Really. Small protests build up quickly. I certainly don't expect any one person (myself included) to gung-ho warrior their way into fixing the problem all on their own. In the long run, such individual action create burn out anyway.

It really is mostly just a question of noticing what's going on as often as you can, and saying something about it as often as you can. If others are doing the same, it starts to build a critical mass of people who are actively trying to build understanding and inclusiveness into the site.
posted by occhiblu at 5:00 PM on November 16, 2007


IRFH: I was on the brink of making very nearly the exact same crappy joke, but stopped when I realized that this was possible the perfectly wrong time and place to make such a joke.

Cheers.
posted by Arturus at 5:02 PM on November 16, 2007


occhiblu, when I read through that comment I can't distinguish between no talk of sexual differences as acceptable and the acceptable talk the post is defining. I get the general idea behind the points but the actual execution seems impossible.
posted by 517 at 5:07 PM on November 16, 2007


You specifically say, "Hey, not cool" when you see it happening.

Fair enough. I always feel like that rings false online, but . . . if you're saying I have free reign to go after the bucket of cocks type "jokers", I am your man. My problem here is two-fold:

1. There has to be some sort of threshold lest MF become a series of comments about whether a comment was sexist.
2. "Refrain from making those little jokey comments that build up the Dudez vibe (I'd hit that; my dick is so big; ...)"-- not doing that is easy, but it's a negative space thing. I've never done that. I will continue to never not no don't do that but my inaction will nürvër be noticeable.
posted by yerfatma at 5:09 PM on November 16, 2007


I agree with most of what Occhiblu said, except that part about calling Anne Coulter a tranny cunt. Because she is a tranny cunt.
posted by empath at 5:13 PM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


517, I'm not following you very well. Can you give an example, or elaborate a bit?

1. There has to be some sort of threshold lest MF become a series of comments about whether a comment was sexist.

Better that MF become a series of comments that are sexist?

Like I said above, if people could just do a little bit, whatever they were comfortable with in whatever form they were comfortable with, to challenge sexism around here rather than just letting it pass, I couldn't even begin to describe how enormous an improvement that would be. Not the least because it take such enormous pressure off the few people who consistently do make those stands now.
posted by occhiblu at 5:14 PM on November 16, 2007


"it's like being savaged by a dead sheep'

So that is the dry british humor I've heard so much about. Oscar Wilde would be proud, I'm sure. You've insulted the real "grey" lady that is metatalk, and for that you must be punished.



knock knock

who's there?

I'm a pile-up...
posted by vronsky at 5:14 PM on November 16, 2007


"Hey bro, settle down with the BUCKET OF COCKS, all right?"

*settles down with bucket of cocks*
...and when they finally start laying, the eggs will be all mine!!
posted by Floydd at 5:14 PM on November 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Or, 517, we can just use that last comment from empath....

Anne Coulter is a vile human being. Calling her a vile human being is not sexist.

She is not a vile human being because she is a woman, so calling her a "cunt" is sexist. It brings her gender into the discussion for no reason other than to point out that she's a woman. Why's that relevant?

She is not a vile human being because of the way she looks, so insulting her appearance is sexist, because it reinforces the idea that all women should be judged on their looks. Why's that relevant?

Throwing "tranny" into the mix throws transsexuals under the bus for absolutely no reason at all, and is just a vile thing for anyone to do. Why's that relevant?

Does that make any sense, or get at what you were asking?
posted by occhiblu at 5:17 PM on November 16, 2007 [20 favorites]


occhiblu, your concrete suggestions are so good. I have one more simple action, an easy one of omission rather than commission. Don't favorite sexist comments. More than once I have seen a comment that I find terribly offensive that is favorited by many, and when I see the list of people I otherwise love who favorited it, my heart dies a little. I know that it is difficult to know what could be hurtful. One possible litmus: Think if it is something you would be comfortable laughing at and endorsing if your wife, girlfriend, sister, mom or daughter were here.

I am not a humorless dour, pc schoolmarm that wants to wring all the fun out of mefi (I hang out with quonsar for God's sake). I would just like to see us raise the bar a bit.
posted by madamjujujive at 5:25 PM on November 16, 2007 [5 favorites]


Sorry had to step away for a second...

What I as getting at was that I understand the idea of not specifically criticizing someone in a sexual context (Anne Coutler) and not specifically mentioning things like a bucket of cocks (I'd get tired of hearing about the reverse of that from a group of women) but what I don't understand is the more subtle layer of the comment that any expression of difference is sexist ("...she’s obviously only dressed like that because she wants to get laid.")
posted by 517 at 5:36 PM on November 16, 2007


I had written something longer about the Kate Harding quotes, but my thoughts can be summed up based on this quote:

* every time you dismiss a woman as “playing the victim,” even if you’re right about that particular woman…

Awesome, even when you're right about the situation, you're still wrong. You really can't win, can you? So why not throw in some snark and amuse yourself and your friends.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:37 PM on November 16, 2007


I can only skim this thread, but perhaps I can still offer something worthwhile.

Women, I'm starting to 'get it', truly.

I was raised in a (mild to moderate) feminist household. The idea of a strong, capable woman is not threatening to me - more-or-less a requirement and even an expectation of friends or partners. Neither is the idea of a broad spectrum of human sexuality of all sorts, diversity being that which makes us Human.

Even in such an environment learning about, supporting and learning how to coexist with women hasn't been easy. There's still a great deal of momentum and resistance. It's still a man's world - generally for the worse, IMO. And the raging madness of hormones and youth is no asset to tolerance or understanding, either. Much less tact.

In a younger age - yes, on one level I have paid lip service to equality and feminism, wrongly thinking it would make me more attractive to the women in my life. This, obviously, a great falsehood, and a deep offense...

...even if part of the motivation was whole and pure, as well, because not only do I also suffer when those around me are oppressed and abused, but also because I - like many - really do care.

But it's wrong as hell to simply pay lip service to feminism, and it feels exponentially even more wrong to confuse and compound falsehood and selfishness with empathy. Wrong for me, wrong for you, wrong for everyone.

Part of the reason I'm writing is is that I want to apologize - for a number of things. Generalized, open letters of apology are worth much less than personal, private ones, but perhaps not entirely worthless.

First, I'm sorry for treating women as objects. Strangers and friends. My eye and mind wanders and my imagination takes liberties it really should not. Especially as I seem to believe in some sort of metaphysics or spirituality, this is wrong.

As I get older, I still have no solid 'why' that might explain such things, but as I get older, the unsensible madness of hormones and youth seem to be waning and leaving me with a more pragmatic and less wind-blown personality.

I'll allow for some bioethics to come into play - we're wired for sex and attraction and procreation, etc. But that's not an acceptable explanation for the type and depth of objectification that occurs from men in general.

Second, I'm sorry for whenever I've failed to stand up and say something when it was time to do so. Every "woman driver" slag I've let slip by. Every "dumb blonde" joke I've ever heard. Every leer, every offensive catcall, every spoken or unspoken threat of sexual dominance or wrongness. Every abusive spouse, every dismissive boss, every wage imbalance, every goddamn wrongness...

There's too many to count and remember - I could spend the rest of my life trying to recall all the moments in just the life that I've had - and that speaks volumes about the continuing problem all by itself. Terrible, thick volumes full of ill will, strife - oppression. The things I've heard some men say makes my own blood boil with anger and shame.

I fear I can only approach the edge of this great, collective hurt and it terrifies me and overwhelms me. There seems to be a terribly unjust sadness or hurt to being a woman in this world, and it's starting to bother me on a fundamental level.

Third, I'm sorry for the terrible things that have come out of my own words. I've made at least one comment here on MetaFilter that I'm very, deeply sorry for - and a few others, besides. In ignorance or malice or both. I won't even attempt to defend the one in particular as humor, as it's not worth the defense. It was stupidity.

There's so much more than I can put into words - even with my easy way with them. I'm sorry. I will strive harder for understanding and equality. Bridges are built from both sides for a reason.



In closing:

While MetaFilter is indeed "boyzone", perhaps it is because the world itself is still so - the bad old world that it is.

If MetaFilter is "boyzone" above and beyond that, I can only suspect that it is so not because it is populated by fratboys, jocks and wimmen-hatin' manly-men - but because it is still partially populated by nerdly-nerds and "early adopter archetypes" as early computing itself and the early 'net once was. And we have lots of historical, anecdotal evidence about how nerds are overwhelmed, awed and often even frightened by women. Cooties and all.

Regardless, I'm going to do my best from now onward to help MeFi be less boyzone. Please do feel free to call me on it, to discuss anything with me, or tell me anything you think might help me understand. My email is listed and my MeFi Mail is open.


For my mom, 'cuz it's my birthday. Thanks, mom.
posted by loquacious at 5:38 PM on November 16, 2007 [30 favorites]


eponysterical
posted by yerfatma at 5:44 PM on November 16, 2007


You can win by not being an asshole. I know, it can be hard to resist, but that's the prize.
posted by languagehat at 5:44 PM on November 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Wow, good luck with that.
posted by yerfatma at 5:45 PM on November 16, 2007


Oops, sorry, that was to BB. I forgot how quickly this thread moves.
posted by languagehat at 5:45 PM on November 16, 2007


Happy birthday, loquacious!!
(Mine's tomorrow.)
posted by Floydd at 5:46 PM on November 16, 2007


I really liked your comment, occhiblu, because it's true generally and it's right on the money when it's entirely true—but it also bothers me because it's really annoying that women feel like they have to say “I'm not saying that you're a sexist, you're one of the good guys...” just to get listened to by men.

Because, frankly, based upon the comments I've seen here on MeFi, a large portion of the men here are sexist. And a subset of them are virulently sexist, they just usually hide it.

I wish I could recall the specific thread, but there was a thread where I got into an argument with someone (thankfully, I've forgotten who it was) who argued strenuously that men have it much worse than women. As I vaguely recall, that thread had a surprising number of really vicious anti-women comments from a surprisingly large number of men.

There's a lot of male resentment out there against women and while some or most of those men delude themselves into thinking that it's not sexist of them to resent women the way they do, it is sexist. Just as few of us are deceived when some white guy starts ranting about “reverse discrimination” and how blacks have all these advantages, blah, blah, blah. Few of us fail to recognize that person as a racist; likewise, men who resent women are sexist.

I mean, why is it that a man can say, “look who is on the rag” and get away with saying it was “just a joke” and be corrected by women with the disclaimer that she doesn't think that the man is really sexist...while an equivalent racist “joke” would never get the benefit of the doubt (and rightly so)? Fuck that.

I'm not reacting just to your comment, I was stewing over this because there were a number of comments in these two threads where it was asserted that the men here really aren't sexist and we're all certain that most of this stuff is just misguided humor. I understand the need for diplomacy and I also understand giving the benefit of the doubt. But I'm not sure that men will get the reality of sexism into their thick heads until people stop treating them with kid gloves. Because, you know, that's part of the sexist tactic, right? To make the cost of pointing out sexism too high.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:48 PM on November 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


Okay - back for a minute. Here's what I wanted to say. I wanted to differentiate between conversations and comments that are hostile to women and conversations and comments that are merely not inclusive for some (or most) women. So I threw out a quick bucket of cocks one-liner (since that was the example last raised) which, tasteless and unfunny as it was, was intended to be an example of a tasteless one-liner that is exclusionary rather than misogynist (there were actually no women referenced in the "joke" at all, even implicitly). Why do I think it's important to make this distinction here, now? Maybe it’s not, really, but we've reached that part of the discussion where we're starting to talk about proscribing other's behavior. A point at which I think it might be useful to be really clear about what we mean when we say let's openly discourage "BoyZone." Yes - we should speak out against hostile behavior when we encounter it. But given our history of also having to constantly fight against "maleanswersyndrome" in threads intended primarily for (or primarily relevant to) women, we need to be pretty clear that we're talking about a very specific type of behavior, not insisting that everybody suddenly try to be all-inclusive all the time. And no - I don't think it's important to make that distinction because I see everybody suddenly trying to be all-inclusive all the time as a real possibility. I don’t think we’re in any danger of suddenly converting to a “GirlZone.” I think it's important to make that distinction because history shows that people find change threatening and any hint of prescriptivism tends to increase the knee-jerk noise level of resistance. Plenty of evidence of which can be found in these associated threads.

Okay - Hope that was a little bit clearer. Next time, I'll take the time to write out the comment rather than hope my point rises through the ugly snark.

---

Holy crap! That's a lot of new text on preview. Uh... I don't have time to read it all. Uh... If anyone else is taking me to task, you're probably right.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:50 PM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


You can win by not being an asshole. I know, it can be hard to resist, but that's the prize.

I get your point LH, but I'm explaining that the Kate Harding quotes can be seen as very anti-guy and batshitinsane. They're so out there it's like there can be no form of mutal understanding and even worse, no effort made towards understanding. The exact opposite actually.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:50 PM on November 16, 2007


(Mine's tomorrow.)

Mine too, actually. Huzzah! Happy birthday!
posted by loquacious at 6:00 PM on November 16, 2007


tkchrist, what if we didn't call it "sexism" but said that the "I'd hit that" etc, even said in jest, but said 1000 times, made it an unpleasant environment for the women around here? And that if the men here said stuff like that less, we'd enjoy that, and also that stuff is usually rote and not very funny anyway so there'd be little loss?

Okay. Whatever.

I just asked my wife if calling Ann Coulter a "cunt" is sexist. And she said "Is calling Rush Limbaugh a "dick" sexist?"

I'm sorry but allot of this is in the eye of the beholder here.
posted by tkchrist at 6:01 PM on November 16, 2007


I just asked my wife if calling Ann Coulter a "cunt" is sexist...

Some of your best friends are women.
posted by transona5 at 6:04 PM on November 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


Some of your best friends are women.

Oh. Come on. That was totally unfair.
posted by tkchrist at 6:05 PM on November 16, 2007


the Kate Harding quotes can be seen as very anti-guy and batshitinsane

I so don't see that, BB.

I just asked my wife if calling Ann Coulter a "cunt" is sexist. And she said "Is calling Rush Limbaugh a "dick" sexist?"

Despite my deep hatred for Ann Coulter, I cannot go into any threads about her because of the violent sexual language, threats and imagery so frequently directed at her. Take all the "I fucked Anne Coulter" in the ass hard. I hate that shit, it's not funny, I find it violent and scary, this humor at "punishing" bad women with sex. Man. I would be happy if the worst that happened in Coulter threads was calling her a cunt or a dick - that might be progress.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:11 PM on November 16, 2007 [16 favorites]


tkchrist, what if we didn't call it "sexism" but said that the "I'd hit that" etc, even said in jest, but said 1000 times, made it an unpleasant environment for the women around here?

Do people really say that all the time here? I mean, I've said it, but the last time was in reference to photos of men that were said to look like older lesbians.

It seems to me the few times I've seen it, the phrase has been used in a similarly absurdist fashion.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:15 PM on November 16, 2007


Because, frankly, based upon the comments I've seen here on MeFi, a large portion of the men here are sexist. . . . As I vaguely recall, that thread had a surprising number of really vicious anti-women comments from a surprisingly large number of men.

Which is it, are we mainly sexist or mainly not sexist so it's surprising when we're sexist?
posted by yerfatma at 6:18 PM on November 16, 2007


It seems to me the few times I've seen it, the phrase has been used in a similarly absurdist fashion.

I would agree with you, but it's not true anymore. It shows up in threads that you probably never click into because they're obviously useless. I'll never get it. One of my former co-workers used to ride with us on our mid-week excursions to the comic book store. Invariably, he'd spend the time telling us semi-sexually explicit stories. in the year this went on, I managed to never once say, "We are three adult males. On our way to a comic book store. There is zero reason to try to impress us with a sex story. Stop it."

The moral here, apparently, is I need to give manhood lessons to the kind of losers on their way to comic book stores as adults. And me, the kind of loser on his way to a comic book store.
posted by yerfatma at 6:24 PM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


“I just asked my wife if calling Ann Coulter a ‘cunt’ is sexist.”

and

“Oh. Come on. That was totally unfair.”

No it wasn't. You're using your wife's opinion as a means to invalidate all the opinions you disagree with.

Your wife isn't special. Being female doesn't automatically give one an infallible ability to identify or understand sexism. A lot of women are indoctrinated into denying that “bad” sexism really exists at all.

I'm a somewhat reliable authority on how I've experienced discrimination and bigotry with regard to being a disabled person. I'm not an authority on how all other disabled people experience it. I'm more likely to have some insight into the general phenomena than able-bodied people, of course. But just how much more likely and just how insightful are open questions.

And if you are a disabled person who says that you believe that I've been discriminated against on the basis of my disability, even when I've not recognized it, you're probably right. And if you're an abled-bodied person who says that I have (even when I've not recognized it) on the basis of what other disabled people have said and on your own observations of how disabled people are treated, then it's total bullshit for me to attempt to invalidate your opinion just because I'm disabled and you're not.

As it happens, I don't much notice discrimination against me on the basis of my disability. But maybe I don't want to notice it. Maybe it's much more comfortable for me to not notice it. And that's where I actually have some legitimate authority: my own experience. Other disabled people's experience? Not so much.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:27 PM on November 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


I just asked my wife if calling Ann Coulter a "cunt" is sexist. And she said "Is calling Rush Limbaugh a "dick" sexist?"

Actually - as the politics are understood - yes. But here's why, and I'm not actually picking on you in particular. My own language is readily laden with such gender-politic landmines.

I'm just dissecting the language objectively, I've no horse nor interest in whatever particular argument you may have in this thread.


Let's start with cunt. What is, exactly, the "etymology of offensiveness" behind it when used as a negative epithet?

Obviously, on the surface we're dealing with the idea that the vagina is bad, or even that owning one is bad - and looking at a similar negative epithet used in conjunction with "cunt" which is "bitch".

Pardon me if I get all Noam Chomsky or Andrea Dworkin on this shit, but why would a vagina be bad? That the woman being insulted is a crazy, angry bitch? What about "cunt" - as in, denied access to? Frigid? All of the above, and more?

Cunt is a complicated word. Hell yes, it can be sexy and non-negative and empowering. But in the negative context? What exactly is being implied?

Conversely, what about "pussy"? As in, 'that guy is a pussy.' What is being implied, there? Weakness? Femininity? That. Guy. Is. A. Pussy. Receptive to copulation and dominance, perhaps?

Now, let us consider "dick". That which penetrates. In the negative context it implies a dominance over others - the dick is the one doing the fucking over. He ain't no pussy. He might be a shitty asshole, too, but first and foremost he's a dick. He's on top of things and fucking shit up.

Damn near a compliment, really. Manly. Aggressive. Full of win - if disliked terribly for it.

Note, my semantics even shift automatically to masculine pronouns while using "dick". "That woman is such a dick!" Try saying it out loud. Doesn't quite work the same way, does it? Not the same way that "That guy is a total cunt!" does, does it?

QED.
posted by loquacious at 6:28 PM on November 16, 2007 [5 favorites]


“Which is it, are we mainly sexist or mainly not sexist so it's surprising when we're sexist?”

What was surprising was the virulence of the comments in that thread. Sorry to thwart your “Gotchya!” attempt.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:29 PM on November 16, 2007


Do people really say that all the time here?

Well there's this, and thats just the last 30 minutes.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:30 PM on November 16, 2007


I so don't see that

Fair enough, but I'm telling you what I see and what a lot of other very reasonable guys might see. The quotes reeked of wanting to micromanage every thought, feeling and utterance of a guy and many would probably say "forget that, I'm just a sexist pig" and call it a day, while placing anyone who says anything similar in that very specific place in their mind.

Seriously a woman is plays the victim card, a guy calls her on it and "You are missing an opportunity to help stop the bad guys." That doesn't make any sense.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:31 PM on November 16, 2007


Retroactive apologies to George Carlin. Damn near reads like a sketch he'd do.
posted by loquacious at 6:31 PM on November 16, 2007


FWIW, I've always hated the word 'dick' as a synonym for penis. It's extremely unsexy. makes me think of Dick Tracy and this weird boss I had named Richard who said call me Dick.'
posted by jonmc at 6:33 PM on November 16, 2007


Despite my deep hatred for Ann Coulter, I cannot go into any threads about her because of the violent sexual language, threats and imagery so frequently directed at her. Take all the "I fucked Anne Coulter" in the ass hard. I hate that shit, it's not funny, I find it violent and scary, this humor at "punishing" bad women with sex.

Wait a minute calling her name and conflating THAT with anal RAPE!? Sure the dude that did the Blog was an asshole but again we are going to be stuck with people just looking to be offended when we start saying using words like "cunt" is defacto sexist. What the hell. To some people it is to some people.... MANY women (depending on the context)... it isn't. It is NOT sexist in my opinion to call ANYONE a cunt. And I am sorry. But that is way it is.

The fact that I used my wife as a barometer for these things is not some sort of dodge. I live and own a business with the woman. I value her input as a woman... and, yes, as my BEST friend, much more than I do anonymous posters. Sorry. But that is the way it is.

I am all for a more civil board here. But part of that is NOT jumping down somebodies throat every time you get your boxers in a bunch. Like Transona5 just did up there to me.

I don't go posting "I'd hit" and shit like that. It's stupid. But I'm not going to censor myself beyond being commonly decent worrying about offending people. Because somebody is ALWAYS offended. See what I am saying. If I have crossed a line somebody can point it out. But if they are sarcastic or snarky doing it I will just think "Well. Fuck you."

BTW. If we actually lived our lives according to some (though some I agree with) of things in that Kate Harding list we would be banned by men and women alike as self-righteous assholes.

Let play some roll reversal:

"*every time you don’t tell your girlfriends it’s not okay to talk shit about a man, even if it’s kinda funny;"

"* every time you roll your eyes and think “Testoerone!” instead of listening to why a man’s upset;"

Will it cut both ways? It better.

Context, people. Sometimes the genders — women and men— amongst ourselves, talk about the opposite in derogatory way to actually help work things out. It is usually harmless. When we get personally insulting in a sexist manner... okay, a line is most definitely crossed.

I am all for creating a more equitable civil site. But I suspect there are some MeFites ITCHING to play sheriff who will (and already do) abuse their self anointed status.

I want the rules to fair for everybody. And apply equally to everybody. So I think they DO have to spelled out.

Otherwise we start playing this "Your Racist" or "Your Sexist" game back and fourth ALL the time between our selves this site is going suck shit and NOBODY will want to be here except the Always Offended.
posted by tkchrist at 6:35 PM on November 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


Not the same way that "That guy is a total cunt!" does, does it?

In the UK people say it to men ALL the time.
posted by tkchrist at 6:37 PM on November 16, 2007


Otherwise we start playing this "Your Racist" or "Your Sexist" game back and fourth ALL the time

What you mean 'start,' Kemosabe?

[NOT TONTOIST]
posted by jonmc at 6:38 PM on November 16, 2007


A lot of women are indoctrinated into denying that “bad” sexism really exists at all.

So MY wife is indoctrinated now becuase she disagree with YOUR opinion.

Jesus Christ. Forget it. I'm done.
posted by tkchrist at 6:39 PM on November 16, 2007


Unable to adapt to the new demands placed upon it by its environment, it lost the ability to reproduce. Metafilter died amidst the cold grey swirls of winter shortly thereafter.
posted by 517 at 6:40 PM on November 16, 2007


Well there's this, and thats just the last 30 minutes.

Oh, that jonmc, undermining my points.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:41 PM on November 16, 2007


"Being female doesn't automatically give one an infallible ability to identify or understand sexism."

No, for that you need to be Ethereal Bligh.
posted by klangklangston at 6:42 PM on November 16, 2007 [5 favorites]


Oy, jess. That thread was deletion-bound and from what I can gather intended as an excersise in puerile humor. I'm all for civility, but do we want to get all Nurse Ratched?
posted by jonmc at 6:43 PM on November 16, 2007


In the UK people say it to men ALL the time.

But that was my point! Hell, I threw a floater! The frisbee is still hanging there, hovering over your head!

I'm all for civility, but do we want to get all Nurse Ratched?

Man, you eat the weirdest shit. Those feet of yours can't be tasting good.

Unobfuscated: You just called Jessamyn a cranky old bitch-nurse. The insult implies gender, etc. WTF, eh?
posted by loquacious at 6:48 PM on November 16, 2007


do we want to get all Nurse Ratched?

Some people do. Some people don't. Some people think they don't but they really do, while others really do, at least for that asshole who just won't shut up, but otherwise they don't.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:50 PM on November 16, 2007


In all fairness, I've actually met Louise Fletcher, and she was a lovely and gracious woman.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:52 PM on November 16, 2007


do we want to get all Nurse Ratched?

I pointed no fingers and named no names. Someone asked a question and I answered it with a link. Any Nurse Ratched you see or hear is all in your head.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:53 PM on November 16, 2007


That thread was deletion-bound and from what I can gather intended as an excersise in puerile humor.

No no no. I like you but are you listening?
posted by onlyconnect at 6:53 PM on November 16, 2007


You just called Jessamyn a cranky old bitch-nurse. The insult implies gender, etc. WTF, eh?

To which I say, so what? I've been called much worse many times in my life and to tell the truth, I'm getting a wee bit tiredof people who oftentimes seem more like bosses than iberators telling me how oppresive I am.
posted by jonmc at 6:54 PM on November 16, 2007


Someone asked a question and I answered it with a link.

With my name attached. I can either stand up for myself or let myself get stomped.
posted by jonmc at 6:55 PM on November 16, 2007


BrandonBlatcher: I'm explaining that the Kate Harding quotes can be seen as very anti-guy and ...........insane.

Wow, really? She seems to be going far, far out of her way to make it as pro-guy as possible. I was going to go through it and pull out the quotes that especially indicated that, but I wonder if there'd be any point? It's more about an overall message than sentences taken out of context.

I honestly want to know, that really came off as some insane rant to you? It made no sense? Spoke to nothing in your experience?
posted by Danila at 7:01 PM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


well, jonmc, someone above just posed the question about whether "I'd hit it" comments and jokes were all that common, and you just happened to have made the most recent one. Jess's link merely said that one had been posted in the last 30 minutes. How is that stomping you?
posted by madamjujujive at 7:02 PM on November 16, 2007


By making me the posterboy for mefi misogyny by saying 'look what jon said,' even though in the context of Zach's thread it's clearly intended as absurdist humor.
posted by jonmc at 7:05 PM on November 16, 2007


I can either stand up for myself or let myself get stomped.

You should really get over this attitude.
posted by languagehat at 7:05 PM on November 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


“...but I wonder if there'd be any point?”

No, there wouldn't be a point because people like Brandon Blatcher refuse to acknowledge anything but the most blatant sexism and take complaints of sexism as general attacks against men.

Here's a rule of thumb that I've found useful: if a man asserts that run-of-the-mill complaints about sexism against women are “anti-male” or sexist themselves, he is a nutcase who can safely (and best) ignored.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:08 PM on November 16, 2007


scroll scroll scroll oh it was a short one.
posted by 517 at 7:16 PM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


You should really get over this attitude.

Experience, both here and in the real world, has taught me the opposite. And because I'm so visible, people looking to score points will take a cheap shot at me. I can either let them think they've won or smack 'em down.

(for the record, I am not talking about jessamyn, who I get along with. I was just a bit miffed at having myself posited as an example of sexism, yet again, by people who are often completely without a clue)
posted by jonmc at 7:18 PM on November 16, 2007


"No, there wouldn't be a point because people like Brandon Blatcher refuse to acknowledge anything but the most blatant sexism and take complaints of sexism as general attacks against men."

Yes, when someone has a criticism about one single item out of about 20, clearly he is an extremist crank. That's a failure to acknowledge anything but the most blatant examples. You, sir, are a paragon of understanding. All women should want you to wear their garters.
posted by klangklangston at 7:18 PM on November 16, 2007


Seriously a woman is plays the victim card, a guy calls her on it and "You are missing an opportunity to help stop the bad guys." That doesn't make any sense.

It made a lot of sense to me and I thought it was a great point. It seems like you found her statements incoherent and aggressive. I thought they were persuasive and contained wisdom and empathy. Rather than assume that one of us is insane, I assume that we are coming from different perspectives, ways of perceiving, seeing, etc.

Imagine if you were surrounded by her/my perspective frequently, and not just in the random blog posting. If the people around you seemed aggressive and spoke out insanely for reasons you just don't understand. This is how it feels to me a lot of the times when these discussions are had.

I'll say this, I think so far this thread is going better than most.

Oh, and about the "victim card". It's typically only the members of a victim group that are accused of playing the "victim card". It is because she is a woman that she is seen as a member of a weak group, and is then accused of using that to her advantage. If it wasn't a woman, odds are another argument would be used (unless it was a black man or a gay man, etc.). Thus the perceived sexism.

I think a person can do or say something sexist without being sexist. But I get the feeling that a lot of people are dying on that hill.

klangklangston: when someone has a criticism about one single item out of about 20, clearly he is an extremist crank.

He said she seemed insane and anti-guy. It's not a criticism of "one single item out of about 20". It's a fundamental disconnect and while I am not as pessimistic as EB, I see it too.
posted by Danila at 7:23 PM on November 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


I think accusations of “playing the victim card” is another big, red flag.

Really, that and the “reverse sexism” response both reveal the sexist context. In both examples, the defensive response sees the complaint as a means to get power. Ask yourself: what kind of person in what kind of world would instinctively react to claims of sexism as if they were threatening power grabs? Might it be those who are jealous of the power they hold and fear losing it?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:30 PM on November 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


Your wife isn't special. Being female doesn't automatically give one an infallible ability to identify or understand sexism. A lot of women are indoctrinated into denying that “bad” sexism really exists at all.

I was with you on many of your points, but you're veering into crazytown here. Are you really playing the false consciousness card? Maybe tkchrist's wife has a viewpoint that is not shared by most women, but discounting her opinion on the basis of some alleged "indoctrination" is incredibly condescending. If you really want to speak to how women feel about various types of communication and treatment, you can't just perfunctorily write off opinions like that.
posted by brain_drain at 7:49 PM on November 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


it's clearly intended as absurdist humor.

Absurdist, maybe. Humor, that's a stretch.
posted by justgary at 7:50 PM on November 16, 2007


"I think accusations of “playing the victim card” is another big, red flag."

You think everything is a big, red flag. It isn't. [AND I SAY THIS KNOWING FULL WELL THAT CHARGES OF PLAYING THE VICTIM CARD ARE ENDEMIC AND A FORM OF OPPRESSION].

When a woman fakes crying in order to get out of a traffic ticket, she is making it harder for other women's tears to be taken seriously. When a woman makes a fake rape complaint [AND I SAY THIS KNOWING FULL WELL THAT RAPES ARE BELIEVED TO BE UNDERREPORTED] she is playing the victim card and making it harder for other women to be taken seriously.

That I had to use those all-caps asides was to preempt the bullshit you were about to say.

"Ask yourself: what kind of person in what kind of world would instinctively react to claims of sexism as if they were threatening power grabs? Might it be those who are jealous of the power they hold and fear losing it?"

Ask yourself: What kind of rhetorician prefers conjecturing questions to stating points? Might it be those who seek to impugn rather than to put forth? To imply that an opponent is a terrible sexist rather than to call him one?

The obvious answer to your rhetoricals is "Yes, it might be the power-holders, and contingently that their primary motivation is sexism." But saying that you're a motherfucker and then saying, "What kind of man reacts defensively when it's insinuated that he has Oedipally-known? Might it be someone who has, indeed, been matronly coital?"

Is anyone who tries to prove he's not a motherfucker therefore a motherfucker?

That's clearly the best argument for parsing, "Naw, fucked your mother, motherfucker."
posted by klangklangston at 8:02 PM on November 16, 2007 [6 favorites]


But I'm afraid that us two being assholes has driven all the women from the thread again. Go us!
posted by klangklangston at 8:04 PM on November 16, 2007


arent all our fathers motherfuckers?

I'm just saying.
posted by jonmc at 8:06 PM on November 16, 2007


Wow. Is it too early to go back to -

Knock, knock!
posted by yhbc at 8:06 PM on November 16, 2007


"arent all our fathers motherfuckers?"

Don't you talk about my momma.
posted by klangklangston at 8:08 PM on November 16, 2007


"The vapors" is a loaded expression. You obviously did mean it as a joke in the other thread, klangklangston, knowing that it had inherently sexist connotations regardless of the existence of actual women who faint. Well, "playing the victim card" is just as bad.
posted by transona5 at 8:14 PM on November 16, 2007


“...but discounting her opinion on the basis of some alleged ‘indoctrination’ is incredibly condescending.”

Here is what I wrote:

“You're using your wife's opinion as a means to invalidate all the opinions you disagree with. Your wife isn't special. Being female doesn't automatically give one an infallible ability to identify or understand sexism. A lot of women are indoctrinated into denying that ‘bad’ sexism really exists at all.”

I wrote that “a lot of women” (which does not necessarily include her) are “indoctrinated into denying that ‘bad’ sexism really exists at all” which is quite specific and doesn't refer to her in any way, unless tkchrist has quoted his wife as denying that “bad” sexism exists. But he didn't, I didn't think he did, and I wasn't referring to his wife.

I used that as an extreme example of how it's prima facie not the case that, merely by virtue of being female, a woman is necessarily a reliable judge of sexism.

Is it really so hard for people to correctly interpret what they read?

And if some woman does claim that sexism really doesn't exist, I will write off her opinion as being “indoctrinated”, whether or not you or she or anyone else thinks it's condescending of me to do so.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:14 PM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


MJJ: Despite my deep hatred for Ann Coulter, I cannot go into any threads about her because of the violent sexual language, threats and imagery so frequently directed at her. Take all the "I fucked Anne Coulter" in the ass hard. I hate that shit, it's not funny, I find it violent and scary, this humor at "punishing" bad women with sex. Man. I would be happy if the worst that happened in Coulter threads was calling her a cunt or a dick - that might be progress.

I can't express how passionately I agree with this. Literally, I guess, because I've been trying to expand the thought, and just keep deleting my attempts. So, I'll just say, oh god, yes, and thank you.
posted by taz at 8:15 PM on November 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


"tkchrist, what if we didn't call it "sexism" but said that the "I'd hit that" etc, even said in jest, but said 1000 times, made it an unpleasant environment for the women around here?"

Do people really say that all the time here? I mean, I've said it, but the last time was in reference to photos of men that were said to look like older lesbians.

It seems to me the few times I've seen it, the phrase has been used in a similarly absurdist fashion.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:15 PM on November 16 [+] [!]


Yes - I think people intend most of the "I'd hit that", "look at my giant wang" etc as a joke - irony, absurdism, etc. I'm saying that EVEN SO it gets tedious.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:15 PM on November 16, 2007


Oh, come on.

KNOCK, KNOCK.
posted by yhbc at 8:15 PM on November 16, 2007


WHO IS THERE?
posted by klangklangston at 8:17 PM on November 16, 2007


That's more like it.

Dwayne.
posted by yhbc at 8:18 PM on November 16, 2007


Oh, sorry - I meant:

DWAYNE.
posted by yhbc at 8:22 PM on November 16, 2007


At least one man's consciousness seems to have expanded here tonight, and I may be hearing a creak or two from my own brain pan as well. I may have learned a thing or two. This is not an easy thing we're trying to do here, but it's a thing that needs to be done - probably over and over and over again. I look forward to the next try at posting about whatever the heck we were talking about in the first place - women's reactions to men's piggery? May that thread fare as well as this one.
On Preview: Maybe not so well after all. Is there no learning you guys?
posted by Hobgoblin at 8:31 PM on November 16, 2007 [2 favorites]


Danila writes "So what is the remedy if there is a bad post that spawns the kind of discussion Mefi should be proud to have? Do we just lose what could have been?"

Yep.

madamjujujive writes "More than once I have seen a comment that I find terribly offensive that is favorited by many, and when I see the list of people I otherwise love who favorited it, my heart dies a little. "

Keep in mind favouriting != agreeing with. There are dozens of reasons I might favourite something besides agreement.
posted by Mitheral at 8:33 PM on November 16, 2007


But I'm afraid that us two being assholes has driven all the women from the thread again. Go us!
posted by klangklangston

Still here.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 8:34 PM on November 16, 2007


oh, all right, I won't deliver the planned punchline, which involved leaving the body in a tub overnight. It was yet another attempt at ironic misogynistic humor.
posted by yhbc at 8:34 PM on November 16, 2007


Several of you will be pleased to learn that pips just made me take out the garbage. down three flights. and it's really cold.

(I do it every week, but I figured it'd please you all nonetheless)
posted by jonmc at 8:38 PM on November 16, 2007


I was going to put a "Badass Neanderthal huntress? I'd hit it" in the appropriate thread just to piss people off, but I restrained myself. FEMINISM WINS.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:42 PM on November 16, 2007


Hey jonmc, when I said in the other thread that you should go troll somewhere else, I didn't mean in this thread.
posted by Kwine at 8:47 PM on November 16, 2007


One of the more interesting metrics that has been slightly mentioned here is the silent favoriting by women. I guess its an impossibility in a practical sense but it would be a very interesting to see some expanded stats/narrative of this characteristic of the site. Rainman, wherefore art thou?

Otherwise, I apologise generally on behalf of my gender. I'm just happy that any women deign to hang around this place. I love youse all and especially love it when you post and comment.

I do hope some tiny bit of attitude change has been inspired by these emotional rollercoaster threads (this and Hysterics). I've had to sit on my hands a lot of the time and I've deleted a few attack comments which would have been ill-advised in all the circumstances.
posted by peacay at 8:50 PM on November 16, 2007


Otherwise, I apologise generally on behalf of my gender. I'm just happy that any women deign to hang around this place. I love youse all and especially love it when you post and comment.

He's also a Scorpio and loves walks on the beach.
posted by jonmc at 8:54 PM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Does he have a goatee?
posted by yhbc at 8:58 PM on November 16, 2007


Re: Mefemme stats: I note Mitheral's comment - it would take qualitative rather than quanitative adjustments to reduce it down to some ballpark-believable interpretation. I don't think in the majority of cases you would say that it was 50:50 chance that a favourite was saved for postitive reinforcement/bookmarking -vs- 'other' reason. You could probably safely call it as 80:20 most of the time.
posted by peacay at 8:59 PM on November 16, 2007


(also, I was just teasing, peacay)
posted by jonmc at 9:01 PM on November 16, 2007


Sure peacay, but if it's causing one to die inside a bit every time one could lie to oneself that the ratio is really 20:80.
posted by Mitheral at 9:06 PM on November 16, 2007


For what it's worth... nobody flashed me today.* Only left the house once, though...


*Although I do know a few people who would've if I had asked.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:16 PM on November 16, 2007


I just thought I'd pop in and note that I too learned something from the women posting in this thread. I liked occhiblu's post quite a bit.
posted by onalark at 9:27 PM on November 16, 2007


couple of busybodies were screaming how sexist the thread was

*Sticks nose in, screams about how he is not a busybody*

And I said the tranny comments were lazy and homophobic, tyvm. Assuming we're thinking of the same thread.

At the end of the day, I think there is one thing we can all agree on. Despite it's grammatical propriety klangklangston's use of quotemarks for quotes, instead of italics, is jarring and momentarily confusing.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:56 PM on November 16, 2007


Where the hell did that apostrophe come from? And where did the comma go?
Grammatical propriety, indeed, Ampersand.

posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:59 PM on November 16, 2007


Rainman, wherefore art thou?

I've done this to myself, haven't I?

posted by cortex (staff) at 10:16 PM on November 16, 2007


I'd be more inclined to blame jessamyn for having instilled the name as a brainworm. But yes, your penchant for the statistical minutiae is writ large, and it blinks.
posted by peacay at 10:56 PM on November 16, 2007


loq, one aspect of the "cunt" thing you're missing is the sexual intimidation portion of it. Calling a woman a "cunt" reduces her to her sexual organs, and, to me, in hostile sexualized contexts like the ones usually present when such insults are hurled at Coulter, really does create the subtext of "You're nothing but a hole, and I can overpower you at any time, bitch."

That said, thank you for your comment. I appreciate it a lot, and I wish you a happy birthday.
posted by occhiblu at 10:58 PM on November 16, 2007


I have a lot of women friends on line, and I've talked up Metafilter because there have been some really wonderful discussions and finds here. But of that pool of women I've tried to convince, only one has actually joined and she hasn't really participated. No matter how I sell the intelligence of the site, it fails in the face of them coming here and realizing how women are treated in the threads. A bit of lurking and they lose interest.
posted by FunkyHelix at 11:03 PM on November 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I had the truth of what a lot of the women saying here brought home to me as a youth working in one of our local pubs. The number of older men on the day shift when things were quieter and there was time to chat over the bar who'd regale you with the most vicious misogynistic crap but in this pathetic inclusive-to-me "we're all lads together" kind of way was genuinely quite a shock. My family and the people we knew were very traditional in gender roles really, but everyone was respectful and you would be forgiven that thinking equality was just a matter of shifting the division of labour rather than some really entrenched spite and aggression. Out in the big wide world I learned different.
It also drilled home to me what a contemptible mindset this is - Christ, I hated that behaviour - dull, weak, and whining. Ironically, the antithesis of everything I'd been brought up to think being manly was all about. Same as the racists. In a service role where I couldn't just tell them to fuck off, I did learn that the best way to respond was with anecdotes and jokes that were just as unsettling to their prejudices and would demand they break the matey facade and come out and say what they thought straight if that's what they were really about.
Life's dealt you some shit as a white working class man. That can get overlooked in some of the middle class liberal politics I came into contact with. But coping with that by anger at the people who have it even worse than yourself is the height of misdirection and either moronic or a cowardly failure to confront the things that really are wrong in the world, because those who make it that way are more powerful than you.
posted by Abiezer at 11:05 PM on November 16, 2007 [8 favorites]


Misdirection is a great word for it, I think. Well said.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:08 PM on November 16, 2007


The more I think about it, the more ashamed I am that I tried to use a cheap rhetorical ploy to make a point in a serious thread. I seem to be disregarding my better instincts lately, so I think I'm going to walk away from the Filter for a while until I figure out what my major malfunction is. I said I was finding this place poisonous, but maybe it's actually my own poison I'm tasting. I'll try to figure that out before I bother you all again. Sincere apologies.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:27 PM on November 16, 2007


Ach IRFH; I find your comments funny, positive and subversive of the dull orthodoxy by and large. Don't be too hard on yourself for perhaps a missed moment (I do applauded the self-reflection). I long realised that if every time I made a bit of arse of myself I took a vow of silence, I'd never speak again. And like that's going to happen.
posted by Abiezer at 11:51 PM on November 16, 2007


I second what Abiezer said, and said so nicely, IRFH - please don't go away. No harm done, just a wee pecadillo ;-)
posted by madamjujujive at 12:05 AM on November 17, 2007


Women be different than men.

Discuss.
posted by The Deej at 12:06 AM on November 17, 2007


IRFH: the Flo must not ebb. You are usually funny, not malicious. A walk around the block should be enough to set you back into your customary groove before you"bother" us again.
posted by Cranberry at 12:15 AM on November 17, 2007


Thanks, both of you, but if I've learned anything from this thread it's that words have real consequences to the community no matter what the intentions. More than once recently I've contributed exactly the kind of negative energy to this site that I personally despise the most. Maybe it was inadvertant, or maybe it was reflective of some shit I'm going through and internalizing more than I realized. Or maybe I'm just tired and posting lazy and taking good will for granted. I'm not sure. When I figure it out - When I'm convinced that I can go back to contributing positively... well, doing no harm, at any rate - I'll be back. Hopefully soon. Thanks again for the kind words. I'll be back when I can live up to them.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:17 AM on November 17, 2007


both of you

All of you, even.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:18 AM on November 17, 2007


Hey guys, so um....like where do I go if I want to say I totally see and have no problems with the deleted threads having been deleted? I was just informed there's too many people being quiet and silenced and, well, shucks, I didn't know, and I'd hate to be contributing to a problem by not saying anything and nobody's viewpoint is really representing my own. Well, I did my part. Carry on then.
posted by kkokkodalk at 12:41 AM on November 17, 2007


Well, what is a bit disheartening to me, as a lurker chiming in, is that a woman just dropped an "everything is fine...nothing to see here people, move along" bomb in a thread where a man has to ask his wife if something is sexist, another man owns up to his own misogyny, women and men both bring an amazing wealth of honesty to the table, really really smart people debate really really important AND interesting ideas and others continue with KNOCK KNOCK jokes.

Plus, she's only addressing the "guys."

This just makes my brain feel all....ouchy. Like the rollercoaster just....


*continues to lurk, as confused but riveted/bored as ever*

(and as a woman, I feel like a total ...err..dick chiming in just to call out a woman. I return upthread to favorite all the amazingly thoughtful things that have been said.)
posted by metasav at 1:10 AM on November 17, 2007


“is that a woman just dropped an ‘everything is fine...nothing to see here people, move along’ bomb in a thread”

I can't find the comment are you referring to. Was it deleted?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:33 AM on November 17, 2007


You know, I really have avoided reading these two MeTa threads because when I was called sexist in the first one it was SOOO far off base from what my actual motivation was for the comment I made. It just couldn't have been further off of the mark, and so I felt that I would rather just walk away than be defensive. I just wasn't up for the drama and didn't feel like being attacked when I knew I hadn't done anything wrong. And I didn't feel like participating in the macho shitstorm that Mefi can be sometimes.

But from reading the last few comments, it sounds like there might have actually been some good reading and some insightful comments in here. So maybe I'll stop being cynical/afraid and later today I'll try to plow through the 300 comments to see what actually occurred in the shitstorm while I was busy swimming to shore.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:39 AM on November 17, 2007


That list was 25% on the money and 75% ridiculous, sorry, mostly for the reasons that tkchrist pointed out, but also because you can't be responsible for "engendering hatred" in the freaking loons of society because you don't call people out, in every conversation, for being people. (yes, boys talk shit and so do girls -- make sure you shut that down at every opportunity and report back)

Now what goes on in a public forum is a very different thing, and I think the percentages of usefulness of those rules shift in that context. I also got a lot out of what some female posters have had to say here. But the idea that anytime anyone gets offended, someone has stepped over the line is ridiculous. (interestingly, it's only men in this thread taking that extreme a line) Intention is important, even if it isn't the whole story.

As an aside, "dick" is synonymous with "asshole" as an insult, and there is no implied compliment. You are manufacturing evidence for your own theory, and thus are engaging in your own bit of public masturbation. QED.
posted by dreamsign at 1:56 AM on November 17, 2007


Ohfergawdsake people... I've got a newsflash for ya: Men will always be pigs and women will always overreact... It's human nature.. Let's all accept it... Can't we all just get along?

I, for one, have totally noticed the "boyzone" atmosphere of Mefi (especially in the "male answer syndrome" of AskMe) but I am not intimidated by it in the least... I am secure enough in my womanhood, and in my intellect, to either ignore it, or take it on where need be. I jump in with both feet...

I think we women diminish ourselves when we play the "victimhood" card (and, yes, I've experienced more than my fair share of victimhood as a girl and as a woman)...

If you don't like something one of the boys says here, engage them directly! Take them on! Act like an equal, and you'll be treated like an equal! Go girls, Go!
posted by amyms at 1:56 AM on November 17, 2007


I, for one, have totally noticed the "boyzone" atmosphere of Mefi (especially in the "male answer syndrome" of AskMe)

WAIT. AskMe isn't about getting answers? People just want their problems to be heard? I am so all over the green from now on.

(also: good for you, amyms)
posted by dreamsign at 2:04 AM on November 17, 2007


dreamsign said: WAIT. AskMe isn't about getting answers?

AskMe IS about getting answers... My reference to "male answer syndrome" is about the boys who insist on jumping in to give THEIR version of the "answer" even after it's already been spelled out numerous times (often by a woman) because the boys assume that THEIR answer is the ONLY correct one... It's very funny when it happens, and if you spend enough time in AskMe you'll see it in action.
posted by amyms at 2:16 AM on November 17, 2007


No, no, wait, actually, Male Answer Syndrome males jump in to answer a question about a subject they really have no knowledge of, but feel that they must contribute something anyway...in any event, I totally know what I'm talking about here, ok?
posted by Snyder at 2:25 AM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


...because the boys assume that THEIR answer is the ONLY correct one... It's very funny when it happens...

There's an assumption in there somewhere.
posted by 517 at 3:03 AM on November 17, 2007


Do you have a problem with your keyboard, amyms? It looks like your “.” key is sticking.

Alternatively, you're a near-illiterate goof who spouts nonsense like “Men will always be pigs and women will always overreact... It's human nature.. Let's all accept it...”, in which case your apparent belief that an ellipses is three times as good as a period is just par for the course.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:41 AM on November 17, 2007


I can't speak for the women, but I can speak as someone who finds this place to sometimes be offensive when discussing people who look like myself. Not always, mind you, but enough that I get tired of rolling my eyes, and clicking out of a thread rather than call someone a fuckjob. I do grow weary of deciding "Oh well, I let the last 3 slide, so I'm contractually obligated to chime in this time."

What it comes down to is this. Just like the world outside, this place isn't all gummi bears and sunshine. If you ask me, we live in a society filled with inequalities. We live in a society that is racist, sexist ageist, xenophobic, fat-hating etc, and so on. Very few people deviate very far from where society as a whole is.However enlightened you think you are, pick an -ism, and I'm sure we can find an area where you need some work.

When someone gets close to practicing real equality, we tend to shoot tham and then name inner city elementary schools after them. If nobody's shooting at you, or inviting you to speak at a Wellesley commencement, chances are you could stand to shut up and listen on occasion. I'm not saying you support the repeal of the 19th amendment, just that even if you knew everything yesterday, today might be the day you have something to learn.

We are is doing a lot better than we have in the past, but we arent perfect yet. As society as a whole becomes more tolerant, we all move along with it. As the bigots get a little less bigoted, and the progressives seem a little less progressive in comparison.

I don't think anyone is asking anyone else to be perfect. I don't think anyone is calling for a humorfreesafetyzone. But don't act like this isn't a community that can't enforce standards. One thing I love about this place is that if you're fucking up, someone is going to call you on it, quickly and repeatedly. I'm still convinced that some people have an actual "Pepsi Blue"* key on their keyboards.

But mostly understand that whoever you are, whatever you are, however you define yourself, nobody needs your permission, sanction, or approval to speak up. I feel like a big part of this isn't about stopping people from saying offensive things. It's about respecting the right of those who aren't in the majority to say "that last statement was a little off" without being, demeaned, or drowned out in a pool of the same old snark. At least come up with some newer funnier snark.

To put it as bluntly as possible, and in this, I hope I speak for the women, the men, black, white, whoever...

You can call me a second class citizen all you want. I don't care. It doesn't hurt me in the least. The second you expect me to believe that I am a second class citizen, Me and You have a problem. If you don't see the difference between the two, you really should talk less and listen more.


*I don't understand how quick people are to jump on a double post, but the same lame jokes get trotted out again and again and again.

p.s. loquacious, floydd, and all other scorpios, Happy Birthday! Mine was on Thursday. As far as I'm concerned, thanksgiving always comes a week late. For the record, I do not believe in astrology.
posted by billyfleetwood at 3:41 AM on November 17, 2007 [9 favorites]


Ethereal Bligh, I don't agree with what amyms said but in the great scheme it was a low trajectory fairyfloss grouphuggy aside. There was no directed malice or venom in there. Your response on the other hand was insulting and unnecessary and does much more harm to your global reputation as an often well reasoned debater.
posted by peacay at 4:13 AM on November 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


global as in general/historic/metafilter, not so much as in world
posted by peacay at 4:17 AM on November 17, 2007


Well, the part I quote from her was risible, even if she wrote it in a nice way.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:04 AM on November 17, 2007


I honestly want to know, that really came off as some insane rant to you? It made no sense? Spoke to nothing in your experience?

As I said originally her entire point boiled down to even you're a nice, non-misogynistic guy, you're wrong on so many levels for so many things you do that help the "bad guys". It reeked of black and white thinking. Seriously, if a woman, who is playing the victim card, gets called out be a guy for playing the victim card and according to Kate Harding, you're just helping the "bad guys" which implies that a man shouldn't or can't call out a woman for playing the victim card, which is batshitinsane.

There may be good general point in her quotes, but she's poured so much crap on top that it's not worth picking out.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:13 AM on November 17, 2007


Well, the part I quote from her was risible deserving of the old college smackdown by a person who claims on a regular basis, and quite aggressively at times, to be a staunch feminist, and in a thread which has in part been about the feelings that women experience on metafilter from being smacked down.

As I said, I'm not arguing that the content of the pullquote you addressed was correct but you are rivalling jonmc for the contextual foot-in-mouth award for the last 24hrs.
posted by peacay at 5:41 AM on November 17, 2007


Dear Metafilterians,

Metafilter is not a feminist battleground, but if you find a great site that is a feminist battleground, metafilter is the place to post a link to that site.

Cheers,
The Monkey
posted by The Monkey at 5:43 AM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


“...deserving of the old college smackdown by a person who claims on a regular basis, and quite aggressively at times, to be a staunch feminist, and in a thread which has in part been about the feelings that women experience on metafilter from being smacked down.”

Being a feminist doesn't mean I need agree with every person who happens to be a woman. And nowhere in this discussion did I endorse the idea that aggressive discourse was inherently sexist—I don't think it is.

It's not true that this thread has been, in large part, about women complaining about being “smacked down”. They've been complaining about being “smacked down” with sexist comments and insults. And “smacked down” specifically for talking about sexism and feminism.

There have been a few women who have complained in this thread that combativeness makes them feel unwelcome. I understand this, I believe it's true, but I don't think combativeness or a toleration of combativeness is sexist. Combativeness also makes many men feel unwelcome, too, grumblebee among them.

Some people seem to confuse being a male feminist with chivalry. However, the former does not require the latter. I'm not chivalrous; chivarly, in fact, nauseates me. If a woman says something contemptible, I'll treat her with the same contempt as I would a man who said the same thing.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:00 AM on November 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher, I think you were just looking for a reason to dismiss everything she said.

By the way, everyone, everywhere is "wrong on so many levels for so many things". Just right now, we're talking about this one thing. Every time anyone tries to challenge sexism or racism or any of the -isms that oppress, there will always be disingenuous people who say it's impossible to do anything about it, and it's not fair to expect so much. I say these people are disingenous because they haven't tried and wouldn't have tried in the first place.

I have known honorable men who did not openly tolerate sexism (which is all Kate Harding is talking about). It wasn't too hard, it wasn't impossible, it's not insane to expect it.

Let's all accept it... Can't we all just get along?


No, we cannot all just go along to get along. amyms, I honestly want to know what was the point of this? It happens so often, and it's so frustrating and dismissive.

If you don't like something one of the boys says here, engage them directly!


What did you think was happening here? Every single time anyone actually does try to "engage directly", a bunch of people will come along saying "what's the big deal, get over it". Like you just did.
posted by Danila at 6:07 AM on November 17, 2007 [5 favorites]


Ohfergawdsake people... I've got a newsflash for ya: Men will always be pigs and women will always overreact... It's human nature.

I don't agree with this either, and I suspect that if a guy had said this we'd be all over him now. In the context of the discussion we've just had it hits the wrong note with me. EB was rude, but I think it's appropriate to call amymns on this statement. (And actually EB I want to say you take alot of shit here for being willing to put your viewpoint out there, and I don't always agree with everything you say but you often do move the ball forward and get alot of scorn mostly in return, and I really wish that was not the case). So, in brief: blech.
posted by onlyconnect at 6:14 AM on November 17, 2007


Being a feminist doesn't mean I need agree with every person who happens to be a woman.

Oh, for gosh's sake no, you only agree with people who agree with you. Couldn't possibly agree with stupid women who don't see how they're being oppressed. There are other people with different life experiences who don't fit into the 6 or 7 pre-fab pop psych containers you can buy on TV from an 800 number. As someone often guilty of it, I ask you to please not confuse repeated statements of your intellectual positions with reasoned debate or discourse. Keep plowing over anyone who disagrees; that's sure to leave rich intellectual soil for a great garden of people who think just like you.

The sad thing about the Internet is that all this communication with people all over the world and most people use it to create echo chambers. You came into this thread thrashing around about creating a better environment for people with different viewpoints and you've spent all the time stopping people from talking. I'm not trying to traffic in "Gotchyas", but I'm not the only person suggesting there's hypocrisy in what you're doing. We're all reasonable folks just making an obvious point to ourselves.
posted by yerfatma at 6:15 AM on November 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


I think you were just looking for a reason to dismiss everything she said.

and thus the cycle continues. Look, the quote from Kate Harding is going to turn some guys off for reasons I've already stated.

If the goal is change, the Kate Harding type of quotes aren't going to help because they're not communicating effectively. In comparision, the simple request that guys call out other guys more when they see stupid shit happening makes better, more reasonable sense. That's more like "Oh, that's what you'd like us to do, help put an end to stupid shit? No problem!" as opposed to "You're a nice guy and all, but every damn thing you do is wrong and you're part of the problem because every little joke you make is actively killing a woman."

In short, keep it simple and direct.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:20 AM on November 17, 2007


They've been complaining about being “smacked down” with sexist comments and insults.

And as a response to amyms's words you said or implied that she's either illiterate or a fool.

Reconstrue that as anything but an insult.

I mentioned your feministic badge of honour not because I accused you of hypocrisy or sexism, but because of the irony. It's this thread where you have insulted someone and that someone happens to be a woman.

I believe it's in the dictionary under buffoonery.
posted by peacay at 6:32 AM on November 17, 2007


Your response on the other hand was insulting and unnecessary and does much more harm to your global reputation as an often well reasoned debater.

And you're doing it a lot lately. Seriously, you're way too comfortable with your own combativeness. I have the same tendency, but I try to rein it in when I feel it taking over.
posted by languagehat at 6:33 AM on November 17, 2007


You called amyms "a near illiterate goof" - not cool man. You should apologize.
posted by vronsky at 7:05 AM on November 17, 2007


Non-blue-posting butch dyke here. I have a toolbelt, but I don't customarily wear it while walking and I can count the times I've eaten fried chicken on one hand, which is a shame because it's tasty. If I wore my toolbelt while walking and eating fried chicken, it would probably result in enw00tment, because women can be pretty weird. I'll admit to hating the sad, stunted outliers among men (and women). I'm OK with everyone else.

I don't post in the blue because a healthy number of posts there are ensnaringly stupid when it comes to women or homos (although I've noticed that this is getting slightly better). What I mean is, engaging at all is a trap -- if you're earnest you will be mocked for not getting it or being PC, and if you let it get to you and react aggressively, you're embodying a stereotype, and if you laugh along with it, you're going to have trouble looking at yourself in the mirror. I don't think this is the direct result of ill will; I think it is the sensitivities of individual men combined with the one-to-many reality of the site demographics. For every woman who says something in a discussion that veers into gender, there are far more guys around to have reactions to it based on their own tendencies. There is a small but shrill "shitcock" brigade, there is a loose "fear of a PC planet" group (BTW, I worry about this too), and there are captains of condescension and lulzers. It's unappetizing, and the part of me that thrives on nerdrage conflict isn't the part of me that I like or want to indulge. The bottom line is not that it doesn't feel 'safe' to me (safety is overrated), but that I can't ever figure out how I would interact with it in accordance with my own values.

