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Your thoughts on current and future changes to make Metafilter more woman friendly
November 23, 2007 8:19 PM   Subscribe

Recently, as in the past day or so, the flag for "offensive" was changed to "offensive/sexism/racism". This was done at the request of several female members who believe Metafilter has become or has been hostile to women and who wished to have some means of highlighting these instances. Several other changes are being considered, such as an addition to the FAQ/guidelines, although nothing concrete has been hammered out. If you would like to add suggestions or have constructive criticism, please do so in this thread. If you you would like to read the full story of how this came to be, check out this previous Metatalk thread. It's a bit long, but worth reading for a full understanding of how this issue came about.
posted by Brandon Blatcher to Etiquette/Policy at 8:19 PM (1005 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

AAAAAARRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!
posted by Skorgu at 8:31 PM on November 23, 2007


It's a little more complicated than that, but that's the gist. The big thread spawned a lot of interesting discussion including feedback from many women that they feel that the atmosphere here can be hostile or alienating to them. We'd like that not to be the case, as moderators, keeping in mind that this is a site with a lot of people, men and women, and a long (proud?) tradition of snark and ass-grabbery.

I see this personally from time to time but not in a major way (since I'm mostly on Ask and here) so it was helpful to get a lot of feedback from people in that thread. We figured the first step to being able to actually work on this issue is to have admins be AWARE of it, hence the flag change. We'd like this to be a bit of a wake-up call that some of the more egregious racist/sexist stuff that crops up in MeFi (even stuff that's supposed to be at least partly ironic or jokey) is getting in the way of people feeling like this is a community where everyone's contributions are valued.

We're not planning, for the moment, to do anything major, but we're data collecting and letting people know what's up. We'd like to get some language into the guidelines and faq that maybe expands on what "don't be an ass" means so that women don't have to trudge through a swamp of "I'd hit it" and violent Ann Coulter rape fantasies to contribute in MeFi.

Feedback is encouraged especially the non-ironic kind.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:35 PM on November 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


Could we get a luddite tag?
posted by b1tr0t at 8:43 PM on November 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


less ironically - I don't see the point of mixing sexism/racism in with the general offensive tag. Either leave it at offensive, or add in a bunch of subcategories.

also: wendell
posted by b1tr0t at 8:45 PM on November 23, 2007


This reminds me of how people often refer to "drug and alcohol abuse" as if alcohol weren't a drug.

On preview, what b1tr0t said.
posted by dhammond at 8:47 PM on November 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also note that the sexism thread killed off 3 members. That's got a be a record.
posted by puke & cry at 8:51 PM on November 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Or 2 maybe. I'm not sure what vronsky was on about.
posted by puke & cry at 8:51 PM on November 23, 2007


If a primary point is to collect data, then having a catchall offensive/sexism/racism category won't be particularly helpful. For example, you won't be able to answer the question, "how many racist/sexist flags have appeared in the past month?" because you can't differentiate posts flagged as generally offensive vs. posts flagged as racist/sexist.
posted by googly at 8:52 PM on November 23, 2007 [5 favorites]


To add a bit of paraphrase/recap re: "what? isn't that covered under 'Offensive'?"...

Several people said they are reluctant to use the 'Offensive' tag for sexist / makes-me-uncomfortable-as-a-woman stuff, as they considered it to be more of a "hey, someone's being a blatant asshole" flag. The low-level, simmering sexist vibe of some comments didn't strike them as severe enough to merit the 'Offensive' tag being used.
posted by CKmtl at 8:55 PM on November 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also, I think the sexism/racism flag is totally unnecessary. both of those fall under offensive content so I don't see the point. Also, what googly said.
posted by puke & cry at 8:55 PM on November 23, 2007


In general it's more important to be clear than parsimonious when working with UI. For instance, if you're designing a medical form, sure you can pat yourself on the back for just having a checkbox for a family history of "drug abuse," but if someone doesn't check it because daddy just drank a quart of Wild Turkey a day and never smoked the marijuana, the form isn't doing its job.

If this does the job it's designed for, I'm all for it.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 8:56 PM on November 23, 2007 [11 favorites]


I don't see the point of mixing sexism/racism in with the general offensive tag.

The point of mixing the sexism/racism monikers in with the general offensive tag IMHO is to make it clear that MeFi does actually consider sexist BS as meriting a flag. And not a subset of offensive, either - top level offensive.

Which I for one am all over. Because often enough, reading MeFi and watching all of the BS-of-that-flavour that goes by unchallenged and uncommented upon, you would not necessarily know that. Having it in the flag list makes it clear.

I finally flagged for the first time because prior to reading The Thread That Never Ends today, I thought that sort of crap was OK with The MeFi Powers That Be, even though it isn't OK with me. I sort of considered it the price one pays to play with the boys on MeFi. I am happy to no longer have to pay for that ticket. I already forked over my $5, thanks very much.

I'm not sure it is the most elegant phraseology one could possibly come up with, but I don't have a better suggestion right now. That it is there is, right now, more important to me than how it is stated.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:58 PM on November 23, 2007 [22 favorites]


Dammit. s/tag/flag/. That particular brainfart or typo is too easy to fall into.
posted by CKmtl at 8:59 PM on November 23, 2007


To import an idea that was batted around in the other thread, a "Site Etiquette" page would be a worthwhile addition. This page would include some general guidelines for participation on the site, e.g., avoid personal attacks, be sensitive to sexism/racism/other identity issues, explore the site before you let your guns blaze, etc. It should be short and sweet and easily cited with a link. The idea wouldn't be to create a rulebook (i.e. "you have been found guilty of violating section 2.4.3(a) of the Guidelines"), but rather an official statement that makes clear certain types of conduct are beyond the pale.

Of course, it should still allow plenty of room for general crudeness and tomfoolery.
posted by brain_drain at 9:01 PM on November 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


If you you would like to read the full story of how this came to be, check out this previous Metatalk thread.

You might have to read this one, too. To be truly hardcore, read them simultaneously using time stamps as a guide.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:04 PM on November 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


Hmm. Mine still says only "offensive comment".

Safari 3.0.4 on leopard if that helps.
posted by Stynxno at 9:10 PM on November 23, 2007


My only problem with "offensive/sexism/racism" is: "offensive" is an adjective. "Sexism" and "racism" are nouns. "Offensive/sexist/racist" would be better.
posted by Bugbread at 9:10 PM on November 23, 2007 [14 favorites]


wait. it works. i just had to do a hard refresh.
posted by Stynxno at 9:11 PM on November 23, 2007


Stynxno writes "Hmm. Mine still says only 'offensive comment'."

Matt indicated you might have to do a hard reload of the page to see it (so that the javascript part is also reloaded). Dunno how to do that on Safari.
posted by Bugbread at 9:11 PM on November 23, 2007


Whoops. Timing.
posted by Bugbread at 9:11 PM on November 23, 2007


"Hard" refresh. Heh.
posted by 31d1 at 9:16 PM on November 23, 2007


Flagged.
posted by dhammond at 9:20 PM on November 23, 2007


Well this is good. It'll give everyone who doesn't find racism or sexism offensive a whole new way to flag all those inoffensive posts they're running across.
posted by ikkyu2 at 9:22 PM on November 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


My only problem with "offensive/sexism/racism" is: "offensive" is an adjective. "Sexism" and "racism" are nouns. "Offensive/sexist/racist" would be better.
posted by bugbread


Nah, not really.

The implied subject / verb is "This comment is..."

So, all three work.

"This comment is offensive."
"This comment is sexist."
"This comment is racist."

But I have to say... What's wrong with being sexy?
posted by The Deej at 9:23 PM on November 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wha?
posted by chinston at 9:25 PM on November 23, 2007


It wasn't just women who requested it, either.
posted by tristeza at 9:27 PM on November 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


No wonder q left.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:32 PM on November 23, 2007


? I'd be pretty surprised if that were true.
posted by taz at 9:35 PM on November 23, 2007


(At least) three separate flags would give better information.
posted by timeistight at 9:37 PM on November 23, 2007


You know, I posted an Ask Mefi thread asking people for non-offensive terms for fat men that can't be used to describe muscularity, for use in a personal ad. I promptly got called a "flabby" "Buffalo-Butt-Kentucky-Fried-Chicken-Eating Motherfucker".

It's not like the whole thread was full of those comments. But they were there, and even in small number, they deeply and significantly offend me.

So, Matt, Jessamyn, Cortex, I think we need a new noun added to that list. "Offensive/racist/sexist/fat nonacceptance."

Because Mefi is really not very accepting of fat people. It's a total thinzone, and I want moderated protection from those who would offend me by their nasty, non-fat-accepting ways. I cannot simply read their comments and write them off as rude assholes or as people whose value systems are both opposed to mine and offensive to my beliefs; I demand that their non-fat-accepting posts be removed from my field of view. They simply don't have a right to offend my sensibilities; Mefi must be a safe forum for me where I can participate without fear of having my character assaulted — indeed, where I must have official, institutional, moderated, built-in protection against people who would offend my sensibilities with their uncaring attitudes and words.

Obviously, I mean none of the above. Metafilter has a character to its populace, and part of that character is that people say what they mean, and other people challenge what they mean, and the clash inspires people to write well-crafted snark.

If I write a shitty FPP, I'm going to get 20 people immediately telling me in full, graphic, and nasty detail precisely how much of a shitty FPP it is. That's one of the many things that make Metafilter a unique community on the Internet, and I wouldn't want protection from it. I'm highly disappointed that this idea has garnered such utterly enthusiastic traction behind it. I guess Mefi couldn't hold off the P.C. police forever.
posted by WCityMike at 9:48 PM on November 23, 2007 [22 favorites]


Flagged as sexist. The system works!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:50 PM on November 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


I approve of this. It makes it clear that it's everyone's job to call people on their shit, not just the admins'.
posted by SassHat at 9:53 PM on November 23, 2007


I'm highly disappointed that this idea has garnered such utterly enthusiastic traction behind it. I guess Mefi couldn't hold off the P.C. police forever.

WCityMike, it's possible to be snarky and tell people their post is shitty without invoking racist or sexist undertones.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:54 PM on November 23, 2007 [5 favorites]


> WCityMike, it's possible to be snarky and tell people their post is shitty without invoking racist or sexist undertones.

I'm not defending racism nor sexism. I'm stating that if people write racist or sexist comments, call them out. God, I hate sounding Republican, but one of the key values that makes Mefi the place it is is that people are really not that careful with what they say, nor are they especially sensitive of other people's feelings. That actually gives it a sort of pleasant brusqueness and honesty.

The more we indicate to people that they need to watch what they say lest they offend other members' sensibilities, the more this place is going to be less than it is.
posted by WCityMike at 9:58 PM on November 23, 2007


I guess talking about values doesn't necessarily sound Republican.

Oh, shit. offensive/sexist/racist/fat nonacceptance/offensive to Republicans flag. Sorry 'bout that.
posted by WCityMike at 10:00 PM on November 23, 2007


I'm stating that if people write racist or sexist comments, call them out.

That's what the flag is for.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:01 PM on November 23, 2007


> That's what the flag is for.

The flag is for moderator removal of the comments. By "calling them out," I meant, "I'm callin' you out, pardner," i.e., MetaTalk or disagreement in the thread proper.
posted by WCityMike at 10:05 PM on November 23, 2007


Don't forget cat-declawist
posted by b1tr0t at 10:08 PM on November 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is the problem with a new thread.

People are not going to even skim the other thread - which is long and fruitful and contained pretty amazing examples of people reaching for mutual understanding - and are instead going to leap to loud conclusions about how the horrible, awful politically correct nannies have found MetaFilter at last, and I personally am just fresh out of patient explanations of why it is offensive to ladies to say that so-and-so female political figure deserves to get raped to death, and why it is exhausting and unhelpful to be the only person in that kind of thread commenting against the flow of traffic.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 10:08 PM on November 23, 2007 [16 favorites]


> I personally am just fresh out of patient explanations of why it is offensive to ladies to say that so-and-so female political figure deserves to get raped to death, and why it is exhausting and unhelpful to be the only person in that kind of thread commenting against the flow of traffic.

I'm sorry it's tiring to defend your point. I should probably just give in to save you that hassle.

And, of course, threads where one person says it's not okay to rape someone to death, and everyone else disagrees — they are so frequent and common here that perhaps you're completely correct.
posted by WCityMike at 10:11 PM on November 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


The more we indicate to people that they need to watch what they say lest they offend other members' sensibilities, the more this place is going to be less than it is.

Yeah, because god knows I've got a baker's dozen ass rape jokes just rarin' to go and oh no! what is this? the PC police?! Oh no, my creativity is being shunned! MeFi just won't be the same without my jokes how I would violently act towards Ann Coulter if given the chance!

WCityMike, we're not covering the place in nerf and asking you to say only nice things to one another from here on out, just asking people to dial back the worst stuff that we're bigger than and can do without (like calling famous women bitches, cunts, etc automatically in any thread about them).

It's not a slippery slope problem, it's bringing up the level of discourse slightly by saying a few things at the bottom are no longer tolerated.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:12 PM on November 23, 2007 [34 favorites]


I'll be interested to see how use of the flag plays out. I don't think we'll feel it right away, but I bet over a few months, most of us will be pleased by the result.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:13 PM on November 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


The Deej writes "So, all three work.

"'This comment is offensive.'
"'This comment is sexist.'
"'This comment is racist.'"


I think you read my comment backwards. With the current flag, it's:

"This comment is offensive."
"This comment is sexism."
"This comment is racism."

I'm recommending them to be changed to "sexist" and "racist" respectively, which would result in:

"This comment is offensive."
"This comment is sexist."
"This comment is racist."
posted by Bugbread at 10:15 PM on November 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Actually, WCityMike, pretty much nobody who participated in that thread and approves of the flag addition wanted admins to start deleting comments. I would say "nobody" but maybe one or two slipped by me. The resounding consensus response, repeated over and over, was that top-down radical moderation (deleting, banning) was not wanted at all, except in the most extreme cases (something that already exists - no change there).
posted by taz at 10:18 PM on November 23, 2007


I'm sorry it's tiring to defend your point. I should probably just give in to save you that hassle.

I think you're missing the point. The premise was hashed out over about 1500 comments distributed between a few threads. It was decided there.
posted by 517 at 10:19 PM on November 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


> It's not a slippery slope problem, it's bringing up the level of discourse slightly by saying a few things at the bottom are no longer tolerated.

Matt, no one on a slippery slope actually recognizes they're on a slippery slope. Incremental steps always appear to be innocuous and simple common sense, until you look around one day and compare where you are to where you used to be.
posted by WCityMike at 10:20 PM on November 23, 2007


> I think you're missing the point. The premise was hashed out over about 1500 comments distributed between a few threads. It was decided there.

You know, there's this weird few words between the TITLE tags for this pge. "Your thoughts on ... " But I'm sorry — the premise has already been decided and the argument is over. I see. Matt, could you: s/your thoughts/Announcement Regarding/g? Thanks.
posted by WCityMike at 10:21 PM on November 23, 2007


> I'll be interested to see how use of the flag plays out. I don't think we'll feel it right away, but I bet over a few months, most of us will be pleased by the result.

I'm sure you will. Were someone to weed out for me every comment I found offensive from Mefi, I too would be pleased by the result.
posted by WCityMike at 10:22 PM on November 23, 2007


I personally am just fresh out of patient explanations of why it is offensive to ladies to say that so-and-so female political figure deserves to get raped to death

I personally am just fresh out of patient explanations of why it is a bad idea to give a cultural monster a free pass for Its rhetoric.

That doesn't mean Coulter needs to get "raped to death", as careful reading of the original thread shows, but it does mean that one should be careful about extreme, often absurd measures imposed by others (not necessarily on Metafilter, but across the general human condition) to limit one's response to Its horrific behavior.

That's not to say this flagging scheme is necessarily extreme or absurd. But I don't think that monster's behavior applies to this discussion. Or if it does, then a discussion about the utility of being forced to be polite — accommodating, even — in the face of abject, craven evil might perhaps be worthwhile.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:24 PM on November 23, 2007


bugbread, it can also be interpreted as "this comment is offensive/this comment is an example of sexism/this comment is an example of racism". We could change it to be more grammatically correct as implied by the flag, but people in the previous thread really wanted to see the word "sexism" over "sexist" to put it in the minds of members viewing the site that that kind of behavior wasn't tolerated.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:25 PM on November 23, 2007


Calling it a night and got to travel tomorrow, so have fun stormin' the castle!
posted by WCityMike at 10:26 PM on November 23, 2007


I never got to comment in that other thread, because before I was patient enough to read it all, it was kinda too late.

I am thankful for the additions to the tagging jargon. I would have preferred if there was a separate tag "sexist/racist" because those types of comments outnumber any other offensive type of comments I have seen in Metafilter. We could count, I suppose. It is a good way for a lot of people who want to express their disagreement to do so without having it lumped up with some other, obscure type of offense.

However and given that the flagging system is hidden from the crowd, it's basically between the mods and the flagger, I do not want it to become an easy way out: those offended feel they have protested, those who commit the offence don't get to hear about it and a pseudo-peace is established. I have not liked MetaTalk most days, but I do like it and justify its purpose in my mind when shit like this gets called out here. Many a times it's someone's bad joke, bad day or bad phrasing, but other times it isn't. In short, I would not like to see the new flags substitute protestations, with full, readable by everyone, thoughtful words which in the end carry more weight and set a definitive precedent.
posted by carmina at 10:26 PM on November 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know, there's this weird few words between the TITLE tags for this pge. "Your thoughts on ... " But I'm sorry — the premise has already been decided and the argument is over. I see. Matt, could you: s/your thoughts/Announcement Regarding/g?

The premise was decided, which is what you seem to be going after.

This thread is about the implementation of some sort of solution.
posted by 517 at 10:27 PM on November 23, 2007


WCityMike, what are you so afraid of? Go and read the linked threads- nobody (well, very few) are asking for extreme measures. Part of what the flag is for is to help the admins get a better sense of what is upsetting people. Not to mention that the flag was already there, under a different name. This is really just encouraging people to use it with a promise from the mods that they're paying attention.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:27 PM on November 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


I wish we could have a 'stupid' flag too. I'd use the hell out of that motherfucker, I tells ya.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:29 PM on November 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


Matt, no one on a slippery slope actually recognizes they're on a slippery slope.

Please. I've been running the site for over 8 years, introducing incremental (and major) changes all along the way and every time we ask the membership to dial something back, the slippery slope arguments come out and I was directly addressing that. If you want to go down a list of changes to the site over the last five years that were met with slippery slope arguments, you could pick any of them: adding flagging, moderating ask mefi heavier than other sections, adding more than 1 moderator, etc. None of them caused the slippery slopes that were predicted as I suspect this won't either.

Matt, could you: s/your thoughts/Announcement Regarding/g? Thanks.

This was the state of my thoughts on the matter regarding this. Jessamyn said a lot of stuff as well, I'd suggest maybe cruising through the last 100 or so comments to get a feeling for where we're going with this.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:31 PM on November 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


Also, I think the sexism/racism flag is totally unnecessary. both of those fall under offensive content so I don't see the point.

Wondering how many female MetaFilter users would agree with this comment.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:35 PM on November 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Or racial MetaFilter users.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:35 PM on November 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


I have nothing to add other than to say that this seems to be stupid. Which flag should I use?

This was never *really* a problem before. That is not to say that problems of these types didn't exist it is just to say that we didn't allow every offended individual to be a poor wronged snowflake by giving them a unique label. This will serve only to divide us.

To say that something is racist is to say it is offensive.
To say that something is sexist is to say it is offensive.
To say that something is offensive is to say that it offended me.
The need to splinter this and make martyr sub-groups of the offended will only result in a victim mentality of which 'victim group' do you most relate to?

This seems like such a knee-jerk over-reaction.

Good luck.
posted by geekyguy at 10:38 PM on November 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


WCityMike,

The TITLE field is short. And this isn't an announcement, it is a request for thoughts / advice. A specific subset of thoughts and advice, which wouldn't fit in the title. Substituting "announcement regarding" for "thoughts on" would make the title more innaccurate, not less. I think the title is fine as-is, because the post itself says:

"If you would like to add suggestions or have constructive criticism, please do so in this thread."

Note that "suggestions" here is meant as "suggestions on new measures to implement", so "don't implement any" doesn't really fit. Also, constructive criticism refers to criticism intended to improve the measures. "Don't implement them", while perhaps valid and useful, isn't really a criticism which leads to improved measures. So, yeah, this thread is for suggestions on what/how to implement measures. It isn't an announcement thread. It isn't a thread for suggesting "don't do it", because that ship appears to have passed.

mathowie writes "bugbread...people in the previous thread really wanted to see the word 'sexism' over 'sexist' to put it in the minds of members viewing the site that that kind of behavior wasn't tolerated."

Ah, ok, that's groovy. I read through that thread in bits and starts, but missed that part.
posted by Bugbread at 10:40 PM on November 23, 2007


I just want to add that we're sort of raising a bit of awareness with this in the guidelines, faq, and/or wiki, in addition to the flagging, with the hopes and goal of making the site more welcoming to women by weeding out the hostile jokes and other stuff that can be problematic. I didn't think it was a huge problem before but it comes up often enough (and in the monster-sized thread it's clear is a bigger problem than I thought) that it's worth doing something about and hopefully resulting in a better environment.

For people like WCityMike that see a problem with this, imagine you hang out with five guys once a week or so. You get together, watch football, drink some beers, go out to dinner, and shoot the shit. This goes on for many years as you all grow up together. Eventually someone says hey, I just learned my brother is gay and I'd like it if we could cut out the occasional fag joke and stop calling lame stuff is "totally gay". Your friends can call that a slippery slope or the attack of the PC police or they can understand where you're coming from and refrain from it in the future. It's a clumsy analogy but similar to what we're doing here.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:41 PM on November 23, 2007 [30 favorites]


The Deej writes "So, all three work.

"'This comment is offensive.'
"'This comment is sexist.'
"'This comment is racist.'"

I think you read my comment backwards. With the current flag, it's:

"This comment is offensive."
"This comment is sexism."
"This comment is racism."

I'm recommending them to be changed to "sexist" and "racist" respectively, which would result in:

"This comment is offensive."
"This comment is sexist."
"This comment is racist."
posted by bugbread


Backwards I read your comment, because confused am I.

Or, you know, Yoda-like.
posted by The Deej at 10:42 PM on November 23, 2007


geekyguy writes "I have nothing to add other than to say that this seems to be stupid. Which flag should I use?"

Er...the flag is "offensive/sexism/racism". So if you see something which is racist and yet not offensive, you should pick the "offensive/sexism/racism" flag. If it's both racist and offensive, you should pick the "offensive/sexism/racism". Hits the trifecta? Use the "offensive/sexism/racism" flag. Other variations and iterations? Same flag.

It's pretty easy to choose which flag, because they're all one flag.
posted by Bugbread at 10:45 PM on November 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Those other 2 threads are too fucking long to read for anyone with any sense. Also, I'm going to be flagging every comment as offensive/sexism/racism just so you can figure out whether the comment is offensive, sexist, or racist. You've got a 1 out of 3 chance so good luck!
posted by puke & cry at 10:45 PM on November 23, 2007


This comment is:

confusing.
posted by The Deej at 10:46 PM on November 23, 2007


This will serve only to divide us.

If you read the linked thread (and anyone who wants to be taken seriously by me might want to), you'll see that those who participated in the linked thread came from all perspectives on this issue, and still managed to bond and come together to stand behind Matt on this decision. There was nothing knee jerk about it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:47 PM on November 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


The need to splinter this and make martyr sub-groups of the offended
Um, all three are part of a SINGLE flagging category that isn't even being ADDED to the choices. Apparently you consider it a terrible thing to acknowledge in a place that is not even immediately visible that specifically "sexism" and "racsim" are NOT OK...

It looks like the "knee-jerk over-reaction" is yours, geekguy ... with emphasis on the jerk.

And 'slippery slope', WCityMike??? The most obvious slippery slopes I've seen on the Web are those in which a forum trying to be inclusive and tolerant gets taken over by the loudest, stinkiest, most obnoxious asses. This is a courageous step AWAY from that slippery slope.
posted by wendell at 10:48 PM on November 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


Q: Is there a problem with sexist stuff around here? I'm not sexist although I sometime make crude jokes.

A: First, try not to let the term "sexism" make you feel defensive. It's not that the flag is saying "this commenter is a terrible bigoted human being".

In this application, I think it's a term of convenience, an shorthand for a cluster of things that make women feel like this is a place where they're implicitly not part of the group. Rape jokes, knee-jerk "I'd hit it" (seriously or in irony), that kind of thing. See the long thread for a lot of good explanation of just how that stuff comes across.

And people reported in that thread that when they would step forward to say "hey, the rape stuff isn't funny", they would get piled on. A number of people said they would be more comfortable if there were a way to note egregious stuff without having to endure the pile-on. (Because if the likely response is a pile-on, then they would just leave the thread rather than try to explain why the sexist/misogynist stuff is scary/deeply disturbing/shitty/out-of-line/much worse than the commenter probably intended. And the idea is, this is why women end up spending less time on the blue -- since it's just SO much of that stuff, and each instance seems to call for a response, and one only has so much energy.)


Q: Why include the word "sexism" at all? Isn't it redundant?

A: The point was to make it explicit that sexist stuff is flaggable. Two purposes:

1. To encourage commenters to think over their comment for an extra split second, and ask themselves if their joke would come across as friendly and ironic, or come across as pointedly we're-all-dudes-here no-girls-allowed locker room talk (or even something worse).

2. To allow action by people who are bothered, without requiring that they steel themselves for a full on internet battle. Many people said -- and I agree -- that just "offensive content" seemed like a much higher bar. I don't think I've flagged anything as offensive, or maybe only once or twice. Even though there are plenty of instances of "have you seen her tits" or whatever that I would flag as sexist if I had the sense that that stuff was not tacitly approved.


Q: Why not make it a separate flag? Why bundle it in with "offensive"?

A: The worry was that this would lead to adding separate flags for a lot of different kinds of objectionable stuff (if racist is included, why not homophobic? etc). So, making explicit some of the stuff under "offensive" was a compromise.


Q: What's this about an etiquette section of the FAQ?

A: Again two purposes, just like the sexism flag. To make it clear that locker-room sexism isn't what Mefi is about (take it to Fark), and to make it easier for people who want to call out obnoxious stuff in-thread. Having a FAQ guideline would simplify the process of saying "lay off the choke-on-my-cock talk, please", since one could just link to the guideline and not have to defend against a huge derail/shitstorm of "you humorless bitch, we're only kidding".
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:49 PM on November 23, 2007 [18 favorites]


Without reading the thread in question I'll let that stand as the very reason that this looks like a knee-jerk reaction.

You are talking about one thread.
posted by geekyguy at 10:50 PM on November 23, 2007


is getting in the way of people feeling like this is a community where everyone's contributions are valued

Not everyone's contributions are valued.

It would be unfortunate if our culture were to change such that everyone's contributions were to be respected and valued equally. That way madness lies. Homeopathy and creationism would be treated as "scientific" and "factual" and worthy of respect.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:53 PM on November 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


Without reading the thread in question...

"I refuse to learn anything about this issue, but here's my two cents!" Seriously, geekyguy, you sound ridiculous.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:53 PM on November 23, 2007 [8 favorites]


Sorry geekyguy, your opinion doesn't mean shit unless you read EVERY COMMENT in both of those pointless fucking sexism threads. Call us when you're enlightened by your experience.
posted by puke & cry at 10:53 PM on November 23, 2007


Some Boyzoners are so afraid of anything that challenges their ability to wave their members around the site. I'm actually encouraged at how small the turnout of the "OMG they're taking away my 'I'd hit its'" crowd is here...

And the misunderstanding that this is somehow trying to quantify the amount of sexism/racism/etc. is truly comical.
posted by wendell at 10:55 PM on November 23, 2007


You don't have to read every comment to get the gist. For starters, you can skip much of EB's flameout, and by doing that alone, the length of thread is probably cut in half.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:55 PM on November 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


Nice start with the name calling, wendell.
The most obvious slippery slopes I've seen on the Web are those in which a forum trying to be inclusive and tolerant gets taken over by the loudest, stinkiest, most obnoxious asses. This is a courageous step AWAY from that slippery slope.
So you are saying the participants in one thread represent the entire population of Metafilter? It seems that the loudest, etc, etc, etc are getting their way.

I hope that this isn't something that is being done to protect from potential lawsuits. 'Cause that would only add to the suck.
posted by geekyguy at 10:55 PM on November 23, 2007


I may have missed this being mentioned in the other thread but will this new policy result in sexist-bigoted-fattist shitheads and provocateurs of that ilk actually being shown the door? I'm all for engendering a more welcome environment for folks who may otherwise become disenfranchised from the community, but all the new flags and constitutional amendments are just ones and zeroes on a screen if there isn't any sort of enforcement.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:55 PM on November 23, 2007


"with the hopes and goal of making the site more welcoming to women"
Ah! so the MetaDating subsite is going to happen.
posted by tellurian at 11:00 PM on November 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Puke & cry, I don't know everybody very well who is going to get heated about this, but I do know you pretty well, and I really think that if you did read it, you wouldn't be so angry... and would probably even be agreeing. Just my feeling.
posted by taz at 11:01 PM on November 23, 2007


Can we get a "Defensive/Sexy/Racy" flag too?
posted by blue_beetle at 11:04 PM on November 23, 2007 [4 favorites]


Thanks, mods.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 11:07 PM on November 23, 2007


heh, I'm not angry, taz. I just think that the addition of the sexism flag was pointless. I read every comment in both of those threads, unfortunately. Like I said, they're too long to read for anyone with any sense. I just see the entire episode as so blown out of proportion that it's comical. Matt has on his little badge to stamp out sexism, whatever. I'm sure nothing notable will come of it.
posted by puke & cry at 11:08 PM on November 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh thank you. I sometimes notice the borderline racist stuff but refrain from saying anything because, as some mentioned, I don't want a pile-on. Sometimes even just a misuse of words gets me into a whole heap of trouble. This is great, thanks.
posted by divabat at 11:12 PM on November 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm sure nothing notable will come of it.

puke & cry, maybe you could work on reassuring geekyguy that he's in no danger of being personally castrated here.
posted by wendell at 11:15 PM on November 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


WCityMike, this is radically out of proportion with the kinds of changes that are being discussed. (As others have pointed out above, mathowie with particular clarity.) Nobody is saying "no more jokes", nobody is even saying "no more snarky mean jokes". Nobody is saying "no more honesty" or "don't tell people that you think they're full of shit" etc, either.

We already have plenty of norms around here, which are not oppressive but instead serve to lift Mefi from the steaming swamp of l33t dudez on the rest of the internets. (Use complete sentences, normal capitalization and punctuation, be clever if you can, etc) Saying "let's tone it down with the rape jokes" is part of that same sensibility. It's not part of the PC Police who are Coming to Get All Freethinkers. If you look at the other thread, you will find pretty much everyone agreeing that we like funny, we are here because we mostly like the wit and the level of discussion, we don't want Mefi to get Nerfed or boring.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:15 PM on November 23, 2007


Personally I think some people are jumping the gun on what this flag is going to do to Metafilter. Jessamyn has stressed that they are "data collecting letting people know what's up." She has not said that there will be persecution of sexist/racist commenters and all offenders will be burned off the cardinal directions of Metafilter.

I sense that perhaps the community is trying to figure out if it's a problem. That includes the mods, and should include the rest of us. I know I find myself wincing over some comments that denigrate women, even if ironic. This is a tricky media that we a communicating over. We can't see who other people are on this internets of ours, and sometimes that leads to behavior that is not inappropriate regardless of whether or not the commenter is in fact sexist/racist in reality.

I personally am going to question myself when I read comments that are overtly racist/sexist and pass them over without a word. And I'm going to question the comments I make myself. I can be against racism/sexism and still be one myself. I'm not saying that Metafilter is about personal cultivation. However, it certainly has room to allow people to be. It certainly encourages people to grow a thick skin. But that skin shouldn't grow thick because of racial or gender offense intentional or no.