FWIW, I thought miss lynnster's original post was iffy, but that her "out of all the men here" statement was interesting, and I was surprised that alert people operating in good faith could have misunderstood the percentages she was referring to.

In a kind-of unrelated thing, this is the second site that I spend time looking at that is having drama this week, with the value of "teh lulz" as a major subtext. I've noticed that sometimes stupid lulzy things make me laugh, and then my SO, who is not an internet-interested person, will ask me what I'm laughing at. I explain, and she is just horrified. And then I think "True, it's also horrifying." When I then wonder exactly what aspect of it is funny to me, it often seems like it's mostly the experience of sharing a shocking or disgusting or amazingly stupid experience with a group I identify with. My instinct about lulzy humor is that it's primarily an insider/outsider filter, and as such it's probably death to good, challenging conversation when it becomes a common mode of interaction. But I don't think Metafilter is there yet.

I have major respect for jennydiski for tilting at these windmills, even if her form is technically incorrect, and for all of the women and men in this conversation who are going to so much effort to move closer to understanding. That's pretty neat.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 7:18 AM on November 17, 2007 [21 favorites]


Because, frankly, based upon the comments I've seen here on MeFi, a large portion of the men here are sexist. And a subset of them are virulently sexist, they just usually hide it.

let's qualify that; a large portion of people here on mefi are sexist. men are sexist towards women and sexist towards men; women can be just as sexist towards women as men are and can be sexist towards men. it happens everywhere.

if we're looking at the grand sum of who it's hurting, sure, women as a whole come out on top, but combatting it is about combatting individual instances of sexism, so let's make sure to be on the lookout for ALL types of sexism, cool?
posted by dflemingdotorg at 7:39 AM on November 17, 2007


Dear The Monkey,

You've impressively demonstrated your utter lack of understanding. Keep up the good work.

Sincerely,
OmieWise
posted by OmieWise at 8:09 AM on November 17, 2007


Seriously, if a woman, who is playing the victim card, gets called out be a guy for playing the victim card and according to Kate Harding, you're just helping the "bad guys" which implies that a man shouldn't or can't call out a woman for playing the victim card, which is batshitinsane.

Brandon Blatcher, I think you’re misunderstanding Harding’s point. I doubt she wants you, or anyone, to condone manipulative behavior. If she’s like me and most people I know, she pretty much agrees with klangklangston:

When a woman fakes crying in order to get out of a traffic ticket, she is making it harder for other women's tears to be taken seriously. When a woman makes a fake rape complaint [AND I SAY THIS KNOWING FULL WELL THAT RAPES ARE BELIEVED TO BE UNDERREPORTED] she is playing the victim card and making it harder for other women to be taken seriously.

I’d cut “believed to be” and I’m a little curious about why kk felt the need to include it—but that’s a separate discussion.

The thing is, discussing an incident of “playing the victim card,” very often leads straight into “See, they all do it.” In fact, that’s often the whole point of bringing up the incident in the first place.

When I find myself in one of these discussions, I generally respond with some version of, “Yeah, that’s inexcusable. And it pisses me off, because there are so many more incidents of real abuse and this shit just makes it easier to dismiss them all.”

I’m pretty sure that’s the kind of response Harding was talking about, and I can’t see how it falls into the batshitinsane category.

My birthday was yesterday and one of my presents was a MeFi membership.
posted by dogrose at 8:14 AM on November 17, 2007


"You're a nice guy and all, but every damn thing you do is wrong and you're part of the problem because every little joke you make is actively killing a woman."

The Kate Harding quote listed eight (8) things that men do which makes them complicit in sexism. Even without discounting the final one, which doesn't really make sense, that hardly equates to suggesting that every damn thing men do is wrong. And, it seems pretty concise, all things considered.

It's hard not to suspect that you don't really want to think about sexism as an issue, in any general sense, and how you might specifically be promoting or opposing it. That's ok, you're free to make your own choices about where to spend your time and attention, but it hardly seems fair to castigate Harding's simple and direct advice if you've already made your choice about what you care about.
posted by OmieWise at 8:17 AM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Alternatively, you're a near-illiterate goof who spouts nonsense like “Men will always be pigs and women will always overreact... It's human nature.. Let's all accept it...”, in which case your apparent belief that an ellipses is three times as good as a period is just par for the course.

I'm not sure why you feel like your disagreement with amyms' position justifies such a bitchy, petty grammar/style flame, is the thing. Call her out point for point on the substance, but mocking ellipses? Seriously?
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:42 AM on November 17, 2007


SPARTA!
posted by shmegegge at 9:11 AM on November 17, 2007


oh, dammit.
posted by shmegegge at 9:11 AM on November 17, 2007


Myself, I was mainly talking here just about comments like "my wang this" and "eat a bucket of cocks" and whatnot.

I'm fine if I never have to hear another mefites' genitals or sexual proclivities outside of a relevant askme ever again. With this caveat, I'd say we're in complete agreement: ironic boyzone falls on the sexist side of the sexism/sarcasm line. I'm gonna go hunt down thehmsbeagle's comments (which thread? there's been a few at this point) and see if I can agree with them too.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:16 AM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


*kicks shmegegge down penalty hole*
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:17 AM on November 17, 2007


"I’d cut “believed to be” and I’m a little curious about why kk felt the need to include it—but that’s a separate discussion."

Oh, I just meant that the very definition of "under-reported" precludes being able to prove that (and quantifying it is even harder). I do believe that they are under-reported, but I didn't want to get hit from the other side with calls for proof of under-reporting—if asked, it's easier to cite authorities that are willing to state they believe rapes are under-reported.
posted by klangklangston at 9:22 AM on November 17, 2007


Dreamsign: That list was 25% on the money and 75% ridiculous, sorry, mostly for the reasons that tkchrist pointed out, but also because you can't be responsible for "engendering hatred" in the freaking loons of society because you don't call people out, in every conversation, for being people. (yes, boys talk shit and so do girls -- make sure you shut that down at every opportunity and report back)

I would disagree. If I hear someone make disparaging, racist jokes or comments about black people, I speak up and say that it's not funny or not acceptable.

Now many may think that it's obvious not to tolerate racism, but I can tell you that I grew up in a day not all that long ago when people didn't speak up. While many in my *nice* middle-class Catholic neighborhood may not have been overt racists, there certainly was a passive tolerance of racism, and this was true in many sectors. Maybe it was simply the seemingly small thing of letting a cruel joke or an unkind stereotype go unchallenged. It took many people overtly saying "no, that's not OK to say" or "no that's not OK to do" before the needle started moving. But in my lifetime, I have seen overt racist shit move from having society's tacit approval to fairly strong disapproval. Is racism gone? No, of course not, but we have at least moved to where racism largely viewed as a negative rather than being passively tolerated.

That is what I hear Kate Harding saying. She is saying there is some really ugly women hate out there, and although you may not be the one doing the hating, every time you passively tolerate misogyny in others or encourage it with a nod and a wink, you are contributing to a climate where the truly ugly, hateful people think they have your approval.

To talk about these things is not playing the victim. I'm old enough to have been among the first women in some very sexist work environments, and I didn't succeed by whining or playing a victim, I can tell you that. It's not a chip that I carry on my shoulder every day. But the reality is that misogyny and sexism are still things that have blindsided me, hurt me, disappointed me deeply, angered me, paid me less for the same work as male cohorts, and occasionally made me fear for my physical safety. My life is largely happy and I like and respect men. But I hope my nieces - and all your daughters - have an easier, happier time of things. And you are a part of whether they do or not.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:23 AM on November 17, 2007 [20 favorites]


I don't have anything more to add to this discussion, which has been interesting to me. Generally, I hate this place being insular and thus self-selecting in members who want to join. I really believe that insularity detracts from this site. I really don't want to contribute to insularity, so one thing this thread has made me personally think about is that, while I have discounted the 'boyzone' label in the past and considered the 'sexist' label too frequently abused, there does appear to be a significant number of reasonable individuals who do feel that the place is a boyzone hostile to women. So, irrespective of whether I believe that is objectively correct, the effect is there. And since I don't want to contribute to insularity, I need to make sure that I don't make the cheap joke or insult that has a broader effect. I will try personally not to add to the boyzone when I consciously can.

So I guess I want to echo It's Raining Florence Henderson whose progression of thought on the topic appears to me to somewhat track mine.

That being said, I still find the affect of jennydiski obnoxious and her smug accusations odious. However, that could have been pointed out by me without being broadly offensive.
posted by dios at 9:29 AM on November 17, 2007 [6 favorites]


Ethereal Bligh said: Alternatively, you're a near-illiterate goof who spouts nonsense like “Men will always be pigs and women will always overreact... It's human nature.. Let's all accept it...”, in which case your apparent belief that an ellipses is three times as good as a period is just par for the course.

Wow, Ethereal Bligh. I said something you disagreed with, and it obviously touched a nerve, but instead of arguing my point, you attack me for using ellipses?. If that's my biggest crime, then I guess I'm doing okay...

I should have expressed myself more clearly in my original statement above. When I said Men will always be pigs and women will always overreact I meant it in a more universal "bees will always sting, dogs will always bark" sense (certainly not directed at anyone personally), and I should have said it like this: In any given population where both genders gather together, some men will always be pigs and some women will always overreact...

Danila said: No, we cannot all just go along to get along. amyms, I honestly want to know what was the point of this?

Danila, I never said that anyone should "just go along"... I just think that some of the things men do that piss us off aren't worth fighting over. Sometimes a sexist joke really is just a joke. We women say sexist things all the time too, and if we're willing to dish it out, we'd better be willing to take it. If we constantly react to every perceived slight, including the miniscule ones, we're going to waste a lot of valuable time that could be spent battling the big ones.
posted by amyms at 9:32 AM on November 17, 2007


The Kate Harding quote listed eight (8) things that men do which makes them complicit in sexism. Even without discounting the final one, which doesn't really make sense, that hardly equates to suggesting that every damn thing men do is wrong. And, it seems pretty concise, all things considered.

Fine, lets go down the list:

1. * every time you don’t tell your buddies it’s not okay to talk shit about women, even if it’s kinda funny;

It's perfectly ok to shit about women, men, blacks, whites, jews and gay politicians who tap their feet in bathroom stalls, especially if you're with your buddies. Hell, that's the whole point of being with your buddies.

2. * every time you roll your eyes and think “PMS!” instead of listening to why a woman’s upset;

This goes with #7, so I'll answer it there.

3. * every time you call Ann Coulter a tranny cunt instead of a halfwit demagogue;

A cunt, like a bitch, is a derogatory term for a woman so if any woman should be called a cunt, Ann Coulter is high on the list.

4. * every time you say any woman–Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Phyllis Schlafly, Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, any of us–”deserves whatever she gets” for being so detestable, instead of acknowledging there are things that no human being deserves and only women get;

Detestable people deserve what they get. They don't get free pass 'cause they're a woman.

5. * every time you joke about how you’ll never let your daughter out of the house or anywhere near a man, ’cause ha ha, that’ll solve everything;

Sometimes a joke is, you know, a joke, especially considering that every father knows exactly what every teenage boy has on his mind.

6. * every time you say, “I don’t understand why thousands of women are insisting this is some kind of woman thing”;

Don't understand this one, but hey, when someone doesn't understand your point, mabye that's a good time to explain it?

7. * every time you tell a woman you love she’s being crazy/hysterical/irrational, when you know deep down you haven’t heard a word she’s said in the past 15 minutes, and all you’re really thinking about is how seeing her yell and/or cry is incredibly unsettling to you, and you just want that shit to stop;

There's nothing wrong with telling anyone that they're being crazy/hysterical/irrational and they'll need get a gripe at some point.

8. * every time you dismiss a woman as “playing the victim,” even if you’re right about that particular woman…

Alrerady answered this one

Harding's point with all this was that nice, non-misogynistic guys are helping the misogynists when they don't object to this things, because you know all those sexist jokes you said? You probalby said one to a misogynist and that just helped his world view! and they're everywhere, so you never know when you're talking to one, so you gotta be careful and just never do/say things at all! You gotta trust her on this one.

Yeah, whatever. The general point has merit, but her specific examples are shitty and a huge turnoff that does indeed sound like a batshitinsane rant.

And four panels, please stop being such an immature dick.

On preview:
What amyms said
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:24 AM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's perfectly ok to shit about women, men, blacks, whites, jews and gay politicians who tap their feet in bathroom stalls, especially if you're with your buddies. Hell, that's the whole point of being with your buddies.

To clarify, it is okay to make fun of them because they're women? Because they're black? Because they're Jews? You and your buddies sit around telling racist and sexist jokes? Because that's what's she's talking about. No one is saying you can't say a negative thing if it is about a woman. But deriding women because they are women, black people in general, Jews in general, etc. is bigotry.

Detestable people deserve what they get. They don't get free pass 'cause they're a woman.


Did you miss this : there are things that no human being deserves and only women get;

I dismiss people who can't refute Michelle Malkins/Hilary Clinton/Anne Coulter etc. on the merits, but have to drag sex into it. But it's also frightening. It doesn't matter what a woman does (good or bad), she's still just a woman after all.

6. * every time you say, “I don’t understand why thousands of women are insisting this is some kind of woman thing”;

Don't understand this one, but hey, when someone doesn't understand your point, mabye that's a good time to explain it?

Yeah, but you dismissed it all as insane anyway. I understood it. But your kneejerk dismissal indicates you're not really curious about it. So we'll leave that one in the "insane" pile.

There's nothing wrong with telling anyone that they're being crazy/hysterical/irrational and they'll need get a gripe at some point.

I see. You don't seem to agree that women are singled out in this respect (men not listening but dismissing what they said anyway, as crazy/hysterical/irrational, which is exactly what you're doing right now). But that's also probably why you didn't understand point number six.

The general point has merit

Well on that we agree.
posted by Danila at 10:42 AM on November 17, 2007


Would someone be willing to post links to the other relevant threads which have been referenced here, or at least point me in the proper direction? I don't think I've ever wanted to follow a discussion here as thoroughly as I do this one, and I feel that I'm missing parts of it.
This whole thing reminds me of being taken to school about my sexist thoughts, words and behavior by a few women in the 70's. I needed to hear their point of view and I needed to open up and to actually change my ways of looking at women and at men's interactions with women, and I needed to change some of the words I spoke, and on and on and it has become a process for me, like many others, that is ongoing and continuing.
posted by Hobgoblin at 10:44 AM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Sometimes a joke is, you know, a joke, especially considering that every father knows exactly what every teenage boy has on his mind."

This I disagree with. I remember it annoying me when I was a teenage boy, both because I sometimes did just want to be friends with a girl and felt it unfairly limited my options, and because I knew girls who really did just want to fuck. I was way more interested in blowing shit up and industrial metal.

What I don't want to say, though, is that jokes about "what every teenage boy has on his mind" should be off-limits, just that part of the humor should be in the mutual knowledge that the cliché's not true and that teenage girls don't need to be protected because they're girls (though the risks of sex are greater), but because they're young.
posted by klangklangston at 11:04 AM on November 17, 2007


So, irrespective of whether I believe that is objectively correct, the effect is there. And since I don't want to contribute to insularity, I need to make sure that I don't make the cheap joke or insult that has a broader effect. I will try personally not to add to the boyzone when I consciously can.

Congratulations. I'm really glad some people are having this reaction, and I too am going to try to be more aware of this problem in general. I know when I went into the stone-age feminism thread and saw the first few comments were stupid snarks, my heart sank more than it usually would have. People, can we try to discuss things like human beings? Just because a boobie joke pops into your head doesn't mean you have to hit "post."

As for jennydiski, I keep forgetting to mention that she misspelled "heigh-ho":
1801 M. EDGEWORTH Angelina ii. 22 Heigh-ho! must I sleep again without seeing my Araminta?
1871 W. H. BEEVER Daily Life Farm 40 Heigh-ho! this dreary day!
posted by languagehat at 11:04 AM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


"It's perfectly ok to shit about women, men, blacks, whites, jews and gay politicians who tap their feet in bathroom stalls, especially if you're with your buddies. Hell, that's the whole point of being with your buddies."

To clarify, it is okay to make fun of them because they're women?


Danila, look at the quoted point:

1. * every time you don’t tell your buddies it’s not okay to talk shit about women, even if it’s kinda funny;

It doesn't say "talk shit about women, because they're women". It says "talk shit about women". It also sounds to me like she's saying men can't say bad things about women, ever. Or, as a parallel, white people can't say anything bad about blacks and vice versa. Jews and Goyim. Gays and straights. Don't say anything bad about anyone who is different than you.

there are things that no human being deserves and only women get

Women get the short end of the stick sometimes, sure. Racial minorities do too. Gays and trannies too. But what are these abominable things that only happen to women? Is this code for rape and allusions to sexual violence? Women don't have a monopoly on being raped or abused. Is it code for having their motives and competency questioned because they're women? That happens to racial minorities and non-heterosexuals too.
posted by CKmtl at 11:22 AM on November 17, 2007


With that citation, languagehat is testing us all right now.
posted by psmith at 11:22 AM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


and that teenage girls don't need to be protected because they're girls (though the risks of sex are greater), but because they're young.

you ageist bastard...

hey, you know, EB is right! An elipse is three times better than a period... (Look, I just did it again ... and again oh, god, it feels good ...)

This is an exceptional discussion and I would gladly buy anyone involved a beverage of their choice, when/should the opportunity arise. Though I don't think it is what jennydiski had in mind (I agree with the admins' decision), she certainly got a discussion going and a far better one than her instigation foreshadowed.
posted by From Bklyn at 11:26 AM on November 17, 2007


Hobgoblin, here is linkage for how this thread evolved.

miss lynnster posted on flashers, and it was subsequently deleted for being a thin content post. But in response to some comments by miss lynnster in that thread while it was open, four panels posted Hysterics in Metatalk.

As part of that discussion in the Hysterics MetaTalk thread, some readers said they were unhappy about the deletion because the in-thread discussion in miss lynnster's post was worth keeping. Some people decided to recast miss lynnster's topic with more substantial posts. After that, two fpps ensued: This one, by never used baby shoes, which stayed up, and this one, by jennydiski, which got deleted and prompted the thread you are in.

There have been other threads discussed here too, but I don't have time at present to track them down!
posted by madamjujujive at 11:30 AM on November 17, 2007 [7 favorites]


It seems to me that the people ultimately responsible for the tenor of this site are the mods. As helpful as it might be for fifty people to respond every time somebody says "I'd hit that," it would be more effective to just delete the comment. Over days/months/years of participating in this site, I think you develop a very good sense of what is/isn't allowed in comments -- on the blue, the green, and the grey. That people operate with an implicit understanding that saying obviously sexist/threatening things without fear of having their comments deleted, or having their accounts put on hold, suggests to me that it's not just an issue of community, it's an issue of community moderation.

I don't mean this as an attack on matthowie/cortex because they both seem to be decent people who, in my mind, do an amazing job moderating this site. However, it might be nice to have an equal gender ratio in moderating. If anything has been reconfirmed for me in reading the past 1,000 or so comments in these various threads, it's that I simply can't have any idea what it's like to be a woman. I don't know what it's like to be a girly-girl who doesn't believe sexism exists; I don't know what it's like to be a tool belt chicken-eater; and I don't understand what it's like to be any of the other ~3bln women around the world. Given that so many women in this and other threads have said that they see something in the comments that most men don't, it would probably be valuable to get another one of them evaluating the quality of comments/threads on this site. Not because m/c are bad people but because their sensitivity seems to be different from a lot of other peoples' on this site.

I appreciate that there are some gender assumptions in this post (having left jessamyn out of it), but that's the point. If so many women are able to see something that so many men don't, get another woman to have input. I may be wrong, but isn't jessamyn mostly responsible for moderating the green, which appears to be the most woman-friendly of the sites?
posted by one_bean at 11:34 AM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


jennydiski is a pile-up who.

(too soon?)
posted by vronsky at 11:44 AM on November 17, 2007


Thank You loquacious.

This comment helps redeem a lot of truly crappy stuff that's been tossed about in this thread.

I am not in favor of censoring out every edgy snarklet, but context is everything. When you have an environment (here and in the greater world outside our doors) that is so heavily unbalanced toward the snarky sexist comments, each additional jokey log added to the fire (so to speak) becomes less of a delightful aside and more of a bullying slapdown, regardless of the poster's original intent.
posted by stagewhisper at 11:47 AM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


klangklangston: Makes sense to me. Thanks for the explanation.

Brandon Blatcher: See what you did here?

And four panels, please stop being such an immature dick.

That's pretty much exactly the response Harding is asking for.

Perhaps you'll consider calibrating your standards just a bit more finely, so you respond this way to misogyny/sexism/creepulence that isn't quite so far over the line.

On preview: Maybe jennydiski screwed up the punctuation instead of the spelling.
posted by dogrose at 11:55 AM on November 17, 2007


I am thrilled to see so many eloquent ladies articulating about those things which grate on me so often, the jokey asides and just-on-the-border of sexist comments ("I'd hit that", for example). And thank you to all of the gentlemen who have demonstrated by their posts that they "get it" - bless you all. But to put the burden of tone on the moderators, especially Jessamyn, is just unfair. I prefer to see what we're all participating in now, a community effort to set some kind of standards, yet still allow for humor and stuff that is interesting to read.
posted by Lynsey at 12:07 PM on November 17, 2007


To clarify, it is okay to make fun of them because they're women? Because they're black? Because they're Jews? You and your buddies sit around telling racist and sexist jokes?

Yes, yes, yes and we don't tell *just* racist and sexist jokes. course there's the part where it's s mixture of chicks, black and whites, italians, and jews. No gays though, we really need find a gay person to add to the group, just to round it out.

Do we say these things at work or church or the general public? Of course not, but when we're together, then any particular group could be teased, ususally based on what's going on the world. So yeah, when Harding says "Trust me on this" and"You're helping {paraphrasing} the terrorists {/paraphrasing} win"and I think of the people I've actually known then the reaction certainly is "Lighten up". Do the misogynists crack such jokes? Of course, but they also eat pizza too, should we stop eating pizza? There is a fine line with this sort of behavior and jokes of course, but the blanket condemnation is really off putting.

Did you miss this : there are things that no human being deserves and only women get;

No, I just think she's making a piss poor example. Plenty of men have done detestable things and be called on it.

But your kneejerk dismissal indicates you're not really curious about it.

You are correct. Considering that most of her other points were out there, I see no reason to be curious about it.

You don't seem to agree that women are singled out in this respect
It's a fine line. I've seen it occur and have certainly done it, but I dont' think it's so much a sexist issue as that the genders see thing SO differently at times, so in order to communicate when these wires are crossed, both sides need to try to do a bit of understanding of the other. Baring that, one side (and not just women) should realize that the other isn't getting the message and adjust how they're communicating so they get their message. If you're being hysterical, calm down. If you're insisting on being coldly rational, open up your heart a bit.

You don't seem to agree that women are singled out in this respect (men not listening but dismissing what they said anyway, as crazy/hysterical/irrational, which is exactly what you're doing right now).

Either they're being crazy/hysterical/irrational or they aren't. If they're not, then make the point and prove it. If they or anyone else are being hysterical then they can certainly be told to get a grip and if they don't, they can certainly be ignored until they do get a grip.

Are women singled out in this respect? No, they aren't singled out, though I'll buy they do get it more than men, especially from men. To which I say, either you're being hysterical or you aren't. If not, make the point.

I'm also curious as why all these supposedly silent women can't speak up and call men on this BS. If it bothers them that much, why wouldn't they speak up? Isn't staying silent just what they misogynists want, and if so, why give them what they want? Either something is worth fighting for or it isn't. If it's not, don't bitch when it turns into a boyzone.

On preview;
it might be nice to have an equal gender ratio in moderating.
Yes, we need quotas, that'll fix everything, because all women are alike.

Perhaps you'll consider calibrating your standards just a bit more finely,
No, they're good for now, thank you. Perhaps others will speak up, be they male or female, when their misogyny/sexism meter goes off.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:08 PM on November 17, 2007


one_bean, I'm not so big on deletions and I think that would put an unacceptable interpretive burden on the mods. We are already beat hard on them as a group for the deletions they do make. I for one am not looking for PC police. Sometimes a joke is just a joke. I went looking for examples of "I'd hit it" and found a thread about the guy who threw a pie at Ann Coulter, but largely missed because he had bad aim. Someone followed with "I'd hit it." Well that was teh funny.

I second Lynsey, I'd rather have unacceptable behavior be called out with a swat from a fellow member or generate a metatalk thread. I'd rather our community standards be largely self-policed by us, the users, and transparent.

I don't want to convey that I think it is horrible on mefi, I mostly like it here. I don't expect a saccharine, sanitized Holly Hobbit world. But some of the threads about women's issues or women can be very horrible, and sometimes in other threads the testosterone rises to, shall we say, exuberant levels.

I must say that I have found this discussion very positive and hopeful because I feel people are listening to each other. Perhaps this is mostly what needs to be done - recommiting to calling out cruel or hurtful behavior (certainly not just to women), not rewarding or encouraging sub-standard behavior, being more sensitive to potential "isms" (and I would add age in that), and listening before leaping.
posted by madamjujujive at 12:17 PM on November 17, 2007


Neither Edgeworth nor Beever, Languagehat. Vonnegut. Hey ho.
posted by jennydiski at 12:24 PM on November 17, 2007


Fine, I'll speak up.

It's far easier to dismiss a point on the basis of some personal characteristic, such as the speaker's sex, rather than because the point is something you disagree with. As I see it, calling someone else crazy and hysterical means you're too intellectually lazy to actually take a second to listen to what the other person is saying. So if you're asking why we don't speak up more often, perhaps it's because so often the reaction is that we're "just crazy/hysterical/irrational". It's a waste of time articulating my thoughts, especially on threads where I find the post personally relevant, if they're only going to be dismissed in a way totally irrelevant to what I am actually saying.

Ann Coulter, for example, is a detestable woman. She is a woman who says detestable things. She is not saying detestable things because she is a woman, and she is not detestable for being a woman. So if you're going to attack her, it should be for being detestable ("idiotic right-wing polemicist") and not for being a woman ("skanky tranny bimbo"). Because being a woman has nothing to do with her fascist rhetoric, and if you're going to fling poo at her at least try not to splatter the rest of us with your bad aim.
posted by casarkos at 12:54 PM on November 17, 2007 [12 favorites]


Neither Edgeworth nor Beever, Languagehat. Vonnegut. Hey ho.

As any of us lesser well reads more well knew or, as in my case, guessed. Ha! Hoist by your own pedantard, languagehat.
posted by y2karl at 1:01 PM on November 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


A point, aimed at the thread in general and no-one in particular:

-Everyone is sexist. Fact. Men and women both, feminists and not, everyone. The "I'm not sexist" game is one which only engenders denial of actual sexism when it happens, and stops individuals from examining their own behavior critically to find and remove sexism. You'll never get all of it, so people need to stop claiming non-sexism. Fighting sexism isn't about that, it's about engaging with sexism in yourself and others in a critical and progressive manner.

---

On another note, I object to nearly everything amyms has said here. She seems to be a perfect example of what I was talking about when I mentioned feminists who I really can't agree with anything on beyond "hey let's treat women right". Which is, admittedly an important thing to agree on, but man. You managed, amyms, to be both essentializing and reductive about the classes of men and women, and went on to rhetorically construct 'equal' as 'on men's terms'.

EB was, however, genuinely slightly out of line in his reaction, but he gets shit for things like this way beyond what anyone else would, because of how he's perceived as trying to construct himself as above error. I don't think he'd really doing this, but people dislike him for it anyway, and it leads to him getting shot down when he hasn't done anything wrong, and shot down even harder whenever he steps out of line a little bit.
posted by Arturus at 1:05 PM on November 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


Yes, yes, yes and we don't tell *just* racist and sexist jokes. course there's the part where it's s mixture of chicks, black and whites, italians, and jews. No gays though, we really need find a gay person to add to the group, just to round it out.

I have a very raunchy, ill-mannered group of Friends as well Brandon. I've been known to sit around trading offensive quips about women, minorities, white folks, whoever.

You know what I DON'T do? I don't defend it.

I'm also curious as why all these supposedly silent women can't speak up and call men on this BS. If it bothers them that much, why wouldn't they speak up? Isn't staying silent just what they misogynists want, and if so, why give them what they want? Either something is worth fighting for or it isn't. If it's not, don't bitch when it turns into a boyzone.

because the response is usually along the lines of what you're doing here. Nitpicking one persons of words in a willfully obtuse manner, and in essence defending something that you probably don't even believe in. But you just can't help yourself. Sometimes you gotta just bite your toungue, disagree politely, and then just shut up and listen. Otherwise I don't agree with every single word of that Harding list. But I fully understand the frustration that leads one to say exactly what she's saying.

As hard as you're trying to defend whatever it is you're trying to defend, Put that much effort into really trying to understand what this world must be like for a woman. Or anyone who isn't you, who is speaking up and saying "even if you don't mean it, sometimes your words hurt"
posted by billyfleetwood at 1:05 PM on November 17, 2007 [5 favorites]


I spell it "hay hoe" to emphasise my peasant roots.
posted by Abiezer at 1:06 PM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


madamjujujive, Thanks for that. It's just what I want. I appreciate your help.
posted by Hobgoblin at 1:13 PM on November 17, 2007


"Hi ho," no?

Oh Abiezer, you're such a rake.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:18 PM on November 17, 2007


Hey ho has earlier citations than heigh ho.
posted by matthewr at 1:31 PM on November 17, 2007


languagehat - I'll take it back a bit further heigh - ho C16th Jonson + Shakespeare.
posted by adamvasco at 1:55 PM on November 17, 2007




You Google either, I Google either
posted by jennydiski at 2:09 PM on November 17, 2007


“Call her out point for point on the substance, but mocking ellipses? Seriously?”

Seriously. It's fucking annoying.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:12 PM on November 17, 2007


Ach, the perils of navigating from the Recent Activity page!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 2:20 PM on November 17, 2007


Re: Ann Coulter. The issue is not that people disparage her. Disparage away! She's a shit-heel and a blight on humanity. Nobody thinks she should get a free pass because she's a woman.

The issue is the particular kinds of things said about her.
For one thing, (it seems to me anyway) worse stuff gets said.
For another, some things are worse when they are said about someone from a group for which those things have special significance. Saying Ann Coulter "should be beaten up and raped" or that kind of thing is -- really and truly -- worse than saying the same of a male demagogue. It's worse. It's worse for the same reason that saying Al Sharpton "should be lynched and then dragged behind a car" is worse than saying the same thing about a white public figure. It's worse because -- even in jest -- it connects to a whole lineage of people saying that stuff and really meaning it; it reinforces the idea that these specific kinds of violence are especially well-suited for dealing with women or black people etc who get out of hand. At a certain point, joking about sexually attacking female public figures doesn't feel lke a joke to (many?) women who are reading. It feels like seeing a side of your friends that you are really shocked and horrified to think might, after all this time, be what's lurking beneath some of that other friendly banter about dating woes and so on. It's ugly and revolting and juvenile, and the point of all this is that the crowd here is better than that.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:26 PM on November 17, 2007 [4 favorites]


Seriously. It's fucking annoying.
Seriously. Your riposte are self defeating.
Ann Coulter, for example, is a detestable woman. She is a woman who says detestable things. She is not saying detestable things because she is a woman, and she is not detestable for being a woman. So if you're going to attack her, it should be for being detestable ("idiotic right-wing polemicist") and not for being a woman ("skanky tranny bimbo"). Because being a woman has nothing to do with her fascist rhetoric, and if you're going to fling poo at her at least try not to splatter the rest of us with your bad aim.
I find this somewhat disingenuous — she would not be notable were she not a woman.
posted by blasdelf at 2:26 PM on November 17, 2007


“Seriously. Your riposte are self defeating.”

Your base are belong to us. Also, you seem to have confused answering a question with a riposte. You'll be able to recognize my ripostes by the pink, bubbly fluid leaking from someone's lung.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:54 PM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


she would not be notable were she not a woman.
posted by blasdelf at 5:26 PM on November 17 [+] [!]


So what's notable about her is that (a) she is a loudmouth bigot etc, AND that (b) she's a woman at the same time. And, of these two features, what people choose to rip on is the latter rather than the former? See why that seems sexist or misogynist or otherwise grody?
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:03 PM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've already said elsewhere that I regret the sexist things I've said in the past about Coulter. But I'll offer an explanation of my state of mind in what was a unique departure from my normal behavior.

First, it really does seem to me, and others, that Coulter is occupying the place on the public stage that she does by virtue of her sexuality. It's hard to pin down, but I think it is revealed when you compare her to other rightwing nutjobs who happen to be female. Michelle Malkin, for example. She's arguably attractive, too, but I just don't have the sense that she's capitalizing on it to get attention. Somehow, I feel that Coulter is. So her sex isn't incidental.

Second, I pretty much can't think of any public figure I despise more than I despise Coulter. Maybe there are some other high-profile wingnuts out there who really went as far beyond the pale in their hateful rhetoric, but I'm not aware of them. Coulter titles her books with titles that simply declare that all liberals are traitors to America. She says the most outrageous things, and gleefully. So my hatred inspires in me the strongest feelings and the desire to excoriate her with language to the greatest extent possible. Sadly, as we're in a sexist society and Coulter is female, the sharpest weapons in the rhetorical toolkit employ misogyny.

I recognize this is wrong now—I knew it then, honestly. But I was ignoring it as much as possible. Because if she got into a terribly car accident tomorrow and died, I swear I'd do a happy jig around the house for twenty minutes, and that's saying a lot given my disability. My lapse was motivated by extreme hate. Which is an especially unsympathetic and weak excuse, but there it is.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:15 PM on November 17, 2007


Because being a woman has nothing to do with her fascist rhetoric

Coulter uses her sexuality — primarily — to sell her fascist rhetoric. She deserves whatever criticism she has earned, which addresses that fact.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:20 PM on November 17, 2007


LobsterMitten: I get what you're laying down, but I disagree.

Saying someone should be raped and beaten, or lynched and dragged behind a car, is ugly, revolting, and juvenile. But I don't think it's uglier, more revolting, more juvenile, and worse when the target of the comment is female or black.

Gay guys get beaten and raped. I've known a few Coulter-esque Log Cabin (read: gay) Republicans. The ones in question were in-suffer-a-ble. I wouldn't see wishing thrashings and rapes upon them as somehow less odious than wishing them on Coulter.

Men in prison get beaten and raped. I don't think it would be less odious to wish them on... well, I was going to say Scooter Libby, but he's not in jail as far as I recall. You see what I mean, I hope.

Black people aren't the only lynchable group. This recent one popped up on the first page of Google hits. Granted, you said 'worse than saying it of a white public figure', and I'm extending it to all non-black groups.
posted by CKmtl at 3:27 PM on November 17, 2007


BP: She deserves criticism of the fact that she uses her sexuality to shape her public image and acceptance. Yes. Criticize away. But when this high-minded "criticism" takes the form of jokes about how she's asking to be raped or something, that's shitty for the reasons I stated a minute ago.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:28 PM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Any criticism of her along the lines of power and sexuality turns her sexualized rhetoric against her. She's a special case, if only because she has made herself a special case. Criticizing her is not about criticizing women — it's about criticizing her and her decisions regarding the rhetoric she uses and the power structure she worships.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:34 PM on November 17, 2007


CKmtl: just for clarity, I don't think it's worse to actually have these things happen to you if you're male, female, black, white, gay, whatever, and I don't approve of wishing these things on anybody. What I mean is that the rhetorical tone being set when people say rape stuff about women (or lynching stuff about black people or gay-bashing/Matthew Shepard stuff about gay men, or die-in-the-desert-wetback stuff about Latinos, etc) is worse, more hostile, more scary, more crossing-a-line-and-what-other-lines-might-you-cross, etc than when people say similar things about groups for which those aren't the special intimidation tactics. The effect on the community is worse.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:35 PM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


BP: Using sexualized rhetoric against anyone legitimizes sexualized rhetoric. Criticizing sexualized rhetoric, trying to defuse its power, is a different enterprise entirely.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:38 PM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]



You know what I DON'T do? I don't defend it.


Neither do I, as I don't think it needs defending.

As hard as you're trying to defend whatever it is you're trying to defend,

Which was that Harding's points were batshitinsane, not because she's a woman, but because they were too general and came to piss poor conclusions. The general point had merit and the larger point made in her blog of the different standards for woman had merit.

But her thoughts on how non mysgonist guys inadvertently contribute to a hostile environment to women was way off and smacked of nonsense. Mind you, I can agree that males, by culture or tradition, can unknowingly do things that perpetuate a systematic lack of respect. But telling dumb blond jokes and calling Michelle Malkin a dumb bitch isn't it.

Put that much effort into really trying to understand what this world must be like for a woman. Or anyone who isn't you,

Been there, done that and according to them, doing fine, thanks!

who is speaking up and saying "even if you don't mean it, sometimes your words hurt"

Only if they listen to the "even if you don't mean it" part.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:44 PM on November 17, 2007


Hoist by your own pedantard, languagehat.

Quite true, and I admit it cheerfully. But we shall meet again, jennydiski!
*doffs plumed hat, bows*

I regret the sexist things I've said in the past about Coulter

...who will never know of them. But you do not, apparently, regret the shitty things you said to amyms, who is here to appreciate whatever regrets you might have. Interesting.
posted by languagehat at 3:46 PM on November 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


Using sexualized rhetoric against anyone legitimizes sexualized rhetoric.

I disagree. Context is important. Coulter is a rare monster that evokes a universe of context about her.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:48 PM on November 17, 2007


I don't know about more or less offensive, but I've always considered prison rape jokes to be particularly odious, and it bums me out that so many people on my side of the political fence seem to think it's funny to wish rape on the Scooter Libbies of the world. I don't care how much of a nefarious weasel Libby is: nobody deserves to be raped. I don't see a lot of references to raping men outside of prison rape jokes, though. People may despise Bill O'Reilly, but they don't fantasize about raping him. And if some very sick individual did crack such a joke, I don't think it would be as offensive as the steady stream of sexual violence jokes about right-wing women, just because the threat of rape isn't as ever-present a fear in men's lives as in women's, unless you're talking about men in prison. When you crack that kind of joke about women, you remind all of us that rape is a punishment that could be meted out on us if some man decided we were outside the bounds of respectable femininity. It's not just a threat against Coulter: it's a reminder of the ever-present implicit threat against all of us. I just really don't get why that seems so hard for some men to understand.
posted by craichead at 3:53 PM on November 17, 2007 [11 favorites]


"So if you're going to attack her, it should be for being detestable ("idiotic right-wing polemicist") and not for being a woman ("skanky tranny bimbo"). Because being a woman has nothing to do with her fascist rhetoric, and if you're going to fling poo at her at least try not to splatter the rest of us with your bad aim."

One thing that I'll mention is that Anne Coulter's a sticky issue with that: she definitely uses her "femininity" as a method of controlling discourse, which can provoke attacks based on that. The counter-argument would be that this ultimately plays into her hands, but I'm not sure either side is more convincing.

"You'll be able to recognize my ripostes by the pink, bubbly fluid leaking from someone's lung."

I AM INTERNET TOUGH! GRRR!
posted by klangklangston at 3:55 PM on November 17, 2007


Haha. That's what I get for not refreshing the thread!
posted by klangklangston at 3:57 PM on November 17, 2007


craichead: better put. Thank you.

BP: Do you think "ugly bitch asking to get some of my hot cock" is a more effective and deflating critique of Coulter than "she offers fascist views, and hopes to use her sexualized persona to make them more appealing"?
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:00 PM on November 17, 2007


...who is speaking up and saying "even if you don't mean it, sometimes your words hurt"

Only if they listen to the "even if you don't mean it" part....


if you don't mean it, why do you say it?
posted by Lynsey at 4:01 PM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Or to put it another way:
If Coulter is implicitly saying "I'm hot, listen to me", is it more effective to say "you're not hot" or to say "your views are contemptible and your appearance is a red herring"?
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:03 PM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Any criticism of her along the lines of power and sexuality turns her sexualized rhetoric against her.

It also turns her sexualized rhetoric against all women.
posted by occhiblu at 4:04 PM on November 17, 2007 [7 favorites]


... worse, more hostile, more scary, more crossing-a-line-and-what-other-lines-might-you-cross, etc people say similar things about groups for which those aren't the special intimidation tactics. The effect on the community is worse.

... It's not just a threat against Coulter: it's a reminder of the ever-present implicit threat against all of us.


(Quoted both as they're in the same spirit, and I'm responding to that.)

Fair enough, I see what you mean.

I guess what's still sticking in my craw is the only in "things that no human being deserves and only women get" from before. It'll unstick itself sooner or later.
posted by CKmtl at 4:14 PM on November 17, 2007


CKtml: I agree that "the only women get" is overstated. Other groups are targeted for sexual violence, and it's equally as bad as when women are targeted for it. But I don't think it's out of line to say women are the targets of sexual violence plus "you should like it" plus "you're ugly and you should be sad that I think so" or "you're hot and you should be grateful that I let you know in my loudest voice" plus etc, more than other groups.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:27 PM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


if you don't mean it, why do you say it?

Sometimes. a. joke. is. just. a. joke.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:29 PM on November 17, 2007


Then you're telling it wrong.
posted by casarkos at 4:33 PM on November 17, 2007


CKmtl, the Harding post was in direct response to the harassment of Kathy Sierra, harassment which included photoshopping a photo of her decapitated body being raped in the neck, as well as death threats.

I think that context helps explains Harding's point a bit. Women who speak on the internet tend to face harassment that's sexualized and violent above and beyond what we'd consider "normal" harassment against men online. Then many defend that harassment by saying that women who choose to speak in public "deserve whatever they get." That's what Harding is reacting to, as far as I can tell.
posted by occhiblu at 4:42 PM on November 17, 2007



Then you're telling it wrong.


Nope, some people laughed. Just not everyone.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:45 PM on November 17, 2007


Brandon Blatcher, you didn't have any problem making the judgment that four panels' comment wasn't just. a. joke. Yet you seem to be vehemently arguing against anyone making the same judgment about anything you might say.

Let me suggest (again) that you consider the possibility that other people's greater sensitivity is not necessarily over-sensitivity—even if it annoys you, even if it bores you, even if it makes you feel guilty.

Also, I don't believe you saw my first comment, addressing your original "batshitinsane" objection. Any response?
posted by dogrose at 4:51 PM on November 17, 2007


Seriously. It's fucking annoying.

So what? So is excessive puncutation in general. So is a reliance on emdashes. So is characteristic prolixity. Failure to capitalize; insufficient carriage returns; too many carriage returns; poor spelling; poor English: which of these things would you classify as most justifying prickish dismissal of comments with which you disagree?

It was a low-ball, bitchy response to someone whose argument you disliked.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:55 PM on November 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


Careful; cortex! lest, you-taste-his-steel....
posted by yerfatma at 5:06 PM on November 17, 2007


"I think that context helps explains Harding's point a bit. Women who speak on the internet tend to face harassment that's sexualized and violent above and beyond what we'd consider "normal" harassment against men online. Then many defend that harassment by saying that women who choose to speak in public "deserve whatever they get." That's what Harding is reacting to, as far as I can tell."

Yes, though I think Seirra's an interesting case, because what I remember from her was an attempt to lump all criticism of her into a group with the criticism that was clearly out of line.

Which is what happens a lot in intra-liberal debates: claims of sexism are serious, and are a powerful rhetorical framing device, and it can be used to distract from other debate. Discussions of sexism can be prejudicial, on both sides, and often it feels to me like men have to answer charges (generally legitimate, but sometimes not) for all men prior to being allowed further in conversation. That's what I was touching on with pieties, above.

I also feel, and I know this to be the feeling of a lot of men and women, that there are some of the dumbest and craziest idiots who have internet access. I understand that because of a larger context of sexualized violence what doesn't feel intimidating to a man can feel intimidating to a woman, but I can also understand the desire to simply dismiss the dumbest and most egregious stuff, especially as in the case of Sierra, where it wasn't all coming from the same site.
posted by klangklangston at 5:21 PM on November 17, 2007


but I can also understand the desire to simply dismiss the dumbest and most egregious stuff, especially as in the case of Sierra, where it wasn't all coming from the same site.

OK, but then there are also cultural imperatives in place on women to Pay attention! At all times! You must preemptively identify those who want to harm you, if you don't, you're negligent, and deserve to be hurt!

And to me, the fact that it's *not* all coming from the same site, that there are multiple places where this sort of thing is encouraged, just points out how much of a problem it is on the internet in general.
posted by occhiblu at 5:29 PM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


LobsterMitten: But I don't think it's out of line to say women are the targets of sexual violence plus "you should like it" plus "you're ugly and you should be sad that I think so" or "you're hot and you should be grateful that I let you know in my loudest voice" plus etc, more than other groups.

Not as a refutation or anything like that... but I've heard similar things (not necessarily directed at me personally, mind you) from a specific sub-genre of gay teens and twinky 20-somethings. The arrogant, self-centred, more often than not pretty and very aware of it, bitchy type.

But, yeah, 'more than' works fine with me.

occhiblu: I think that context helps explains Harding's point a bit.

Ah, yeah. That helps a bit. Especially since, as it showed up here, her list just looked like a general "to-do" list. (Also: ew.)

The "only" still strikes me as overboard though. I mean, I can easily imagine something similar happening to, say, Dan Savage if he happened to say something that pissed off the wrong people.

As above, I've no problem with 'more than'.
posted by CKmtl at 5:38 PM on November 17, 2007


you didn't have any problem making the judgment that four panels' comment wasn't just. a. joke. Yet you seem to be vehemently arguing against anyone making the same judgment about anything you might say.

Four panels comment was, IMO, taking things too far in a sensitive situation in a public place, whereas the personal instances I was talking about where specifically not done in public place and done among who known each other well enough to make jokes about whatever, knowing it's not real. In short, it's a fine line.

I didn't say anything the first time I saw FP's comment, but I distinctly remember wincing on the inside and thinking "dude, that's too far". So the earlier request to just say something in those instances seems perfectly reasonable, so I said something where I thought the comments were going too far, even if it was a bit late.

Yeah, it's totally possible to take these things too far, especially in a public place and then hide behind the "oh it's a joke" line and of course it's wrong to do. Harding's statement about such joking and comments being wrong all the time is just bullshit, IMO.

sidenote: Safari 3's ability to re-size any textarea, like the ultra small ones on Metafilter, has made using any other browser to make long comments pure torture.

Also, I don't believe you saw my first comment, addressing your original "batshitinsane" objection.

We've had different experiences it seems. I can't remember off-hand when I've seen a woman being called on playing the victim card descend into discussions about "they're all like that." Seriously. You say Harding was talking about such a response when she made the statement, but I'm not seeing it, whereas you are. For what's it worth, I'd prefer your version, of Hardings reasoning, though it doesn't jib with my experiences.

This is about the sixth time I've reread Harding's points (so I may be obtuse, but it's not willfully so) and I still think they're batshitinsane for their generalities and seeming paranoia about the misogynists who could be anywhere, so you gotta be careful what you say.

On preview:
Hardings comments make a bit more sense in light of the Sierra situation she was responding to, but they still come off as pretty nutty. Again, not because she's a woman, but because of the gross generalities. There's still a heavy odor of "All of you guys are to blame for this!" as opposed to the seriously fucked up people
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:51 PM on November 17, 2007


"OK, but then there are also cultural imperatives in place on women to Pay attention! At all times! You must preemptively identify those who want to harm you, if you don't, you're negligent, and deserve to be hurt!"

Yes, which is terrible and is often confused with "If you are not paying attention, you increase your risk factors for being a victim of violence." And even further, I understand that even well-meaning attempts to raise awareness about violence toward women both engender women to feel less safe (through a constant focus on their safety), and can raise knee-jerk false equivalencies with the immediate "No excuse for hitting a woman? There is an excuse for hitting a man?" responses.

"And to me, the fact that it's *not* all coming from the same site, that there are multiple places where this sort of thing is encouraged, just points out how much of a problem it is on the internet in general."

An anecdotal response: One of my responsibilities is screening the mail for Barely Legal and Taboo. I see a whole spectrum of crazy and misogynistic and sexist that most other people don't, and there's a lot of overlap. I remember a conversation comparing racism to mental illness, and I feel similarly about the most egregious forms of sexism—it goes beyond ignorance to delusion.

There is no response to any of these letters; we don't even acknowledge that we get them.

I feel that people posting pictures of stump-fucking Sierra are deranged, and there's no real way to have a conversation with them on any real level.

And yes, it would be best if there was more credence given to the legitimate threat that women can face, but I also believe that these lunatics have the right to post these pictures.

So that's why I can understand the "There are a lot of assholes on the internet. Whatareyagonnado?" response, which I think is both dismissive and realistic at the same time.
posted by klangklangston at 5:58 PM on November 17, 2007


CKmtl, I totally believe that gay men are also targeted, but.... that's kind of the point. Oppressed groups face more oppression than other groups. I think there are huge overlaps between women's issues and gay issues, not only because (obviously) there are gay women but also because that kind of "Real men are like this, and real women should behave like this" comes down hard on the GLBTQ population as well. I think it's all part and parcel of the same thing.
posted by occhiblu at 6:01 PM on November 17, 2007


It also turns her sexualized rhetoric against all women.

Think very, very, very carefully about what you are giving her a free pass for. Think about it very, very, very carefully.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:02 PM on November 17, 2007


I'm not giving her a free pass for anything. Insulting non-feminist women in misogynist ways, however, does nothing for the cause of supporting women in general, regardless of their views. I don't want to live in a world in which women are silenced simply for having the audacity to be women, so I believe it's important to speak up any time that happens, regardless of what that particular woman is saying.
posted by occhiblu at 6:10 PM on November 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


Coulter's not necessarily getting a free pass if people don't call her a tranny scank.
posted by klangklangston at 6:11 PM on November 17, 2007 [4 favorites]


...a unique departure from my normal behavior.

Hardly. For instance, there was this bon mot you deployed when Paris Hilton went to the pokey. I have never forgotten it. It is thoroughly brutal. And that it came from you, with your stated commitment to gender equality -- well, that just made it all the more awful.

Here is what you need to understand. It does not matter, one iota, whether you think a woman is exceptional, whether you think she deserves the most violent and derogatory put-down you can dream up. In all likelihood, Paris Hilton will never read your comments. But I will, and it will stay with me that you have these words in your repertoire ready to deploy if you think some woman deserves it. That, if I am a woman and in public and someone decides I am disgusting and odious enough, he may feel free -- even feel righteous and justified -- to wish specifically sexual violence on me.

As a woman in public -- and the internet counts as public space, too -- there is always that awareness that there are those men who have a stock of such images and tactics at the ready. When someone does this who I think of an otherwise decent guy, who has even demonstrated a deep nuanced commitment to thinking about gender issues in general, it is a feeling like a cold pit in my stomach.

I can be plenty tough myself, Ethereal Bligh. But I didn't respond to that remark when you made it because I just don't always have the energy to do so. These things are a hurt, and they make me so damned tired. Tired of explaining myself, tired of being dismissed out of hand, tired of other women outright denying there's a problem at all or worse, saying boys will be boys, things will never change, just meet fire with fire. More tired than you could possibly ever be about the subject, frankly.

All of which suggests that despite your advanced knowledge of the subject, there may still be a thing or two for you to learn. So please: stop trying to cut everyone with the fine blade of your intellect and listen for a change. Don't dream that you're defending me or any other woman by treating another person here as you did amyms. You are taking pleasure from cruelty, and it isn't helping a soul. Not even yours.
posted by melissa may at 6:17 PM on November 17, 2007 [72 favorites]


BP: why "giving a free pass"? She should, obviously, be criticized for using her sexuality as a way of making her revolting views more palatable. I don't get why you think that criticism needs to take the form of misogyny to be effective.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:26 PM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


occhiblu: I wasn't trying to put Harding's "only" in your mouth, I hope you didn't take it that way.

It just seemed, at first, like she was claiming the winning stroke in some sort of hardship pissing contest. That's what got under my skin. I suppose she didn't mean it that way, given the context of you cited. Maybe it was the heat of the moment that made her write 'only', or she was only thinking in terms of men and women. Or a combination of the two, *shrug*.

Anyway, we're pretty much on the same page with this. So, round of Cosmos on me.
posted by CKmtl at 6:31 PM on November 17, 2007


it will stay with me that you have these words in your repertoire ready to deploy if you think some woman deserves it.

Yes.

This reminds me of the point made waaay upthread about, in some discussions, feeling as if one has to establish one's toughness credentials. Men are subject to that feeling too, and I often get the sense that some of this stuff is a toughness performance, so that people will take someone seriously as an Important or Worthwhile Metafilter Voice (rather than as just a wimpy girl sympathizer). If more and more people just refrained from this garbage here, it would take pressure to talk this way off men as well.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:35 PM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]




...a unique departure from my normal behavior.

Hardly. For instance, there was this bon mot you deployed when Paris Hilton went to the pokey. I have never forgotten it. It is thoroughly brutal. And that it came from you, with your stated commitment to gender equality -- well, that just made it all the more awful.


Oh, man, I had forgotten it. But upon re-reading I do remember reading it back then and having the same reaction. I was appalled.

As for the rest of your comment, well spoken, Melissa May, well spoken.
posted by y2karl at 7:20 PM on November 17, 2007


I have known honorable men who did not openly tolerate sexism (which is all Kate Harding is talking about). It wasn't too hard, it wasn't impossible, it's not insane to expect it.

Laughing, non-serious sexist comments? Because apparently the nutjobs in our midst can't tell the difference (and I'm not sure they can; I just disagree that I'm responsible for them). If whimsical sexism is to be shot down at every opportunity, I expect to see that among women, too. And the list doesn't say anything about mixed company; this is not about offending those present. So you might want to make sure you're keeping your girlfriends in line on one of those girls-nights-out. Let's be appropriate at all times, in all company. Why is this starting to remind me of the Antioch College policy?

Men are subject to that feeling too, and I often get the sense that some of this stuff is a toughness performance, so that people will take someone seriously as an Important or Worthwhile Metafilter Voice (rather than as just a wimpy girl sympathizer)

Well there's certainly the opposite of that, too. Establishing sympathetic credentials. But apparently to call that into question is to brand yourself as a caveman projecting his own fears of something or other onto those more enlightened amongst us. couldn't just be scoring points, and that people can always see through the B.S. of their own gender more easily than the other.

Good points about targets of public abuse, though. If you want to see a person's biases, give them reasonable reasons to hate a person who is also a member of X group, and see what epithets they resort to.
posted by dreamsign at 7:22 PM on November 17, 2007


Oh, and for the record, I was supporting amyms' strategy of direct confrontation, not the view that biases and overreactions are somehow a fixture of gender.
posted by dreamsign at 7:29 PM on November 17, 2007


Brandon Blatcher:

We've had different experiences it seems. I can't remember off-hand when I've seen a woman being called on playing the victim card descend into discussions about "they're all like that." Seriously. You say Harding was talking about such a response when she made the statement, but I'm not seeing it, whereas you are. For what's it worth, I'd prefer your version, of Hardings reasoning, though it doesn't jib with my experiences.

Sorry; I didn’t make myself clear. I was thinking more along the lines of what abiezer describes—an alpha group talking about the behavior of another group.

I’m a woman, so I’m generally not privy to men’s discussions of women. However, I’m also white, so I’ve found myself in way too many conversations which* suddenly jump the rails into “those people” territory, with my interlocutor assuming that amongst our pallid selves, we can ditch the PC pretense and speak power to truth. There’s always at least one Outrageous Anecdote recounted to prove that “those people” are lazy, stealing our jobs, whatever. Most often, the Outrageous Anecdote is some Fox News froth of distortion and indigestion—but occasionally, it’s a tale of truly and authentically fucked-up behavior.

That’s the situation I was talking about earlier. That’s when you acknowledge the fucked-upness but reject the notion that this particular incident justifies contempt for anyone but that particular person. (The rest of the time, you point out the distortions. Or you say, “Sorry, I gotta take this call” or “Hey, I think the game’s on, Uncle Bill!”)

No one wants you to drag-ass around in sackcloth and ashes. No one is blaming you, personally, for the evils of the world. But the fact is, you are privileged. (As am I, as are all MeFites.) Recognize your privileges. Try not to abuse them.

Also, it's not "jib" (a kind of sail) but "jibe." Though you do get points for not using "jive."

*Which? That? I can never keep it straight.
posted by dogrose at 7:30 PM on November 17, 2007 [2 favorites]


*Which? That? I can never keep it straight.

Use whatever feels good, favoring clarity. You could argue that "which" is less good than "that" there because it introduces an ambiguity—are you saying that you've been part of too many (discussions which suddenly jump), or that you've been part of too many discussions (which are things which suddenly jump...)?—but in general, if it's clear from context, do as thou wilt and the Strunkers can go hang.

posted by cortex (staff) at 10:18 PM on November 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


dreamsign: Well there's certainly the opposite of that, too. Establishing sympathetic credentials. But apparently to call that into question is to brand yourself as a caveman projecting his own fears of something or other onto those more enlightened amongst us. couldn't just be scoring points, and that people can always see through the B.S. of their own gender more easily than the other.

I was trying for a charitable reading of people's underlying beliefs - a reading on which people who make occasional misogynist remarks are just performing, not really misogynist. (By extension of my own experience in making comments to be seen as "tough".)

But of course I could opt to see, in what seem to be reasonable comments by men, secret misogyny papered over by a desire to fit in. I prefer to see them as being reasonable. Plus, frankly, I would rather have the social pressure directed toward civility rather than incivility. If people are only being civil in order to curry favor or score points, well, hey, that's great.

Also, I'm bothered by the accusation, in a lot of the comments about the Kate Harding thing that women (or the particular women in this discussion?) must make misandrist jokes when they are around only women. I don't do this. Ever. In any circumstances. And when I can get away with it (eg when it's not my boss) I always call out people who do, because it's lame-ass. My friends are always cool about this and it's never a big confrontational humorless issue. I find it weird that some here are so bothered by what seems a simple exhortation not to go along with that stuff when it's about women.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:25 PM on November 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


Awesome job, MelissaMay.

*Cheers and applause*
posted by The Deej at 10:27 PM on November 17, 2007


I don't get why you think that criticism needs to take the form of misogyny to be effective.

While I would not personally call her a "tranny skank" I think it is very badly wrong to artificially limit one's choice of words to describe her and her actions just because of her supposed genitalia. It is not misogynistic to use her rhetorical techniques and language against her.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:35 PM on November 17, 2007


“...who will never know of them. But you do not, apparently, regret the shitty things you said to amyms, who is here to appreciate whatever regrets you might have. Interesting.”