We want this place to be amenable to all regardless of inherent gender/race. That is different from having to be amenable to people who's personality is assholish.

But we can't knock it until we see what's up. And as to the question of figuring out if a comment is offensive/racist/sexist: Our mods can read comments for themselves, right? They have eyes, right? Or did I miss something?
posted by Mister Cheese at 11:19 PM on November 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


Those other 2 threads are too fucking long to read for anyone with any sense. Also, I'm going to be flagging every comment as offensive/sexism/racism just so you can figure out whether the comment is offensive, sexist, or racist. You've got a 1 out of 3 chance so good luck!

To the person wot you are parodying, I shall just add the short, chilling fact that the moderators are all powerful and they log every-fucking-thing *insert googly eyes and woo-wooing here*.
posted by h00py at 11:20 PM on November 23, 2007


Alvy: mods can speak to "enforcement" but I think the discussion in the other thread was trending (as of yesterday - I haven't caught up fully) toward deletion of a comment only in the case of the worst and emptiest stuff, but with maybe a MeMail with a "give it a rest with the cunt stuff" nudge from a mod if a user seemed to be getting a lot of those flags over a period of time.

I think the principal action would still be by "whoa, not cool" callouts in thread, but with a FAQ guideline that could be linked to decrease the chance that the thread would derail.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:22 PM on November 23, 2007


I guess I shouldn't make snarky comments about this because it makes it seem like I hold an opinion that I don't. What I'm saying is that there's no need to add anything to offensive tag. If some asshole makes a sexist comment and if offends you, flag it as offensive. There's no need to add anything to the offensive tag.

Now if you'll excuse me, one of my cats just puked. Twice. Thank god for brown carpet.
posted by puke & cry at 11:23 PM on November 23, 2007 [3 favorites]


I wish we could have a 'stupid' flag too. I'd use the hell out of that motherfucker, I tells ya. -- posted by stavrosthewonderchicken

And that feedback should be presented to the user as well. A "x" for each flag, in the page header section. The more x's, the more people despise you.

Naturally there would be those who would interpret it as some sort of progress indicator. Like rats pushing the pleasure-centre shock bar, they'd rapidly spiral out of control.

It would all end in a ripping self-destructive blowout of sublime beauty, a true Thing Of Wonder. And the survivors can sit back and enjoy the results of evolution in action. It'll be utopian. Or vanilla pudding.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:23 PM on November 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


geekyguy: It's not one thread. If anything, it's two metatalk threads, two deleted threads on the blue, and a slew of memails and other external communications which were discussed inthread. The two meta threads comprise the bulk of it, but are also combined at 1600+ comments right now. Over the course of this, we had a large number of female members of mefi speak up about their experiences here and the common thread of feeling alienated from participation on the blue by the culture of casual sexist remarks.

We had several longtime members dissent from the prevailing sentiment, consider the arguments some more, and then come around to a greater awareness. See: loquacious, It's Raining Florence Henderson, and dios. klangklangston is another notable dissenter in those threads, and he doesn't have a handy turning point comment like the three above, and he also is fairly vocal about points of contention throughout the whole thread, but still comes to support the reccomendations of the thread.

We had two of the mods, jessamyn and cortex, follow the threads in full, both contributing and adding to the consensus, who also served to keep matt informed of what was going on. When the time came that thread had a general consensus on what could be done, and that it should be done, matt came in to give his preliminary take.

We had, as noted in the previous thread, several members disable their own accounts, for various reasons. In EB's case, two accounts were disabled over the course of the discussion.

So I really hope you can see why this was more than just a thread.

puke & cry: that's a straw man argument and you know it. No one is saying that. It's possible for a comment to be clearly uninformed and not require becoming informed to be an outrageous and unreasonable commitment to knowing everything. Even in the case of being uninformed, a little awareness of your own ignorance goes a long way.
posted by Arturus at 11:29 PM on November 23, 2007 [13 favorites]


If you would like to add suggestions or have constructive criticism, please do so in this thread.

I don't know how much work this would be, but if a comment of mine is deleted for racist/sexist/offensive content, I'd really appreciate a MeFi mail message about it. Just some automated note to let me know, since I don't return obsessively to every comment I make to see how it's being received. I wouldn't want to know so I could complain about it, but so I could take the deletion (and more to the point, the flagging that must have made it happen) into account in the future.
posted by dreamsign at 11:29 PM on November 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


That last bit addressed at p&k refers to here. Fast moving thread.
posted by Arturus at 11:35 PM on November 23, 2007


geekyguy: Was this a response to my comment? Not sure I get the point, if so. The thread in question is long and a lot of ideas were hashed out. I was summarizing with extreme brevity. That thread is, by the last several hundred comments, extremely careful and non-knee-jerk in its discussion. If you mean that even thinking about this issue at all is knee-jerk, well, that doesn't seem true. If you mean that this action is being taken without a thorough vote by everyone on Mefi, that's true. But of course, here we are in a thread where you can give input. The other thread is still open too.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:37 PM on November 23, 2007


If not a full solution, this seems like an excellent step to address the longstanding boyzone issue. Thank you mods, and especially, thank you to the participants in those long threads. I suspect there will be an improvement in atmosphere, which may take weeks or months to unfold. Then, if EB and vronsky and jennydiski would come back then it would be unqualified goodness.


Speaking of long threads, is there some issue with metafilter that long threads rarely seem to load completely, and/or, are very slow? I mean, even a thousand comment thread shouldn't be that large. Anyone else have this experience of threadus interruptus?
posted by Rumple at 11:38 PM on November 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


What I'm saying is that there's no need to add anything to offensive tag. If some asshole makes a sexist comment and if offends you, flag it as offensive. There's no need to add anything to the offensive tag.

The reason why it was necessary to add to the offensive tag is that many people, in the big threads and here if you'll look upthread a bit, expressed that they didn't know that sexism that wasn't on the level of "christ, what an asshole" was a flaggable offense, or that the moderators would understand the meaning if, to use the much discussed example, an "It'd hit it" post was to be flagged as offensive. It was needed to add something to the flag because the flag was not being understood correctly and this was happening in a manner which was to the detriment of female engagement with meatfilter.
posted by Arturus at 11:39 PM on November 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Arturus: First off, I'm pretty sure you're misusing the "straw man" thing. I had to look it up to be sure but I don't think that has anything to do with my objective comments. Second, you make it sound like the offensive/sexism/racism flag is meant to be a corrective measure that will stop the commenter from making another sexist/racist comment. I don't know if you really believe that or not but damn, come on.
posted by puke & cry at 11:39 PM on November 23, 2007


er, metafilter.

Meatfilter is somewhere else entirely.
posted by Arturus at 11:40 PM on November 23, 2007


That was a response to this comment. damn fast moving thread.

btw, i cleaned the puke up. No one could even tell that carpet was ever puked on.
posted by puke & cry at 11:41 PM on November 23, 2007


puke & cry: your comment above was indeed a straw man argument -- that is, you were making a caricature of your opponent's position that was much stronger than they intended it, and by pretending this caricature was their actual argument, you pretended that it was an easily defeated argument. The metaphor is: You made a straw man (a scarecrow) out of their position, and then tried to score points in a jousting competition against it, rather than against live armed opponents.

(You pretended people were saying "read every single comment or else your opinion is worthless", when really all they needed to hold was "give a reasonable skim to at least the last part of that thread before complaining that we haven't considered the issue, or speculating about what solutions have been proposed.")
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:54 PM on November 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


A lot of snark is basically straw-man-making. I'm not against it as a comic tool. But it's just false to say it wasn't a straw-man.
/logic teacher
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:57 PM on November 23, 2007


puke & cry: I might be. The intention was more that you were using a sarcastic exaggeration of the position being staked out by TPS which seemed to fail to capture any actual detail of the position being staked out. Not really a straw man, in that you didn't mean it seriously, but eh.

And no, I don't think that this flag is corrective measure in and of itself. But it is a consciousness raising measure, not for people making blatantly sexist/racist comments, but rather for the community at large, and most importantly for female members trying to feel out the posting environment here.

This doesn't stand alone, either. The recommendations, or at least my take on them, that we arrived at towards the end of that thread are broadly the following:

• Alter the offensive flag, as an easy change towards consciousness raising

• Create an etiquette guidelines page, to broadly and not-terrible-specifically spell out what sorts of things are or aren't okay. This is intended to give a bit of backing when calling out sexist comments inthread. A common theme was that many posters were willing to call out sexism as they saw it, but were unwilling to engage in the lengthy debate which would then be created as a result. This is to try and help that, by giving a little institutional but non-restrictive backup.

• For the people involved in that thread to make an effort to call out sexism more often, and to encourage others to do so, and just in general raise awareness and get this going from a real grassroots perspective, which is the basis for the way metafilter culture works.

• For the moderators to be aware of this as an ongoing issue, to take an eye to this and, where possible, encourage more of the last point. We have a feedback loop on metafilter between the users and the moderators, and both sides are responsible for setting the tone here. It's not one or the other.

So yeah, I think that there's the potential for a really good thing to happen here. Do I think any of these are magic bullets? No, of course not. Do I think these are some real, constructive things, with the possibility, taken collectively, to create greater female involvement and comfort and make metafilter a bit more awesome? Absolutely.
posted by Arturus at 12:00 AM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Right. As usual, Jessamyn has been a voice of relative calm in the middle of a major shitstorm. If reading 1500 messages sounds like a bit much, you can probably get a good primer by reading the following comments she made.

one
two
three
four
five
six
seven
eight
nine
ten
eleven
posted by tkolar at 12:03 AM on November 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


To add in my two cents. This is a good change. I sometimes whine about how I feel MetaFilter's evolving but this is an unalloyed *good thing.* Racism and sexism should be actively fought against on a community level. It's not enough to abstain from it.

[this is good]
posted by Kattullus at 12:08 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


KokuRyu writes '"Also, I think the sexism/racism flag is totally unnecessary. both of those fall under offensive content so I don't see the point."

'Wondering how many female MetaFilter users would agree with this comment.'


I thought I would mention that I am a female user and I agree with it. If it's sexist but not offensive then it's in the same category of Irishmen jokes - not a big deal. However I don't care enough to say it should/shouldn't have been done, if other people like it then clearly they have different mental categories to me. I also don't really find mefi that much of a boyzone, although I am aware that this just means I have been brainwashed into accepting domination of the patriarchy blah blah, and I am perfectly prepared to accept that things that don't bother me do bother other women. The only thing that bothers me about the whole load of crap in the last few weeks is the number of people prepared to speak for me (as a female), coupled with the sense I have often gotten that 'I'm a girl and this doesn't bother me' is not seen as an acceptable response to most of it by other women.
posted by jacalata at 12:12 AM on November 24, 2007 [6 favorites]


A bit from one of jessamyn's comments that does a better job of explaining why the flag was changed than I did:

What mathowie and I have been talking about is changing the offensive flag to be some variety of offensive/sexist/racist. I know it seems like a small deal but I think it serves two purposes

1. indicates that sexist sort of behavior is at some level against the guidelines and a flaggable offense (like people seem to know that about rascist stuff, most of them, but it doesn't hurt to add it as well)

2. indicate to people offended by people's sexist comments that a) they have an option b) they shoudl let us know c) the culture here isn't just for them to quietly slink off feeling "well maybe this place isn't for me"



and a bit from a later comment, speaking the the role of the community and general optimism:

The whole part about it being a community website is really that while we can make some changes, they need to be reinforced through community action, MeTa threads, and people sort of learning the new ropes. Unless we want a big purge, I really see these incremental changes as a solid move forward and a base to build on.
posted by Arturus at 12:14 AM on November 24, 2007


LobsterMitten: Ah yes, I can see that. I was trying to be as over-the-top as possible with my comments there. I tend to get a little carried away with that kind of thing. :D They don't actually represent my opinion. My response was mainly due to the response that geekyguy and or WCityMike got that if you don't like this you're an idiot sexist or a neanderthal that just doesn't get it.
posted by puke & cry at 12:17 AM on November 24, 2007


jacalata: about "I'm a girl and this doesn't bother me". I think there has been some bad timing, and maybe some accidental less than ideal rhetorical framing, when that was offered in the other discussion. I think it came off as sounding like "it doesn't bother me, so you other ladies should just toughen up" -- which seemed like an attempt to drown out the people who were saying "we feel drowned out", which naturally garnered a disapproving response.

But yeah - it's important in this debate not to say things like "all women at Mefi think X" or "this bothers all women". Plenty of men are bothered by the sexist stuff, and plenty of women aren't. My guess is that women are disproportionately bothered by it, and that it serves to drive away some who otherwise would stay and snark and generally fit in. Obviously we don't have hard numbers on any of this.

My sense is that there is some totally impulsive throw-away stuff, which people of good will toss off, not realizing how it will come across -- especially once they see a one-liner like "I'd hit it" or whatever as a prominent thing all over the site. That strikes me as lame-assery, rather than really offensive -- but it sets a general frathouse tone that puts (at least some) women off in a "maybe this isn't my kind of party" way. That specific frathousy stuff seems to me something that we could decrease a little with no loss of funniness or cleverness or honesty, mainly by community action. We could change that tone just by, you know, making and demanding smarter jokes.

The worse stuff is the casual rape jokes, which really bother at least the people who said as much in the other thread. This stuff is not all that common, but some threads devolve into real carnivals of it, and that sucks. That makes it a genuinely hostile environment for women, it seems to me, even if there are a sizeable number of women who are fine with it -- I think it gives people the wrong idea about what kind of party this is. This seems to me like a place for moderators to say something or delete the worst stuff.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:32 AM on November 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


My response was mainly due to the response that geekyguy and or WCityMike got that if you don't like this you're an idiot sexist or a neanderthal that just doesn't get it.

Yeah, the other thread was pretty much a marathon session and everyone is tired and a little punchy.

There's a whole crapload of context that anyone posting in this thread is walking right into the middle of. It might have been better to wait to have this discussion until after the major stakeholders had some time to relax.
posted by tkolar at 12:33 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


From Jessamyns first comment: "do your part to make the place seem less like a frat house."

Sometimes a thread with a guys lockerroom atmosphere can be great fun.

There are a lot of threads that don't appeal to me or that I find irritating. I try to stay out of those and let those who enjoy them their fun.
I'd imagine that this place could be diverse. That there can be threads in which the gender studies crowd has their fun, which I stay out of since to me most gender studies is the furthering of gender politics wrapped in a cloak of science, and also lockerroom threads, etc. etc.

I didn't see a definition of sexism in this thread. Without one flagging would just amount to "I don't like your comment". Which is rather useless.

Basically I think this is a step in mefi getting more bland and boring.
posted by jouke at 12:35 AM on November 24, 2007


puke & cry: Yeah, I could see what you were going for. I do think that geekyguy and WCityMike were reacting to a small initial change (and a request for comment) in an over the top, characteristically MeTa, way -- "help help, I'm bein' oppressed" when the actions being contemplated are quite mild. I hate the phrase "the PC police" because, man, there are people who are honestly to-the-bone go-back-to-Africa racists or women-shouldn't-get-an-education sexists, and it's a good thing that they can't just mouth off openly without getting shocked stares of disapproval. We aren't missing out on some great revolutionary blast of cleansing honesty, by their view being socially disapproved of.

But of course, it's a hell of a long thread to have to catch up on. So, hopefully we've laid out a bit of the rationale in here now, and maybe as people come in here they will take a minute to catch up via comments here and tkolar's links to the other thread.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:40 AM on November 24, 2007


jouke: There's not a definition of "derail" either, but that isn't a problem. These are fuzzy categories, flag as you see fit. A comment would need to get a bunch of flags in order to get looked at by a moderator, who would then make a decision using their own mind about whether any action on their part was warranted.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:44 AM on November 24, 2007


For those who are opposed to this:

What do you think are the concrete negative results from changing the "offensive" flag to "offensive/sexism/racism"?

I understand that it may be considered illogical, since the two latter options are a subset of the former. But illogic is not a negative result, it's a thing that often causes negative results, and that's why it's usually best avoided. Illogic usually results in one of two negative results: confusion, or contradictory results.

I don't think a person would be confused by "offensive/sexism/racism".
I don't see how there would be contradictions caused by this.

So I'm not seeing any negatives to this.

"It will result in MeFi being bland" has been offered, so regarding that, I guess, my question is: "How?" To my understanding, if "sexism" and "racism" were already part of "offensive", there hasn't been any sweeping change that would result in the blandizing of MeFi. Same with the slippery slope: two things were already against the rules. How does writing them out in a different manner result in a slippery slope? The best hypothesis I can come up with would be "one day, we'll end up with a ginormous tag which includes every possible iteration of offensiveness", but my experience with Matt shows that he probably won't actually make a 20-line-long tag. I can also see a few MeTas being made about people complaining that "anti-overweight-ism" or "antisemitism" or whathaveyou not being represented in the tag, but that's not a slippery slope, that's just "people complaining in MeTa", which is a constant.

If there are any other negatives, I'd like to know what they are as well.
posted by Bugbread at 12:48 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't think I'm too far from agreeance with you, LobsterMitten.

But I still think the addition to the offensive tag is pointless.
posted by puke & cry at 12:50 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


At first, I was honestly apprehensive about this, simply because I don't like feeling like part of some fragile "victim" class - I'm not a delicate flower that requires protection from them nasty mens. I personally have never felt like Metafilter was a sausage party, but then, maybe I've been hanging around the wrong side of the internet too long.
After giving it some thought, I believe this is a perfectly reasonable solution to what is clearly a pervasive problem - it's subtle enough not to have a chilling effect, and asks nothing, really, that isn't expected of us in our daily civilized discourse. The moderators seem to have a good eye for the difference between a cheeky good time and crossing the line and doing a dance in the end zone AMIRITE? I'm a huge fan of free speech, but if there is a signifigant portion of the community that really doesn't feel that they are free to speak, then we don't really have that, do we?
Besides, we KNOW you'd hit that, and frankly, ew.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:54 AM on November 24, 2007 [13 favorites]


The only problem I have with the new tag is that someone may read it as "offensive (i.e., racism, sexism)" as opposed to "offensive (e.g., racism, sexism)." Other than that, no problem.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:06 AM on November 24, 2007


Also note that my snarky comment didn't have anything to do with teeps. We posted comments with the same timestamp, it was just a happy coincidence that they were next to either other.
posted by puke & cry at 1:09 AM on November 24, 2007


What do you think are the concrete negative results from changing the "offensive" flag to "offensive/sexism/racism"?

As pointed out above, fostering bad grammar. Otherwise, none. Good idea.
posted by dreamsign at 1:11 AM on November 24, 2007


next to each other. That's what happens when you use the post button instead of the preview button.
posted by puke & cry at 1:11 AM on November 24, 2007


Louche mustachio, I don't know that it's fair to characterize the women who've shared their thoughts on this as a delicate flowers that require protection from nasty mens. I know many of them personally, and have been pleased to find a lot more really bright, strong, thoughtful people in these recent threads, and they're hardly shrinking violets or fainting belles. In fact, speaking up despite the certain knowledge that is how they will be characterized sort of attests to their strength, to me, anyway.

(I'm sure you didn't really mean to frame it that way, but when you say I'm not bothered because I'm not like this, it sort of suggests that those who are bothered are like "this".)
posted by taz at 1:20 AM on November 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


Personally, and for myself, as a woman and all, I sometimes like to join in with the jocularity, and sometimes it's revolting because I like that.

But if I see a lamearse comment that belongs on fark or alt.men, I flag it as offensive. The fact that it's now offensive/sexist/racist doesn't really change things at all.

I should think that would be something that everyone on here does because otherwise we would be awash with lols (in amongst the bright and wonderful comments).
posted by h00py at 1:26 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


awash in, sigh.
posted by h00py at 1:28 AM on November 24, 2007


h00py writes "But if I see a lamearse comment that belongs on fark or alt.men, I flag it as offensive. The fact that it's now offensive/sexist/racist doesn't really change things at all."

The flag change helps for folks like me, though, as I always took "offensive" to mean "just way fucking out there indefensibly bad". If I could imagine a lengthy debate on MeTa with various people attacking and defending it, I wouldn't have flagged it. If I could imagine everyone at MeFi saying "No, that comment is just fucking wrong", I would have flagged it.

So, for me, at least, this change (or, rather, the background discussion of what the flag was for) changes things for me regarding how I use the flag (I think until now I've only used it like, twice, ever).
posted by Bugbread at 1:36 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


challenges their ability to wave their members around the site

Hey, hold on one second! I signed up for not saying "cunt", nobody told me I couldn't talk about my (quite large) penis anymore. How is that boyzone? This is information I am sharing primarily for the benefit of the gals (although the homosexual men are free to be impressed as well).
posted by Meatbomb at 2:05 AM on November 24, 2007


Naw, taz, I didn't mean it like that. I was actually kind of surprised at the number of women who I consider to be quite strong and outspoken that said that they frequently felt they couldn't say something when they felt a comment was really out of line, because they didn't feel like dealing with the pile-on. I was commenting on my own initial, knee-jerk reaction to the change. Clealy, if some of the women who are the most poweful voices on Metafilter feel like they are being silenced or left out, something is wrong, and this seems like a reasonable solution that will let everyone have a voice.
posted by louche mustachio at 2:43 AM on November 24, 2007


LobsterMitten: I understand that that 'drowning out complaints' aspect was part of the problem, but I still don't know how to frame it without sounding dismissive or including so many disclaimers that I can't be bothered having the conversation. Any tips? Or, am I right when I think that it's usually not worth contributing (and therefore stayed out of those two threads)?

I think that for some reason there has been a lot of 'generation whoeverthefuck' talk around recently (partly related to the election over here) and I have gotten so sick of people assuming that they 'speak for' groups I am part of that I've started calling it out occasionally.
posted by jacalata at 2:43 AM on November 24, 2007


Flex them flaggin' fingers, folks. We got ourselves a Dov Charney post.
posted by maryh at 2:47 AM on November 24, 2007


Way ahead of you. Like, twice.

Wait, flex my fingers for WHAT????
posted by louche mustachio at 2:48 AM on November 24, 2007


Validation and a sense of relief. Cos lame is lame and we should all flag it, it's the metafilter way!
posted by h00py at 2:54 AM on November 24, 2007


I disagree with the principle of trying to change the site's tone by moderator fiat and minority advocacy, rather than by organic equilibrium from the community itself. To me, the appeal (and entertainment value) of discussions in the blue and gray stems from its emphasis on direct combativeness and wit, rather than validation and consensus (that's the green). IMO the best way to counter the Boyzone would have been rebuttals in-thread, like Jessamyn's trenchant quip "I am pretty all the time, fuckers", challenging individuals to defend their words and values openly -- i.e. community self-policing, not nannying. (I think Jessamyn highlighted the gendered "pretty" issue there to ORthey a lot more convincingly than a contentious deletion would have.) These flagging and guideline changes feel more like an imposed ideological shift instead.

As far as discomfort goes: we've long mocked people to "quit complaining/editorializing, flag it and move on" and "what did you expect for dropping into a thread about [x]" (Macs, fat acceptance, many American political topics, and yes feminism, etc.). In contrast against this "don't shit here if it bothers you" principle: has the large lad culture content of the web now officially been deemed too crude to be interesting enough to link to and discuss here, or must they now be discussed in such an antiseptic way so as not to offend those who enter those threads knowing full well they'll likely be offended by its contents? And are Bill Hicks ("drunk cunt" etc.), Chris Rock ("I hate niggers" etc.), and Sarah Silverman ("I love chinks" etc.) too racist/sexist for MeFi now? Because they make many people alienated/uncomfortable, to use that as the determining metric. Which is IMO a poor one.

There are other sites I frequent that are more highbrow than Metafilter (without all the superfluous lolcats and "it vibrates?"), and sites more lowbrow than Metafilter as well (all the lulz without the plate of beans). Personally I find it very presumptive to try to steer a highbrow community away from erudition and overanalysis, just as I would to force a more lowbrow site to be less crude/offensive and more inclusive -- I'd just leave if a community site got too one way or the other for my liking (and I've done so a few times before). Maybe that's just me, and I've liked MeFi's previously more anything-goes incarnation a lot (and right now still have no plans of leaving). But while I think this move is ideologically admirable on the part of the mods, I'd have preferred for the community to sort out how it uses its words -- and even its own membership, based on individuals leaving when they find things unacceptable -- all on its own, rather than being decided by proxy within a nonrepresentative, very small but outspoken (and often ideologically-invested) percentage of Mefi's active population on a couple of threads buried more than a week behind in MeTa's archives. Instead of changing the rules/guidelines or hiding behind flags and favorites, I'd rather see this issue settled by everyone using our own words during our normal everyday posting -- as, you know, a community. A self-policing one.
posted by DaShiv at 3:04 AM on November 24, 2007 [24 favorites]


DaShiv: the community is what decided on these measures, and the community is responsible for the flagging. True, not every member was consulted, but that's because there is no way to consult the entire community, and the proposals (change "offensive" to "offensive/racism/sexism" and write some stuff in the FAQ warning people away from being racist sexist assholes) really don't seem like the kind of big reforms that we'd need to call a referendum for.

DaShiv writes "IMO the best way to counter the Boyzone would have been rebuttals in-thread, like Jessamyn's trenchant quip"

But if you read through the referenced thread, you'll find that a lot of people didn't feel comfortable doing that. Sure, it's ideal, but it doesn't actually work. And if you stick to ideal plans that don't actually work anywhere but theoretically, you're a bit of a fool.

DaShiv writes "I'd have preferred for the community to sort out how it uses its words"

I would have too, but MeFi has been, to varying degrees, a boyzone for 6 or 7 years. Do you have some sort of estimate on when this working-out-on-its-own would happen?
posted by Bugbread at 3:12 AM on November 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


And, I may be wrong in interpreting things this way, but I don't think that the new proposals would proscribe conversations specifically about sexism/racism/whatnot. For example, the "Jade Raymond Bukkakke thread" was a whole thread of people disagreeing about whether something was sexist. As far as I understand it, comments saying "I don't think a comic about Raymond blowing geeks for sales is sexist" wouldn't be flagged. It's the "What's the problem, FemaleMeFiteNameHere, that time of the month?" and "I hope Paris Hilton gets raped with a ScaryAndSlightlyAmusingObject" stuff.
posted by Bugbread at 3:16 AM on November 24, 2007


Homophobia flag, please.

Also, AskMe neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeds a "this person did not read the question AT ALL" flag.
posted by Reggie Digest at 3:31 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


(And the -isms should indeed be -ists.)
posted by Reggie Digest at 3:34 AM on November 24, 2007


If this is intended to subtly remind users that sexism and racism aren't welcome on Mefi, I'm not thrilled about it appearing to elevate them above homophobia, transphobia and so on in their importance. But then you'd end up with a two- or three-line-plus entry in the flagging reason box, so maybe a different approach is required.

This is definitely forward progress for Mefi and I'm glad to see it happen, but I think the specifics don't really do the intent justice right now.
posted by terpsichoria at 3:46 AM on November 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'm in the DaShiv camp (you should join us; we're a small group but we all look fantastic on the publicity shots) philosophically on the best way to handle this and am chary of top-down approaches to cultural problems.
That said, the changes as outlined here seem considered and I am now happy we're not taking the first steps to an entirely sanitised discourse. Certainly I think it would be worth seeing how it works out for a while at least. This might appear to contradict my initial claim, but I'd be happy with aggressive deletion of thoughtless rubbish in the spirit of good editing. I hope we'd still allow any vaguely considered offering of the same ideas (as we did with some of the nonsense spouted in the recent race/IQ thread) so they can receive their inevitable skewering.
I think what gets me with the lazy sexism and racism are the general lowering of the tone by appeal to lowest comment denominator. Stereotypes and throwaway remarks are really more pernicious than, say, some looney-tune who appears to offer a thought-through defence of the idea that women are vessels for child-rearing ordained by God and nothing else. That would be patently silly to most reading it; the quips where the author perhaps doesn't even realise exactly how far they're revealing their mindset are worse. Since they reinforce an unpleasant status quo but aren't substantial, flagging and burning is about all they deserve.
posted by Abiezer at 4:06 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


To deal with the issue of specifics, how about renaming the flag "offensive/prejudiced/discriminatory"?
posted by divabat at 4:06 AM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Or to put it more succinctly: I will not defend your right to be a useless dullard.
posted by Abiezer at 4:07 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


To deal with the issue of specifics, how about renaming the flag "offensive/prejudiced/discriminatory"?

I like. I'm uncomfortable with specifically marking out sexism and racism but not queerphobia.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:12 AM on November 24, 2007


Nthed.
posted by Reggie Digest at 4:26 AM on November 24, 2007


I will not defend your right to be a useless dullard

We need a useless dullardist flag.
posted by Meatbomb at 4:27 AM on November 24, 2007


It wasn't just women who requested it, either.

This is an excellent point and one that people should remember. There were several men asking for a change also.

While I'm leery of pretty much anything that smells of PC feminism, it seems clear that drastic changes and a deletion posse aren't what's on the table, so the flag doesn't seem like that big of a deal.

Much as I believe that women SHOULD speak up when they see this shit happening and that any sort of "I'm uncomfortable and don't really want to rock the boat and/or deal with the consequences of bringing up this very important issue on a website as opposed to all the men and women who died for the right to vote, be free or only work 40 hours a week" smacks of childishness, I also can speak up if I see the flip side of too much thought policing (and will cheerfully do so). So again, the flag isn't a big deal, especially as the mods seem good at taking these things on the case by case basis that would be needed.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:37 AM on November 24, 2007


DaShiv is quite right, but this appeal-to-authority trend that has been growing at Metafilter for a long time continues apace, and I don't think anything's going to change that. Matt's comments
If you want to go down a list of changes to the site over the last five years that were met with slippery slope arguments, you could pick any of them: adding flagging, moderating ask mefi heavier than other sections, adding more than 1 moderator, etc. None of them caused the slippery slopes that were predicted as I suspect this won't either.
are hilariously ironic, given the context. Dude, you're describing the very thing that you're suggesting doesn't exist - a systemic shift in the way the 'community' has operated, and not for the better (in my humble), by policies that have shifted responsibility for behaviour from the individual to arbitrary appeal to arbitrary authority.

Still and all, though, I really don't give a damn what silly useless more-inclusive-than-thou crap is added to the list of reasons for appeals to authority, so go nuts, folks! I'm not going to behave any differently, and if there are people who here who will, those people should be run out of town anyway. Fuck 'em.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:38 AM on November 24, 2007 [13 favorites]


There's a large one that I hang at the back of the hall when chairing our local Useless Dullard Alliance meetings, Meatbomb.
posted by Abiezer at 4:39 AM on November 24, 2007


I'm not holding my breath waiting for a nother flag for homophobia, look how long it took for Mefi to get this far. First women's suffrage, then sexual liberation, right?
Besides, lots of us have just thickened our skins and passed over threads/comments/posters that are blatantly anti-gay (admittedly, a smaller proportion here than in average round the interweb, but still.)
It sems to that there's something about public discourse in the States (Mefi's homeroom, as it were) that is more risky, more willing to be blunt, more willing to sanction the use of labels, where the individual stands for the whole. Maybe, that goes on lots in private in the UK, but is seriously frowned on in public. I am all for robust language, but don't understand why it is so often deployed against individuals. Most who offend like this later apologise - I just wonder why they composed it in the first place?
posted by dash_slot- at 5:02 AM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


If you read the linked thread (and anyone who wants to be taken seriously by me might want to)

Being taken seriously by thepinksuperhero or reading a thousand comment thread. That's a difficult choice.

It looks like the "knee-jerk over-reaction" is yours, geekguy ... with emphasis on the jerk.
posted by wendell


Why even post this thread if you're going to call someone a jerk just for questioning the topic?

I followed that thread from beginning to end. From the flameouts to the awe-inspiring conclusion where everyone was giving high fives for having the greatest debate EVER on the internet and singing kumbaya and then the 'we gotta make another thread to show everyone how enlightened we are' and I still find the whole thing silly.

Granted, matt's mind is made up and nothing is going to change, but certainly all views can be expressed without anyone who disagrees being shoved into the boyzone crowd as wendell seems to wish.

Some Boyzoners are so afraid of anything that challenges their ability to wave their members around the site. I'm actually encouraged at how small the turnout of the "OMG they're taking away my 'I'd hit its'" crowd is here...
posted by justgary at 5:24 AM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Being taken seriously by thepinksuperhero or reading a thousand comment thread. That's a difficult choice.
That doesn't quite work as well when you get it wrong.

I still find the whole thing silly.

How so?
posted by peacay at 5:45 AM on November 24, 2007


How so?

That it makes any great strides to go from 'offensive' to 'offensive/sexism/racism'. If others do, great. Putting those that don't see it as great into the 'i'd hit it' club, not so great.
posted by justgary at 5:50 AM on November 24, 2007


and am chary of top-down approaches

Hey, new word! Good'n, too.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:50 AM on November 24, 2007


the community is what decided on these measures

No, Matt decided on these measures. And he didn't do so at the behest of "the community"—only a very small subset of it. When I saw the original thread I thought it was yet another attention-seeking whine about a deleted post. If I had known that six days and 1000 comments later that trainwreck would result in a new administrative fiat, I might have bothered to participate.

the community is responsible for the flagging

Saying what kind of flagging the moderators will respond to is going to change the kind of flagging "the community" (which can be only a couple of people) do.
posted by grouse at 6:17 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Putting those that don't see it as great into the 'i'd hit it' club, not so great.
Certainly. That is silly.

I myself prefer to think of the flag change as a form of stealth advertising. A good one. I like having women around and I'd rather guys reel in their misogynistic/sexist comments so that more women - not just those who have grown thick skins - feel a bit more comfortable contributing and sticking around. DaShiv was eloquent but not persuasive. You can still be all combative and witty, but it's not cool to be referring to women only by their magnitude of fuckability or by using vicious sexual imagery.

I mean, really, it's just about a bit of decorum. We all modify our behaviour to some or extent or another in public spaces like work, and just because the internet has been a forum in general for asshat behaviour doesn't mean we oughtn't try to make our bit of it just a tad less hostile or alienating for women.

So, maybe people will see that line in the flag list and it will be a little reminder that will tweak them and they'll post a few less offensive comments. The place might actually get smarter and more entertaining when people feel their barbs and witticisms need to constructed outside of a sexist construct (most of which are cliche and boring or disturbing at the margins anyways).
posted by peacay at 6:33 AM on November 24, 2007 [12 favorites]


When people called fourpanels a dick, did anybody flag that as offensive?

Ad hominems against the privileged class are bad rhetoric, but they do not seem offensive to me. I oppose capital punishment, but I have made jokes about killing politicians who displease me more than once, and it is something that is rhetorically weak. But not something I feel any guilt about or any need to apologize for.

Apparently the most offensive comments were calling Anne Coulter a tranny skank and wishing rape upon her. Here is where the logic breaks down. To describe this as offensive requires playing the non-privileged card. Wishing rape upon Anne Coulter demeans all women.

I think that is overdoing it. Johnny Cochrane can stand up in front of a jury and defend O. J. Simpson as a victim of racial persecution when his (formerly) well-to-do client's freedom is at stake, but do you want to uphold bullshit like that as an ideal to emulate?

The thousand comment thread is shocking and awing to me. I have to worry about this kind of crap in real life at my job. The legal department at the company I work for makes every employee sit through a few hours of sensitivity training every year. That people could get so worked up about this on their free time blows my mind.
posted by bukvich at 6:40 AM on November 24, 2007


I'm in on the homophobia flag.
posted by disclaimer at 6:43 AM on November 24, 2007


After skimming through some of the other thread I can say, wow, I can't remember the last time I saw so much drama in one thread.
posted by grouse at 6:45 AM on November 24, 2007


I haven't been following any of this lately, been purposely focusing on my real life instead. But before disabling another account, EB wrote me (and other people, I guess?) a long e-mail about this. In it he said,

"...Here is, in summary, Matt's thoughts on this matter: there is no problem. There once was a problem with sexism on MetaFilter, but there is not a problem today. In recent days, he has consulted with numerous female acquaintances that are MetaFilter users, and they do not believe there is a problem. These users are AskMe participants. AskMe has little to no sexist banter and high female participation. AskMe accounts for 2/3 of MetaFilter's traffic. Therefore, there is no sexism problem on MetaFilter..."

The rest of the e-mail was in essence asking us to rise up with our torches and take a stand.

I don't know if these thoughts of Matt's were invented in EB's brain, were expressed in personal mail to EB or whether they were comments he made here (since I've not been checking Mefi much). I would just like to know more about Matt "taking measures" since the story I was told was that he wasn't concerned about the issue in the slightest, considering it a non-issue.
posted by miss lynnster at 6:50 AM on November 24, 2007


Has MeFi jumped the shark or what.

I mean, when can we get rid of the comment box altogether. How are we supposed to parse this? Was somebody's feelings hurt? Did somebody threaten to file a lawsuit? Is this a shrine we're building to jennydiski? I don't get it. I've seen this site hit ten billion brick walls, and I don't understand why this one was so special as to merit a new flag.

I don't get why you bastards deleted your accounts. Ego? Couldn't handle the drama? Political statement? Just couldn't step away from the keyboard anyway and thought this was a good time to kill two birds with one stone?

I can't argue against the new flags because, if the logic follows, MetaFilter would be a better place if sexism and racism are not rampant, if they were in the first place. But you know, I've made controversial statements on race that I didn't know were that controversial, and I have been engaged by other members of this community, and I've learned. My mind has grown. I don't get how we're fucking learning anything when people are throwing hissy fits, disabling their accounts, and then assumedly demanding that MeFi go about its business in a more politically correct way.

Finally, how ironic that jennydiski's MeTa post that implicitly argued against moderation (as she had previously argued against overmoderation) has resulted in no resolution other than... better flags with which to moderate each other with. That woman was a poison the minute she stepped foot in here.
posted by phaedon at 6:51 AM on November 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


To those bitching and moaning about "PC" and free speech and all that: I hear you. I am a free-speech absolutist, and I've always enjoyed the lively and edgy flow of debate and comment and random snark around here. A couple of years ago, I might have been bitching and moaning right along with you. I'm a quonsar fan, for god's sake.

But you know what? I like women, I think they add a wider assortment of views and understandings and, if present in sufficient numbers, create a different and more interesting atmosphere than your typical boyzone/locker room (as enjoyable as that can be in its own right). And over the years I've seen women get shouted down or sniped at to the point that they stop trying, and either focus on AskMe or leave entirely. And that makes me mad, and I want it to stop.

Nobody's saying "OK, listen up, from now on there will be NO comments offensive to women or other oppressed groups. If a single woman complains about something you've said, you will be hung from the yardarm, flogged, castrated, keelhauled, and made to sing Kumbaya before being tossed overboard tied to an anchor. Salute to acknowledge that you have heard and will obey!"

The point is to try to encourage people to think twice before letting fly with a reflex "I'd hit it!" or other dumb comment. Many guys do not even realize how hard this stuff is for women to deal with (and a number of them said exactly that in the Endless Thread), and many women don't realize the mods even care about the issue (and thus don't speak up when they see crap like that). This is an attempt to address that.

Nobody's saying you have to be mealy-mouthed and high-minded. This is always going to be an edgy, snark-loving place. But is it really so oppressive to be more creative and interesting with your snark than just "I'd hit it" or "What a cunt"?

If a primary point is to collect data, then having a catchall offensive/sexism/racism category won't be particularly helpful.

This, plus the predictable reaction from those who want other things to be added because "hey, aren't they just as important?", are exactly why I thought a separate "sexist content" flag should be added.
posted by languagehat at 6:54 AM on November 24, 2007 [17 favorites]


Wow. DaShiv, great comment.
posted by phaedon at 7:02 AM on November 24, 2007


EB wrote me (and other people, I guess?)

No, not other people, just women.

I would just like to know more about Matt "taking measures" since the story I was told was that he wasn't concerned about the issue in the slightest, considering it a non-issue.

Honestly, you really should read the previous thread and this one. Not going for snark here, but Matt has made several replies and explanations and rather than linking to them directly, it would be better to read them in context.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:10 AM on November 24, 2007


quick question: will the mods remove comments which may be offensive to whites/males if they are flagged as racist/sexist?
posted by bruce at 7:16 AM on November 24, 2007


Nevermind my earlier comment, I caught matt's comments.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:18 AM on November 24, 2007


I am amused that the two arguments against this: "This change is so inconsequential, it will do nothing, and is just a monumental waste of time!" and "This kind of drastic change will spell the end of MeFi!" I'd worry if everyone said this were too drastic. I'd feel it was a waste of time if everyone said it would do nothing. The fact that both are being said reassures me that this is neither too much nor too little, but in some good middle zone.

And, yeah, I'd love it if MeFi self-policed itself in regards to this, without the need for flagging and whatnot. But it's been half a decade, and the situation has gotten only marginally better, so if the choice is "change a flag to be a little more clear, with the possible benefit of improving the situation here for 50% of the population", and "leave the flag as it is, with the possible benefit of...uh...sending 14 fewer bytes over the internet", I'd rather spend the 14 bytes.
posted by Bugbread at 7:20 AM on November 24, 2007


I realize that I don't have as strong a posting history as some around here but I didn't get that that was a requirement for continued participation in the community. I can't think of any boyzone behavior I may have been involved in despite the desire of some to include me in that camp for my being underwhelmed by this change.

I have flagged things in the past that the mods were able to deduce the reason for before the new 'HTML/display error' flag was added. I think the mods are quite capable of seeing the reason behind a flag and that further change to the 'offensive' flag was unnecessary. It should be obvious that something that is racist is offensive, that something that is sexist is offensive.
posted by geekyguy at 7:23 AM on November 24, 2007


I can't think of any boyzone behavior I may have been involved

geekyguy: i think this comment counts.
posted by Stynxno at 7:29 AM on November 24, 2007


quick question: will the mods remove comments which may be offensive to whites/males if they are flagged as racist/sexist?

Probably not, bruce, just as the mods probably won't remove most of the comments that are flagged as offensive/sexism/racism. Flagging is a way to indicate something; it's no guarantee of moderator action.

It should be obvious that something that is racist is offensive, that something that is sexist is offensive.

Maybe it should be obvious, geekyguy, but the experiences of people as described in the threads that lead mathowie to change the flag description show us it wasn't obvious enough to make MetaFilter as good a place as it can be. We'd left ourselves too much room to be prejudicial and unthinking, and over time, we'd alienated people whom, if asked, I think none of us would want to alienate. Of course, we do want to filter some folks—stavrosthewonderchicken's endorsement of a flag for stupidity would probably be pretty popular—but we were making the place worse for people we would want around, people like thehmsbeagle and grumblebee, for example.
posted by cgc373 at 7:37 AM on November 24, 2007


Hmm. "People whom"? "People who"? Dammit! I hate the objective case!

Pending grammatical derail is hereby encouraged.
posted by cgc373 at 7:40 AM on November 24, 2007


i think this comment counts.

Can someone please explain that photo for the uninitiated?
posted by grouse at 7:41 AM on November 24, 2007


I'm not holding my breath waiting for a nother flag for homophobia, look how long it took for Mefi to get this far. First women's suffrage, then sexual liberation, right?

This was an initial move so that we could actually get going doing something and stop just talking about it. I'm sure it will evolve over time and transphobia and homophobia were other non-acceptable things that came up in the course of that thread and a lot of emails to me and I assume mathowie. We're in the tweaking-this phase, not intending to be exclusive.

I know it's hard to hear both "this is a great new step" and "nothing is really going to change much, don't worry" but that's mostly true as I see it. The light moderation that we usually employ on all-but-AskMe parts of the site generally works. However sometimes it doesn't. One of the failure modes is that some threads become so vicious and I-fucked-your-mom nasty that a lot of people don't want to participate in them anymore. People felt that this sort of thing was a) outside the bounds of what they felt the guidelines of the site were and b) not being dealt with in any sort of fashion either by in-thread callouts or flag-and-maybe-remove actions. The next question was why.

So we talked about the issue of the guidelines. Are really overt sexist, racist and homophobic commentary okay, not okay but tolerated, celebrated, or somewhere in-between? I think most of us felt like the sort of "tranny cunt deserves to get raped" statements were against what we felt the guidelines should encompass and yet that's really not how things were working out. We moderate lightly and we're not always aware of these things as trends. This helps us see them, figure out what to do, figure out how to approach this.

This does NOT mean that every comment that is seen as sexist by anyone goes away. This does NOT mean that issues of race, sex, sexual orientation, whatever, are somehow verboten on MeFi or need to be approached wiht kid gloves. This DOES mean that we sat down and said "gee, if there is a big group of you who feel that the site is actively alienating to you in a way that we (as moderators and longtime users) don't feel that it shoudl be, is there a way to work towards a place where it is not?"

As bugbread says upthread, the site has been around long enough that just wishing for it to be otherwise isn't going to cut it. I personally don't want women leaving the site because they feel that MeFi is (or has become) a site where we don't walk the talk about how we, as the community, want the site to run.

And, on preview, miss lynnster/brandon: EB didn't send that email to ME either. I saw it as a mischaracterization of mathowie's statements to EB in an email (one that I did see) intended to elicit a response.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:42 AM on November 24, 2007 [6 favorites]


There are a lot of threads that don't appeal to me or that I find irritating. I try to stay out of those and let those who enjoy them their fun.
I'd imagine that this place could be diverse. That there can be threads in which the gender studies crowd has their fun, which I stay out of since to me most gender studies is the furthering of gender politics wrapped in a cloak of science, and also lockerroom threads, etc. etc.


There's a lot to be said for this approach. And I mean that in more than simply giving guys a space to say "I'd hit it" or "Nice tits". Making these changes will make the site more monolithic. Despite all protestations to the contrary I don't believe that this will be used only for the most extreme comments. A poster detailing how they would like someone to die by an act of extreme sexual violence can certainly be flagged offensive. No change is needed on those grounds.

Metafilter has a fairly strong political bias. In my opinion, what's good for the site is to avoid pandering to that bias; it keeps things interesting. This is not an imagined issue. Recently, I participated in a thread on race and intelligence. Many members immediately called the post racist, but they also went further and said the entire discussion, and even investigating the matter scientifically was racist. Twice I posted a link to a document, signed by over 50 experts on intelligence, stating what the mainstream scientific consensus on intelligence was. Little in the discussion went beyond the bounds of that statement. Considering the numerous calls for it to be deleted, I'm skeptical it would have stayed if there were dozens of flags stuck on it.

Contrary to LobsterMitten, I think there are real issues with a encouraging a PC police mentality here. You don't just eliminate the "honestly to-the-bone go-back-to-Africa racists or women-shouldn't-get-an-education sexists". Having these terms listed along side 'offensive', encourages their use every time someone gets miffed. No doubt, most of the time it will just result in extreme material being removed or someone being told to make fewer overtly sexual comments but there is a case to be made for it changing more than that. Perhaps those sorts of contentious topics are considered no great loss to the site. That's fine too, and I thought someone should at least speak to them. But if it's important to keep the boundaries of discussion as broad as possible, then as DaShiv points out there are other ways the community can manage. Will it be as convenient as flagging a comment, no it won't.

And along those lines, this comment on Matt's comment is perfect:

If you want to go down a list of changes to the site over the last five years that were met with slippery slope arguments, you could pick any of them: adding flagging, moderating ask mefi heavier than other sections, adding more than 1 moderator, etc. None of them caused the slippery slopes that were predicted as I suspect this won't either.

are hilariously ironic, given the context. Dude, you're describing the very thing that you're suggesting doesn't exist - a systemic shift in the way the 'community' has operated, and not for the better (in my humble), by policies that have shifted responsibility for behaviour from the individual to arbitrary appeal to arbitrary authority.

I also prefer the anything-goes incarnation of Metafilter and I do understand the decision has been made.

P.S. This is awesome:

Finally, how ironic that jennydiski's MeTa post that implicitly argued against moderation (as she had previously argued against overmoderation) has resulted in no resolution other than... better flags with which to moderate each other with. That woman was a poison the minute she stepped foot in here.
posted by BigSky at 7:45 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


It should be obvious that something that is racist is offensive, that something that is sexist is offensive.

geekyguy, I don't disagree with you in principle. I was pretty skeptical, in the Big Thread, about the idea of a flag change, but I've considered it and shifted my position somewhat in the last couple days, and this is why:

A number of people in that thread shocked me by revealing that they didn't think that we considered sexist stuff at all actionable. That "offensive" didn't, in practice, include that, even if in theory it should.

So the change is an attempt to raise, somewhat, the awareness not just of commenters who engage in lazy or casual sexism but also the folks who see that stuff and don't know whether we consider their discomfort worth our time. The fact is that we do, and this is partly an effort to explore how to help make that clear.

So I hear you. I've split a few hairs already, trying to decide where the compromise between directness and clarity and utility should fall on the flag question. And at the end of all that, I agree with the change that Matt made well enough to be okay with it, because I think the important thing is that something happens and that we see the results.

I am very curious what will happen now that it's in place, and I fully expect we'll refine or modify things in the future.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:46 AM on November 24, 2007


DaShiv and languagehat are both very intelligent, thoughtful, insightful people, and their comments, thus, leave me conflicted. I don't want to se PC run rampant, but I'm also not interested in seeing people chased from the site by blatantly offensive crudity. So I just don't know.

I do think that if you're adding tags for the express purpose of data collecting, then they ought to be separate from the generic "offensive" so that you can see the data without having to parse if from the comment. And yes, as long as you're at it, homophobia has stirred up similar ruckuses in the past, so may as well cover all bases, if you're really data collecting.

I do hope that Mattexamyn are intelligent enough to note if all their data points are coming from one or two particularly shrill and oversensitive members who are trying to go control freak, or whether the offense is widespread. This will be the key part of the experiment, and in that case, we're down to trust. I think they're fundamentally trustworthy, based on past experience, though.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:48 AM on November 24, 2007


Having kinda-followed the Other Thread(s), one of the things I found encouraging about the flagging thing is that it allows people more choice. Was it "nannying" when the offensive flag just said offensive? Did it prevent people from calling out offensive comments? I don't see that it did: it gave people the option to flag-and-move-on (a fine tradition), or the option to maybe derail a thread and get piled on by calling out the offender.

You can still do that. If you see a comment that's racist or sexist, there's no rule that says you can only flag, and not call out - you can do both.

One result of the Other Thread(s) - for me - is that I'm probably more likely to call out (and flag) sexist comments, since I know that I'm not the only one who's made uncomfortable by the atmosphere they can produce and know that other mefites will probably join in to say "Yeah, that's not cool - enough with the rape jokes already."

It should be obvious that something that is racist is offensive, that something that is sexist is offensive.


Obviously, it wasn't, as many people have said above and in the other thread(s). It certainly wasn't obvious to me - and I know, I'm a n00b - that the "offensive" flag was for garden-variety, no-wit, stupid "I'd hit it" "nice tits" comments that, on a once-in-a-thread basis are "eh" to me, but taken in quantity are wearying and gross and make the blue in particular seem like a mung-stinky frat house, and I don't need to be in any more of those, thanks.

And I don't want to call out every "I'd hit it" comment - for one thing, I don't think they're always offensive: sometimes they're funny, in context. My context will likely be different from yours or someone else's, at least sometimes. Sometimes I just want to flag something like that, because I don't want to have the "But I was just joking, jeez, grow a thicker skin" argument Every. Fucking. Time.
posted by rtha at 7:56 AM on November 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


We need a Sexy flag.
posted by brautigan at 7:56 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Considering the numerous calls for it to be deleted, I'm skeptical it would have stayed if there were dozens of flags stuck on it.

I'm skeptical re: the notion that there weren't dozens of flags stuck on it. But for whatever reason you did get to have your little "Black People: Stupid, Or What?" thread, so I'm not sure why you're still bitching about it.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:03 AM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


cgc373, you apparently misunderstood my question and utterly failed to answer it. i asked if the mods would remove comments potentially offensive to whites/males if they were flagged as racist/sexist, i didn't ask if they would necessarily remove comments flagged by me. i knew the answer to that already.

i asked my question because the tweak can be perceived in two different ways. if the racism/sexism constraints are enforced evenhandedly in favor of all races and both sexes, then it's a promising development which may improve the tone of dialogue.

if the racism/sexism constraints are not enforced evenhandedly in favor of all races and both sexes, then it's just pandering to a clique. it's establishing a premium reward for contrived dudgeon from a certain ideological sector, and real life teaches us that when you do that, you will be rewarded with enough contrived dudgeon to influence global warming.
posted by bruce at 8:12 AM on November 24, 2007


I think we should paint this bikeshed racist/sexist.

There was a catch-all offensive flag (which I understood to also include racist and sexist comments). Some people didn't. Now the flag has made those things explicit. I can't see how this changes anything, to be honest.

Now if Matt changes "Post Comment" to "Press this to make your comment visible to everyone else on the site"; I swear ... I WILL PRESS THAT BIG RED BUTTON.

And no one will notice
posted by geminus at 8:14 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


nthing a homophobia flag.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:18 AM on November 24, 2007


if the racism/sexism constraints are not enforced evenhandedly in favor of all races and both sexes, then it's just pandering to a clique. it's establishing a premium reward for contrived dudgeon from a certain ideological sector, and real life teaches us that when you do that, you will be rewarded with enough contrived dudgeon to influence global warming.

I would like to live in your fantasy land. Please let me know how to sign up for your newsletter. I would like to know more.
posted by Stynxno at 8:20 AM on November 24, 2007


This is going to be an interesting experiment in achieving the impossible, I think. I can't think of a single popular general-interest web site that allows comments which has less sexism and racism than metafilter.

Why not just get rid of the comments on mefi entirely?
posted by empath at 8:30 AM on November 24, 2007


DaShiv was eloquent but not persuasive. You can still be all combative and witty, but it's not cool to be referring to women only by their magnitude of fuckability or by using vicious sexual imagery.

Ding, ding, ding- we have a winner.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:36 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Thank you for this. I missed out on the earlier thread somehow but I made my way through most of it last night. Just to add another datapoint: I've been a member of Metafilter since 2001. I met my husband through the site, for God's sake. Barring odd circumstances like vacation or lack of internet access, I've read the site every day. Every single day.

I very, very rarely participate in the blue any more because I'm sick of this shit. Things like the comic about the video game producer and bukkake, this thread about the teenaged pole vaulter who didn't like being objectified, and a million "I'd hit its" like I give a rat's ass who'd you deign to let touch your magical cock of mystical powers.

And I am absolutely delighted to see this thread devolve into a textbook example of what exactly is wrong with the site -- no sarcasm, honestly. I can point to this thread next time someone says there's no boyzone. False comparisons? Check. (Though I think that the fat hate on here is a terrible problem, I've long since given up even hoping that will ever be dealt with.) Being told sexism isn't a problem? Check. Shrill and oversensitive? Check and check.

Look: at a certain point, it's no longer the job of the women who feel uncomfortable to educate you on why statements ranging from I'd hit it to ass-raping Ann Coulter don't provide a welcoming environment. If it's more important to you to keep up your boyzone antics, well, I guess the community will continue to be a reflection of that and will be so much poorer for it.
posted by sugarfish at 8:39 AM on November 24, 2007 [38 favorites]


To me, the appeal (and entertainment value) of discussions in the blue and gray stems from its emphasis on direct combativeness and wit, rather than validation and consensus (that's the green). IMO the best way to counter the Boyzone would have been rebuttals in-thread, like Jessamyn's trenchant quip "I am pretty all the time, fuckers", challenging individuals to defend their words and values openly -- i.e. community self-policing, not nannying.

DaShiv, we're friends, right? So you know I am the opposite of a dour PC schoolmarm or a shrinking violet.

If you didn't know me, there's still my posting history. You'll see trenchant quips aplenty on the subject. This is particularly true when the subject is sexual violence, or casually belittling women as sluts or otherwise nasty for behaviors ranging from actual sexual boldness to simple outspokenness or autonomy.

Here is the thing. I believe in self-policing and I do it all the time, as when I want to call someone an asshole and be done with it instead of talking about their ideas. I'm human just like anyone but I rarely screw up on that score when I post. So why do some dudes fail to police themselves when it is time to talk about a newsworthy woman, particularly performers and athletes but also women in tech, in the sciences, politicians, women who are not "performing" in any celebrity sense like a Coulter does? Why is I'd-hit-it so often the main salient fact? Why is simple dislike of a woman grounds to haul out the choke-on-a-dick stuff? Why can't we talk about women like we talk about men; why is that a highbrow concept?

I don't expect us to be in perfect accordance. I like disagreement -- I can hold my own when it is time to defend my point of view. What's more difficult to argue is an argument that's never clearly made: that women are hit-it-or-not creatures first and people second. What I really don't like, what tends to make me leave the room altogether in fact, is when someone gets mad enough at a woman to call her a human trash can, a skank, a thing to sodomize with knives or asphyxiate with a cock. That woman everyone's so mad at isn't here. I am.

So sure, self-police away. If that happens more, maybe a lot of women who are made to feel unwelcome by that casual belittlement that is not about ideas or character but about the simple biological fact of their sex will participate more freely. I will trade trenchant quips with you all damn day, personally. But dick-choke talk is not a "quip." It is lazy and hostile in the extreme, and it makes more women than me feel unwelcome at the outset. I see this flag more as a handy reminder of that fact than a way to scrub the site into a soulless PC heaven. And I trust the mods -- and most of the rest of us -- to be able to tell the difference between it and garden-variety disagreement.
posted by melissa may at 8:40 AM on November 24, 2007 [36 favorites]


cortex writes "A number of people in that thread shocked me by revealing that they didn't think that we considered sexist stuff at all actionable."

you know why cortex? because up until this discussion started, you guys did leave OVERTLY sexist stuff around in threads and maybe you sent an email to people and maybe you didn't, but the larger pop. of meta would have no idea you did.

here is the problem people have with this. forever the moderation here has been soooooo lacking on issues like this that now you guys come and say "we're cracking down"(or people THINK that is what you're saying) and of course people are going to get upset.

you can't go from very little moderation of CRAP comments to "supposed" heavy moderation and not expect people to be upset about the change that is implied.

I read both of the threads all the way through. and personally, what matt wants to do with the site is his deal, but overall, the admins and all the vocal OMGSEXIST folks are going to have to decide what they want more. free and open conversation with some occasional assholes or fairly heavy moderation with no-ones feelings getting hurt.

because I'm not sure what you guys think is going to happen in the long run, but one of the possible outcomes is the possibility that stricter moderation will be needed to keep up with all the different groups that end up getting offended. and the minute you say "wait, we want open communication here" the afflicted will point to this and wonder why their issue isn't addressed.

Finally, how ironic that jennydiski's MeTa post that implicitly argued against moderation (as she had previously argued against overmoderation) has resulted in no resolution other than... better flags with which to moderate each other with. That woman was a poison the minute she stepped foot in here.
posted by PugAchev at 8:45 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


kittens for breakfast,

I understand nuance is not your strong suit. Let me clarify. I am not bitching about that thread. What I am suggesting is that the thinking behind listing it separately,

"Several people said they are reluctant to use the 'Offensive' tag for sexist / makes-me-uncomfortable-as-a-woman stuff, as they considered it to be more of a "hey, someone's being a blatant asshole" flag. The low-level, simmering sexist vibe of some comments didn't strike them as severe enough to merit the 'Offensive' tag being used." (courtesy of CKmtl)

will result in some worthwhile threads getting a plethora of flags. Sometimes these threads will have a large number of flags because of the political bias of the site instead of any inherent merit. I assume the moderators have lives of their own and don't have time to scrutinize each and every flagged thread. So they probably have to rely to some degree on the number of times a post is flagged. Since I would like the scope of discussion to be as wide as possible I think this modification will result in poorer quality of feedback. Hope that helps, I'm sure you'll let me know if you have further difficulties.
posted by BigSky at 8:54 AM on November 24, 2007


I guess there are some pacific, not questioned points:

1. Matt & the mods can decide what can be posted or not posted to MetaFilter
2. While that constitutes a restriction to what can be said here, the users are forewarned about the limits
3. There is no right to partecipate to Metafilter by posting, or to partecipate at all
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
That said, the argument remains : should moderators censor sexist/racist comments ?

We should establish:
a. what assertions/behavior fit the sexist assertion/behavior definition.
b. how sexism can affect you, why bother instead of sitting all the time on the ass

So far, of all the comments I have seen I absolutely A++ recommend you to read this post by Occhiblu, as it offers an interesting display of why sexist behaviors have bad consequences.Another working definition of sexism is here It's worth remembering sexism can affect and do affect males as well as females

Yet, it very very easily flies over anybody head that some behavior have unintended, indirect, undesiderable consequences. Let me show you how in another example:

1. Mary see Joe sitting on his ass
2. Mary see Joe is a man sitting on his ass
3. Mary see Joe, John, Jack , The Letter J sitting on their supersizeme ass.
3. Mary concludes almost every man sit on ass

Mary chats with her girlfriend and the conversation goes on how most man sit on their ass, and this is bad because being too
much lazy is bad. She and the girls conclude Joe is just a boy tool, only marginally made less boring by the fact he has got some dick, at least. They sigh and conclude man just are insensitive blots, they don't "get" the emotions, one wonders if man are somehow sensible or if all they think about is fucking. There girls may be the sweetes and not harm a fly, but they are also misantrophists.

This idea of " man do..." very easily becomes part of a culture, because it is partially based on a true assertion : man spend some good part of their life thinking about having sex (and so do woman, but it's less evident)

The problem start when the assertion "man are insensitive chauvinistic assholes" becomes so ordinary, so unremarkable it doesn't attract any particular attention ; when the assertion is repeated, in any contest, it's soooo ordinary nobody pays attention. What happens is that it gets reinforced, validate by the fact nobody is contrasting it actively, nobody or too few people are saying "no this is bullshit, not every man is an insensitive chauvinistic asshole".

Yet, if just only one woman starts defending a man, her contribute is lost to the fact she seems to be the crazy bitch defending his poor lil schmuck of a man, the dickless ballsless cunt she adores so much godknows why. Similarly, the idea that there is nothing wrong with a woman feeling bad for feeling forced to wear an headscarf is reinforced by tradition : it has always been that way, so why does that crazy cunt question it ?

Except that, expecially but not exclusively in western civilization, we have been suggested sooo many times we are superior and good and better the these motherfuckin' Afghanis sandnigs that we just CAN'T BELIEVE / ALMOST DENY that we are practicing behaviors that reinforce prejudice and/or the consolidation of _wrong_ generalizations.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

HOW to reduce the effect of these behaviors ?

On Metafilter, some think moderators should censor comments fitting some established sexist/racist comment/behavior definition.
I see repression as sometimes a greater evil than the evil it wants to prevents, because:

1. it often works by delegation to an higher power, sometime not capable or interested to exercise it properly, but more concerned with showing the delegation is being worked on, in order not to lose credibility or authority.

2. it doesn't address the cause of the error, just removes it in a convenient out-of-sight/out-of-mind fashion

3. it doesn't teach anybody to "spot the error" , which learning how to tell one rude snark from a full blown mysoginist/mysantropist comment ; because the error is removed.


Similarly, it is not by hiding childrens from sex that you teach them about sex. Probably it's better to spare them from the stuff that looks crudest and that it's hardly understood without some kind of preparation.In a parallel, my fellow italians were NOT prepared to react to the rethoric and tactiques of Berlusconi government, as much as Americans were not ready to see throught Bush cronies propaganda. Obviously, it's their lack of preparedness that enabled the possibility of them being led into poor choices.