The two are not the least alike. You and peacay seem to think that any two situations where a woman is insulted are necessarily equivalent and sexist because gender is the deciding factor. It is not. I don't regret insulting amyms. What she wrote was juvenile, counter-productive and, worst of all, used ellipses in place of periods. Which I hate.

“So what? So is excessive puncutation in general. So is a reliance on emdashes. So is characteristic prolixity. Failure to capitalize; insufficient carriage returns; too many carriage returns; poor spelling; poor English: which of these things would you classify as most justifying prickish dismissal of comments with which you disagree?”

Well, none of those obviously bother me, so I wouldn't classify any of them that way. But if they bother someone else as much as misuse of ellipses bother me, thy can prickishly dismiss my comment. And, you know, they have. Often.

“It was a low-ball, bitchy response to someone whose argument you disliked.”

Yeah, it was bitchy. The combination of the inanity and wrongheaded nature of her comment with the grating something-ellipses-something-ellipses style rubbed me greatly the wrong way. My response was bitchy and insulting. Stop the presses! Someone was bitchy and insulting on MetaFilter.

“Careful; cortex! lest, you-taste-his-steel....”

and

“I AM INTERNET TOUGH! GRRR!”

Guys, my riposte comment was a metaphor.

“Hardly. For instance, there was this bon mot you deployed when Paris Hilton went to the pokey. I have never forgotten it. It is thoroughly brutal. And that it came from you, with your stated commitment to gender equality -- well, that just made it all the more awful.”

Yes, that was a deplorable comment that I utterly don't remember. It was wrong and I apologize for it without reservation. Re-reading it, I can only guess that my extreme irritation at NewsFilter was somehow misplaced onto its topic, Hilton. I don't actually have particular animosity against her, my comment doesn't resonate at all with me when I read it now.

“That, if I am a woman and in public and someone decides I am disgusting and odious enough, he may feel free -- even feel righteous and justified -- to wish specifically sexual violence on me.”

Yes, I quite vividly see that and I deeply regret it. It is, I think, the general and correct argument against the Coulter sexist vitriol, regardless of whether or not she is using her supposed sex appeal as part of shtick.

“All of which suggests that despite your advanced knowledge of the subject, there may still be a thing or two for you to learn. So please: stop trying to cut everyone with the fine blade of your intellect and listen for a change.”

Of course there's things left for me to learn.

And the nice thing about a forum like this one, is that my words don't in any way crowd out anyone else's. I have, in fact, paid close attention to what has been written in these two threads, particularly that by women.

On the other hand, do I have anything to learn from Brandon Blatcher? Should I listen to him? Should I consider, as languagehat encourages me to do, that I might be wrong? Nope. There's a lot I can still learn at the margins of the sexism/feminism discussion, lots of details. The essentials of the dynamics and the status of women in today's world, I understand well and it's not a topic open for discussion with me. That rubs some people the wrong way. I don't care.

When I was younger, everything was still on the table. In the case of a number of “big” matters, they were on the table and actively researched and question for fifteen and twenty and twenty-five years or more. Then they were taken off the table. In all cases, I stopped hearing or reading anything of great substance that was new.

“Don't dream that you're defending me or any other woman by treating another person here as you did amyms. You are taking pleasure from cruelty, and it isn't helping a soul. Not even yours.”

First of all, I'm never defending any woman by anything I say on the topic of sexism and feminism. I'm not here to defend women, in particular or in aggregate. My role is to attack sexism and that's what my comments do. They also will attack people who make sexist comments.

And sometimes I'm just an asshole because someone has pissed me off. Again, unless and until the standards for behavior greatly improve here at MetaFilter, I will acknowledge the wrongness of such nastiness and rue it in my behavior, on its own nature in the context of who I am. I won't accept an accusation of egregiousness in the context of this environment, where such comments are as common as some other very common thing.

“Oh, man, I had forgotten it. But upon re-reading I do remember reading it back then and having the same reaction. I was appalled.”

Ah, someone takes me to task in a carefully worded, articulate, sensitive and persuasive comment and this just makes your day, doesn't it, y2karl? So you show up to the thread where you otherwise (mostly) haven't participated and add your two-cents, as you always do. What a surprise.

I keep hoping that we'll stop hearing from you because you've been involuntarily committed because of your evident psychological impairments, but it keeps not happening. Someday, maybe, someone will find that corner in your bedroom where on the wall you've listed those who have offended you and realize that you need professional help and you'll fade from MeFi's collective memory.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:39 PM on November 17, 2007


“Hardly. For instance, there was this bon mot you deployed...”

I just realized that you wrote hardly. Which, given that I wrote unique, is accurate and I won't contest it in that context.

If, on the other hand, and as evidenced by your “for instance”, you intended to make the claim that my normal behavior is hardly non-sexist, then I challenge you to find any other example besides things I've said about Coulter.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:47 PM on November 17, 2007


Yeah, ok, whatever.

You know, if you'd said something like 'sorry about that amyms, but I've got some ideas I'd like to share to perhaps make this a better place' then maybe I'd pay closer attention.

But I'm done really taking too much notice of your opinion this weekend EB. High and mighty words, low and mealy reality. I'm not dismissing you outright and will no doubt enjoy reading your writing on some theme or other down the track, but right now I'm just not feeling it. You can't just take such a high ground and throw grenades around and damn considering their consequences. Your sheen fades and your words lose their power when you continue with such unblinking righteousness.
posted by peacay at 10:57 PM on November 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


Ethereal Bligh: Ah, someone takes me to task in a carefully worded, articulate, sensitive and persuasive comment and this just makes your day, doesn't it, y2karl?

As articulate and resonant as I found melissa may's comment in this thread to be, it isn't necessary to persuade people that your comment in the Paris Hilton thread - in which you express nonchalance at the idea of "the skanky bitch" being strangled by a penis - is viscerally repulsive. Meanwhile, amyms voices her opinion, and you respond by attacking her use of...ellipses? And then you direct this gem towards y2karl:

I keep hoping that we'll stop hearing from you because you've been involuntarily committed because of your evident psychological impairments...

I wouldn't even bother to point this out if I hadn't noticed the, well, memo you posted in the other thread, in which you position yourself as the ideal person to help foster civil discourse on MeFi. Color me unconvinced.
posted by lalex at 11:11 PM on November 17, 2007


I was thinking more along the lines of what abiezer describes
Just a note, you forgot to link to a particular comment.

No one is blaming you, personally, for the evils of the world.
Clearly you've never told a teenager they have to to clean up their room.

Indeed since Harding implies she's speaking just to white males, she isn't talking to me at all. But it seems to me that her broad generalities are likely to push away those who most need to hear her points. That was the point of my sharing personal observations, not so much to take it personally

But the fact is, you are privileged. (As am I, as are all MeFites.) Recognize your privileges. Try not to abuse them.
Um, ok, though I'd actually argue it's fairly impossible for a privileged person not to abuse'em, at least in smaller, unthinking ways.

Also, it's not "jib" (a kind of sail) but "jibe." Though you do get points for not using "jive.

Damn those pesky e's!

do I have anything to learn from Brandon Blatcher?

I make an excellent low fat chicken salad.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:50 PM on November 17, 2007


“in which you position yourself as the ideal person to help foster civil discourse on MeFi. Color me unconvinced.”

I did no such thing. Please quote the part where I talked about a specific person fostering, in some authoritative role, civil discourse on MeFi. I suggested nothing of the kind, not for me or for anyone else.

What I did do was describe an environment where extremely productive civil discourse was the everyday experience. I then argued that such an environment was extraordinary and nothing even remotely like it could be expected to be accomplished in an online environment such as MetaFilter.

I argued that bad behavior is inevitable, there is no possibility of eradicating it. I mentioned that in such an environment, I, like others, am unable to also restrain myself from bad behavior.

So there is no way in which that comment argued for what you claim it argued for. You are greatly misrepresenting it.

I did make a couple of suggestions, which anyone could have made, and which I think would be implementable and extremely constructive.

As for my comment about Hilton, I agree with you completely, without reservation. It was an execrable comment and sexist. There is no excuse for it and I offer none.

On the other hand, y2karl is a passive/aggressive personality who nurtures grudges and keeps them over a period of years. He is disturbed, and this is evident if you correspond with him, which I don't recommend.

Like everyone else, I have good moods and bad moods. I'm well aware that taking the high road is morally superior to taking the low road. I'm also well aware that if one wants to persuade other people, it has practical utility in boosting one's credibility.

But I'm lately not in a good mood, I'm in a bad mood, I don't have much motivation to take the high road, and I haven't been taking the high road in this argument about sexism. I've been aggressive and abusive. I hate sexism and I've argued against sexist behavior. Doing so does not indicate that one is positioning oneself as a moral exemplar. It's puzzling that anyone would think this is the case. It's actually rather sad that we might only expect the most morally advanced people to speak out against things like racism and sexism. At the moment, I don't feel particularly morally advanced and I haven't presented myself as such. I have presented myself as a non-sexist, which I think is true, my Paris Hilton comment notwithstanding.

Anyway, I am already bored with defending myself on this matter. Anyone waiting for some sort of apology to amyms or anyone else should cease. It's not going to happen.

You can take or leave my comments in these two threads, as you wish.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:04 AM on November 18, 2007


occhiblu, thank you for that superb comment. Really, thank you.
posted by nickyskye at 12:06 AM on November 18, 2007


It is not misogynistic to use her rhetorical techniques and language against her.

So she's doing something vile and abhorrent, which means we get to, too? I really reject that line of thought. If she's horrible specifically because of the rhetoric she uses, then why on earth would I be a better person if I also adopted it?
posted by occhiblu at 12:07 AM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Use whatever feels good, favoring clarity. You could argue that "which" is less good than "that" there because it introduces an ambiguity—are you saying that you've been part of too many (discussions which suddenly jump), or that you've been part of too many discussions (which are things which suddenly jump...)?—but in general, if it's clear from context, do as thou wilt and the Strunkers can go hang."

Generally, the AP rule is that subordinate clauses take a "which" and a comma. Otherwise, "that."

posted by klangklangston at 12:13 AM on November 18, 2007


"What she wrote was juvenile, counter-productive and, worst of all, used ellipses in place of periods. Which I hate."

Also, she posted to a meter that fit a Menudo tune. Which I hate. That justifies anything I do.

"Yeah, it was bitchy. The combination of the inanity and wrongheaded nature of her comment with the grating something-ellipses-something-ellipses style rubbed me greatly the wrong way. My response was bitchy and insulting. Stop the presses! Someone was bitchy and insulting on MetaFilter."

Have you met my friend tu quoque?

"Guys, my riposte comment was a metaphor."

It doesn't matter why you said it, it only matters how people perceived it. Isn't that the limning of sexism?

"It was wrong and I apologize for it without reservation."

When I was reading Bill Ayer's book Fugitive Days, one of the things he talked about in his descent into radical madness was that his "cell" held self-criticisms in which the members of the group would be brought forward and accused of things like trying to destroy the movement by eating more brown rice than the other roommates, and the only correct response to any accusation was to apologize immediately.

"First of all, I'm never defending any woman by anything I say on the topic of sexism and feminism. I'm not here to defend women, in particular or in aggregate. My role is to attack sexism and that's what my comments do. They also will attack people who make sexist comments."

Feminism has enough Trotskys.

"I hate sexism and I've argued against sexist behavior. Doing so does not indicate that one is positioning oneself as a moral exemplar."

YES IT FUCKING DOES ARE YOU FUCKING DEAF?

You either argue that you have some moral claim, some way of ordering values, that makes being a total fucking cock about sexism justifiable or that you don't. To men, to women, to anyone you disagree with on what is obviously a subjective call, being an admitted asshole?

Force, rhetorical or physical, is justified by what? If you're not a "moral exemplar," there's no reason inherent in your opinion. It's an aesthetic decision, just like … … … … … … … … … …ellipses.

Being an asshole to someone over aesthetics is only justifiable if they listen to the wrong music.
posted by klangklangston at 12:56 AM on November 18, 2007 [5 favorites]


And so it goes.
posted by waraw at 1:08 AM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ah, someone takes me to task in a carefully worded, articulate, sensitive and persuasive comment and this just makes your day, doesn't it, y2karl?

As you gleefully hop in any time I am being piled on with your long distance drive by demeaning psychoanalysis. We don't like each other.

I don't like you and it's no secret I think you are a moralizing hypocrite but that comment she referenced I had forgotten. I was surprised at the time when I read it that you of all people had written it.

On the other hand, y2karl is a passive/aggressive personality who nurtures grudges and keeps them over a period of years. He is disturbed, and this is evident if you correspond with him, which I don't recommend.

You reference a handful of emails with I exchanged with you around the time my older brother was dying. Most were short and cordial. I recall I got upset in MetaTalk because you were all sympathetic to me in an email you wrote one evening and then brought me by name in a thread the very next day. as an example of what was wrong with MetaFiilter. I thought that you had the weirdest sense of timing. Were our situations reversed, you would have been the last person I woud choose to pick on in a MetaTalk post, given the circumstances.

You have referenced that period a number of times since in oblique comments about this time I went into a funk and wasn't around here for awhile and then have mocked me about maybe how I might go into in a funk again. Jesus Christ, my brother was dying and I was not my best self here or anywhere at the time and you have brought up my upset and thrown it in my face over and over here over the years. Who is being passive-agressive ? No one should ever reveal any personal information to you if they are wise. You will twist it and lie and use it to smear them should they ever cross you. In my experience, you are a gossip, a backstabber, a character assassin and a liar.

I do recall the last email I wrote to you was short as well but ended with a comment that, after reading, in that despicable thing to which sent me a link about you that was up at IEATTAPES, about how you had torn into someone at #mefi with personal information she had previously revealed to you, that I thought that was a creepy thing for the IEATAPES crowd to write that thing but the part that referenced you publically attacking someone using personal information she had disclosed to you rang true. No one should ever trust you.

You are taking pleasure from cruelty, and it isn't helping a soul. Not even yours.

You can explain your insults in detail, defend them point by point until the cows come home but apologize ? Never. You can not apologize to anyone you have ever insulted because you are so proud of your ability to trash people. That is some talent in which to take pride.
posted by y2karl at 4:40 AM on November 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


Wow. You guys do realize that we've spent untold pixels discussing Paris Hilton & Ann Coulter. And attention, any attention, is what these two wastes of protoplasm live for. I'm just saying.

There was a thread at mecha about Paris Hilton wanting to save the drunken elephants (I don't know) and I said that I hoped an elephant would be found with bleached blonde hair and rhinoplasty wedged between it's toes. I still stand by that.
posted by jonmc at 5:57 AM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Should I consider, as languagehat encourages me to do, that I might be wrong? Nope. [...] it's not a topic open for discussion with me. That rubs some people the wrong way. I don't care.

Wow...

And sometimes I'm just an asshole because someone has pissed me off.

Uh... yeah. This whole thing really saddens me, because... well, I've been trying (increasingly against the evidence) to maintain my image of you as a basically nice, thoughtful person who occasionally has a bad day, like many of us. But it's becoming apparent to me that you've turned into just another internet SHITCOCK1!1!! with a better vocabulary. (I'm also becoming glad I didn't go to St. John's...)

You're willing to abase yourself in humble apology regarding Ann Coulter and Paris Hilton, neither of whom will know or care, but you're unrepentent about your assholish behavior towards people actually involved in the discussion. Yeah, fuck amyms, she can rot in hell before you'll apologize to her. And that y2karl, fuck him too, he's CRAAAYZY! (Which, if true, would be a good reason not to attack him...)

You know what? I've never had the pleasure of meeting y2karl, but I've corresponded with him frequently, and he's a genuinely nice guy. Yeah, he gets cranky, but he's had a hell of a hard time lately, so I cut him slack even when I get annoyed with him, as I sometimes do. I can just hear you now: "You think he's had a hard time? I've had a hard time! I'm a cripple! I can't get out and meet people! (etc ad lib)." Well, if hard times haven't taught you empathy, you haven't made good use of your time on earth, and your precious St. John's doesn't seem to have given you the tools to do so.

So carry on, soldier, in your righteous certainty, undeterred by the slings and arrows of pathetic mortals who don't have your wide vocabulary and superb debating skills. But I know one thing... I'm going to be using a lot of ellipses when addressing you...
posted by languagehat at 6:07 AM on November 18, 2007 [6 favorites]


And so it goes.

Seriously? Is that what we're talking about here? Dude can't even refer to the beauty of boobies in the abstract?
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 6:12 AM on November 18, 2007


A couple of tangents:

I definitely see everybody's point that using sexual violence threats as stock insults is bad, but it can create some odd moments. For instance 'I hope Paris Hilton gets strangeled by a penis' is bad, but 'I hope Paris Hilton gets stomped to death by a drunk elephant,' is perfectly fine (NTM, if we were saying the same things about Rush Limbaugh, say, we wouldn't even be having the conversation.) I'm not saying it's wrong just a little strange. And it can kind of give one the urge to throw ones hands in the air and say 'fuck it, let's go bowling.'

And to restate something I said in the other thread, differences in argument style play a huge part in a lot of misunderstandings here. Those of us who learned how to argue in kitchen table shouting matches and playground fights are going to clash with those who learned in Philosophy graduate programs (I'm not picking on the Philosophers, really) even when they have substantially the same opinions.
posted by jonmc at 6:21 AM on November 18, 2007


So she's doing something vile and abhorrent, which means we get to, too?

If adopting her language against her is needed to highlight what a monster she is, when nothing else seems to work, then that sort of thing may need to be said. All I'm saying is that standards of hateful language do not apply to her.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:50 AM on November 18, 2007


Y'know what? In one fell swoop, this comment made my infamous flashing post totally and completely worthwhile.

I'm glad I didn't get too involved in these threads, for I do have strong feelings about the subject but that was said better than I ever could've done myself.

Thanks occhiblu. And thanks nickyskye for calling my attention to it.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:15 AM on November 18, 2007


Minor point of pedantry:

I hope Paris Hilton gets strangled by a penis

"fellatory asphyxiation" would be choking on a penis. OTOH, the image of a prehensile cock wrapping around and squeezing someone's neck is mildly amusing in an absurd, "WTF?" way.

posted by CKmtl at 8:21 AM on November 18, 2007


jonmc, being strangled by a penis conjures up images of a brutal, violent sexual assault, ugly and nasty when applied to either sex. You say we wouldn't be having the discussion if it had been said about Rush Limbaugh - well violent sexual assault threats are not as frequently made about men, and when they are, are no less OK. But let's face it, the ratio of women to man violent sexual assault is definitley skewed to women. The likelihood of sexual assault is far greater for women than for men. And even falling far short of violent assault, most men have probably rarely (if ever) been in a situation of having to fight, fend off, or deflect unwelcome and sometimes scary sexual advances or sexual bullying. This is not particularly uncommon for women.

Much like what Melissa May expressed so well, I have sometimes felt sucker-punched by an unexpected violent or strongly misogymistic comment from a well-regarded guy on mefi. Whether made in joking or in anger, such comments make me wonder about the person's trustworthiness ... was it just a random over-the-line comment or was it a peeling back of the mask to reveal some ugly truth about the person? So guys, note that if you say such things, your future credibility (an do-ability, heh) with mefi women is likely diminished.

But - the comment linked above, and so it goes, eh, that doesn't bother me, that was word play. YMMV, but I don't think most women are looking for a removal of any sexual bantering or humor. Context and tone matter. I didn't mind the first bucket o cocks joke, but when it gets to be a few tons of cock buckets, well it's just junior high boy stuff. If the truth be known, jonmc, your comment about "Wow. You guys do realize that we've spent untold pixels discussing Paris Hilton & Ann Coulter" is the type of comment that bugs me more because if you think the conversation was about Coulter or Hilton, you weren't paying attention. Not a big deal here, but I use it as an example because such dismissive and reductive comments - even in jest - often occur in threads about women-oriented issues.
posted by madamjujujive at 10:00 AM on November 18, 2007 [7 favorites]


jonmc, I suspect the reason that you don't see the difference is because both of them seem like very strange, weird ways to die to you, and you had never given them much thought before you read the comments.

The reason that hearing the first is abhorrent to me, but not the second, is because I spend a depressing amount of time considering that I might actually die the first way, and considering what I need to do to prevent that from occurring (don't walk alone at night, don't go to a party without a buddy system, never accept an invitation to study at a fellow grad student's apartment if he's a male and we'd be alone, ad nauseum). I mean, "woman raped and killed" is so banal it doesn't even make the A section here anymore.

*That's* the reason saying the first one is different from the second for lot of women. Most of us are acutely aware, all the time, that there are men out there that not only would like us to die choking on a cock, but get off on the idea that we'd die choking on theirs. I spend enough minutes in my week having to remember that, and plan for how to act so that the chance of that happening is reduced, so it'd be nice if people in Metafilter didn't feel the need to remind me about the ever-present threat of violence. I get it. I know. Enough already.
posted by iminurmefi at 10:07 AM on November 18, 2007 [11 favorites]


I've been reading both of these metatalk threads and mostly favoriting rather than commenting, largely because others are saying what I would say very well. Also, this has been a very fast moving thread.

Brandon Blatcher - from your posts it seems clear that you are committed to your position. Your implication that if only women would be sweeter and infinitely more careful when communicating their thoughts and opinions to you, you would listen with an open mind comes across as disingenuous. It is also yet another common non response, non engagement, shutting down tactic of feminist discourse. If you had genuine interest in engaging, you would steel your emotions and read both these threads and the enormous wealth of feminist materials on the web in a very different way. If you want to learn, occasionally the burden may be on you. If not, well it seems like many of us have benefitted from this conversation, which is good.
posted by Salamandrous at 10:25 AM on November 18, 2007 [5 favorites]


madaejujujive, imanurmefi: actually, that's wasn't what I was getting at at all. It's more that saying 'I wish Paris Hilton would get hit by a bus and die' wouldn't start a metatalk thread, but the penis strangling comment does. It's sort of like saying 'it's OK to wish violent death upon her, just don't drag sex into it.'

I understand where your objections come from, I'm just saying that there comes a certain point where to a lot of ears, it may start to seem like a hirs-breadth distinction and prompt people to say to hell with it.

Also, I realize that this thread is not about Hilton and Coulter (and please don't talk down to me, it's insulting), but they were used as examples numerous times in the thread and I do think it's a waste of time to pick nits surround these two wastes of oxygen.

it'd be nice if people in Metafilter didn't feel the need to remind me about the ever-present threat of violence. I get it. I know. Enough already.

Don't take this the wrong way, but do you think that don't live with the threat of violence. We're far more likely to be murdered, assaulted or robbed than women are, statistically speaking. But saying 'I'd like to kill [male asshole] would not have a batallion of men scolding someone into submission.
posted by jonmc at 10:58 AM on November 18, 2007


Most of us are acutely aware, all the time, that there are men out there that not only would like us to die choking on a cock, but get off on the idea that we'd die choking on theirs. I spend enough minutes in my week having to remember that,

When I worked as a clerk in a convenience store in an urban area, there were people out there who would gladly stick a gun in my face for the few bucks in the cash register. There are people out there who will kill someone for being in the wrong neighborhood at the wrong time. And I keep this in my head as I live my life, too. Worse, better?
posted by jonmc at 11:05 AM on November 18, 2007


Minor point of pedantry..."fellatory asphyxiation" would be choking on a penis

You are absolutely correct. It was late!

posted by lalex at 11:10 AM on November 18, 2007


So, hey. Genuine curiosity. Are there any good examples of general-interest forums that aren't boyzones, by the "Metafilter is a boyzone" definition? I'd be especially interested to read a site that:

* Isn't specifically "by women for women"
* Has a lot of men participating
* Covers contentious subjects like politics, religion, and sexuality among other topics
* Can be raucous, humorous, and even sometimes crude without being sexist about it
* Is a community-driven site, rather than being one person's blog

Does such a place exist, or are wishes of meaty sexual death on disliked female celebrities endemic to the Web?
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 11:28 AM on November 18, 2007


Also, I realize that this thread is not about Hilton and Coulter (and please don't talk down to me, it's insulting), but they were used as examples numerous times in the thread and I do think it's a waste of time to pick nits surround these two wastes of oxygen.

Well, calling the concerns voiced "nits" tells me you still aren't listening. And your changing the subject to murder and violence against men is another example of the dismissive thing that many have stated as a common complaint when women try to raise a discussion on a matter that is important to them. The concern often gets drown out. Yes, there is a lot of generalized violence but that is not what we were talking about, we were talking about sexual violence associated with misogyny. Iminurmefi shared her feelings and you virtually dismissed them by telling us how much more likely it is that you will get killed.

I wasn't talking down to you or disrespectfully (if you think so, you are too defensive) but I was (and am) talking directly -- not to criticize you, but in the interests of furthering the discussion of what can be troubling to women when we communicate here on mefi.

posted by madamjujujive at 11:30 AM on November 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


Or an even more pertinent example: when I was 15, I was walking to a friend's house down a major urban thoroughfare at around 10am. A guy in a station wagon pulled to the side of the street and beckoned me over. Given the setting, I figured he was going to ask for directions so I walked over. Instead, he asked if I wanted to make some money and asked for a blowjob. I got the hell out of there. The story got out and I had to deal with a lot of dumb jokes along the lines of 'so didja take the money, harhar' and 'must've been your feminine features that got him, dude.'

I've told this story in other online settings and was greeted with indifference. hell, there'd probably be people accusingme of homophobia for calling the police not getting in the car with him.

I doubt that would happen if I was female and told the same story.
posted by jonmc at 11:34 AM on November 18, 2007


jonmc, what I'm getting at (although evidently not very well!) is that regardless of the actual potential for violence, women are socialized to have the fear of sexual violence be ever-present in their thoughts. I have no idea whether you're more likely to meet a violent demise than me; in fact, I would go so far as to say I'm really not sure what my chances of meeting a violent demise are. That's the shitty part. It's this stupid voice in my head, constantly reminding me to change my behavior, to be nervous in situations where I'm the only female, to be on guard among all men, and the net effect is to make me uncomfortable leaving my freakin' apartment. (I'm exaggerating a bit--obviously, I leave the apartment--I'm just trying to emphasize that I think men often don't realize the never-ending narration of "X bad thing can happen to you, to YOU!" that goes on women's heads.)

I think that whether men actually face more violence, they generally don't go through life anticipating and trying to be on guard against it. Women, in general, are constantly aware of it, and "jokes" about wishing a certain woman would die by being raped have the effect of just rubbing salt in the wound of all of us unlucky enough to overhear it, you know? When women in this thread have talked about how certain types of comments in Ann Coulter threads make them feel unsafe, that's what they are alluding to: comments by men that we have before considered nice, safe guys "joking" about how some woman should be raped to death reinforce the sense that we're literally not safe anywhere, among any men. Which sucks, and as you point out, is probably not even true.

The actual acts of sexual violence are just one part of oppression. The constant fear that you live under that you could be next is almost the bigger part of it--and no matter how unlikely it is that you might actually be a victim, the fear itself is the damaging part that makes you want to withdraw from public spaces. Like metafilter, for example.
posted by iminurmefi at 11:51 AM on November 18, 2007 [10 favorites]


I have been re-reading this thread and I have to say that my admiration and respect for madamejujujive has only deepened. The violent sexual and rape innuendos thrown at Ann Coulter here have always creeped me out and, too, I am old enough and old fashioned enought that I just hate seeing the word cunt typed out and cringe a little to even type it. So, I applaud mjj's eloquence on the topic. I only wish I could be as well spoken.
posted by y2karl at 11:52 AM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


And ditto for iminurmefi.
posted by y2karl at 11:57 AM on November 18, 2007


iminurmefi: my point is, you don't actually know what goes on in people's heads and it's unfair for you to make assumptions based on it.
posted by jonmc at 11:59 AM on November 18, 2007


regardless of the actual potential for violence, women are socialized to have the fear of sexual violence be ever-present in their thoughts.

And part of that is also that women are taught they are responsible for this violence when it happens to them. We were wearing the wrong thing, out too late at night, out by ourselves, not properly chaperoned, drinking too much, ad nauseum. It's not just fear of violence, but a deeply ingrained feeling that we're supposed to do something to keep it from happening.

Which is, of course, generally ridiculous, but it's a highly effective way of keeping women in line and policing their own behavior. If we spend all our time and energy afraid of the world, we're much less likely to challenge the status quo.
posted by occhiblu at 12:04 PM on November 18, 2007 [11 favorites]


jonmc, if you live with the constant fear of being violently assaulted or killed, I think that's a tragedy. I think that it's unacceptable for anyone, man or woman, to have to live like that.

I guess I'm just not sure of what specific behavior you're asking people posting at metafilter to change that would decrease that fear. Are there specific instances where people have made joking comments about clerks in convenience stores being shot in the face that have made you feel particularly unsafe?

Because otherwise, it seems more like you're trying to derail the conversation into the oppression olympics, and I just don't really see what that achieves.
posted by iminurmefi at 12:04 PM on November 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


iminurmefi: I don't know whether you're being willfully ignorant for political reasons or what but what I meant by my last comment is this: the response I got when I've told the story I told above (namely, indifference, and at the time mockery) versus the response here to using the worng words to describe a celebrity who we've all stipulated is an awful person sends a clear message to me, namely that the latter is somehow a worse offense.

Are there specific instances where people have made joking comments about clerks in convenience stores being shot in the face that have made you feel particularly unsafe?

Not exactly. There was a thread about hate crimes legislation, where numerous people expressed the sentiment that a hate crime was deserving of a stronger penalty than shooting someone during a robbery, even though the victim is just as dead. And there was another thread where a man mentioned that he had been physically assaulted numerous times and some wit said something along the lines of 'gee, you must really be an asshole to piss people off that much.'

jonmc, if you live with the constant fear of being violently assaulted or killed, I think that's a tragedy.

I don't. I keep my wits about me, like anyone in a city does, and unpleasant things that have hapopened to me have left their matk to be sure, but I don't walk around in terror all the time, no. What I'm a bit miffed about it is this sense that when things like this happen to women, it's somehow worse than it happening to a man and that's the sentiment I'm getting from you.
posted by jonmc at 12:25 PM on November 18, 2007


Ethereal Bligh said: I don't regret insulting amyms. What she wrote was juvenile, counter-productive and, worst of all, used ellipses in place of periods. Which I hate.

I can only assume that EB flew into a blinding rage at seeing my ellipses because he was the unfortunate victim of a traumatic ellipsis-related event in his childhood. If so, he has my sympathies...

As far as my original comments here, I think they've gotten a bit misconstrued, or exaggerated, in the ensuing conversations taking place. I tried to restate my thoughts in my second post, but I still think I was somewhat misunderstood...

I don't want to go into a long, belabored re-explanation of my point of view because I'm worried about any continued offense I might cause, especially to my Mefite sisters, whom I respect so much. However, if any of you (especially the ones who were upset by my comments) would like to drop me a MefiMail, please feel free to do so, and I will respond.
posted by amyms at 12:32 PM on November 18, 2007


Okay... so when I was 18 years old, I was going to school full time and working two jobs. I came home late after work one night and as I walked to my gate, a strange man (I could tell by the hair he was in the Navy) jumped from around the bushes and tried to pull me away to a waiting car. I fought him off and after a struggle, the car started up, he ran to it, and they sped off. According to the police it was clear that they were waiting for me and had seen me before. So I was under police protection for almost a month.

Do you know what I remember most about that night? I remember EXACTLY what I was wearing. Because I remember thinking I shouldn't have been wearing a miniskirt.

Flash forward to March 2006. I was working on a project with a young upscale guy. He's more than a bit arrogant, a spoiled boy of privilege really, but we got along okay. I was actually put on the project because I was one of the only people he got along with, he treated me like one of the guys and that was good. To a point. Until one day I teased him about something and in response he said, "One word. Bukkake."

A lot of women don't know what that means, but I do. And I was instantly sick to my stomach and horrified. I knew he THOUGHT he was making a great edgy joke to me and that it would be a compliment that he thought I was hip enough to "get" it. But he didn't get that I'M A WOMAN and that kind of joke is not harmless to me. Because to me, it implies sexual assault upon me is funny. I'm a professional and I'm good at what I do, and I was working with this person as a professional team. It means a lot to me that I've earned respect in my career. Yet in one second, all of that was invisible and I was reduced to a sexual object. To someone people ejaculate upon. Yet he thought it was HYSTERICAL, and figured that I would too.

I didn't react, I just got my job done, but it ate at me. For months. Finally I asked if we could have lunch and I discussed it with him. At first he was apologetic. I told him that it was a big deal to me. That I'm not sure if he understood how degrading it was or if he fathomed that the level of comment he made is the type that can ruin a career if I had filed a complaint. He got defensive and became offended that I could even IMPLY he would ever lose his job because of something so silly. He started going on about how he's the best at his job and nobody would ever fire him because he's not replaceable. Then he turned it around that I'm uptight and that I've got sexual hangups because the girls in porn films who do bukkake are having fun. It's all about a good time.

It was all SUCH inappropriate conversation for the workplace. But he just didn't get that. He was determined to be the victim.

We never got along after that. And I'm told that since my last project he has badmouthed me so much that other people at the company are uncomfortable hiring me because they don't want to have a conflict. Yeah, I've been blackballed because the man who made a joke about having a group of men ejaculate on my face doesn't like me.

That's the thing guys don't really realize. This stuff is not rare. It happens to us all the time. And it affects us. We try to explain, but it's hard because so often you just aren't heard. Sometimes it's like fishing weights that are attached to your body and weigh you down. It may seem small, but hundreds of fishing weights become awfully heavy.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:53 PM on November 18, 2007 [36 favorites]


By the way, those two stories I just told? I have more of them than I have fingers to count. I'd run out of digits even if I included my toes.

But my friends, I still love men. I just don't like those fishing weights.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:56 PM on November 18, 2007


That's the thing guys don't really realize. This stuff is not rare.

Did anyone actually read this comment? Because the point I was trying to make by telling it (something I don't do often because it's an unpleasant memory for a lot of reasons) seems to have sailed right past everybody or they just don't wanna know.
posted by jonmc at 1:18 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know, miss lynster, I have been mugged twice. The first time I had a gun in my stomach and another against my cheek and the guy holding the one against my face was trembling while he screamed how it had a hair trigger and he would blow my head off if I made a move. Oh, that was scary.

The second time I was stomped to the ground on a Christmas Eve night and I mean stomped. I couldn't get out of bed or the bathtub for weeks without pain.

The kid who stomped me kicked my legs out from under me each time I got up and jumped on my head. He had pantyhose over his haed and he was brinning and jumping three feeet in the air and I was moving in slo-o-ow motion. It was like I was trapped in amber and he was a hummingbird on crack. And you actually do see stars when someone stomps on your head.

And the powerlessness I felt. I relived those moments for months every day, every hour. And in both cases the guys involved were black. I was so terrified to walk by black men for such a long time. I remember going around a corner and being panhandled by an old black street alcoholic two weeks after the last time I got mugged and having a panic attack. Man, he turned pale when he looked at my face and he was a dark skinned man--I can't imagine what my expression must have been.

And now that I am older, I am even more uneasy to be out at night. And you know what ? I don't think the fear I feel can hold a candle to what any woman feels when she goes out at night. Not a candle. So, I hear you, miss lynster, I hear you.

And you now they say about a conservative is a liberal who got mugged ? Well, I got mugged twice and I am still, in the words of Bob Dole, liberal liberal liberal. Go figure.
posted by y2karl at 1:22 PM on November 18, 2007 [6 favorites]


know how they say, to be sure....
posted by y2karl at 1:23 PM on November 18, 2007


I don't want to go into a long, belabored re-explanation of my point of view because I'm worried about any continued offense I might cause, especially to my Mefite sisters, whom I respect so much.

This strikes me as exactly the wrong response. We can't disagree for fear of hurting each other? It's disrepectful to have an alternative point of view? For my part, I suspect that I would disagree with an elaborated version of your comment, as I did with its shorter form, but I hope you won't withdraw from the discussion because Ethereal Bligh disagreed with you so vehemently. That'd be like miss lynster giving up miniskirts after the assault she described: the unearned burden of a victim.
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:25 PM on November 18, 2007


I don't think the fear I feel can hold a candle to what any woman feels when she goes out at night. Not a candle.

Why not? Because your a guy what happened to you wasn't as bad somehow?
posted by jonmc at 1:29 PM on November 18, 2007


Actually jon, your comment was why I shared mine. And yeah, I have also been mugged and robbed too. I've had lots of stuff happen. But the sexual stuff is very, very different. Because it's more of a power thing than a sex thing. It's much different in the way it can affect you. It really gnaws at self esteem. Which, when I was robbed, that didn't at all. The only thing I remember about being robbed was that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and someone wanted money. It wasn't about someone wanting to degrade me. I could've been anyone at that moment, they just wanted money.

Anyhow, I regret telling the stories now. I was staying out of these threads for a reason. I'm going to go back to leaving it to people like MelissaMay & ochhiblu who are expressing things far better than I believe I probably ever could.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:36 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


the unearned burden of a victim

I don't feel like a victim here at all, anotherpanacea. And I'm not withdrawing from the discussion in general. I just know that my comments (whether they were clearly understood or whether they were misconstrued) have caused offense that I didn't intend, so I'm not going to keep belaboring my point in the thread, other than to repeat part of my previous comment:

I just think that some of the things men do that piss us off aren't worth fighting over. Sometimes a sexist joke really is just a joke. We women say sexist things all the time too, and if we're willing to dish it out, we'd better be willing to take it. If we constantly react to every perceived slight, including the miniscule ones, we're going to waste a lot of valuable time that could be spent battling the big ones.

EB's vehemence toward me (over ellipses of all things) has nothing to do with it.
posted by amyms at 1:42 PM on November 18, 2007


You seem like a nice enough bloke jonmc, but this is the thread about misogyny and the feelings of women on metafilter.

It's not about you, your urban badge of existence, your relationship to violence in your past, your socialisation in the arguing fraternity of the family upbringing, male violence, bad language, your musings about people's intents when they write something, martian recipes, violas, humped-back whales, deuteronomy, male -vs- female values or violence or assault statistics.

It's about women and the fears they feel and the reinforcement of the fears they feel by the use of misogynistic, sexually violent and sexist remarks made by persons on metafilter.

That's what this thread is about.
posted by peacay at 1:45 PM on November 18, 2007 [13 favorites]


It's not about you, your urban badge of existence, your relationship to violence in your past, your socialisation in the arguing fraternity of the family upbringing, male violence, bad language, your musings about people's intents when they write something, martian recipes, violas, humped-back whales, deuteronomy, male -vs- female values or violence or assault statistics.

and none of the things you mentioned have anything to do with why there are problems discussing gender issues around here? anything at all?

I guess I'm only allowed to offer statements that affirm what people want to hear. Would that pass muster on the Gospel According to Peacay?

Don't EVER tell me what I can and can't talk about. Thanks.
posted by jonmc at 1:59 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


You don't understand, peacay. The minute jonmc enters a thread, it automatically becomes about him. And if you don't agree with him, he'll tell you endless stories about how hard he has it and how that means he doesn't need to cut anyone any slack. And he'll never stop, because that would be letting you win, and the mean streets have taught him never to let anybody else win. So you might as well accept it.
posted by languagehat at 2:00 PM on November 18, 2007 [6 favorites]


See above for case in point.
posted by languagehat at 2:00 PM on November 18, 2007


What I'm a bit miffed about it is this sense that when things like this happen to women, it's somehow worse than it happening to a man and that's the sentiment I'm getting from you.
posted by jonmc at 12:25 PM on November 18 [+] [!]


Scenario 1: A man is mugged. Worst case, he spends some time in the hospital, maybe has some health problems. His friends handle him with kid gloves for awhile, buy him beers (if he drinks), but he's back to normal while keeping an eye out for situations. Best case: he dies and doesn't have to worry about it.

Scenario 2: A woman is mugged and raped. She has to worry about whether she is pregnant. She has to worry about whether it is worth it to tell the police who will take it to trial. She has to worry about going through with the trial because she'll have to relive it and have the defense lawyer say she wanted it. She has to wonder whether or not she can tell anyone for the rest of her life because any time she shows hatred for a man she may be accused of hysterics or worse. She may have to learn to actually enjoy sex again. If she has a child, will she see the factors behind it's birth and be able to love the child?

I'm not going to tell you what you can or can't say or even what you can or can't believe, but I will say that you strutting around in your Working Class Hero underoos with your fingers in your ears screaming "la la la la la" the whole time, then you should maybe expect the sort of reaction you get here all the time.

Honestly, you kind of make working class white males out to be shrill and pathetic morons and it makes me ill every time you do it.
posted by sleepy pete at 2:16 PM on November 18, 2007 [8 favorites]


et tu, hat?

(the fact that I have to constantly defend my statements has nothing to do with the fact that peoplelike to use me to score cool points off me? nothing at all)
posted by jonmc at 2:16 PM on November 18, 2007


whatever. I give right the fuck up. I'm gone fishing for a while.
posted by jonmc at 2:19 PM on November 18, 2007


Dammit! I had managed to avoid that picture of your bare ass until now, jonmc!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:29 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I am surprised that no one has picked up the nick Travis Bickle yet. Well, now that I mention it, I suppose we could. Then we could have Travis Bickle, Travis Bickle 1, Travis Bickle 3, Astro Travis Zombie Bickle ad infinitum and it could all be Hey, you lookin' at me ? 24/7 or at least until the cows come home.
posted by y2karl at 2:41 PM on November 18, 2007


In the event that you return here jonmc, and as you seem to have misunderstood me, I'll elaborate a little.

I didn't at all tell you what you can or cannot say nor did I infer that. What I did infer is that the subjects you have been discussing have been derails. Thus, I was not attacking you (so you don't need to be defensive) or your ideas. I'm just suggesting that they aren't particularly relevant in this thread.

[and by the by, gender issues is also not the subject of this thread]

I have no gospel and I do not hold myself up as any sort of moral beacon on this subject but I was very fortunate in my formative years to have been socialised in a female-dominant occupation. That only means that my ear was tuned -- I've had the benefit of seeing and hearing more than most (perhaps) about some of the difficulties that are faced by and unique to women trying to live their lives.

I'm sure I say and do, in my own blathering way, things that are sexist and misogynistic on occasion (although I hope that's just by accidental socialisation rather than from any intent) but I remain very aware that the impact is wider (see melissa may/mjj etc) than the jokey or allegedly innocent reasoning I might which to attach to them.

So I don't believe the meandering threads on this general subject of women and the fears and alienation they feel as a result of words typed on this here metafilter are only intended to create an echo chamber where thoughts of agreement are to be aired. I actually think, from our male point of view, that it's more about listening and trying to be empathetic and trying to learn more about the female perspective.

I would recommend that you read loquacious, IRFH and dios actually and note that their perspectives have changed because they were listening.
posted by peacay at 2:41 PM on November 18, 2007


et tu, hat?

Sorry, my man. It gives me no pleasure whatever to say stuff like that about you, and I held off as long as I could. But damn, it gets tiresome watching you jump into threads with a repetition of your standard line about how you don't like to see people privileging the suffering of blacks/women/gays/whatever because hey, you're white and a guy and straight and you suffer too, dammit! (And of course you luv the wimmin and have no problem with gays and you've got photographic proof of your black friends.)

You seem to find it impossible to grasp that your particular suffering does not mean that women, blacks, etc. have no cause to complain, and that the very real problems of sexism, racism, and homophobia are not solved, or even addressed intelligently, by repeating "Hey, we're all people, right? Let's have a beer and listen to the Ramones."

I'm sorry if you went away mad, but I really wish you'd get over the man-in-the-street act. If you have something to contribute, speak up, you're a smart guy with a lot of experience to draw on, but for christ's sake, people aren't using you to score cool points, they're trying to tell you to knock off the bullshit.
posted by languagehat at 2:48 PM on November 18, 2007 [5 favorites]


I would recommend that you read loquacious, IRFH and dios actually and note that their perspectives have changed because they were listening.

Yes! And a big shoutout to them, and anybody else who's been willing to listen, absorb, and change. It really gives me a good feeling about this place.
posted by languagehat at 2:50 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, and one more thing:
posted by languagehat at 2:51 PM on November 18, 2007


500!!
posted by languagehat at 2:51 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


... but this is the thread about misogyny and the feelings of women on metafilter.

Ideally it would be about men and women discussing misogyny and the feelings of women on metafilter, and trying to come to some sort of understanding. Perhaps I'm naive, but this is the first time (well, jointly this one and the one that spawned this one) participating in the discussion of misogyny/sexism.

As such, women (and the men on their "side") should be as receptive to what men are saying as they'd like the men to be to what they're saying. Sighing in exasperation at men who "just aren't getting it" because they aren't agreeing 100% seems just as bad to me as, in terms of fostering understanding, as men adopting a "quit yer bitchin'" attitude about the subject.

I may be projecting myself on jon, but if what he's reacting to is similar to what got my goat yesterday, it's not a matter of a "quit yer bitchin'" attitude. Sometimes there's a, probably unintentional, not-quite-explicitly-said undercurrent of... how can I put it? "Women have it the worst, everything's better for men". Which isn't always the case, so men retort with "Hey, y'know, it sometimes sucks for us too".

But it's not a matter of having it "worse", really. The former isn't a negation of the latter, and vice versa. Each side's situation sucks in a different way, and it shouldn't be seen as an attempt to negate either side's level of suck. Maybe that's not elegantly or explicitly put enough, but so be it.

Scenario 1: A man is mugged.
Scenario 2: A woman is mugged and raped.


That's not really a fair comparison, and I think you know it.

A guy who's raped might not have to worry about becoming pregnant and giving birth to a reminder of his being raped, but the rest of the fall-out you describe can also apply to male rape victims. Whether it's a gay guy who's been raped by another (straight or gay) guy, or a straight guy (well, usually boy) who's been abused by a woman.
posted by CKmtl at 2:55 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Out of respect for languagehat:

If that's what you take away from what I've said, I honestly don't know what to tell you, because that is so far off from what I'm getting at. My comments (a few fly-off-the-handle reactions in anger notwithstanding) were actually good faith attempts at trying to explicate some ideas I have about why there's so much disconnect when it comes to these issues. When that got dismissed (and I don't think I'm wrong to say that for many all they had to do was see my name next to it and ignore the substance of what I was getting at) I got angry, and I get especially resentful when I see what I'm trying to say misrepresented or completely miscomprehended which (surprisingly) you did in that comment.

Yes, I do refer to my own experiences in framing my opinions, but that's only because I trust (and have more knowledge of) my own experiences more than data or theories, not to pump up my cred or whatever.

So, maybe I've failed in trying to communicate what I wanted to communicate. It seems almost certain. Or maybe people aren't comprehending. or maybe some people just want to snark. In any case, it's not worth the aggravation anymore.
posted by jonmc at 3:07 PM on November 18, 2007


You seem to find it impossible to grasp that your particular suffering does not mean that women, blacks, etc. have no cause to complain, and that the very real problems of sexism, racism, and homophobia are not solved, or even addressed intelligently, by repeating "Hey, we're all people, right? Let's have a beer and listen to the Ramones."

Maybe I haven't been following along the history here so I'm missing something, but it seems to me that jonmc isn't saying that other people have no cause to complain but rather that their suffering isn't unique. That you don't have to be a member of group x to in some sense understand what it's like to suffer because the same sorts of nasty shit happens to other people too, if in slightly different contexts.

Which makes sense to me. I understand that women are scared to walk alone at night 'cause it's been drilled into them that they might get raped. Well, I live in Los Angeles and it's been drilled into me that I probably shouldn't walk alone at night 'cause I might get violently mugged. Does that mean women shouldn't complain? No, it doesn't. But does it mean that I might have some shred of understanding of what it's like to look at a dark street at 1:00am and decide to avoid walking down it alone? Sure as shit does and acting like it doesn't is a disservice to me.

At least that's what it seems to me jonmc is saying.
posted by Justinian at 3:07 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


At least that's what it seems to me jonmc is saying.

And that's a good, charitable interpretation, and I'm sure there's validity to it. But it would be a lot more convincing if jonmc even once put it in that light. As far as I remember (and I'm certainly willing to be proven wrong), he's never said "Hey, I know you women have it really hard; I can't really know what it's like because I'm a guy, but some bad experiences I've had have helped me get a sense of what you go through." It's always "Hey, everybody has it hard—look at me, last year I (insert anecdote here)." He seems to have a chip on his shoulder about anybody asserting group experience, group suffering, group privilege, anything beyond a bunch of individual people having their individual experiences.

And I can understand that, because I'm an individualist myself, I've always been suspicious of groupthink and assertions of group claims. But my entire life experience (meaning what I've read and listened to and seen happen as well as what my own sorry ass has gone through) has taught me that racism and sexism and homophobia are real, that women and gay folks and blacks do have it worse (on average, collectively) than us straight white males, and (however lame and PC this may sound) I support their struggle. And I hate to see anyone drowning out an interesting discussion (and this has been one of the most interesting, productive MetaTalk threads in memory) with repetitions of the same useless rhetoric about how we've all got shit to deal with. It's more complicated than that.

And of course when anyone tells him that, he gets defensive and puts up his dukes. Which gets tiresome as well.
posted by languagehat at 3:37 PM on November 18, 2007 [4 favorites]


Yes, I do refer to my own experiences in framing my opinions, but that's only because I trust (and have more knowledge of) my own experiences more than data or theories, not to pump up my cred or whatever.

All well and good of course but what do your experiences about you have to do with the fears and alienation felt by women on metafilter from misogynistic, sexist and sexually violent remarks?

So, maybe I've failed in trying to communicate what I wanted to communicate. It seems almost certain. Or maybe people aren't comprehending. or maybe some people just want to snark.

But I think you are in fact understood well and you have perfectly valid things to say, it's just that these 2 threads are not actually about what you seem to want them to be about.

I assure you this is not snark jonmc, I'm not trying to be morally superior, I'm not trying to anger you or say that your opinions are not relevant. I have no grudge, nor do I have any reason to score points. I meant what I said when I said you seem like a nice bloke. But when we speak about what is faced by metafilter women, it's not the venue for comparison to other events or suffering. Something like these 2 threads are very unique phenomena on mefi and, as I said, you only have to see loq, IRFH and dios for examples of positive results.

I'm also not saying that I'm lord and master over what this thread is about but I have been paying close attention. It is rare that the women here are offered a platform where issues that affect their time on metafilter or why they feel they want to leave the site or the manner by which fears they feel are stirred up by throwaway jokey sexist comments can be raised.

If I seem at all earnest in trying to...I don't know...promote that or help it or keep it relevant, it's just that this is something of a special moment, an event that has the possibility of doing some real and tangible good for this site.
posted by peacay at 3:51 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


has taught me that racism and sexism and homophobia are real, that women and gay folks and blacks do have it worse (on average, collectively) than us straight white males, and (however lame and PC this may sound) I support their struggle

languagehat, I have never denied that these things are real and in fact, I've taken shit in my actual life for saying so. I just tried to posit some reasons where resentments come from: when one group says that their suffering is more important than another's, resentment is often going to occur and most of the time that's going to cause resentment and backlash and start the whole mess all over again. If we can dispassionately look at that, maybe we can make some progress. And as for my 'zealot' comment that started this all, I stand by that, zealotry in the name of any cause does more harm than good.
posted by jonmc at 3:52 PM on November 18, 2007


But when we speak about what is faced by metafilter women, it's not the venue for comparison to other events or suffering.

and with the comments about argument styles, zealotry, mentions of my own experiences with sexual violence/exploitation/whatever you want to call what happened, I was trying to maybe suggest some reasons why discussions of these topics go haywire, both here and in society at large. I'm not saying it's tight, I'm not saying it's what should happen. I'm saying that it's what does happen, IMO, YMMV etc. If I failed to communicate that, I'm sorry.
posted by jonmc at 3:56 PM on November 18, 2007


'not saying it's right' sorry.
posted by jonmc at 3:56 PM on November 18, 2007


jon, I gotta back the other side here. I know you're trying to frame things in your experience because you can relate, because you care and because you're simply a good guy, but sometimes it's not a good idea. Sometimes it sounds like you're talking about you for no good reason, sometimes it sounds like your equivalence means no one's got it worse. Sometimes it's about how much the other person hurts, even if you know you've been cut deeper. Just let it be and be a shoulder.

Goddamnit, I suppose it's sexist that I think that's what being a man means.
posted by yerfatma at 4:00 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


I just tried to posit some reasons where resentments come from: when one group says that their suffering is more important than another's, resentment is often going to occur and most of the time that's going to cause resentment and backlash and start the whole mess all over again. If we can dispassionately look at that, maybe we can make some progress.

Fair enough, and don't worry, it would never occur to me to think you approve of sexism. But like those other guys have been saying, that wasn't the right input for this thread.
posted by languagehat at 4:11 PM on November 18, 2007


jonmc: The stuff that you have said that, I think, has gotten the most negative reaction has been stuff that seemed like a non sequitur in the discussions as they were going. I don't think it's a matter of people deliberately misunderstanding you, as that maybe you didn't say enough in your comment to explain why you were bringing it up at that point. Further, I think you're making a bunch of inter-related points but not always making clear how each is relevant, and since the common factor among them is you or a story about you, it sounds as if you're talking more about you than about the issues at hand. Here are a few interrelated points you seem to be making:
1. Although iminurmefi says she has a back-of-the-mind level of fear, she shouldn't, since you are able to deal with your fear in a dangerous environment by rationally mitigating risks
2. Threatening or violent experiences are equally as bad for men as for women
3. Zealotry is bad
4. If women overstate the case for a decrease in offhand misogynist remarks, men won't want to listen to them
5. People don't take men's descriptions of sexually threatening experiences as seriously as we are asking people to take imaginary hyperbolic suggestions about Paris Hilton and that is bad.

-I think 1. is not very productive - she says this stuff scares her, why does it matter if you say it shouldn't?
-I think 2. is right in a basic way, but in experiences that don't escalate to violence I think there are some things that are worse for women than for men -- eg the flashing and catcalls we've talked about before -- because of the background of general sexism and power inequality in society.
-I think 3 is fair enough but not really relevant here since mostly people are being quite reasonable and not especially zealotous.
-I think 4 is the kind of thing Brandon Blather was saying too, and well, okay, but that's often something that is said to get women to just shut up about a crappy situation ("you're not being nice when you complain about that, men don't want to hear it"), so I tend to be suspicious of that kind of claim in a discussion like this.
-I think 5 is true, and really unfortunate, and I'm very sorry if people have you a hard time about what must have been a scary and unnerving experience. FWIW, I think giving you a hard time about that is part and parcel of the kind of bad stupidly-macho atmosphere that we've been saying should go away.

(Also, from your comment way upthread: Minor misunderstanding. The analytically-trained philosophers here are totally fine with the confrontational style. What I was saying in the other thread is that philosophy tends to be confrontational, and it makes it hard for us to retain female students because many female students don't like that atmosphere. I'm a woman but I made it through grad school by being good at the confrontational stuff, I was just trying to say that a lot of women have a hard time with it -- as I know from seeing how few female students we retain.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:18 PM on November 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


I was trying to maybe suggest some reasons why discussions of these topics go haywire, both here and in society at large.

Ah - I didn't understand that.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:20 PM on November 18, 2007


I was trying to maybe suggest some reasons why discussions of these topics go haywire, both here and in society at large. I'm not saying it's tight, I'm not saying it's what should happen. I'm saying that it's what does happen, IMO, YMMV etc. If I failed to communicate that, I'm sorry.

Nope, it's perfectly understood. But again, it's not relevant to this thread. This thread is about the women here. Not about the women here compared to x or about discussing why discussion topics go haywire.

Why don't you try a different tack. Instead of trying to filter the topic through your own experiences, why don't you ask the women here a question about what particularly they find offensive on metafilter? Go read some of the wonderful comments by women in these 2 threads, find something you don't get and ask them about it so you can try and see things from their perspective rather than the jonmc one, which you know already.
posted by peacay at 4:23 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Not about the women here compared to x or about discussing why discussion topics go haywire.

Well, I (and I maybe mistaken) got the impression that it was about discussions of gender issues (and maybe other similarly emotionally loaded issues) going haywire. I think that to adress that issue we need to try and figureout how everybody, misogynist, victim, bystander got where they are, eprspective-wise. Sometimes, when I try to to that, itmust comeoff like I'm defending something ratherthan seeking to understand it's origins. I'll be morecareful how I approach itin the future.
posted by jonmc at 4:36 PM on November 18, 2007


when one group says that their suffering is more important than another's, resentment is often going to occur

More important? People in this thread have said that women's suffering is more important than men's?

I doubt it, but please correct me if I'm wrong. Seems to me people are saying that women are collectively singled out for a particular form of hostility (sexual violence); that such hostility does not similarly affect men collectively (notwithstanding the very real fact that gay men are, collectively, and that there are rare instances of hetero men who are raped); that women's concerns and perspectives about women's experiences of suffering that are peculiar to women collectively (ie sexual hostility) are typically trivialized, ridiculed, and dismissed compared to men's. It's not clear to me how any of these are equivalent to saying that women's suffering is "more important" than men's.

On preview - yes, you're correct about the difference between yourintent and how it comes across. Thanks for saying so.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 4:41 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sometimes it's about how much the other person hurts, even if you know you've been cut deeper. Just let it be and be a shoulder.

Funny, I see that as the traditional female role. I certainly feel that's what I should do (try to do) with my friends or my husband -- and he would probably agree with you, yerfatma. I'd humbly suggest that's what all adults should do.

And to me, fwiw at this late point in the thread, that feels like one way to deal with this problem here on MeFi: remember that others can be/have been hurt and try to be sensitive to that.

It's not a competition to see whose wounds are deepest.
posted by GrammarMoses at 4:44 PM on November 18, 2007 [3 favorites]


(notwithstanding the very real fact that gay men are, collectively, and that there are rare instances of hetero men who are raped);

Just a nitpick; the instances of hetero men being raped are far, far more than rare. We're talking comparable numbers to women being raped. The difference is that it happens in a place and to people that we, as a society, don't care much about and in some cases actually think they deserve it. Sorry, don't mean to derail, it's just thats one of my pet peeves. Prisoners are human.
posted by Justinian at 4:58 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Good point, and thanks for bringing it up in a nonconfrontational way.
posted by languagehat at 5:01 PM on November 18, 2007


Your implication that if only women would be sweeter and infinitely more careful when communicating their thoughts and opinions to you, you would listen with an open mind comes across as disingenuous.

Apologies if I conveyed that, it was not my intent nor what I think. Rather. a lot of the miscommunication between the sexes comes down different ways of seeing things (be it cultural or genetic) and it's important that both sides work to understand the other.

As for the rest of your comments, lets leave it at this:
If I didn't want to learn anything, I wouldn't have posted in the thread and the request to simply speak up when comments like four panel's or EB's Hilton rant occur is an excellent point and I'll try to do more of that in the future.

Thanks to all for commenting.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:03 PM on November 18, 2007


“I can just hear you now: ‘You think he's had a hard time? I've had a hard time! I'm a cripple! I can't get out and meet people! (etc ad lib).’ ”

I have never said anything of the kind and would never said anything of the kind. That you would put words in my mouth using my disability like this is unbelievably offensive to me and incomprehensible that you would think that “you can here me now” now saying them.