-----------

I guess, in costructive criticism, that it could be better to:
1. let the user flag the posts, thus expressing their opinion and help somehow spot the problems, when they are nor able or willing to counterargue the wrong point productively.

2. do NOT delete the post, put a placemarker link to it
3. move it to a thread specialized in the "offence" , f.i. a "sexist" thread

Thus building a knowable, transparent thread of "errors", allowing concerned user to see if the mod is gone insane as well.
posted by elpapacito at 8:56 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Shrill and oversensitive? Check and check.

Sugarfish, I wasn't suggesting that anybody had been, or was being, shrill or oversensitive at this time. I was merely suggesting that in the future, we'd have to trust the admins to be able to differentiate between those and more genuine complaints, as posts were flagged. I was afraid someone would read into what I'd typed, and I hope this clarifies my post a bit for you. Hypersensitivity can stifle discussion, and I just wanted to point out my concern where that side of the debate needed consideration under the circumstances.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:58 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


you can't go from very little moderation of CRAP comments to "supposed" heavy moderation and not expect people to be upset about the change that is implied.

We aren't intending to go to heavy moderation, or to kowtow to anyone who complains, or any other such similar overstatement of the situation. The whole point is we're going to try to pay a little more attention and consider gently moving the boundries. If you did indeed read the whole thread, you saw some pretty staunch anti-hardline talk from me, because I can't even imagine Metafilter going in the direction of heavy, PC-obsessed moderation.

It bothers me that people weren't using the flag system to let us know about problematic stuff because they thought we didn't care. The followup on flagging has always been and will always be a pretty light-touch, case-by-case situation, but when we don't know about the stuff, we can't evaluate it and everybody loses.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:59 AM on November 24, 2007


I'm a big fan of publicly shaming idiots, but it seems wrong to have a racism/sexism flag without a homophobia flag, given that being a homophobic asshole on the internet is even more acceptable than being a misogynistic asshole on the internet.
posted by cmonkey at 9:00 AM on November 24, 2007 [5 favorites]


will result in some worthwhile threads getting a plethora of flags.

What I'm saying is that if that was your idea of a worthwhile thread, then let's delete us some worthwhile threads, full speed ahead, and damn the torpedoes. You're really going to have to do a lot better than that to convince me that singling out racism and sexism as things that are unloved on Metafilter is going to cost us quality content. That thread was garbage, and you should be embarrassed to defend it. I am embarrassed for you.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:00 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


free and open conversation with some occasional assholes or fairly heavy moderation with no-ones feelings getting hurt.

It's a false dichotomy. As has been stated numerous times, this isn't about increased moderation, we just tweaked an existing flag and are adding language to the guidelines. We'll act on flags like we always have (light touch moderation) but there's some raised awareness about the issue of sexism.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:03 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


folks are going to have to decide what they want more. free and open conversation with some occasional assholes or fairly heavy moderation with no-ones feelings getting hurt.
I don't see that dichotomy. Are you unable to have frank discussions with your mum, partner, preacher or even boss, without resorting to overtly sexist or violent comments? If you can self-censor in front of the bishop, why not here?
I am not saying you should not say controversial stuff - I love controversy. I am in support of respect whilst disagreeing with one's ideological opponent. Even more am I supportive of refraining from drive-by 'ass rape' comments [much more often seen in prison/scandal type comments aimed at male victims, in my experience[.
posted by dash_slot- at 9:04 AM on November 24, 2007


bruce, I think the mods will act on flags in the same contextualized way they act in every other administrative capacity on the site. If somebody flags a bunch of posts accusing, say, Steven C. Den Beste (to choose a big white target) of being a running-dog apologist for capitalism with a weird slave-trade mentality and a cracker's privileges, or some other set of vituperative hooey, I'd expect the mods to yank those comments as offensive (or email the poster, or ban them, or act as appropriate to the circumstances) regardless of SCDB's supposed privileges. Such comments would be offensive, sexist, racist, or otherwise unacceptable, and they'd be dealt with as such.

Your question seems to me to tacitly expect there's a political charge or an agenda beyond simple humane courtesy that lies behind the changed label in the flagging box, which I don't think is the case at all. I think we're thinking in public about how to make MetaFilter a more generous, welcoming place; I don't think we're talking about policing—more about politesse.
posted by cgc373 at 9:04 AM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


I assume the moderators have lives of their own and don't have time to scrutinize each and every flagged thread. So they probably have to rely to some degree on the number of times a post is flagged.

You're making some bad assumptions here.

One or more of us is going to at least glance at everything that gets flagged. The posts and comments that get the most flags are the ones we scrutinize the most, and we've never relied solely on number of flags to decide whether something should go, nor depended on some sufficient number of flags before something was worthy of deletion.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:05 AM on November 24, 2007


Melissa May, thank you for saying what I've wanted to say all along.

I'm one of those silent females. I've posted twice on the green, not at all on the blue. I'm not a fragile female -- I've survived many, many rejections, rejection letters, etc., etc. But veiled threats, verbal violence (even against Ann Coulter, whom I loathe), and the like have kept me from participating lest I be seen as one of those "castrating man-haters". I don't hate men. I just hate violence against anyone.
posted by lleachie at 9:06 AM on November 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


Metafilter has a fairly strong political bias. In my opinion, what's good for the site is to avoid pandering to that bias

So making women feel equal is pandering to "political bias"? Interesting.
posted by languagehat at 9:12 AM on November 24, 2007 [6 favorites]


I assume the moderators have lives of their own and don't have time to scrutinize each and every flagged thread. So they probably have to rely to some degree on the number of times a post is flagged.

Dude seriously, did you see how many times I posted on Thanksgiving? We read them all. Numbers sometimes influence which we read first and may influence which we act on but they are one indicator among many.

In my dream world, my little heart of hearts, where you're all good sensible people, this is what would happen.

- people will see the flag option and think, oh I have the option of flagging that casual nonsense rape joke maybe I'll do that
- people will read these threads and think, oh I don't have to sit idly by when threads about certain topics turn into "i'd hit it" and "I fucked your mom" derails
- people may think twice before
1) tossing casual sexist comments everyplace (and racist and homophobic and jokes about developmentally disabled people and whatever is making people squicked out but maybe not feel deputized enough to say something)
2) bitching someone out for calling people out on those sorts of comments
- people will take those disputes to MetaTalk, to here, to ask the community whether they think they're being a special snowflake or whether the glut of prison rape jokes is a little over the top, and other people will respond and we will talk about it.

To restate we are NOT moving to heavier moderation. We are pointing out a problem, giving people tools, pointing out the tools that already exist and restating our personal opinions on the subject as moderators and getting feedback from everyone about it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:13 AM on November 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


We aren't intending to go to heavy moderation, or to kowtow to anyone who complains, or any other such similar overstatement of the situation. The whole point is we're going to try to pay a little more attention and consider gently moving the boundries.

Wherein I mentioned that I fundamentally trusted the three of you to handle this like adults. Sure, Metafilter is a self-policing community, but the Unseen Hand of the Triumvirate has a lot to do with the success as well. And I agree after reading through the Pole Vaulting thread just now, that it is getting, or has gotten, or has always been, a little out-of-hand. A gentle movement of the boundaries does seem like movement in the right direction.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:15 AM on November 24, 2007


"Several people said they are reluctant to use the 'Offensive' tag for sexist / makes-me-uncomfortable-as-a-woman stuff, as they considered it to be more of a "hey, someone's being a blatant asshole" flag. The low-level, simmering sexist vibe of some comments didn't strike them as severe enough to merit the 'Offensive' tag being used."

FWIW this is exactly how I felt when I got what amounted to a fucking proposition in an AskMe about washing my hair. This is needed. I'm sorry if some people who aren't female can't see it, but that's too bad.
posted by Medieval Maven at 9:15 AM on November 24, 2007


There was a debacle in a recent thread about the use of the term "lynch."

A half-dozen people spoke up. They associate the word so strongly with deep South racism that they find it absolutely intolerable. To say they hate its use is not an exaggeration.

What those people fail to recognize is that for the greatest majority of users the word "lynch" does not carry loads of emotional baggage. The number of people on MeFi who aren't offended by its use is roughly four orders of magnitude greater than the number of people who are offended.

This is a truly global community. It behooves everyone to remember that the associations and issues one's own self has with use of certain language is almost certainly not the norm for the world.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:18 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Devils rancher, I apologize for mis-reading your statement. However, please recognize that shrill and oversensitive are code words that are often specifically tossed at women in order to minimize their concerns. Hysterical is another.
posted by sugarfish at 9:19 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


In fairness, there are plenty of places where lynching is a fine and respected practice. Many countries celebrate Lynching Day, in fact!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:20 AM on November 24, 2007


cortex writes "It bothers me that people weren't using the flag system to let us know about problematic stuff because they thought we didn't care. "

Oh it is sure annoying to be considered careless. One cause could be that we don't see your efforts, because the deleted threads and comments and deleted , maybe ? In my most recent and just above post, I suggest moving them to a thread , a sexist thread, a racist thread so that your efforts are under scrutiny both way.

If some complains you are not doing enough, you can always invite them to flag and remember that , after all, this is a free and private systems ..that the resources to manage the site are limited and that you guys are under no obligation to be perfect or even to do very well constantly. At the very same time, if the problem of a rampant sexism and racism present itself , a specific thread with a collection of deleted post could very well provide evidence of it.

Also , by collecting all the s**t under one point, there's an opportunity to explain why these kind of message are wrong and why their effect are negative..which is, imho, a potentially good teaching opportunity.

All of this without forgetting the fundamental premise : Metafilter isn't about providing a perfect, "risk of offence free" environment and you guys are under no obligation to provide it.
posted by elpapacito at 9:20 AM on November 24, 2007


Hypersensitivity can stifle discussion

* So can boorishness. If people feel that they're going to be buried under a pile of personal insults the second they open their mouths, they're not going speak at all. Silent people do not help foster good discussions.

* So can throwing around accusations of hypersensitivity, even (especially) hypothetical ones. The reason many of us don't speak up, in the way that DaShiv was advocating, is because we're tired of being called hypersensitive, humorless, shrill ideologues. When people regularly trot out that image, its pure repetition becomes a warning or threat: Don't talk back too much, don't get too uppity, or we'll all dismiss you as just another hysterical bitch who doesn't understand how the real world works and who's too thin-skinned to be on our playground. Be like the good girls who don't bother us too much, or who play along.

As jessamyn pointed out in the other thread, women are not somehow a special-interest addition to the community. We are part of the community. If you [editorial you] are somehow thinking of the entire community as white, straight, and male, and see taking into account the feelings of "anyone else" as infringing on the community, then you're not really getting the idea of "community," at least as it fits on MetaFilter.
posted by occhiblu at 9:23 AM on November 24, 2007 [33 favorites]


okay cgc373, i'll accept that as a reasonable position, but

your question seems to me to tacitly expect there's a political charge or agenda beyond simple humane courtesy...

well, brandon blatcher, our original poster on this thread, characterized the goal as "to make metafilter more woman friendly." i see this as a more specific goal than simple humane courtesy. in fairness, the mods have neither endorsed nor disavowed this goal, and their silence as to mr. blatcher can no more be construed as assent than their silence as to me.
posted by bruce at 9:23 AM on November 24, 2007


Devils rancher, I apologize for mis-reading your statement. However, please recognize that shrill and oversensitive are code words that are often specifically tossed at women in order to minimize their concerns. Hysterical is another.

Can we add "kerfuffle"? I never once saw this word in use, popular or otherwise, until earlier this year my typical area of the blogosphere was hit with a scandal re: a pop culture company's production of an (arguably) sexist product. The resulting brouhaha was dubbed a kerfuffle, and I have since seen this applied to every internet controversy that involves folks accused of sexist dickatry. (Including the Big Thread.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:23 AM on November 24, 2007


Devils rancher, I apologize for mis-reading your statement. However, please recognize that shrill and oversensitive are code words that are often specifically tossed at women in order to minimize their concerns. Hysterical is another.

You are correct, those words are used as a bludgeon at times -- it was not my intention to do so.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:24 AM on November 24, 2007


I learned something. I've said "I'd hit it" jokingly (though never here), and I didn't intend anything violent by it at all. It [i]was[/i] to me a way of saying "I'm so lame that even though this person has been deemed less than desirable, I am a pig with self-esteem so low that basically if I could get gratification from a fluffy pillow in a dumpster, I might just consider it. Because I'm that pitiful.

I put "was" in italics because now that I've seen the explanations of the violent connotations, I'll not be saying that ever again, even as a joke.

And it's worth it to me because no amount of laughter that could come from making the joke is worth unwittingly furthering the old boys club, implied violence or the like, to me.
posted by cashman at 9:25 AM on November 24, 2007 [6 favorites]


Also, I think sports talk radio has gotten popular as of late because it's one of the safe havens for the 'bucket of cocks' talk. So anything that makes mefi more dissimilar to sports talk radio is good.
posted by cashman at 9:26 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Seriously? Jesus.
posted by kbanas at 9:29 AM on November 24, 2007


It took me a good long while to write this, so I apologise for the fact my comments are lagging.

I read both "grow a thicker skin" and "call it out in the comments, you wuss" as shorthand for "sack up and be more like everyone else and you'll get along fine." Where everyone else means "those of us happily residing in or uncritically tolerating the boyzone." That isn't an acceptable solution to me.

Women and men operate in social spaces differently. There is ample evidence that women are less confrontational than men. While there are many women, myself among them, who have zero problem with confrontation, it is a bigger deal to do this in a thread when you know that, statistically, your biggest pool of supporters is likely to remain largely silent. You may get a lot of favourites, but you will not get a lot of in-game support. Who wants to fight a battle they shouldn't even have to fight in the first place on their own?

Empath noted: I can't think of a single popular general-interest web site that allows comments which has less sexism and racism than metafilter.

I think this is a good juncture at which to note that there are far, far more self-defined women's communities online than men's communities. It is really critical to understand that when women join women's communities online, it isn't so that we can discuss knitting, periods and babies away from men who just don't understand our delicate constitutions. It is so that we can discuss politics, technology, consumerism, art, relationships and other "general interest" topics in an environment where the expectation is that we're not going to come up against sexist, belittling, reductionist, misogynist BS in discussion of these topics.

The prevalence of these communities, and the arguably unfortunate need for them, may have slipped by the average male MeFite. I found one of Matt's comments on the other thread very illuminating:

I see women asking about very private matters and worries and concerns that can't be asked anywhere else on the web and that's a very good thing.

I about fell out of my chair on that one. I have a lot of respect for Matt and for the thing that is MetaFilter, but the idea that this is somehow as good as it gets for women online really and truly flabbergasts me.

So yeah, I think MeFi has a way to go in this department, and that this is a good first step. The issue isn't "should a comment saying Coulter should be raped and beaten be removed?" but rather "wtf is so wrong with our community standards that anyone, even the most fringe member, thought that was an OK thing to post here in the first place?"
posted by DarlingBri at 9:30 AM on November 24, 2007 [17 favorites]


It is worth it to hit the preview button though.
posted by cashman at 9:30 AM on November 24, 2007


* So can boorishness. If people feel that they're going to be buried under a pile of personal insults the second they open their mouths, they're not going speak at all. Silent people do not help foster good discussions.

* So can throwing around accusations of hypersensitivity, even (especially) hypothetical ones. The reason many of us don't speak up, in the way that DaShiv was advocating, is because we're tired of being called hypersensitive, humorless, shrill ideologues. When people regularly trot out that image, its pure repetition becomes a warning or threat: Don't talk back too much, don't get too uppity, or we'll all dismiss you as just another hysterical bitch who doesn't understand how the real world works and who's too thin-skinned to be on our playground. Be like the good girls who don't bother us too much, or who play along.

As jessamyn pointed out in the other thread, women are not somehow a special-interest addition to the community. We are part of the community. If you [editorial you] are somehow thinking of the entire community as white, straight, and male, and see taking into account the feelings of "anyone else" as infringing on the community, then you're not really getting the idea of "community," at least as it fits on MetaFilter.


For Christ's sake, [NOT XTIAN-IST] I've been trying to agree, and be supportive of the notion that I trusted the moderators to do a good job of helping sort the situation out. If I came off as a lout, no doubt it was unintentional. I wasn't calling anybody anything. Really. Let's not let this dwindle into stupid semantical quibble, when we're fundamentally on the same side of the issue.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:36 AM on November 24, 2007


Another man in favor of this change (a queer one, though, so one whose opinion is worth less in the fraternity/boyzone/machismo camp). There have been plenty of sexist and/or racist comments I've read on the site that made me groan and say "oh for fuck's sake" but generally I don't bother engaging them because arguing against sexists or racists frequently feels to me like arguing against flatearthers.

In any case, those sorts of comments definitely make for an exclusionary environment and I'm glad to see an effort to discourage them.
posted by Tuwa at 9:42 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


cortex said: It bothers me that people weren't using the flag system to let us know about problematic stuff because they thought we didn't care.

Maybe that is what bothers me the most. People unable to express themselves when offended need an easier button to push in order to be able to express themselves. Hand-hold much? By flagging something as 'offensive' you were, without drawing attention to yourself and in a nice silent way, letting the mods know that, by your standards, this was not an acceptable post. What more really needs to be done?

If it makes anyone feel better by having it changed then, sure, institute it. It is a benign change that is really just semantics. But be aware that this change is a door that once opened may not easily be closed. Already other flags are being called for.

A different approach to this would have been to send a MefiMail to all members encouraging them to act accordingly within the already stated guidelines and if they see someone who is not to report it using the 'offensive' flag. Failure to play by the rules would result in a warning and then bannination.

I have always been proud of my inclusion in the Metafilter community. I generally try to weigh whether or not my post contributes to the discussion before posting. Of course, exceptions exist, (9722v2), but I value and respect the community and want to believe that others do as well.


cmonkey said: but it seems wrong to have a racism/sexism flag without a homophobia flag

Flag it as offensive and trust your moderators to see the reason.

at the end of the day the 40 or so of us who participated in this thread plus the 1000 or so who read it are just a drop in the bucket
posted by geekyguy at 9:43 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


elpapacito: That said, the argument remains : should moderators censor sexist/racist comments ?

No. The altered wording of the "offensive" flag does not involve censorship. The inclusion in the guidelines of a section addressing sexism does not involve censorship. (alternatively, please explain your reasons for thinking that, in practice, these adjustments will equate censorship.) This mischaracterization has been corrected several times already, in the Endless Thread and this one. From the other thread, here's an example of a gracious concession on this point:

anotherpanacea said (scroll down to last sentence): 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?

jessamyn replied 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.

LobsterMitten added: 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.

anotherpanacea replied:
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.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:43 AM on November 24, 2007


i see this [the goal of making MeFi more woman friendly] as a more specific goal than simple humane courtesy.

I guess it is technically more specific, but it's more specific in much the same way sexism and racism are more specific subsets of offensive and inhumane behavior generally. You and BigSky both used the term "pander" to describe the way the site's moderators might react to the site's perceived (U.S. liberal/progressive?) biases, as reflected in the way people might tend to flag controversial subject matter. The phrasing makes me think you—and BigSky—probably prefer some more freethinking and open situation, without new policies and regulations and administration, that requires each of us to stand up for ourselves and to speak freely about our interests and our difficulties. While I find the idealism admirable, I find the practical situation that members here have explained to be more compelling, and in greater need of attention, than the principles: I think the people who feel excluded and unwelcome deserve better from us. The flag option changes one small area of text in the flagging box, and it isn't even a permanent change, but it may make a real difference for people who feel they've been shouted down or shut out, and maybe we'll get to hear from them more often, maybe we'll learn something we may not have been able to learn. I'm not worried about losing anything because of this change, but I get the sense that you are, bruce, although I'm not sure what you think might be lost.
posted by cgc373 at 9:47 AM on November 24, 2007


Tuwa said: There have been plenty of sexist and/or racist comments I've read on the site that made me groan and say "oh for fuck's sake" but generally I don't bother engaging them because arguing against sexists or racists frequently feels to me like arguing against flatearthers.

You could have flagged it as offensive without engaging the offender.

If more people had been part of the solution within the pre-existing framework this all would have been unnecessary.
posted by geekyguy at 9:50 AM on November 24, 2007


However, please recognize that shrill and oversensitive are code words that are often specifically tossed at gays and women in order to minimize their concerns. Hysterical is another.

See the average reaction to amberglow's objections to homophobia on Mefi. I note his absence from these debates - I would not be surprised if he is just all worn out by it all.
posted by dash_slot- at 9:53 AM on November 24, 2007


The flag tweak is a big issue? It was there before, and now it has simply been tweaked to heighten awareness that sexist, racist things are not sanctioned by this community. These are values that mathowie as site owner has stated on numerous occasions. This just makes it a little more upfront. BFD.

Most of the people who participated in that thread said they favored community self-policing over deletions or top down authoritative solutions. But let's face it, as the community has expanded to more than 60,000 members, self policing becomes a harder ideal to achieve. Every month, we have thousands of new users. Is it so bad to be a little more overt about putting a "this is not like Fark" stake in the ground in a few places (flags, guidelines) so that new users understand this is a place where the bar for successful participation is a little higher? So that those in the minority understand their participation is welcome?

What I heard people in the discussion thread citing as offensive content was less "ouch, you hurt my little feelings" and more as egregious stuff that is hostile, violent, threatening, or inimical to a degree that women actually feel uncomfortable participating and instead chose to leave the thread or avoid the site altogether - and many women spoke up to say they have done just that. I know that when stuff like that occurs, it has a chilling effect on me - yet I am hardly a shrinking violet and I don't think many would call me the PC police.

Go look at the profile page - it's a self-selecting sample true, but lists very heavily to white males in a certain age range. Well I don't know about y'all, but much as I have had a lifelong fascination with this demographic, I also like others - don't you?
posted by madamjujujive at 9:54 AM on November 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


That's probably true, geekyguy, but people haven't often enough been part of the solution, hence the changes are necessary.
posted by cgc373 at 9:55 AM on November 24, 2007


First of all, thanks to Matt, Jess and cortex for their efforts to manage the shit storm.

All I have to add right now is that I (too) am very wary at this point for a community-wide move towards political correctism, which is something I despise only slightly less than racism and sexism. occhiblu's Kate Harding comment really resonated with me - it did an excellent job of pointing out the specifics of a very real problem without painting the speaker as a victim or the addressee as an aggressor: as a guy reading this, it's just so incredibly easy to be put off - wrongly - by something like that the very moment it feels like a lecture.

However, I can't shake the feeling that somehow it hands us a list of forbidden words. The hippie in me likes to believe that we're living in a post-sexist, post-racist age, for whatever value of we at least, and that out of that follows the understanding that anything I say cannot be construed as sexist or racist, simply because we've already established that, you know, I'm not.

At the same time I understand that this is an incredibly naive notion. I also get that my point here is an alarmist one, and that the sky is probably not falling. Ultimately I can only speak for myself, and I merely want to emphasize that as far as I am concerned we could all do with a little more sensitivity (hopefully fuelled by unbridled open-minded curiosity) towards people of a different race or (in this case especially) gender, and that this should work both ways, but that at the same time I reserve the right to call Ann Coulter a tranny cunt if that's how I feel, thank you very much.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:56 AM on November 24, 2007


You could have flagged it as offensive without engaging the offender.

If more people had been part of the solution within the pre-existing framework this all would have been unnecessary.


But here's the thing, dude: If this is true -- if everyone should have realized, implicitly, that this stuff was offensive all along -- what is the difference now that it's explicitly been made clear that this stuff is, in fact, something that the site considers a problem? By this logic -- your logic -- all that's happened here is that a condition that already existed has been clarified. If this is true, and if said condition is one that you find agreeable, then what is your objection to spelling it out?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:57 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


gnfti, I don't see how you can say that we are in a post-sexist age and in the next breath say that "tranny cunt" is anywhere near appropriate. If we were in a post-sexist age, then that insult wouldn't hold any water. But we're not, and I have a feeling you're being disingenuous.
posted by sugarfish at 10:01 AM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


You know, I just assumed people that paid $5 to join this site were a little more thick-skinned. God knows I get fed up with all of the "this will end wells" and "LOLCATS" and "WHAT. THE. FUCK." comments, and move my ass over to AskMe for the day. It never occurred to me that this was a particularly female things to do.

I have come to the realization that the reason I paid my due here (after months of licking my lips due to closed membership) was that people were to be judged by the merits of their own written contributions. To be frank, I am not at all comfortable with the move towards personalization over the past year or so. I don't want to see a picture of you; I don't want to get personal email from you; I don't care about your flicker account; and I don't really want to meet you at a bar. Back when none of this existed, I felt that I had something in common with people I'd never met. Now everybody belongs to a demographic, and have varying degrees of political clout.

I mean, didn't this whole issue start people because the moderators dealt with a pair of posts in a way that appeared to be sexist in nature? And what do we do with the longstanding bias against conservatives on this site? Should we just go ahead and code MeFi "Groups" so that we can publicly identify with a particular set of beliefs, and then go to war?

What I appreciate the least in this conversation is the assumption that the men here are incapable of dealing or being dealt with. "You're a guy, you wouldn't understand." It's not the end result which upsets me, which now that I've calmed down, I feel is a good thing. It's the way this all came about. Just makes me feel came about much less as a matter of principle or discussion, than a "who can put the most pressure on the system" by making people feel bad, turning their closed accounts into unexplained acts of martyrdom, employing back-channels to create a ruckus, and using their real-world fame to go with the argument, "I'm famous, this site bites, you guys should really look into it." And then splitting.

In this sense, MeTa is now an incomplete account of how things move and shake in this virtual world. And I feel disconnected. And would be happy to close my account because I feel like this is bullshit. But I'll be in AskMe if you need me. :P
posted by phaedon at 10:05 AM on November 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


A week ago, flags were only used to decide whether to delete comments or posts. If it got enough flags and the mods agreed, it was nuked. Now there's talk about how this particular flag won't really be used for that any more, and that's it's just for "data collection". That no one's going to be deleting anything... That seems like a bigger change than just the wording of a flag to be more and/or less inclusive.
posted by smackfu at 10:05 AM on November 24, 2007


Also, I really agree with what DaShav wrote here:

rather than being decided by proxy within a nonrepresentative, very small but outspoken (and often ideologically-invested) percentage of Mefi's active population on a couple of threads buried more than a week behind in MeTa's archives.
posted by smackfu at 10:07 AM on November 24, 2007


Flag it as offensive and trust your moderators to see the reason.

I sort of agree, geekyguy. However, if racism and sexism is going to be singled out, either to make MetaFilter a more welcoming place, or simply as a data gathering tool, homophobia should be included. I've seen some notably nasty comments about gay or transgendered people on here (particularly the latter), and it's just not right to ignore that if we're getting all specific with the flags.
posted by cmonkey at 10:11 AM on November 24, 2007


smackfu, there's a flag for fantastic comments and a flag for broken HTML, neither of which have anything to do with deletions, nor ever have.
posted by cgc373 at 10:11 AM on November 24, 2007


kittens for breakfast said:
But here's the thing, dude: If this is true -- if everyone should have realized, implicitly, that this stuff was offensive all along -- what is the difference now that it's explicitly been made clear that this stuff is, in fact, something that the site considers a problem? By this logic -- your logic -- all that's happened here is that a condition that already existed has been clarified. If this is true, and if said condition is one that you find agreeable, then what is your objection to spelling it out?


This strikes me as change that was made with little or no attempt/effort by the mods to enforce the existing methods. It strikes me as an attempt to appease a certain group. Already other groups have expressed an interest in being part of the special sub-set of groups that qualify for protection.

Offensive is offensive.

Had the mods properly enforced that we wouldn't be here. Had the offended members used the existing infrastructure to, (anonymously and silently), draw attention to the offenders we wouldn't be here. Had the mods let all members know, in a clear and succinct way, (an annual email outlining the guidelines?), what the behavior expectations were it might not have been necessary to start down the road of 'special interest groups'.

I'm just disappointed that we are here.

on preview, what phaedon. said. and smackfu said.
posted by geekyguy at 10:13 AM on November 24, 2007


Is there any chance that users could be given access to the deleted comments from the new flag? I don't believe for a second that the new flagging will be abused, but I think the added transparency would enhance the legitimacy of the policy. I'm guessing such a list would be mostly just lame one-liners, which would go a long way to quieting the fervor here.
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:15 AM on November 24, 2007


I reserve the right to call Ann Coulter a tranny cunt if that's how I feel, thank you very much.

I'm just waiting for the "freedom of speech" part to come next.

Do you not get that by calling Ann Coulter a tranny cunt as an insult, you are not deriding Ann Coulter so much as a) holding up transvestites as objects of contempt, and b) positing women's genitals as being disdainful?

If that isn't what you meant, then choose other words. The English language provides you with more canon fodder than almost any other. You have an ample selection to work with.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:16 AM on November 24, 2007 [6 favorites]


Isn't using the term "cannon fodder" insensitive to veterans?
posted by smackfu at 10:19 AM on November 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


anotherpanacea said:
Is there any chance that users could be given access to the deleted comments from the new flag? I don't believe for a second that the new flagging will be abused, but I think the added transparency would enhance the legitimacy of the policy. I'm guessing such a list would be mostly just lame one-liners, which would go a long way to quieting the fervor here.


Good intention but, um, bad idea. There is enough asshattery around here without there being a Wall of ShFame.
posted by geekyguy at 10:22 AM on November 24, 2007


at the same time I reserve the right to call Ann Coulter a tranny cunt if that's how I feel, thank you very much.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane

Wow, gnfti. That seems really misjudged, like you didn't get any of the preceding 2 - 3 - however many threads.
You are one of the more interesting and, I thought, sensitive guys here. Can you not see how that comment, as has been pointed out upthread a plenty, insults women generally, not just Coulter? That falling to that level of vocabulary here, now, is a step too far?

What exactly are your limits then?
Is Elton John a hysterical shirtlifting bumboy? O.J. a murderous nigger?
posted by dash_slot- at 10:23 AM on November 24, 2007


If the term "cannon fodder" does offend any veterans, they should flag the comment and hope.
posted by cgc373 at 10:24 AM on November 24, 2007


Well . . . "hysterical shirtlifting bumboy" is awesome phrasing, whether Sir Elton deserves it or no.

HOPE!
posted by cgc373 at 10:25 AM on November 24, 2007


This strikes me as change that was made with little or no attempt/effort by the mods to enforce the existing methods.

Your impression is incorrect. What is it based on? What you're seeing is part of that attempt/effort. It is ongoing.

We do not have or want a way to email the entire membership. We hammer things out in MetaTalk as we are doing now. People who have issues have been told since day one to use the flag queue and take things to email (now MeFiMail, another solution to the same set of problems of moderating a community site) or MetaTalk. Well they came to MetaTalk to say that they didn't understand the guidelines or lack thereof, w/r/t sexist stuff, didnt understand how we were moderating and/or dealing with that stuff, and didn't understand what the general plan was.

This isn't because they were clueless or not paying attention, its because there was a lot of conflicting information and actions taking place and it was a good time to reconnect and talk about things. This is how the site operates. We don't let everyone vote and we don't poll everyone. People who care about stuff show up in MetaTalk to talk about it, and we do.

I've also been on the receiving end of email and MeFiMail about this, both good and bad. One user described this as a "recommitment" to the same old idea that we want MeFi to be a site where lots of different sorts of people feel that they cam come and talk about things and not get shouted down or gratuitously and constantly insulted and belittled. There are limits. If swearing bothers you, you are out of luck. If the occasional lolcat or boobie joke bothers you, you may also be out of luck. However, while we've been saying what we want the site to be, there were more steps that we could take, as moderators and as site members, to make the site be that way. This is an affirmation of that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:28 AM on November 24, 2007


There is enough asshattery around here without there being a Wall of ShFame.

They could be anonymous: just a list of the deleted comments from the last few days, with maybe timestamps and links back to the threads from which they were deleted.
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:30 AM on November 24, 2007


i'm a fan of the flag. i have good reasons.

i like responsibility, and here's the thing about that. you can say whatever you want. but others have the right to their feelings about your comment.

i'll give you a hypothetical example. (and, being hypothetical, it's fair to say i think it's convenient for my purposes. i leave it as an exercise to the reader to determine if this example fits into the context of their feelings.)

so someone didn't like a person's comment that they'd "hit it" when discussing princess diana's car crash. they flag it as "offensive/racist/sexist". the commenter is now angry ("this is pc bullshit!"), and that does tell us something.

one, i think the commenter likely can appreciate that what they did offended someone. how can i conclude this? because i don't think anger is the response someone has when they unknowingly offend someone; confusion is much more likely, because they'd wonder "what did i say?" before they express anger over another's response.

two, i think it bothers the commenter that someone would openly feel that way. and i think that's a fair assessment of the feelings of those who decry political correctness on this thread.

i think the commenter likes being able to say what you will, but they do care what people think of them. if no one says anything bad about them, then perhaps no one judges them ill (which they could, then, argue with them). what this flag does is it allows people to express their feelings without necessary confrontation.

perhaps you feel that you should have the right to confront your accuser. but this isn't a court of law. i think people have the right to their feelings. this flag does not prevent you from saying what you want, but it does also preserve that right people have to their feelings.
posted by moz at 10:31 AM on November 24, 2007


If MeFi is an offensive boyzone it is because people — and especially our moderators — have failed to publically tell-off the offenders.

Want to change the social nature of this community? Have our community leaders participate in threads, telling people straight-out that their "jokes" and idiocy are inappropriate and will not be tolerated.

Flagging their posts accomplishes nothing as regards behaviourial change. It does not provide timely, in-your-face feedback. Post deletion doesn't raise flags; the offender likely never even knows the post disappeared.

As for all the self-silenced: if you can't work up the conviction to tell someone he's being a sexist asshole, you probably aren't going to have the conviction to defend your own controversial beliefs or opinions.

Which in turn means you probably aren't going to contribute in any valuable or useful way to MeFi, as any good discussions there are due to people arguing passionately about their beliefs. If you can't do that, I advise sticking to the non-confrontational AskMe.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:33 AM on November 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


People who care about stuff show up in MetaTalk to talk about it, and we do.

I care about stuff but I didn't think the latest attention-seeking deleted post whine would result in new policy. Guess I should watch all of the posts now.
posted by grouse at 10:33 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also, no more calling people assholes. It doesn't so much subject the person to scorn as much as it paints the asshole as something disdainful - yet it is beautiful, this orifice we share.

It's not sexist or racist, it's personist - we all have assholes, and we have to stick together. Every time I see someone drop the a-bomb, I pinch my cheeks together a little bit and hate myself.

I am flagging that shit from now on.

No pun intended.
posted by kbanas at 10:33 AM on November 24, 2007


Isn't using the term "cannon fodder" insensitive to veterans?

You know what? Maybe. I hadn't thought about it that way.

But I swear to God, if a vet (or anyone else) posted in a thread or sent me MeFi mail and said "look, here is what that term really means, and in the context in which you're using it, it's pretty thoughtless" I'd apologise and find another phrase. I would not tediously argue for my right to be an asshat. I wouldn't continue to throw it around, knowing it made people uncomfortable, just to prove what a rebellious shitstorm magnet I am.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:33 AM on November 24, 2007 [5 favorites]


Have our community leaders participate in threads, telling people straight-out that their "jokes" and idiocy are inappropriate and will not be tolerated.

Seems to work for MetaChat.
posted by grouse at 10:35 AM on November 24, 2007


I have come to the realization that the reason I paid my due here (after months of licking my lips due to closed membership) was that people were to be judged by the merits of their own written contributions. To be frank, I am not at all comfortable with the move towards personalization over the past year or so. I don't want to see a picture of you; I don't want to get personal email from you; I don't care about your flicker account; and I don't really want to meet you at a bar. Back when none of this existed, I felt that I had something in common with people I'd never met. Now everybody belongs to a demographic, and have varying degrees of political clout.

Goddamn right!

The anonymity of old-style network comms freed us from the problems of judging people by anything other than their words and ideas. No one could dismiss others' words on the basis of skin colour, sexuality, income level, etcetera. The only thing that counted was what they wrote.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:39 AM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


I would not tediously argue for my right to be an asshat.

Well, this gets into the whole thing: is there such a thing as "oversensitive" or are all viewpoints equally valid? If someone calls you an asshat, does that make you one? Should you change your behaviour to please someone you don't agree with?
posted by smackfu at 10:39 AM on November 24, 2007


They could be anonymous: just a list of the deleted comments from the last few days, with maybe timestamps and links back to the threads from which they were deleted.

Then they aren't anonymous. Even if you take out the timestamps and links, then you'd got a guessing gossip game as people ask "Who said unbelievable comment?!" and of course someone will remember and then it's not anonymous.

The whole point of deleted comments is that they're deleted, gone, poof. Having a running list of "this is what we deleted" defeats that.

As for transparency, MaJeCo have shown that, while not perfect, they also are not power mad asshats with personal agendas that override their ability to moderate, so they're pretty trusted. Let's leave it at that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:41 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, this gets into the whole thing: is there such a thing as "oversensitive" or are all viewpoints equally valid? If someone calls you an asshat, does that make you one? Should you change your behaviour to please someone you don't agree with?

Yeah, I guess that's the rub. I think the general thinking is that it only makes you an 'asshat' if your comment goes against a sort of 'social morality'.

I mean, look, if you make a joke about bestiality (to pick an extreme), I don't think you have to watch where you step - because, seriously, that's fucked up.

But it's only because we all just kind of agree that it's fucked up.
posted by kbanas at 10:42 AM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Seems to work for MetaChat.

Which has a membership 100x less than here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:44 AM on November 24, 2007


at the same time I reserve the right to call Ann Coulter a tranny cunt if that's how I feel, thank you very much.

As a transsexual woman, it is extraordinarily insulting to me to see "tranny" used as a shortcut for "manly" or "ugly" yet again. Part of the reason I've never really engaged here, despite being a member for a long time, is that I've always felt an outsider to the boys' club.

So yeah, use "tranny" as an insult if you like. I've always flagged that stuff before and put the user on my internal list of people I think are disgusting. So we're good! You can continue to do your thing, and I'll keep doing mine.

I have such a love/hate relationship with this place.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:45 AM on November 24, 2007 [22 favorites]


Christ, the stupid is thick in this thread.

Slippery slope is a fallacy. We are not eliminating everything that could be sexist or racist.

If you want to be offensive, be offensive. Just realize that you're offending someone. Step your game up, you illiterate motherfuckers. Realize that you will get called out and think, "Is 'I'd hit it' what I wanna get called on? Am I that fucking lazy?"

And it's not even that "I'd hit it" is de facto off-limits, just that it's gonna get some scrutiny. Riffing on some soybomb near-miss? Still funny, at least to me. But it might not be to someone else, and I'm prepared to take flak for saying it was.

I have no problem with women, who you do kind of have to admit tend to be disproportionately under-represented here, saying that I stepped over the line. I want to encourage that discussion, because I think it's interesting.

If you don't, that's fine. But if you don't want to have a discussion on why what you said was stupid sexist bullshit, don't say it. And I understand that's the inverse of what a lot of what women are told now (unfair to one side's unfair to the others, the thinking goes), but isn't it better than using the implicit force of a social power system to shore up lazy riffing? What kinda kitten are you if you need that to make a point? Maybe you should come back to Metafilter when your milk teeth are out.

Will I get called on saying things that, you know, are lazy and retarded? Yes. Hey, y'know what, "retarded" wasn't strictly what I meant there. I shouldn't have used it, because it was unnecessary.

Wendell mentioned this in the other thread, and I remember it from having a column on rock, but editors aren't necessarily bad. My "genius" was not diluted by being unable to use "fuck" every other word, like I kind of wanted to.

(I'm sorry that I've missed further comments—my girlfriend made me come back and fold my own underwear instead of continuing to fight sexism on the internet.)
posted by klangklangston at 10:46 AM on November 24, 2007 [12 favorites]


Well, this gets into the whole thing

It kind of doesn't, actually, if what you mean by the "whole thing" is whether someone's comments are in fact racist, sexist, etc. Someone thought they were, so they flagged the comment. Were they right to do that? If eight other people flagged it, that sounds like a strong possibility. In a definite, fact of the universe way, you can't prove that a comment is anything any more than I can prove that the sky is blue because it looks blue to me. But I can tell you that if it looks green to you, you got a problem. Ultimately, when it comes to whether the comment/post has to go, that call is up to the moderator, but that's not any different from how it's been.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:49 AM on November 24, 2007


But I swear to God, if a vet (or anyone else) posted in a thread or sent me MeFi mail and said "look, here is what that term really means, and in the context in which you're using it, it's pretty thoughtless" I'd apologise and find another phrase. I would not tediously argue for my right to be an asshat. I wouldn't continue to throw it around, knowing it made people uncomfortable, just to prove what a rebellious shitstorm magnet I am.

One of the realities of this world is that someone, somewhere, will inevitably take issue with something you've said or a term you've used.

You are going to have to draw a line where you say "I don't care that it offends you: I didn't mean it that way, so the problem is yours, not mine.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:49 AM on November 24, 2007


...we're tired of being called hypersensitive, humorless, shrill ideologues.

Undoubtedly.

Still, the existence of hypersensitive, humorless, shrill ideologues (of any stripe) is not something that can just be discarded from this conversation. They exist at opposite ends of the spectrum on any topic, doggedly being offended and fighting furious battles with friends and foe alike.

The truth is that I don't want people like that moderating Metafilter, and as much as the ability to flag comments constitutes moderation I'm not particularly happy that we're encouraging them.

Still, there are a couple of points that make this a good thing:

1) The *true* zealots were never silenced in the first place. Flagging a post is such a milquetoast approach when you could be delivering page long screeds on the rightness of your cause. To me this means that the people doing the bulk of the flagging will be the people whose opinions really ought to be listened to: people who care, but who have enough perspective to just flag things and move on.

2) The actual Moderation of the site is being done by people who are, frankly, quite moderate. All of them have healthy dollops of grey in the their world views, and they all seems to display solid judgement. Somehow I don't see their worldviews radically changing because the "offensive" tag changed.

So, while I sympathize with the fear that we're opening the door to a horde of fringe-feminist man hating zealots, I'd have to say its misplaced. We're actually just encouraging far more sensible people to speak up more often, and that's something I can always support.
posted by tkolar at 10:51 AM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


I mean, look, if you make a joke about bestiality (to pick an extreme), I don't think you have to watch where you step
I think you do.
posted by Wolfdog at 10:51 AM on November 24, 2007


It seems to me that the trouble with the change in the flagging system is it specifies some offensive activity, but, as a result neglects to specify others. I mean, is there really so much racism on this site that it must specifically be named, but so little homophobia (or antisemitism, or other social ills) that they get to be marginalized into a generalized "offensive" category?

Besides that, I have never flagged a post because I was offended by it. I have only flagged posts because they seemed to be deliberately disruptive. If I have disagreed with the sentiments of a posters, I have stated so in the thread. Although, the web forum I moderate, I do delete homophobic jokes, as they had gotten common enough to be disruptive, even if they weren't' intended as trolling. But, in general, my feeling is that the cure for bad speech is more and better speech.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:52 AM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


I think you do.

Well look, just stay clear of me.

And my pets.
posted by kbanas at 10:52 AM on November 24, 2007


five fresh fish wrote...
Post deletion doesn't raise flags; the offender likely never even knows the post disappeared.

It's weird. You have to be reading MeTa in order to be commenting on this conversation, but it's like you've never read MeTa before...
posted by tkolar at 10:53 AM on November 24, 2007


Not illiterate, klangklangston, merely sub-literary and somewhat unimaginative. Let's be precise.
posted by cgc373 at 10:54 AM on November 24, 2007


and what do you call yourselves?


The Aristocrats!
posted by geekyguy at 10:54 AM on November 24, 2007


I'd worry if everyone said this were too drastic. I'd feel it was a waste of time if everyone said it would do nothing. The fact that both are being said reassures me that this is neither too much nor too little, but in some good middle zone.

We're talking about a wording change in a flag description: surely it's possible that the concrete steps taken so far could be pretty negligible while the overall course being charted is slightly daunting? We're filling in the blank parts of the map here: I think it's prudent to tread cautiously.

The whole point of deleted comments is that they're deleted, gone, poof. Having a running list of "this is what we deleted" defeats that.

Frankly, I've always wanted this feature, and this little tweak is just a chance for me to advocate it. When a post is deleted, it's still available for viewing. Gone, yes, but not *poof* It's still available for discussion, and it's still possible to drag an alleged 'bad deletion' to MetaTalk. That's harder to do with comments, and while I generally laugh and pull out the popcorn when deletion complaints make their way here, I also appreciate the sense of collective involvement in the community.

As for transparency, MaJeCo have shown that, while not perfect, they also are not power mad asshats with personal agendas that override their ability to moderate, so they're pretty trusted.

I don't know any of the mods personally, and I share this general sense that they are actually really cool people and swell human beings with whom I'd be happy to share a tasty beverage. What I love about them most is how hard they try to avoid seeming like tyrants, even benevolent tyrants. They seem to understand that metafilter is about a self-constituting and self-sustaining community: they're responsive, they explain themselves, and they try to understand the nature of the complaints leveled at them.

There will always be some people with access to the moderator tools and some people without that access, but it's important that that access not grant inherent righteousness. Transparency levels the playing field: we may not make the decisions, but at least we can see the decisions being made, and discuss them. As the recent threads on misogyny have shown, sometimes what goes on in MetaTalk is the Best of the Web.
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:56 AM on November 24, 2007


My teeth are seriously going to start bleeding any minute now.

Well, this gets into the whole thing: is there such a thing as "oversensitive" or are all viewpoints equally valid? If someone calls you an asshat, does that make you one? Should you change your behaviour to please someone you don't agree with?

I am failing to understand how these questions track from my comments.

Yes, people can be oversensitive. Would a vet in that situation possibly be oversensitive to the use of "canon fodder" in that context? Maybe. But it costs me nothing to simply use the term fodder or even ammunition in the future.

The vet in question isn't even asking me to change my opinion, argument or point of view - just to use less offensive terminology when making it. It doesn't make any difference to me if, in the context of debating whatever the topic may be, the person is "on my side" or not. So sure, changing my language to to please someone I don't agree with in the course of disagreeing with them is not a big deal. That simply seems conducive to actually having debates in a mutually respectful environment.

If someone calls me an asshat, then no, that doesn't make me one. I think, however, that people are rarely told "you, sir, are an asshat." More often we see "you sound like an asshat when you say that" or "stop being an asshat."

All of which implies that the asshattery in question is not the default state of the poster, but rather a behaviour the community trusts the poster has control over.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:57 AM on November 24, 2007


I have an issue with the pretend veteran and his ridiculous pretend objection to the word "cannon fodder," which is a perfectly legitimate phrase and should not be upsetting his imagined sensibilities.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:00 AM on November 24, 2007


but at least we can see the decisions being made, and discuss them

Oh, please, god, NO. There's lies the road to endless nitpicking. I rather the mods focus on something else.


like giving Matt time to implement custom CSS on profile pages in a secure fashion.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:01 AM on November 24, 2007


I don't want MetaFilter to be zoo-unfriendly.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:02 AM on November 24, 2007


sugarfish: "gnfti, I don't see how you can say that we are in a post-sexist age and in the next breath say that "tranny cunt" is anywhere near appropriate. [...] But we're not, and I have a feeling you're being disingenuous."

Well, I am honestly not. I see where you're coming from, and I cannot say I hadn't expected my comment to be met by such sentiments. I also feel that maybe after all the community has been through the past few days, my comment might be construed as somehow detracting from that which has been achieved, maybe "pissing in the new pool" if you will.

But without simply repeating all the valuable contributions that have already been made, I felt that this was the most meaningful point I could make, and I stand behind it.

People swear. Swearing involve words, and some of those words evoke strong reactions in people. I feel one should take these reactions into account, but at the same time realize that using those words does not automatically suggest an underlying prejudice.

DarlingBri: "I'm just waiting for the "freedom of speech" part to come next.

Do you not get that by calling Ann Coulter a tranny cunt as an insult, you are not deriding Ann Coulter so much as a) holding up transvestites as objects of contempt, and b) positing women's genitals as being disdainful?

If that isn't what you meant, then choose other words. The English language provides you with more canon fodder than almost any other. You have an ample selection to work with.
"

Well, I'll gladly walk into that trap, because yes, it is exactly about freedom of speech. Not only that - I'm also going to argue semantics.

Your assertion about the meaning of "tranny cunt", to the best of my understanding, is simply not true to my mind. I feel that people should count on my lack of prejudice as much as they should comprehend that words are polysemous and/or reach such a high level of abstraction that they can be used to mean something markedly different from its original dictionary meaning.

Unless, of course, you can keep a straight face while claiming you have never in your life referred to an unpleasant man as a "dick".

dash_slot-: "Wow, gnfti. That seems really misjudged, like you didn't get any of the preceding 2 - 3 - however many threads. You are one of the more interesting and, I thought, sensitive guys here. [...]What exactly are your limits then? Is Elton John a hysterical shirtlifting bumboy? O.J. a murderous nigger?"

What I will gladly concede is that I lifted "tranny cunt" straight from the Kate Harding quote, and it certainly might not be the best example. I certainly wouldn't readily use those exact words, and if that undermines my point then so be it. In my world view, it may under certain circumstances be acceptable to use the word "cunt" to indicate an unpleasant woman, and I understand that some people will interpret this as being insulting to all women, but I simply do not feel that way. It's a semantic minefield, because people who argue this point automatically gain the moral advantage, but I stubbornly hang on to the freedom of expression angle not in a small part because I sincerely do believe it's a slippery slope, as smackfu humorously but expertly pointed out.

Now, to answer your question I'm not so sure about the bumboy and nigger bits. If you're asking for a cut-and-dried solution well, I don't have one, but if you're asking for my opinion then yes, it might under circumstances be acceptable to refer to Sir Elton as a shirtlifting bumboy, preferably while giving the old wink-wink nudge-nudge, if only in that "British" way I you will surely be familiar with. This is assuming it is mutually clear that the speaker is not a homophobe, which I will concede is not as easy as it sounds, but I can only repeat that this is my idealistic view which might not be valid anywhere outside my head (or circle of close friends, at least), but it's my naive conviction and I cling to it.

I'm not so sure about the hysterical part, and I personally wouldn't readily call O.J. Simpson a nigger of any kind. Surely this will paint me as inconsistent, which I will gladly concede. It's a truism, but language is an imprecise, blunt tool that we all sharpen and apply in different ways: I just cannot see a blanket black-and-white solution, and I personally have an intense dislike for political correctness.

One final point I'd like to make is that there are probably cultural issues at play here: not that we don't publicly discuss the usage of swear words here, of course, but to give a simple example, the Dutch equivalent of "cunt" would, as far as I can see, be considered perfectly acceptable - within the context of swearing - by people of both genders equally. "Dick" too, incidentally. YMMV.

Summarizing, I understand that my opinion might not be a popular one, but I stand behind it for the reasons stated above. If because of it you feel I'm inconsistent, I believe you're right. If because of it you feel I'm barbaric, I believe you're wrong.

Sorry about my verbosity - looks like I might be carrying forth EB's torch after all. :)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:02 AM on November 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


If swearing bothers you, you are out of luck.

We-e-e-ll, personally I curse quite freely when I'm with my mates, say in the pub. I wouldn't angrily swear at them. Nor would I think it ok if they did to me.
The distinction I made for my offspring, when she was old enough to hear crap in the playground, and so maybe bring it home, was:
'I had a fucking bitch of a day': cool.
'My tutor is a fucking bitch': not cool in the least.

Mefi ain't the schoolyard, that's a given, and anglo-saxon epithets are to be expected, and I don't ask for action there. Just that we don't need to hurl the epithets at each other, nor at people in the public eye offsite. It is peurile behaviour, and alienates whole sections of our community.
So - I distinguish between swearing in a thread, and swearing at a member.

Basically we're better than this.
posted by dash_slot- at 11:03 AM on November 24, 2007


As for all the self-silenced: if you can't work up the conviction to tell someone he's being a sexist asshole, you probably aren't going to have the conviction to defend your own controversial beliefs or opinions.

If there's a discussion on sexism, gender relations, rape, and anything else of that sort, then yes, people who hold strong opinions on these topics should speak up.

But if a discussion on another topic includes some comments that some people find offensive (subtype: sexist, racist, homophobic, what have you), then speaking up at length about those specific offending comments, as firmly as you would in a thread about sexism, leads to derailments, side arguments, and the kinds of dismissal several people here have reported.

Reacting vociferously to every sexist comment in a thread is highly counterproductive for keeping the discussion valuable. That person, if they now consistently speak back passionately about sexism in every thread where they encounter it, will increasingly be seen as a one-note commenter who kills threads and has little useful and on-topic to say.

People still have the choice to respond in thread, or to send mail to the other commenter, or to come to MeTa. This is a small tweak of the current system, not an excuse for the entire female population of MeFi to collapse on their fainting couches.
posted by maudlin at 11:06 AM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


I find it vaguely ironic that the putative "solution" (albeit an admitted work-in-progress) to MeFi's "boyzone" problem is to perform the technological equivalent of clearing one's throat and announcing, "Ahem. There are ladies present."

This is quaint and pleasing to me in a contrarian sort of way, as long as it does not impinge on my propensity to cuss like a rat-fucking sailor.

And while we're swinging away at our ideological pinatas, I'll note that the people most often mischaracterized, lampooned, and otherwise discounted on this site are poor white Southerners. Of course, that's just what I'm sensitive to, so that's my perception.

I'll happily try to emend future comments to uphold whatever standards of discourse the community feels are most appropriate, but I'm sure gonna miss my bucket of cocks.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:07 AM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Still, the existence of hypersensitive, humorless, shrill ideologues (of any stripe) is not something that can just be discarded from this conversation.

Yes it can. There are only a few MeFites who might fit the description "hypersensitive, humorless, shrill ideologues," and none of them are involved in this conversation as far as I can tell. Some people are saying "we're thinking about ways to make this place more welcoming to women, and the first step is a slight modification to the 'offensive' flag" and others are saying "OMG what is this shit?? the feminazis are taking over, they won't let me call anybody a tranny cunt any more, if this keeps up I'm outta here!!" Well, you know, if it comes to a choice between interesting women leaving and guys who insist on their right to use sexist and abusive language leaving, I'm not going to waste any tears on the latter.

And some people really seem unable to think for five seconds about an issue (let alone actually listen to somebody else) before coming out with a kneejerk reaction.
posted by languagehat at 11:07 AM on November 24, 2007 [6 favorites]


Constructive criticism from me...

I hope that vitriolic content winds up being deleted more often. I hope, on the other hand, that the questionably sexist or ist of any sort, of comments which are flagged are not removed too much more hastily than they would be in the past, rather that some effort is made to retain and promote ngood discourse about such language in the threads. I believe this as it exists now both reflects some of the best metafilter cultural content, both for showing our thoughtful and incisive ability to create callouts that might change minds, and in shaping generally known norms of acceptable behavior here. If n00bs don't know it's uncool, telling them so can be as good as flagging their comments for removal.

So, I would also like to think the mods might clue frequent button-pushers or asshats in on their behavior modification needs, even if their comments aren't each and every one across the line for removal.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:09 AM on November 24, 2007


What? Fuck that, languagehat, I'm outta here!
posted by cgc373 at 11:10 AM on November 24, 2007


Oh, wait. I meant, good point. Well said.
posted by cgc373 at 11:10 AM on November 24, 2007


I'll note that the people most often mischaracterized, lampooned, and otherwise discounted on this site are poor white Southerners.

They have it easy compared to the way this site treats zombies.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:11 AM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Fat Italian women should go back to the kitchen, wash their greasy hair, and exercise a little, already.
posted by Krrrlson at 11:12 AM on November 24, 2007


The anonymity of old-style network comms freed us from the problems of judging people by anything other than their words and ideas. No one could dismiss others' words on the basis of skin colour, sexuality, income level, etcetera. The only thing that counted was what they wrote.

And the best part of it was that the actual meetups were so infrequent that you could pretend that we weren't all middle-class white males! Ah, that was such a great fantasy.

Reality sucks.
posted by tkolar at 11:12 AM on November 24, 2007


Krrrlson, exercising in kitchens doesn't help grease. Please think before suggesting such weird solutions. Thanks.
posted by cgc373 at 11:14 AM on November 24, 2007


But if a discussion on another topic includes some comments that some people find offensive (subtype: sexist, racist, homophobic, what have you), then speaking up at length about those specific offending comments, as firmly as you would in a thread about sexism, leads to derailments, side arguments, and the kinds of dismissal several people here have reported.

This is the crux of the problem: if, in a lengthy and articulate comment, a writer uses an insulting word or phrase, will that comment be deleted? We've mostly discussed terse insults of the "I'd hit it" variety; what will we (the community, the mods, the interlocutors) do when someone slips a single bigoted label into a civilized discussion? (I.e., when a commenter in the race and IQ thread uses the n-word, should the comment be deleted or left as evidence?)

I'm personally persuaded that those are the times when only a derailing interruption is an appropriate response. But I'm really, really curious to hear what others, especially Jessamyn and Cortex, think.
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:15 AM on November 24, 2007


This is assuming it is mutually clear that the speaker is not a homophobe, which I will concede is not as easy as it sounds

Not easy? It's impossible. If you use homophobic language, people will assume you're a homophobe (and gay people will likely be hurt and/or insulted), and your saying "Oh, no, I'm not homophobic at all, that's why I get to say that!" is going to sound as stupid as "Oh, no, I'm not racist at all, that's why I get to call him a nigger!" It's a ridiculous assumption to ask people to make, and claiming "But I'm not racist/sexist/whatever!" is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

I have an issue with the pretend veteran and his ridiculous pretend objection to the word "cannon fodder," which is a perfectly legitimate phrase and should not be upsetting his imagined sensibilities.

Yeah, can we leave the straw men out of this? This is a difficult enough conversation as it is. Thanks.
posted by languagehat at 11:15 AM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


But if a discussion on another topic includes some comments that some people find offensive (subtype: sexist, racist, homophobic, what have you), then speaking up at length about those specific offending comments, as firmly as you would in a thread about sexism, leads to derailments, side arguments, and the kinds of dismissal several people here have reported.

"Speaking up at length" is not necessary. Vis a vis Jessamyn's "I'm always pretty, fucker" comment. Brevity does the trick quite nicely.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:17 AM on November 24, 2007


"...my propensity to cuss like a rat-fucking sailor."

Flagged as offensive to Navy veterans.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:17 AM on November 24, 2007


gnfti: Why do you have to refer to a person's appearance at all?
As you assert, we can use thoes transgressive words when there is an explicit knowledge that the other speaker, like oneself, is patently not a bigot.

But how can I know that about [plural] you?
posted by dash_slot- at 11:20 AM on November 24, 2007


five fresh fish, brevity works quite well sometimes, I agree. The right person, with the right quip, at the right time, can accomplish a lot. But as many women have already said here and elsewhere, there are some comments out there a lot more loaded than what Jessamyn was responding to. In these cases, lighthearted responses are ignored and sincere explanations can be mocked. Situations really do vary.
posted by maudlin at 11:21 AM on November 24, 2007


> Unless, of course, you can keep a straight face while claiming you have never in your life referred to an unpleasant man as a "dick".

Actually, just yesterday I called someone a "complete cock." That post was deleted, as it bloody well should have been. What I really meant was that his post smacked of whining entitlement issues. Which it did. However, I didn't take the time to express myself very clearly, and that fault was all mine.

As to freedom of speech - oy, vey, the ever-burning chestnut. Assuming you are American, you have a constitutional right to free speech. That does not, however, mean that you get to say whatever you want, wherever you want. You can say what you like in your own house, but this isn't your house. Comments you may wish to make here may not be acceptable by the standards set for this community. That doesn't mean you can't say them somewhere else, or in your own blog/space/forum/soapbox/corner.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:22 AM on November 24, 2007


Still, the existence of hypersensitive, humorless, shrill ideologues (of any stripe) is not something that can just be discarded from this conversation.
Yes it can. There are only a few MeFites who might fit the description "hypersensitive, humorless, shrill ideologues," and none of them are involved in this conversation as far as I can tell.


And yet the fear of such people is very present.

Some people are saying "we're thinking about ways to make this place more welcoming to women, and the first step is a slight modification to the 'offensive' flag" and others are saying "OMG what is this shit?? the feminazis are taking over, they won't let me call anybody a tranny cunt any more, if this keeps up I'm outta here!!" Well, you know, if it comes to a choice between interesting women leaving and guys who insist on their right to use sexist and abusive language leaving, I'm not going to waste any tears on the latter.

I will, especially if they leave because they really do believe that the feminazis are taking over and that isn't the case. And in fact I would probably join them if I thought that I was losing the right to use sexist and abusive language.

Sexist and abusive can be funny in small doses.
posted by tkolar at 11:22 AM on November 24, 2007


"Oh, no, I'm not racist at all, that's why I get to call him a nigger!"

I've actually come across some really swell people who use "nigger" for all sorts of people not just African Americans Blacks. Admittedly, they're rare, but they seem to exist. Case by case basis is important.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:24 AM on November 24, 2007


And while we're swinging away at our ideological pinatas, I'll note that the people most often mischaracterized, lampooned, and otherwise discounted on this site are poor white Southerners. Of course, that's just what I'm sensitive to, so that's my perception.

Of course. It's not even close. But there's not a large enough poor southern mefi contingent to worry about or get kudos for defending. We get 'other'.
posted by justgary at 11:27 AM on November 24, 2007


Oh, please, god, NO. There's lies the road to endless nitpicking. I rather the mods focus on something else.

Here's the thing: the site's norms are enforced by the members who shame stupid people into acting differently. The moderators delete things, but it's the community pressure turns this simple erasure into new and better commenting and posting habits. MetaTalk threads are where members work on the site norms, and we can only have norms on the topics we discuss. With things we don't regularly discuss at length (sexism, it would seem) there's less of a prevalent site norm. We should be so lucky as to face regular asinine complaints regarding deletions for sexism, because that's how the culture here changes. The progression goes: 1. New Rule 2. Transgression 3. Deletion 4. Complaint 5. Smack-down 6. Flameout (Optional) 8. Rinse and Repeat 7. Everybody Profits! (It turns out that the ??? part is a little complicated.)
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:28 AM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


What was 7, again?
posted by cgc373 at 11:29 AM on November 24, 2007


"And yet the fear of such people is very present."

What are they, Jews?
posted by klangklangston at 11:32 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think that "offensive" covers offensiveness nicely.

Adding "racism" and "sexism" indicates that these are subset that require co-categorization with offensiveness to be acknowledged. Meanwhile, there's plenty of racism and sexism that isn't offensive. Should we flag it all just for posterity? Gah.

If we're collecting data, how about a separate racist/sexism/homophobic/other intolerance/asshole flag.

/girl woman feminist
posted by desuetude at 11:35 AM on November 24, 2007


And yet the fear of such people is very present.

Oh yeah? Who exactly is so afraid of them? I'm certainly not, and I gather you're not either. This isn't one of those straw men I've heard so much about, is it?

I will, especially if they leave because they really do believe that the feminazis are taking over and that isn't the case.


What a surprise!

And in fact I would probably join them

What a surprise!

the people most often mischaracterized, lampooned, and otherwise discounted on this site are poor white Southerners

I'm not sure about the "most," but yeah, it's a problem. And I call people on it every time I notice it (as do others, and one of the reasons I miss davy is that he was one of the most vociferous). If you notice it, say something.
posted by languagehat at 11:36 AM on November 24, 2007


dash_slot-: "But how can I know that about [plural] you?"