You play the condescending, scolding patron just as much as I do. You're doing it here to jonmc. You also get irritated with people and are abusive and unrepentant about it, just as I have a tendency to do. You did it just a couple of weeks ago, several people called you on it, and you responded very like I did with a “I said what I said and I'm not too bothered about it”.

The difference between what I said about Coulter and Hilton and what I said to amyms is that I believe that the former two cases were wrong and the latter was not. Just because you and some others didn't like that I was being mean in this particular case—even though people are mean every day, you no less than most—doesn't mean that I ought to apologize when I don't feel like I owe amyms an apology. Yours and other peoples frustration are that I can't be shamed by you into an apology. This has happened before with me—people think that if they become very hurt and outraged, or someone else becomes hurt and outraged on someone else's behalf, that enough bitching about it should somehow elicit an apology from me whether I mean it or not. Maybe this works for other people, but I don't apologize unless I think I was in the wrong and I don't apologize unless I mean it. And I certainly don't apologize because the grand old mediator of MetaFilter proper behavior, languagehat, has weighed in repeatedly telling me that I ought to apologize. Nor that it's obvious to him that because amyms is present it's my duty to apologize, especially because I've admitted I was wrong in insulting someone who isn't present.

Regardless, though I'm biased, your putting words in my mouth where I excuse any bad behavior because I'm “a cripple” and woe is me is easily one of the most offensive things I've seen anyone write around these parts in a long time. I have never made any such excuses for my bad behavior, I have always taken complete responsibility for it. And I have certainly never used my disability in such a way, the mere idea makes me physically ill with disgust and rage.

And I likewise don't excuse y2karl's behavior. Is he mentally ill? I have come to believe so. But, for example, I think my father is mentally ill. That's no excuse for his abuse. Y2karl engaged with me a couple of years ago in an incident that was very NPD-like, he's been nursing what he perceived as a slight for the entire time since. It's creepy and infuriating. At this point, I really couldn't care less what his life experience has been like or why he is the person he is. Just like me, he is responsible for the way he behaves, adversity is no excuse. I do not offer it as an excuse for myself, I do not accept it from other people.

In the other thread you wrote that I am talking the talk but not walking the walk. But I was not exhorting people to behave better in that comment, I was suggesting that we all make a formal, group effort to behave better, with administrative commitment to enforce it. I also mentioned that I am among a type of personality that has a very difficult time behaving well and not being combative and insulting when other people are also failing to behave well. So in no way was I suggesting that other people should behave in a way that I, myself, was not.

So, too, on the topic of sexism, there's this weird idea that, which klang reiterated against my denial, that asserting that sexism is wrong and attacking other people for it is somehow taking some grand moralist position that implies one should be on good behavior, generally. It is no such thing. It is a condemnation of sexism, not bad behavior, including insults or, say, shoplifting or murder, for that matter. In condemning and arguing against sexism, I'm not setting myself up as some moral exemplar. If I argued against pedophilia, often and strenuously, would people think that I was making myself out to be some morally perfect person that thought everyone else was beneath me? Of course they wouldn't.

There was a period of time a couple of years ago where I did try very hard to behave as well as I could on MetaFilter. The reason I did was because I had invested a lot of myself emotionally in this place. And my better behavior had almost no effect at all in terms of dissuading people from attacking me and insulting me in the way that is so common on MetaFilter and especially common for high-profile and irritating people like myself. What I realized was that I should not invest myself so much in this place. I simply shouldn't care as much. One result of doing this is that I simply don't care very much that people like you think that I'm behaving badly. Everyone behaves badly here, until and unless that changes, I'm not going to lose sleep over my own behavior.

Your comment about my disability is amazingly demonstrative of my point. Even someone with whom I have thought I've been friends would stoop so low as to say something that should be obvious is unacceptable and hurtful. To make a point? Well, funny, that's often the excuse I use to justify the behavior you're criticizing. This place, like most of the Internet, is a cesspool of human behavior. People say the most incredibly hurtful things, casually. I've been active here for almost four years and this has not lessened whatsoever. It's not going to lessen. It's the nature of the beast.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:04 PM on November 18, 2007


Two things:

First off, if Languagehat thought that you were using your disability to reinforce your point, regardless of your opinion of how hurtful that was, under your system of ethics, he'd be justified in saying it. He would be justified in hurting you in any way possible if he believed you were wrong.

So suck it up or come to some sort of epiphany, Keith.

Second, were you frequently declaiming pedophilia, a rational person would take that to imply that you were morally superior to a pedophile and that you embodied the behavior of a non-pedophile.

The rest of your comment is such transparent and petulant tu quoque justifications as to be risible, and not worth any serious response BY THE ETHICAL MODEL YOU YOURSELF ABIDE.
posted by klangklangston at 5:26 PM on November 18, 2007


Don't be silly. You've brought up your disability frequently, I wasn't revealing any terrible secret. And it seems the most natural thing in the world to respond to a remark that somebody else has been having a hard time with "Oh yeah? So have I." You say I should know better than to think you'd say that; I respond that I thought I knew you wouldn't say half the shit you've been saying lately. I don't feel I know the new, nasty EB at all. Sorry if I offended you, and I withdraw the remark about what you might have said. But I continue to maintain you've been shitty for no good reason except to indulge yourself, and specifically that you've felt free to be abusive to women because you're so convinced of your own righteousness.

It may well be that you're being shitty because you're going through a bad spell; if so, I hope things improve and you get back to your old thoughtful self. If you've permanently decided to be a jerk because "I simply don't care very much that people like you think that I'm behaving badly," then I guess I hope you find some other way of occupying yourself.
posted by languagehat at 5:27 PM on November 18, 2007


I don't feel like I owe amyms an apology

I don't want, or need, an apology from you, EB. You showed your true colors upthread, and you were called on it by several people of both genders, even by some of those who disagreed with my opinions...

EB, you insulted my intelligence and you got your undies in a twist over my use of ellipses, but I can take it. And the fact that I can take it, and can respond to you without feeling like a victim, is part of the point I was making earlier...

You acted like a complete jerk, but I don't think your gender had anything to do with it. And my gender doesn't have anything to do with my reaction.
posted by amyms at 5:29 PM on November 18, 2007


Justinian: the instances of hetero men being raped are far, far more than rare. . . . The difference is that it happens in a place and to people that we, as a society, don't care much about and in some cases actually think they deserve it.

Agreed. Thanks for pointing that blind spot out to me. Would

such hostility does not similarly affect men collectively (notwithstanding the very real fact that gay men are, collectively, as are hetero men in prisons, and that outside of prisons, there are rare instances of hetero men who are raped)

would be more accurate?
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 5:38 PM on November 18, 2007


We've already had one reconciliation in this thread, how about another. Bligh, apologize to amyms, who seems like a nice lady. The rest of you, stop getting all lord of the flies on him, and we can all go back to making nonviolent fun of Ann Coulter like civilized people.
posted by jonmc at 5:40 PM on November 18, 2007


Thanks, jonmc.
/rejoins civilized community
posted by languagehat at 5:44 PM on November 18, 2007


You play the condescending, scolding patron just as much as I do. You're doing it here to jonmc.

The hat has his bellicose moments, but the main reason I finally decided to apologize was because he, a guy who usually gets what I'm getting at even when nobody else does, told me I was being a jerk, which made me think "hey maybe I'm being a jerk.'
posted by jonmc at 5:47 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


EB's account has apparently been disabled.
(No, no, don't go there.)
posted by GrammarMoses at 5:48 PM on November 18, 2007


See, that's the thing, EB: all of us are capable of being jerks, but most of us are capable of taking a look in the mirror when people point it out to us. You seem to have lost that capability. When you start whirling around hollering "Fuck all of you!"... well, it's time for reevaluating. That, or flaming out. And I honor my basic respect and affection for you by saying that I hope you'll take the former course, much as I thirst for flameouts.
posted by languagehat at 5:56 PM on November 18, 2007


*clicks link*

Oh shit. I'm really sad to hear that. EB, like everyone here, is not without his faults, but his presence mattered here in a lot of ways. he, at his core, is a genuinely decent guy. And yes, I have met him in person. He attended my wedding and affably tolerated a 3am visit by me, pips and two other drunk mefites with aplomb. And for what's it's worth, even though he'll never use one word where 50 will do (heh) he's a damn good writer.
posted by jonmc at 5:59 PM on November 18, 2007


Ethereal Bligh's profile (website)
This account is disabled.


Whoa, holy shit—I assumed you were kidding, GrammarMoses. Well, damn. I'm sorry to see that. First davy, now EB. Bah, I hope none of my other favorite difficult MeFites bites the dust.
posted by languagehat at 5:59 PM on November 18, 2007


klangklangston: First off, if Languagehat thought that you were using your disability to reinforce your point, regardless of your opinion of how hurtful that was, under your system of ethics, he'd be justified in saying it. He would be justified in hurting you in any way possible if he believed you were wrong.

I think that last sentence is really, really wrong, and I can't begin to imagine what would make you think it's a good idea.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:01 PM on November 18, 2007


Aww, y'all are so cute when you get riled up. *pats everyone on the head*
posted by deborah at 6:06 PM on November 18, 2007


LM, he's not saying that's what he believes, he's saying that's what EB should believe if he's consistent (since that's the way he acts towards others).
posted by languagehat at 6:07 PM on November 18, 2007


Can I have cookie deborah?

and EB's too?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:08 PM on November 18, 2007


Ah. Didn't get that.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:08 PM on November 18, 2007


What you said to amyms, blasdelf, and y2karl in this thread (and to others in other threads with the same tone) was bitchy, unneccesary, juvenile and contributes to the general hostile tone of this place that you condemn and various women have said turns them off from participating. The first two were over issues of fucking grammar*; ellipses and a forgotten 's' that probably happened from typing too fast and resulted in a bitchy 'All your base' crack. You wished a severe mental breakdown on someone you believe to be mentally ill; that's adolescent and sick in the same way "Go kill yourself, emo kid" is on 4chan et al.

*You wrote "here" instead of "hear". You aren't immune from typos and style flaws either.

LH's cripple crack also fits the bill mentionned above.

However, I think he'd apologize for that crack after he's cooled down and realized the effect. I don't know him that well, but he doesn't strike me as unable to apologize for something unnecessary and deliberately hurtful. Apologies help, but it'd be a whole lot better not to succumb to that urge to blast off something caustic just for the sake of being caustic. And, as I see it, apologizing for being hurtful doesn't equate to admitting being wrong about some larger point.

Everyone behaves badly here, until and unless that changes, I'm not going to lose sleep over my own behavior.

Not everyone here behaves badly. Overstating, much? Even if that were the case... "Everyone steals, therefore I should steal", "everyone cheats on their taxes, therefore I should", "everyone murders, therefore I should". I doodled through a lot of my philosophy 101 class, but I think Kant had something to say about that.

I've been active here for almost four years and this has not lessened whatsoever. It's not going to lessen. It's the nature of the beast.

Something in the same vein could be said about sexism and women feeling unsafe walking in a parking lot at night. My not using the word 'cunt' in anger and my not giggling at dead-corpse neck-rape photoshops will have zero effect - none whatsoever - on women's safety. "Womens gonna be raped, nothing I can do about it. So I might as well act like a turd, since nothing's going to change."

Your, LH's, or my not acting like a complete ass to other users will not stop the four_panels (or whoever the most outrageously offensive MeFite is) around here from being assholes. Similarly, their bad behaviour should not cause you, him, or I to behave similarly.

I have no idea if you'll acting read any of that, or if you'll dismiss it because you got pissed off at me earlier in one of these two threads and another one before that (where I, too, apparently "deserved" a smackdown from you). Or maybe you'll dismiss it simply because it's a challenge of some sort, I don't know. I don't particular care what your immediate reaction to it is. I just hope it'll sit in the back of your mind and pop out the next time the urge to verbally decapitate someone comes around, even if you're in a bad mood.
posted by CKmtl at 6:12 PM on November 18, 2007


I hope that EB's apparent time-out wasn't the result of his issues with me. For what it's worth, I wasn't feeling threatened or abused by him at all. I'm vexed as to why he attacked me personally (regarding my original comments in the thread) rather than debating me on the issues. His response was truly bizarre and out-of-proportion. I made the effort to reply to some of his rant, but I mostly tried to take it in stride...

I hope his account will be reinstated soon, because I've always enjoyed reading his thoughts and comments (well, other than in this thread)...

Besides, I want him to come back so I can torture.... him... with... my... ellipses!
posted by amyms at 6:14 PM on November 18, 2007


Aww, y'all are so cute when you get riled up. *pats everyone on the head*
posted by deborah


I have my answer! I’m walking on air!
posted by The Deej at 6:15 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm still mad at languagehat because of his blase attitude towards that cat-washing/torture machine that got FPP'd several months ago...

/Awkward and probably too-soon attempt to inject a tiny note of levity
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:15 PM on November 18, 2007


Er. Slow typer, I guess. Not meant as a pile-on, and didn't preview to see the account-disabled.
posted by CKmtl at 6:18 PM on November 18, 2007


"LM, he's not saying that's what he believes, he's saying that's what EB should believe if he's consistent (since that's the way he acts towards others)."

Yeah, to be clear, I find that attitude fairly abhorrent, even while I can understand it. (As I was trying to make clear to LH in a recent thread about Trotsky.) I just showered, and while I was in there I was thinking about how I should probably come back and try to bow out gracefully, before I became too much the thing I hate.

As for EB, well, kmellis is still open.
posted by klangklangston at 6:19 PM on November 18, 2007


amyms: for whatever it's worth, I think your comment that "men will always be pigs and women will always overreact" was a very weird note to strike at the point in the discussion where it came, and felt like an attempt to trivialize everything that was being discussed. I realize it was sort of a jokey exaggeration and you didn't mean it exactly the way it came across, but it got my back up as well as EB's. (I just didn't say anything about it at the time) I don't know why he reacted in such an over-the-top way or why he then felt like he couldn't back down.

Alongside the excellent discussion in this thread there has been a strand of willful strawman, "I will misconstrue others' positions in the most extreme way I can, and then say how unreasonable those positions are" (combined with "I will make a pithy remark and hope that people figure out I don't really mean it") -- and it's amazing to me that the thread has survived that stuff as well as it has.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:23 PM on November 18, 2007


klangklangston, EB, and languagehat are all darkhaired, bearded, cantankerous men. I kind of think of them as The Three MefiMagi.
posted by jonmc at 6:24 PM on November 18, 2007


klang: gotcha. I was mentally misplacing your commas in the initial quote, so read you as saying "if it's hurtful in your system of ethics, then you are justified in lashing out" rather than "if it's hurtful, then in your system of ethics you are justified in lashing out".
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:25 PM on November 18, 2007


amyms, I suspect EB hit the 'Close Account' button (at the bottom of your prefs page, if you didn't know), rather than being timeoutted.
posted by matthewr at 6:30 PM on November 18, 2007


To be clear, yeah, EB closed his own account. I don't know if he mailed Matt (or anyone else) about it privately, but it was news to Jessamyn and me both.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:41 PM on November 18, 2007


LobsterMitten said: for whatever it's worth, I think your comment that "men will always be pigs and women will always overreact" was a very weird note to strike at the point in the discussion where it came, and felt like an attempt to trivialize everything that was being discussed. I realize it was sort of a jokey exaggeration and you didn't mean it exactly the way it came across, but it got my back up as well as EB's.

I know. And that's why I tried to come back in and explain myself, because I saw that I had caused offense, and some hurt feelings. I decided to back away from continuing to argue my position, because I didn't want to put my foot in my mouth. But, thank you for recognizing that the way my initial comments came across to some members weren't the way I intended them to be received. That means a lot to me, LobsterMitten.
posted by amyms at 6:41 PM on November 18, 2007


wasn't the way
posted by amyms at 6:45 PM on November 18, 2007


Either way, it's a drag as far as I'm concerned. He was difficult sometimes, but so was just about anyone interesting here.
posted by jonmc at 6:47 PM on November 18, 2007


Yeah, it's a shame. Judging from his comments lately, he really seemed to be taking these discussions very much to heart. Like LH, I wonder if there wasn't something going on offscreen that was contributing to his shorter-than-usual fuse.
posted by GrammarMoses at 6:58 PM on November 18, 2007


This place is really starting to depress me, lately.

Me too.
posted by homunculus at 7:01 PM on November 18, 2007


he really seemed to be taking these discussions very much to heart.

well, even if we're typing on a screen we're still just flesh and blood. There were times when I wanted to brain him, but the fact that I've spent time with him in the flesh and enjoyed him reigned that in. We all should remember that we're dealing with real people here.

Also, times like thi, I really miss MiguelCardoso. He'd've had this straightened out hundreds of comments ago and we'd all be sipping Manhattans and trading bons mots.
posted by jonmc at 7:06 PM on November 18, 2007


I agree that he seemed to be taking these discussions very much to heart. I don't want to be melodramatic, but my feeling is that, given the trajectory of his comments in these threads, it wouldn't be a bad idea for someone who's friends with him to give him a call or drop by and make sure he's OK.
posted by Crabby Appleton at 7:08 PM on November 18, 2007


I agree that he seemed to be taking these discussions very much to heart.

like me, i think he's gotten progressively more disgusted with some of the more argumentative tendencies of this site - not that i'm innocent or anything like that, but ... i find it kind of annoying lately and lack of time and interest means i'm away a lot

i couldn't bear to get through this or the other thread - i've decided not to say that people need to lighten up - maybe people need this kind of introspective, cultural/political self-examination, but ... it's not for me and i can't be bothered with it ... i think a person can burn themselves out doing that and that's what's happened to EB

and ... I am the original king of the ellipses, here ... never ever forget it ... and when EB called me on it, i just told him i didn't care what he thought ... so there ... but i've moved on to dashes, so i guess amyms' welcome to take over the crown ...
posted by pyramid termite at 7:20 PM on November 18, 2007


amyms: cheers - the reason I understood what you meant was exactly because you came back and cleared it up, so, that effort worked.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:29 PM on November 18, 2007


there's nothing worse than a bitch with big ellipses.
posted by quonsar at 7:52 PM on November 18, 2007


What on earth was the point of that comment, quonsar? Knock it off.
posted by occhiblu at 8:00 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


no.
posted by quonsar at 8:02 PM on November 18, 2007


you'll never get ellipses on your fish with comments like that, quonsar
posted by pyramid termite at 8:08 PM on November 18, 2007


i mean, no...
posted by quonsar at 8:14 PM on November 18, 2007


i couldn't bear to get through this or the other thread - i've decided not to say that people need to lighten up - maybe people need this kind of introspective, cultural/political self-examination, but ... it's not for me and i can't be bothered with it

Well pyramid termite, it's your loss. They are very much worth reading in their entirety or nearly so.

And quonsar, although I'll concede that the timing was pitch perfect in so far as it would have been deservedly stomped at any other point, I'm not so sure, as occhiblu testifies, that a piece of performance art along those lines in this here thread is going to be received with a lot of support. In fact, I can imagine that many people might find it to be a bit of a throwback to cavemanish unthinking oafishness, the style of which, as I'm sure you well know, has been the target around here over the weekend. But, well, I know you know all this. It's your own bed, as they say. {but I'm reminded of a less than delicate comment many moons ago, in a certain thread about the London bombing...}
posted by peacay at 8:19 PM on November 18, 2007


(notwithstanding the very real fact that gay men are, collectively, as are hetero men in prisons, and that outside of prisons, there are rare instances of hetero men who are raped)

The instances are presumed rare based on known data, but those in social work and social services fields figure the incidence to actually be far higher, because men (hetero or homo, incarcerated or free) traditionally do not report sexual assault.

On the subject of EB: to be fair, I was not familiar with the EB that some of you seem to know; my interaction and impressions of him are limited to the last few months, and I've gathered that's not the baseline. Still, I have to say that I find this:

i think he's gotten progressively more disgusted with some of the more argumentative tendencies of this site

...to be puzzling. How do you diagnose someone as escalating his behavior because he's disgusted with the "more argumentative tendencies of this site" -- when he's one of the very worst perpetrators?

Here, an example: "And my better behavior had almost no effect at all in terms of dissuading people from attacking me and insulting me in the way that is so common on MetaFilter and especially common for high-profile and irritating people like myself."

Admittedly "high-profile and irritating" (While on "better behavior"? Que?) -- but other people were solely to blame for the attacks and insults. An utter refusal to ever, ever look in the mirror and see anything other than intellectual and moral perfection... which would be bad enough if not for the vitriol that comes alongside. EB, when you come back, I hope it will be without the compulsion to be resident firebrand.

I'm late to the whole feminism-thread fracas, but it has been enlightening reading overall; thanks to those of you who have contributed.
posted by pineapple at 8:28 PM on November 18, 2007


Vanity. What a bitch.
posted by phaedon at 9:16 PM on November 18, 2007


pineapple: The instances are presumed rare based on known data, but those in social work and social services fields figure the incidence to actually be far higher, because men (hetero or homo, incarcerated or free) traditionally do not report sexual assault.

Understood. The overall point, however, was that 1. "women are collectively singled out for a particular form of hostility (sexual violence)" and 2. "such hostility does not similarly affect men collectively".

Do you concede the larger point, or like Justinian are you contributing a nitpick? (If it's a nitpick, then thank you for the correction.) If you object to the larger point, are you saying that #2 is invalid? That is, are you arguing that "non-prisoner hetero men are, to a comparable extent as women, collectively targets of a particular form of hostility, expressed in sexually violent terms"?
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:20 PM on November 18, 2007


Just for the record, EB and I go way back as does EB and amberglow. And it all comes down to the fact that we have had words in the past here and don't like each other. I've taken my little shots at EB now and then and he at me. For me I'd like to think it was because his preaching and his practice have always been so contrary and contradictory. To see him go on at biblical length about how and what we all should be doing and then dish it out the next second with zeal and relish to anyone who denied his godhood or just merely rubbed him the wrong way could get so irksome. But, like I said, we don't like each other.

What is new is this no limits, say anything to slime anyone escalation. No one here has said as many nasty things to me or about me as he has in the past few weeks. No one. I don't like the guy but, Jesus Christ, I am not trying to tear him to shreds, pour gasoline on him and set him on fire This lethal take no prisoners drop the H-bomb when some tosses a firecracker at you is a new twist. I don't like the guy but I don't hate him. I just can't believe how nasty he got over the past few months.

Bringing up past emails long since erased, referring to someone's offline troubles in the past in the most sneering and belittling way possible and diagnosing someone as crazy is pure poison--it's dirty dirty pool. How can a person respond to such ? Am I crazy, have I stop beating my wife and molesting my neighbor's kid ? What qualifies him to make drive by long distance personality assessments ? And if he truly believed such things about anyone here, what good is to put it in the most destructive way possible ? It is so purely hateful. No one could live with other people if they said those things to people in real life on a regular basis. It's like other people here were just not real to him. Not as people. To be proud of the thought one is really really good about tearing other people down--what an awful thing at which to want to excel. And the sad thing is this seems to be his whole life--the online part. You can't help but feel pity for him.
posted by y2karl at 9:24 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


One hopes he's just contributing a nitpick 'cause as a hetero man, I can say that the idea I could get raped outside of prison really never crosses my mind under any circumstances. Like I said; avoid walking down that dark street at night because I could get mugged or assaulted? Sure, that crosses my mind. Raped? Yeah right.
posted by Justinian at 9:25 PM on November 18, 2007


Do you concede the larger point, or like Justinian are you contributing a nitpick? (If it's a nitpick, then thank you for the correction.)

Just contributing a nitpick. I was cruising past and saw the assertion that free hetero men do not get raped and thought it was worth addressing.

One hopes he's just contributing a nitpick

"She", for what that's worth. Such irony, considering.

'cause as a hetero man, I can say that the idea I could get raped outside of prison really never crosses my mind under any circumstances. Like I said; avoid walking down that dark street at night because I could get mugged or assaulted? Sure, that crosses my mind. Raped? Yeah right.

There is so much going on in this quote that represents The Continuing Crisis. The idea that sexual assault is a crime that only affects women is the reason that men don't report it, the reason that victims (of both genders) get marginalized by law enforcement, and the underlying reason it's pervasive in society... the idea that any sexual assault would of course be stranger rape (the "dark alley" notion) is wrong -- 80% or so of sexual assault happens between acquaintances...

I think the last thing this massive thread needs is a derail about men's attitudes toward rape, on top of everything else. But, Justinian, you might put "get more enlightened about sexual assault issues" on your 2008 resolution list.

I don't intend to slag you, seriously -- I think your take is totally the norm, and men in America come by it honestly thanks to our media and our socialization. But "Raped? Yeah right" doesn't exactly demonstrate an awareness that helps the cause.
posted by pineapple at 10:14 PM on November 18, 2007


pineapple: I think Justinian might mean:

Making a big point of saying "hetero men can get raped outside of prison, too, y'know" seems like a way of de-emphasizing the MUCH greater likelihood women face of getting raped. Ok, yes, men can get raped and that's bad, but underlining that technical truth here is not really to the point. This was how I was understanding him... basically as saying "look, I'm a man, and the risk of getting raped doesn't affect my thinking at all when I'm out and about. So even though it's technically true that I could get raped, this is a data point that the experience of men and women re: planning to avoid sexual assault is very different. So the original point made by iminurmefi above stands."

(that is, I read him as trying to prevent a diversion from the issue of sexual violence against women.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:23 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


-- so it seems off-target to scold him about how he needs to get more enlightened about sexual assault.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:25 PM on November 18, 2007


I claim one way or the other whether happens on the same frequency as sexual assault on women, but isn't there a record of men bullying other men with sexual assault (though not necessarily rape) outside of prison? When I was in high school there was an uproar about a popular football player in my high school whose friends held down a disabled boy while the football player knelt over him and smacked him across the face with his cock. And it came out he had done this to many guys of lower social status before! The response of the community was what really shocked me, partly because he was a Popular Football Player, and partly because they insisted this was simple boys-will-be-boys behavior.

If the disabled boy had been female, the response would have been different (though knowing my town they would probably have concluded she deserved it). But it made me wonder, if my ultra-conservative town figured this kind of thing was just boys fooling around (and not indicative of "perverse" homosexual tendencies), then how common must this be?! How many men were victims (or perpetrators) of this kind of "play", and what are the lingering effects it has on them?
posted by schroedinger at 10:28 PM on November 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


oh shit. Worked for a couple of hours on a comment here and when I tried to post it got the following:
-----------
The following information is meant for the website developer for debugging purposes.
Error Occurred While Processing Request
Element POST is undefined in FORM.

Resources:

* Enable Robust Exception Information to provide greater detail about the source of errors. In the Administrator, click Debugging & Logging > Debug Output Settings, and select the Robust Exception Information option.
* Check the ColdFusion documentation to verify that you are using the correct syntax.
* Search the Knowledge Base to find a solution to your problem.

Browser Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.8.1.9) Gecko/20071025 Firefox/2.0.0.9
Remote Address 207.237.76.233
Referrer
-------------
posted by nickyskye at 11:14 PM on November 18, 2007


jennydiski, welcome to Metafilter, glad you're here. Thanks for starting this thread.

EB, sorry you're having a meltdown but thought how and what you said to amyms and y2karl was hateful. Lording your intellect over others is stupid and it isn't a sign of intelligence. Still, I've valued your insight and wisdom on many occasions and am grateful for your impassioned anti-sexist stand.

amyms, I disagree with your statement that all men are pigs or that all women over react; agree with LobsterMitten's comment; and am also glad you're here.

Even though I'm everything MetaFilter typically isn't, female, feminist, 54, no tech skills, was a hippie in the 60's, am earnest, overtly enthusiastic and verbose, I enjoy the challenge of being here. Metafilter's complexity fills a lot of my creative and intellectual needs. I would like other women and other than 20 somethings to participate more frequently in Metafilter and think it would benefit the place in a number of ways.

Cyber anonymity can be freeing but alienating. Profile pics and MeMail makes this place more personal. The possibility for both online and offline community is enhanced when there is greater mutual camaraderie and mutual respect, consideration of others' feelings, others' lives.

In the geography of cyberspace, MetaFilter is a city of sorts. It's excellent to work on this place being less misogynistic, less ageist, less hateful, less sexist and I'm grateful that these topics were discussed.
posted by nickyskye at 11:44 PM on November 18, 2007 [5 favorites]


(that is, I read him as trying to prevent a diversion from the issue of sexual violence against women.

Yeah, what the fuck? People really are on a hair trigger.
posted by Justinian at 12:19 AM on November 19, 2007


5. * every time you joke about how you’ll never let your daughter out of the house or anywhere near a man, ’cause ha ha, that’ll solve everything;

Sometimes a joke is, you know, a joke, especially considering that every father knows exactly what every teenage boy has on his mind.


well you did ask us to stop being silent BB, and I thought Danila dealt with your points beautifully. Klangklangston rowed in on this very point, and you were called ageist as well as sexist, but WTF? Would it be totally out of the ballpark to imagine that your little horny teenage daughter might have something in mind to get a nice teenage boy into trouble? That she might not just fuck with his body, but his mind too, just cos girls are as capable of that as guys?
That's the kind of underlying assumption this whole thread is looking to tease out.
posted by Wilder at 2:10 AM on November 19, 2007


...........and in teasing it out, some people will inevitably throw their toys out of the pram. I'm sad about EB, I've admired him for a long time, in fact he's one of the reasons I joined Metafilter.
posted by Wilder at 2:39 AM on November 19, 2007


Wilder,

I'll refer you to my last serious post in this this thread, which was in response to this
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:49 AM on November 19, 2007


I apologise BB, I made the mistake of reading this in one sitting and I clearly didn't read that post in detail. To be frank I had started skimming your posts because your earlier ones seemed to indicate there was nothing anyone here could say to off-set the impression you had. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.
posted by Wilder at 3:07 AM on November 19, 2007


He'll be back.

In the meantime, I'll enjoy a holiday from him. A decent portion of being a feminist is allowing women space to speak; he egregiously fails this very simple test.
posted by Wolof at 3:30 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Lest my last comment be taken entirely at face value, I should add that I actually quite like the fellow — he's been terribly cranky lately though. All the best if you're reading this, EB.
posted by Wolof at 3:47 AM on November 19, 2007


Just wanted to add that I think EB's treatment of y2karl and amyms were beyond the pale -- and prefer to imagine that such assholery is not indicative of the "real" EB. I hope I'm right.
posted by GrammarMoses at 3:52 AM on November 19, 2007


were was. Oy. Need more coffee.
posted by GrammarMoses at 3:53 AM on November 19, 2007


Yah, I read Justinian as supporting the point I was making earlier, which is that I think a major block for a lot of men in understanding how words on a screen can be alienating and/or threatening to women is that many men don't understand that the constant, low-level fear of sexual assault is a separate yet essential piece of the sexism that keeps women out of public spaces, both physical and intellectual.

So even if men are at an equal risk for sexual assault (which is impossible to know, with all the problems with underreporting), the net effect on men as a group is different. I'd hate for men to "raise their awareness" in the same way that women's awareness has been raised, which is to say I'd hate for men to become afraid to participate in public spaces because of the threat of violence. I'd rather that men understand that the fear of violence itself is a problem for women, and change their behavior in ways that reflects that knowledge (like not making jokes about how they'd like to rape someone with whom they disagree politically).
posted by iminurmefi at 5:56 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


And schroedinger--I definitely think sexualized bullying of men goes on a lot more than is reported, and is considered...well, "less bad" or different from sexualized bullying of women by most people. It's a weird dynamic. If I had to theorize, I'd say that joe schmoe on the street considers sexual assaults like what you describe worse when they happen to (blameless) women, because "women" as a group are considered synonymous with weakness and thus are and always will be weak; while when something like that happens to a boy or a man, it's perhaps looked upon with a bit of disgust because men should be strong enough to not be put in that position--the position of being weak like a woman. All of which creates a "typical" response (though obviously not everyone!) in men who are sexually bullied or hear about such situations to "man up" or disassociate with the woman role--totally different from the response of (typical) women, which is to be afraid that the same thing could happen to them, and to start circumscribing their life to avoid that danger. In fact, the interactions that jonmc described above about the reactions he got when he told people about being approached by a pervert in a car goes right along with that--shaming men with humor because they should be "man enough" or something to not have that happen.

Whereas if that sort of sexualized bullying happens to a boy or man who is like our prototypical "blameless woman"--e.g., a mentally disabled boy--it's much more likely to be seen in the same way we'd see it if it happened to a woman.
posted by iminurmefi at 6:13 AM on November 19, 2007


As I mentioned earlier, I was only addressing the Justinian comment as an aside -- in a drive-by on the EB topic, I merely wanted to say "underreporting of rape of men"; I heard in response "Men get raped? Whatevs", and I stuck specifically to that satellite conversation. It appears I should have taken Justinian's remarks only in context, so, sorry.

I'd hate for men to "raise their awareness" in the same way that women's awareness has been raised, which is to say I'd hate for men to become afraid to participate in public spaces because of the threat of violence.

This will never ever happen because the numbers just aren't there. While sexual assault on men does occur, it will never occur to the extent that straight free men as a demographic could feel the same threats that women do in public.

I'd rather that men understand that the fear of violence itself is a problem for women, and change their behavior in ways that reflects that knowledge

This is the awareness I was talking about raising. Most men could use a stronger, repeated dose of this. It's simply not on the radar.

Yeah, what the fuck? People really are on a hair trigger.

You're the one who made a flippant rape comment in a 600-comment sexism discussion on MeFi. I misread your intent, but certainly not the tone. Settle down. Everyone could stand to think more about sexual assault. I don't think it means you're in the Chauvinist of the Month Club, and I didn't intend to single you out as an attack. I just wanted to use the statement "Rape? Yeah, right" as an example.
posted by pineapple at 6:24 AM on November 19, 2007


This place is really starting to depress me, lately.

I can see how you might feel that, but I'm having the opposite reaction. I've never seen "boyzone" discussions go as well, feature so many serious and productive interactions that actually change some people's minds, as in these last couple of threads, and it does my heart good and makes me feel there's hope for this place after all. And I'm pretty sure it's not unrelated to the fact that so many women are taking part and making sure their voices are heard and taken seriously. I hope that female lurkers will read these threads, think "I have two cents to add to these discussions," and sign up; the closer this place comes to gender parity the better and more interesting it will be. So, um, thanks gals!

Somebody said somewhere up there in one of these threads that Matt should add another female moderator. I agree with this (assuming, of course, he feels the need for another moderator at some point). It's made a tremendous difference having jessamyn around, and while I would never dream of saying there is a single "female perspective," I'm pretty sure that women on the whole are far more sensitive to the boyzone stuff than men (no, of course I'm not talking about you, you're a sensitive guy and a true feminist, please don't flame me!).

As for EB, well, kmellis is still open.

A ray of hope! Thanks for the reminder.

Also, times like this, I really miss MiguelCardoso. He'd've had this straightened out hundreds of comments ago and we'd all be sipping Manhattans and trading bons mots.

Yeah. Come back, Migs!
posted by languagehat at 6:31 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


iminurmefi -- "Blameless" isn't quite le mot juste, though. Apologies for this if it seems obvious, but:

Someone will always blame the victim. In the case of sexual assault, many (most?) women blame themselves for "failing" to compensate for their comparative weakness -- "I should have known better." And then the double whammy: "I am weak AND foolish."

Worse yet, sometimes the blame comes from *other women*, who want to believe they won't get assaulted in day-to-day life -- so the victim must have done something stupid or risky to bring it on herself.
posted by GrammarMoses at 6:40 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


(whoops, sorry, not done yet) ... which brings us back to the boyzone issue. Many women have said they circumscribe their behavior and participation here on MeFi; I know I do. I don't think that being a woman makes me more likely to be mocked or silenced -- but it makes me perhaps more likely to blame myself if something I contribute doesn't go well. "Showing up, too vulnerable, in an environment like that -- what did I expect?" ...And who needs that?
posted by GrammarMoses at 6:53 AM on November 19, 2007 [5 favorites]


This will never ever happen because the numbers just aren't there. While sexual assault on men does occur, it will never occur to the extent that straight free men as a demographic could feel the same threats that women do in public.

True enough. But most men do have wives, girlfriends, daughters, nieces etc, who they fear for, and that could be a way of getting this all across. Just an idea.

the interactions that jonmc described above about the reactions he got when he told people about being approached by a pervert in a car goes right along with that--shaming men with humor because they should be "man enough" or something to not have that happen.


Oddly, I felt vaguely guilty about reporting the whole thing. I considered my self a sort of half-assed libertine/bohemian or whatever and had experimented with bisexual activities, so a part of me was thinking 'why are you persecuting some poor queer just trying to get laid?' Crazy, but there you go.
posted by jonmc at 7:00 AM on November 19, 2007


I think more awareness for sexual assault on men and boys is crucial.

Far too often, however, the way that people bring up the enormous problem of sexual assault on men in prison tends to imply that it's not a problem for women in prison. The fact is that sexual assault of women in prison happens at horrifyingly high rates, usually by guards or others in positions of authority, and and almost always without consequence for the assailant.

For example, the way that Jonmc brought up generalized violence on (non-incarcerated) men (mugging, etc), also implied that it is the male counterpart to sexual violence against women, whereas the fact is that women *also* suffer from general violence, as well as sexual violence.

These are huge problems and there are varying dynamics of different forms of assault that deserve close attention. But too often they are introduced as part of an anti-feminist rather than an anti-violence agenda.
posted by Salamandrous at 7:19 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


EB has often been one of the only voices speaking out against the idea of a boyzone atmosphere here in past threads on this topic, and generally on my side in other threads I've cared about. And, for those who have not been around a long time, EB did start out at MetaFilter as someone who put his views out there, took alot of abuse for them and for his posting style, and took the higher ground without insulting back. (Does anyone remember the suspicion he was first greeted with when people thought he was a sockpuppet for Miguel, who left the site just after EB arrived? Or the terrible hazing he took (and sometimes still takes) in talking about homosexuality?) He did try the higher ground tactic for quite a while here, but my impression is that people have said pretty hateful things to EB here from almost day 1.

I think that what EB may have been getting at in taking a strict non-apology stance on amyms is that his remarks to her were not sexist. They were rude, but his experience here is probably that people here often are rude, and will continue to be rude. But the thread is about boyzones and sexism, and his comment to amyms did not fall into that category. Now look, I think rudeness alone is enough to apologize for, but in the larger scheme of things I don't think it's what this thread is about. I don't think we're going to accomplish that.

I do think it's poor form to go on about what EB is thinking or how he must live or how much of his life this site is to him or whatever, because I don't think any of us know him well enough to speculate on those issues, especially if that speculation is going to be unkind or condescending.

But hey, EB, I've really appreciated your voice here in the past and I do hope you come back when you feel up to it.

Also, I just wanted to say again that I feel this has been one of the most if not the most productive discussion we've had on boyzones at MetaFilter since I've been here, anyway, and I think that's largely due to the number of both men and women who have politely and open-mindedly shared their views here. LobsterMitten in particular I think has been really patient and careful in dissecting other people's comments and responding to them, but there have been so many others here who I've learned something from over the past few days. Thanks very much for that.
posted by onlyconnect at 7:19 AM on November 19, 2007 [5 favorites]


It's made a tremendous difference having jessamyn around

I agree so much with this, and I do want to thank jessamyn for being one of those people who frequently calls out the kind of bad behavior we've been talking about. Having a moderator do that is immensely helpful.

So now, if we can get the other two on board, too, we'll be golden. I do think men who call this stuff out get heard more -- and risk losing less -- than women who do; I do think moderators have a much "louder" voice than the rest of the users. I think it's fabulous that cortex has been participating in these discussions, I'm choosing to believe that mathowie is at least reading it, and I would like to explicitly ask them to help jessamyn in shooting down some of the more egregious bothersome behaviors when they see it. I don't think we need major deletions, I'm not expecting any of you to read more threads than you usually do, just to be more willing to say "Hey, knock it off" a bit more often.
posted by occhiblu at 7:23 AM on November 19, 2007 [8 favorites]


This place is really starting to depress me, lately.

I can see how you might feel that, but I'm having the opposite reaction.


I feel as you do languagehat. Usually a thread goes this long and the silly jokes have started. It is rare for any minds to be changed anywhere, on anything. So that goes in the plus column for metafilter, because I don't really see this sort of thing happening anywhere else. I'm just happy there seems to be more awareness, even if nothing substantial has changed.

For my part, I've changed my own perspective about a few things. This thread felt "safe" so I commented in it. When I say this thread felt "safe" for me, I mean that I felt I could contribute and get something besides aggression and snark in return. I've wanted to talk about this subject for a long time. Usually I just favorite nickyskye, occhiblue, madajujujive and others who I've seen speak up in the past. I still feel like they say it a lot better than I do, in no small part because I'm new to feminism. I'm a longtime conservative, and dismissed all of feminism out of hand, but now I feel some of the core tenets have merit, even if I don't like the way some feminists make their points. FWIW, I've actually arrived at feminism by way of size acceptance.

I'm also more willing to consider "average guy povs". I hear what Brandon Blatcher was saying, although I still feel it's a bit disingenuous. I say that because the "average guys" frequently demand that their perspective be heard before they've put in any time listening to the minority perspective. They demand that we find a way to explain it so that they can understand, when I believe they are the ones with the power in this situation. They have the power of privilege. My belief is that the powerful people in any situation have an obligation to be more magnanimous. But I understand that they don't see their power the way I do. I'll at least give thought to how I can deal with the Brandon Blatchers of the future. I hope Brandon Blatcher, tkchrist et. al will similarly consider other perspectives.
posted by Danila at 7:56 AM on November 19, 2007 [7 favorites]


onlyconnect: I think what you've said about EB is right on.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:56 AM on November 19, 2007


There's only one word for this feeling: heartbroken. I'll email EB to say what I need to say, in continuance of recent conversations, but this is the time to praise Caesar and no bury him, I hope. So, I don't mind telling all of you that I recently realized how deeply I admire this man the internet made me sort of feel like I know, and I up and told him so. I hope he knows that I wasn't alone in recognizing his courage.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:19 AM on November 19, 2007


That EB has felt a need to leave sucks, and I hope he's well. The tone of his comments in this thread definitely shows a sort of increasing frustration and agitation, and it's just all around a bad deal. I've sort of admired him as a poster in the time I've been here, and he's played a large part in my willingness to use a longer, more discursive and personal posting style as it's seemed appropriate to me. I'll miss having him around if he's really gone, and I, for one, liked his St. John stories.
posted by Arturus at 8:30 AM on November 19, 2007


EB did a lot of hard work early on in this thread describing the problem and teasing out difficulties that women experience here and in general and offering some possible solutions. He was one of the men (along with the women) responsible for stopping the whole thread becoming a joke for other men and insisting that the issue be taken seriously.

It was perhaps very wearing. I appreciate the effort he made, and the effect he had. With luck he'll return to MetaFilter, which needs him.
posted by jennydiski at 8:32 AM on November 19, 2007 [6 favorites]


My belief is that the powerful people in any situation have an obligation to be more magnanimous.

That's a nice belief, but from my experience as black guy currently living in the deep south, often not the case, hence I try (when I'm up to it) to speak the language of the majority first. Yes, it's annoying and not fair, but humans are often stubborn beings, so you gotta work wit'em if you your ultimate goal is change. Walking in and demanding "dammit, listen to me 'cause you're wrong and I'm here to tell you why and how you can better" is very off putting and the major battles where it can work (i.e. civil rights era) are gone and different tactics are needed.

The ultimate goal is to change peoples minds, to get them to think differently about something they've done for most of their life. Going in with a sledgehammer won't do, but scraping away with spoon can work quite nicely.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:41 AM on November 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


tkchrist et. al will similarly consider other perspectives

Man I did not want to come back into this thread. But you cannot envoke me like I am part of this problem. That is fucking really personally offensive.

I don't consider other perspectives? Please do not lump me in with any of this. I never commented in the OPs in question. I don't say shit like "I'd hit it." I don't go out of my way to attack women in any way on this board. I am one of the few people on this board that actually HAS apologized when I'm fairly shown I'm wrong.

I want women to feel comfortable here. I want women and everybody who wants to to participate.

The ONLY thing I objected to in this train wreck is the people who consistently appoint them selves sheriff of a given thread. These people routinely jump the gun and stomp down other peoples throats with personal attacks. Up thread THIS was the method endorsed to control "sexism? (and etc)" on metafilter. That will not create a more civil board.

Up thread I also pointed out that certain words will always rouse the hackles of certain individuals regardless of the context they are used. So I asked who do you take seriously? Somebody said they didn't see an effort to ban these words. And then what happened? A lengthy discourse on why those same words are inherently sexist? WTF? I was right. Some people no matter what will seek to control the discourse to fit their agenda. If certain words are just plain bad regardless of context then I want a list made by the Mods. And I want that list to be voted on and approved. I will have no problems after that. otherwise do not tell which frigg'n words are "sexist" by their very existence in my brain.

Some people do this and claim they are offended they use the rubric of "racism" or "sexism" to essentially settle scores. Transoma5 comment to me was a perfect illustration of this drive-by sarcasm that does NOT help make people understand anything. Not only that, it was unfair and deeply offensive as it not only implied I was sexist but also subtly backhandedly, due to the turn of phrase of something usually a retort to racists, that I was racist as well.

Then EB defended it. And accused my wife of being some sort of feminist turn-coat (sorry his later denial of this was total weaile bullshit) So. This is the civil board you want?

I want it to be civil. But had better be civil for everybody. No matter how offended you are you better be careful what mud you sling no matter how righteous you feel doing it. Calling people sexist or racist is slanderous. I say if we are going to have a more civil board it HAS to a reciprocal effort to end ALL douchbaggery.

And frankly, I am glad EB is gone. I hope he comes back. I hope he takes a long break. I used to really like him and I think he had sometimes great things to say. But the guy had become such a bitter hostile bore lately with his insanely long arguments of attrition it was destroying the place. I know I am not the only one. He was generating so many electrons I was worried a singularity may develop.

Anyway do not drag me into this. Just take it for granted I want this to be a better place like everybody else. I will treat you fairly if you treat me fairly.
posted by tkchrist at 9:58 AM on November 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


tkchrist, nobody is dragging you into anything. You chose to comment in this thread and others have a right to disagree with your point of view. I also think you are trivializing the impact of sexist comments in a thread about Coulter. It may seem comfortable to you and your wife that sexist comments are used routinely as dissing, however I'm not comfortable with it. Routine doesn't make it ok. It also doesn't mean MetaFilter has to now become -oh the drama- a police state or Goodie Two Shoes Land.

I also hope you change your perspective that casual misogynistic, sexist comments aren't such a big deal and that goes for your your wife too.

Danila, really encouraging to read your comment. Hope you feel inclined to speak up more in future.

I'm a longtime conservative,

yikes. :)

and dismissed all of feminism out of hand, but now I feel some of the core tenets have merit, even if I don't like the way some feminists make their points.

Curious what feminists made their points in ways you disliked?

FWIW, I've actually arrived at feminism by way of size acceptance.

Love your bravery. Sizeism is yet another aspect of misogyny/misanthrope, but particularly misogyny, that is despicable. In a fray it's not enough to call a woman a bitch, it's usually a fat bitch or fat, ugly bitch. In the dislike expressed the focus ends up being the narcissistic point of view, that the woman being argued with on any topic is inadequate as an acceptable sexual orifice.

Just looked at the profile pics page and am delighted to see more women, more ages, sizes, styles and colors.

Laws protecting women from being harassed in the workplace, in cases of domestic abuse have improved life for women in the West considerably. However, attempting to protect oneself from or having to deal with subtle or gross sexualized bullying or harassment of women by men is, in my own life and almost every woman I've ever known, a daily reality, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade.

An example of this in MetaTalk is the public leering that goes on over the MeFi meetup photos over whoever is deemed The Cute Chick.

In NYC sexual harassment is routine and, in spite of wanting to ignore it or not feel so hurt when it happens, it's never been something I've been able to brush off like it didn't matter. Sometimes the subtler sexualized harassment has left me feeling lousier or more betrayed than the gross abuse, which is disturbing because it would seem that the less obvious something is, the more I should be able to dismiss it. Examples: Getting covertly touched up by the dentist while sitting in the dentist chair. Once I took a dying animal to a vet for treatment, commented on one of the small animals under his care. He handed the animal to me and as I took it out of his hand he squeezed my breast. Getting change back from a guy behind a shop counter and him scratching my palm in the "I want to have sex with you" gesture.

Those are the kinds of things that seem too insignificant to make a fuss over but that not only ruin my day, it also leaves me feeling disheartened about men.

Being in MetaFilter, observing the way males here routinely insult and attack each other, prompts me to think that the ill will and contempt men commonly express toward women is part of their own general negative state of mind and I wonder if what I've experienced as misogyny is, in part, men's free floating misanthrope.
posted by nickyskye at 10:30 AM on November 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


"And frankly, I am glad EB is gone. I hope he comes back. I hope he takes a long break. I used to really like him and I think he had sometimes great things to say. But the guy had become such a bitter hostile bore lately with his insanely long arguments of attrition it was destroying the place. I know I am not the only one. He was generating so many electrons I was worried a singularity may develop."

I agree 100%.
posted by klangklangston at 11:20 AM on November 19, 2007


I wonder if what I've experienced as misogyny is, in part, men's free floating misanthrope.

That's actually pretty perceptive. Men in general (myself included are raised to be on guard all the time and to never let anyone get the best of you etc. etc. (I attribute this to parents'-both male and female-inculcating that it's a tough world and you have to be prepared to take care of yourself)...and that bleeds over into a lot of our interactions.
posted by jonmc at 11:24 AM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


(also I'm gonna go do laundry and get drunk now, so if I don't respond to any thing, don't take it personally)
posted by jonmc at 11:29 AM on November 19, 2007


Being drunk has never stopped you from posting before.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:48 AM on November 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


Just like any other kind of expressive form you can't always fret about people taking offense.

Tkchrist, I'm going to have to take your advice. I didn't drag you into anything, and I'm not lumping you with anything you didn't say. I had your specific comments in mind.

You asked several questions in this thread and raised quite a few objections that I noticed. While I understand your concerns, I'm rather inclined to see it as petty nitpicking. No words are being outlawed, no one is being ousted. It's rather the opposite, the people who don't like the "offensive" speech are the ones who have been effectively silenced up to this point.

All I'm talking about is awareness (now I'm trying to keep that specific to what happens here at Metafilter), and now I'm learning why so many people are prickly about even being aware. I had to ask, "Do they really not see??" And I suppose the answer is yes. If I'm being charitable, the answer is simply "yes". I still believe a lot of that blindness is willful. I'd like it if more could admit "I don't see because I don't want to see, because I don't think it's worth looking at". It's better than "there's nothing there, you're crazy".

Curious what feminists made their points in ways you disliked?

Most of the prominent ones give off a distinct man-hater whiff. It's not something I see as being unique to feminism, a lot of anti-racism crusaders give off a "bad whitey" vibe to me, e cosi via. The nature of identity politics in general lends itself to this problem. A few years ago I finally gave up on politics completely, and I think that's what has given me the ability to look at these things again, without consideration for the political game.

I also hated the book "My Body, My Self". I can probably go back to it now and hold my nose.

Sizeism is yet another aspect of misogyny/misanthrope, but particularly misogyny, that is despicable.

Exactly, and that was my way of learning more about feminism, because they're definitely connected.

And it's not to say that fat men (and "too" skinny ones) aren't effected by sizeism, they absolutely are. It's just that a lot of the size acceptance advocates are feminist women (i.e. the aforementioned Kate Harding, who runs one of my favorite blogs). And as you pointed out, it's part of the objectification of women. Or in this case, the willful misholding of "objectification status". A status I don't even want, but I'm still being judged by it anyway, as an object "do not want". Judged because I'm a woman, a fat woman, a fat black woman...
posted by Danila at 11:52 AM on November 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


I also hope you change your perspective that casual misogynistic, sexist comments aren't such a big deal and that goes for your your wife too.

If you're personally are hurt by something I ever say you tell me. I am not an insensitive ogre. We can talk about that. I will listen. But people who screaming at me with insults and blanket edicts will be met with exactly what they deserve.

Again since when have I said "casual misogynistic, sexist comments aren't such a big deal"?

I simply disagree with which comments some people choose to define AS sexist or misogynistic. Because context is everything. Do you understand what I am saying here?

I resent the same people, and we know who they are, over and over bombing threads with accusations of racism or sexism in the most insulting ways possible. It does not help.

Just because you or EB say a particular word is sexist doesn't mean it is so. Are you guys the final word? Are you on some tribunal? Who is? Nobody has a right to place their perceived notions of offense above somebodies else right to reasonably express themselves. We can argue over what we both think is reasonable. And we can compromise.

You provide a list of terms you think are sexist and what have you. And we vote on that. Majority rules. I honestly have no problem with that. That is a community. Communities set rules. Until then I am going to rely on the one feminist I KNOW — my wife.

This topic is working on my final nerve. To disagree in any way is to become labeled. And I am sick of it.
posted by tkchrist at 11:55 AM on November 19, 2007


You can win by not being an asshole. I know, it can be hard to resist, but that's the prize.
...
I can just hear you now: "You think he's had a hard time? I've had a hard time! I'm a cripple! I can't get out and meet people! (etc ad lib)." Well, if hard times haven't taught you empathy, you haven't made good use of your time on earth, and your precious St. John's doesn't seem to have given you the tools to do so.

Languagehat, did you just lose? I was trying to take a breather this weekend, so I'm not really current on this thread, and so maybe I missed the mefi memo where petty mockery was cleared of all charges, but I'm pretty sure it's the biggest problem within the community of Metafilter. I hope that building more positive connections among us can counter its effects, but the case of EB makes that possibility seem dim.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:55 AM on November 19, 2007


It's rather the opposite, the people who don't like the "offensive" speech are the ones who have been effectively silenced up to this point.

Yes. Some of the ones who have stepped forward that we don't always hear from. I WANT to hear from them.

My problem is the other drive-by peanut gallery who don't shut up about what they find offensive. And that is what in my near illiterate way am addressing.
posted by tkchrist at 11:59 AM on November 19, 2007


I want this to be a better place like everybody else. I will treat you fairly if you treat me fairly.

Actually if you want it to be a better place -- and I'm not speaking to tkchrist in particular, just observing something I think is true -- you treat other people fairly even if they do not treat you that way.

There are a lot of reactive people here who justify bad behavior by pointing to the bad behavior of others. EB did this. People who fought with EB did this. Many people do this and we're encouraged to examine both sides to see if whatever the Allegedly Bad Person did was deserving of what the Usually Not Bad Person felt obligated to do in the name of civility, reciprocity or whatever.

I'm of the opinion that bad behavior does not deserve or otherwise merit other people's bad behavior. You're responsible for your own bad behavior. You want it to be more civil, start there.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:01 PM on November 19, 2007 [12 favorites]


Yeah, "if" is for half-asses. There's no dignity in douchery.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:06 PM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


You're responsible for your own bad behavior. You want it to be more civil, start there.

Indeed. Since we love quoting Gandhi in these threads, I give you:

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. -Mahatma Gandhi
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:12 PM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have been following this thread, and I thought this point was really interesting:

Danila: FWIW, I've actually arrived at feminism by way of size acceptance.

NickySkye: Love your bravery. Sizeism is yet another aspect of misogyny/misanthrope, but particularly misogyny, that is despicable.


This is really interesting to me, because I was thinking about what jonmc said earlier about whether it would be okay to wish Rush Limbaugh a violent death because he's a man. I thought it was an interesting stand-alone question but not totally relevant in a thread about women's experiences, because part of the problem we're discussing here is that some people seem to think that if they don't like a woman (Coulter, Hilton, etc.), it's acceptable to make sexually degrading comments. The reality is that one sees this much more frequently directed towards women - discussions of Limbaugh don't generally include comeuppance fantasies of a torturous death being raped by surrender monkeys, or whatever.

But you do see a lot of comments involving his weight - as if disliking him makes it okay to make vicious assaults on his physical appearance. Sizeism is maybe a topic for a different thread, but I think many of the points in this thoughtful discussion apply to other hateful, gratuitous comments we sometimes use in lieu of criticizing an individual's actions and ideas.
posted by lalex at 12:12 PM on November 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


Actually if you want it to be a better place -- and I'm not speaking to tkchrist in particular, just observing something I think is true -- you treat other people fairly even if they do not treat you that way.

Okay. Guilty as charged. But it's easier said than done. The times I have held back my less than enlightened nature I have been shit stomped and slandered.

Virtue is it's own reward, right.

Okay. Here is the new sweet as pie TK.









What are YOU looking at!?
posted by tkchrist at 12:19 PM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's a great pity that metatalk never gets sidebarred.
This has been one of the more informative and interesting discussions that I've seen in the past 4 years.
It is a pity that about 70% or so of mefites will never see this and unfortunately includes many of these who need to see it most.
posted by adamvasco at 12:25 PM on November 19, 2007


other hateful, gratuitous comments we sometimes use in lieu of criticizing an individual's actions and ideas

Concisely said lalex.

Most of the prominent ones

That's what I'm curious about, Danila. Who? I sincerely don't know any feminist man-hater, was never interested in hater anybody. I came by my feminism via Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch way back when in the early 70's, when feminism was mostly another aspect of the Civil Rights movement. If there are prominent feminist man-hater authors out there or old ones who became man-hatrs, I'd like to know who they are, be informed.

I think when there is an experience of oppression and injustice and a struggle for greater legal, financial equality, fairness and independence, it's natural to point out the flaws of who is doing the oppressing. For a while I think outrage, anger, bitterness, blame are part of the awakening process. This is, for example, what happened in the American Revolution. Once independence was achieved, the US and Britain have since been allies. Teens, in individuating from their parents usually go through a stage of feeling oppressed by their parents and then, in healthier situations, as they become adults, become friends.

As women have become more independent of men in the West, less chattel and more peers, it makes sense to me to be amicable, mutually well wishing.

The problem for those who have reason to feel and be outraged is getting stuck in outrage and not finding a workable ground of communication once things have improved. In my experience in abuse survivor forums it can become a shell to remain in hate-the-abuser mode, rather than become vulnerable once again by risking intimacy and participate in being part of the good in the world. It is a risk to extend one's good wishes but I think, with open-eyed savvy, it is worth it.
posted by nickyskye at 12:37 PM on November 19, 2007 [4 favorites]


The reality is that one sees this much more frequently directed towards women - discussions of Limbaugh don't generally include comeuppance fantasies of a torturous death being raped by surrender monkeys, or whatever.


I have written at length of my discomfort of slasher films and torture porn and how sexist the genre is and taken significant heat for it. I draw the line at rape as "entertainment"in about any context having been involved with victims. But a personal expression that includes a violent fantasy is not always a contribution to the zeitgeist.