You can't. Which is an important reason for me not to readily use those words in an open forum, and I don't think I ever did so here. In fact I don't believe I swear much at all. So apparently I'm on some sort of Quixotic-Voltairian crusade where I'm defending people's right to say nasty things even if I don't really identify with those people, and I do so, as I said, out of my intense dislike for implicit but pervasive PC-ness.

If this is straying too far into hypothetical terrain then I apologise for the derail. But I would like to thank you for actually engaging me in debate, which at the very least enables me to refine and expand some of the trickier parts of my point.

This as opposed to people simply putting words in my mouth that I would never utter.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:38 AM on November 24, 2007


"Of course. It's not even close. But there's not a large enough poor southern mefi contingent to worry about or get kudos for defending. We get 'other'."

Yes, poor Southern whites often get screwed. On the other hand, you're not above shit-stirrin' yourself, Gary, and if we're being honest, the defense of the honest hick is a relatively minor worry that doesn't have the historical tenor of disenfranchising women.

But I don't see many women, say, flying the Confederate battle flag, so poor white Southerners may still have a bit more to work on as a group.

Plus, they can always secede.
posted by klangklangston at 11:39 AM on November 24, 2007


racist/sexism/homophobic/other intolerance/asshole flag

I can describe the first three to a martian who stumbles acroos this thread. I may be able to make a stab at other intolerance. But can you define, as succinctly as you can, what asshole means (not literally. I have one, you berk*)

*Translation available on request.
posted by dash_slot- at 11:46 AM on November 24, 2007


I'm not sure why this has to be perceived as a PC-police effort to remove any and all content that might be offensive to someone, somewhere. Part of the reason that gender-based comments are so obnoxious is because in most cases they are totally irrelevant to the issue or person being discussed. The mods have always been empowered to use their discretion to remove irrelevant, obnoxious derails - why shouldn't this apply to substance-free sexist comments?

For example, a few comments into the pole vaulter thread that sugarfish mentioned above, there is a link to a similar post on sportsfilter. Look at how much more interesting the sportsfilter discussion is because it doesn't immediately descend into "I'd hit it" and "sit in my lap so I can fondle you."
posted by lalex at 11:46 AM on November 24, 2007 [5 favorites]


To deal with the issue of specifics, how about renaming the flag "offensive/prejudiced/discriminatory"?
posted by divabat at 4:06 AM on November 24 [+] [!]


If we're really trying to be inclusive, this is definitely better phrasing. I am not convinced that more specific flags are really the most effective way to set the tone of a site. What will be effective in a more immediate and preemptive way (for those that lurk before joining) is in- thread comments. I suppose that alerting a mod to objectionable content is one way to make this happen, but I was hoping that the most recent kerfuffle would actually encourage the people here to point stuff out at the time it's posted. If we have to add a few words to a flag for people to feel less disenfranchised, it's not going to hurt anything, but it's a little bit disappointing somehow. I guess I find it more satisfying for individuals to learn from their peers rather than infrastructure- I'm not sure people learn much from infrastructure, other than how to avoid breaking rules. However, if that's going to be the case, can we please make this about humans instead of only genders and races? You don't have to be a woman or a minority to be the target of prejudice.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:49 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


*Translation available on request.

Or you can just have Wikipedia redirect you. :)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:53 AM on November 24, 2007


Note: I'm not saying mods aren't people, even if they do ride silly underpowered scooters and have bad haircuts.

[NOT MODIST]
posted by oneirodynia at 11:56 AM on November 24, 2007


Political correctness has never solved anything.

Vigilant enforcement of the "don't be a dick" rule would render unnecessary any new emphasis on rooting out sexism.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:57 AM on November 24, 2007


I am not convinced that more specific flags are really the most effective way to set the tone of a site. What will be effective in a more immediate and preemptive way (for those that lurk before joining) is in- thread comments.

Nobody's saying we should have flags instead of in-thread comments. We've always had in-thread comments, and the idea is to have more of them as well as flags. The expanded flag is supposed to help people realize that it's OK to call out sexist comments in-thread. It's not about sweeping the problem under the mods' rug.
posted by languagehat at 11:58 AM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


tkolar, anyone who fears that the so-called feminazis are taking over has been listening to too much Rush Limbaugh.

Most feminists are just regular women who want to be treated fairly. To help dispel the negative myth (or to reinforce it, depending on your perception of me...) I would like to self identify in this thread as a feminist. (ph34r m3!)
posted by madamjujujive at 11:59 AM on November 24, 2007 [5 favorites]


Dammit, if I'd known that was going to be comment #300, I'd have added:

SPARTA!!!
posted by languagehat at 11:59 AM on November 24, 2007


I, for one, have no problem with white Southerners being offended by something I say.
posted by Stynxno at 12:07 PM on November 24, 2007


Vigilant enforcement of the "don't be a dick" rule would render unnecessary any new emphasis on rooting out sexism.
posted by Afroblanco


Ironic.

I guess you didn't have the space to spell out what 'don't be a dick' means.
posted by dash_slot- at 12:08 PM on November 24, 2007


Also, the idea that the blue and the gray are going to turn into the green (in terms of moderation) is just silly. If that was true, cortex and jessamyn would have received a half a dozen timeouts by now.

Cortex is the creator of butts.lol. You're not going to have your "I'd hit it" comments deleted - what you are going to have though is an environment where someone who doesn't like those comments is going to feel comfortable calling you out on it which is what all you dissenters to this concept want anyways. For crying out loud, this is a good idea and it's going to make work much less boring over the next month or so.

Though, I'm with everyone else and I think a homophobia addition to the tag would make it an even better idea.
posted by Stynxno at 12:11 PM on November 24, 2007


I'm not saying mods aren't people, even if they do ride silly underpowered scooters and have bad haircuts.

*throws deck chair, starts beachside riot*


As for the change to the flag, I'm filled with weary resignation over the weird grammar, but fine with the sentiment.
posted by scody at 12:16 PM on November 24, 2007


I reserve the right to call Ann Coulter a tranny cunt if that's how I feel, thank you very much.

goodnewsfortheinsane, I would genuinely like to understand why you even need to be able to say this here. Ann Coulter isn't worthy of condemnation because she's a transvestite (even if she were) or because she has a vagina, she's worthy of condemnation because she's a vile person with hateful ideas. Why isn't it enough for you to be able to say that? Or is it purely the hypothetical that concerns you?

As others have covered, people have the right to say nasty sexist things, just not necessarily on Metafilter. The issue is how the community wants to balance some members' desire to say that kind of stuff with the desire of other members to have a higher level of female participation. Although he called the analogy clumsy, I think Matt gets it right here:

Imagine you hang out with five guys once a week or so. You get together, watch football, drink some beers, go out to dinner, and shoot the shit. This goes on for many years as you all grow up together. Eventually someone says hey, I just learned my brother is gay and I'd like it if we could cut out the occasional fag joke and stop calling lame stuff is "totally gay".

Yeah, you'd still have the right to make the fag joke, but is it really that important to you to exercise it?
posted by lalex at 12:16 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Look, you're gonna get a lot of this kind of nitpicking again. I for one am gonna have to balance out the impulse to ask for someone to be more precise/descriptive/less whatever, and the desire to see a thread flow.

But really, does "don't be a dick" mean the exact same thing all the time? To me it translates as "stop doing [this thing I dissapprove of]".
My response is - why? What do you object to? Why haven't you offered suggestions for alternative behaviour/phrasing?

Don't be a dick = don't be a retard = don't be a cunt. The core meaning is discriminatory, the wider meaning is shifting, subjective and distracting. IMHO.
posted by dash_slot- at 12:17 PM on November 24, 2007


"I, for one, have no problem with white Southerners being offended by something I say."

How far south, and how white? There are limits, y'know.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:18 PM on November 24, 2007


How far south, and how white?

I'm talking really southern- honky, white trash southern bastards. People like this.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:22 PM on November 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


How far south, and how white? There are limits, y'know.

20 dollars. same as in town.
posted by Stynxno at 12:24 PM on November 24, 2007


I, for one, have no problem with white Southerners being offended by something I say.

Unless they're gay. Or female. And then it's an issue. Because white Southerners are beneath your contempt. Because they're a cartoon that exists only in your head. Because you can't imagine someone being proud of being a white Southerner who isn't a racist, sexist homophobe. Because you've stereotyped them to a degree that, if a similar sentiment were expressed about women or blacks, we'd all be collectively horrified.

Yeah, that's a bold position, Stynxno. Way to display your open-mindedness.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:31 PM on November 24, 2007 [10 favorites]


And I apologize for derailing the thread.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:36 PM on November 24, 2007


Do I understand correctly that Da Shiv is in favor of reworking/prettying up photographs but not comments?
posted by Cranberry at 12:40 PM on November 24, 2007


And after viewing the pic posted by TPS, what I see there are people subverting stereotypes and showing some humor at a time when a HURRICANE HAD DESTROYED THEIR FUCKING HOME.

I guess you just see fat rednecks.

Sucks to be you.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:40 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


BitterOldPunk, I'm pretty sure that picture is of ColdChef, with whom TPS is friends, and also that it was a joke.
posted by cgc373 at 12:42 PM on November 24, 2007


Dude, ColdChef is my father. Sucks to be YOU.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:43 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Wherever this goes, I'm heartened to see that by and large, we as a group regard Ann Coulter as a vile specimen of humanity, regardless of her genitalia. This heartens me, and gives me hope for humanity.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:43 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry if I over-reacted, but how the hell was I supposed to know that? I don't keep a MeFi geneology primer handy when posting.

And for the record, it does, in fact, suck to be me.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:46 PM on November 24, 2007


MeFi geneology primer

I smell a new Wiki section!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:49 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


If you're a white southerner and you feel the need to wave around a confederate flag to support your heritage, then I have no problem with saying something that said person might consider extremely offensive.

And if all white southerners are bothered by that, than that's alright by me.

my hate has specific targets. also some of my best friends are white and southern.
posted by Stynxno at 12:50 PM on November 24, 2007


I've always flagged FPPs that use wikipedia caret notation as 'offensive'
posted by delmoi at 12:59 PM on November 24, 2007


Also this flag seems like CYA for two poor moderator decisions, leaving the obnoxious "Was Watson Right" post, and deleting the post about the guy flashing on the freeway.
posted by delmoi at 1:00 PM on November 24, 2007


Nobody's saying we should have flags instead of in-thread comments.

I know that. My sentiment was that I hoped the outcome of all this typing and anger would be more aware and proactive people, rather than the modification of a drop-down menu. I understand the reasoning behind it; I'm not against it. I'm just the kind of person who's pleased if a smoker happens to see me coughing and choking and steps away of their own volition, rather than me having to point to a no-smoking sign. Are people thoughtful and sensitive because they have become more aware of other people's feelings, or are they just making an effort to avoid getting flagged on this website? If the latter, that's not real change, it's just sweeping crap under the rug. However, I'm more concerned that the wording is not inclusive. I feel exposed to more offensive language directed at homosexuals and religious people (neither of which I am) here than toward women. Then again, I always felt like ridiculous misogyny was a useful indicator of who not to pay much attention to. Here's hoping the flag makes more people here feel like participants on equal footing, with no unwanted side effects.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:00 PM on November 24, 2007


If you're a white southerner and you feel the need to wave around a confederate flag to support your heritage, then I have no problem with saying something that said person might consider extremely offensive.

..and I agree with you 100%, Stynxno. The problem is when you conflate "white Southerner" with "Confederate-flag waver" -- the two are not equivalent.

And I'll assume the "some of my best friends" line is some sort of sophisticated Yankee humor I wouldn't be expected to grasp.

I'm losing this pissing match, and rather than continue to derail the thread, I'll step back. Besides, it's about time to get likkered up for the Alabama-Auburn game.

ROLL TIDE
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:04 PM on November 24, 2007


And I apologize for derailing the thread.

You didn't derail the thread. If it's OK to bring up homophobia and other forms of bigotry, it's OK to bring up anti-Southern prejudice, which is not of course worse but is certainly more accepted around here. Keep fighting the good fight. (And no, it's not about Confederate flags, to ward off a bigoted rejoinder.)
posted by languagehat at 1:07 PM on November 24, 2007


We should have flags instead of in-thread comments.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:08 PM on November 24, 2007


I, for one, have no problem with white Southerners being offended by something I say.
posted by Stynxno

If you're a white southerner and you feel the need to wave around a confederate flag to support your heritage, then I have no problem with saying something that said person might consider extremely offensive.
posted by Stynxno


Fuck, don't wimp out and include the 'and you feel...' the second time around.

my hate has specific targets. also some of my best friends are white and southern.

Well, excuse me. Then insult away (and some of your best friends are black... ya, I get it).

Yes, poor Southern whites often get screwed. On the other hand, you're not above shit-stirrin' yourself, Gary
posted by klangklangston


Not if I had, say, a 'bigot' tag. Then I could just tag your comments klang, and I wouldn't stir the shit.
posted by justgary at 1:09 PM on November 24, 2007


gnfti there are probably cultural issues at play here: not that we don't publicly discuss the usage of swear words here, of course, but to give a simple example, the Dutch equivalent of "cunt" would, as far as I can see, be considered perfectly acceptable - within the context of swearing - by people of both genders equally. "Dick" too, incidentally.

Yes.
I'm allowed to be blunt & gross. It's because I'm Dutch. Joepie!

Ok. Here goes.
darlingbri, cover your ears

Kut!

you can't flag what you don't understand
posted by jouke at 1:10 PM on November 24, 2007


I know I'm really really late to these threads, but let me just add that I think this is a good move. While I'm a big fan of self-policing, if the women of MeFi don't feel comfortable around here, then it's a problem needing attention.
posted by yeti at 1:17 PM on November 24, 2007


you can't flag what you don't understand

Ik zou raken.
posted by grouse at 1:17 PM on November 24, 2007


And I'll assume the "some of my best friends" line is some sort of sophisticated Yankee humor I wouldn't be expected to grasp.

actually, it's a reference to the "but some of my best friends are black! gay! mexican!" comments that people use to justify their racist/homophoboic/sexist or whatever comments.

I wasn't conflating white Southerner with Confederate-flag waver. Upstate New York's confederate flag wavers outnumber the ones I've seen in North Carolina and my racial experience with white redneck sterotypes was much more negative while in New York rather than in the south. My comment earlier was not meant as an attack on white southerners - it was more meant as a trollish dig at the "but what about or or - we get offended too!" comments that this thread (and the others) always get. Everyone gets offended and the idea of this thread change is to help create an enviornment where a person who is offended has no problem saying something (as you've done in this thread). If a significant body of members on this site felt that white southerners were being discriminate against and they felt that their communication was being squelched or self-regulated because of this problem, then something would need to be done to help provide that group with the necessary situation where they would feel comfortable speaking up. And, if you look at how you reacted in this thread, how other people have reacted in other threads, white Southerners who get offended do speak up. That might be one reason why homophobic wasn't added to this change - amberglow and others have been much more vigilant in the last year to make it appear as if there is a large enough vocal group that feel comfortable enough to speak up.

But, like you, I'm biased in certain ways and I pay attention to certain things. My perception is that the homosexuals and women and minorities on this site don't feel comfortable to speak up while white Southerners do. I could be wrong though.

posted by Stynxno at 1:19 PM on November 24, 2007


"Kut!

you can't flag what you don't understand"


Flagged as incomprehensible.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:19 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


I can flag whatever I want. It is my right as an American; a right I don't expect you Dutch to understand.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:20 PM on November 24, 2007


cybercoitus interruptus writes "(alternatively, please explain your reasons for thinking that, in practice, these adjustments will equate censorship."

I'll pick this notion of censorship as a reference point ; Censorship is defined as the suppression or deletion of objectionable information, as determined by a censor.

Some argue that if it is not acted by a goverment, it is not censorship. So let's call it "bannination" or "mufabuka" it doesn't change the substance of the action which is suppression/deletion.

Now let's have a look at the current version of comment guideline
Comments should not be directed at other members of the site -- remember to stick to the subject and issues raised by the post, not the person who made it or others that commented on it.
That's imho, to discourage at hominems that usually are just destructive and uninenteresting. If I was to strictly enforce that, most intra-personal comments should be removed, but the rule says "should" and not "must".

Yet if you delete the "offending" (in the legal sense) posts there is no way to get around the fact they are being censored, banninated, mufabukated. Similarly, when some protesters of GWB were told they could no protest in a certain way or place and were moved to "free speech zone" they were effectively denied presence, they were not silenced , but they were effectively slapped into a desert where one can shout as much as they want, the consequences will be zero, nada.

Similarly, I feel that when a post gets deleted, on whatever grounds, a similar form of censorship happens..no matter how crude and idiotic the comment may be. This has also the negative effect , maybe sometime seeked, of stirring a controversy and casting a bad light on unpopular, but sensible practices.

That's why I was suggesting the possibility of moving the "offending" post into an area. Thanks to the nature of the site, as opposed to the shame of people being confined into limbos of free speech zones, it is easy to link to an offending post that is being moved to another area, let say the sexist thread.

Quoting Matt
but it's difficult to make large sweeping decisions without a body of work we can point to and say these are the undesirable actions and traits
Which kind of express my feeling that it's hard to say what is what, if we don't define it , for instance by having a number of samples of what most people feel like to be "offending" ; a public sample that could be discusses in here, as opposed to an authoritarian determination.
posted by elpapacito at 1:21 PM on November 24, 2007


grouse Ik zou raken.

hahaha.
posted by jouke at 1:21 PM on November 24, 2007


Astro Zombie: I can flag whatever I want. It is my right as an American; a right I don't expect you Dutch to understand.

Yes, you guys like to wave your flags, don't you?
We Dutch know that kind of behaviour only too well:
from WWII!
posted by jouke at 1:25 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


And for the record, it does, in fact, suck to be me.

I am sorry about that BitterOldPunk, and sorrier still that you haven't made the acquaintance of the wonderful man who is ColdChef. His Twitter stream alone, funerals and deaths mostly, is enough to cheer anyone up. Go be friends with him, he will blow your mind.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:28 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


...the Dutch equivalent of "cunt" would, as far as I can see, be considered perfectly acceptable - within the context of swearing - by people of both genders equally.

Even within one language that's true. 'cunt' is used quite differently in England and it isn't nearly as offensive as it is in vernacular American.
posted by atrazine at 1:30 PM on November 24, 2007


Some people are saying "we're thinking about ways to make this place more welcoming to women, and the first step is a slight modification to the 'offensive' flag" and others are saying "OMG what is this shit?? the feminazis are taking over, they won't let me call anybody a tranny cunt any more, if this keeps up I'm outta here!!"

If you're not with us, you're against us. Certainly there are no alternative views possible.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:30 PM on November 24, 2007


What bothers me about this is the idea - hinted at but not said outright - that there is no place for certain types of communities online. Yes, Metafilter has been a place where people say things that sometimes cross offensive lines and it has been up to individuals to hit back in those cases.

And you know what? I'm glad. Lots of people like it that way.

If some people don't feel comfortable with online literary confrontation, well, there are plenty of communities for them. Why does Metafilter have to be one of them?

Is there something wrong with a community where it is up to an offended party to say, "Hey, fuck you you racist/sexist/homophobic pig!". Metafilter has been such a community and I don't see why it necessarily makes it a better place to move it away from a self-policing mindset. It makes it a different place. A place where some people will like Metafilter more and some people will like Metafilter less.

But it doesn't make Metafilter better; only different, and in a way I think makes it blander and more like a zillion other sites out there.
posted by Justinian at 1:30 PM on November 24, 2007


lalex: The issue is how the community wants to balance some members' desire to say that kind of stuff with the desire of other members to have a higher level of female participation.

You've pretty much nailed it right there. This is the most important thing, and I agree with it fully.

The (in light of the above very minor) point I was trying to make is that in my opinion, when someone calls Ann Coulter a cunt it's perfectly possible that they mean exactly that she's worthy of condemnation because she's a vile person with hateful ideas, and not worthy of condemnation because she has a vagina. In fact, I find the latter parsing laughably PC, and if anyone actually means that by it then they are, well, total dicks.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 1:35 PM on November 24, 2007


So Stynxno, are you saying that the problem is not the offensive remarks but that the offended group feels uncomfortable confronting the offensive remarks? So if women felt comfortable speaking out about sexist remarks it would be okay to make them?

I can say that I'm not always comfortable speaking out against anti-Southern remarks. And as some of the women have said about sexist remarks, it just gets tedious.
posted by grouse at 1:37 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


gnfti then they are, well, total dicks.

You're being disdainful of male genitalia gnfti.
If you weren't Dutch I'd flag you as offensive/sexism/racism
posted by jouke at 1:41 PM on November 24, 2007


My biggest problem with people calling Anne Coulter a tranny cunt is not that such a statement is sexist, or anti-tranny, it's that the statement is so fucking lazy. Can we have a flag for "not rying hard enough"?
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:42 PM on November 24, 2007


So making women feel equal is pandering to "political bias"? Interesting.

This pathetic rhetorical posturing really doesn't deserve a response beyond noting its complete lack of merit. But for the hell of it, "No, it isn't.".

-----

jessamyn & cortex,

OK, good enough. I've never had any issues with the moderation here. You and mathowie have been exceptionally patient and fair minded. If you don't think this change in the feedback will alter your response then there's nothing more to say. My preferences are otherwise and I'm sure this site will continue to be great whatever the flags say.

-----

a note on 'codewords': There are few responses to an argument that do more to subvert the possibility of dialogue than telling the other person what they really meant. It's very easy to make points by saying 'blah-blah' is a codeword for 'bleh-bleh', or "hoopity-loopty" = "sleppity-doo", but I've rarely if ever seen such an alienating response persuade. If all you're looking to do is "win the crowd" it may be the way to go, responding to an argument at face value would probably just be a waste of your time.

-----

cgc373,

While I find the idealism admirable, I find the practical situation that members here have explained to be more compelling, and in greater need of attention, than the principles: I think the people who feel excluded and unwelcome deserve better from us.

Obviously, I disagree but I don't want to overstate the issue. While I tend to participate in more than my share of political threads, countering what I feel is a progressive bias is hardly end of the world importance. Especially when the moderators disagree that it will be taking place at all. My preference is for the topics of discussion to be as open as possible and if it can be done easily I think it should. The issues you raise could in my opinion be better countered by some of the other means suggested: a Mefi mail restating expectations, more liberal flagging and moderation when sexual violence is wished upon someone, and even a little tolerance for some crude humor.
posted by BigSky at 1:43 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


goodnewsfortheinsane, no offense, but that makes absolutely no sense.

It's like me saying that Ann Coulter is totally English! Yeah, a total England-loving boot-licker! ...and following that up with protestations that that I don't think there's anything wrong with English people, I'm just saying I hate Coulter because of her political leanings.

Wha? Right, that makes no sense at all and you'd think I was crazy. Calling anyone, man or woman, a cunt as an insult holds no rhetorical value unless cunts are widely understood to be something vile, distasteful or gross. Which, ya know, is fine if that's your opinion--I'm not saying you have to love them or give them kisses every night--but as an owner of one, it's kind of tedious to be reminded that there are people out there that find my body repulsive precisely because it has woman-parts. If I want to talk about how stupid and disgusting women are, I'm sure there are places on the web for it. I'd rather metafilter not be one.
posted by iminurmefi at 1:50 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Is this a mess yet? Because it looks like a mess to me, and I'd like a second opinion.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 1:52 PM on November 24, 2007


I agree with everything that's been said here. Turning MetaFilter into a more respectful and civil place that respects difference is a thoroughly laudable goal.

One question though. There's a pretty strident atheist contingent here and their aggression and derision often wind up silencing people who have faith commitments or who take faith commitments seriously. Are the mods willing to extend their flagging system to make these members of the community feel respected and valued? If not, why not?
posted by felix betachat at 1:52 PM on November 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


you can't flag what you don't understand

Matennaaier!

This pathetic rhetorical posturing really doesn't deserve a response

In other words, "I have no answer because I really don't give a fuck if women feel excluded."

I think the people who feel excluded and unwelcome deserve better from us.


Obviously, I disagree


Yup, that's what I thought.
posted by languagehat at 1:53 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


iminurmefi, were you home schooled? I'm told that happens in the US.
Genitals are used as insults right across the gender divide. From lower school on. By people who are very enthusiastic about said genitals btw.
So now you know.
posted by jouke at 1:56 PM on November 24, 2007


Interesting question felix.

And languagehat is being very disrespectful to me as a Dutchman. I'm hurt. I feel this is a very US centric place. Can I have a flagging system extension please?
posted by jouke at 2:00 PM on November 24, 2007


I think the solution MeFi's problems is now clear: let's all just hate on the Dutch.

My perception is that the homosexuals and women and minorities on this site don't feel comfortable to speak up while white Southerners do.

Really? I don't see that at all, but then I can't see what is never posted. I'll accept, from perusing The Thread That Cried Love At The Heart Of The World, that women MeFites feel that way, and I don't think it's unreasonable to ask a bunch of jackasses like myself to hew to a teensy higher standard of social discourse.

Robust and uninhibited discussion is what made this place what it is, and if this tiny tweak (to a part of the UI that I'll bet thousands of members have never thought to use), helps foster those discussions, then great. I'm on board with that. I don't think it will, but I don't think it'll hurt, either.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:01 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


iminurmefi: "Calling anyone, man or woman, a cunt as an insult holds no rhetorical value unless cunts are widely understood to be something vile, distasteful or gross."

iminurmefi, no offence, but that makes absolutely no sense. Let me make this as simple as I can: a little questionnaire.

-Have you ever called someone a dick?
-Do you plan on calling anyone a dick in the future?
-Do you think it's okay to call someone a dick?

This may come as a total shock, but sometimes words have multiple meanings. Yes, I might call someone a cunt. No, I do not think cunts are vile, distasteful, or gross. That people infer some sort of contradiction between these two facts strikes me as outright bizarre.

For the record I'd like to state that I think cunts, cocks and assholes are all totally awesome.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:04 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've yet to hear any objection that convinces me we'll lose anything other than thoughtless and pointless gobshitery of the worst order if this goes ahead as described.
posted by Abiezer at 2:08 PM on November 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


I'm another one of those women who often craft long responses to obnoxiously sexist/misogynistic in lots of metafilter threads, pausing just before I hit the "post" button to wonder whether my tirade is going to do any good, change any minds, or prompt anyone to reconsider their (in their own minds) edgy and wittily irreverent quip. During those 3 seconds I think through the probable outcome:

1. I will post my earnest, thoughtfully crafted reaction to the 45,012 "I'd Hit It"/"I wouldn't Hit It/"She'd Be Lucky to Have Me Hit It"" comment (carefully edited 6 times to remove all of my initial references to "asshole-ish" "mouthbreathing" and "cretins")

2. It will be met with annoyance for derailing the thread/ starting a fight/ I will be asked to flag it and move on or,

2.a It will be treated as a non-sequitur

3. In the next 10 minutes more comments, all highly creative and competitively scatological variations of "I'd Hit It" will appear, perhaps with a token "shut up, you're ruining a good time" type of comment directed my way, likely with the subtext of "feminazi" attached to it.

I decide I'll wait a little while, and if nobody else calls anyone on the offensiveness, then I'll have to go ahead and be the bad guy. Usually someone else steps up to the bat and composes an eloquent and thorough rebuttal to all of the "LOLtheyhavevaginas" sentiment in the thread.

Instead saying my bit as well, I (along with 20-60 other women and a few men, all of whom may also have had an arsenal of similar, secretly stashed comments at the ready) hit that "favorite!" button rather than make every one of the threads that start to go in this direction (and there are so, so many) into a debate about sexism- or worse, into a discussion about whether we are all feminazis that can't take a joke/ are jealous of other women's attractiveness/ are ruining metafilter's sense of giddy playfulness/ can't face the reality that it's natural for men to objectify women.

I understand the sentiment expressed in a few of the comments in this thread that women should speak up and challenge the misogynistic BS when we come across it, rather than be so delicate or non-confrontational that we need a special flag in order to secretly protest the things which offend our delicate sensibilities, but you know what? I honestly don't think many of men here understand just how disruptive that would be to the entire site, because the offending crap is just So. Damn. Pervasive.

I read this site often, but I rarely have the time to contribute to the interesting discussions that occur daily. Given that, I'm generally only moved to make time to post a comment if the topic is a subject I know about extensively, that I have additional information on, and that I don't think someone else will share if I don't, or if I feel that something very important is going unsaid and someone needs to say it. Unfortunately, the obnoxious sexist banter falls in the latter category, and if I posted every time I actually felt moved to do so, even *I* would think "grind, grind, grind" when I looked at my posting history.
posted by stagewhisper at 2:08 PM on November 24, 2007 [31 favorites]


Jouke, I take your comment ("I'm told that happens in the US") to mean you're not from the US?

Of course genitals are used as insults across the gender divide. The rely on the connotations we associate with piece of our body for their oomph, as I'm sure you realize: to tell my brother "you're being such a woman!" or "what's your problem, got sand in your vagina?" has a totally different meaning than telling him he's being a dick. Calling someone a dick means they're behaving in ways that we associate with the negative stereotypes of masculinity--being belligerent, loud, and abrasive. Calling someone a cunt (in the US, although I understand it has different connotations in other parts of the world) is pretty much one of the worst insults you can sling, and means that they're a vile human being. Which is why it seems to be a favorite in Coulter threads.

And if you're not from the US, I take this teachable moment to let you know that many woman who do reside in the US will write you off as a total asshole (that is, disgusting = source of feces) if you use "cunt" as an insult.
posted by iminurmefi at 2:08 PM on November 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


For the record I'd like to state that I think cunts, cocks and assholes are all totally awesome.

Let me assure you, the feeling is mutual.
posted by felix betachat at 2:08 PM on November 24, 2007


Are the mods willing to extend their flagging system to make these members of the community feel respected and valued? If not, why not?

Actually, we get a lot of shit from the atheist contingent (I know, amazing, right?) for defending people from faith communities. People think it's because we have some personal religious angle but actually all the mods are atheists. Most of the atheist comment deletions fall pretty solidly under the "don't harass other people" guideline and mostly occur in AskMe questions about religion.

So, in short, yes. Put another way, that already happens and will continue. Put yet another way, we have gotten very little in the way of complaints from practicing religionists of whatever stripe except for the occasional MetaTalk thread (usually as a result of a Dawkins thread being removed). My guess is it won't show up as another option on the flag menu however.

Awareness that overt sexism isn't okay needed to be given greater visibility here, in our opinion. Lack of tolerance for LOLXIAN stuff is better known, I suspect.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:09 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


The Thread That Cried Love At The Heart Of The World

This is the best thing I've read on MeFi all day.

Krijg de typhus, jouke!
posted by languagehat at 2:12 PM on November 24, 2007


stagewhisper, I'd just like to thank you for your comment about the pervasiveness of the offending crap - as a man it's very easy to forget about the weight of that in trying to get heard.

I may be defending an unpopular position here, and I do so sincerely, but let me state that my tiny crusade here pales in comparison to what you've touched on there. Thanks.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:14 PM on November 24, 2007


iminurmefi: Calling someone a cunt [...] means that they're a vile human being.

Hang on, that's what I mean by it! I thought when others said it meant that vaginas were gross. Now, which is it?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:17 PM on November 24, 2007


darlingbri, cover your ears

Oh yeah. Because my delicate feminist sensibilities are really the issue here. Feis ort.

I currently reside in a country where "cunt" is regularly used, conversationally and as a term of endearment. We are not talking about it being used in a friendly way on MeFi, or reclaiming it, however; we are talking about it being used as a derogatory term of abuse.

If "why it is less of an issue to call someone a dick than it is to call someone a cunt" is seriously a point of confusion, I despair and leave this thread to it's own devices. Perhaps a woman with bigger balls than mine can step in and explain.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:23 PM on November 24, 2007


lh Krijg de typhus, jouke!

Admins! He's doing it again!