Not sure if it included Limbaugh but I pretty much outlined a cartoon-ish little psycho play that involved gouging out David Brooks and eyes and then raping and eating his dead corpse. Sounds grisly now. But it was clearly ludicrous. The man, because of his egregious support of the Iraq war, certainly makes me feel like that. And while I do not endorse that sort of behavior it did feel good to get to put it on paper.
posted by tkchrist at 12:39 PM on November 19, 2007


Well said, nickyskye.
posted by GrammarMoses at 12:46 PM on November 19, 2007


as if disliking him makes it okay to make vicious assaults on his physical appearance.

I think it's just a sad part of human nature that once we don't like someone, we nitpick other things about them, be they relevant to why we don't like them or not. So when you find Tom from marketing really annoying, you'll use the fact that he wears glasses, or wears an earring or is fat against him. It's just one more way tovalidate your reason for disliking him, nobody said it had to be rational.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:53 PM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


tkchrist: i'm not completely sure which proposals you dislike. (My inclination in many cases is to just ignore the proposals that are obviously way too extreme -- focusing instead on ones that are more reasonable to discuss the merits/rationale for -- so I may literally just not be seeing the ones that are most worrying to you.) In this thread there has been some hyperbole and some I-take-umbrage grandstanding, for sure.

But I think there has also been a lots of totally reasonable discussion of proposals that are not extreme or silencing, and not about making hard and fast lists of unacceptable words or instituting heavyhanded moderation policies -- but which are more about trying to persuade the assembled host (reading this thread) that certain kinds of junior high humor affect a lot of women more negatively, and more strongly, than might be apparent. And as a result that we should all keep an eye out for our own comments and avoid making the ones that serve no positive purpose and end up having this negative effect, and be a bit more willing to stand up and say "cool it with the rape stuff" or the like.

Moments of grandstanding aside, I don't think most people here are saying "CRISIS - All are sexist and must change verbiage NOW". I take it as a much more moderate claim than that -- sometimes the atmosphere here gets crummy in a weirdly sexist way, here's why that's bad, let's be more aware and take individual steps to cut that stuff off when it's happening.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:56 PM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


But the guy had become such a bitter hostile bore lately with his insanely long arguments of attrition it was destroying the place.

I think you are marginalizing his contribution here, and do not agree with you. I think he created rancor against him in this thread by calling particular behavior or posts sexist, where even many women would not go that far in using that language, possibly even in part to refrain from alienating those who were willing to engage in a discussion or be seen as "screechy". I think that calling particular words or posts "sexist" here probably is not helpful if we want to have a dialogue because it shuts people off and makes them defensive. I agree EB was rude here, but I also think it's sadly true that rudeness often gets comments noticed and responded to here, with MetaTalk in particular being recognized as a bastion for snarkiness.

The times I have held back my less than enlightened nature I have been shit stomped and slandered.

I believe that was exactly EB's early experierence on this site.

Klangklangston, I did not appreciate your joke at the beginning of this thread or your attitude that because you had heard this discussion before it deserved your "bored snark." And tkchrist, alot of people in this thread disagree with you and your wife's feeling that the Coulter threads are not filled with sexist remarks. EB challenged you both on this and he was rude about it, but except for the rudeness I basically agree with him. I don't call it sexism, but it's some of the behavior that I'd like to see less of. To me these comments tended to operate to shut down discussion or marginalize what women and others see as a boyzone problem.

I agree with those who are impressed with the people in this thread who have really made an effort to see things from a different perspective than usual, instead of demanding that women see their perspective first and foremost. So many times I have come out of threads re the boyzone issue with the imperative given to me by men in those threads to be friendly and less sensitive and to temper my message to fit my audience so that I don't close off people's ears from it. (Example here.) I understand this and agree with this in part, but until now often haven't really felt like people were meeting us halfway and taking responsibility themselves. It was good here to have so many people speaking up so that people like dios and others above said, hey, I'm still not exactly sure I agree that what I'm doing is wrong, but so many people whose opinions respect are sending a message here and I feel obliged to listen and try to change my behavior. I don't think I can fully describe the immense feeling of validation, understanding, and good will that washed over me from this.
posted by onlyconnect at 1:02 PM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


And tkchrist, alot of people in this thread disagree with you and your wife's feeling that the Coulter threads are not filled with sexist remarks.

It wasn't the thread entirely she read. Just my comments. And the use of the word cunt. Which I did NOT use in that thread, BTW.
posted by tkchrist at 1:06 PM on November 19, 2007


But a personal expression that includes a violent fantasy is not always a contribution to the zeitgeist.

Tkchrist, I agree with you in the sense that a single personal expression is not indicative of the general attitudes of the person who made it. I don't think you are a violent murderer based on your David Brooks play, and I don't think Ethereal Bligh is a misogynist based on his comment about Paris Hilton.

But what we're talking about here is the zeitgeist as it relates to women and the internet. Whether it's the result of a lot of one-off comments by otherwise great people combined with a small minority of outright misogynists or an overall undercurrent of sexist attitudes, my experience is that women are usually the target of ramped up gender-based rhetoric.
posted by lalex at 1:06 PM on November 19, 2007


But I think there has also been a lots of totally reasonable discussion of proposals that are not extreme or silencing, and not about making hard and fast lists of unacceptable words or instituting heavyhanded moderation policies -- but which are more about trying to persuade the assembled host (reading this thread) that certain kinds of junior high humor affect a lot of women more negatively, and more strongly, than might be apparent. And as a result that we should all keep an eye out for our own comments and avoid making the ones that serve no positive purpose and end up having this negative effect, and be a bit more willing to stand up and say "cool it with the rape stuff" or the like.

And I said earlier I agree with this. I guess it's a baby and bathwater thing with me.

And if people make the rape jokes I will be the first to tell them to knock it off.
posted by tkchrist at 1:21 PM on November 19, 2007


I think we can all agree that the impulse to gouge out David Brooks' eyes is still perfectly normal though, right? Becuase if it isn't I don't know what is anymore.
posted by tkchrist at 1:24 PM on November 19, 2007


I'm of the opinion that bad behavior does not deserve or otherwise merit other people's bad behavior.

Sometimes bad behavior is its own reward. Though I don't really condone it, I do sometimes enjoy it.

Perhaps this example will help: Paul Gauguin is famous for having left his family to drink himself to death in Tahiti. In the process, he created some masterpieces. If we grant that he could never have created these paintings without leaving his family, how are we to evaluate the injuries to the family against the groundbreaking artworks he gave the world?

Sometimes the benefits of expressing our frustrations in a public forum have to be weighed against preserving a safe and welcoming space for women to participate as well. But we should be clear that this doesn't require us to always settle the calculation in favor of gender equity. Sometimes there is group solidarity and catharisis to be gained from a phrase like 'fellatory asphyxiation,' which has to be weighed against the discomfort it will provoke in the women in the community, just like the troubling but no-less-interesting art that emerges from the zeitgeist's obsession with torture.

Right now, I'm sort of leaning towards 'Say it but apologize' rather than simply 'don't say it at all.' That forecloses a number of conversations, and excludes those who have trouble participating in this non-emotive manner. Some things in the world, including sexual violence but also including the war in Iraq and the intellectual dishonesty of cultural commentators like Ann Coulter, really do call for some visceral and ill-tempered reactions.
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:26 PM on November 19, 2007


I think it's just a sad part of human nature that once we don't like someone, we nitpick other things about them, be they relevant to why we don't like them or not. So when you find Tom from marketing really annoying, you'll use the fact that he wears glasses, or wears an earring or is fat against him.

I'm not sure I agree with this. I think it would be very weird and unusual if I went into a thread where everyone was hating on, say, Dick Cheney, and said "yeah, I hate that four-eyed asshole!" It seems like the issue here is that the prevalence and resonance of derogatory comments based on gender (or size) is so much greater than that of comments based on glasses and earrings, when in most cases all of these characteristics are irrelevant.
posted by lalex at 1:27 PM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sometimes the benefits of expressing our frustrations in a public forum have to be weighed against preserving a safe and welcoming space for women to participate as well.

Women are part of this community, not extra participants. Saying it's sometimes okay to create spaces that are hostile to them in the interests of the benefits of expressing your frustrations is sort of exactly the point as I see it. It's basically an open question: is it more important that people always say exactly what is on their mind, generally, or is it more important to foster community by sometimes mitigating what we say in the interests of other members?

I hope I'm not too bitchy in saying this but I think the Gaugin example is not really a decent analogy. We're not making art here, we're trying to talk about things with each other and share a community. Since that is one of the goals of MetaFilter, actions that are hostile to it seem especailly out of place.

There are many examples that aren't just women such as racial epithets, making fun of the disabled or attacks on other members. Some of these things are enforced via community guidelines (out and out racists stuff and "fuck you" towards other members) and some aren't (retard jokes and fat chick jokes)

Some things in the world, including sexual violence but also including the war in Iraq and the intellectual dishonesty of cultural commentators like Ann Coulter, really do call for some visceral and ill-tempered reactions.

And I'm saying I disagree. If the only way you can achieve group catharsis about something like that is by summoning violent rape fantasies, my suggestion would be to keep them to yourself in the name of civility. Everyone falls a different place along the line of how far they want to bend in the interests of other peoples concerns, sensitivities and out and out preferences. If you're actually making the argument that there is greater value to group rape joke time than the squickiness this sort of thing engenders in many people (not just women, as we've seen) then I'd love to hear more about it. From my personal perspective, I don't see it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:47 PM on November 19, 2007 [18 favorites]


fellatory asphyxiation

WHY THE FUCKING FUCK DID YOU HAVE TO GET THAT SPECIFIC
posted by zebra3 at 1:50 PM on November 19, 2007


Honestly... I'm really so pleased with how mature and thoughtful these threads have been for the most part. (Despite the occasional flameout, etc.) I'm just so amazed. With previous experiences in mind, I really only anticipated the very worst from the moment fourpanels called me sexist, which is why I chose to step back and mostly just lurk. I honestly felt like Matt was immediately siding with the boyzone atmosphere so I thought "Okay, well, this place is what it is. I'm not going to change anything here. So here we go." I figured other people could fight it out. I piped in once in a while, but tried to remain somewhat detached. I didn't want to get any of the inevitable nastiness on me. 'Cuz as I mentioned before, this topic is one that I've had to stand up for many times in the real world, and it's tiring sometimes when you start to feel like nobody is ever going to recognize what you're trying to say. Sometimes you don't want to open your mouth just to be told, yet again, that what you have to say isn't valid. You don't want to be a victim, but you know you should stand up for yourself... but sometimes you only have so much energy, though. And sometimes being judged is the last thing we need on top of what we're already feeling.

So when we don't feel safe, we just turn it all inward.

Like with that guy who made the bukkake joke at me... sometimes I've thought, "I should've just kept my mouth shut. I knew he wouldn't get it. Why did I even try? If I would've just let it slide I'd still have that extra income." or when that Navy guy tried to grab me... I can't tell you how often I told myself, "I need to stop wearing short skirts. That was my fault." All through my 20s I picked apart what I was wearing and worried that at any moment I might be doing something wrong that would make me deserve to be attacked again. Even though NOBODY ever deserves to be attacked, that's where women's minds are trained to go. We take responsibility. Somehow, even though you're the victim it is hard to accept that the man is the only one responsible for what happened.

Often women end up hating themselves more than hating men. And that's the irony of the whole thing... when we are not heard by men, it's not MEN we usually get mad at. We are busy blaming ourselves. Because women are good at that. But when we feel like we're being heard, just a little... like the men in this thread are trying to do... it takes some of that away. It allows us to relax and feel safer. And honestly, that's all we really want or need. Just that little bit of respect and two-way communication really helps to make things a bit better. It makes us feel like we AREN'T just objects. Like we're valid human beings who are being heard too, even though our experiences and our takes on things are different.

Who knew a cartoon of bananas and apricots would indirectly spawn so much... communication? I really find it very hopeful actually. Some people may find this place depressing lately, but I'm actually feeling better about this place now than I was before.

Thank all of you for your input here. Especially those of you who made such wonderful attempts to understand each other instead of compete with or dismiss each other. That has been really great and so nice to see. :)
posted by miss lynnster at 1:52 PM on November 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


EB, you have always been a brave voice about sexism, and it makes me sad that you have chosen to leave. I hope you come back when you are ready.

Klangklangston, I did not appreciate your joke at the beginning of this thread or your attitude that because you had heard this discussion before it deserved your "bored snark."

And I did not appreciate the way you used the points I was trying to make with great care and thoughtfulness to continue your personal feud with EB. I meant what I said about his deep and nuanced commitment to issues of gender equality -- would that more men would share it, and be willing to put themselves on the line as he has in the past regarding the subject. I am genuinely upset that this has happened, because I feel I've lost a friend here.

When I was reading Bill Ayer's book Fugitive Days, one of the things he talked about in his descent into radical madness was that his "cell" held self-criticisms in which the members of the group would be brought forward and accused of things like trying to destroy the movement by eating more brown rice than the other roommates, and the only correct response to any accusation was to apologize immediately.

You do not clearly spell out what you are trying to do here, but you are drawing comparison between trying to be principled in this arena and some extreme form of political brainwashing. That is an ugly caricature of this conversation, to which you mostly contributed chest-beating. I did not agree with his tactics here but I do know the place he started from on this question was one of genuine concern for fairness. Did you ever truly give a damn about this at all, except as a vehicle for personal swipes and yet more snark?

I don't think I can fully describe the immense feeling of validation, understanding, and good will that washed over me from this.

But this is where I'd prefer things to end. Thank you, onlyconnect. I don't have the words yet either, but to see so many people honestly trying to come to grips with this has done my heart a world of much needed good.
posted by melissa may at 2:05 PM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Brandon Blatcher: Just a note, you forgot to link to a particular comment.

Sorry ‘bout that. I tried to link to the specific comment but it’s not working. (Not sure how I’m screwing it up.) I was referring to abeizer’s comment at 11:05 pm on Nov. 16.

Um, ok, though I'd actually argue it's fairly impossible for a privileged person not to abuse'em, at least in smaller, unthinking ways.

Absolutely. That’s pretty much the definition of a privileged position, that you have the luxury of taking it for granted. That’s why I said “try not to abuse it.” You’ll never be completely successful and you’ll get sick of trying—but I do think the trying is important. And useful, not least to yourself.

cortex and klangklangston: Thanks for the grammar coaching.

thepinksuperhero: Since we love quoting Gandhi in these threads, I give you:

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. -Mahatma Gandhi


Not to mention: We must be the change we wish to see in the world.

On preview: I hope I'm not too bitchy in saying this but I think the Gaugin example is not really a decent analogy. We're not making art here, we're trying to talk about things with each other and share a community. Since that is one of the goals of MetaFilter, actions that are hostile to it seem especailly out of place.

This seems not at all bitchy to me – and it’s funny/sad that, at the end of this thread, jessamyn felt the need to soft-pedal her innocuously phrased, perfectly reasonable statement.

As an aside, I really, really loathe this particular argument, which I call “The Picasso Fallacy.”

Picasso was an asshole, and a great artist.
I am an asshole.
Therefore, I am a great artist.


Nope. Chances are, you’re just an asshole.
posted by dogrose at 2:14 PM on November 19, 2007 [6 favorites]


jessamyn: fuckin' A.

Sometimes the benefits of expressing our frustrations in a public forum have to be weighed against preserving a safe and welcoming space for women to participate as well. ... Sometimes there is group solidarity and catharisis to be gained from a phrase like 'fellatory asphyxiation'...
Right now, I'm sort of leaning towards 'Say it but apologize' rather than simply 'don't say it at all.' ...
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:26 PM on November 19 [+] [!]


Which group is building solidarity in that way? Because we've been describing, at excruciating length, the ways in which that stuff hurts solidarity of the community as a whole. So maybe you are thinking of building solidarity among a subset of the community.

"Say it but apologize", well, if someone goes on at length about how they think Paris Hilton should be raped, and then says "I know that probably offends some people, so sorry, just kidding"... see above discussion about how that stuff seems to reveal the ugly secret true thoughts, rather than just being a passing flight of fancy that doesn't really matter to the person. This impression is stronger when people defend that kind of junk as somehow necessary to the ability to express oneself, somehow the only way to say what's really on your mind. If this is the only way to say what's really on your mind that's really disturbing.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:15 PM on November 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


If you're actually making the argument that there is greater value to group rape joke time than the squickiness this sort of thing engenders in many people (not just women, as we've seen) then I'd love to hear more about it.

I'd rather have women in the community than misogynists. I wouldn't ever make those sorts of jokes myself; I was sort of chiming in with regard to tkchrist's sense that eviscerating a cultural commentator in prose is a hallowed tradition.

I've argued elsewhere that 'torture porn' (the whole run of movies like Saw and Hostel) is so disgusting that the makers are morally blameworthy. Yet at the same time, I have to remain open to the possibility that the genre could create a true masterpiece (some argue this is true of Hostel, for instance: I dunno, haven't seen it.) My point is that Ethereal Bligh -didn't- write "I hope Coulter chokes on a cock." He wrote that euphonious phrase 'fellatory asphyxiation,' which tickles the ear and shocks the conscience. I think you have to credit the wordsmithing if not the message. I don't think he should have wrote it, but I also don't know how to express my own discomfort with the Ann Coulters and Rush Limbaughs of the world, who seem to exist in a space beyond blame or accountability themselves.

There can be many barriers to entry here: being able to admit having made a mistake ought to be a prerequisite. But never making a mistake? I'm not sure that I'd like to live in a community inhabited only of 'the first to throw stones,' i.e. 'those without sin.' In many cases, I think people ought to be allowed to go astray and be held accountable, rather than suffering from the 'prior restraint' of quick moderator deletions. We can only talk about the sexism we see; not the sexism that gets removed.

The community isn't just uptight philosophy professors and librarians: the community includes a pretty broad cross-section of classes, ages, and education levels, and we could hope that it would broaden. One of the arguments we're apparently having in this thread is about how to balance the broad demand for inclusion against the specific demands of members trying to find expression for their own thoughts and feelings. Can we afford to uphold strict punishments for incivility in a space that has benefited so much from the respect born of relatively uncensored dialogue?
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:22 PM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Right now, I'm sort of leaning towards 'Say it but apologize' rather than simply 'don't say it at all.'

"Say it and then apologize" is bullshit, not to mention that it's pretty much what is already going on here (and I could pull up a lot of examples right quick, but won't, as I don't think it's totally fair to dredge up the past in this context). Here's a better rule- if you're going to have to apologize for your stupid sexist comment IN THE SAME COMMENT in which you make the stupid sexist comment, feel free to just keep it to yourself.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:26 PM on November 19, 2007 [4 favorites]


Sometimes there is group solidarity and catharisis to be gained from a phrase like 'fellatory asphyxiation,' which has to be weighed against the discomfort it will provoke in the women in the community

EEGHAH. This is not choking on a cock. You are doing it wrong. Was there actually some "yaaaaay shove your cock down that trachea wooooo kill bitches" somewhere? Please say no.

As for klangklangston and Melissa May's exchange, I would like to weigh in: klang, I have a love/hate thing for you. If we met, I suspect we'd get on like gangbusters, I'd take you dumpster diving for booze at the universities on moveout day, hey? but times like this, you come across as not just arrogant, but cold. Colder than I can believe of someone with such humor and vigor. Ultimately it seems like you're afraid to seem uncool or vulnerable. It's not just you, but you're very adept at it. So, as much as I owe you a kick squah in the nuts, I am also recently unnerved by the discovery that too much heat on one person might make them leave. So, let's all hug.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:33 PM on November 19, 2007


"Say it but apologize", well, if someone goes on at length about how they think Paris Hilton should be raped, and then says "I know that probably offends some people, so sorry, just kidding"... see above discussion about how that stuff seems to reveal the ugly secret true thoughts, rather than just being a passing flight of fancy that doesn't really matter to the person.

There's a difference between "Haha j/k" and... "Wow... I've thought about it and it really wasn't cool for me to have said that. Please understand it came from a moment of real frustration, but I now see that I chose the worst form to express my distaste for this woman and her works. I apologize to everyone who was disgusted by my remarks."

Say what you will about Ethereal Bligh, but I think his apology took the latter, more sincere (and verbose) form.
posted by anotherpanacea at 2:34 PM on November 19, 2007


okay I followed the breadcrumbs, osrry for being doltish. I don't have a problem with that way that phrase was used.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:38 PM on November 19, 2007


Can we afford to uphold strict punishments for incivility in a space that has benefited so much from the respect born of relatively uncensored dialogue?

No one is talking punishments here, at all. People are saying that a little personal pre-screening in order to actively try to be civil and mindful would be appreciated. Saying it and apologizing beats saying it and not apologizing. In my universe, thinking about it ahead of time and not saying it at all would be better than both of those.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:40 PM on November 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


This thread has taught me that male or female, white or balck, rich or poor, smart or dumb whatever...we can learn from eachother's experiences, if we restrain our urge to pick apart someone and actually listen to eachother. When we know where we're coming from we can talk rather than try to score points.
posted by jonmc at 2:41 PM on November 19, 2007 [4 favorites]


As an aside, I really, really loathe this particular argument, which I call “The Picasso Fallacy.”

Me too, and thanks for calling it out so concisely; I have a feeling I'll be citing your comment as needed.

Ethereal Bligh -didn't- write "I hope Coulter chokes on a cock." He wrote that euphonious phrase 'fellatory asphyxiation,'

I really hate to have to say this, since EB can't respond and is feeling put-upon anyway—EB, if you're reading this, this is not meant as an attack on you—but I feel the record has to be clear: he has said vicious things about Coulter repeatedly. Here, for instance: "Few things would make me happier than to see Ann Coulter sodomized with large knives." That's why people bring it up.
posted by languagehat at 2:43 PM on November 19, 2007


Yeah, anotherpanacea: I don't understand what position you're arguing against. Nobody's advocating punishment for saying stuff like EB said, and nobody is saying "the new policy will be: no mistakes are allowed, and don't apologize if you make one". Straw, straw, straw-men. Obviously people will sometimes say things they later regret, and apologizing is the natural and appropriate thing to do in those cases.

It sounded like you were advocating (someone's) making "artistic" comments about sexual violence while anticipating that they'd need to then say, you know, "sorry ladies but just saying what comes into my head, har har". Which I think would not be progress of any kind.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:47 PM on November 19, 2007


Nobody's advocating punishment for saying stuff like EB said...

No one is talking punishments here, at all. People are saying that a little personal pre-screening in order to actively try to be civil and mindful would be appreciated.

Fair enough. Not sure why, but I appear to need frequent reminders that we're talking about communal pressures and not administrative regulation. Sorry about that.

It was tkchrist who got me thinking about it, though: I should have stuck with his example of David Brooks, and left out the sexualized quote. My thoughts were going in three different directions and I didn't narrow down my point before I started writing. Alongside of my fears regarding new moderator mandates, I'm concerned to preserve most examples of misogyny for discussion and shaming rather than delete them. Plus, I'm curious: is it such a bad thing to occasionally eviscerate our enemies in prose (especially if we can do it in a gender neutral way)?
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:05 PM on November 19, 2007


I'm coming to the conclusion that to wish violence or death on anyone, even as a joke - especially as a joke - coarsens the soul. It's something that grown-ups shouldn't do. And even though I don't think I'll ever qualify as a grown-up, I'd like to pretend.
posted by Grangousier at 3:17 PM on November 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


Sometimes the benefits of expressing our frustrations in a public forum have to be weighed against preserving a safe and welcoming space for women to participate as well.

Women are part of this community, not extra participants.


Thank you for saying that, Jessamyn. It sounds so obvious, yet from many comments here I think it needs to be said, and frequently.
posted by agregoli at 3:25 PM on November 19, 2007 [4 favorites]


I should have stuck with his example of David Brooks.

As should we all.

I defy anybody with a conscience to picture sitting across from that guy and not want to stifle the urge to punch his smug face in. If that's wrong I don't want to be right. Ghandi would ball his fist.
posted by tkchrist at 3:26 PM on November 19, 2007


I'm coming to the conclusion that to wish violence or death on anyone, even as a joke - especially as a joke - coarsens the soul.

I have a 60-grit soul then.

I don't know if I could ever get that enlightened. Not that I don't appreciate those that are, mind you.
posted by tkchrist at 3:30 PM on November 19, 2007


Plus, I'm curious: is it such a bad thing to occasionally eviscerate our enemies in prose (especially if we can do it in a gender neutral way)?

Disliking someone on a website to the point that you consider them an 'enemy' strikes me as a bit weird, especially among people who aren't pubescent sacs of roiling hormones anymore. Unless, I guess, they actually did something horrible... like sending all your dirty little AskMes to your boss, or something.

I guess it depends on what you mean by evisceration... A well-crafted snark-dripping version of "that's fucking dumb"? Love 'em. Stuff that's intended to hurt people, no matter how well-crafted? Not my idea of awesome, even though I might've done it a couple times.
posted by CKmtl at 3:37 PM on November 19, 2007


Just so that I don't come over as too pious:

Fuck it, I'm sick of wearing trousers. I'm going to spend the rest of my life in a nappy.
Ghandi

I've wanted to post that for two days. God knows why.
posted by Grangousier at 3:45 PM on November 19, 2007


I totally missed the bit about EB closing his account just before my silly remark. EB leaving makes me sad. :-(
posted by deborah at 3:58 PM on November 19, 2007


Ambrosia Voyeur, you have some odd thoughts but I note you are fumbling around with a range of ideas so I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that you have not simply disregarded this entire thread before having your, what can most charitably be described as, ill-advised say.

Perhaps one of the things you didn't read was the powerful comment by Melissa May, way back up the page...
"Here is what you need to understand. It does not matter, one iota, whether you think a woman is exceptional, whether you think she deserves the most violent and derogatory put-down you can dream up. In all likelihood, Paris Hilton will never read your comments. But I will, and it will stay with me that you have these words in your repertoire ready to deploy if you think some woman deserves it. That, if I am a woman and in public and someone decides I am disgusting and odious enough, he may feel free -- even feel righteous and justified -- to wish specifically sexual violence on me"
So you see, the position you seem to be considering would have it that statements or prose be measured, not by their inherent misogynistic styling, but by their literary quality. I don't suppose, with a bit more thought about it, you see how ludicrous a concept that is.
posted by peacay at 4:13 PM on November 19, 2007


tkchrist: I don't think anybody's saying it's not understandable. God knows, there's times when I've wished violence on people for shoving me on the subway. That dosen't mean it's a good thing.

Disliking someone on a website to the point that you consider them an 'enemy' strikes me as a bit weird, especially among people who aren't pubescent sacs of roiling hormones anymore

Well, people are full of aggravation, some more than others. Say the wrong thing to somebody and you set them off. A big part of understanding is maybe asking yourself what led somebody to that place.

I have a 60-grit soul then.

Me, too, tkchrist, but you know what? I'm going to try not to wave that around as a point of honor anymore. That dosen't mean I'm going to become New Age Sensitive Male or stop using rough kidding as a sign of affection. I'll just stop holding random people who said the wrong thing at the wrong time to me responsible for whatever happened. Hopefully the world will return teh favor.
posted by jonmc at 4:20 PM on November 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


*not misanthrope, arg, misanthropy.

Nthing "Say it and then apologize" is bullshit. eg Fucking idiot! -oh can't take a joke!? ha ha ha just kidding.

The apology is hollow. The harm is done. To be verbally abusive and camouflage the malice with a fraudulent apology is a classic example of adding insult to injury.

So, as much as I owe you a kick squah in the nuts

Inappropriate and sexist comment.

people who screaming at me with insults and blanket edicts

Drama queen.

Again since when have I said "casual misogynistic, sexist comments aren't such a big deal"?


here and here

I simply disagree with which comments some people choose to define AS sexist or misogynistic. Because context is everything. Do you understand what I am saying here?


So you're pulling a Bill Clinton? "It depends on what the meaning of the words 'is' is."

I resent the same people, and we know who they are, over and over bombing threads with accusations of racism or sexism in the most insulting ways possible. It does not help.

Don't know who they are. If you include me in your resentment, I'm surprised. I like you, have repeatedly enjoyed your comments on the blue and Mefite camaraderie. Didn't know it wasn't reciprocated or that you harbored resentment.

If you mean EB, I've agreed with his anti-sexist comments wholeheartedly and am so thankful for the time and energy he put into standing up fiercely on that issue. I think it's appropriate to call out racism and sexism when they occur, sizeism, ageism or any bigoted, hateful, prejudiced mindset, for that matter.

Just because you or EB say a particular word is sexist doesn't mean it is so.

what are you referring to?

Are you guys the final word? Are you on some tribunal? Who is? Nobody has a right to place their perceived notions of offense above somebodies else right to reasonably express themselves.


Paranoid and irrational thinking there. All I saw was a discussion among peers, members of the MetaFilter community.

You provide a list of terms you think are sexist and what have you. And we vote on that. Majority rules. I honestly have no problem with that. That is a community. Communities set rules.

You've discussed this and set up a panel with the admins about this and will make the decision for 60,000+ members here?

Until then I am going to rely on the one feminist I KNOW — my wife.

Unable to think for yourself? Interesting.

This topic is working on my final nerve. To disagree in any way is to become labeled. And I am sick of it.

Uh oh, get ready, another meltdown case. Gasket blowing about to happen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just curious, who labeled you and what label did you get?

I didn't label you. I disagreed with you.
posted by nickyskye at 4:27 PM on November 19, 2007


jonmc: Well, people are full of aggravation, some more than others. Say the wrong thing to somebody and you set them off. A big part of understanding is maybe asking yourself what led somebody to that place.

Sure, I agree. I guess I have a different interpretation of 'enemy'... like a cartoonishly high level of animosity.

nickyskye: Drama queen.

Homophobic. Or at least more homophobic than a Cartman-esque "squah in the nuts" is sexist.

I don't actually think you meant it that way. Just, y'know, don't do that after calling someone out for an off the cuff SouthPark-ism with no actual ill intent.
posted by CKmtl at 4:40 PM on November 19, 2007


"Until then I am going to rely on the one feminist I KNOW — my wife."
Unable to think for yourself? Interesting.
"This topic is working on my final nerve. To disagree in any way is to become labeled. And I am sick of it."
Uh oh, get ready, another meltdown case. Gasket blowing about to happen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Just curious, who labeled you and what label did you get?
I didn't label you. I disagreed with you.
posted by nickyskye at 7:27 PM on November 19 [+] [!]


nickskye, I think the tone you're taking at the end here is pretty crummy and not typical of you. Even if I agree that at times tkchrist was taking some of this more personally than necessary, these last few things just sound like "neener neener".
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:45 PM on November 19, 2007


Drama queen.

Homophobic.


Not again.

Sure, I agree. I guess I have a different interpretation of 'enemy'... like a cartoonishly high level of animosity.

Well, sometimes it's the petty little snarks about trivial stuff (clothes, music, etc) that can set people up to be defensive, especially if they're in a bad mood. Not justifying anything, just saying.
posted by jonmc at 4:46 PM on November 19, 2007


And jonmc, I'm sending another imaginary beer your way. (Be glad, at first I typed "imaginary beet". I figure that might not be as welcome.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:47 PM on November 19, 2007


The drama queen thing was very tongue-in-cheek. There needs to be a font that implies a huge smirk.
posted by CKmtl at 4:50 PM on November 19, 2007


heh. Good call. I hate beets.

by 'petty little snarks' Imean comments like this one from way back. In certain circumstances I'd laugh it off as annoying posturing, but if I'm in a bad mood and I have to listen to too much of that..well, that ay I wanted to rip that guy a new one. (he's since proved himself to be an OK guy, but that's beside the point).
posted by jonmc at 4:50 PM on November 19, 2007


So you see, the position you seem to be considering would have it that statements or prose be measured, not by their inherent misogynistic styling, but by their literary quality. I don't suppose, with a bit more thought about it, you see how ludicrous a concept that is.

peacay, Your snide, diminishing tone is completely wasted on me, since your criticism is wrong. I am indeed clumsy and backward with regard to the flow of this thread, and I don't mean to miss the points made and I apologize.

However, I simply do not share a sense of blanket outrage for anything that has sexualized violence in it. I think content and context both matter, and the latter is a very complicated consideration. I think there is more to be gained from a deeper discussion of who, why and how these ideas are being used, than to simply condemn them as profane. I feel this way about books (couldn't stand American Psycho), music, metafilter, all culture.

This doesn't make me soft on misogyny, it hopefully guarantees that I can recognize the misogyny which is real from the inadvertent, from the acculturated and curable, and dialogue meaningfully with perpetrators of each.

The Paris Hilton comment was about such an act being newsworthy, and didn't read to me as advocating sexual violence as retribution. The Paris Hilton persona we encounter is a simulacrum, and is flattened like a pancake and embedded with concepts that we can't peel away from the real person. I forgive the crummy joke because it clumsily calls forth from the low-culture, sexualized vocabulary center where commentary about Paris Hilton and prison often originates here in our culture. It was thoughtless, but I did not find it to be misogynistic. How should we discuss Paris Hilton, if we must, other than to call her a rich bitch, or something as lewd. She acts as a posterchild for (what I think is a despicable and) lewd culture, and there's not much to say about her because of it.

Again, in Ann Coulter's case, I get a little more irritated. I think she wields her sexuality in a terrible, counter to human rights way, which is anti-feminist by my definition. Because of my personal interests in media, identity formation and feminism, she gets a top spot on my schadenfreude wish list, and though I don't wish any ill upon Ann the person, let's just say I'd think it justice to kick her fame in the vagina with a pointy shoe.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:52 PM on November 19, 2007


I also hated the book "My Body, My Self". I can probably go back to it now and hold my nose.

That comment made me laugh. It's a good book, practical, non-judgmental.

Drama queen is not homophobic. Definition.
posted by nickyskye at 4:55 PM on November 19, 2007


nickyskye: there was an extremeley contentious thread about the term way back when. I was referring to that.
posted by jonmc at 4:56 PM on November 19, 2007


LobsterMitten, you did a beautiful job placating tkchrist, soothing his ruffled feathers.

I'm not walking on eggshells for tkchrist. His comment was end to end drama with mentions of panels, votes, him being dragged into the conversation..all high blown. Unnecessary. This is said by a man who says in response to

"I'm coming to the conclusion that to wish violence or death on anyone, even as a joke - especially as a joke - coarsens the soul.

I have a 60-grit soul then.

His delicate sensibilities seem to be about himself, not others.
posted by nickyskye at 5:07 PM on November 19, 2007


I simply do not share a sense of blanket outrage for anything that has sexualized violence in it. I think content and context both matter, and the latter is a very complicated consideration.

I think context matters, in that there are times when describing one of these sexual attack scenarios is just lame (i.e., halfhearted chuckle might be the best I can do) and times when it's really awful and as shocking as a friend suddenly pulling out a remark like "why can't they all just go back to Africa". I don't think it ever gets better than lame, no matter how cleverly phrased and no matter who's saying it. Kicking Ann Coulter's fame in the cooch? Meh. It just brings in so much freighted other stuff that overwhelms the intent, to me.

It's like when someone curses allll the time in writing, it doesn't make their statements more emphatic, it just feels forced and I end up taking them less seriously. That's the best-case outcome of the Paris-should-choke-on-cock thing. And the worst case outcome is that I feel on edge and creeped out for the rest of the day, regret ever having read the comment, losing respect for someone who said it, and feeling a little less comfortable here and less like I want to be around here.

The balance is clear to me of whether this kind of comment should be socially encouraged or socially discouraged -- I think there's little benefit to having comments like this around, and there are clear drawbacks. (Again for clarity - not calling for a ban or anything. And if someone isn't persuaded by all the stuff that's been said about this, well, okey dokey. I don't think you should be hunted down with torches or anything; that's not at all the intent of saying this.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:11 PM on November 19, 2007 [4 favorites]


ps LobsterMitten, I *really* appreciated your comments, diplomacy and fine articulation in this thread. I didn't know you as a MeFite before and have come to respect you and be glad you're here.

And yes, guess I have a neener, neener or two in me. I'm tired, two days of this thread and I probably need to take a hot shower, have a baked potato and watch some tv, lol. Goodnight and see you on the blue.
posted by nickyskye at 5:13 PM on November 19, 2007


nickyskye: I'm not saying "don't disagree with him" I'm saying: You kind of sounded like an asshole at the end there. You don't usually sound that way. Taking super-cheap shots at someone for listening to their wife is stupid. Even if someone else has been taking cheap shots or holding hyperbolic positions, that doesn't make it right/a good idea to do the same to them. It just continues the process they began of lowering the tone of the debate. That hasn't been an effective strategy of talking someone down from an extreme position so far in this discussion. So far in this thread we've had some success at short-cutting the usual circle of increasingly-angry misunderstandings. Saying "neener neener" is just venting your spleen and doesn't accomplish much.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:16 PM on November 19, 2007


Oops - missed the preview. Thanks for your kind words.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:17 PM on November 19, 2007


-I think context matters
-I forgive the crummy joke
-I simply do not share a sense of blanket outrage for anything that has sexualized violence in it
-I think there is more to be gained from a deeper discussion
-I did not find it to be misogynistic


But it's not about you. It's about how these thing affect women.
posted by peacay at 5:17 PM on November 19, 2007


*checks under skirt* Piss off!

How are my experience as a woman and my subsequent feminist political expression and choices irrelevant? It's not about me? I am a woman and a feminist and I recognize that I can't speak for others. Neither can you. Feminism as groupthink doesn't work, it's depersonalizing to the point of extremism. Feminism practice as experience sharing and consciousness-raising is a better, more inclusive model.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:46 PM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


The new sweet as pie TK only wishes nickyskye love.
posted by tkchrist at 5:56 PM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Feminism practice as experience sharing and consciousness-raising is a better, more inclusive model.

If you had read this thread with care you would have seen that many, many women spoke up to say they found that kind of sexually violent imagery (a skanky bitch being choked by a penis, another being sodomized by knives) to be disturbing and inimical to rational, balanced conversation. The author of those comments agreed. Men who had previously not acknowledged some of the problems being described here also agreed. So here we are in the 11th hour, and all you have to say is what you personally think. You give zero acknowledgment of what everyone had written before you, of the experiences that had been shared and the consciousness that had already been raised in your absence.

Of course feminism isn't groupthink. Your reading, wrong though I may think it is, would not have offended me had you simply acknowledged the point of view of other women here. If you want me to believe that you are speaking out to be an inspiration and support, show that basic consideration.

I did not want this to be the note I ended on. However, if you really are going to be spending a lot of time here attempting to bring a feminist perspective to the table, it would be a kindness if showed a greater ability to listen to what other women besides you have to say.
posted by melissa may at 6:08 PM on November 19, 2007


Ambrosia Voyeur I don't know you - I've seen your username around but that's about it - and if I had known you were a woman I may have slightly tweaked that last remark. But only slightly.

A fair few women here have expressed how the use of sexually violent imagery, misogynistic jokes and sexist comments make them feel on this website. You seem to want to contradict some of their opinions.

If I suggest that your believing that context matters with respect to sexually violent language does not change the fact that it sickens many other women and appears to be one factor that drives some women away or causes others to remain silent and not participate here, and that whilst you may describe yourself as a feminist, then perhaps you ought to consider that your views are not representative of the majority of women on this website.
posted by peacay at 6:08 PM on November 19, 2007


Does Ann Coulter "use her sexuality" more than, say, Condi Rice or Hilary? What does that mean, anyway, does it mean "miniskirt?" "Blonde?" I don't really pay any attention to her and only know about her from hearsay--from here, mostly--but it strikes me as unfair to fault her for her outfits, if that's what's going on. It's probably something worse like she's saying, "Feminists are frigid unsexies hence they do not have the powr which I, appropriately sexual Ann, command." But it's still unfair to kick her in the famevadge with a pointy shoe, and here's why:

because this bullshit struggle to figure out how to dress and talk and act in order to either quash or display one's feminine sexuality to proceed down the career path is the real problem. The overall unfairness of the extra hurdle is the problem, and not that somebody or another occasionally exploits it. It's okay to point out that she's exploiting it, but it's kicking somebody who's down to savage her with it. (Difference between saying, for instance, Clarence Thomas is an Uncle Tom--which I'd say is fair enough--and saying Clarence Thomas is an Uncle Tom [who should be spectacularly harmed and degraded as a member of his race].) That seductive [ ].We otta avoid the [ ].
posted by Don Pepino at 6:31 PM on November 19, 2007


saying, for instance, Clarence Thomas is an Uncle Tom--which I'd say is fair enough

even that strikes me as kind of iffy. Who are us white people to tell black people how to be black (which is the umplication of 'uncle tom')?
posted by jonmc at 6:35 PM on November 19, 2007


calling him an asshole, an idiot and a fasist is fine, though.
posted by jonmc at 6:37 PM on November 19, 2007


It's like when someone curses allll the time in writing, it doesn't make their statements more emphatic, it just feels forced and I end up taking them less seriously. That's the best-case outcome of the Paris-should-choke-on-cock thing. And the worst case outcome is that I feel on edge and creeped out for the rest of the day, regret ever having read the comment, losing respect for someone who said it, and feeling a little less comfortable here and less like I want to be around here.

In case anyone thinks that this is a bit extreme, I wanted to say that I have also felt like this "worst case outcome" after reading some comments on MeFi. It's not every day by a long shot but it's also not a rare occurence.
posted by agregoli at 6:38 PM on November 19, 2007


Well, it is just too bad that Ethereal Bligh is not here to explain that the ability to discern and remark upon and fight against bigotry is not sex- or race- or life-situation-based [and to point out that you said "who are us" and "umplication"].
posted by Don Pepino at 6:39 PM on November 19, 2007


Actually, jonmc, I kindof agree with you that "uncle Tom" is iffy. But... what... does that say? [I'm going to indulge in some... gratuitous elipses... Shatner-style!] If... it's okay for men to criticise Ann Coulter about her exploitation of gender inequities (tell her how to be a woman) as long as men don't use gendered slurs... then... it should also be okay for whites to criticize Clarence Thomas about his exploitation of racial inequities (tell him how to be black) as long as whites don't use racial slurs. ...Maybe... it's... not okay for men to criticise Ann Coulter about her exploitation of gender inequities (tell her how to be a woman)?
posted by Don Pepino at 6:52 PM on November 19, 2007


Nobody was saying it's ok for men (or anybody) to say "Ann Coulter, you're not allowed to wear that outfit" or something. People were saying it's ok for men to say "Ann Coulter, your views are morally repugnant and you exploit -- and thereby reinforce -- damaging stereotypes about gender". I don't think that's "telling her how to be a woman" it's telling her how to be a person.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:07 PM on November 19, 2007


If you're actually making the argument that there is greater value to group rape joke time than the squickiness this sort of thing engenders in many people (not just women, as we've seen) then I'd love to hear more about it.

This reminds me of the book Marie Antoinette: Writings on the Body of a Queen. Horribly misogynistic fantasies played an important role in the build-up to the French Revolution, and were promulgated in pamphlets and discussed in coffee houses not unlike our community here. The revolution wasn't a pretty thing, but it wasn't an unmitigated disaster, either. I think this is the sort of argument you're looking for: we all grant that rape fantasies are disturbing and indicate troubled imaginations... but the question remains whether there might not be other roles that this expression of rage plays, especially when the targets are the like of Paris Hilton. I don't really experience any animosity towards her... but some feel a visceral intolerance towards unearned wealth and attention, and I respect the judgment that underlies that, if not the ways it's often expressed.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:34 PM on November 19, 2007


anotherpanacea, I get the sense that you're now just feeling out the edges of this problem in a hypothetical way; what are the theoretical limits on expression, what is the political value of things that make us uncomfortable, etc. But look, it sounds as if you are wanting to say talk about raping a public figure one dislikes is a helpful thing for budding democratic revolutions, and should be encouraged (?) or at least not discouraged (?) for this reason. For the hypothetical benefit it might confer, according to a kind of wifty connection between misogynist talk and moments of great political ferment. (And then you back off actually coming out and saying that, instead allowing only that you understand some people get their backs up about the children of the rich, even if you disapprove of their using rape talk to express this feeling.)

But look, if you want a correlation between misogyny and ANYTHING in history, I will find it for you. Pick a time period and a social movement of some kind. Greater repression? Greater freedom? Greater refinement in the arts? Whatever you want, we can find examples of how misogyny went alongside it. That doesn't mean misogyny had some kind of helpful causal influence, so we should be sure to keep our stock of misogynist images at hand, lest we deprive ourselves of a necessary tool for revolution. Baloney. Plus, it's not like Mefi is an activist organization trying to get people het up to take up torches against Coulter or Hilton or whatever. We are people having conversations. You're objecting to some pretty mild gestures toward making those conversations a little less debased.

Leet speak has its discursive uses too; it's still frowned on, in the main, around here.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:18 PM on November 19, 2007 [4 favorites]


I'm not contradicting anyone, diminishing the feelings of other women, or implying that my perspective is universalizable, in fact the quite the opposite.

Your reading, wrong though I may think it is, would not have offended me had you simply acknowledged the point of view of other women here. If you want me to believe that you are speaking out to be an inspiration and support, show that basic consideration.

I understand how this would be beneficial to the dialogue, and I'm sorry if coming into the conversation tangentially was awkward, but I don't think I'm showing disrespect by not name-checking other women before speaking, and especially before sharing a dissenting view. I wanted to look more closely at this issue of sexual violence in language with a particular lens, and if that's off the table right now, so be it. I apologize for allowing the opportunity to demonstrate more support go by, but in such a massive thread, on such an emotional day, it's hard to know who I should address, but that doesn't make me a turncoat.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:20 PM on November 19, 2007


Ambrosia Voyeur, I wish to unreservedly apologise. My original comment in this little exchange was referencing a comment from anotherpanacea, not you, and I'm very sorry I mixed you two up.

That makes it a bit complex to pick up the debate mid-stream so it's best I leave it well alone.
posted by peacay at 8:38 PM on November 19, 2007


thank you!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:48 PM on November 19, 2007


It doesn't seem to me that adding the layer of remove to the sexualized violence (fame-vagina) actually addresses the concerns raised by the women in this thread: namely, that references to sexualized violence create a hostile environment and serve to remind them of their own vulnerability more than they notice the intent of the writing.

Putting in some disclaimers doesn't really change that.
posted by Arturus at 8:51 PM on November 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


Exactly!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:53 PM on November 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


So I need to directly address those concerns to participate? Okay, I understand. I'm not attempting to disclaimer that into obfuscation. I just didn't know it was required. I don't have anything to say to address those concerns above and beyond that I am listening and everyone ought to be, too. I will avoid being part of that problem (I don't think I have been?) and I am thrilled that we're seeming to band together to get people heard who haven't been. I'm slinking off to just listen now.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:55 PM on November 19, 2007


First I just want to say: I cannot believe how interesting this thread continues to be.

Second, umplication is obviously shorthand for "ultimate implication", honi soit qui mal y pense. I have re-read my upthread sentence "When I then wonder exactly what aspect of it is funny to me, it often seems like it's mostly the experience of sharing a shocking or disgusting or amazingly stupid experience with a group I identify with." and it gave me intense pains and a distinct sense of time/space disjunction to boot.

Third, anotherpanacea's examples of the possible upsides of SHITCOCKism. They are interesting, but to me at least, they are also ideal examples of correlation not equaling causation. We know that Gauguin ditched his family and embraced his alcoholism, and we know that he made a lot of great art. What we don't know is whether this was the only possible outcome of his conflict between his two responsibilities (having a family and being a great artist), or if it was just the easiest way for him to reconcile them. Without being the man himself, we can never know whether it was an absolutely average failure of character that was rationalized by a success in another area of his life, or whether it was a sacrifice that was absolutely required in order for him to fulfill his destiny. I personally find the idea of artist relationship exceptionalism -- that whatever the artist has to do to free the muse, he or she should do, even if it's acting like a brutal asshole -- really dumb, and very harmful to the artist too, but that is an opinion only. I can't know for sure whether my opinion is fair or unfair to Paul Gauguin, because the fundamental mechanics of that question in his life may have been obscured even to him.

The French Revolution thing is the same. We know that the French Revolution encompassed acts and notions that involve the highest and lowest human tendencies. We know that the idea of abusing the female body of Marie Antoinette was one of the ingredients in the mix. We don't know whether it was the one thing which doomed the revolution to bloodthirsty hypocrisy, or the one thing that saved it from irrelevancy, or just another thing. We can speculate (I'd speculate that it was harmful to the ideals/reputation of the revolution and the spirits of its participants, but again, that's an opinion).

Which makes me think that when you're about to post Coulter sex death fantasies, only you know if that is the only way possible to express your profound disapproval of her ideas and your pain over her influence, or whether it's just the easiest way. That Ann Coulter sure gets my goat as well, but take my word for it that the TRANNY! WHORE! Tourette's outbursts that she always draws are depressing to read as a queer and as a woman, not because they are brutal in the service of a greater good, but to a large extent because they use the language of insults I have received/still receive to try to increase their impact, but then they don't really have that much impact (although they do make me wonder if the poster is a secret nutcase, which I guess is an impact). They have a cost, but they don't illuminate any new territory or make a compelling case for anything.

Also, at the risk of sounding like I'm defending Coulter (!), I totally don't see how she is using her sexuality. She is blonde and thin, which, again, correlates to some prime American sexual fantasies, but I don't see her doing things to exaggerate or exploit that correlation that are outside of the normal range of the ways people (male and female) express their sexuality while doing their jobs. And at the same time, she is aggressive and insulting, which is very far away from conventional US notions of female attractiveness (and even more so in her target audience I think). I guess that on the whole, her persona has more elements which detract than contribute to the mainstream US ideal of attractive female sexuality.

I think that she has such pride of place in the US right because she is an effective wielder of maddeningly cheap rhetorical devices, which she can do all day long because she's smart enough and she's shameless. It's kind of a non sequitur to respond to someone trying to put one over by flipping out and yelling BUT YOUR ADAM'S APPLE FFS! Although I have no idea what the correct thing to yell is. I'm not sure "ignore them and they'll go away" is exactly right. We have been ignoring them and they have insinuated themselves into the character of the nation as most people perceive it, which is so embarrassing.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 5:37 AM on November 20, 2007 [15 favorites]


I have to say, I'm intruiged that this conversation is as deep as it is, but the French Revolution? Gaughin? Really?

The type of "self-expression" we're talking about doesn't deserve such lofty connections. This isn't art. This, at least, isn't *high* art. They are throw-away comments on Metafilter that serve to make a large number of people uncomfortable with the atmosphere here. I just don't want to see too much value being assigned to these things. The dialogue isn't improved by it - and there are plenty of places to express yourself with those kinds of things on the web (Fark comes to mind). Metafilter's strength is that we DO have fairly deep and interesting conversations. I don't agree that anything is gained by violent, sexual, derogatory statements, and certainly something is lost.
posted by agregoli at 6:33 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


For that matter, to continue with agregoli's point, if there WERE something deep and meaningful that could only be expressed with angry-sounding formulations like "tranny whore" and "disgusting cunt," I for one would be interested to read it.

OTOH, to justify that kind of hostile phraseology, the intellectual bar for that conversation would have be set pretty damn high... which then suggests that the poster/commenter would (should?) have a more extensive vocabulary at his/her command anyway.
posted by GrammarMoses at 6:44 AM on November 20, 2007


I get the sense that you're now just feeling out the edges of this problem in a hypothetical way; what are the theoretical limits on expression, what is the political value of things that make us uncomfortable, etc.
...
You're objecting to some pretty mild gestures toward making those conversations a little less debased.

My intention was purely to 'feel out the edges' of this discussion, not to 'object' to the 'gestures' here at the center of the dialogue in which people are expressing their concerns, being heard, and the hearers are committing to changing their attitudes and alter their habits. I'm not being deliberately obtuse: I understand that the culture of off-handed rape comments is extremely disheartening. They dishearten me, too. As you say, metafilter is not a political organization: we are people having conversations. I am a person having a conversation about misogyny: so is Ambrosia Voyeur.

if you want a correlation between misogyny and ANYTHING in history, I will find it for you.

There's a more clearly causal role in the Marie Antoinette example. The libelles surrounding her, the 'necklace affair,' the consummation of her marriage, and her alleged infidelities: they all focused on a sexually dissolute rich woman wasting her vital energies and the wealth of the nation on absurd luxuries while the commoners starved. It's not exactly praiseworthy, but sometimes the oppressed need a focus for their resentments, and she was made to fit the bill, though not at all because she deserved it.

There's a reason that libel charges don't stick very easily in the US when the libeled party is a public figure: it's hard to know what sorts of insults are doing what sorts of work in the marketplace of ideas. Will this or that Paris Hilton rape fantasy motivate people to reconsider the inheritance tax? I dunno: I do know it'll disturb and alienate half of our community, so I'd like to discourage it.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:53 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure if this is the appropriate place for this, but is anyone interested in participating in some sort of group to continue discussing these issues and/or consider next steps? I've been really impressed by this thread and I think there could be a value in making sure that the progress that I think alot of us feel came out of this discussion is realized on the site and doesn't end here. I'm not really sure what the right thing is or what to suggest. I just sort of feel really attached to you all and know this thread won't go on forever. Maybe someone else will have a better idea?
posted by onlyconnect at 7:01 AM on November 20, 2007


I don't agree that anything is gained by violent, sexual, derogatory statements, and certainly something is lost.

And that's one of the tricky points of disagreement. I've found this discussion really impressive, and have taken a lot of what I'm seeing to heart, but I think it's irresponsible to just dismiss outright any possible value of any kind to e.g. "violent, sexual, derogatory statements", because that won't actually win the fight.

Those things do have some rhetorical value, ugly as they are, and it's not fair to suggest they are only ever trotted out by people too stupid or dull or senseless or uninformed to realize the proposed valuelessness. That's part of the difficulty, and what needs to be recognized in part here: that the key idea is that the net loss in terms of alienation and discomfort caused is at odds with, and in general definitely overshadows, whatever rhetorical utility the stuff might have.

I've got a sense of humor that's a mile long and treads into all kinds of nasty and dark corners. I love well-done black humor to death. Ditto toilet humor. I understand that it's not something everybody likes, and have been for my whole adult life making efforts to better choose when and where to engage it, but I'm not going to stop thinking the stuff is funny—humor, cold dead hands, prying, etc. Instead, I'm going to just watch it, be mindful of context, continue developing my sense of the implications of the stuff, and consider the pros and cons at any opportunity (and pretty much try to avoid the cons as much as is possible).

Point being that some of the stuff that is rightly called loathsome in some contexts—which I'd say fairly includes 99% of mefi threads—is not automatically and wholly devalued for being loathsome. It's just shit that has a lot of downsides to it, that should be handled with care and used where everyone who is going to be party to it will actually be okay. Because mefi isn't a small place, isn't limited to a handful of lifelong friends who all know one another's limits and such, it's hard to be sure about that sort of thing and so erring on the side of respectfulness and caution is definitely the way to go.

I feel hesitant even putting up so lengthy a defense of what's rightfully seen as pretty low-brow (though in some cases very high-brow low-brow) riffing and rhetoric, but there really is a difference here between ugly and valueless, and I think it's a step backward to argue that the reason this stuff should be bottled up is because it is just 100%, no question, capital-b Bad. It should be kept in careful check because it's a rare circumstance where the negatives are outweighed by the positives.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:05 AM on November 20, 2007 [12 favorites]


I thought umplication had something to do with umpires, so I instinctively recoiled. Your Time Machine Sucks's read makes much more sense.

It is probably not very useful for dominant paradigmers to go around yelling, "Uncle Tom," the insulting shorthand for the longer phrase, "one who exploits damaging stereotypes to further his or her own aims at the expense of others who share his or her phenotype." What I was trying to point out was that that's exactly what people are doing to Ann Coulter, apparently without a second thought. It appears to be okay to criticize prominent women who exploit damaging stereotypes etc. and at least not as okay to criticize other prominent people from other marginalized groups for the exact same behavior. If whites feel uncomfortable explaining to Clarence Thomas how to be a better person, then men ought to feel uncomfortable explaining to Ann Coulter how to be a better person. I do not say we should outlaw the explaining--that's not what I'm arguing. I'm arguing that the "wait up, maybe I don't know what I'm talking about" flag that goes up in jonmc's head when he thinks about explaining race politics to Clarence Thomas is probably good. It would be good if the same flag went up in men's heads when they contemplated explaining gender politics to prominent women.

Those flags are good because they force you to pause and remember that these are actually people--Paris Hilton, behind her diamondcrusted steppin fetchit act is a person, and thus potentially interesting. When you swallow the PR profile whole and sum P. Hilton or A. Coulter as "Traitorous bitch in Manolos, booooooring," you miss out. Clarence Thomas is the opposite of boring. Almost nobody's boring. If they seem boring, it's because they have been formatted to fit our screens.

Anotherpanacea, what if I fired up my suck time machine and took Marie Antoinette out of the picture? Assuming all else remained the same, would the revolution have foundered because no prominent sexually dissolute woman to pillory?

(Onlyconnect, I agree--this has been fabulous.)
posted by Don Pepino at 7:08 AM on November 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


This isn't art. This, at least, isn't *high* art. They are throw-away comments on Metafilter that serve to make a large number of people uncomfortable with the atmosphere here.

I don't think we know what from our contemporary culture will be considered "high art" to our descendants. I do know people are here to express themselves and that *that* is protoplasm of the artifacts our culture will leave behind. Disgusting images of whatever stripe won't leave a pretty picture about what we are, but they will leave an accurate one.

Misogyny is present at MetaFilter and, yes, people should think before they type. I don't really see anybody here arguing against those positions here. But there is certainly room to discuss the point at which there is danger of obscuring the site's reflection of reality with self-censorship and blandness, and I appreciate anotherpanacea's reminders towards that end.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 7:12 AM on November 20, 2007


The pretty low-brow though very high-brow low-brow riffing and rhetoric of yesteryear. From this post.
posted by Don Pepino at 7:18 AM on November 20, 2007


Anotherpanacea, what if I fired up my suck time machine and took Marie Antoinette out of the picture? Assuming all else remained the same, would the revolution have foundered because no prominent sexually dissolute woman to pillory?

So long as Louis XVI married somebody, I think his own effete inefficacy and his tendency to delegate responsibility would have caused the revolution. It helps that he was widely seen as impotent: it took him a couple of months to consummate the marriage. As I said, I don't think Marie Antoinette deserved what she got... how could anyone -deserve- that? But we are often held accountable for things beyond our control, and the libels against her managed to unite some very divided factions.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:28 AM on November 20, 2007


anotherpanacea, the demonization of women is also fueling the Christian Far-Right in this country; those feminist sluts are killing all our babies and forcing righteous men to sully themselves by having sex with them. Ban Plan B, ban abortions, punish women who have sex, send death and rape threats to women with the audacity to participate in public discourse, elect more and more conservative politicians because they're the only ones who will stop this perversion of nature. Cover up the women, get them back in their kitchens, and stop letting them pollute civilized discourse with their cleavage and their laughing.