Yes, swearing using illnesses. Very Dutch.
Kolerelijer!

posted by jouke at 2:24 PM on November 24, 2007


Can we change the flag to 'sexist, racist, or otherwise offensive'?
posted by pracowity at 2:26 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


From Chambers English Dictionary:
cunt: noun 1 taboo the female genitals. 2 offensive slang a woman regarded as a sexual object. 3 offensive slang an abusive term for an unpleasant person. 4 slang a person in general.

Note meanings 3 and 4, which are the contexts in which I (a Briton) would generally use the word. Cunt is not always sexist, nor is it always offensive, except in the USA where it is regarded as both. See also: ^.

iminurmefi: you can choose to brandish knee-jerk accusations of sexism at anybody who uses the word cunt if you like, but I hope that this teachable moment will give you cause to step outside your insular little worldview and consider that not everyone in the whole world uses language in exactly the way you do. Part of the appeal of MeFi is exposure to people from a diverse range of cultures; don't expect us all to be well-versed in the nuances of US cussing.
posted by nowonmai at 2:27 PM on November 24, 2007


Good analysis nowonmai.
posted by jouke at 2:29 PM on November 24, 2007


Surely some more guys want to come in and do their little mock-whiny "what about so-and-so we're victims too do I get a flag" breakdance poses then run back to their mates for some high-fives.

Me, sometimes I'd like to flag a FPP as "dipshit parade." Not this one necessarily, I just thought I'd mention it.
posted by fleacircus at 2:35 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Having thought this through a bit more and dug further back into the thread, I want to take exception to a statement I see being made repeatedly with little or no critical reception:

I think the sexism/racism flag is totally unnecessary. both of those fall under offensive content so I don't see the point.

Oh, many people objected to say that there is a point, but I didn't see anyone calling into question the idea that
sexist automatically = offensive. If it does, I hope you're being so self-critical in your own life as to not let a hint of it enter your dialogue, even among like-minded friends.

Of course MeFi, community aspirations aside, is not a group of like-minded friends. The membership is diverse, and that can be easy to forget when every person you're in contact with is represented by alphanumeric characters. And obviously online behaviour varies, as is oft noted, from most people's behavior IRL so special considerations are required. What concerns me is this:

If this is simply about explicitly reminding MeFites to be considerate of other members, it's a definite positive step. I mean, yes, we can argue about the number and type of flags, but there can't be much wrong with reminding people that others' standards of civil behaviour count as well as your own, so think twice before commenting.

In framing the flags as sexism/racism/offensive, however, the implication is that comments which fall under, say, the first category, but not the third, are still flag-worthy. That is to say, inoffensive sexist comments.

Before, you had a good metric of what sexist comments people actually found offensive, because it would be flagged as such. Now? You're inviting people to flag comments that they intellectually perceive some hint of sexism, whether they find it offensive or not. Whether or not anyone does. How is that a positive step? How would that be beneficial for data collection? You've turned a valuable flag into a much less valuable one. Do you really want to know how many people find a comment sexist, but do not want to know how many people find it offensive?

Obviously, there is the added concern that the mods will start eliminating anything that hints at sexism, offensive or no, but the first problem I see here is that you've just thrown away your ability to tell which is which.
posted by dreamsign at 2:37 PM on November 24, 2007


Hmmm, we've got about 45 references to the c-word in this thread. Maybe I'm too US-centric, or too old (42), but I've never been able to see/hear the word without wincing a little bit. I've heard that for younger women it doesn't shock quite as much, that its force is diminishing.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 2:39 PM on November 24, 2007


Surely some more guys want to come in and do their little mock-whiny "what about so-and-so we're victims too do I get a flag" breakdance poses then run back to their mates for some high-fives.

Christ this thread is a toxic swamp.

Jessamyn, thanks for the clarification. I don't fully agree, but I see the logic. It should be made clear that this is an attempt, however minor, at community social engineering and that there are definite preferences embedded in that attempt. I agree fully that the idiot contingent lowers the level of discourse and that this can have a chilling effect on conversation. But lets not kid ourselves here. Gender issues are being taken rather more seriously than other sorts of routine intolerance. The result may be a more egalitarian and respectful community, or it may be a community which wrings its hands visibly over gender oppression while sweeping other sorts of routine intolerance under the rug.

As someone who takes this community seriously, I'm going to be watching carefully to see how this plays out.
posted by felix betachat at 2:50 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


As a white southern gentleman, there's a lot in this thread that I simply do not understand. The big words, mostly.
posted by ColdChef at 2:55 PM on November 24, 2007 [8 favorites]


I think I managed to get all the tired and overused arguments used regularly during these sexism threads. Now instead of getting worked up, I'll just play along. When I get bingo, I'll apologize to another female acquaintance for having suggested she sign up here.

Do you have BINGO?
posted by FunkyHelix at 2:57 PM on November 24, 2007 [43 favorites]


Wow. DaShiv, great comment.

Indeed.

EB's meMail campaign is just about the lamest thing I have ever seen. I'd call him a dick, a pussy, or an asshole, but those are gendered insults, and by doing so, I'd draw the penalty flags for having insulted these precious, precious voices that (while so instrumental to the site) cannot handle a bit of offensiveness.

You going to pad the walls while you're at it?
posted by Kwantsar at 2:58 PM on November 24, 2007


You are going to have to draw a line where you say "I don't care that it offends you: I didn't mean it that way, so the problem is yours, not mine.

This point-of-view assumes that the problem must be SOMEBODY'S. It's your fault, because, if it's not, it MUST be my fault.

I don't buy it. If I call you an X and you're offended, it may be that you have a very rational reason to be offended AND that I meant no offense.

There are two problems here:

1) that you got offended.
2) that -- since you talked about it -- I feel censored.

Why must we assume that you or I are the OWNERS of these problems? How does it help to assign blame? Why not just say that the problems exist and try to solve them?

I don't believe that this is a perfect solution, but that still doesn't mean that assigning blame (or blamelessness) will help anything. Sometimes the best "solution" is to admit that there is no solution -- or not perfect solution -- and for everyone to realize that and feel a little uncomfortable. At least in that case, we're all sharing in the problem.

If I feel constrained when I cause offense without meaning to cause offense while you feel offended by my comments, that's not solvable in a way that will make everyone happy. And yet both points of view are reasonable. It's reasonable -- given your background -- that you'll be offended by certain comments. It's reasonable, given my lack-of-ill-intent, that I'll feel unfairly chided and constrained if you try to censor me.

One way to help this problem (though perhaps not solve it) is to be HONEST about it. You tell me you're offended when I say X. I feel like I have a perfect right to say X and don't intend to stop saying. Okay, then here's what I should say:

"I'm sorry that X offends you, and I wish it didn't. At the same time, I AM going to keep saying it."

That sounds a bit mean, I know, but it's honest. What's not honest is to say...

"Well, I didn't mean you any harm, so if you're offended, that's YOUR problem."

That's just a way of shrugging something off.

I am a staunch believer in freedom of speech, and I'm against any form of censorship. It's possible to take that view and yet still recognize that words can cause people pain (even when no pain is intended). And it's also possible to speak freely without justifying the pain you cause. You have to give up on seeing yourself as a perfect person.

I speak freely. When I do so, I sometimes cause pain. I am responsible for causing that pain when I cause it. I don't like to cause pain, so when I have something to say that I know may cause pain, I'll think carefully before I say it. But even knowing that it might cause pain, I may say it anyway. If I do, and you blame me for causing you pain, I will have to accept the blame.
posted by grumblebee at 3:00 PM on November 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


EB's meMail campaign is just about the lamest thing I have ever seen. I'd call him a dick, a pussy, or an asshole, but those are gendered insults[...]

Which gender is asshole?

yeah, I pretty much walked into that one
posted by b1tr0t at 3:08 PM on November 24, 2007


Woo hoo! BINGO!

Dear Oulangi, I'm sorry I ever suggested that you should join Metafilter for the awesome discussions. My bad.
posted by FunkyHelix at 3:08 PM on November 24, 2007


Nope, I guess I'm not done talking about this yet. My above comment is still too vague.

The problem here is the lack of a durable reputation here in this community. Self-policing only works if and when there's a way of keeping track of who said what when and to whom. Melissa May's heavily favorited comment in the original thread is a darn good example of somebody holding somebody else to account for the stuff they've said, and assessing their authority accordingly. It was notable for its rarity, unfortunately.

If there were a way to efficiently recall other members on the site and to keep track of their posting history, these sorts of administrative interventions wouldn't be necessary. Alas, the community is probably too large for this, and a little yellow name below a nasty comment isn't enough to anchor a reputation.

So, again, I don't think that what's being reached for here is a community that is open and tolerant. Instead, it's one in which there isn't a durable record of the saying of nasty sexist things. Put alongside the implicit preservation of other nasty things, the overall character of the site is inevitably going to change.
posted by felix betachat at 3:10 PM on November 24, 2007


I suggest two new, equality based insults:

dickcunt ®

cockpussy ®


(race-neutral insults are left as an exercise to the reader)
posted by b1tr0t at 3:10 PM on November 24, 2007


Which gender is asshole?

It's masculine. The feminine of "asshole" is "bitch."

And neither are inherently sexist.
posted by dhammond at 3:11 PM on November 24, 2007


The offensiveness of your comment I can handle fine Kwantsar; it's the balls-aching dullness that's doing me in.
I too come from a culture where "cunt" is not loaded with sexist overtones, just straight-forward crudeness. But then I also learned of good manners and speaking with your audience in mind.
Only moral gnomes, piss-poor wannabe comics who'd be better shutting up and possibly a slavering woman-hater with Tourette's of the typing fingers could possibly have their speech restricted in any meaningful way by this.
posted by Abiezer at 3:16 PM on November 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


It's masculine. The feminine of "asshole" is "bitch."

Wrong. The feminine of asshole is... asshole. Bitch is a gendered insult.
posted by sugarfish at 3:16 PM on November 24, 2007


Yanno, gnfti, I cannot for the life of me understand defending a position that is essentially "I know this hurts you, but stop making me feel bad for doing it."
posted by headspace at 3:21 PM on November 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


Here's a personal example of what I was talking about: I'm a professional writer who uses "he" as a pronoun meaning -- to me -- "he and/or she." I'm very aware that many women feel hurt or not-included when I do that. Yet I do it anyway.

It would be wrong to say that I don't care about their feelings. I DO care. Yet I write that way anyway and plan on continuing to do so. It would be wrong to say I feel like it's their problem. It's not their problem. It's MY problem. Yet I don't plan to solve it.

I write that way, because I'm devoted to evocative writing. I think "he" evokes an image; "he/she" doesn't. And I'm not crazy about any of other alternatives that people suggest. I think it's impossible to envision a sexless person. So if you want to evoke an image of a person, you have to use either "he" or "she." I tend to use "he," because using "she" departs from convention, and when you depart from convention, THAT'S what you're writing about. You're suddenly not writing about your subject, you're writing about your subject AND Feminism. And that's gratuitous -- unless you happen to be writing about Feminism.

Maybe I'm wrong about all that stuff, but I believe it. Maybe I'm right, but compromising on this issue would cause so much good that I'm selfish not to compromise. I don't expect people to understand this, but I can't (or won't) compromise. I'd rather give up writing (which I'm unwilling to do). As petty as I'm sure it seems to many, for me to compromise on this issue would be like a painter agreeing not to use the color red.

Okay, so I'm going to be pig-headed and use "he." If I'm honest, I have to admit that I'm being pigheaded. It would be SO much easier to blame some of my readers for being "overly sensitive" and to say it's "their problem." But it's not. It's my problem. Or if it IS their problem, it's my problem too. (So what if they're overly sensitive. I can't do anything about that. But I COULD change my behavior. I'm just not willing to do so.) I'm making a choice that I KNOW causes pain. I don't do it to cause pain, but it does cause pain, and I know that.

I COULD justify or go into denial, which would make me comfortable. But I'd rather be a grownup and admit that I'm not a perfect person. I'm not a perfectly kind person. I'm not a perfectly selfless person. I am kind and selfless in many ways, but those ways don't make up for the ways in which I'm not kind. The good parts of me have no affect on the bad parts, and vice versa. Both are what they are.

Accepting this means that I feel a little TWINGE of ickyness whenever I write "he." I can't feel totally clean or blameless about it. I can't feel pure. I can't just "move on." Or rather, I can and I do, but not in a simple way. But that's the price of living in the world with my eyes open, realizing that there are other people out there and that my choices affect them.

And the little TWINGE means that, if you want to convince me that I'm wrong to use "he," you might have an opening. I doubt you WILL convince me, but it means that I haven't made a final decision for all time. It means that every time I write "he," I make the decision all over again.
posted by grumblebee at 3:21 PM on November 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


Technically, you are correct, sugarfish, but that speaks to nothing of the common usage. I have heard the expression "she's an asshole" exactly once in my entire life. When was the last time you heard it? Colloquially, it is infinitely more common to hear someone exchange "asshole" for "bitch" when speaking about a female.
posted by dhammond at 3:24 PM on November 24, 2007


Funky Helix!

FLAGGED AS MAGNIFICENT.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 3:24 PM on November 24, 2007


It's reasonable, given my lack-of-ill-intent, that I'll feel unfairly chided and constrained if you try to censor me.

Only if you consider "please stop saying that, it makes me feel bad" as "trying to censor." A lot of guys here seem to automatically equate those things, but I wouldn't expect it of you, grumblebee.
posted by languagehat at 3:26 PM on November 24, 2007


Frankly, that's how I use it, as does much of my social circle. Of course, I had to make the conscious choice to give up a gendered insult, but that's just me.
posted by sugarfish at 3:26 PM on November 24, 2007


Very far above, jacalata was talking about how to interject that some women honestly aren't bothered by this stuff. I'm responding to that question:

I think it's great and important to include that view, especially to break up the sense that Women are some monolithic entity who all think the same or whatever. (I don't think anybody on the side of "let's have less rape jokes" really believes that all women are the same, but it's easy to talk that way, and as we've been saying about the jokey throwaway comments, it matters what you actually said, not just what you meant. So - it's important to clarify and not assume that everyone's automatically on the same page.) Yeah - it's well worth bringing up that opinions vary, both opinions of men and opinions of women, on this stuff.

My suggestion would be just to say "It doesn't bother me, although I acknowledge that a lot of perfectly sensible non-wimpy women are bothered by it." or something along those lines. Just that little acknowledgment can keep it from sounding as if you're saying "It doesn't bother me, so anybody who is bothered is a wimp and let's stop talking about it" or something along those lines. Or if you say it without the disclaimer and then someone gets their back up, you can retroactively make clear how you meant it. That's all.

Like so much of this, I think this is just an effort toward basic conversational good will. We can't assume, as gnfti wants to, that we are all close buddies with the same pure hearts and that our words will always be understood in that light. People, including people we like and want to keep around, will misconstrue our intentions. So we should think about how we'll be understood, and in cases where we're called out, react to that with calm clarification rather than defensive escalation. (I'm not saying that jacalata was defensively escalating, at all! It just happens a lot in the other kind of situation we're talking about - someone gets called out for a casually sexist or obnoxious remark, and rather than saying "sorry - didn't mean it that way" they say "you're a whiny bitch who should never leave the house" or whatever.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:26 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


On reading your last comment: jesus, grumblebee, you're starting to sound like EB.
posted by languagehat at 3:27 PM on November 24, 2007


Funky Helix, I wish I could favorite that ten thousand times.
posted by sugarfish at 3:27 PM on November 24, 2007


And the little TWINGE means that, if you want to convince me that I'm wrong to use "he," you might have an opening. I doubt you WILL convince me, but it means that I haven't made a final decision for all time. It means that every time I write "he," I make the decision all over again.

Over time and as the cultural climate changes, your insistence on "he" is going to ring equally specifically. People will read it as "he and not she" and the impact of your work will be lessened accordingly.

Me? I just vary generic "he" and "she" throughout my writing, aiming at a good 50% split.
posted by felix betachat at 3:28 PM on November 24, 2007


I put a link to the card in my user info. You know, in case anyone needs or wants to find it again.
posted by FunkyHelix at 3:29 PM on November 24, 2007


elpapacito: Yet if you delete the "offending" (in the legal sense) posts there is no way to get around the fact they are being censored, banninated, mufabukated. . . . I feel that when a post gets deleted, on whatever grounds, a similar form of censorship happens..no matter how crude and idiotic the comment may be. . . .

You're assuming that the changes (1. altered wording of the "offensive" flag, 2. addition of a "sexist" section to guidelines) equal deletion of posts (or by "posts" did you mean "posts and comments"?). Why?

Mathowie has already said: As has been stated numerous times, this isn't about increased moderation, we just tweaked an existing flag and are adding language to the guidelines. We'll act on flags like we always have (light touch moderation) but there's some raised awareness about the issue of sexism.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 3:37 PM on November 24, 2007


Only if you consider "please stop saying that, it makes me feel bad" as "trying to censor." A lot of guys here seem to automatically equate those things, but I wouldn't expect it of you, grumblebee.

No. I agree with you. That's not the same as censorship (though it might be a "chide.")

The "me" in that first post wasn't supposed to be me. I meant person A and person B (and I confusingly called them "me" and "you." sorry!).

I meant that it's reasonable for person A to feel constrained if person B is saying he's hurt by A's speech. Maybe censored is the wrong word. Whatever. If someone says, "the way you talk is hurting me," I think it's natural to feel -- what? -- constrained? chided? guilty? shamed? SOMETHING.

I am NOT saying that B is bad for saying A's speech is hurtful.

I am saying that there's no perfect solution. A PERFECT solution would allow A to say whatever he wants without feeling constrained or chided (or guilty or criticized or whatever) and -- at the same time -- for B to not feel hurt.

We live in a world in which there's no perfect solution, and yet people act as if there is one. People act as if the perfect solution is A or B shutting up (or A continuing to speak freely and B continuing to chide/complain/point out/whatever). One of those might be an imperfect, practical solution. But we should be mature enough to admit that such a solution is imperfect and to deal with the ways that it's imperfect -- to take responsibility for them.

Languagehat, IF you're reading into my post that I'm "siding" with A or B, you're misreading -- or (more likely) I'm being unclear.


On reading your last comment: jesus, grumblebee, you're starting to sound like EB.


I don't know what that means. Sorry.
posted by grumblebee at 3:38 PM on November 24, 2007



Over time and as the cultural climate changes, your insistence on "he" is going to ring equally specifically. People will read it as "he and not she" and the impact of your work will be lessened accordingly.


I think you may be right. Still, I haven't found a way of evoking a person without either gendering him or gratuitously adding political content to non-political writing.

(Yes, I realize that a non-political choice can still be a political choice. But it's impossible to make no choice at all. Unless you quit writing.)
posted by grumblebee at 3:41 PM on November 24, 2007


The offensiveness of your comment I can handle fine Kwantsar; it's the balls-aching dullness that's doing me in....
Only moral gnomes, piss-poor wannabe comics who'd be better shutting up and possibly a slavering woman-hater with Tourette's of the typing fingers could possibly have their speech restricted in any meaningful way by this.


Hrm. Well, with my comment I hadn't really gone down the road of determining what, exactly, would be excised from the site, so I can't really tell what you're talking about. But that's some classic you-have-nothing-to-worry-about-if-you-haven't-done-anything-wrong logic you're using-- especially with your use of "can't possibly" and "any meaningful way."

So when something trifling gets axed because it's ruffled the feathers of MeFi's progressive, neo-Puritan silent majority, we won't even need to have a conversation, because you've already done the heavy lifting for us. In fact, we ought to paraphrase your words on the New Post page for MeTa:

If your comment was disappeared and you are coming here to complain or discuss the deletion, please stop, because by the very virtue of said deletion it is clear that you are a moral gnome, a piss-poor wannabe comic who'd be better shutting up, or possibly a slavering woman-hater with Tourette's of the typing fingers.

Thank you,
Mgmt

posted by Kwantsar at 3:42 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


headspace: "Yanno, gnfti, I cannot for the life of me understand defending a position that is essentially "I know this hurts you, but stop making me feel bad for doing it.""

Well that makes two of us. Because that was not at all what I was saying, anywhere, and I can't really make any more of it than that.

LobsterMitten: "We can't assume, as gnfti wants to, that we are all close buddies with the same pure hearts and that our words will always be understood in that light. People, including people we like and want to keep around, will misconstrue our intentions. So we should think about how we'll be understood, and in cases where we're called out, react to that with calm clarification rather than defensive escalation."

Yes, that is what I would want in my deepest of desires, and I know full well that it just plain ain't gonna happen, as I believe I clearly stated. So yes, what LobsterMitten said, a brazillion times.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:42 PM on November 24, 2007


I put a link to the card in my user info. You know, in case anyone needs or wants to find it again.

That card trivializes instances of homophobia on Metafilter. Though you probably don't intend it, your attempt to be funny is somewhat offensive.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:45 PM on November 24, 2007


That's exactly what you're saying with your whole, gosh, just assume *I'm* not that way when I say these things argument, Mr. My Tranny Cunt is Neither Transphobic or Sexist.
posted by headspace at 3:49 PM on November 24, 2007


Yes, basically Kwantsar. Rubbish offensive jokes will go; they add nothing and restrict speech by others. More substantial things that may contain uncomfortable ideas won't be affected.
It's not actually censorship, it's free editing. Someone is going to save you the embarrassment of having stupid throwaway one-liners associated with your username. If you were actually really intent on making unfunny sexist offence the core of your contribution, then at least we'll be spared reading it.
I see no downside.
posted by Abiezer at 3:52 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Lack of tolerance for LOLXIAN stuff is better known, I suspect.

After several years checking in regularly with mefi I basically gave up on it a few months back due to finally accepting the harsh reality that despite everything I like about mefi and many of the posters here, and despite the community's self-perception of liberal broad-mindedness, that there is a deep undercurrent of extreme intolerance from my point of view for people of faith.

On a semi-random whim I opted to check in today, expecting to spend no more than a minute finding evidence of its continuation and voila: a huge thread on civil behavior and with a reference to my own particular people-group near the end from one of the admins.

My real interest in mefi has always been the community itself and how people interact online, how they make themselves known, how their personalities shine through the medium, how ideas are expressed, understood or misunderstood and shaped and reformed in online discussion.

But again, my perception of a virulent underlying hatred of Christianity took it's toll on me personally to the point where I realized I had to give up a several-year reading habit. You reference intolerance for LOLXTIANS but this phenomenon isn't the problem. We can all use a little mocking or snark to keep us appropriately humble and to point out the more extreme examples of crazy behavior. There may be an intolerance for LOLXTIANS but from my perspective there's always been a tolerance for the relentlessly mean-spirited, small-minded, harsh, and hurtful. This helps me understand as a guy, what the anti-female stuff might look like to you and so I wish you well in your efforts and offer thanks for the object lesson.
posted by scheptech at 3:53 PM on November 24, 2007 [8 favorites]


As a Dutch women mefite, allow me to disagree with gnifti and jouke. Just like the word cunt is offensive to many American women, the word "kut" is offensive to many Dutch women. People in my social circle (late twenties, early thirties, married or living together) sometimes utter "kut" for example when they hurt themselves. It is a swear word. Everybody (at least every adult) I know would say sorry after uttering it in the presence of a woman, but we don't make to much of it, because everyone swears sometimes. However: calling someone a stupid cunt ("stomme kut") is just not acceptable. It is entirely comparable to the english variant. There is no cultural issue here. Of course gnifti and jouke may disagree, but it is not because they are Dutch and we Dutch people feel different about these things.

If anything, I agree with the sentiment that I would not have thought it necessarily to spell out that "she should be raped to death" is not acceptible here. I read mostly AskMe here, and I certainly skip the American-centric threads on Mefi so I guess my view of Mefi was different. Sometimes I read about delethed threads or comments on MeTa and the admins say that the comment in question got a lot of flags, and I sort of wonder why so many people cared about something that I did not think was that important. People flag debatable chatfilter, people flag and debate endlessly about newsfiltery links, but, apparently, at the same time nobody flagged the rape fantasies? I find that really hard to understand.

I am quite shocked by these threads. Shocked that metafilter apparently is such a sexist place, and shocked that quite a few people prefer it to be that way.
posted by davar at 3:53 PM on November 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


[bitch versus asshole] Frankly, that's how I use it, as does much of my social circle. Of course, I had to make the conscious choice to give up a gendered insult, but that's just me.

But you haven't given up a gendered insult. You still pronoun your noun. She is an asshole is equivalent to She is a bitch.

Unless, of course, you only make comments like "What an asshole that anonymous stranger is! He or she does things that offend me!"
posted by five fresh fish at 3:54 PM on November 24, 2007


I see no downside.

I don't either. And I dislike snark and crudeness, so I'll be happy to see all that stuff go (or at least a dent made in it), but...


It's not actually censorship, it's free editing.


It IS censorship. If someone writes something and you delete it, you're censoring. Editing is a form of censorship. We generally call it censorship when we dislike it and editing when we like it. (I generally like it when my editor censors my writing, because it makes the writing better).
posted by grumblebee at 3:56 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


That card trivializes instances of homophobia on Metafilter.

Yarr. (That was "Yep" in Talk-Like-An-Ass-Pirate.)

As did the waa-waa non-sexism victims breakdance quip upthread, and the spat of "Well, misogyny deserves a flag but homophobia doesn't, because the former happens much more often" in the main uberthread.

It may not have been intended as such, but it has the roughly the same effect (in terms of discouraging pointing it out when it happens) as telling women to quit bitching about 'cunt', etc.
posted by CKmtl at 3:59 PM on November 24, 2007


I think you may be right. Still, I haven't found a way of evoking a person without either gendering him or gratuitously adding political content to non-political writing.

I presume you're talking about something along the lines of a travelogue, e.g., "If one were to mount the steps of Machu Picchu, he would shortly come to regret his decision, there being a crazy lot of them," etc. If this usage really gets to you (it doesn't me; you have to call your hypothetical person something), and "she" seems overly political, I humbly suggest the use of "you." Whether this is appropriate does depend on context, but I would think it acceptable in most situations. It's kind of off the table in straight-up, no-frills journalism, but I think it'd be fine for most kinds of non-fiction, and okay (and maybe even more involving for the reader) in fiction, if not currently trendy.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:00 PM on November 24, 2007


A lot of the problem will disappear if we quit being vulgar.

I'll try to cut it back myself.

We should have a swear jar. Matt'd make a small fortune.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:01 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


That's exactly what you're saying with your whole, gosh, just assume *I'm* not that way when I say these things argument, Mr. My Tranny Cunt is Neither Transphobic or Sexist.

I don't say those things — nor have I, to my memory, here on Metafilter or anywhere else. I'd ask you kindly to withhold that kind of accusation, thanks very much.

Given my original concern was expressed politely, your response — putting words into someone else's mouth, while ignoring the offending element of that card — is illuminating.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:01 PM on November 24, 2007


gnfti: You did state that you recognized it was wishful thinking to expect people to know that you are a post-sexist kind of dude, so you could be understood when you make jokey ironic comments that play with the notion of sexist tropes. But then you seemed to go on to defend just making the jokes anyway, as a hopeful gesture. It wasn't clear to me what you were ultimately in favor of, there.

The point, which I made a few times in the mega-thread, is that even if I have a sense of someone's personality around here so I know that their comment is ironic and jokey, it's still bad if ironic sexist remarks are the currency of the realm. Once a thread fills up with a note-perfect parody of that stuff its effect is indistinguishable from the effect of a threadful of non-ironic plain old sexist or misogynist stuff. It's wall-to-wall sexism as a shorthand for who's in the in-crowd (ironically intended, of course, all in good fun, just between us truly cool cats, but if you're not in on the joke and you protest the ironic sexism, you will get yelled at for not having a sense of humor). Awesome. Way to rise above the rest of the internet. And so the tone of the site goes in that direction, as new members join and get their sense of what kind of place it is from what stuff is written on the screen, rather than from knowing that secretly we're all just kidding. Suddenly it's "I'd hit it" and "observe my huge wang" and so on, thoughtless, not creative or funny, available fucking everywhere else online, and welcoming to exactly the wrong kind of user.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:01 PM on November 24, 2007 [5 favorites]


Surely some more guys want to come in and do their little mock-whiny "what about so-and-so we're victims too do I get a flag" breakdance poses then run back to their mates for some high-fives

Um, well as an example of what I was talking about, there were several comments in the "boys lagging behind in education" thread, along the expected "well duh, boys are lazy" line that were obviously sexist, but not particularly offensive -- if only because I've heard them so often. But see, because I found them sexist but not offensive (to me), I'd rather call attention to them, which I did, to discuss them, rather than see them disappear down some hole.

Course then I read a comment like yours and wonder why the fuck I should even consider being civil to you.
posted by dreamsign at 4:04 PM on November 24, 2007


Sorry grumblebee - I do agree it's censorship - I was doing a bit of facetious exaggeration to make a point.
posted by Abiezer at 4:05 PM on November 24, 2007


metafilter: elephant gives birth to mouse after a week's labor

i'm glad we've renamed the offensive flag more appropriately - really

i'm glad we're going to encourage each other to be a bit nicer and less piggish to people - really

did we run out of plates and beans?
posted by pyramid termite at 4:06 PM on November 24, 2007


Blazecock Pileon, I wasn't talking to you.
posted by headspace at 4:07 PM on November 24, 2007


I think after a person establishes genderlessness by using the term "one" a couple of times, it would be acceptable to slip into the use of "you" to personalize the otherwise anonymous experience being described.

But ya gotta be careful of using "you" when describing intentions, emotions, morals, and such.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:09 PM on November 24, 2007


did we run out of plates and beans?

It has been determined that plates, given their association with housework and the traditional gendering of that, and beans, given their association with flatulence, are heretofore considered misogynist in their pairing. Further reference to "plate of beans" will be considered a flaggable offense, with or without overthinking.
posted by felix betachat at 4:10 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


It's common in legal writing for the generic he/she to be represented by a mix of he and she. Many lawyers (including male, female, liberal, conservative) write using the mix of pronouns. It does not come across as political, as far as I can tell. It's more just (increasingly) the norm.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 4:13 PM on November 24, 2007


grumblebee, for a pronoun you can just use singular "they". It's really okay.

dreamsign: it seems clear to me that the flag should be used for offensive sexist comments about men as well. I think there are many, many fewer of them than there are about women, but still they should be flagged as warranted. Absolutely.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:15 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


And sexism, FYI, isn't a one-way street, so we don't "need our own flag" thanks very much.
posted by dreamsign at 4:16 PM on November 24, 2007


My question, LobsterMitten, is when is "warranted"? They're clearly sexist comments, but as I said, I wasn't offended so much as I wanted to deal with them, and they were, in a sense, on topic. Should I only flag them if I find them offensive? But the new flagging system seems to invite flagging whether sexist, racist, or offensive. That's my only issue. I like the explicit reminder. Just not so sure about the particulars.
posted by dreamsign at 4:19 PM on November 24, 2007


We are not amused. Or actually We are - sort of. But mostly not. About any further references to either plates or beans. Let this be the last reference. We have spoken.
posted by scheptech at 4:26 PM on November 24, 2007


At the risk of making myself out to be MeFi's most hypersensitive, humorless, shrill ideologue, I am really curious about something that has come up in this thread.

There have been more than a couple of references to comments that are "racist and yet not offensive" or "sexist but not offensive." Can someone give me (or make up) an example of one of these instances? Because I honestly cannot formulate an instance of something that I would identify as either sexist or racist and not be offended by.

I mean, if it's racist, sexist, homophobic, then be definition, it's offensive... right?

(And if you're going to explain why no, it isn't, please do it with an example because I'm really out in the woods on this one.)
posted by DarlingBri at 4:26 PM on November 24, 2007


dreamsign: I think the flagging is only for comments that one thinks might merit action by the mods. So, not for inoffensive sexism, but yes for offensive sexism. When is it warranted? Judgment call, as with all the other flags. The mods will take a look and decide if it's really bad enough/contributing little enough to be deleted. Maybe if a user is crapping all over the place with that stuff, the mods will MeMail them and say "knock it off please".
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:29 PM on November 24, 2007


DarlingBri - I could imagine a sincere explanation by a member of a religious group who believes some higher power ordained the patriarchy. They may argue for sexist ideas like women should be subordinate to men in all things and concentrate on family and childbearing. Sexist as you like but not so much offensive as just wrong. And we could tell them so. Nor do I imagine it would be the kind of thing that puts women off commenting. The reverse, I'd imagine there'd be a fair few who'd have things to say on the matter.
posted by Abiezer at 4:30 PM on November 24, 2007


grumblebee, for a pronoun you can just use singular "they". It's really okay.