Arguing that the left should also keep throwing women under the bus, that throwing women under the bus is somehow inherently a good thing for progressive politics, is exactly wrong. Women always get thrown under the bus, from right and left and everywhere in between. We've been the most convenient scapegoat in history. Having a ready-made scapegoat should not be a goal toward which any thoughtful person works.
posted by occhiblu at 7:29 AM on November 20, 2007 [6 favorites]


I'm not sure if this is the appropriate place for this, but is anyone interested in participating in some sort of group to continue discussing these issues and/or consider next steps?

I definitely think this is a good idea: it'd be even better if it stayed on metafilter... a sort of feminist longboat, with Amazons instead of Vikings?

But next time, only one thread at a time, please.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:34 AM on November 20, 2007


And that's one of the tricky points of disagreement. I've found this discussion really impressive, and have taken a lot of what I'm seeing to heart, but I think it's irresponsible to just dismiss outright any possible value of any kind to e.g. "violent, sexual, derogatory statements", because that won't actually win the fight.

It's irresponsible? I'm actually fascinated that people are defending the kind of imagery being discussed. It has value? As what? As humor, is the only thing I can see. Is the minor humor value worth feelings of revulsion, horror at fellow members, and disheartening feelings that Metafilter ITSELF condones violent sexual comments against women? That's why I'm sad that it needs defense at all.

I can take a joke. I like a few gross or crass comments. But from what I understood, we're talking about the truly shocking things that are, for now, completely allowed on Metafilter with no filtering whatsoever. I'm not advocating some new strike-down policy, but I would like to see comments get better. Of course it's hard to know how to change that.

I want to make it clear that it was others, not me, that said that people who make such comments are stupid or dull or senseless or whatever. I made no such claim.

That's part of the difficulty, and what needs to be recognized in part here: that the key idea is that the net loss in terms of alienation and discomfort caused is at odds with, and in general definitely overshadows, whatever rhetorical utility the stuff might have.

Yes.

Point being that some of the stuff that is rightly called loathsome in some contexts—which I'd say fairly includes 99% of mefi threads—is not automatically and wholly devalued for being loathsome. It's just shit that has a lot of downsides to it, that should be handled with care and used where everyone who is going to be party to it will actually be okay.

With all due respect, I still don't think you fully grasp how some of these comments make the women of Mefi feel. It's not just a "how vulgar and loathsome" kind of thing a lot of the time. It often has nothing to do with context. There are some things that create, dare I say, a hostile atmosphere towards women.

I feel hesitant even putting up so lengthy a defense of what's rightfully seen as pretty low-brow (though in some cases very high-brow low-brow) riffing and rhetoric, but there really is a difference here between ugly and valueless, and I think it's a step backward to argue that the reason this stuff should be bottled up is because it is just 100%, no question, capital-b Bad.

When someone (rarely) posts about how much they hate black people on Mefi, I usually never see it. Why? Because it's deleted so fast that it's like tornado came through. But talk about LOL rape? Or thousands of other examples? Why is racism on this site treated as capital-B bad but outright mysogyny is A-OK? I understand that a lot of people are more blind to the latter, and again, I'm not talking about unilaterally deleting anything that veers close, but I don't see why one blatant disgusting thing isn't allowed and the other is. Because it's a boysclub and we're "just joking around?"
posted by agregoli at 7:44 AM on November 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


"Also, at the risk of sounding like I'm defending Coulter (!), I totally don't see how she is using her sexuality. She is blonde and thin, which, again, correlates to some prime American sexual fantasies, but I don't see her doing things to exaggerate or exploit that correlation that are outside of the normal range of the ways people (male and female) express their sexuality while doing their jobs."

No, no, she has explicitly said that no one should listen to anti-war women because they're ugly and can't get a man. Read her coverage of the Democratic and Republican conventions, and you'll see her again and again assert authority because Republicans are more attractive and sexier than Democrats.

I'll also say that I don't think calm and reasoned rebuttals to her points work—I think that takes it too seriously, and is likely to be ignored by anyone who disagrees. The advantage of "tranny skank" is that it's brief and works to attack her to her audience.

I am not saying that it is the best way to attack her, or that it's worth the discomfort it causes to deploy it here (especially given that there are very very few Coulter supporters here—I can't think of one—and that it makes us look collectively more stupid). It's difficult, because she is an intelligent and savvy woman who has a borderline retarded audience; anything that reaches her audience is easily dismissed by her.
posted by klangklangston at 7:44 AM on November 20, 2007


So long as Louis XVI married somebody, I think his own effete inefficacy and his tendency to delegate responsibility would have caused the revolution.

Are you serious? You think his marriage was a necessary cause of the revolution? I think you've been immersing yourself in too much cultural analysis and neglecting the more basic stuff. I'd say Nicholas II's marriage was even more relevant to Russian history than Louis's to French (and there was exactly the same kind of anti-royal pornography), but I'd laugh at the idea that it was directly productive of the Russian Revolution. When people are hungry and upset and have no political outlet, they'll lash out at the usual suspects, which (as occhibiu so rightly says) always include women, but that's a symptom, not a cause.

I also like the idea of continuing this discussion someplace (MetaGender?).
posted by languagehat at 7:46 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


note to self: occhiblu sometimes thinks creepy, dehumanizing thoughts about feminist sluts.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 7:48 AM on November 20, 2007


The advantage of "tranny skank" is that it's brief and works to attack her to her audience.

It works to attack her to her audience by reinforcing the idea that all women should be judged based on their looks, that Coulter's logic is A-OK perfect but she's just a bad judge of feminine aesthetics, because really it's the Republican women who are ugly and that it's the women on the Democratic party you want to fuck.

This logic is not A-OK perfect. It does not diminish Coulter, it in fact reinforces her underlying assumptions that women exist merely for male consumption -- which is exactly the assumption that has brought her to power.
posted by occhiblu at 7:51 AM on November 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


Cortex, I don't really know what you're getting at? Violent misogynist humor certainly has value - in reinforcing violent misogyny. Yes, as Sarah Silverman says, there's a difference between racist jokes and jokes about racism, and the latter can be very valuable in a positive sense. But that doesn't sound like what you're getting at. What/when/where do you see a positive value in violent misogynist humor? Could you give an example? Because if the theoretical possibility of some (how much?) positive value in violent misogynist humor is all that's standing between us and blanket condemnation of violent misogyny in the form of humor, I think that's really stupid and really devaluing both women and equality.
posted by Salamandrous at 7:56 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


I can't believe we've spent so much of this thread discussing Ann Coulter and Paris Hilton. I can't think of two people with less relevance to this community.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:56 AM on November 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


Is the minor humor value worth feelings of revulsion, horror at fellow members, and disheartening feelings that Metafilter ITSELF condones violent sexual comments against women? That's why I'm sad that it needs defense at all.

Let's be clear: I can't think of an example of violent sexual imagery dropped into a mefi thread that I have any interest in defending here. The cited EB comments, re: Hilton and Coulter? I think they're fucked up, and that he was out of line. He's said as much himself.

What I'm talking about is the mistake of declaring a thing, a realm of communciation, fundamentally and irrefutably bad and valueless. Damned steep constraints on that utility, sure, probably to the point where finding a situation where it'd be anything approaching defensible in general conversation on mefi would be just about impossible. But the two are not the same; and the fact that those lines will be drawn differently by every single person explain, in part, how even someone as mindful in his thinking about sexism as EB could go and say the shit he said.

So I agree with you: I don't think it's a "oh, you can't take a joke" thing. I just can't really abide either the notion that some language is strictly and irrefutibly valueless just because it's an ugly minefield to navigate the vast majority of the time.

With all due respect, I still don't think you fully grasp how some of these comments make the women of Mefi feel.

Again, I'm not defending any of the cited ugliness on the site, or proposing that people on mefi should just chill out and roll with it. I'm talking general principle, and that general principle being acknowledged is vital to an actual healthy, functioning approach to finding this balance and sense of respect on mefi in particular.

What I responded to was this:

I don't agree that anything is gained by violent, sexual, derogatory statements, and certainly something is lost.

It's that anything that's trouble. Taking an ugly, intractibly complicated thing like the question of violent rhetoric and reducing it to a simple and convenient dismissal—that such things have no value—is a mistake. Whether there's a lot of practical application of that on mefi, I don't know, and I'm totally in agreement with the desire for people to not thoughtlessly make one another, women or otherwise, uncomfortable. But that has to be a mindful choice, not an autonomic refusal to acknowledge that the stuff has any heft or meaning or utility whatsoever.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:02 AM on November 20, 2007


I can't believe we've spent so much of this thread discussing Ann Coulter and Paris Hilton. I can't think of two people with less relevance to this community.

Except I think a lot of the anti-woman nastiness that comes up on the site does come up in threads about loathsome women (the rest seems to comes up in threads about women who have been hurt). So I think it is important to say that just because one particular woman is an asshole is not any reason to start dragging all women into the debate by making it about her gender, rather than about her actual loathsomeness.
posted by occhiblu at 8:02 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


TPS, unfortunately they are relevant to this community, at least to the extent they are frequent topics of discussion elsewhere on the site.
posted by brain_drain at 8:03 AM on November 20, 2007


If references to sexual violence against women are considered useful for group catharsis of some kind, why is it that we don't see it happening with the genders swapped?

I think there is an answer to that question, and it has to do with something very basic and symbolic about the mechanics of sex itself.

I'm not sure that some people understand the implications of that, as it relates to this kind of language about women, and women's perceptions of it.

Again, I realize I can't speak for all women here and I don't intend to. But when I read someone joking off-handedly about a woman choking on cock, they've not simply said something vulgar or gross or whatever, they've (knowingly or unknowingly) reminded me in a very visceral way of my place in the universe... That kind of talk is ugly and threatening in a way I can't fully describe. It takes tremendous trust to let another human being inside you, and these descriptions of violent rape or asphyxiation through fellatio are like men being completely flippant about abusing that trust and being hurtful in the worst way I can personally imagine. And for what?

I feel like to you guys, these are just words, because if you were anywhere close to feeling what I'm describing, you wouldn't say them.

It's astounding to me that that kind of talk is being honestly defended when...how long has it been since we had that thread about the prevalence of sexual violence against women? How many women here do you guys think have been victims?
posted by zebra3 at 8:03 AM on November 20, 2007 [7 favorites]


You think his marriage was a necessary cause of the revolution?

Sorry, I wrote that wrong: his marriage and bad policies were the necessary cause of misogyny directed towards his wife. But the counterfactuals start to break down: if we're getting rid of Marie Antoinette, we can also hypothesize a better leader than Louis Auguste, one willing to shake up the Ancien Regime's bureaucracy to produce legitimacy and undermine the complaints of the middle class. That might have also destroyed the solidarity between the bourgeois and the sans-cullottes. But instead of a reformer, there was Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette: an impotent, indecisive cuckold and a spendthrift, petty voluptuary.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:10 AM on November 20, 2007


TPS, unfortunately they are relevant to this community, at least to the extent they are frequent topics of discussion elsewhere on the site.

There have been 33,000+ posts on the blue, about 40 of which have been about Paris Hilton and Ann Coulter (according to tags). Is that really "frequent"?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:11 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Because if the theoretical possibility of some (how much?) positive value in violent misogynist humor is all that's standing between us and blanket condemnation of violent misogyny in the form of humor, I think that's really stupid and really devaluing both women and equality.

How about in-group joking or talk therapy among survivors of sexual violence? Among folks who work in trauma, amongst themselves? By an author protesting literary censorship through civil disobedience?

This is the sort of thing I'm talking about. There do exists contexts where what is generally ugly or unacceptable becomes valuable—as a way to bark back at the horror and darkness; as a way to vent some of the awfulness of an incredibly trying vocation; as a necessary stand against some other sort of awfulness.

Again: separate from mefi. As for where that collides with mefi: the people on this site do not exist solely on this site, and while I'm not about to condone careless, ugly talk as somehow okay, I'd suggest that the intersection between how folks live their lives off site and how they communicate here will occasionally expose these strange overlaps in a way that's somewhat distinct from the lazier or more thoughtless examples of sexist stupidity we more commonly see.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:12 AM on November 20, 2007


Related post on Shakesville today, which I think gets at some of cortex's points in a useful way.

Though I very much like:
Plenty of us have managed to figure out that refusing to use language which perpetuates oppression is not enslaving oneself to the language police. It's just doing the basic work required of someone who doesn't want to be a fucking asshole.
posted by occhiblu at 8:24 AM on November 20, 2007 [6 favorites]


So I agree with you: I don't think it's a "oh, you can't take a joke" thing. I just can't really abide either the notion that some language is strictly and irrefutibly valueless just because it's an ugly minefield to navigate the vast majority of the time.

cortex - to use what you've just said, means that you would also see value in violent racist comments on the site. Why are racist comments deleted from the site?
posted by agregoli at 8:26 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


(And we're not talking about value among abuse survivors, etc. You taking our points as if we're condeming all of this, all over the world (although would that REALLY be so bad?) when all we're talking about is here, now, Metafilter. I would like to know what you think is valuable about ignoring and condoning violent sexual comments against women on Metafilter. Is it a humor aspect, as I asked earlier? Are you worried about the jokey atmosphere being lost?)
posted by agregoli at 8:33 AM on November 20, 2007


But we're not talking about in-group "you-go-girling," we're talking about on-group "I'd-hit-it-ing" and how it would be cool if that got thought about more. Innoccuous, yo. Not censorship.

For real: check out the violent, racial, derogatory yucks of the last century. (Actually, don't check these out. Just imagine the worst and you've got it.) Read a little James Baldwin, maybe. Then re-examine the violent, sexual, derogatory hilarity of today. Is violent derogatory humor directed at women less creepy or dangerous than violent derogatory humor directed at non-white people, or are we just taking a little longer to realize how creepy and dangerous it is? What seems obviously insane to us today--humorous postcards depicting black children being consumed by alligators--did not seem objectionable back in the day. Certainly they had value, those postcards. They have value still. But your delight, if you were going through your grandma's ephemera and found one from your grandpa, might be mixed with disappointment. Will your grandchildren's delight when they find your collection of "chokeonadick" comments 50 years from now be unalloyed with disappointment? Time will tell.
posted by Don Pepino at 8:35 AM on November 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


I can't think of any likely example of valuable violent racist comments on the site. I've said a few time now that I'm not thinking of any actually valuable violent sexual comments on mefi, for that matter.

I think (hope?) these conversations the last few days have been pretty valuable for recalibrating a lot of people's thinking about what should and should not fly on mefi. I'm hoping that people will be more openly (and civilly if aggressively) reactive to the kinds of comments that they see as being out of line on the site, and that the overall sensibility of folks commenting will improve and make folks less uncomfortable.

But ugly, stupid comments—whether sexist or racist or whateverist—will continue to show up, and it's never been blanket policy to just disappear anything bad around here, so I can't even agree with the statement that "racist comments [are] deleted from the site", because not all of them are. Some are left to stand in their own ugliness for the world to see and react to and discuss. So it will go for anything else, I'm sure, stupid sexist comments included: some will get deleted, but we can't make the specter disappear entirely from the face of the site by fiat without wildly, perhaps site-breakingly changing the moderation culture here.

Related post on Shakesville today

Thanks, occhiblu, that's the right territory indeed. And I agree 100% with wha tyou quoted: as much as I'm (maybe suicidally) defending the essential value of language of all stripes, I do think that people should put in that basic work and try not to be fuckers on the site; and certainly that they should not lean back on any of what I'm arguing here as some sort of crutch or excuse, like "hey, man, language is powerful, man, so, like, it's cool if I want call Coulter an ugly cunt."
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:37 AM on November 20, 2007


There have been 33,000+ posts on the blue, about 40 of which have been about Paris Hilton and Ann Coulter (according to tags). Is that really "frequent"?

Actually, yes, particularly since there are probably more posts than the tags reflect, they are mostly in recent years, and the two are discussed in other threads as well. I only raise the point because the genesis of some of the concerns expressed in this thread was nasty comments about these women in other posts. Those comments apparently are frequent and potent enough to have a lasting effect. So it isn't surprising that Hilton and Coulter are getting airtime again here.
posted by brain_drain at 8:42 AM on November 20, 2007


cortex -- I don't think we're disagreeing here. It's not my understanding, from this thread or the other one, that anyone is advocating a list of banned phrases or blanket moderation of any thread containing the word "cunt." There's no one-size-fits-all rule. I (along with, I think, many of the other women here) would be very happy simply to see more "Mmmph, not cool" peer pressure from non-sexist/non-racist/morally exemplary/disgusted HeFites whenever one of these situations arises.

On preview: Don Pepino, you go, boy!
posted by GrammarMoses at 8:42 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


No, no, she has explicitly said that no one should listen to anti-war women because they're ugly and can't get a man. Read her coverage of the Democratic and Republican conventions, and you'll see her again and again assert authority because Republicans are more attractive and sexier than Democrats.

Ah, missed that. OK, I learned something new today. I've usually seen her holding forth on TV about democrat treason or what-have-you, but I'm not in the US and probably don't get the full, glorious experience.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 8:48 AM on November 20, 2007


I would like to know what you think is valuable about ignoring and condoning violent sexual comments against women on Metafilter. Is it a humor aspect, as I asked earlier? Are you worried about the jokey atmosphere being lost?

Again, again: I haven't once said that violent sexual comments on mefi in general, or any cited examples in specific, are or have been valuable. I understand that this conversation has been focusing around this stuff as it occurs on mefi. But mefi does not exist in a vacuum, and I'm hoping that making an argument about how this stuff exists in context that may either stand separate from or unexpectedly abut with metafilter won't be rejected for being somehow too broad to be considered.

I love the jokey atmosphere around here, but I don't think of violent sexual rhetoric as part of that. I'm big on limericks, and like a certain aloofness and easy-goingness and benefit-of-the-doubt when people here get to riffing, but that doesn't mean I think that all humor should be accepted without comment or objection. I once made a random Your Mom joke to someone on the site who was genuinely bothered by it. They objected; they understood that I wasn't joking about their mom in any meaningful sense; I understood that they were upset; I apologized without reservation for making them uncomfortable. I think that sort of interaction is inevitable and necessary, and we're never going to have people not made uncomfortable now and then by clashes of humor.

But that's not really what I was getting at in the first place—that's just an answer to the "humor aspect" part of the question, which I want to be clear has just about nothing to do with my objection.

People should be attentive to how the language they use, the rhetoric they use, affects those around them—on mefi and elsewhere—and I strongly believe they should try not to (and certainly not try to) make other people uncomfortable, which I think is what most of this conversation these last few days has been about: bridging somewhat the gap of understanding about what does, in fact, make a lot of women on mefi uncomfortable, and whether a lot of the guys making those comments understand why that is, where it's coming from, and the implications for the membership of the site.

But people should not just draw a great red strike through sections of language that are dangerous or offensive or violent out of deference to the danger and offense and violence that language embodies. They should avoid it where it should be avoided because it is the wise and respectful thing to do, not because it's use is somehow absolutely prohibited. To approach it otherwise is to take all sense out of the prohibition, to make it arbitrary and remove the weight and responsibility from language. That is what I'm objecting to: the collapsing of "shouldn't" into "can't".
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:52 AM on November 20, 2007


But ugly, stupid comments—whether sexist or racist or whateverist—will continue to show up, and it's never been blanket policy to just disappear anything bad around here, so I can't even agree with the statement that "racist comments [are] deleted from the site", because not all of them are. Some are left to stand in their own ugliness for the world to see and react to and discuss. So it will go for anything else, I'm sure, stupid sexist comments included: some will get deleted, but we can't make the specter disappear entirely from the face of the site by fiat without wildly, perhaps site-breakingly changing the moderation culture here.

So the real problem is that no one thinks that these sexist comments are ugly? Or worth condeming? Or at least no one is speaking up about it?

Well, that's just the problem, isn't it? Because as talked about earlier in this thread, a few of us are TIRED of being the only ones to say, "Dude, that's inappropriate" and being shouted down for being humorless feminists. I would LOVE for other people to speak up. But as it is, we can't even rely on mods to say, "Hey, cool it, this isn't necessary." (Bless jessaymn, who has created a real sea change around here - things HAVE gotten better - but she can't do it alone). Because you are HAPPY with the "moderation culture" MeFi has. So I guess nothing will change, and the women of MeFi will continue to be alienated.

I've got to bow out for a while because I'm feeling sick to my stomach. I'm really shocked by your comments here cortex, but at least it puts it all in perspective for me.
posted by agregoli at 8:54 AM on November 20, 2007


I don't think we're disagreeing here. It's not my understanding, from this thread or the other one, that anyone is advocating a list of banned phrases or blanket moderation of any thread containing the word "cunt." There's no one-size-fits-all rule. I (along with, I think, many of the other women here) would be very happy simply to see more "Mmmph, not cool" peer pressure from non-sexist/non-racist/morally exemplary/disgusted HeFites whenever one of these situations arises.

Right on. My argument is sort of meta-site, and I'm sorry if that's making it seem out of place, but it comes back down to the issue of why there can't be a one-size-fits-all rule. And while folks have not been clamoring in general for a moderation solution to this, such a proposal has been a part of this conversation in a few places.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:55 AM on November 20, 2007


But people should not just draw a great red strike through sections of language that are dangerous or offensive or violent out of deference to the danger and offense and violence that language embodies.

No one is saying that.

I still don't think you're listening carefully enough to what is being said here.

I'm out. Maybe I'll check back in this afternoon.
posted by agregoli at 8:57 AM on November 20, 2007


(It's not that you're not listening - it's that you're talking about something (striking down particular parts of language) we're not talking about right now. So it's not useful to the conversation.)
posted by agregoli at 8:57 AM on November 20, 2007


I only raise the point because the genesis of some of the concerns expressed in this thread was nasty comments about these women in other posts. Those comments apparently are frequent and potent enough to have a lasting effect.

Yea, it's not that violent sexual comments against Paris and Ann don't bother me, because they do. It's that by focusing the energy of the thread on "negative" sexual violence, I think we're missing out on talking about all the other sexual stuff that isn't "negative" in the "I want to rape you" way. I avoid threads on Ann Coulter because I couldn't care less about her, so when I say that sexism bothers me, I'm talking about how anytime we talk about a woman here on this site, her looks come into play. We do it in meetup threads, we do it in AskMeta threads whenever someone can find a Flickr link ("Ah, baby, why you feel ugly? You're beautiful! Go on a date with me!"), it seems to be everywhere. I personally am sick of having MY looks brought into conversations (and what I find sad is that it's often done by people I know, and I have to go to them and be like, hi, remember me? We've met). And what's strange is that I personally can't say, oh, Metafilter modeling life, because my "real" life does not seem to play out that way. It's puzzling to me.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:01 AM on November 20, 2007 [7 favorites]


I still don't think you're listening carefully enough to what is being said here..

I miss pot and kettle.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 9:03 AM on November 20, 2007


Thanks from me too, occhiblu, for that link. Full of quotable bits like:

Relatedly, the attempt to rip misogynist slurs from their roots to try to redefine them doesn't fly. "I'm using it in the European way" is just a cynical ploy to justify the continued use of misogynistic language that feels good to use.

posted by languagehat at 9:04 AM on November 20, 2007


And agregoli, I think you're badly misreading cortex and allowing your (perfectly understandable) discomfort with what's being discussed to color everything else about the discussion. I hope when you come back you have more perspective.
posted by languagehat at 9:08 AM on November 20, 2007


Because you are HAPPY with the "moderation culture" MeFi has. So I guess nothing will change, and the women of MeFi will continue to be alienated.

Don't misunderstand me. The moderation culture on mefi is what has evolved over years, and is a big part of what the site is. There has always been a case-by-case, judge-it-as-it-comes approach to problems on the site—ranging from when Matt was mostly trying to keep a smaller site from exploding on this or that bit of conflict, all the way up to now where there are three of us discussing things as they come along and looking at how stuff has happened and been dealt with historically and whether it makes more sense to sort of run with precedent or try a different tack.

My point is not that how site moderation works now is perfect and awesome; my point is that to violently change it would have huge and potentially really destructive ramifications on the site. I don't believe that destroying metafilter to save metafilter is the sort of position we're in at this point—for all the problems that exist on the site, I think it's a pretty great place.

That doesn't mean "nothing will change", it means for things to change we need to find a way to work within the system non-destructively. There is no "stop making women uncomfortable" switch that we can just flip.

Because as talked about earlier in this thread, a few of us are TIRED of being the only ones to say, "Dude, that's inappropriate" and being shouted down for being humorless feminists. I would LOVE for other people to speak up.

I hear you. And for that to happen, people need to speak up. Hopefully these converstations will inspire people to do just that, more readily and more often. And that is the fundamental change that will make the most difference, if it's going to happen: a collective, visible change in how people on the site elect to respond to this sort of stuff.

But as it is, we can't even rely on mods to say, "Hey, cool it, this isn't necessary."

As a user of the site, I'll definitely try to be part of the change we're talking about above. As a mod, I'll try to consider this stuff more prominently among all the other factors that go into keeping this place going without pissing off large swaths of the userbase.

But I think you're presuming an awful lot about what we do and don't say that folks aren't privy too. A lot of our days, administratively, are spent saying precisely that to people, via email or sometimes in thread, regarding sexist shit as well as all the other. The stuff that we delete isn't visible because it was deleted, and we have no desire to dangle that shit out in the wind unless it's really necessary for, say, a metatalk thread about a given incident.

I know you're unhappy with me for not nuking a post a while back that was about breasts. (The 'great breasts in cinema' thread?) I cannot tell you more than what I told you then: in that situation, it probably made more sense to get a second opinion from Jess and Matt, because the post in question didn't particularly bother me. Not that you didn't have a right to have a problem with it, but that I was well aware I might not have been on the same wavelength as you and that that I was uncomfortable outright nixing it didn't mean Matt or Jess might not see it differently.

If you want to write me off for not agreeing with you, even when I'm honest enough to *not* dismiss your objection despite my disagreement, we're probably never going to meet in the middle on something like this.

I feel like there's an aspect of this where, by failing to declare that we will delete any and all comments and posts that could or do make any women on the site uncomfortable, then nothing has been accomplished. I think that's an unreasonable, hardline position, and I can't see such a sudden and very, very disruptive proposition for a change in moderation as viable.

Regardless: I feel I've caused exactly the stir I was hoping not to in starting down the particular road of language. I was responding to what I saw (possibly as a misreading on my part) as your argument that there were chunks of language that were literally valueless. I feel pretty strongly about that, and I think that some of what ties into that is absolutely essential to the arguments we're having here, but I am sorry if I upset you by taking it in that direction, and want to reassure you that I don't see any of that as somehow condoning any of the ugly shit that's been discussed in these threads.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:19 AM on November 20, 2007


And while these two threads (too many, someone said) are going on, so is this

Do I smell a Cuntipedia in the works?

No, that's just Condoleezza entering the room.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:54 AM on November 20 [+] [!]


Is there to be a private MetaFilter men's club where this, because it amusing and harmless and vital for the well-being of MeFi, just continues, while the women carry on moanin' and complainin'? Right, Cortex, very like the real world.
posted by jennydiski at 9:52 AM on November 20, 2007


Whatdyaknow, jenny? I just happen to have another thread where Ubu pulls similar schtick right here.</a
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:59 AM on November 20, 2007


Well, there are some "chunks of language" that, while not valueless, are not sanctioned when used on-group rather than in-group in most places because we've come to recognize that they make people feel not "uncomfortable" but demoralized, disempowered, targeted and generally like firing themselves into the center of the sun. One in particular that comes to everybody's mind has been famously called out, and the OED records the callout, as "the filthiest, dirtiest, nastiest word in the English language." This particular chunk of language is generally reviled and not used on-group for purposes of humor unless the user wishes to be scorned everywhere and banned most places other than stormfront. The filthiest, dirtiest, nastiest word in the English language is not, as UbuRoivas and others continually demonstrate, the word, "cunt." We may freely use that chunk of language all day on sites all over the www. We may say, "Cunt, cunt, Hooray!" We may say, "That bitch is nothing but a cunt who should C.O. a D." We may argue that "'Cunt' is a harmless chunk of language because the only people hurt by it are oversensitive cunts." All of this is perfectly permissable, because the chunk of language in question is relatively harmless compared to the forbidden-because-harmful chunks of language.

I would never in a million years substitute any forbidden chunk or chunks of language for the permissable "cunt," (which I chose at random out of many such relatively harmless, permissable chunks), not only because I'd risk sanction but because it would be bigoted of me. It is not bigoted to call somebody a cunt. Also, you can still buy and send a humerous postcard of a woman being bit on the ass by an alligator, or get that poster of a woman divided up into cuts of meat. Hooray for our freedoms.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:59 AM on November 20, 2007


it's that you're talking about something... we're not talking about right now.

One of the reasons I like the linear comments rather than a nested threaded comments section is that 'we' are the members of the site. 'We' are having a number of related conversations. 'We' are listening to each other, and making contributions. 'We' riff off of the topic at hand, and 'we' suggest new directions for discussion when things seem to be dying down in a particular topic. That's how 'our' community works.

We should all be proud of each other that we are still discussing serious matters 732 comments after a 'bad deletion' complaint.
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:00 AM on November 20, 2007


I don't have a problem with the word 'cunt', especially if used to mean vagina/vulva. Seems pretty important to me that women reappropriate the language taken by men as a term of abuse. Actually, I'm quite foul mouthed, and like short sharp monosyllables to denote disagreement. My problem with Ubu's comment above, is not that Condeleeza IS a cunt, but that she smells of cunt, because she's got one. That's a special kind of male disgust - the stinking cunt. It subsumes women beneath their bioglogy and devalues sexual intimacy.

My point is, though, that no one appeared to think twice about it in the parallel thread, while all this 'valued'conversation is going on, aside from a single appearance by Grammarmoses suggesting 'boyzone'.
posted by jennydiski at 10:15 AM on November 20, 2007


It's that by focusing the energy of the thread on "negative" sexual violence, I think we're missing out on talking about all the other sexual stuff that isn't "negative" in the "I want to rape you" way.

TPS, to the extent that I started some of the derail into Coulter/Hilton territory, I'm sorry.

I hope that some of the people reading along here who before didn't really see the problem with those sorts of comments--and I'm glad that there are some guys who admitted that they didn't get what the problem was before, but do now--I hope that those same people can see that the comment "I'd hit that!" (which I also just hate) are really a variant on the same old shit.

Not so much the "reminding me that I'm always a target for violent sexual assault" but instead "reminding me that some people think my sole value is an orifice for them to get off in, regardless of whether I'd be the slightest bit interested in that or not." Really, same thing minus the threat of violence, which is to say not that different at all.

Every time I see someone that I respect make a post saying, "I'd hit that," when the thread in question isn't titled This Person Wants to Have Sex with All the People on Metafilter, Would You Be Interested? it makes me think "Damn! Thought that person was a good guy. Guess not," and exit the thread. Then become depressed about whether it's stupid for me to trust guys that I think I should be able to trust (coworkers, friends) because maybe they look at me (and all women) the same way--that we're pieces of meat good for fucking and it's okay to cavalierly talk about whether they'd partake, even in situations where it's clear that I'm not the least bit interested in having sex with them--and just know better than to say it to my face. I think it's damn hard to describe how fundamentally disconcerting that feeling is, except to say it's not dissimilar to the feeling I have when I see the EB comments in Coulter threads.

Same shit, different words.
posted by iminurmefi at 10:15 AM on November 20, 2007 [7 favorites]


I have to come back to this thread.

Okay. So this is what this looks like to me:

Women: blah blah blah, it would be so great if, when you worked up the nerve to say "Hey, this makes me uncomfortable, maybe back off that line of joking a bit?" people listened, EVEN IF THEY DID NOT DO AS ASKED. It would be so great if you weren't dismissed out of hand or responded to with "No." without explanation.

Men: THEY ARE TRYING TO TAKE OUR BUCKETS OF COCK. Quick, break out the Gaugin metaphors!

There are repeated comments from men in these threads to the effect that the ladies are trying to enforce some kind of sweeping moderation change. That women would like far-reaching rules about what can and cannot be said.

Speaking only for myself - but I'm pretty sure, from other comments, that other girls feel the same way - I want nothing of the kind, and it kind of stuns me that this is what men are getting from this conversation. Because I just don't think I'm saying anything like that at all. I thought I was saying: hey, this is how I experience this, maybe you'll want to sort of keep that in mind going forward. You know, if you want. I'm not advocating for people bossing men around. Okay?

There's a thread from yesterday about a game designer who got reduced to a pornographic punchline. I thought that thread was interesting, but then I thought it was painful and awkward, and I had to stop reading it. I thought about posting something serious, like "Hey, so here's my take on that--" or something jokesy, like "Please, can someone comment with a scathing analysis, so I can do the silent favoriting thing?" but of course in the end I said nothing.

Because by the time I stopped reading, people seemed to have gotten over their temporary "My goodness, this is terrible and shocking!" and back to what I consider a NORMAL (!!!!) MetaFilter reaction to something like this:

1) Har har har
2) Here are the ways in which it is this woman's fault that someone made her the butt of a degrading pornographic comic
3) Blah blah blah, awkward conversations about female attractiveness that go nowhere and leave me feeling that a lot of men on MetaFilter just really resent cute women. (Or ugly women. Or fat women.)
4) People declaring that there's no problem at all, how could a woman be a prominent businessperson and not realize this was going to happen? Quit yer whinin'.
5) Ladies, your strong disagreement with the above comment is censorship, didn't I just tell you to quit yer whinin'?

It is stunning to me that any man would think that I, a girl, would feel comfortable in that thread. I would like to - and I have tried, earlier in these conversations, before I got sick of peoples' BS - give this behavior the charitable interpretation that these guys just don't realize that this makes many women uncomfortable.

But then here we are, talking about it, and the response is OH GOD THEY'RE TRYING TO TAKE OUR BUCKETS OF COCK.

Which makes me feel like men actively resent female presence here, and would like it if we just went away.

And you know what? I'm thinking I kind of agree with them. Maybe what the world needs is two separate-but-equal versions of EVERYTHING so I don't have to grievously offend men by showing up and hesitantly asking for a little bit of consideration.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 10:25 AM on November 20, 2007 [22 favorites]


"It works to attack her to her audience by reinforcing the idea that all women should be judged based on their looks, that Coulter's logic is A-OK perfect but she's just a bad judge of feminine aesthetics, because really it's the Republican women who are ugly and that it's the women on the Democratic party you want to fuck."

I disagree, but I understand what you're saying. The problem is that if A does not equal B, that doesn't mean that "not B" equals A. Pointing out the obvious flaw in Coulter's argument (Only attractive women should be listened to, but Coulter is not attractive) does not necessarily endorse the rest of the argument any more than pointing out that Epimenides is a Cretan means that all Cretans are liars.

"This logic is not A-OK perfect. It does not diminish Coulter, it in fact reinforces her underlying assumptions that women exist merely for male consumption -- which is exactly the assumption that has brought her to power."

I understand that it can, but I don't think that's a mandatory reading. Besides, I feel like I already pointed out the weakness in the argument and now I'm feeling browbeaten into defending what I feel is a weak argument that I can understand the motivation behind because you're cherry-picking instead of responding to the whole of the comment.
posted by klangklangston at 10:33 AM on November 20, 2007


Cuntipedia

That's pretty tasteless on the face of it. It's also an injoke that, when unpacked, makes it clear to those who get it that Ubu wasn't remotely calling Condoleezza Rice a cunt, or, saying that she smells of cunt*.

But that's part of the headache of all this: here we've got an example of ribald humor that (see explication below) not everybody is going to get, and we have the word "cunt" wandering around in a thread full of dick jokes; so there's problems with (a) whether people think the thread is appropriate at all, (b) whether people think the dick jokes are okay, (c) whether people think cunt jokes are okay in a thread full of dick jokes, (d) whether people think cunt jokes are okay ever, and (e) whether a large enough proportion of people will get the complicated Cuntipedia joke to make it reasonable to keep that little subthread in there worth keeping around.

It'd be simpler if there was a "never use the word cunt" rule, obviously. But there isn't, there shouldn't be, and so here's a situation where the answer may just be to respond to it, which is exactly what Ambrosia Voyeur just did.

*There's a long-running meme that I associatiate with Something Awful but about which I don't know the genesis, though I think it might trace back to the Erik and Chet of Old Man Murray and Portal of Evil fame:

"Centipedes? In my vagina?"

Pop-art/ 50's-ish advertising image of a woman with a shocked expression on her face, with said phrase in bold type, and a subhead: "It's more likely than you think."

Tone of the thing basically an absurdist riff on PSAs. It's not exactly classy stuff in its own right, granted, but it is in fact absurdism, and is such an old meme now that it's not even a meme so much as a meta-meme for people who recognize it. The invocation of the invocation of an idea, and such, like a lot of aged internet memes have become, including I don't know how many mefi injokes.

Which brings us to Cuntipedia, brought up in the thread which was itself about a site called Dickipedia, a Wikipedia parody that describes a bunch of guys (most, but not all, politicians or politically-active folks) as dicks in satirical terms.

The thread proceeds with a comment joking about a corresponding Cuntipedia (and the counteroffer of "Clitizendium", a riff on Larry Sanger's wikipedia schism project, Citizendium, and also "Encyclopedia Clitannica"), and then Ubu makes the Condoleezza joke, playing "Cuntipedia" as a pun on Condi's Bush-admin association with a lot of the guys on Dickipedia—hence, coming into the room—and the linguistic abomination that is taking Cunt + Pedia as a reference to centipedes in vaginas.

Translation: "Condoleezza Rice is part of this power complex of administrative dicks, and also here is a bad pun on an old meme." What it doesn't translate to is 'Condi is a cunt', or 'Condi's cunt is smelly', but those readings or something like them are pretty understandable from anybody who couldn't more or less paraphrase the above, and so it's some complicated goddam internet humor and maybe a pretty big risk on Ubu's part to assume it would be generally understood.

And on top of that, I could be giving Ubu too much credit and he really is being an ass.

posted by cortex (staff) at 10:34 AM on November 20, 2007


I dunno thehmsbeagle... reducing your opponents to "blah blah blah" and "OH GOD THEY'RE TRYING TO TAKE OUR BUCKETS OF COCK" seems like pretty much the antithesis of civil discourse. It's also exactly the fear you're describing: that any disagreement, requests for elucidation, or even cautious discussion of the topic will be met with: "men actively resent female presence here," i.e. charges of intentional and unmitigated misogyny.
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:36 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know, Anotherpanacea, my previous experience in this discussion with you has not been that you were looking at what the whole of what I was saying and seeking understanding over something to argue with, and it's not the case now.

I just don't think that it's accurate that women here are arguing for a ban on "cunt", "buckets of cock", "Coulter is a tranny whore".

I think women are saying: "On a case by case basis, I urge you to examine your conscience and think beyond "making your buddies laugh with something outrageous" to if what you're thinking about saying may strike female readers less as hilarious and outrageous and more as hostile and terrible."

Is that really something you find oppressive? Because if that's really something you find oppressive, I don't think there's common ground to be found.

And really, . It's also exactly the fear you're describing: that any disagreement, requests for elucidation, or even cautious discussion of the topic will be met with: "men actively resent female presence here," i.e. charges of intentional and unmitigated misogyny.?

I did not leave these threads because of cautious discussion, requests for elucidation, or some form of calm, reasoned disagreement.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 10:44 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Translation: "Condoleezza Rice is part of this power complex of administrative dicks, and also here is a bad pun on an old meme." What it doesn't translate to is 'Condi is a cunt', or 'Condi's cunt is smelly'

Seriously??? Seriously, cortex? Have you been reading this thread (I've heard you have been, but you haven't been participating until now)? Do you understand why a lot of people, both men and women, might say, yes, that comment does say "Condi Rice has a smelly vagina"? Do you understand why it's offensive that the most powerful women in this country is knocked down, not because of her thoughts, beliefs, or intellect, but because of the supposedness smellines of her sexual organs? Because that's all women are, is sexual parts? Do you understand why some of us might be tired of being reminded in every.single.thread that women are for sexing?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:47 AM on November 20, 2007 [9 favorites]


Hey, you, thehmsbeagle, don't lose heart. There had to be a lot of "stop them, they are taking our filthiest, dirtiest, nastiest chunk of the English language," too, back when ourtright racist ranting was first beginning to get opprobrium. This is all to be expected--it's not depressing in the sense of "it will never change" so much as in the sense of "God above, look how much work we have to do to fix this abominable mess," and "why the hell is it STILL such a MESS?!?" Kindof like my kitchen right now. It just makes you want to leave the room.

By the way, Grammarmoses, I am not a dude. I named myself after the guy on my pencil cup (which it is a tomato sauce can with a chef on it). I am like this pizza sauce mascot in a lot of ways--if you look at the picture you will see how fondly he stares at himself and how eternally self-referential and repetetive he is--but I'm not a dude. That he's male I considered a perk: I was a little scared of boyzone hazing, a lot trying to avoid being simply ignored as a person of femality. My policy is to come out like this tiresomely and longwindedly in comments that most people will skip but not in my profile, not because I'm scared of hazing (I'm a lot more comfortable now that I've posted some), but because I'm finding that the Don sometimes gets dismissed as a person of male-osity, which is refreshing and fun for me. I hope it's okay and inoffensive to frolic about Metafilter in a chef costume.

(After I picked the name I realized it's not what I wanted and that what I was fumbling around for was Peppone [shown in chapter 1 of the above link pensively hitting Don Camillo over the head with a club]. Don Pepino is not combative enough--or at least he does not appear so on my pencil cup.)

(I'm also not Italian.)
posted by Don Pepino at 10:47 AM on November 20, 2007


Men: THEY ARE TRYING TO TAKE OUR BUCKETS OF COCK.

thehmsbeagle: That's not what I see going on here at all, and I'm surprised you see it that way. A very few men have had the kind of defensive reaction you describe; a heartenly large number of men have been supportive. If you're going to equate a few asshats with men in general, aren't you becoming what you deplore?

jennydiski: Thanks for pointing out that dumb Ubu comment; I've added my reaction to AV's.

cortex: The elaborate explanation is useful, but I think your perspective may be a little off. It's interesting that there's a backstory, but a convoluted internet-geek backstory does not make a dumb unfunny sexist joke even a little bit better.

Now the difference between the kind of men thehmsbeagle was lumping us all in with and the kind of men I hope prevail around here is that the latter, when called on something like this, will look at what they wrote with a fresh eye and say "You know what? You're right. I made a dumb sexist joke, and it was a bad idea. Sorry about that." (Or words to that effect.) The former will go "YOU'RE TRYING TO TAKE MY BUCKETS OF COCK!!" We'll see what, if anything, Ubu has to say.
posted by languagehat at 10:49 AM on November 20, 2007


Anyone who has ever hung around feminist blogs when a well-known rape case is discussed becomes very familiar with a certain type of guy that is drawn to the thread to immediately flood the comments section with this:

"Well, okay, I'm not saying that you're right or you're wrong about this particular case, I'm just saying I can imagine a situation where some guy would be holding a screaming woman down and fucking her and it wouldn't be rape. So, I'm really uncomfortable saying that the Kitty Genovese case is a rape/murder rather than a murder just because there were 10 witnesses to her screaming while that guy had sex with her."

or

"But, is it rape if she kind of says no, but then says yes, and then doesn't say anything at all? Is it rape if she's mostly drunk, but not totally drunk--I mean, she stumbles when she walks, but she's not crawling or passed out--is that rape? What about if she's passed out but she said yes before she passed out? Is that rape?"

And somehow these guys are surprised when the women who had been discussing the case get pissed off and call them rape apologists. You know, the thing is (and this is directly squarely at cortex and anotherpanacea), when you walk in on a conversation about how X is a really bad thing, and you start little arguments about where the line REALLY is, and is it okay if you do something just slightly on this side of the line, I mean no one can BAN you for that, right?--you end up sounding like those guys that are just trying to get a bead on how close they can get to raping someone without actually being brought up on charges.

And I get, cortex, that you're just trying to have an intellectual conversation here about whether we can make blanket statements and the power of words and blah blah blah. I get that you're probably not *actually defending* any of the crass comments that have pulled out as examples of posts that alienate women. But I think you should take a moment to think--in this thread of all threads, where the very subject is "is saying everything that crosses our mind even if it alienates members of this community a healthy thing for this site?"--about what it sounds like to come bursting in to a thread about the problematic experiences that women have actually had on this site and start splitting hairs or debating exactly where the line is.

posted by iminurmefi at 10:52 AM on November 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


HMS— That Ynoxas comment got piled-on almost immediately.
posted by klangklangston at 10:53 AM on November 20, 2007


Cortex, I think the connection to the centipede "joke" is quite a stretch. And frankly, wasn't Pretty_Generic banned for something related to that particular joke, anyway?
posted by onlyconnect at 10:54 AM on November 20, 2007


I flagged the Condoleezza comment (and the whole Dickipedia thread) as offensive. And I'm going to be doing it more often, now that I have finally been accused by somebody here as an enemy of Free Speech.

Hey, I'm one of the very few here at the Filter who has gotten paid for writing jokes. (Although Lore Sjoberg and Matthew Baldwin both do it better, and more successfully) And my experience includes writing jokes from a POV that is definately not my own. It's an illuminating experience, but it also made it a lot easier to reflexively come up with snarky comments on almost anything, including things I like and agree with. Since childhood, I've used humor (much of it self-effacing) as an emotional defense. Growing older, a higher proportion of it is directed outward (the Old Curmudgeon Effect). And facing things that sadden, madden or distress me, I can come up with some pretty nasty but funny snark, most of which you've never seen.

And that's because, doing professional writing, I am experienced with being edited, which most MetaFilter commenters haven't. I have a fairly effective internal editor, and I use it here even though I really don't have to. (Kind of a "WWqD? Then don't do it" filter.)That's why so many of my wisecracking comments are silly and punnish. And why my rare offensive joke usually has a timestamp less than five minutes after whatever it's responding to.

In spite of a personal history that includes some actual mistreatment at the hands of specific women, I am still solidly feminist in principle and practice. I genuinely hope my occasional references to my "Crazy Ex" are not seen as misogynistic, because in her case, "Crazy" is a medically-diagnosed accurate (if harsh and not medically-supported) term. I'm still coming to terms with the fact that the person I voluntarily gave the most love to in my life was really not capable of returning it or even understanding it fully, and like everything else that saddens, maddens or distresses me, I make jokes about her. Usually inappropriate, by my own standards. Sometimes funny enough (to me) to not want to keep to myself. The greatest love of my life has become the greatest hate, but that does not mean I hate all women, and I plead to anyone reading this that you not interpret it so. Some 'guys' do react to specific hurts by lashing out at all women; that's one of those things that is understandable but not necessarily excusable.

I do wish MetaFilter had a more "welcoming" atmosphere. Which is the ultimate irony that being "open to anyone and anything" makes it hostile to many. Now that I have been placed in the camp of those who "rush to limit speech", I'm going to be more open about what offends me. Because the fools and asshats who think they're being 'oppressed and censored' don't know what it's like to be... PROFESSIONALLY EDITED.

Let me share with you all something that got edited out of my most recent article for msnbc.com:
MSNBC (the channel affiliated with this wonderful website) presents 17 straight hours of its prison documentary series "Lockup." When it gets to the regular timeslot for "Countdown," they should show a special disclaimer reassuring us that Keith Olbermann has NOT been thrown in jail for badmouthing the President. Yet.
But I never really expected it to get published (it's the old trick Producer Garry Marshall used to get some of Robin Williams' wilder stuff past the censors on 'Mork and Mindy'; you offer something you know they'll reject and the other stuff looks less bad).
.
posted by wendell at 10:56 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know, Anotherpanacea, my previous experience in this discussion with you has not been that you were looking at what the whole of what I was saying and seeking understanding over something to argue with, and it's not the case now.

You reduced my attempts to join the discussion to "THEY ARE TRYING TO TAKE OUR BUCKETS OF COCK. Quick, break out the Gaugin metaphors!"

I'm not feeling very charitable about that. But I'd honestly like to know how you think that's an accurate account of what I've written here.
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:56 AM on November 20, 2007


"Is that really something you find oppressive? Because if that's really something you find oppressive, I don't think there's common ground to be found."

The problem is that IT CAN BE BUT IS NOT NECESSARILY OPPRESSIVE (and that goes both ways). This is a contested space, not something that can be defined mathematically.
posted by klangklangston at 10:59 AM on November 20, 2007


Senor LanguageHat: That's not what I see going on here at all, and I'm surprised you see it that way. A very few men have had the kind of defensive reaction you describe; a heartenly large number of men have been supportive. If you're going to equate a few asshats with men in general, aren't you becoming what you deplore?

Hmm-- That's interesting. To me, the numbers seem really different than "very few" - "hearteningly large": to me, it seemed as though a handful of gentlemen were willing to listen, and the rest were looking to nitpick. I have found it profoundly discouraging to try to have a serious conversation with the latter group.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 11:07 AM on November 20, 2007


Do you understand why a lot of people, both men and women, might say, yes, that comment does say "Condi Rice has a smelly vagina"? Do you understand why it's offensive that the most powerful women in this country is knocked down, not because of her thoughts, beliefs, or intellect, but because of the supposedness smellines of her sexual organs?

Yes, and yes. I've since commented in the thread (linking back to this) with my two cents that my speculation about the reasoning behind the comment notwithstanding, it was a pretty stupid comment to make. Turnabout is fairplay on understanding where these things come from—I could be off base, and Ubu could have been being less clever and more outright tasteless than I'm speculating, but if we're going to start assuming the worst of transgressors we might as well not even bother with this conversation, neh?

cortex: The elaborate explanation is useful, but I think your perspective may be a little off. It's interesting that there's a backstory, but a convoluted internet-geek backstory does not make a dumb unfunny sexist joke even a little bit better.

I pretty much agree; see above, and comment in thread. I'm going to be a pain in the ass and argue with the "not...even a little bit better", though, because a willingness to see this stuff in matters of degree is absolutely essential. It cannot be black-and-white, good-or-bad territory if you want to understand people and change their minds.

And I get, cortex, that you're just trying to have an intellectual conversation here about whether we can make blanket statements and the power of words and blah blah blah. I get that you're probably not *actually defending* any of the crass comments that have pulled out as examples of posts that alienate women. But I think you should take a moment to think--in this thread of all threads, where the very subject is "is saying everything that crosses our mind even if it alienates members of this community a healthy thing for this site?"--about what it sounds like to come bursting in to a thread about the problematic experiences that women have actually had on this site and start splitting hairs or debating exactly where the line is.

But I'm not "bursting in". I've been here the whole time, in this thread and the other, being really, really goddam attentive. I'm in a unique position of being expected, more than most the folks in this thread, to take responsibility for some of the stuff here that might be actionable from an administrative perspective. I did not come flying in out of the blue to dump a load, and I have not been blinking stupidly at the (how dare they!) negative reaction that my argument has brought about.

All that given, I've already acknowledged that I regret having made it such a stir by responding to agregoli's comment about valuelnessness. I wasn't hoping to make anything explode here, but part-and-parcel with the discussion of how to make things more comfortable for women on the site is a discussion of how and why the things that make them uncomfortable happen, and where the practical community limits are for pushing on that envelope in either direction.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:08 AM on November 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


TPS, it doesn't seem like a defense as an explanation, where he explains a possible other meaning and then concedes:

but those readings or something like them are pretty understandable from anybody who couldn't more or less paraphrase the above, and so it's some complicated goddam internet humor and maybe a pretty big risk on Ubu's part to assume it would be generally understood.

And on top of that, I could be giving Ubu too much credit and he really is being an ass.


While I do think cortex is over thinking, it's good that as a moderator he's aware of several possible things going on.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:10 AM on November 20, 2007


And frankly, wasn't Pretty_Generic banned for something related to that particular joke, anyway?

I'm pretty sure PG was banned for his part in an Anonymous AskMe hoax question about somebody trying to not get in trouble for knocking up his blind interracial girlfriend's sister, actually.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:10 AM on November 20, 2007


jennydiski: My point is, though, that no one appeared to think twice about it in the parallel thread, while all this 'valued'conversation is going on, aside from a single appearance by Grammarmoses suggesting 'boyzone'.

I don't know exactly what to say to you, Jenny.

There's tens of thousands of MeFi users, a rather small minority of them actively read the MetaTalk section. An even smaller minority slogged through this twin-thread examination of sexism and offensive comments. There's been, what, maybe a couple dozen active participants in this thread? Some of the male participants have said that they'd think twice about such stuff, and not put up with it when it's out of line. Wendell did it in the homeopathy thread.

If anything, fault Ubu for that comment; not the rest of MetaFilter for not having read this thread, nor the male participants of this thread for not being awake. Ubu's comment was made at nearly 7am Eastern time. That's fucking early for people on the east coast, and FUCKING fucking early for people on the west coast. Give people a chance to wake up and notice it, so they can pile-on. We have yet to receive our "Cunt was used disparagingly!!" bedside alarms.
posted by CKmtl at 11:11 AM on November 20, 2007


klang, are you arguing that unless everyone agrees something is sexist, you shouldn't have to feel bad about posting it?

Because what TPS, and nearly every other woman on this thread is arguing, is that we'd like people TO RECOGNIZE IT CAN BE OFFENSIVE EVEN IF NOT EVERYONE WOULD AGREE IT IS. And choose whether or not to make that comment is worth making with the knowledge that some people might find it alienating and it might make some groups of people find the site less welcoming.

We're asking men to shoot for the ideal. We're not arguing that guys should be banned for failing to meet it, we're not saying every comment that fails to hit the top should be nuked. We're saying that the exact same thought process that applies to making a FPP - "Is this the best of the web?" - should be replicated when you're making a comment - "Is this the best way for me to make this point, and is this the best point worth making?" We don't ban people for making a FPP that not everyone agrees is worthy; we all somehow manage to agree that some ideal can be held up even if not everyone agrees on what that ideal is. How is this so different?

And it's unbelievably frustrating to try to encourage people to shoot higher than they've been doing and yet we keep get dragged into arguments about how bad, exactly, a comment can be and still not be deleted. If the best you can can shoot for is barely passable, I'm not sure you're adding much to the site at all.

(In point of fact, klang, I really like almost all of your comments and think they add a lot to the site. But I totally do not understand why you seem to stubbornly be refusing to understand the point here.)
posted by iminurmefi at 11:12 AM on November 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Cortex makes it clear to those who get it that Ubu wasn't remotely calling Condoleezza Rice a cunt, or, saying that she smells of cunt*.

whether a large enough proportion of people will get the complicated Cuntipedia joke


It's just too difficult for me to understand, seems to be what you're saying. I am not 'in-group' enough to get it. All of which subliminal bullying discourse has been rehearsed over and over in this thread, to say nothing of in the world in general over the past 40 years.

This is so discouraging.
posted by jennydiski at 11:14 AM on November 20, 2007


But then here we are, talking about it, and the response is OH GOD THEY'RE TRYING TO TAKE OUR BUCKETS OF COCK.

thehmsbeagle is NOT saying that that is the response of ALL MEN; she says it is the primary and dominant response of most of those who do respond, and you know what? If there is a more reasoned male response, it DROWNS IT OUT.

Going back over past 'boyzone' threads, I see that there are often some more reasoned responses I had forgotten existed because the 'relatively few' who react like total (dare I say it?) pricks become the "Voice of Men" and even gain support from those who should know better (*aims one eye at cortex, the other at languagehat*).

I think thehmsbeagle nailed it. And the response to her proved it.
posted by wendell at 11:19 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's just too difficult for me to understand, seems to be what you're saying.

What? I'm saying that the joke that I think Ubu was making is unlikely to hit its target. That's his problem, not the problem of the people who don't happen to know the string of internet aracana my explanation works with; and I think he was foolish to not consider that.

I explained the joke because I think it's important to keep in context here that the things people find hurtful and loathsome do, in fact, at times come from a clueless disconnect on the part of the speaker (here, Ubu not thinking about his audience) rather than the degree of maliciousness presumed by the hearer. Does that mean Ubu didn't say something foolish, or that he shouldn't be chastized? No, it just means that understanding where the comment came from may be useful for the listener who is wondering just what the fuck he was thinking.

If there is a bridge to be gapped here, in understanding, it has to be worked on from both sides. Demonizing someone for their missteps is not going to make it easier to teach them.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:20 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have found it profoundly discouraging to try to have a serious conversation with the latter group.

In this thread and the 'hysterics' one, you have repeatedly just pulled a bunch of crap out of your ass and presented it as if it came out of the ass of whichever male you've decided to attack. Then you proceed to be all "Can you believe this shit!? I can't believe you believe this shit! We can't possibly find any middle ground because we'd be stepping in shit!"

Seriously you are providing no example of earnest behavior whatsoever.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 11:21 AM on November 20, 2007


I think it bears repeating that the best way to determine whether something is offensive is the context, and we have the benefit of people's posting history here to figure out where they're coming from. If I think Ubu is deliberately riling people, it's because he seems to talk out of both sides of his mouth, and relish riding the line between being funny and being ignorant to discrepancies of privilege. If someone thought that about me, they might have good evidence as well, but I think it's on us as individuals to determine. We can't institutionalize kindness.


HOWEVER

cortex, Does there come a point when Ubu's worse joke are reprimanded as trolling? I think that's what they are, especially in the wake of this discourse. (not that such timing can be considered, sigh.) That dickipedia thread hit "Oh lookout for the boyzone whiners" pretty fast, and he just pushed a little more.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:24 AM on November 20, 2007


Turnabout is fairplay on understanding where these things come from—I could be off base, and Ubu could have been being less clever and more outright tasteless than I'm speculating, but if we're going to start assuming the worst of transgressors we might as well not even bother with this conversation, neh?

Understanding the clever, intellectual thouht process behind "Condi Rice has a smelly vagina?" No, sorry. Don't think so. You're choosing a ridiculously stupid mountain to die on, cortex. I've met enough Mefites to know that you're all pretty smart. You know how to express your thoughts pretty well (hello, 757 comment thread). You say what you mean. So why would it be that with the most offensive, vile, sexist comments, I'm suddenly supposed to play interpreter and "assume the best"? Why is that my responsibility to just swallow my issues and "assume the best"? And assume what best? The best I can come to assume is that the person is ignorant (which I don't think Ubu is- he's been reading these threads, so I think he's giving us all a big "Fuck You".)
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:26 AM on November 20, 2007 [4 favorites]


cortex, do you have some special insight into the mind of UbiRovias that ensures that that was indeed what he meant? The connection of Condy Rice to an Administration often referred to a "full of dicks" was very obvious to me and clearly why he chose her over Hillary Clinton, but it was still saying fairly clearly "she smells of cunt".

As I noted in the Homeopathy thread (along with links to these discussions for the benefit of the unwashed masses (noted by CKmtl) who haven't seen this:
"Context is Everything?" Well, not quite, but unless you were blissfully unaware, the discussions around here of the last few days have shaped the context more than your own intent.


you have repeatedly just pulled a bunch of crap out of your ass
posted by and hosted from Uranus

Eponysterical, but woefully inaccurate.
posted by wendell at 11:32 AM on November 20, 2007


cortex, I have to admit I'm totally confused about what you mean when you say that the bridge in understanding needs to be bridged from both sides.

As I see it, on one side you have a bunch of women (LobsterMitten, TPS, occhiblu, among others) saying, "There are a bunch of comments that guys tend to make in a lot of threads that make those threads feel really unwelcome to women, and make us want to participate in this community less, which we think is a problem."

If the response to that is, "oh well, we think it's your loss, if you can't play with the big boys then go home," I can understand that. I don't agree with it, but I understand it. But I'm not sure what "bridging from both sides" in this case means, though--that women should participate in those threads and somehow feel less alienated, because the people making those comments are being thoughtlessly sexist rather than intentionally sexist? That their intent should matter more than the actual effects of their words?
posted by iminurmefi at 11:34 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


And agregoli, I think you're badly misreading cortex and allowing your (perfectly understandable) discomfort with what's being discussed to color everything else about the discussion. I hope when you come back you have more perspective.

I don't think I misread him that much at all. Obviously, the conversation is upsetting me. I would ask you though, to not be so condescending. I admitted I wasn't handling it well, so I bailed. Yet reading it all again doesn't mean I have changed my position and it also doesn't mean I lack perspective.
posted by agregoli at 11:34 AM on November 20, 2007


"klang, are you arguing that unless everyone agrees something is sexist, you shouldn't have to feel bad about posting it? "

No, and I'm feeling frustrated that this is what you're taking out of my comment.

"Because what TPS, and nearly every other woman on this thread is arguing, is that we'd like people TO RECOGNIZE IT CAN BE OFFENSIVE EVEN IF NOT EVERYONE WOULD AGREE IT IS. And choose whether or not to make that comment is worth making with the knowledge that some people might find it alienating and it might make some groups of people find the site less welcoming."

No, you're also arguing that the comment shouldn't be made. I think there are comments that are valuable despite the fact they may alienate people from the site. I think, in fact, that some comments are valuable BECAUSE they alienate people from the site.

I have no problem recognizing that some comments are offensive even if not everyone agrees. I have no problem trying to be more cognizant of my own commenting, in order to try to make sure that people whose contributions I like aren't alienated from MeFi. I have no problem discussing those decisions.

But it will always be a judgment call based on each and every member, and there will likely only rarely be an actionable consensus. The outliers don't interest me—I think that once the vast majority can agree one way or another, that can be a fair determination. It's the borderline cases that are interesting, and they're cases where a decision has to be made that you might not agree with, or that I might agree with, and we both have to be able to live with that or leave.

Just as there is a threat of alienating women from MeFi by the condoning of boyzone comments, there's a risk of alienating members, some long-term members, by redefining what is acceptable. I AM WRITING IN ALL CAPS SO AS NOT TO HAVE THIS POINT MISUNDERSTOOD: I BELIEVE ON BALANCE THAT THE LOSS OF SOME BOYZONE MISOGYNY IS WORTH THE BROADER PARTICIPATION BY WOMEN.

But this is because of the values that I hold, and not because of any outside authority, and I ask you to recognize that your opinions are based on the values you hold, and that when those values are different, you may be offended and I may not feel bad about it. Or I may be offended and you may not feel bad about it.

"It's just too difficult for me to understand, seems to be what you're saying. I am not 'in-group' enough to get it. All of which subliminal bullying discourse has been rehearsed over and over in this thread, to say nothing of in the world in general over the past 40 years.

This is so discouraging."

And of course, this is where you may be offended: That you did not get something is not evidence of sexism, nor is the pointing out of that lack of comprehension necessarily part of an orchestrated conspiracy to oppress you. That's a bullshit rhetorical tactic, regardless of whether Ubu's comment was "funny" or not.

That's true regardless of your gender.
posted by klangklangston at 11:36 AM on November 20, 2007


and while i wouldn't have used condi, uburoivas beat me to the tasteless joke punch. i was *so* totally going to go there.
posted by CitizenD


Someone who didn't get the joke UbiRovias intended? I mean, without referring to the most prominent woman in the Administration, the joke would just be... what?

cortex, sometimes when you overthink a plate of beans, you still end up farting for hours...
posted by wendell at 11:37 AM on November 20, 2007


I explained the joke because I think it's important to keep in context here that the things people find hurtful and loathsome do, in fact, at times come from a clueless disconnect on the part of the speaker (here, Ubu not thinking about his audience) rather than the degree of maliciousness presumed by the hearer.

Really, most of us who have a problem with this don't give a damn why someone is spewing sexist crap. I just don't. I want to encourage people to stop posting sexist crap, because it'd be a better website if there was less sexist crap. However, arguing with us that ubu didn't really mean it neither (1) enlightens him that this is indeed sexist crap; nor (2) convinces us that it is, in fact, not the sexist crap we recognize it for. The only understanding that needs to be augmented here is ubu's, not any of the women who find his crap tiresome.

So why are you defending him here?
posted by iminurmefi at 11:40 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


If very few people are reading this thread, that's a pity. It's on MetaTalk because two conversations that was started by women about their experience were deleted. Someone upthread suggested that Matt might considered alerting more people to this discussion in the sidebar.

My timezone is UK, so the earlyness of the hour didn't strike me forcibly. Still, those who were awake and responding didn't seem to find it noteworthy.

Cortex: sophistry, I'm afraid. The subtleties of call Rice a stinking cunt and your suggestion that there are those of us who just don't get them because we're not au fait enough with the history of the site won't do as a serious argument.
posted by jennydiski at 11:40 AM on November 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


This thread has been at or very near the top of my recent activity page for days now, thanks to a comment I made more than 600 comments ago (way to go, y'all!). I've written and deleted a number of things since then - I've deleted because someone's already said it better (thanks, preview!), or because I just can't bring myself to hit post, for one reason or another.

But today, thanks to the Jade Raymond thread, the Jets thread, and the Dickipedia thread, I had to come back and say this: boyzone, no matter where it is, sucks. The defensiveness of some people - mostly or solely male, I'd guess - in the Raymond thread in particular ("it's just a joke" "a guy would get treated the same way" etc. ad nauseum) is discouraging. That so many otherwise apparently smart people are willing to say in public that actions like the Raymond comic creator or Jets fans or some mefites are just isolated instances, that those who take offense are too thin-skinned, or that some people don't think it's offensive (and therefore those of us who do should STFU already) makes me sad, and angry, and just roils my gut. I want to assume the best motives of the majority of mefites, but sometimes they (you, we) make it really hard.

Apologies for the incoherency and likely off-topicness of this. I've written this (and deleted it) several times in the aforementioned threads, and it dawned on me to rant it over here instead.

I don't want to be bummed out by metafilter or mefites for a while, so I really hope that someone posts yet another "It's my first time in San Francisco! What should I do and see?" question. I could handle that.
posted by rtha at 11:42 AM on November 20, 2007 [5 favorites]


"Why is that my responsibility to just swallow my issues and "assume the best"?"

Because it's the responsibility of everyone in a conversation to assume good faith, at least to begin. I wish I could remember the rest of the five rules or the name of the doctor who promulgated them.
posted by klangklangston at 11:43 AM on November 20, 2007


AnotherPanacea: this is my most-earnest, least-jokey approach:

As Iminurmefi so elegantly says, I think most women are familiar with the guy who, when the statement you have just made is: "Rape, it totally sucks!" will respond with endless arguments about when is it rape and when does it suck.

I'm not sure people who do that know how difficult it is to hear. On some level, I assume that they're sincere in their desire to be in a conversation with you, because... they're in a conversation with you. But then on the other hand, why can't we all just agree that something sucks? What is so hard about that? Do you really think it's a slippery slope? If that's really what you think, what is it that I'm saying that makes you fear that? Because it's NOT my intention.

My impression - and it could be wrong, I'm not a guy - is that men who find this iffy really have some concern that it's a slippery slope. That if someone nails you down on "Endless jokes about anally raping Coulter are less than ideal", then next week someone will want you to stop making "Boobs!" jokes, and then the week after your porn will be taken away or something, and so on and so forth, until your jovial maleness has been stripped from you, and you're a humorless neutered person?

I don't understand what it is that I (or others) are contributing to this discussion that makes people feel that way. I can understand that it'd be alarming to think that people are trying to chip away at your autonomy, but I genuinely don't think that people are trying to do that. I can promise you, hand to God, that I am not interested in MetaFilter being a wall-to-wall meeting of feminist minds where snarky zingers are verboten and sexually-tinged one-liners lead to the banhammer.

Some of the arguments here read to me as being intentionally nitpicky. You know how some people just really enjoy arguing? When it comes down to things like this comment, that's how it strikes me. Is that inaccurate? Because that comment seems to me like a position for the sake of a position, not necessarily something you believe is extremely important.

KlangKlangston, I said: I think women are saying: "On a case by case basis, I urge you to examine your conscience and think beyond "making your buddies laugh with something outrageous" to if what you're thinking about saying may strike female readers less as hilarious and outrageous and more as hostile and terrible."

Is that really something you find oppressive? Because if that's really something you find oppressive, I don't think there's common ground to be found.


And then you said: The problem is that IT CAN BE BUT IS NOT NECESSARILY OPPRESSIVE (and that goes both ways). This is a contested space, not something that can be defined mathematically.

Perhaps I am not accurately explaining that I agree that it isn't possible to come up with a set of rules to preclude offense, and I'm not suggesting it. So I agree, this isn't something that can be defined mathematically.

But do you really think that this: "On a case by case basis, I urge you to examine your conscience and think beyond "making your buddies laugh with something outrageous" to if what you're thinking about saying may strike female readers less as hilarious and outrageous and more as hostile and terrible." is potentially oppressive?

Is there a way someone could rephrase that to not be potentially oppressive? Or is the fact that there's a potential check on someone's freedom of expression what's potentially oppressive? I would like to understand.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 11:44 AM on November 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


Christ - you guys're still here?
posted by item at 11:44 AM on November 20, 2007


...and girls! There's girls here, too!

/dodges a bullet
posted by item at 11:45 AM on November 20, 2007


"It's on MetaTalk because two conversations that was started by women about their experience were deleted. "

And it should have been closed because MeFi is about links and not discussion.

That it has survived should not be taken as a justification for shitty MeTa griping.
posted by klangklangston at 11:46 AM on November 20, 2007


"On a case by case basis, I urge you to examine your conscience and think beyond "making your buddies laugh with something outrageous" to if what you're thinking about saying may strike female readers less as hilarious and outrageous and more as hostile and terrible."

Aren't you asking a bit much for joke where you're not the intended audience?

Is that really something you find oppressive? Because if that's really something you find oppressive, I don't think there's common ground to be found.

Not so much oppressive, as annoying and vaguely sounding like a person has to do some work when they previously didn't have to. Nobody likes to change, even when it's for good reasons and then you're telling guys that essentially "that you're feelings are hurt". Yes that's not an exact translation but I'm betting that's what it sounds like to some guys and considering that most guys are used to teasing each other, the idea that others are bothered by this sounds foreign and probably a bit strange, nevermind the different ideas on what exactly too much teasing is.


We're asking men to shoot for the ideal.

There are different thoughts on what exatly ideal is, which you acknowledge later on. There's probably even people who aren't shooting for the ideal, they're just looking for cheap laughs as a way of bounding.

None of this is written with the idea of excusing sad sack behavior, but as an explanation to hopefully foster some kind of understanding.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:46 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


My point is not that how site moderation works now is perfect and awesome; my point is that to violently change it would have huge and potentially really destructive ramifications on the site. I don't believe that destroying metafilter to save metafilter is the sort of position we're in at this point—for all the problems that exist on the site, I think it's a pretty great place.

Where is anyone asking for moderation to violently change? To me, you keep bringing up things that we're not talking about - is it fear that that is at the core of what is wanted? Cause I'm not asking for a violent change in moderation or in the style of this place.

There is no "stop making women uncomfortable" switch that we can just flip.

I've acknowledged as much.

I know you're unhappy with me for not nuking a post a while back that was about breasts.

What an interesting assumption.

If you want to write me off for not agreeing with you, even when I'm honest enough to *not* dismiss your objection despite my disagreement, we're probably never going to meet in the middle on something like this.

Now I'm offended because you're presuming because I had a problem with one thread we didn't see eye to eye on, that I'm treating you unfairly in this thread about these issues. I find that insulting and it's not the case at all.

I haven't "written you off" in this thread. I got upset and left to cool down. But I still feel you're talking about extremes in a thread where we're trying to figure out some abstracts and how to make those vague things better. I don't see anyone lately calling for mass deletions or lists of disallowed words, so basically I can't figure out what you've been going on about with this losing the value of the conversation or extreme moderation changes.

I feel like there's an aspect of this where, by failing to declare that we will delete any and all comments and posts that could or do make any women on the site uncomfortable, then nothing has been accomplished. I think that's an unreasonable, hardline position, and I can't see such a sudden and very, very disruptive proposition for a change in moderation as viable.

And there is where you're misreading me. I never said I wanted such a thing. So I'm not sure why you would call my position (what position? I don't have any concrete ideas for change, I wish I did) unreasonable.

I was responding to what I saw (possibly as a misreading on my part) as your argument that there were chunks of language that were literally valueless.

I was never saying that. I was saying that there are chunks of language and ways of speaking that are almost completely valueless on metafilter. And that the only possible value I can see in most of the "I'd hit it" kind of comments or worse is a bit of humor. And if that humor serves to make women uncomfortable, or downright repulsed, then the ends don't justify the means. Or something. Which is something you said earlier so I think we fundamentally agree.

And exactly to hmsbeagles bafflement - the misreading is getting thick, methinks, on both sides.

Which makes me feel like men actively resent female presence here, and would like it if we just went away.

I think that's also a general impression that's common.
posted by agregoli at 11:47 AM on November 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Just as there is a threat of alienating women from MeFi by the condoning of boyzone comments, there's a risk of alienating members, some long-term members, by redefining what is acceptable.

Yes, but when that kind of members are alienated, they do not usually shy away; they most often become LOUDER and MORE PERSISTENT and MORE OBNOXIOUS until they cross a line that gets them baninated. Which is one reason why the mods don't want to 'redefine what is acceptable'.

I know I have no "Free Speech Right" to say anything I want at MetaFilter. Unfortunately, there are many idiots and asshats who think they do.
posted by wendell at 11:47 AM on November 20, 2007


Oh, and I forgot to say: This thread is exactly one of the reasons why I love the 'filter, and why I joined in the first place.
posted by rtha at 11:47 AM on November 20, 2007


I ask you to recognize that your opinions are based on the values you hold, and that when those values are different, you may be offended and I may not feel bad about it.

Yup, fine by me. But I'm not going to feel bad about being offended, and I'm not going to feel bad if you feel bad that I call you out on being offensive (the general "you", not you particularly). It seems that one argument used in this discussion is, oh, we have to give people making borderline offensive comments the benefit of the doubt, we have to "assume the best", because otherwise this place might turn into one big witchhunt and some men might be demonized and OMG we don't want to hurt anyone's feelings. Here's what I've taken from these long discussions: I'm done hiding because some people are afraid of being called out and I'm afraid of having them call me a "crazy bitch". I'm done shying away from scary words like "sexist" and "racist" and "homophobic" simply because nobody wants to face the fact that they're just like everyone else- harboring prejudices they'd rather not face. If people want to read these threads and then keep making their sexist comments, fine, but they can expect to be called out by me. And we can all go from there.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:47 AM on November 20, 2007 [11 favorites]


And it should have been closed because MeFi is about links and not discussion.

klang, we all know that's bullshit. This site is just as much about discussion and conversation over links as the links themselves. I remember years ago, folks arguing that this place wasn't about discussion, yet for the longest goddamn time one of the site's catchphrases - right up under the logo - was "WEBLOG AS CONVERSATION".
posted by item at 11:51 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Okay, klang, I think upon reading your comment that I have misunderstood what you were saying. I've re-read both the original comment and the hmsbeagle (sorry, thought it was TPS on first read) comment that it was in response to, and I still don't really understand why you were so vehemently disagreeing with her when it appears that you do indeed have "no problem trying to be more cognizant of my own commenting, in order to try to make sure that people whose contributions I like aren't alienated from MeFi." I thought that was exactly what hms was saying she wants people to do.

But I realize I'm getting a bit het up about this thread, and probably lobbing bombs that I'll regret later, so I'm going to take a little break for a while. (I'm off to do some mindful breathing, as so helpfully recommended by damn dirty ape.)
posted by iminurmefi at 11:52 AM on November 20, 2007


...but I understand what you mean. Content > discussion definitely should be the way this place goes.
posted by item at 11:52 AM on November 20, 2007


Understanding the clever, intellectual thouht process behind "Condi Rice has a smelly vagina?"

I may be right or wrong in my interpretation of his comment. If I'm right, then he didn't even say that. If I'm wrong—if that's specifically what he intended—then he was being more straight-up assholish and less just foolish than I'm thinking. I'm prepared to accept either proposition, and barring any clarification from him that's what I'm stuck with.

I'm not saying that you should be obliged, in the presence or the absence of my explanation, to think the comment wasn't shitty or ill-considered.

No, sorry. Don't think so. You're choosing a ridiculously stupid mountain to die on, cortex. I've met enough Mefites to know that you're all pretty smart. You know how to express your thoughts pretty well (hello, 757 comment thread). You say what you mean.

Thanks. I try very hard to do so. I'm not trying to die on a mountain here, and I would like it very much if the parts where I point out that I think, all else aside, that Ubu's was a stupid comment likely to cause offense would not be skipped over.

So why would it be that with the most offensive, vile, sexist comments, I'm suddenly supposed to play interpreter and "assume the best"? Why is that my responsibility to just swallow my issues and "assume the best"? And assume what best? The best I can come to assume is that the person is ignorant (which I don't think Ubu is- he's been reading these threads, so I think he's giving us all a big "Fuck You".)

Yes, the best you can assume is that the person is ignornant or foolish rather than just despicably malicious. Why is that so outlandish? Why would we even bother with this discussion if the presumption was that mefi was full of despicable people whose minds cannot be changed?

I know it's hard. I know it's asking for grace in the face of something that pisses you off. But if it's shoot first and ask questions later, why even bother? If we don't give a shit why someone would say something that strikes us as vile, why not just decide to start deleting and banning at any sign of offense and let God sort it out?

cortex, do you have some special insight into the mind of UbiRovias that ensures that that was indeed what he meant?

You know, I've said about five times that I don't. In this case I may have some insight into the motivation for a comment that I think may be being misunderstood; I place the blame for that misunderstanding squarely on UbuRoivas for not thinking about context, but I am willing to speculate that he was not intending to be as vile as he's being read.

High passions and contentious several days notwithstanding, it should not be seen as fucked up to maintain the notion of the benefit of the doubt when dealing with each other—especially when those high passions make it easier to let anger and offense carry us past thresholds of caution and consideration in judging others that we'd normally never even think of ourselves as being willing to neglect.

cortex, I have to admit I'm totally confused about what you mean when you say that the bridge in understanding needs to be bridged from both sides.

I mean simply this: if the goal is to get men who are posting comments on mefi that make women uncomfortable to be more aware of and accountable for the discomfort they're causing, then that process must include a willingness on the part of the folks advocating change to treat the folks whose behavior they're objecting to with a degree of grace and understanding and willingness to see the motivation, lest we end up with both sides just alienating each other with divisive stances.

We've seen both the good and the bad of that in this thread; a lot of folks are hearing each other and acknowledging things they may not have really noticed or bought or understood before, but some folks have indeed argued more from entrenchment. The boyzone guys are the transgressors in this overall picture—they're the ones causing the discomfort—but there's the very real danger of alienating the individual in addressing the problem of the group.

It's hard fucking work. I know that. But it's important, and being angry or exhausted about the slowness of the change you want to see doesn't justify shooting yourself in the foot by writing people off as the worst version of them you can perceive.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:54 AM on November 20, 2007 [6 favorites]


Klang, sorry, I should have previewed. I see that you clarified your "potentially oppressive" point:

No, you're also arguing that the comment shouldn't be made. I think there are comments that are valuable despite the fact they may alienate people from the site. I think, in fact, that some comments are valuable BECAUSE they alienate people from the site.

I don't agree with that, but I can see the internal logic, if that makes sense. Thank you for clarifying.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 11:54 AM on November 20, 2007


"Rape, it totally sucks!" will respond with endless arguments about when is it rape and when does it suck.

I'm sure you'll think this is needlessly nitpicky, but we're not talking about rape. We're talking about misogynist speech. And I'm not defending that, either: I'm interested in the ways that the silencing of misogynistic speech might unintentionally contribute the silencing of lower-class subalterns: men and women without the carefully attuned respect for gender that you get from large amounts of expensive education in the Western world.

But you've just accused me of quibbling about whether rape is bad, and I must admit that that's a pretty major failure to read me charitably or even honestly. What do you think my response should be to such an accusation, which is not based in any of my actual comments?

Some of the arguments here read to me as being intentionally nitpicky. You know how some people just really enjoy arguing?

Well, I like talking with people about things that are interesting. As it happens, my profession requires a lot of argumentation. But I'd also like metafilter to remain a space in which we can engage in my favorite past time without calling each other rape-apologists.

Please see my posting history. Check out this one, for instance. And watch it with the personal attacks: that's not cool.
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:55 AM on November 20, 2007


I removed the Jets thread and the schoolboy rape thread today. I'm really wondering how much of these threads being posted is people acting out. four panels *started* the Hysteria thread in MeTa, I have a very hard time believing the Jets thread is in good faith.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:56 AM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


anotherpanacea:'We' are having a number of related conversations. 'We' are listening to each other, and making contributions. 'We' riff off of the topic at hand, and 'we' suggest new directions for discussion when things seem to be dying down in a particular topic.

There was a central overarching topic that this thread evolved into:

On Metafilter specifically, the atmosphere could be made less alienating to a significant part of the membership by individuals calling out, or refusing to use language which perpetuates oppression . . . [because] It's just doing the basic work required of someone who doesn't want to be a fucking asshole [or, passively enable such assholery].

Not "Mods, you must nuke all sexually violent comments targeting women, every time, and codify it in the rules too", not "we must redefine "acceptable speech" and make the mods whip anyone who dosen't conform," not "all sexually violent language regardless of whether it's on Mefi or IRL in any arena whatsoever must be censored".

Cortex and anotherpanacea, your comments initially looked to me like they were objecting to that overarching point. Now I think you've clarified that that you don't in fact object to this ovearching point at all, but can you see why, cortex, putting your foot down about Mefi mods formally regulating sexually violent language (really, how many people demanded that?), or (cortex and anotherpanacea) advocating for the theoretical legitimacy of certain kinds of language in non-Mefi arenas came across like that? I think your intentions would have been much clearer if, say, prefaced by an explanation that you supported it and at the same time, you wanted to explore other tangents.

Because hearing what sounded like more objections was maddening, considering the time and energy that people like LobsterMitten, et al, have poured into articulating, exemplifying, clarifying, paraphrasing, and reiterating the overarching point, in umpteen different variations, and for the most part maintaining a civil and measured tone throughout (which itself takes an extra shitload of energy and time).

That may be why agregoli and thehmsbeagle and others sound like they're starting to lose it. That's what sometimes keeps me from contributing to threads, watching people express subtle and complex ideas so much more articulately than I can, and they do it over and over again, temperately pointing out ad hominem attacks and strawmen, and typing endless iterations of their central point, and several hundred comments later, yet another person jumps in with a comment that sounds like s/he hasn't read any of it or is incapable of letting his/her ego go enough to seriously reconsider his/her thinking or behaviour. And I think, Christ, I'm glad I didn't devote hours and hours and hours to what this guy/gall has just proved was a pointless exercise.

Languagehat, of course the contributions from you and others, and the guys who spoke about re-evaluating their thoughts/behaviour due to this thread, are heartening. But as I say above, to read some of these comments after all that's been expended on simply explaining why we think it'd be a positive step for more individuals to step back and think, it makes me very very tired. And I haven't even been doing any of the heavy lifting.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 11:56 AM on November 20, 2007 [8 favorites]


"Is there a way someone could rephrase that to not be potentially oppressive? Or is the fact that there's a potential check on someone's freedom of expression what's potentially oppressive? I would like to understand."

I don't think there is a way to make it not be potentially oppressive, but I do believe that the good-faith effort of the moderators will ensure that it is not generally oppressive. (Though I might quibble ultimately over oppressive versus repressive).

What might clarify my position is that I don't think that "potentially oppressive" is de facto bad, but I do worry that what I see as borderline cases may be seized upon disproportionately. Part of my obstinance may be that I felt earlier that EB was going after me disproportionately due to a personal grudge under the guise of attacking sexism. Not only did that mean that I felt that I was being treated unfairly, but also that it made it harder for me to concede what I felt were valid points to other people, because I knew that he was going to intentionally construe them in the worst possible way in order to keep prosecuting this grudge. By virtue of rhetorical considerations, I was feeling like I wasn't able to get to things that I really did find interesting and worth talking about, nor discuss my feelings on the complaints brought, which (if you'll allow me some egotism) I felt degraded the conversation generally.
posted by klangklangston at 11:58 AM on November 20, 2007


jennydiski: If very few people are reading this thread, that's a pity. It's on MetaTalk because two conversations that was started by women about their experience were deleted.

MetaTalk is sort of a backroom, behind the curtains kind of thing. Users who read all parts of the site, I think, are in the minority. Lots of people just read AskMe, for instance. People read the parts that interest them... and those that aren't interested in the backroom stuff don't read MetaTalk (until they do something outrageous and something of theirs gets nuked). I mean, do you read everything in Projects and Music and Jobs?

Complaining that those users aren't paying heed to discussions here... Well, to me it's a bit like complaining that Random Person On The Street isn't in on what you and your friends have talked about.

My timezone is UK, so the earlyness of the hour didn't strike me forcibly. Still, those who were awake and responding didn't seem to find it noteworthy.

As above, those who were awake and responding in that thread probably haven't read this one. It's not really a reason to be all Eyore-like about this "valued conversation" having no effect.
posted by CKmtl at 12:00 PM on November 20, 2007


I know it's asking for grace in the face of something that pisses you off. But if it's shoot first and ask questions later, why even bother?

I don't understand exactly what you want people to do, cortex. Someone says something offensive, and.... what? What do I say? It seems that nothing in this thread has satisfied you as being a fair or reasonable response; what does "grace" mean to you? Write me a script, and I will use it. Seriously.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:02 PM on November 20, 2007 [4 favorites]


I am wondering the same thing as ThePinkSuperhero.
posted by agregoli at 12:06 PM on November 20, 2007


(I'm sorry. I'm horrible at previewing, or I wouldn't need three comments when one would do.)

Brandon Blatcher, your comment is really, really illuminating to me. Thank you.

Can I ask, menfolk: do you think there's a way to, post-comment, express discomfort without people feeling that their joking good time is infringed upon, or is that not possible? It is NOT my intention to make people feel awful. It's also not my intention to get into a big giant thing all the freakin' time. But I would like to be able to say "Hey, that went too far" without people feeling attacked. Is that possible, or a lost cause?

AnotherPanacea: I'm so sorry! I had a paragraph in my post where I highlighted the fact that I was using ImInUrMefi's rape-apologist example because I thought her post was so eloquent about a certain kind of discussion, NOT because I meant to say that we were secretly all talking about rape, but I apparently edited it out before posting. (Not in a Freudian way.) Sorry!
posted by thehmsbeagle at 12:08 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've said about five times that I don't.

The frequent disclaimers that accompany the fact that you are trying to hard to do so...

if the goal is to get men who are posting comments on mefi that make women uncomfortable to be more aware of and accountable for the discomfort they're causing

two different goals here...
"accountable": making someone responsible for their actions, usually by punitive response (the least punitive of which would be DELETING THE OFFENSIVE COMMENT)
"more aware of": understanding that their actions are deserving of punitive response; much more difficult, often futile, but actually more difficult when no punitive response occurs.

And while cortex was her trying to understand, jessamyn was wisely deleting the Jets thread, which it doesn't take a mind-reader to see was posted by four panels as his umpteenth (successful) attempt to stir shit around here.
posted by wendell at 12:08 PM on November 20, 2007


If very few people are reading this thread, that's a pity.

It sure is, but you can't change the way people use the site overnight. It takes a while for MeFites to drift into MetaTalk... and some of them never will because they find the metatalk dull. I use MeTa and I sometimes find it dull.

It's on MetaTalk because two conversations that was started by women about their experience were deleted.

Again, the value of the conversation can't inherently alter the way the site works. It could be in MeFi Travel for all anyone knew.

Someone upthread suggested that Matt might considered alerting more people to this discussion in the sidebar.

I disagree with this implication: that the right way to handle this is to alert those who use primarily the blue to the existence of these threads, because that will Make a Difference. You have to be of very strong constitution (and not an insignificant amount of free time) to wade through not one but two different threads of over 700 comments. You have to be willing to suss out the whole "Lynnster posted this / Diski posted that, something got deleted, there were apricots involved, then there MeTas, then people started cross-posting..."

But more importantly, you have to care about the site that much. And most users don't; this is just another blog, another place to waste 10 minutes while their email downloads from the server in the morning. Dragging those people over to read these threads won't fix their behavior.

Those of us who are here by choice, reading along and thinking about this stuff and caring what happens, are where the change will happen. So, preach away to the choir -- but it's disingenuous to lament that the choir isn't big enough for your liking.
posted by pineapple at 12:08 PM on November 20, 2007


...or, you know, what CKmtl said.
posted by pineapple at 12:10 PM on November 20, 2007


agregoli & thehmsbeagle, sorry, I wrote that ("sound like they're starting to lose it") a while back when things were getting heated with your duelling partners. Obviously you haven't lost it at all.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 12:11 PM on November 20, 2007


"trying TOO hard to do so..."
I am trying too hard to keep up with this discussion. It takes me longer than many of you to write comments (including my usual self-editing). That's why I didn't get into this much earlier.
posted by wendell at 12:11 PM on November 20, 2007


"I know I have no "Free Speech Right" to say anything I want at MetaFilter. Unfortunately, there are many idiots and asshats who think they do."

Yeah, and I think your supposition about editing was right on—I rarely complain when anything I say gets deleted, or at least I try not to. And I hate the FRIST AMMENDMEXOR! shit that gets trotted out (by Davy most often until the mods got sick of his shit).

"Yup, fine by me. But I'm not going to feel bad about being offended, and I'm not going to feel bad if you feel bad that I call you out on being offensive (the general "you", not you particularly)."

Oh, no, no—I think that's totally cool. I don't even mind being called on shit in general, it's only when I get the feeling that when it's "that proves you're an evil person who should die" that I get my back up.

"I don't agree with that, but I can see the internal logic, if that makes sense. Thank you for clarifying."

Looking through my MeTa comments, I think it's pretty clear that I've generally been against the trend of MeFi: All Things To All People that sometimes seems to be the justification behind new features or subsites. I have no real problem alienating some of them and forcing them to use other sites for some things they need. I also have no real problem alienating folks who launch into GYOBFW territory, no matter how important their issue. Or with alienating the sort of drive-by posters who proclaim homeopathy as valuable or who want to come on Jade Raymond's face. I just understand that they have a right to disagree.
posted by klangklangston at 12:12 PM on November 20, 2007


800. woot.
posted by wendell at 12:13 PM on November 20, 2007


"But I would like to be able to say "Hey, that went too far" without people feeling attacked. Is that possible, or a lost cause? "

I'm not sure. Usually, what I'd do is try to make a joke about how obviously retarded they were to say something like that, but that comes back to attacking them, doesn't it?
posted by klangklangston at 12:15 PM on November 20, 2007


thehmsbeagle: Thank you for your apology. This is why I pick nits: because it's important to me that we get it right. An interesting factoid: nit picking means to literally remove lice and bugs from the hair. In both the animal world and among humans, it's something you only do for those you care about deeply.

There was a central overarching topic that this thread evolved into

The thing is, metatalk threads that go to 800 comments never maintain anything like narrative continuity. Generally by this point we're telling silly jokes and chatting about whatever pops into our heads. I like that this thread is still going strong, but I reckon that it's going to have to change its course slightly if it's going to survive until thread closure. We've got three more weeks to suss things out: what would -you- like to talk about?
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:20 PM on November 20, 2007


I'm not sure. Usually, what I'd do is try to make a joke about how obviously retarded they were to say something like that, but that comes back to attacking them, doesn't it?

Between this and TPS's mention of needing a script, I wonder if you guys are serious in your description of being nice to people as such hard work.

Doing the right thing: difficult yet obvious for a bajillion years and counting.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:28 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ambrosia Voyeur, there's a fine line between calling someone out for something they said and "attacking" them, and it's different for everyone. You know, the way you got called out for your behavior, and you took it as a personal attack. We're all just trying to get on the same page here. That's the hard part.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:31 PM on November 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


agregoli & thehmsbeagle, sorry, I wrote that ("sound like they're starting to lose it") a while back when things were getting heated with your duelling partners. Obviously you haven't lost it at all.

Oh, no worries. To be honest, I actually laughed out loud at that comment because I DID feel like I was "starting to lose it."

Now I feel kind of sad and hopeless about the situation again, instead of any kind of firey indignation. Which is usually how I end up feeling about these things on Mefi, going on now what, 7 years? Oh how things stay the same...
posted by agregoli at 12:42 PM on November 20, 2007


"Between this and TPS's mention of needing a script, I wonder if you guys are serious in your description of being nice to people as such hard work."

It's because the livers of Christian babies are filled with such bile, and I eat a lot of Christian babies.
posted by klangklangston at 12:47 PM on November 20, 2007


(It's not that being nice to people is such hard work - it's that any time you speak up about something being offensive on this site, you tend to expect that YOU will be attacked up and down and what's the nicest way you can try to prevent that?)
posted by agregoli at 12:50 PM on November 20, 2007


thehmsbeagle: I think if you find something offensive, you can use humor as klangklangston said* or, if you're not feeling particularly witty, just be direct within the thread's comments. Flag it as offensive. Write one or all of the mods. Ask someone you know on the board what they think of it through MeMail. It's all relative to the poster/commenter/context, of course, but I don't think that mentioning it would be a horrible thing.

*klangklangston, I understand what you're saying, but using the word "retarded" within your comment kind of loses about 3/4 of the audience. I'm pretty sure the word has been talked about before on metafilter, but within the context of a discussion on making everyone comfortable, you should realize how that not only turns people off, but often makes you seem less than serious in your arguments/statements. Sorry for the seeming reprimand, since it looks like you caught it yourself. It's not an attack, just a suggestion.

on preview: maybe the asterisk portion of my comment is what agregoli and AV were talking about?
posted by sleepy pete at 12:56 PM on November 20, 2007


> I've said about five times that I don't.

The frequent disclaimers that accompany the fact that you are trying to hard to do so...


wendell, I've ventured an explanation of—not an excuse for—an offensive comment. I've speculated—from what little I know of Ubu, the fact that his account history looks pretty clean, the fact that I can't recall him causing headaches in the past—that there might be something mitigating going on in his decision to post what he did.

I haven't suggested that I know this is, in fact, what he's thinking. I have acknowledged that I may very well be wrong.

I haven't told anyone not to be bothered by the comment. I haven't told anyone not to react to it—and I praised AV for doing exactly that, shortly after it first came up—and I've objected to the comment itself both here and in that thread regardless of my speculation on the origins of it.

I've been accused of sophistry for even daring to put the explanation out there, as if it is better to bury mitigating facts than to argue taking a second look at something.

You will understand if I'm a bit frustrated at being come back at so vehemently here for suggesting that maybe, just maybe, someone's trangression held an element of mutual misunderstanding amid the offense it understandably caused. Unless the only thing—not just the most important thing, but the only thing—that we care about is piling on someone who does something bad, this sort of attempt to understand in the face of things that bother us is essential.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:01 PM on November 20, 2007


jennydiski, I think your comment there contains an implication that isn't quite right. The deletion of the other threads doesn't seem to me to reflect a bad boyzoneishness. Also I don't think that sidebarring this thread would necessarily have a good effect.

At any rate.
I think a good effect is much more likely to come from convincing individuals to just hold back on some of the knee-jerk sexist (or ironic-sexist) joke stuff, and from convincing members (esp the prominent and talkative people who read Meta) to be more vocal about saying that certain things are lame. I think the only way to make progress is just to build up a social norm of the site that says, brainless locker room talk is not really what we do here. Take it to fark. We already have norms like this on other matters (capitalization, no txt-speak, use complete sentences, no trollish racist comments, etc), which may be a small part moderation but are much more due to a general tone that the members set by active choice.

I think that point has been beaten into the ground here with a very rewarding discussion, and I'm guessing there are not a lot of people still reading this who vehemently disagree. I'm guessing this is where the "let's discuss edge cases" trend came from, above -- people feeling like a part of the debate has been settled, and looking for something to continue the conversation.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:04 PM on November 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


I agree - perhaps the fear is that people who object are often not really given much in the way of understanding, and more in the way of ridicule?
posted by agregoli at 1:05 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have trouble taking anything here as an "attack", when it is all an exchange of hastily-written notes passed among people who (for the most part) don't know each other in real life. Even when it appears clear that someone is trying to get behind the words and "hit me where I really live", for me, it is most often way off target (like Smedleyman's recent "trying to restrict speech" or whatever he said).
posted by wendell at 1:06 PM on November 20, 2007


I'm still reading. Actually--though it pains me to say it, since he's been a fountain of awesome here for a long time--this thread turned from a depressing mess into a place where genuine understanding was happening right when EB flamed out, by my lights.
I suspect you're still reading; I hope you take a break and come back better than ever, man. This place will be worse without you in the meantime.

For my part, I support improved individual conscious awareness of the impact of words on underprivileged groups on the site, and will take a more active role in the public derision of those who are not so considerate. Ubu's comment fucking sucks, and I'm on my way there to tell him so on the blue. Thinking twice has saved me from many a dumb joke in poor taste (I find it very easy to be a blunt COMEDY! asshole), and I've made a conscious effort to think twice more often since I made a sexist idiot of myself a while back round here in the service of idiot humor. Also, the jokes. I'll work on those too.

And isn't it time for four panels to at least take a break, moderators?
posted by Kwine at 1:07 PM on November 20, 2007


It's two steps forward, one step back. In the fight to get people to recognize sexist speech we are way behind where were were with racist speech decades ago. The people with privelage will not willingly give up privelage, even if the privelage is something that seems small, like the privelage to joke without the hassle of having to listen to the objections of the butt of the joke.

The response to this (pls pardon my wild snippage):
"...I urge you to... think beyond "making your buddies laugh..." if what you're saying may strike female readers as hostile and terrible."
Was this:
"Aren't you asking a bit much for joke where you're not the intended audience?"
A similar response to a black person offended by a racist joke would have been unremarkable, too, in the 50s or 60s.

The wistful tone here:
I BELIEVE ON BALANCE THAT THE LOSS OF SOME BOYZONE MISOGYNY IS WORTH THE BROADER PARTICIPATION BY WOMEN
sounds unexceptional. If you change it up , it sounds weird:
I BELIEVE ON BALANCE THAT THE LOSS OF SOME WHITE RACISM IS WORTH THE BROADER PARTICIPATION BY BLACK PEOPLE
But that wouldn't sound so weird fifty years ago; maybe it won't take as many as fifty years for the first one to sound weird.

This:
"I know it's hard. I know it's asking for grace in the face of something that pisses you off. But if it's shoot first and ask questions later, why even bother?"
sounds reasonable directed at women objecting to sexism. It probably sounded reasonable directed at blacks objecting to racism in the days before MLK wrote "Why We Can't Wait."

This:
"I'm interested in the ways that the silencing of misogynistic speech might unintentionally contribute the silencing of lower-class subalterns: men and women without the carefully attuned respect for gender that you get from large amounts of expensive education in the Western world"
no doubt got said a lot back in the day about racist speech, too. Not these days. These days you don't get a pass. Dog the no-amount-of-expensive-education-havin' Bounty Hunter, even before he got himself in trouble, at least sensed there might be something wrong with hating on black people, even facetiously. That's good, and it's getting even better--Dog's kid is a lot farther down the path to enlightenment, so much so that he is nonplussed by Dog's racism. ("I don't even know what to say," he tells his not-quite-there-yet father.) That's progress.

We have made changes that would have been unimaginable to our great grandparents, and that proves that we can make this change, too. The boys who are enjoying their zone can't be expected to leap up cheerfully and run out of it, clapping their hands with joy. We oughtn't to get too discouraged to go on trying to drag them out of it just because they don't come willingly right away.
posted by Don Pepino at 1:07 PM on November 20, 2007 [9 favorites]


> I know you're unhappy with me for not nuking a post a while back that was about breasts.

What an interesting assumption.


agregoli, I apoligize. I've gone back through my email, and I was conflating the emails we exchanged about that thread (it was indeed the 'best breasts' post) with something, and someone, else from the same time period. Our exchange was pretty danged civil—and right on point with the greater context of these recent discussions—and I misremembered. There was an edge of frustration, understandable, in your words, but it wasn't directed particularly at me.

Please forgive me for the mistake.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:08 PM on November 20, 2007


I BELIEVE ON BALANCE THAT THE LOSS OF SOME BOYZONE MISOGYNY IS WORTH THE BROADER PARTICIPATION BY WOMEN.

"On balance" it would be ok with you to lose "some" misogyny for the sake of participation by women?

Huh? Oh, well thanks. Would that some day you would be *happy* about getting rid of *all* misogyny (from mefi and everywhere else) just because it's wrong and bigoted...
posted by Salamandrous at 1:09 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


That was me asking for a sidebarring, but I didn't want THIS sidebarred, I wanted any future FPPs like the two that got axed (preferably more linkier/meatier) to be sidebarred because if they aren't I'll never see them because I spend every waking minute of my life in HERE.
posted by Don Pepino at 1:10 PM on November 20, 2007


It doesn't surprise me as much as it should that this thread started out with men criticizing women for being too sensitive and telling us that if we're offended we should be assertive and aggressive and call out the sexism where we see it, if we want to change the tone on Metafilter,

...and is ending with men criticizing women for being too assertive and aggressive and not couching our calling out of sexism where we see it with enough benefit of the doubt, gentleness, and sensitivity, if we want to change the tone on Metafilter.

Nice!
posted by Salamandrous at 1:14 PM on November 20, 2007 [8 favorites]


cortex, fwiw, I think you've been very reasonable and I'm not quite sure why you're getting so misread.

You've said there are gray areas and we should all use good will in understanding each other. True. I think overwhelmingly these comments don't come from assholishness. It's still disturbing, as I think we've said a lot above, even if this stuff is said totally in jest by people who aren't assholes. And obviously the way to handle it is not to scream "shut up you asshole" at the person, but to be funny or gentle or something else in saying "I think that comes across different than you meant it" or something.

But so what's your practical recommendation, that's a departure from what others have been suggesting here?
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:16 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


*Some* men. I mean *some*men! Because I'm not a man-hater! I swear! And I didn't mean to offend anyone. And I'm sure you're all swell!

(jeez you have to be so pc around here...)
posted by Salamandrous at 1:18 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Not to be all Mama Hen about it, but I kind of feel like we're getting to the point in a long car ride when everyone's been cooped up with each other for a bit too long and tempers are short.

It feels like there's been a lot of goodwill generated here. Maybe we need a bit of a break before either getting into nitty-gritty practicalities or overarching philosophical arguments, because I'd hate to see this whole thing end in everyone throwing up their hands and saying, "See! There's no winning with these people!"
posted by occhiblu at 1:19 PM on November 20, 2007


There's this brilliant thing that occhiblu said the other day... I want to help do something about this, but it seems like when you stand up for yourself you paint yourself into this corner because you've just made yourself resemble a dozen horrible caricatures of a woman worthy of derision. So then your option is to either trust the guys that just said something that seems horrible/cheap to treat you fairly even though by the very act of complaining you've set yourself up, or remain uncomfortable. I'm frequently really nervous about that, and don't say anything.

I totally respect that cortex is asking women to be respectful to men too, and I thought Brandon Blatcher's point was noteworthy that some of the objection here is that guys would have to "do some work where they didn't before" to keep women from being uncomfortable here. That idea doesn't make me happy, but it's understandable at least. However, I think a lot of women here are feeling like they've been "doing some work" their whole lives because this BS is endemic pretty much everywhere.

To respond to the idea in general that speaking out against this kind of thing can make men feel really hated: I don't think any woman here is holding any man here responsible for the rest of the world--some of us would just greatly appreciate a little more sensitivity because so long as we're expecting the best of each other, it would be helpful to treat each other respectfully too.

In general, I think everyone here is pretty awesome and I'm really happy to be able to talk to them and soak up their collective knowledge and experiences. Special thanks to the mods here--you guys put up with a lot.
posted by zebra3 at 1:20 PM on November 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


This... no doubt got said a lot back in the day about racist speech, too. Not these days.

To quote LobsterMitten, above: "I think that comes across different than you meant it." It sounds a bit like an accusation of racism, or a conflation of inquiry with misogyny, though I'm sure you meant something more innocuous.
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:24 PM on November 20, 2007


It's an analogy. It's an analogy s/he's been making at length across several comments. I don't see what's not to get, there.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:29 PM on November 20, 2007


But so what's your practical recommendation, that's a departure from what others have been suggesting here?

I don't think my recommendation varies really from the postive steps people have been talking about here. Do object, do explain why the comment or post is hurtful an alienating, do start a dialogue about where the difference in perceptions there might be. I think nothing else could have a more direct, or more likely successful, effect on the prominence of this stuff on the site.

And though I feel like I and a few folks in this thread have been talking past each other, despite our best intentions, about the role of moderation explicitly and implicitly related to some of these ideas, I don't think I disagree much with the thinking there; as above, the key part of all this is the community being more widely vocal and more consistently proactive about dealing with objectionable stuff, and the role that Matt and Jess and I play in that as moderators is going to be one of more edge-case management and overall awareness.

I just do not like the idea of losing sight of some of the things that make Metafilter what it is—that we deal with outlier cases as they come but don't broadly prohibit; that people here, faults and all, flameouts and other bumps accounted for, really do listen to and work with each other to understand what's up—and some of the things I've heard in the heat of this have made me double-take, even if as much of that is on my personal reaction to those statements as anything.

Something applies here about how you always argue longest and loudest with those whose values you most closely share, yeah? I'm glad to be part of a group that's as passionate about this stuff as it is, even if the back-and-forth can get intense.

Not to be all Mama Hen about it, but I kind of feel like we're getting to the point in a long car ride when everyone's been cooped up with each other for a bit too long and tempers are short.

Heh. I think you might be right, occhiblu.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:32 PM on November 20, 2007


Not a problem, cortex, and thanks for your apology. I'm not surprised you could get members mixed up with all the people you talk to on a weekly basis. I will continue to not hold a grudge against you. =)
posted by agregoli at 1:33 PM on November 20, 2007


Okay, sorry, anotherpanacea I will recast.

Something like this:

I'm interested in the ways that the silencing of racist speech might unintentionally contribute the silencing of lower-class subalterns: men and women without the carefully attuned respect for race that you get from large amounts of expensive education in the Western world

might've been said a bunch back in the day but it is not said very much anymore because complaining that racist speech is the only speech the subaltern knows how to speak is offensive on about fiftythousand levels and soon, very soon, complaining that misogyny is something natural to us that we have to be expensively educated out of--as opposed to expensively, carefully taught, hello, yoohoo? South Pacific?--will also be widely considered offensive. Better?
posted by Don Pepino at 1:34 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Don Pepino— Not every instance of sexism is 1:1 racism, you know that, right?

Further, while you're attempting to paint what I said as "OMG, look at how evil this guy is! He's using an argument used by racists!" I would still stand by it—I think that being able to make jokes about racism, which can in some context be construed as racist, is worth alienating some folks who would object to those jokes.

And if you don't like that, I don't mind discussing it with you, but I also don't much mind alienating you. It's not because I'm unaware of my privilege (or whatever other condescending "You just don't get it," stuff you want to trot out), it's because jokes that are offensive to some people can still both be valid expressions and more valuable to me than pious expressions of correct thinking. If I joke about being pulled over in a nice car by saying "And I'm not even black!", that's both a joke about racism and something that can offend people. I joked about eating Christian babies a couple comments ago, totally cognizant that it's a horrible stereotype about Jewish people propagated by racists. But it's also absurdly untrue, and I don't really care that I've offended a hypothetical Jew by riffing off of it, because they didn't get the joke.

So, as for complaints that some men fear being turned into humorless neuters regarding sex-difference jokes, yes, I see your reasoning as part of that, especially because it's much more rare for someone to admit that they didn't get a joke than it is for them to get huffy and offended.

"We oughtn't to get too discouraged to go on trying to drag them out of it just because they don't come willingly right away."

And when you try to drag me there by finger-wagging, I'll be there to make fun of your efforts, and then we're back to where we started.

""On balance" it would be ok with you to lose "some" misogyny for the sake of participation by women?

Huh? Oh, well thanks. Would that some day you would be *happy* about getting rid of *all* misogyny (from mefi and everywhere else) just because it's wrong and bigoted..."

God, did you just come in? Can you go back out? The problem with trying to remove all misogyny is that reasonable people may differ on what constitutes sexism or misogyny, and an attempt to eliminate all of it is going to necessitate eliminating non-misogynistic comments too.
posted by klangklangston at 1:38 PM on November 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


It doesn't surprise me as much as it should that this thread started out with men criticizing women for being too sensitive and telling us that if we're offended we should be assertive and aggressive and call out the sexism where we see it, if we want to change the tone on Metafilter,

...and is ending with men criticizing women for being too assertive and aggressive and not couching our calling out of sexism where we see it with enough benefit of the doubt, gentleness, and sensitivity, if we want to change the tone on Metafilter.


I disagree that the thread is ending, but this is a great point and one that was part of the unsettled feelings I was having about being told we should be gentle in our objections about sexist comments - but one I couldn't figure out how to voice. So thank you.
posted by agregoli at 1:41 PM on November 20, 2007


...this sort of attempt to understand in the face of things that bother us is essential.

I used to believe that too. I've learned that it's often just a waste of time (it's being able to determine WHEN it's a waste of time that's the hard part... and then THAT seems to become a waste of time, and... whatever). Anyway, what better way to teach someone that it's a waste of time than to prod them into wasting even more time on it?

For lunch, I enjoyed eating a big plate of beans.

The last couple days I was seriously considering walking away from the MetaFilter, doing the Ephereal Bligh thing, pushing the BIG SHINY RED BUTTON. But I've decided to do the opposite; to participate more, speak my mind, and send my self-editor out for coffee when I want to write something questionable. If my biggest fear is deletion or a timeout, what do I care; and you're still let four panels shit here, how much worse can I be?
posted by wendell at 1:49 PM on November 20, 2007


Race and ethnicity -still- play an important role in politics throughout the world. Sunni, Shi'ite, and Kurd aren't just religious sectarian differences, for instance: they indicate patterns of intermarriage and communal relation identical to the way black/white/asian function in the US. (Even the term Hispanic, which indicates a language group rather than some biological distinction, plays an important role in politics more analogous to race.) I wouldn't necessarily want to shut down a debate between Sunnis and Shiites in which Sunnis demanded, say, an equal stake in Iraqi governance because the Shiites, though fellow Muslims, could not be trusted to apportion public goods fairly. Such a discussion might traffic in all sorts of crude and violent rhetoric, but it's still serving an important public function.

Or consider the role of anti-Semitic language in France, where the largely excluded Arab populations frequently traffic in anti-Jewish rhetoric as a part of making their point about the role of religion and class in France. Those are the sorts of thing I'm thinking of when I talk about subalterity. You may also know a bit about the affaire du foulard in France, which is even more at the center of what interests me in these discussions.
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:51 PM on November 20, 2007


sorry, the above was addressed to Don Pepino.
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:52 PM on November 20, 2007


"I disagree that the thread is ending, but this is a great point and one that was part of the unsettled feelings I was having about being told we should be gentle in our objections about sexist comments - but one I couldn't figure out how to voice. So thank you."

Forgive me, I don't see that, but I'll admit that I may have missed it in the churning of this thread. I hope it hasn't come out of anything that I've said, since I emphatically don't believe that people need to be gentle (that's a tactical decision for each commenter to make).
posted by klangklangston at 1:56 PM on November 20, 2007


The equation of sexist statements with racist statements feels forced and cheap, though the analogy attempt is pretty clear. It's also misguided because not everything a black person thinks is racist is actually racist.

hmsbeagle's phrase "...I urge you to... think beyond "making your buddies laugh..." if what you're saying may strike female readers as hostile and terrible." places the power of what's offensive in the hands of one particular group. From some guys point of view that's a complete no win situation because it means you'll have to be careful of what ALL women MAY think, with an implied notion that you should care more about those who are offended (harder) than those who aren't (easier).

Now, it's entirely possible, if not probable, that some guys who think this are just jumping through mental hoops so they don't have to change a damn thing and can excuse themselves or brush of any behavior. That's understandable from a human perspective of we're all resistant to change, but that doesn't really help solve the problem.

Maybe pointing out that someone is saying sexist crap about their mother or sister or girlfriend would spur some thinking. It really depends on the guy, if he's with a group, what the group is, the dynamics of situation i.e. a couple of guys on the street are different from a couple of male co-workers. It's probably most important to be calm, quietly forceful, not backing down, be willing to call bullshit on bullshit and never feeling as though you have to apologize for how you feel and topped off with a bit of humor. Taking this shit too seriously gives it more power than it deserves.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:07 PM on November 20, 2007


Not every instance of sexism is 1:1 racism, you know that, right?
No, not really. I don't know what that means. Being bigoted against people based on their sex isn't equivalent to being bigoted against people based on their race? Is lessbad morebad? Burning a cross on somebody's lawn is worse than commenting on hemlines? Sexually harrassing an employee is worse than wearing a "Buckwheat say Otay" t-shirt? Whut?

I think that being able to make jokes about racism, which can in some context be construed as racist, is worth alienating some folks who would object to those jokesAw, crap, jokes about racism and sexism are okay, aren't they? I might've missed something. I thought I was objecting to racist and sexist jokes. I'm not talking about your baby-eating (which I remember because I laughed at it), driving while not black stuff, I'm complaining about "I'd hit it," goddaggit, and I frequently laugh at "I'd hit it," myself, in much the same manner described by Your Time Machine Sucks a thousand hours ago, I just defend more strongly the right of somebody to say "This instance of 'I'd hit it' is not good" than the right of somebody to say "I'd hit it" in the first place. Stuff that strikes me as funny is frequently the opposite of the best of the web.

(OMG, occhiblu is so very right that we need a break.)

So, as for complaints that some men fear being turned into humorless neuters regarding sex-difference jokes, yes, I see your reasoning as part of that,
What're you "so, yessing" me for, GOD I hate that, I didn't ask any yes/nos and I ain't said word one about men being rendered castrato by huffy squads.

Occhiblu is really really right: we're conflating one another's comments and e-mails and now you're telling people to "go back out!" You never tell anyone to "go back out!" You alcoholicist! (Not Friend-o-Billist!)

(I agree with your last point. I am horrified to discover I still can't spell "privilege.")
posted by Don Pepino at 2:14 PM on November 20, 2007


I used to believe that too.

I hear you, wendell. I still believe it, clearly, and try to remind myself of it every day because I remember being younger and not keeping it in mind; and remember, vividly, the times more recently when even with the attempts to remind myself I've slipped and gone after the ugly cardboard caricature of someone that I'd settled on, rather than grounding myself in trying to see the real person. I know it's exhausting and tiresome, and of course there's that pragmatic question of when do you stop trying to find the benefit of the doubt and start just shrugging of flipping the bird. And there are, worse yet, people who have nothing better to do than exploit that effort and test that limit. Everybody's human, tempers flare, patience has its limits.

But it's that point of surrender that gets me. It's when you find yourself moving too quickly, too casually, too self-assuredly to the point of abandoning the effort, and get short or dismissive with people who you figure aren't worth the effort...that's the problem. That's when it all falls apart, and any discussion of civility and respect is just lip-service because you're not giving any better than you're getting and you've decided that that's not even your fault. I hate seeing that happen, and I hope that in your efforts to be more outspoken on the site you don't fall into the same pattern EB spoke about falling into, of caring less.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:17 PM on November 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


We oughtn't to get too discouraged to go on trying to drag them out of it just because they don't come willingly right away.

Exactly. "Drag" might sound a little offputting, and klang was clearly put off, but if you're offended you can mentally substitute "encourage." The point is that the more you can see us guys as fellow humans who have been warped by history and society rather than hopeless fuckwads, the more likely you are to talk to us in a way that encourages us to try to remedy the situation rather than slink off muttering "goddammit, there's no satisfying 'em." Note that I am NOT saying anyone here has been unduly nasty, just trying to expand on Don P's point.

Another thing (expanding, I guess, on cortex's much-contested point): I think it's important to take into account the context of people's remarks and jokes, both the context of the thread and that of the poster's MeFi history. I got pissed off at UbuRoivas's Condi comment because it was dumb and sexist, but I didn't think "That Ubu is a fucking sexist asshole" because I've read his contributions here for a long time and I know that while he can be irritating he's basically a good guy. He just needs to learn not to say dumb, sexist things. And klang hasn't said anything terrible, for pete's sake, he's just a touchy contrarian who refuses to knuckle under to what he perceives as moral bludgeoning. It's important to know who you're talking to and the context in which the talking takes place; I think one problem jennydiski's having is that she doesn't really get MetaFilter, doesn't know its tangled history and how and why it works the way it does, and when she sees something that bothers her she just snaps that it's wrong and should be changed. But change is difficult around here; the place works pretty damn well, and it would be easy to ruin it with a well-intentioned tweak or two.

If you're offended by something, by all means complain; you will be listened to. You will probably get snarked at (and one does have to get used to snark to participate here, which does not mean one has to tolerate sexism), and you may not see any immediate results, but if there's any general validity to what you're saying (in the present context, if you're a woman bothered by what seems to you like sexism, if others see it that way as well) it will get taken up by others and perhaps spark an illuminating discussion like this.
posted by languagehat at 2:45 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think one problem jennydiski's having is that she doesn't really get MetaFilter, doesn't know its tangled history and how and why it works the way it does, and when she sees something that bothers her she just snaps that it's wrong and should be changed. But change is difficult around here; the place works pretty damn well, and it would be easy to ruin it with a well-intentioned tweak or two.

This suggests that only those who have been here for a long time and know the history can have a view. I don't get the jokes and I don't get the history. What I do get is that the women in this and the other thread have been more than accommodating, speak of weariness, nonetheless speak, but are still being told (and sometimes reminding themselves) to be nice and polite.

I've been on the planet for long enough to look at a situation and recognise what I see. If what you mean is 'mind your own fucking business' then I respect that, and will indeed let you all get on with it. I just wish I didn't keep hearing women having to apologise to men for wanting what they want because some men are turning the argument around and suggesting that they are being persecuted and are in danger of losing their right to free speech.
posted by jennydiski at 3:00 PM on November 20, 2007 [6 favorites]


"What I do get is that the women in this and the other thread have been more than accommodating, speak of weariness, nonetheless speak, but are still being told (and sometimes reminding themselves) to be nice and polite."

Where? Where has that seriously come up in the last, say, 100 comments? I mentioned before missing it, but it's obviously such a big deal to you that you can, you know, point to examples, right? I mean, unless you're redefining "be nice" as "don't be clueless," I'm not seeing it.

"This suggests that only those who have been here for a long time and know the history can have a view."

No, it suggest that those who have been here longer have a more informed view on internal MeFi politics than you do. It's not saying that you can't have a view, or that you don't have a view, just that your view isn't very sage, and that the more you grind at it, the less inclined I'll be to listen to you.

"I've been on the planet for long enough to look at a situation and recognise what I see."

Obviously not.

"I just wish I didn't keep hearing women having to apologise to men for wanting what they want because some men are turning the argument around and suggesting that they are being persecuted and are in danger of losing their right to free speech."

And I wish you didn't keep inventing straw men to attack, and characterizing legitimate complaints as claims of persecution. ALMOST EXACTLY LIKE YOU CLAIM MEN ARE DOING.

"No, not really. I don't know what that means."

It means that not every instance of sexism is directly analogous to an instance of racism, especially when you get into gray areas.

"I thought I was objecting to racist and sexist jokes. I'm not talking about your baby-eating (which I remember because I laughed at it), driving while not black stuff, I'm complaining about "I'd hit it," goddaggit, and I frequently laugh at "I'd hit it," myself, in much the same manner described by Your Time Machine Sucks a thousand hours ago, I just defend more strongly the right of somebody to say "This instance of 'I'd hit it' is not good" than the right of somebody to say "I'd hit it" in the first place. Stuff that strikes me as funny is frequently the opposite of the best of the web."

I agree with you exactly on this—my worry comes purely because I don't think it's always instantly apparent whether a joke is about racism or racist; whether a joke is about sexism or sexist. That's all. Everything else, I'm with you on.
posted by klangklangston at 3:21 PM on November 20, 2007


This suggests that only those who have been here for a long time and know the history can have a view... If what you mean is 'mind your own fucking business'...

It's certainly not intended to suggest that, and no, that's not what I mean, and I'm pretty sure nobody who's paid any attention to what I've said here over the years would think that. And nobody's telling the women "to be nice and polite." This is exactly what I'm talking about: you make the worst assumption about someone you're supposedly having a conversation with. Where do you expect the conversation to go from there? This is why cortex is stubbornly insisting on the "attempt to understand in the face of things that bother us"—that doesn't mean "be nice," it means "try not to assume the person you're talking to is an asshole."

I respect what you've had to say here and thoroughly support your overall point. Your specific way of interacting is at times counterproductive; I've made the charitable assumption that that's because you don't have a long history with the place (which does not mean, if I have to say it again, that that's required in order to participate). Can you really not deal with criticism?
posted by languagehat at 3:23 PM on November 20, 2007


Heh. Or what klang said, in his feistier way.
posted by languagehat at 3:24 PM on November 20, 2007


I don't mean to sound negative, and I do think this discussion has in general been very validating to me, but I'm starting to wonder whether we are going to lose some of the progress we've made here if we don't have something more formal or some way to follow up on this discussion after it (inevitably though one wouldn't guess from looking at today's participation) drifts off.

Don't get me wrong, I am grateful beyond words to the men (and women) who have spoken up in this thread and said they are going to try to be more cognizant of whether their comments might create an unfriendly atmosphere for women, and I really think that is more progress than has ever been made in a boyzone thread before.

But there are . . . maybe two dozen people who have been reading this thread? Maybe three dozen? What if we all make an effort for a few weeks and then move on to other things, and the women who are normally silent who have participated so articulately in this thread go back to being silent, or to skipping threads because of their expected dismay at what they will encounter there?

I'm going to suggest this again: maybe we should have a group that discusses this issue more regularly. Or, maybe we should come up with a set of principles promoting open and friendly dialogue that we could consider adding to the wiki. Or even just a "here's a suggested list of responses if you see a comment that seems to create a boyzone or otherwise unfriendly atmosphere: _____" Just . . . something to make more concrete the progress that has been accomplished here. Because the community in general isn't going to read this thread and we've done a ton of work here so it would be really helpful to have something to take away from it.
posted by onlyconnect at 3:32 PM on November 20, 2007 [7 favorites]


Onlyconnect: I'd love for something concrete to come out of this (though it'd prove me wrong from way-upthread). And, unfortunately, I think your estimate of two dozen people is rather high. Likely a dozen, max.
posted by klangklangston at 3:34 PM on November 20, 2007


Not every instance of sexism is 1:1 racism, you know that, right?

Oh sure it is. But you know, not every instance of racism is OMGRACISM either.

Whether it's racism or OMGRACISM, it's all racism. What's going on here isn't OMGSEXISM either, but it's still sexism.

I think that being able to make jokes about racism, which can in some context be construed as racist, is worth alienating some folks who would object to those jokes.

What jokes about sexism? This is another thing that's being alleged to exist but isn't really there (like calls to ban sexist jokes/words/comments aren't really there).

So, as for complaints that some men fear being turned into humorless neuters regarding sex-difference jokes, yes, I see your reasoning as part of that, especially because it's much more rare for someone to admit that they didn't get a joke than it is for them to get huffy and offended.

Oh that's alright, no one's going to wake you up in the middle of the night and make you more sensitive to such things. It's still your choice.
posted by Danila at 3:40 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


maybe we should have a group that discusses this issue more regularly

I, for one, would love that, and I promise to join it if you or someone else creates it (er, if you'll have me, that is, he added, resentfully remembering a Eurogroup that excluded him as a fuckin' Yank). This discussion has excited and encouraged me more than anything on MetaTalk has in a very long time.
posted by languagehat at 3:49 PM on November 20, 2007


For example, on the wiki under "What is a good comment," I'd suggest the addition in italics:

No ad-hominems or name calling. It doesn't impress anyone.
Try and use proper spelling and grammar (although some make an art form out of not doing this).
Split your comment up into paragraphs - a long, unbroken block of text is very hard to read.
Smart ass, snarky and otherwise non-contributive comments should be approached with caution and avoided entirely in Ask Metafilter. On any Metafilter board, please think very hard before you make a "boyzone" comment that is likely to alienate women of the community (e.g., "I'd hit it" etc.).
Provide further links on the topic if you can. (suggested suggestion)
If you want to address a specific member just call them by username. The @ convention isn't used.

I'm sure others can improve upon this suggestion. It might also be helpful to have something on the in jokes page. Would it not be helpful to have even a separate page re civility, or maybe even a reminder on the posting page?
posted by onlyconnect at 3:50 PM on November 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


woah. dragged to meta! i think this is my first callout!

i read cortex's unpacking, but don't have time right now to work out which other comments, if any, are related to my joke.

responding to cortex: i have no idea what this centipede joke is. never heard it, nor of it.

the - ok, tasteless - play is this:
- cheney et al are dicks
- dickipedia includes only men
- this implies that only men can be included
- this implies (as various ppl riffed on) that something similar should be set up for women, - named after womens' genitals
- to me, this means that condi should be an automatic inclusion
- this is because i think condi is a cunt
- (although normally, i refer to her as the bastard spawn of satan)
- somebody set up an association by writing "do i smell a cuntipedia?"
- female genitals, typically, are not completely odourless
- (and nor are many other things in the world, like whisky, bacon or roses)
- so you end up with a neat little syllogism:
- condi is a cunt
- cunts have smells
- therefore, condi smells
- (and this is what the person was smelling)

anybody who thought i was writing "condi has a smelly twat" - yeh, i can see how you could make that interpretation, but i'd suspect you're trying to be offended, because it goes against the entire dickipedia/cuntipedia premise, that these people *are* dicks or cunts.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:03 PM on November 20, 2007


Hey Ubu, I didn't think this needed "dragging to MeTa" and so meanwhile, I was discussing this with you in your absence on the blue. Crossposties!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:11 PM on November 20, 2007


doesn't know its tangled history and how and why it works the way it does... the place works pretty damn well, and it would be easy to ruin it with a well-intentioned tweak or two.

I could wave my miniscule user number around (like a penis, only smaller) and declare that, based on my knowledge of MeFi's tangled history that I understand how and why it works the way it does, but I'm still, after 8 years, not quite sure it's working as well as it could. Then again, some people equate success with bigness and I, for one, am glad it's not as big as Fark or Digg. But 'a well-intentioned tweak or two' might RUIN this place? You obviously haven't noticed all the more-than-tweaks (from the addition of AskMe to the multiple moderators) that HAVE changed this place and NOT ruined it. I even vaguely recall a couple tweaks that got untweaked because they had negative effects. But right now, the biggest effect this discussion has had on the site is that we seem to be getting more than the usual number of FPPs about sex, sexuality, gender and genitalia, including some from participants in these threads (on all sides). Not that it isn't highly entertaining, just not "best of the web".
posted by wendell at 4:14 PM on November 20, 2007


Well, I do kind of get a bit of what jenni diski's trying to say. That "weariness" she referred to is what, as previously mentioned, kept me from posting in these threads originally. Despite my participation on this site and the participation of a lot of other great women, it can be a testosterone frenzy. Which is fine. But from past experience I've learned that it's just less upsetting for me when I accept that at times my gender will make me the outsider in an argument. I learned the hard way that there are some people who just aren't open to considering the female side. So the other day I decided to walk away rather than defend myself or call fourpanels out. Made a few "Gee I'm such a troublemaker!" jokes... ha ha ha. I just didn't want to waste my energy when I knew I probably wasn't going to win because Matt already deleted the post anyhow. I didn't need the drama so I let other people make the noise. And the best way to describe that choice was weariness. Or laziness maybe.

I get the same way when I'm getting annoyed at people who are ignorant about muslims or whatever. But oddly, I find it harder to stand up for women sometimes than I do for muslims. Because I'm not muslim so the nasty things people say hurt me but not so deeply, so I can stay in the conversation without getting deeply offended on a personal level. When I'm defending women, in a way it's harder because when people say nasty things they hurt me more personally. I can only take so much of it. It's too heartfelt for me. Ironic because you would think I would fight harder for myself than for other people.

The comment Jess said upthread about people needing to view women as an equal part of the community is spot on. Knowing that boyzone thing exists does get weary when you find yourself in the center of it and realize that you've accepted in advance that there will be a lack of sensitivity to you as though that's normal. It shouldn't be normal for anyone.

And by the way? I hate the word "cunt." And I don't call people "dicks" either. I prefer the gender-neutral/donkey-friendly term "ass."
posted by miss lynnster at 4:16 PM on November 20, 2007 [3 favorites]


Onlyconnect: You know, of course, that you have the power of Grayskull and can change the wiki. You can even make it say "I'd hit it" over and over again.

Danila: Of course, you're right—there are no jokes about sexism. That's because sexism is never funny, and there isn't any humor that undermines established power relationships. If I were to say, "Why are blonde jokes so short?" and then deliver the punchline, "So men can remember them," that would be a terrible thing and I should cry, like a man (imagine the slowly sobbing visage of the Brawny paper towel mascot) for saying it. When I tell my girlfriend that she can't wash the dishes, because that's "man's work," I'm not making a winking commentary, I'm forcing her back into a gendered division of labor. Because jokes about sexism don't exist.
posted by klangklangston at 4:16 PM on November 20, 2007 [4 favorites]


If it matters, I think sometimes women in these discussions reach for racism analogies because people respond to their "Well, I think this is sexist" or whatever with some form of "That's not really very important" or "That's only moderately important", when it feels quite important to the person talking about it. You know? I don't think it's ideal to then try for a racism analogy, but I sure do understand the urge.

And I do want to speak to what Jennydiski is saying, in that, in real life, I'm sort of ladylike and polite (which may be sort of hilarious in light of my level of cranky in these threads, I realize) and I think I bring lots of baggage to the table about gender roles, and male authority, and submissiveness, and I myself find it a really irksome trait that I can feel in myself an intense desire to soothe ruffled male feathers in these debates.

And! (I'm trying to condense comments.) I wanted to highlight that in the thread about the female game producer, I noticed several men giving pushback to various odd comments, and it struck me that I have probably previously not been aware enough of the courage it takes for a man to say something like that, and I'm going to try to be more cognizant of it going forward. So there.

On preview: UbuRoivas, I can see the internal logic of your argument, and I can say with sincerity that I'm not trying to be offended, but I still don't like it.

Wendell: 206! And I've noticed the uptick in the posts you mention, too. It sort of a little bit makes me wonder if there's any benefit to discussing these things, because then you always have to sit through the period of people blowing off steam. Heh.

(Sorry to anyone reading this in their "Recent Activity". I'm sure this will die down soon.)
posted by thehmsbeagle at 4:20 PM on November 20, 2007


responding to cortex: i have no idea what this centipede joke is. never heard it, nor of it.

Yeah, as I gathered. Bah.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:22 PM on November 20, 2007


reclaiming cunt
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:24 PM on November 20, 2007


Yeah, see I don't need to reclaim it though. I never claimed it to begin with 'cuz as a word I just don't like it, no matter what it means. I simply feel that my girly nether-regions simply deserve a far prettier sounding nickname.
posted by miss lynnster at 4:42 PM on November 20, 2007


I simply feel that my girly nether-regions simply deserve a far prettier sounding nickname.

have you considered "little miss funnster"?

other than that, i think i'll try to stick to a self-imposed moratorium on tongue-in-cheek, un-PCish jokes here. plenty of people will say that they reinforce the power structures & whatnot, but i think there's a big difference between hearing one in person & reading it online - like the way that sarcasm & irony can be hard to detect online. i believe that things are usually far less scary, ambiguous or offensive in person, when you can actually catch the tone in which they are said.

posted by UbuRoivas at 4:53 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


I prefer the gender-neutral/donkey-friendly term "ass."

But asses are such wonderful things, why turn them into a slur?

(kidding)

I've learned a thing or two in this thread. I've learned that what might be 'rough joking' or acceptable kidding around in a casual situation among friends is not neccesarily going to be taken the same way in a forum full of umpty-thousands of people, many of whom hardly know eachother and that the onus is on all of us as posters to maybe take that into account before just going for a quick laugh, and I'm going to try to do that more in the future. I'd never want to make somebody feel unwelcome, honestly.

I only ask one thing in return: don't automatically assume ill intent when somebody says something you strongly disgaree with. I'm not talking about the rape-jokes and other obviously egregious stuff*, I'm talking about someone criticizing or question someone's point and automatically being assumed to be the enemy. That does put people on the defensive which can bring out the aggression. I'd appreciate it if that decreased.

I'm not saying that we should all tiptoe around eachother like faberge eggs, we're big boys and girls, we can be frank with eachother. But we shouldn't turn every conversation into a Texas Cage Death Match either. 'Nuff said?

** Which for the record I don't particiapte in. I'll cop to the 'I'd hit it,' and juvenile panting and leering on occasion. Hopefully, it was chalked to immaturity and not maliciousness.
posted by jonmc at 4:57 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


(also, to counteract the 'humorless feminist' stereotype, I happen to know that occhiblu has a sense of humor, even about feminism. just so you know)
posted by jonmc at 4:58 PM on November 20, 2007


"(also, to counteract the 'humorless feminist' stereotype, I happen to know that occhiblu has a sense of humor, even about feminism. just so you know)"

Oh, yeah. So does jokefe. So does my mother.
posted by klangklangston at 5:05 PM on November 20, 2007


So does jokefe.

But she also likes Yes. But I think she's OK anyway.
posted by jonmc at 5:09 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Some words have impact not merely becuase of perception but becuase of velocity. In that some words have very hard sounds, they actually hit you.

The word "fuck" is great example. It has the amazing launch ramp with the "FFFFF" sound, and then the stone age exhale of the "U" and then that marvelous crash landing with the "KUH" at the end.

"Cunt" is pretty much like that, too. It hits you. Even when you think it. Strip it away from the slang and it still slaps you in the face like wet glove filled with sand.

Part of our taboo of these words is the basement level of the brain simplicity of them. People often say using sear words is sign of ignorance. Well. Some astonishingly cruel ignorant things can be said with multiple syllables. And we think that is "clever."

Swearing can be pure poetry.

In closing let me just say there are certain persons here no matter how valid they may be criticizing people for something... I won't listen to them. They have shot their wad the second they got personally insulting.

The new sweet as pie TK is not going to get angry. He won't be cruel. The new sweet as pie TK will simply ignore everything you say, and I mean everything, IF you get personal. Don't make it personal. That is all I ask.

Everybody go get a drink.
posted by tkchrist at 5:19 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


based on my knowledge of MeFi's tangled history that I understand how and why it works the way it does, but I'm still, after 8 years, not quite sure it's working as well as it could.

Did I say "it's working as well as it could"? No, I believe I said it works pretty damn well. Yup, that's what I said. No straw men, please.

Then again, some people equate success with bigness

Do you have any reason to think I do? (Hint: I don't.) Then why bring it up? See above re: straw men.

But 'a well-intentioned tweak or two' might RUIN this place?


Affect it negatively, yes. "Ruin" may have been overstatement, which of course you never practice.

You obviously haven't noticed all the more-than-tweaks (from the addition of AskMe to the multiple moderators) that HAVE changed this place and NOT ruined it.


Why yes, I have, but thanks for the insulting assumption. But did I say it was impossible to change the place and NOT ruin it? No, I didn't. I said it was possible to ruin it. "Might," capeesh?

Have you decided to take on the role of Big Bad Protective Male who will insult all the other males so the wimminz will look up to him with awe as the Great Defender? Look to the beam in thine own eye and stop trying to pry imagined motes out of others. Thanks.
posted by languagehat at 5:25 PM on November 20, 2007


thehmsbeagle asks whether "there's a way to, post-comment, express discomfort without people feeling that their joking good time is infringed upon," a way "to be able to say 'Hey, that went too far' without people feeling attacked." And onlyconnect wants "something to make more concrete the progress that has been accomplished here."

I think a flag could call the mods' attention to such comments or posts, maybe a flag labeled "sexist"? The flags appear to work pretty well, at least in the sense that the site itself works pretty well, and the mechanism is already in place, so there'd be no large-scale changes needed to implement it. I know I feel I'm participating here when I flag something, whether or not my flag results in a comment or thread being deleted. Would a sexism flag help anybody else feel they could speak up about sexist comments without attacking anybody and without drawing attention to themselves in the process? Would the moderators feel too much of a burden fielding such flags to make them worth it?
posted by cgc373 at 5:35 PM on November 20, 2007 [2 favorites]


Not to downplay the good idea behind it, but I'm not sure that augmenting the wiki is necessarily going to be the most effective outcome of this marathon. It's like putting a sign up on the fridge - it probably won't be noticed.

I'd been contemplating in the last couple of days how an edited version might make a good wiki page perhaps but I think I've come to the conclusion that "SOMEONE" might wish to take these 2 threads and a couple of weeks and present a distilled commentary with quotes, a sort of metafilter-navel gazes-and-sexism-stares-back assemblage. Then they would post their extended essay online in some form. Then they would post it to projects and then it would be posted to the front page of Metafilter.

But it's a big project.
posted by peacay at 5:39 PM on November 20, 2007


That sounds good on paper, peacay, but I can just see it resulting in a lot of people taking a lot of things personally and a big brawl erupting.
posted by jonmc at 5:43 PM on November 20, 2007


I think a flag could call the mods' attention to such comments or posts, maybe a flag labeled "sexist"?

I think this would honestly be pretty disruptive. We have "offensive content", which has the advantage of not implicitly condoning any omitted specific offenses.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:49 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well it would certainly require some delicate work but let's face it, out of 850+ comments, you're probably just going to axe out maybe 500 to get to the main ideas expressed. Or maybe you'll paraphrase ten comments kinda thing. That might help to make it more about the concepts and behaviour and less about individuals. It's just an idea (I can hear the 'tip-tap' of wannabe-journos keyboarding away in the background as we speak).
posted by peacay at 5:51 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


(I can hear the 'tip-tap' of wannabe-journos keyboarding away in the background as we speak).

Please, I beseech you hypothetical journos in the name of all that is good and right, if you do the essay thing... post it to Projects, and let it be voted on.

The thought of another 1400+ meta thread, sparked by the deletion of that hypothetical essay because it's a self-link, makes my testicles wither and die a bit.
posted by CKmtl at 6:00 PM on November 20, 2007


Huh. I guess because I see sexism as so specifically problematic, I forgot it's also recognizable as "offensive content" and covered under that umbrella. Also, I'm not easily offended, so the urge to flag as such rarely strikes me, unlike the urge to flag broken HTML or doubled posts, which errors seem to me more obvious.

I'll flag sexist stuff as offensive from now on, and I'm saying cortex said to do it as my all-purpose justification. Actually, I'm going to use cortex said I could to justify everything I do now. It sounds intellectual, doesn't it?
posted by cgc373 at 6:01 PM on November 20, 2007


So does my mother.

*bites tongue until it bleeds*
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:04 PM on November 20, 2007


onlyconnect: I think adding some pithy guidelines to the wiki is a great idea. I wonder if there's a way to phrase it that's isn't "there might be women around who will be offended" but more like "people at Mefi generally aren't impressed by that stuff" or something -- making it less the "out-groupers asked us to stop and we went along with it, rolling our eyes the whole time" than "the men here aren't real hot on the rape stuff either". Pith isn't my strong suit though.

peacay: I do think that's a good idea, and I would do it if it was the summer, but I won't have time until January. I think a key element of abstracting the useful stuff would be dropping pretty much all the blow-by-blow of who took which position -- because what should emerge is a picture of the most useful stuff, not so much a biography of the thread and the occasional nastiness that has gone on.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:25 PM on November 20, 2007


We could also have some kind of distilled guidelines or examples etc of how badly things go if you choose to take criticisms personally and then choose to attack the person who you perceived to be attacking you. I think there's been some temper-temper stuff like that here even from people who are totally in earnest following the discussion.

Even aside from the sexism stuff it would be good if those of us in here went back to the blue with a renewed commitment not to escalate in that way, it would model a better way of interacting for other people in contentious-issue threads.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:30 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


And klang and Ubu, again, yes some of this stuff is jokes about sexism or ironic commentaries about sexism or the like. As I think you both recognize, even those "I don't mean it in the bad way" jokes when piled on top of each other or when presented baldly enough will create a weird, hostile, are-we-all-on-the-same-page-about-this, maybe-not, feeling. It's different in person, it's different among people who know each other well. In this faceless forum, even when we have some sense of each other, people making jokes like that have to be ready to step down if they get called out. (Assuming that the callout takes the form of "woah, creepy and misogynist remark" rather than "you raging asshole, never speak again" -- and I think the former is a lot likelier.) Calling out the creepiness of a joke like that should elicit a quick, "Yeah, sorry; I realize that could come off the wrong way. Not my finest moment." And then we can all eat pie together.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:40 PM on November 20, 2007 [4 favorites]


"Calling out the creepiness of a joke like that should elicit a quick, "Yeah, sorry; I realize that could come off the wrong way. Not my finest moment.""

I'll try to be better about that in the future (and in remembering that not everyone knows me here, despite my increasingly desperate pleas for human contact).
posted by klangklangston at 6:57 PM on November 20, 2007


"*bites tongue until it bleeds*"

No, yo momma got a sense of humor about feminism.
posted by klangklangston at 6:58 PM on November 20, 2007


Real women buy the first round.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:12 PM on November 20, 2007


or is it too soon for joke phase?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:13 PM on November 20, 2007


Yo momma's so feminist she can't go to the beach because the waves detract from the continuum.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:16 PM on November 20, 2007 [4 favorites]


This thread is really one of metafilter's finest hou....uh, days. I haven't participated much, but I've been reading, and am much encouraged by the way people here have engaged so seriously in a conversation about an issue like this. I'm going to try to follow the examples I've seen set here. Thanks, everyone.
posted by rtha at 7:16 PM on November 20, 2007


I regret turning the heat back up on this thread, but getting a five-point dissing from the languagehatter demands response...

Did I say "it's working as well as it could"? No, I believe I said it works pretty damn well. Yup, that's what I said.
No it's not. That's a truncated quote, of the type used to give a wrong impression. YOU SAID: "the place works pretty damn well, and it would be easy to ruin it with a well-intentioned tweak or two," which unless I am even a bigger idiot than I admit to, infers clearly that you feel that it works well enough for you and attempts to improve it in this department are ill-advised and potentially dangerous.

No straw men, please.
I don't play the "I win if I can show more logical fallacies in his argument than you can in mine" game. I'm not a skilled manipulator of the English language for the purpose of debate, I'm a guy who makes money writing funny articles about TV shows and fast food. Yes, I'm guilty of some fallacious arguing, but whenever you read something I say about you and think "That is NOT me," I'm not trying to make you look bad, I'm expressing the impression that I got from what you wrote. If it's the wrong impression, sometimes it's my mistake, but sometimes it's you making the wrong impression.

Do you have any reason to think I do? (Hint: I don't.) Then why bring it up?
Because this is not a private conversation between the two of us, but rather a posting to a publicly accessible forum which may be accessed by OTHER people who'd see my comment, and when it came up in MY mind as a potential response from somebody ELSE, I wanted to nip it in the bud. One thing I never consciously do is use "some people" as a cover for criticizing somebody directly; if I thought you did, I'd say you did. And if you can help find me a way to say "some people" that says it more clearly, please, let me know.

Affect it negatively, yes. "Ruin" may have been overstatement, which of course you never practice.
I openly admit to using overstatement. A lot. Tons. All the time. It's one of the most reliable tools for writing funny, and runs through a lot of my one-liner snarky comments. And it sometimes bleeds into my more serious writing, but my self-editor usually, but not always, catches it. I've changed the wordings a few times in this very thread before hitting "POST" in order to change "most" to "a lot" or "a lot" to "some"... But I really didn't expect YOU to throw out an overstatement like that unless you did it intentionally to make a big impression. Also, the use of the term "well-intentioned", which is specifically defined as (I looked it up) "marked by good intentions though often producing unfortunate results" reinforced an impression that you felt doing something (by now, I don't even know what) about sexism would, without doubt, do harm, not good. "Might ruin", but definitely harm. I firmly disagree with that assessment.

Thanks for the insulting assumption.
Yep, over the top, a place where I should've used the html sarcasm tag if there were one. Or better, I should have said "come on, dood, you HAVE seen all the tweaks..." instead. My bad. My apology. It's one bee I put in your bonnet for no good reason.

Have you decided to take on the role of Big Bad Protective Male who will insult all the other males so the wimminz will look up to him with awe as the Great Defender?
When I decided to get more vociferous about my own feminist leanings here, I knew that I was going to get that lame stereotype thrown at me. But not from you. Way back in the 80s, I was accused of that often, and not only did I not get much awe from the "wimminz", feminism NEVER got me laid. Which, interestingly, is the same thing Ephereal Bligh has said and I believe him. I've done some self-examination about this "New Wendell", and almost abandoned it simply out of fear of becoming "another Ephereal Bligh". But, you know, I'm not. Except for the extreme length of this comment, that is.

Look to the beam in thine own eye and stop trying to pry imagined motes out of others. Thanks.
I know you never had much respect for me, I was this smart-ass who not only made one-liner funny comments, but actually used PUNS! But I used to actually look up to you in the MetaFilter community. Sometimes it takes a long time to get an inaccurate early impression out of your head, but I think I've figured it out now. Yes, that was snarky. Bite me, asshat.
posted by wendell at 8:38 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Completely aside: where the heck did "Ephereal" come from?
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:07 PM on November 20, 2007


BECAUSE I AM A SHITTY SPELLER. I got that wrong the FIRST time I referred to him and it has kept coming back like a bad habit. I just have NO experience using the word "Ethereal" in conversation OR writing, and, if you couldn't tell from my rant above, I AM AN IDIOT.

-wendull
posted by wendell at 9:17 PM on November 20, 2007


So, this whole time, I thought Wendell was a girl! Not that there's anything wrong with that.

And also, I sort of think of LanguageHat as the Big Protector Of The Ladies. Which, I don't know, will he have to be upset with himself now?
posted by thehmsbeagle at 9:24 PM on November 20, 2007


where the heck did "Ephereal" come from?

Elizabethan English. Used more or less interchangeably with "epheminnate". From the Greek root "ephe" (phonetically, "effer") meaning either "virgin" or "whore"

posted by UbuRoivas at 9:50 PM on November 20, 2007


Sit, Ubu, sit.

And stay away from that beagle; you haven't been neutered.

This is the kind of stupidity I am capable of when I send my self-editor out on an errend.
posted by wendell at 9:57 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


(whoops, did i just do it again? i can't even tell anymore)
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:10 PM on November 20, 2007


*sits, looks contrite*
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:13 PM on November 20, 2007


888.

Really. I think 'shame' is the proper response to a number that high in MeTa.
posted by quin at 10:17 PM on November 20, 2007


Can this monstrosity of a thread finally be over so we can get on to more important things... like wishing nickyskye a happy birthday:)
posted by vronsky at 10:32 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday nickyskye,
Happy Birthday to yoo-ooooo!!!

(If they come after you for royalties, Matt, I can cover up to $14.35. I just paid my car registration and insurance. Yeeesh!)

And for anybody who didn't get my Ubu joke...
posted by wendell at 10:47 PM on November 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


*sigh*

yeh, i'm supposed to be a buffoonish, scatological king from the realm of riot-causing schoolboyish absurdism, crossed with a mysterious & grotesque Godot-like figure (H Roivas, from Kenneth Patchen's dark surrealist novel, The Journal of Albion Moonlight), but do you think anybody knows Jarry & Patchen?

no. but they know a stupid dog with a frisbee from the credits of Family Ties.

strangely, that actually fits in a way, so i don't mind it so much.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:30 PM on November 20, 2007


As I said in the comment that contained the joke, it was stupid and I knew it was stupid. And most of my cultural references are 'pop' cultural, middle-to-lowbrow. (I wrote a piece about "TV Vanity Cards", using Ubu for a closing line.) But I realized that even "Ubu the dog" was not quite a ubiquitous reference and so I felt double-stupid. My apologies, UbuRovias. Sit, wendell, sit!
posted by wendell at 11:46 PM on November 20, 2007


I've not been on the rest of the site, but I have been following these threads. I activated this account so that I could respond to this one comment:

”I don't mean to sound negative, and I do think this discussion has in general been very validating to me, but I'm starting to wonder whether we are going to lose some of the progress we've made here if we don't have something more formal or some way to follow up on this discussion after it (inevitably though one wouldn't guess from looking at today's participation) drifts off.”

It was a combination of things that caused me to leave MeFi. But one of the biggest things was my strong feeling that nothing substantial would come of this thread, even though it really is a watershed moment for MeFi—with both the unprecedented number of MeFi women participating and airing their long-standing complaints, as well as some productive dialog.

But, as she said, this is only a tiny portion of the MeTa-reading subculture of MeFi, much less of the whole population. And how many men are reading this? If they all changed their behavior—which is unlikely—could that be expected to substantially change the culture as a whole?

Will an entry in the Wiki change anything, considering that most users don't know it's there and those that do mostly don't use it?

I suggested, in the thread and in an email to jessamyn, that MetaFilter take the bold move to officially begin a campaign to become more woman-friendly. I disagree with those in this thread who disavow moderation of comments with regard to sexism—I think that's crucial. And an official campaign, talked-about, sidebarred, Meta'd, etc. would involve the entire community. It would be controversial, but that's the crux of it: most people don't much think there's a problem, especially if “most people” means “most men”...and MeFi is now dominated by men. There will be pushback. But there's going to be pushback against the smaller activity from the people in this thread, too. Only a sustained, large-scale, and administrative-backed campaign can actually change things in the ways that have been talked about in this thread. Otherwise, this will just be a slight bump in consciousness-raising for some, some women will feel that they've been heard, but over time you won't see much change in the behavior site-wide, and whatever small good comes out of this thread will be forgotten.

Sometimes it's the right time for taking bold action. Don't just let this be another “well, we've listened to what they have to say” maintenance of the status quo. Make some real change come from this thread. It's possible, a bunch of you just have to push hard.
posted by K M Ellis at 12:28 AM on November 21, 2007 [9 favorites]


"And for anybody who didn't get my Ubu joke..."

God, don't do that! Don't explain! We should be counted on to understand the chain of absurdist play to Pere Ubu to Ubu Productions to Family Ties.

That's why we're here—so we don't have to explain jokes and kill their humor.
posted by klangklangston at 12:31 AM on November 21, 2007


SQUEEEE!

EB, bring it. Ain't no complaining without fighting.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:33 AM on November 21, 2007


EB's Michael from the third film (I WILL NOT EXPLAIN).

Also, you had kmellis already—you didn't need to tithe another five.
posted by klangklangston at 12:34 AM on November 21, 2007


But one of the biggest things was my strong feeling that nothing substantial would come of this thread, even though it really is a watershed moment for MeFi—with both the unprecedented number of MeFi women participating and airing their long-standing complaints, as well as some productive dialog.

maybe i should actually read this thread. every time i've popped by it's read like one of those very esoteric ones, with people responding to minutiae of sub-points above, all talking at cross purposes. that kind of thread is usually only interesting for those personally involved, & it's hard to be involved if you haven't been listening in all along. i had no idea that it was anything like a watershed.

overall, i'm all for mefi becoming less of a boyzone. i mean, i'd get bored pretty quickly if every second thread was full of "guys just think with their dicks. oh, c'mon, it was only a joke, lighten up!" ~ that kind of shit is prevalent enough in the world & i'd like to think we can raise the bar a bit, no pun intended.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:03 AM on November 21, 2007


How symbolic was that E... KM.

Careful you don't fly away.
posted by 517 at 1:14 AM on November 21, 2007


I'm not sure that an "official campaign" is workable, or even if it's the best way to do it, but before there ever is something official, there must be an "unofficial" meeting of some-of-the-minds to determine exactly what that campaign should consist of. Let's get some specific suggestions here and expose them to both potential supporters and opponents and see what can be cobbled together as a package before trying to sell the MetaPowersThatBe. Let's hear all the possible ways to keep things moving forward. Right now, thinking out loud, I don't know what's the way to go, so let's have some community brainstorming. If an off-Metafilter site is needed for this discussion, I have an underused hosting account, several unused domains and the ability to set up a WordPress MultiUser blog (but I really believe that's not the best way to go).

Part of me still has loyalty to the site's long history of minimizing moderation, and part of me has been party to a lot of shenanigans that a seriously moderated site would not have tolerated (but not usually of the "boyzone" variety), and part of me always worries about getting hit with the back end of a double-edged sword (restricting sexually-related commenting makes it harder to call a prick a prick). But another part of me has picked through a lot of garbage to get some of the gems of this site, and I have long felt that if the mods are not pissing quonsar off, they are not doing their jobs.

Clear, specific standards just seem so UN-MetaFilter, yet, the bar IS set higher at AskMetaFilter and it is now the most popular part of the site.

Obviously, there are non-site-sanctioned actions available, including 'voting with your feet' and going elsewhere (I personally believe that MonkeyFilter.com has a lot of unfulfilled potential as an alternative with a different culture) and large(r)-scale engagement (what if every way-over-the-line post or comment got 'flashmobbed' with responses - kept polite and respectful, just a lot of response).

An unofficial sub-group of members can also work together to help shy lurkers to unlurk and know somebody has their back; in adequate numbers, "the unlurked" would have a real effect on the culture here.

Here's a really crazy idea... a volunteer "Welcome Wagon" group to reach out specifically to new users, answer questions about rules, written and unwritten and even volunteering to do vetting of their first comments and posts... could we ever get enough users to volunteer?

You may not like these ideas. I may not like them myself, I said I was just thinking out loud.

Let's hear some better suggestions...
posted by wendell at 2:09 AM on November 21, 2007


what the heck. 900. woot again.
posted by wendell at 2:10 AM on November 21, 2007


And an official campaign, talked-about, sidebarred, Meta'd, etc. would involve the entire community.

K M Ellis, I'm swallowing my reactive first thought in this instance because of course good ideas are more important than ... some other things.

Talked-about: *looks up thread, strains neck* CHECK
Meta'd: *sees dirty brown greyish stain on monitor* CHECK
Sidebarred: But what exactly would be sidebarred? And why do you think any great % of the membership follow the sidebar? I almost never look at it.

Official Campaign: That's a top-down thing and I believe in my heart that, save for a bit more vigilance and excising of comments maybe, Matt is not going to give this a big blinky-tag status in terms of decrees, more rules and the like. I may of course be wrong.
Involve the Entire Community: That won't happen, or at least, you can't expect to convince a sizeable population (of the MetaTalk-visiting membership) to bother with something unless and until they have something put before them that is readable and sensical in terms of size and proposals.

More succinctly: Many wonderfully enlightening things have been communicated here but it's a book sized bastard at the moment, with a fair bit of noise to boot. The thing needs to be edited at the very minimum to create something digestible.

I think that *might* be the first order of business. Perhaps a Meta post could be made seeking opinions on how that might be done? Or the vaunted committee mentioned above somewhere or other could be convened to sort it into some form of narrative? Or as I suggested, some enterprising individual might try to distil it into a more accessible form themselves?

I'm not going to second guess the overlords (well, more than I've done) but I think it's a big ask foisting the initiation of some campaign onto their shoulders directly. And I'm not so sure some humungous other discussion thread at this point in time is necessary unless it's focusing on some salient views/ideas/recap of the development of thought that has transpired here.
posted by peacay at 2:36 AM on November 21, 2007


Happy Birthday nickyskye!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:19 AM on November 21, 2007


Metafilter is about interesting links and sharing them. Turning it into something else, however well intentioned, distracts from that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:30 AM on November 21, 2007


Oh you mean like the distraction of having a dismissive grenade tossed into a prolonged discussion? Yes, that is distracting.
posted by peacay at 4:37 AM on November 21, 2007


I have read (most of) this thread. I think that it is important to make MF a place where people (all genders, races, nationalities) can feel comfortable. But I also feel that the overwhelming US majority skews the debate in a way that alienates (or at least confuses) a lot of others. It isn't that the debate here is wrong or misplaced, but it is operating on a plane well removed from the realities in much of the world.

I am sorry, I see as I write this that I am not presenting a coherent argument, but these are some random facts I want to throw into the mix, maybe just to put a larger international perspective on things.

Random Thing One:
In Afghanistan, where I am working now, the brutal and dehumanizing sexism that is part of the local culture makes women's issues of a much more immediate and pressing nature. Things like "should women have the right to attend school?" or "how can we stop the daughters of widows from being sold into servitude by the in-laws?" are real issues that are attached to real women I have met here. They can't even read, let alone access the Internet. This debate you guys are having right now wouldn't make any sense at all to them - it would seem like angels in paradise arguing about how to make the rivers of honey tastier.

Random Thing Two:
Right now as I surf the Internet, my woman* is on her hands and knees, cleaning the floor with a wet rag.

"Why do you always clean so much?"
"I like to, I think while I am cleaning."
"Does it bother you that I am not cleaning with you?"
"I like to plan my day tomorrow, I am thinking, planning my lessons."
"So really, it doesn't bother you that I am just sitting here, reading, and not cleaning?"
"No."

I honestly believe her. I imagine that a lot of the posters in this thread are aghast considering this scenario, and are adding more points in the "Meatbomb is a sexist pig" tally. I don't think my woman needs to be re-educated and made aware of the male power structure so that she can become fully self-actualized. I think she just likes cleaning, and has grown up in an environment where the women clean while the men sit around. I don't think that this is inherently a wrong or bad thing.

Random Thing Three:
When I see the way language has shifted, especially in North America, since growing up in the 70s and 80s, I get really uncomfortable. I still use "mankind" to refer to humanity and "he/his" as neutral pronouns. But I know there are a lot of people who take that as evidence of my sexism.

It reminds me of Newspeak. If we can control the way people can express themselves, we can control the way people can think. And the trend is ever more towards nerfing the language, so that no-one is ever possibly hurt or offended. People get fired for using the word "niggling", people want the language changed from "women" to "wymyn". It is a slippery slope, and it makes me want to retreat back in protest.

I guess it is a bad idea to post this, as I don't have my own thoughts clear, and I am sure I am coming off as a woolly-headed reactionary. I guess, to be honest, I am. And I understand that the points I raise are only tangentially related to the very focused debate you guys are having (is it still OK to call men and women "guys"?). And that the positions I describe here are the extreme ones, not the arguments put forward by the people debating within this thread.

The one point that I think I can make is that this debate is a very American one, and to a lot of people elsewhere on the planet it just doesn't have any connect with reality. Americans are too sensitive, and too quick to take offense, and too quick to want things made safe and comfortable at the expense of open and honest communication.

*I hate the term "partner", it is another way that the language we use has been nerfed and sanitized for your protection.
posted by Meatbomb at 4:51 AM on November 21, 2007 [4 favorites]


Meatbomb, I am very interested in the plight of women in Afghanistan and think it's a wonderful topic for a post and discussion. But this thread is about the feelings of alienation of women on METAFILTER from comments of a sexist and sexually violent nature and an attempt by them to communicate those feelings to the rest of us in the hope that the general behaviour on this site can be improved. So, Afghani women don't really come into this discussion*.

And I'm very Australian and I disagree entirely with your reading of this as being slanted towards an American (or any other nationality for that matter) viewpoint. Unless you meant 'western' in which case, yes, it is slanted towards western views because the women on this website are by and large from western countries.

*(Oh yes, I'm being a pedantic bastardo, because this discussion is very unique and it would be a huge shame if the important matters aired here were to be lost in fractured side-talk that tends only to dilute the concerns voiced by women on this site. It's ONE discussion about and for them and their feelings here, and it is totally unfair to curb it or derail it or otherwise stop it from proceeding. I say this in a general sense and not to harass you specifically Meatbomb. But race concerns and nationalities and etc are only important in so far as they impact on the feelings of alienation expressed by the women on this site. In this thread. Yes, hate me for my repetition.)
posted by peacay at 5:14 AM on November 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


No, peacay, I entirely agree, and accept that my comments are essentially a derail. So please, let the original discussion continue.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:53 AM on November 21, 2007



Oh you mean like the distraction of having a dismissive grenade tossed into a prolonged discussion?


No, I mean like Metafilter has particular goal in mind, which has developed quite a community. You want to shift that around, start using the community for something else, no matter how well intentioned, you're asking for trouble and loss of the core goal.

Note that I'm not saying yea or nay on the EB's suggestion (it's hard to think of him as anything other than EB!) but you're going to have to take into account the disruption this will cause. Again, you're asking people to put forth effort when they didn't have to before and that's gonna prompt backlash. Do you want that fight and before you answer, think long and hard about all the places, good and bad, that fight can go.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:54 AM on November 21, 2007


My experience doesn't chime with your "random thing one" at all, Meatbomb. I spent a time working in rural development in remote mountain communities in south-west China, both Han, Yi and mixed. Part of the programme included a microfinance initiative aimed exclusively at women and small groups of women neighbours would be created to guarantee each other's loans. One thing that emerged from this was the appreciation of a slightly more formal space for interaction between women away from male direction and domination of the discourse.
posted by Abiezer at 6:07 AM on November 21, 2007


What peacay said. Meatbomb, your concern for oppressed women in Afghanistan is laudable, and I'm pretty sure we all share it, but you very much come across as saying "You first-world women have it better than the women in Afghanistan, so shut up and enjoy your benefits." Which is a dumb thing to say, so you might want to rethink either your position or your communication strategy.

It reminds me of Newspeak.

See, it sounds like you're equating women's desire not to be ignored or condescended to with totalitarian oppression. You might want to rethink that as well.

If you've gotten into the habit of calling someone you know "nutso"—"Hey, nutso, get me a cup of tea, OK?"—and one day that person says "Uh, you know what, I don't really like being called 'nutso,' do you think you could call me by my name?"—what's your response? Accuse them of being Orwellian?

EB/KME: It's great to see you back, and I hope you'll stick around. (But I too am wondering why you didn't just use kmellis!)

Bite me, asshat.

Oh, give me a break, wendell. No, I never "got" your sense of humor (and it's not the puns, I like puns), but that doesn't mean I have no respect for you, it just means I tended to roll my eyes when you jumped into every other thread to make what was (to me) a dumb unfunny joke. But that's just me, senses of humor are notoriously individual, and others obviously enjoyed your jokes, so I didn't wish you under the cornfield; I only mentioned once, as far as I remember, that I didn't find you funny, and I suspect that was in the context of your stupid mass-mailing prank, which I think you'll agree was sufficient provocation.

But what's going on here is that we were all having a nice conversation when you came out of nowhere, walked over to me, and stomped on my foot, apparently for no other reason than that you resented the fact that I don't like your jokes. And then when you get a response, you cry about it. What did you think I was going to say? "Gee, wendell, thanks for showing me the error of my ways"? Sorry, pal, but if you don't want to get your feelings hurt, don't step on people's feet. If you want to go fight the Knights of Sexist Assholery, knock yourself out, but you know damn well I'm not one of them. Not claiming to be perfect, but I'm trying to be part of the solution here, and I don't appreciate your trying to paint me as part of the problem.

Don't get me wrong, I approve of the New, Concerned Wendell, and you're on the side of the angels. Just keep your clodhoppers off my feet, OK?
posted by languagehat at 6:14 AM on November 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Brandon Blatcher Huh? The outcome is to maybe change some behaviour so that women don't feel intimidated into not wanting to be here or participate and you're getting all gloom and doom about the site going under?! WTF!!

So the alternative is the status quo where the "I'd hit it" gang go on their merry way. Man, we are talking about helping the guys see how their often/sometimes unintentional sexist comments have real negative impact on the way women feel here. What K Ellis has proposed is just one idea and it, like everything else recently raised is more about giving the thoughts expressed here a higher profile.

It's not about stopping good links, good jokes or good discussion. It's just about making this place less of a female-offending shit hole. I am fairly sure the site can survive that. And besides, you've made nearly 30 comments in this thread. Was that investment for nothing, just for some provocative amusement without actually caring about what was said by many women here?!!
posted by peacay at 6:18 AM on November 21, 2007


Oh, and I'd like to formally thank jennydiski for getting this great discussion started. No, it's not going to immediately Change MeFi Forever, but it's already gotten lots of people thinking and it's made a difference in the Blue (sexist comments are getting called out and people are actually apologizing!). The Boyzone Meter has hardly budged in years, and now you can see it moving. I call that a good thing, and I hope it continues. Keep speaking up, gals!
posted by languagehat at 6:18 AM on November 21, 2007


And the real effort of which you speak Brandon Blatcher is actually the application of a personal filter - asking yourself before you hit send:

"Is this comment of mine possibly going to perceived as portraying women as sex objects, is it overtly sexist, does it have violent or rape overtones, will it likely offend women in general?" If the answer is yes to any of the subparts, DON'T POST IT.

[someone could write that better I'm sure but essentially it's this kind of boiled down nugget of a question I envisage as the most important element to circulate and to perhaps have on the posting page/wiki or have it as the conclusory remark to an edited version of this whole enterprise)
posted by peacay at 6:28 AM on November 21, 2007


feminism NEVER got me laid. Which, interestingly, is the same thing Ephereal Bligh has said and I believe him.

You know, as an aside, I have no idea why a guy would expect or hope that being a feminist to get them laid. After all, I would imagine most female feminists kind of expect that you be a feminist? Kind of how I would expect you're not a racist, etc. if I'm going to respect you? It's not a special status, it's one I expect by default.
posted by agregoli at 6:36 AM on November 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oh, and I'd like to formally thank jennydiski for getting this great discussion started.

Aye. Weird, bumpy arc these last few days have been, it seems like good has come of it. Speaking of, though, she apparently closed her account yesterday around 4 pm server time. No note or anything, so your guess is as good as ours.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:53 AM on November 21, 2007


You know, as an aside, I have no idea why a guy would expect or hope that being a feminist to get them laid.

I think it's not that any genuinely feminist guys would expect it to get them laid; it's more a response to the joke/accusation that they're only into feminism because it, like, impresses chicks.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:57 AM on November 21, 2007


Meatbomb: I think this thread has a pretty international perspective already. In Germany, where I am, the hesitancy that some of the women in this thread have talked about having for voicing their objections is seen as a symptom of US backwardness on sexual equality. But there are countries which see Germany as comparatively sexist, FWIW. Which means nothing to this thread, which is the product of its participants and not of the infinite other things in life which could be arbitrarily substituted for their sensibilities and experiences.

adding more points in the "Meatbomb is a sexist pig" tally

It made me think your logic is bad, so I took anything that sounded sexist with a grain of salt.

BTW, language like "he" (for an hypothetical person) or "mankind" doesn't bother me in individual writing at all, because I consider it a stylistic thing and whatever nuance accompanies it is a fair enough choice for the writer. It bugs in official/institutional writing because in every other respect it is usually demanding to be interpreted literally. So, blog post or short story with "mankind" doesn't make me blink, UN-sponsored initiative with "mankind" in the title seems like a bad idea.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 6:57 AM on November 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Campaigns tend not to work because a lot of people don't like anything that smacks of official preaching. I also don't want to see the beauty of what matt has created altered -- his light touch and emphasis on self-policing is part of what has made this place so great. So if we can come to no other agreement about where we can go from here, let's start with self-policing.

Many of us paying attention at this point are among the site's most active users. It's tremendous that both men and women commenting here have made a commitment to actively confront this when they see it. It's tremendous that jonmc, who I never thought would back down from being defensive, came to the conclusions he did to say something like this, and that other men who seemed absolutely entrenched about denying there's a problem reconsidered their positions to various degrees. I'm choosing to have faith that this can be the start of a real change.

In some ways we very active posters and readers are like a (very, very weird) family. We can have great affection for each other but we can also get on each other's nerves something fierce. When this conversation has broken down it has generally been because egos got involved -- long-standing feuds and bad blood simmering up to keep us from hearing each other clearly. I realize this may sound pollyanna, but despite those derails, it genuinely amazes me that so many people here were able to push through old grievances to really talk to each other.

This subject is bigger than any one of us, our relationships with each other, our history with the site. So here is what I think: when we see sexism (or any other form of rank bigotry) in action here, we put aside ego, feuds, personal rancor -- what we think we know about each other -- and say exactly what we think about it, not the person uttering it. That doesn't mean we have to be "nice" -- it means we have to be clear that it's the sentiment we take issue with, not what we know or think we do about the person stating it. That means being less personally defensive, too -- being willing to admit when we've fucked up, misread, misquoted, or misunderstood.

There may not be many of us here, but those of us who are have a lot of power to change things, starting with ourselves. If you ever see me being insensitive or ignorant or just plain wrong about this or any other damn thing, be a friend and call me on it. I will do the same for you. I don't want to ever make the assumption again that someone's mind is too closed to even make the effort.

And yes, happy birthday, dear nickyskye.
posted by melissa may at 6:59 AM on November 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


Yeah, happy birthday nickyskye!
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 7:04 AM on November 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, and I'd like to formally thank jennydiski for getting this great discussion started.

Aye. Weird, bumpy arc these last few days have been, it seems like good has come of it. Speaking of, though, she apparently closed her account yesterday around 4 pm server time. No note or anything, so your guess is as good as ours.


Jenny, in case you're still following, I think it would be a great shame for you to leave over this. There's a breaking-in period at MeFi that we all go through on the path to active participation (no matter who one works for), and from some of your remarks I got the impression that you took that personally, and that you conflated it with people here not wanting to make positive changes on the issue of sexism -- neither of which I believe are correct reads on what's been happening. I think we're witnessing something pretty important happen at MetaFilter, and you should stick around to see where it goes and to enjoy the fruits, since you're the catalyst.
posted by pineapple at 7:13 AM on November 21, 2007


peacay , please reread what I wrote, especially this part: "Note that I'm not saying yea or nay on the EB's suggestion...but you're going to have to take into account the disruption this will cause."

asking yourself before you hit send:
"Is this comment of mine possibly going to perceived as portraying women as sex objects, is it overtly sexist, does it have violent or rape overtones, will it likely offend women in general?" If the answer is yes to any of the subparts, DON'T POST IT."


I don't think that's gonna work, as you're asking men to stop and think will this comment be perceived as sexist or violent and will it offend women in general. Pretty much anything written could be perceived as sexist by some women and just because women in general, whatever number that is, find something offensive doesn't mean it shouldn't be written.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:28 AM on November 21, 2007


Speaking of, though, she apparently closed her account yesterday around 4 pm server time.

It's the temptation of that big red button.... A "Werther Fever" for the cybercognoscenti: droves I say! They'll be dropping like droves!
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:34 AM on November 21, 2007


In case anyone's looking for a further resource or thoughts about these sorts of issues, I thought I'd throw out a link to Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog.

The structure's a little disjointed -- I wish they had structured it by topic, rather than date -- but the FAQ is a pretty good starting place. And I wish it had a different name; I don't mean to sound like I'm insulting the people here by sending them "back" to Feminism 101. I just feel like part of what's been a bit rocky in some of this are objections that come up fairly often when feminism gets discussed, and that some of us are struggling toward concepts that have been discussed well elsewhere, so it seems silly to keep re-inventing the wheel.

The nice thing about that blog is that they do a good job of linking to further sources, too, so if you find writers you like, you can probably find more of their writing.

And a larger point about discussing this further: This is not a problem unique to Metafilter. This is a problem that I see written about on almost a daily basis on almost all the blogs I read daily. We can of course continue this Metafilter-specific discussion, but I would urge people to also get involved in the larger discussion about how women are treated in public space in general, to be willing to learn more about the topic not just from the handful of us willing to stick in here and explain concepts over and over again on Metafilter.

Shakesville
Bitch, Ph.D.
Hoyden About Town
The F-Word

(Kate Harding, who I linked above, is also fantastic, though her main focus is Fat Acceptance; most of her writing also appears on Shakesville)
posted by occhiblu at 7:37 AM on November 21, 2007 [4 favorites]


This is why cortex is stubbornly insisting on the "attempt to understand in the face of things that bother us"—that doesn't mean "be nice," it means "try not to assume the person you're talking to is an asshole."

Before cortex jumped in suggesting that we all calm our mad, hysterical selves down so we could "understand", that's what everyone in this thread was doing- working to understand each other's perspectives. Maybe he can't be angry and think at the same time, but I can and was, and I didn't care for the insinuation that those of us who don't care for some of the language on this site were flying off the handle- I didn't see anybody out of control. It's not like this we all started thinking about this when these threads started- we've had our whole lives to think about this.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:46 AM on November 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oh, gah, sorry. More, slightly less constrained by my blind spots:

Angry Black Woman

Blac(k)ademic
Faux Real
posted by occhiblu at 7:48 AM on November 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Gals? These are women, LH, you might want to rethink your communication strategy.

Or maybe I should assume that what you write is with the best intentions, and not try to read into your remarks ill-will or condescension that I am sure you didn't intend. :)
posted by Meatbomb at 7:49 AM on November 21, 2007 [2 favorites]


she apparently closed her account yesterday around 4 pm server time.

Damn, that's terrible. I hope she reconsiders; she's a valuable voice here.

I don't think that's gonna work, as you're asking men to stop and think will this comment be perceived as sexist or violent and will it offend women in general. Pretty much anything written could be perceived as sexist by some women and just because women in general, whatever number that is, find something offensive doesn't mean it shouldn't be written.

See, this is what somebody way up there was talking about: when you say "anything written could be perceived as sexist by some women and just because women in general, whatever number that is, find something offensive doesn't mean it shouldn't be written," it pretty much sounds like you're saying "I don't want to think about or deal with this, so I'll deflect it by using the good old straw man/edge case defense." Nobody's saying "don't post anything that somebody, somewhere, might conceivably be offended by"; the idea is to think, before you post a throwaway remark, "is this one of those sexist things that bothers women?" and then, if your answer is "yeah, I guess it is," don't hit Post. I really think most guys, when alerted to the issue, are capable of figuring out what is likely to be taken wrong. Case in point: Reggie Digest didn't say "Hey, I can't be worrying about what some insanely touchy person might think," he said "I would like to formally apologize to you all for introducing a particular C-word to this thread. Sorry, folks. I see a dick joke, I forget I'm not on Fark." And I suspect he won't be so quick on the trigger next time. This is not Orwellian thought-control; this is learning to have respect for the women around you. It's a good thing.

And happy birthday, nickyskye!
posted by languagehat at 7:52 AM on November 21, 2007 [6 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: most (most) people here try to write posts which don't make them look: stupid, racist, unworldly, credulous, overly-invested. They are frequently called out for any of those transgressions against the reigning culture. They don't like it when other people think those things of them and they have put their internal editors on the case. Your statement that "Is this comment of mine possibly going to perceived as [....]" could be said about any of those things, yet nevertheless people try to evaluate their own writing and give it their best try because they feel like it's their public image on the line.

Maybe it's better to say, instead of "try not to offend anyone", "try not to impress anyone with your sexism" just like you'd try not to impress anyone with your parochialism or your racism.

you != you, yourself.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 7:59 AM on November 21, 2007 [3 favorites]


Clear, specific standards just seem so UN-MetaFilter

Definitely. Everybody has a set of personal guidelines that frame what they will and will not say. I think most people operate under a fairly similar set, but these personal rules are really not transferable from person to person and they certainly cannot be codified for 60,000 people on a site that sees it itself as an open exchange of ideas. Below are some of mine that pertain specifically to gender. The first four are guidelines I've long held. The last are two are beta rules I'm trying on as a result of this thread.

I think there is still plenty of room under these guidelines for my dirty jokes and my ability to call bullshit when I see it. I don't feel 'oppressed' by them in any way, and I actually take some offense in the implication that I would. They're *my* guidelines after all. I don't think sticking to them is particularly noble either. They all fall under the general 'try not to be an ass' and are really rather easy to adhere to.

I apologize for all the 'I' and 'me' in this comment. I just feel maybe it might help if I elucidate where my comments are coming from, as I think it has been presumed they coming from someplace else. Again, I don't necessarily hold other males to these standards (see 5 below) but I do think they are kind of common sense. (I'm also probably forgetting some, and I haven't really read the last couple of dozen comments yet but see they are about specific actions to take, so excuse any redundancy.)

Ok, with those disclaimers...
  1. Don't call any female (or any mefite regardless of gender) a 'bitch' in a heated comment.
    I will use bitch rhetorically or jokingly, in fact I can think of one recent comment where I used it as pretty much every other word. But I'm pretty confident I've never used it in anger against another person sine I was a teen, certainly never a female. I may have slipped a time or two against a male.
  2. Don't call any female (or any mefite regardless of gender) a 'cunt' in a heated comment.
    No caveats here, in fact I try just be safe and never say it. Maybe I've used it in a joke or two. I'll be more stringent on this. I do give some leeway in other poster's use of it, as I cannot be sure it has the same connotations for them as it does for me.
    2a. Any word for female genitalia really.
    A corollary is that there's no reason to call anybody a pussy or a twat in a heated way, when dick or asshole have the same meaning and less potential for alienation. Again, I'm more strict about this if I know the person I'm addressing is female. I do use these words quite frequ