I don't expect everyone (anyone?) to agree with me, but "if you meet someone at a party, ask them their name" just doesn't have the specificity (or clear evocativeness) of "if you meet someone at a part, ask him his name."

(And I can't use "you," because I'm already talking about YOU meeting someone at a party.)
posted by grumblebee at 4:31 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


That card trivializes instances of homophobia on Metafilter. Though you probably don't intend it, your attempt to be funny is somewhat offensive.
posted by Blazecock Pileon


I don't see that. Can you walk me through it? It refers to homophobes, sure, but how is it a trivialisation?
posted by dash_slot- at 4:32 PM on November 24, 2007


davar: "As a Dutch women mefite, allow me to disagree with gnifti [...] Just like the word cunt is offensive to many American women, the word "kut" is offensive to many Dutch women. [...] There is no cultural issue here.

Thanks for weighing in, davar. I'm not celebrating Agree with Nothing Day here, I swear. I respect your sentiments and believe I understand them. What I was trying to illustrate was that (in Dutch) it's apparently significantly less of a big deal, a notion which I feel is echoed by your assertion that you may use the word yourself from time to time. This in light of the apparent position here that use of the word (its equivalent in English) is acceptable under no circumstances. If this sounds patronising, I by no means intend it that way but it's very thin ice here and I want to be as clear as I can be. And I believe we agree on everything else you said.

I would not have thought it necessarily to spell out that "she should be raped to death" is not acceptible here.
[...] I am quite shocked by these threads. Shocked that metafilter apparently is such a sexist place, and shocked that quite a few people prefer it to be that way."

headspace: "That's exactly what you're saying with your whole, gosh, just assume *I'm* not that way when I say these things argument, Mr. My Tranny Cunt is Neither Transphobic or Sexist."

Oh come on. I don't have a history of getting into fights on MeTa, and I don't plan to make a habit out of it. Reading back I have clearly made some comments which were either clumsily put or easily misinterpreted, or both. So in the interest of clarity and understanding I will try to spell out my position one more time.

-I take back the "tranny cunt" phrase. I used it as an example, in retrospect a very ill-advised one, lifted straight from the quote I referred to in my first comment. I wouldn't gladly use such a phrase, and I despise its use.

-However. I stand up for people's right to say vile, inappropriate, disgusting, ill-informed, ignorant and all-round bad, bad things, not because I like hearing them, au contraire, but because I truly believe that people should be able to say anything, anything they want - including all the stuff *I* don't like to hear, such as that truly horrid phrase spelled out for the nth time above.

-Obviously, on Metafilter this will be limited by the guidelines, moderators' judgment and MeTa mob justice - but that's where the buck stops, not at some a priori notion of what we can and can't say.

-The sky is not falling. Cries of "censorship!" have sounded time and again before in the halls of MeTa, and I don't quite think this latest development is at all a sign of impending Censorgeddon. But I do believe there is value in standing up for this given the occasion - "First they came for those who say 'Danny Blunt'", and all that.

-I do in all sincerity apologise to anyone I may have offended with my gung-ho phrasing upthread. I did read the other threads, so I should have been more sensitive in understanding I was walking on rhetorical egg shells, but apparently I didn't, or not enough.

But please, please do not paint me as the gosh, just assume *I'm* not that way when I say these things [...] Mr. My Tranny Cunt is Neither Transphobic or Sexist guy - not because it's a mischaracterisation that makes me look bad (which I can live with), but because it's a disservice to any standard of discourse we have on Metafilter.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:33 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


DarlingBri, Even though I don't find sexist or racist stuff funny (no matter which group, minority or majority, it's directed against), I sympathize with the worry some people have that this kind of concern could be used to stifle all joking around. Just to be clear: I think that worry is totally unfounded here. But I sympathize with the thought that there are degrees of badness. There are things that are in context pretty clearly meant as jokes or just absurdist wordplay or something, which are sexist but to me aren't necessarily offensive. I sometimes find them funny, sometimes find them lame as hell, but I don't get the same feeling of "whoa, what the hell is that doing here? Way over the line!" that I do with some of the Ann Coulter rape stuff or whatever. I think the point of emphasizing that there are degrees is that deleting the Ann Coulter rape stuff needn't entail deleting the silly wordplay or similar.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:37 PM on November 24, 2007


Seconding singular they. There's no need for anything fiddlier than that.

Also, "dick" is German for fat. You can get two constituencies with that, if it's the sort of thing you want to do.
posted by Grangousier at 4:40 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


gnfti, for what it's worth I think what happened is that you ended a paragraph with "I like to think, in my heart of hearts, that we're all post-sexism and everyone knows I don't mean it if I say stuff like that, because of course nobody could seriously mean that". What you intended was "I like to think that but of course I know it's not true." but it was easy to take away the wrong impression, just because of the way the comment was laid out.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:42 PM on November 24, 2007


And LobsterMitten, again, I'm totally with you, and you seem to voice much clearer what I've been trying to get at today.

The "ironic sexism as currency of the realm" thing is a perfect description of how it is, and it's a horrible state of affairs. In fact, it ties in quite neatly with the whole "New Sincerity" movement: if we're being ironic all the time, how do we know when we really mean something?

I say let's not ban the idiots (as I was getting at with my entire song and dance), but confront them.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:42 PM on November 24, 2007


I think the flagging is only for comments that one thinks might merit action by the mods.

K, if that's the mods' stance, that makes perfect sense to me. It was the strange construction of the flag that made me unsure, along with suggestions of data collection (?), which seemed to indicate that we should flag everything sexist and let the mods decide if it is offensive.

I think there are many, many fewer of them than there are about women, but still they should be flagged as warranted. Absolutely.

Frankly, as a guy, I hear sexist stuff all the time that I'm supposed to ignore because it doesn't "count". And if the bar is high for women trying to seem tough and like one of the boys, it takes a pretty small amount of complaining for a guy to be shot down here as "whining".

But anyway, I'm clearer on the intention of the flag now. Thanks.
posted by dreamsign at 4:43 PM on November 24, 2007


(referring to your previous comment)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:44 PM on November 24, 2007


I mean, if it's racist, sexist, homophobic, then be definition, it's offensive... right?

I can only speak for myself. So, bearing that in mind...

'Fag' & 'queer' can be used homophobically, but I don't think every single instance of their use is homophobic. I use them myself with gay friends, and some of my close straight friends use them in my presence and I don't mind them. I've seen them used a couple times on MeFi too, and they didn't ruffle my feathers. So long as there's no venom behind their use, that is. A close friend of mine once used it angrily during an argument, and I didn't talk to him or otherwise acknowledge his existence for a semester (the length of time it took for him to clue in and apologize) because it pissed me off so much.

Personally, I think tone matters. It's a bit hard to suss that out online, but when I don't think there's a homophobic tone behind the words, I'm not offended. YMMV, and I'm not saying to grow some balls if the words themselves offend.

What bothers me more, and what I'd be more likely to flag* and address, is the homophobic stuff that doesn't involve those words yet has huge homophobic underpinnings.

*For the record, I'm "meh" about having a 'Homophobic' flag for the time being. I'll be less hesitant to use the 'Offensive/etc' flag for it when I feel the need, as I too used to hover over it and internally debate whether or not to flag as offensive. Don't count my "meh" vote as negating pro- votes, it's more of an abstaining thing.
posted by CKmtl at 4:44 PM on November 24, 2007


"However. I stand up for people's right to say vile, inappropriate, disgusting, ill-informed, ignorant and all-round bad, bad things, not because I like hearing them, au contraire, but because I truly believe that people should be able to say anything, anything they want - including all the stuff *I* don't like to hear, such as that truly horrid phrase spelled out for the nth time above."

The problem I have with that is that I do sort of conceptualize MeFi as a barroom conversation, and there's some vile shit that should get you kicked out of the bar just in order to keep the rest of the regulars coming back. I don't want to be drinking at the place that gives the skinheads a lectern because, y'know, sometimes I just wanna hang out and not have to have a head-on with the bootboys over their oi oi oi bullshit.

Same reason we don't like the links to Stormfront.
posted by klangklangston at 4:48 PM on November 24, 2007 [5 favorites]


I say let's not ban the idiots (as I was getting at with my entire song and dance), but confront them.

Surely individual differences will settle this out. In the thread I mentioned, I wasn't offended, though I thought the comments were sexist, so I wanted to talk about them. Someone else might be offended, but also want them to stand. A third person may be so offended that they want those comments gone. Enough of that third type and they go. Isn't that the way it should be? I can't really feel like, not being personally offended, I can dictate to those who are, what should and shouldn't be part of the conversation.
posted by dreamsign at 4:49 PM on November 24, 2007


That card trivializes instances of homophobia on Metafilter.

Yarr. (That was "Yep" in Talk-Like-An-Ass-Pirate.)


I'm in the pirate family, but I read it as making fun of bad faith rhetorical dodges like "but dearest mods, it is clearly wrong to try to fix something when people can claim other things are also wrong" from people who are actually just opposed to the issue at hand, not as a dismissal of people who genuinely care about homophobia or rudeness towards fat people. And towards people with cats who do or don't declaw them.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 4:51 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


dash_slot: I don't see that. Can you walk me through it? It refers to homophobes, sure, but how is it a trivialisation?

All the entries on the Anti-Sexism bingo card have this smarmy attitude to them, like a wink-wink-nudge-nudge for feminists in a "They always say this, don't they?" way.

Also, it groups lolfatties and homophobes together with cat-declawers... trivializing both people who are put off by lolfatass remarks and homophobia by associating them with shrill people who are against declawing cats. "If you speak out against homophobia, you're acting like one of those rabid anti-declawers" seems to be the message.

And it's mere inclusion on the "anti"-sexism card makes it out like those who mentioned they'd like a homophobia flag are somehow saying it as a protest against the sexism flag. Which, as far as I can see, they aren't.

Thus trivialized.
posted by CKmtl at 4:56 PM on November 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


Y'know if this cuts down on in-thread brawls where people wind up saying things to eachother that spawn unneccessary grudges, then I'm fine with it.
posted by jonmc at 4:59 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


You know, I'd just like to pop in to say that I absolutely do agree with all those who are saying that homophobic bigotry is equally as disturbing and unwarranted as misogynistic/anti-female sentiment - because I'd actually been meaning to do so back in the other threads.

In real life people are harrassed, beaten up, raped, and murdered for no other reason than their gender or sexual preference; socially and online, people actually make jokes about this, and think it's pretty funny - and culturally, it's all backed up constantly in every kind of media with reinforcing imagery, humor and story lines.

Words descriptive of these two groups are regularly used as belittling insults, and both groups are seen as not being a part of the mainstream, but instead "special interest" groups whose demands for equal treatment constitute an unfair burden on the "regular" people. Both are expected to "go along" with the "joking" and realize that it's all in good fun, and not take it personally. All the same descriptives and spectres of censorship are invoked when they don't: "PC police", "shrill", "humorless", "whiny", "hysterical", "delicate flowers", "special snowflakes".

So, as far as I'm concerned the two issues are pretty much lockstep in terms of importance. I also believe that most straight men on metafilter don't consciously want to exclude either group, but often do so unthinkingly. So this is all about the thinking. Not the overthinking, or anything about beans. Just some basic reflective thought... which, it seems like a lot of people are trying to give to these issues. Thanks to all of you who are. It's a good thing.
posted by taz at 5:01 PM on November 24, 2007 [12 favorites]


Oh, many people objected to say that there is a point, but I didn't see anyone calling into question the idea that
sexist automatically = offensive


I did.
posted by desuetude at 5:03 PM on November 24, 2007


YTMS: Yeah, I get the attempted humour behind it. But I didn't see anyone here making those bad faith rhetorical dodges when they brought up a hypothetical homophobia flag.

I don't think FunkyHelix should be strung up by her toes or anything... It's just not great timing.
posted by CKmtl at 5:03 PM on November 24, 2007


Here's where real life and misinterpretations of language collide with poor results: don't use the word noose.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:12 PM on November 24, 2007


Late, late getting back to this party. A few responses.

A week ago, flags were only used to decide whether to delete comments or posts. If it got enough flags and the mods agreed, it was nuked. Now there's talk about how this particular flag won't really be used for that any more, and that's it's just for "data collection". That no one's going to be deleting anything... That seems like a bigger change than just the wording of a flag to be more and/or less inclusive.

You're misinterpreting, if that's what you see. We're right where we were a week ago, mostly—Jess's point about 'data collection' was, I think, a response to someone speculating that we were going to suddenly start deleting anything that was flagged as sexist. Not the case. It's business as usual with an eye toward what sort of things may come to light with a newfound bit of focus on this issue.

Related, regarding 'data collection' versus the single vs. separate flags: we aren't running a stats analysis on flagged sexism, so the worry about the flag not being broken out by type isn't founded in that sense. We'll be reading the stuff that gets flagged and thinking about it; fuzzy, qualitative observation here. I love running numbers for numbers' sakes, but that's not really the goal here.

So, I would also like to think the mods might clue frequent button-pushers or asshats in on their behavior modification needs, even if their comments aren't each and every one across the line for removal.

As we have often done, and will continue to do.

This is the crux of the problem: if, in a lengthy and articulate comment, a writer uses an insulting word or phrase, will that comment be deleted?

It's pretty much always been a matter of degree and compromise: how awful is the awful thing spoiling the otherwise good comment? How good is the comment otherwise spoiled by the awful thing? What's the context of the thread?

I hate nixing something good that has a kernel of Fucked Up in it. There's no fixed policy there, and it makes for some complicated decisions now and then. I'll tend to leave something if the response it is getting is productive instead of a flamewar, and not so much if not, but it's hard to summarize it beyond that and every case is different.

There's a pretty strident atheist contingent here and their aggression and derision often wind up silencing people who have faith commitments or who take faith commitments seriously. Are the mods willing to extend their flagging system to make these members of the community feel respected and valued? If not, why not?

If the question is "will we add an 'antitheism' flag", I'd slot that in with the question of a homophobia/sizism/bigotry-in-general flag: I kind of expect this stuff will continue to evolve a little over time, and I consider the explicit-and-incomplete current tweak not optimal in the long run but a good experiment for the moment.

If the question is "do we consider that stuff to be, flag labels notwithstanding, actionably shitty/offensive behavior", that's a yes, as Jessamyn said. I try to call out stupidly antireligious snark when I see it and have the chance, and don't think it's any less deserving of consideration and response than anything else in here, particularly.

If it's shitty and bigoted, flag it. Use the offensive/etc flag. We'll understand from context, be it sexism or racism or homophobia or antitheism or something else entirely.

This helps me understand as a guy, what the anti-female stuff might look like to you and so I wish you well in your efforts and offer thanks for the object lesson.

Heya, scheptech. Stick around, if you can.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:12 PM on November 24, 2007


I don't expect everyone (anyone?) to agree with me, but "if you meet someone at a party, ask them their name" just doesn't have the specificity (or clear evocativeness) of "if you meet someone at a part, ask him his name."

Of course it doesn't have the specificity; there's nothing to be specific about! If you talk about meeting John at a party, you ask him his name, no problem. If you meet "someone," there's no gender, so you use the ungendered pronoun, them. Your "specificity" is a pseudo-specificity that implies "even though I don't know the gender of the person, I'll treat them as male, because men are the basic template of humanity and automatically count as representative." I can't believe you haven't heard this argument before, because it's Feminism 101 and has been promulgated widely for at least the last 35 years. Yet you write as though feminism had never been invented and the idea that "he" doesn't include women is some bizarre invention. I strongly suspect that your resistance to obvious solutions like them or alternating he and she is based on a discomfort that in turn is based on internalized male privilege; your discomfort is not some personal quirk, it's something that every male exposed to this issue has had to wrestle with. I too clung to he for a while; it seemed so familiar and obvious and time-honored. But eventually it sank in that it really did exclude women and that women, including women I loved, really did dislike it, so I gave it up, and what do you know, I don't miss it one bit.

I don't know what that means. Sorry.

It means that when you say "Okay, so I'm going to be pig-headed and use 'he.' If I'm honest, I have to admit that I'm being pigheaded. ... I COULD justify or go into denial, which would make me comfortable. But I'd rather be a grownup and admit that I'm not a perfect person," you sound much like EB when he was saying he realized that saying he'd be thrilled if Ann Coulter was raped with a butcher knife was offensive, but he was going to do it anyway. (Not, obviously, that I'm equating use of he with knife-rape.) I thought of him as somebody who would prefer to be inclusive to women rather than indulge their irrational urges, and I think of you the same way. (Also, you're both a tad long-winded...)
posted by languagehat at 5:17 PM on November 24, 2007 [6 favorites]


ike a wink-wink-nudge-nudge for feminists in a "They always say this, don't they?"

The Bingo Card is fucking hilarious if you imagine Kathleen Hanna screaming it at you.
posted by dhammond at 5:18 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, we'll have to agree to disagree – a couple expressions of concern I've seen in this thread struck a patently bogus note with me, so that when I saw that square I immediately read it in that light and laughed. But it can't be proven without sophisticated mind-reading equipment.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 5:20 PM on November 24, 2007


Me? I just vary generic "he" and "she" throughout my writing, aiming at a good 50% split.

I wrote my thesis in college on this very issue. The research seems to indicate that whatever you intend by saying "he" and meaning to refer to everyone, most people hear it as masculine. There were some fascinating studies done on the whole business in the mid-90s. This has to do in part with the difference between form words and function words, at least in English. Repurposing words that mainly function on reference to other words (pronouns, articles, etc) is pretty much impossible, at least on purpose. I wrote some awesome diagrams in Montague grammar for the whole thing. Knowing that, you can decide how you want to use them. I love singular they.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:20 PM on November 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


I wrote some awesome diagrams in Montague grammar for the whole thing.

Pix or it didn't happen. And word up on they.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:26 PM on November 24, 2007


My bad, desuetude. And better said.
posted by dreamsign at 5:28 PM on November 24, 2007


Hmm, non-offensive sexist-racist -- there might be some a silly thread about not much at all, in which someone started joking about the image of a milkmaid. I don't know, a milkmaid fetish, or that someone's actions made them look like a all-innocent eye-batting pale-faced wimp-ish milkmaid. (Golly, examples are hard.) It might be technically "sexist" or "racist" in that it uses a gendered image of a white innocent girl. But it might not be offensive.

Or -- there's all the stuff that is culturally self-referential, as in "math is hard," from talking Barbie fame, posted by a mefi-grrl, to make fun of sexism. But I'm assuming you don't mean those.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 5:30 PM on November 24, 2007


Thank you for the clarification, CKmtl, Lobstermitten, and Abiezer.

LobsterMitten, the most benign sexist comment I could come up with when thinking about this is "she runs like a girl." I know it wouldn't make most people blink, but is sexist, and I do actually find it offensive. That said, I'm certainly no so far up my own arse that I'd flag it. Because, as you say we have a spectrum, both of offence and of reaction. On one end we have runs like a girl = grr and on the other should be raped to death = WTFF. And, possibly more importantly for the purposes of this conversation, it certainly isn't a comment I expect the mods to do anything about.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:31 PM on November 24, 2007


The Bingo Card is fucking hilarious if you imagine Kathleen Hanna screaming it at you.

Perhaps, if I had the foggiest idea who Kathleen Hanna is.

Well, we'll have to agree to disagree

Alright then. Your grog, or mine?
posted by CKmtl at 5:34 PM on November 24, 2007


Yarrs of course!
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 5:37 PM on November 24, 2007


DarlingBri wrote...
I mean, if it's racist, sexist, homophobic, then by definition, it's offensive... right?

(And if you're going to explain why no, it isn't, please do it with an example because I'm really out in the woods on this one.)


Okay, I'll bite:

"Men tend to like watching professional football more than women do."

Sexist? Absolutely. There's stereotypes for both genders there.

Offensive? Only if you really try. You could certainly argue with the premise (pull out all sorts of statistics, etc.), and you could even feel the need to reassure people that you are a) a male who doesn't watch football, or b) a woman who does. But if you felt that statement created such a chilling atmosphere that you didn't want to contribute to the conversation then either you or I would have to go find a new on-line community to take part in.

Racism is massively contextual. For example:

"Asians are on average shorter than Caucasians."
vs.
"Asians are on average smarter than Caucasians."

The first one would be addressed as a matter of fact (true or false) and not seen as offensively racist, whereas the second one is big time racist fighting words.

Homophobia is tougher, as the word itself implies a measure of intangible fear and hatred. You could certainly make heteroist/homoist statements like the above, but I think homophobic statements are pretty much going to be offensive.

You could take the position that all stereotypes are by their nature offensive (I.E to say that there are "Asians" and "Caucasians" and they have identifiable differences is offensive), but if you removed them I think you would find your ability to converse about the larger world severely limited.
posted by tkolar at 5:37 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yet you write as though feminism had never been invented and the idea that "he" doesn't include women is some bizarre invention.

If I lead you to believe I meant that, I was horribly unclear. Sorry.

I know that idea well. I'm a child of the 60s/70s who grew up in a liberal town. It was impossible to be unaware of Feminism and its contributions.

I'm saying that I DO understand the "he" idea and that I DO think it has great validity -- and yet I still write "he." I do it because I'm committed to a particular aesthetic.

I don't think I'm right to be committed to this aesthetic. I think I would be a better person if I gave up on it and followed some less sexist practices. But I don't.

It's odd, I know, to say "there's a way that I'm know I'm being a bad person, but I'm not ready to stop," but if I don't say that, I'm less than honest. I think there's this fiction that descent people are only bad when they're unaware of it. As-soon-as they become aware that they're being sexist/racist (whatever), they stop, or at least they try VERY hard to stop.

In general, I'm like that, but I'm not ALWAYS like that. Sometimes I'm aware that something I'm doing is bad. And I'm not the callous sort of person who says, "and I don't care." I DO care. I care deeply. I don't want to cause pain. And yet sometimes -- despite ALL of that -- I am bad anyway. And maybe I'm alone (or damaged) because of that, but I don't think that's true. Still, even if it is true ... it's true.

The problem, languagehat, is that I strongly disagree with your writing aesthetic. I think it's ALWAYS better to be specific. That's my fundamental rule of writing. If I'm not evoking a specific image, I'm not doing my job as a writer. If I have to write about something abstract, I need to use concrete, specific metaphors to do so.

I totally respect your right to disagree, but (even if I'm deluded or nuts or wrong), I do believe what I believe. So -- given my beliefs -- I'm left with this choice: write poorly (at least in one way) or write in a sexist way. (Which is also a poor choice, but in another way.)

So far, my selfish devotion to an aesthetic keeps me writing in a sexist way. I am fully aware that it's selfish. I am fully aware that selfishness is bad. I am fully aware that it's a bit odd to admit to choosing bad actions.

I am also aware of the (Feminist and other) arguments about "he." It's actually a very fraught issue for me. I can't write the word without a huge inner debate. I make a choice each time I write it.

Languagehat, I get the feeling that, in many ways, the world is a cut-and-dried place for you. I envy you that. I can't be that way. For me, most things -- including my own motivations -- are gray.
posted by grumblebee at 5:40 PM on November 24, 2007


"Your thoughts on current and future changes to make Metafilter more woman friendly."

*reads threads, pounds head on desk*

tho I'm aware that this has been brought up repeatedly elsewhere, I don't particularly care to have MeFi "sanitised" for my delicate little sensibilities, thanks all the same.

I don't see this as an issue of gender unfriendliness, sexism, racism, that MeFi is a "boyzone" or accepting of intolerant behaviour of any species (because it is SO NOT... god, I mean I have SEEN the pileons that occur for being an asshole) or whatever. I see this as the ever-popular tendency for a few shrill offensensitive rules-lawyer types to keep their pwecious widdle feelings from ever getting hurt.

Real life isn't like that, unfortunately. Personally I'd prefer to confront bigots, racists, chauvinists, and assholes of all stripes in an open manner that says it's NOT OKAY to do that. I mean what's wrong with the tried-and-true public shaming method for confirmed assholes?

Flagging and/or deleting offensive comments (unless the mods are willing to follow up each and every every deletion with a "dear asshat..." email) really does nothing to confront the issue or teach the offender better manners, imo.

and on preview - yea ClaudiaCenter, that speaks directly to the issue I have with creating a specific sort of flavour of "offensive" tag. I just know the more humourless prats on this site would get their panties all in a knot and flag the everloving shit out of something that inane -- so then where does that leave the mods? I mean in a perfect world one would hope common sense would prevail, but I dunno.
posted by lonefrontranger at 5:42 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


sugarfish writes "I very, very rarely participate in the blue any more because I'm sick of this shit. Things like the comic about the video game producer and bukkake, this thread about the teenaged pole vaulter who didn't like being objectified, and a million 'I'd hit its' like I give a rat's ass who'd you deign to let touch your magical cock of mystical powers. "

I'm a little sad to hear that regarding the video game producer thread. I was one of the big proponents that the comic was not ipso facto sexist, but the specific circumstances surrounding it were. Yet I'm also in favour of this change regarding the flagging, in favour of pruning sexist and racist comments, and in favour of improving the FAQ to make it more explicit that sexism and racism are not permitted.

The difference, as I see it, is kind of meta. I would count a comment which is in itself sexist to be flaggable. I would count a comment which is saying "I don't think X is sexist" as non-flaggable. I don't remember the pole vaulter thread much. I totally agree that the "I'd hit it"s need to go. But while there may have been some sexist comments in the video game producer thread, for the most parts I think the comments were not sexist. I don't think saying "I don't consider the contents of the link to be sexist" is in itself a sexist comment. So I don't think that these changes would decrease your sickness about "this shit".

Maybe I'm wrong, and the entire discussion about whether something is or isn't sexist would itself become verboten, because if person A thinks thing X is sexist, and person B doesn't, person A would find person B's defense of X to thus be sexist. If that's the case, then I wholeheartedly oppose the changes proposed here. But, judging from the American Apparel thread underway, that doesn't seem to be the case.
posted by Bugbread at 5:46 PM on November 24, 2007


I thought of him as somebody who would prefer to be inclusive to women rather than indulge their irrational urges,

This is what I mean by the cut-and-dried thing. It's VERY important to me to be inclusive to women. It's VERY important to me that people not use offensive speech here. It's also VERY important to me that we not censor offensive speech. It's VERY important to me that I'm inclusive when I write. It's also VERY important to me (for my own quixotic -- but yet vital to me reasons) to use "he."

I am capable of making a decision and abiding by it. I do it all the time. I just can't feel as clean about it as you (apparently) do. I also think that justifications tend to simplify the world into something less honest than looking reality square in the face.

Look, at times I've given up on the "he" thing. It's just too sexist for me. I use "they" and "she" (as a neutral term) and (God forgive me) "he/she." I do it, and I feel better about myself as a fair-minded, non-sexist person and worse about myself as a stylist. Or I do what I'm doing now and feel worse about myself as a Feminist and better about myself as a stylist.

Which is why I believe that there's no perfect answer.

There IS a perfect answer if you're like many people in this thread. There are the people who say, "I'm going to write the way I write and the 'overs-sensitive' people need to get over it." And there's a perfect answer to the people who feel like all sexist speech is 100% bad in every way.

Not all of us can fall neatly into either of those camps.

And I'm don't believe that males should be privileged. But, of course, I can't prove anything about my inner thoughts.
posted by grumblebee at 5:49 PM on November 24, 2007


PugAchev writes "you can't go from very little moderation of CRAP comments to 'supposed' heavy moderation and not expect people to be upset about the change that is implied."

I would be very, very surprised if jessamyn, cortex, or mathowie didn't expect people to be upset.

People at MeFi are upset at every and all change in the site. Sometimes those changes are good, sometimes they're bad, but the fact is that Change = AngryMeFites. So I really don't think this reaction was something they didn't expect.
posted by Bugbread at 5:50 PM on November 24, 2007


Homophobia is tougher, as the word itself implies a measure of intangible fear and hatred. You could certainly make heteroist/homoist statements like the above, but I think homophobic statements are pretty much going to be offensive.

The first maybe viable example of a 'non-offensive homophobic' comment that came to mind as I thought about this is an earnest comment from a non-loony, non-activist guy expressing discomfort with being hit on by another dude.

Maybe he argues that he doesn't care what people do behind closed doors, believes in equal rights, has no moral objection to homosexuality—but still, he finds the idea of being approached by a gay man really gross, finds the idea of sexual contact with a gay man—even contact that wouldn't involve anything he wouldn't do with a woman—squicky or repulsive?*

Is there an essential element of homophobia there? Sure—why should getting hit on by a dude be any different from being hit on by a woman you're explicitly not interested in being hit on by? So there's some social weirdness inextricably tied to the question of heteronormativity.

But is that offensive like "god hates fags"? Or even like "that's so fucking gay", or "Don't be a faggot"? It's offensive if anything that is evidenced as a sign of homophobia is offensive, but it's such a personal, self-contained position, presumably presented civilly by our hypothetical dude, that it's hard to see it as being taken as an offense like the other examples in this paragraph.

*Lifted wholesale from an (informal) debate defense in middle school; an anti-gay-rights measure was on the books in Oregon that year (yeah, that narrows it down a lot, I know) so it was one of the topics the teacher threw into the ring.

Guy was a good guy, as far as I can recall.

posted by cortex (staff) at 5:54 PM on November 24, 2007


dash_slot: The lumping in of homophia with declawing cats trivializes the former, I think.

I think the active and ultimately successful moderation of LOLXTIAN-type behavior actually reinforces my previous comment that these changes, while laudable, are more beneficial for those who feel marginalized rather than serving as an effective solution for the issue at hand. Empowerment's a good thing, but it's only half of the issue.

This is still in the early days of course, so time will tell, I guess.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:57 PM on November 24, 2007


If I chimed in with 'hey, I'm a chick, and I am TOTALLY UNOFFENDED by comments about Ann Coulter being a 'tranny cunt' and the barrage of thinly-veiled rape jokes' would I get a toaster or something?

Because I need a toaster, and I can't help but wonder if there's some sort of prize being given out for some of the comments I've been seeing in these threads.

On the other hand, I don't think I need a toaster so badly that I am willing to ignore the fact that it's really unpleasant to feel like I have to ignore comments about Ann Coulter being a 'tranny cunt' and the barrage of thinly-veiled rape jokes or I'll get fifty comments calling me out for being a delicate flower. I guess I'll have to buy my own toaster. Curses.

I really appreciate the effort by the moderators to address this issue, and I am grateful that MeFi is willing to discuss the issue instead of playing the 'what sexism? I don't see any sexism!' game.
posted by winna at 6:00 PM on November 24, 2007 [10 favorites]


Let's knock this "humourless" bit on the head lonefrontranger, it's a croaking canard. It's them as can't actually come up with a decent joke but nor can resist trotting out some unpleasant and not-amusing chuff that we're talking about, as I see it. The net result will be an upturn in genuine funny on the site.
I like klangklangston's pub characterisation of it above. I won't ever support legislation that closes down speech of even the most inflammatory kind in an actual polity, but here it's a self-selecting voluntary community. This is just shunning the boring git who insists on ear-bending you with their high-larious repertoire of sexist and racist comments.
posted by Abiezer at 6:00 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Actually Abiezer, I personally see it as an attempt to avoid the issue or take the lazy man's way out of a socially uncomfortable situation. By providing a specific flag, you then take the responsibility for the user base to publicly say to the offender "Hey, that kind of thing is not okay". It tidily sweeps the issue under the rug, where no one has to deal with it.

Me, I like my assholes over easy, with a big side of snark. But that's just me. And I don't care to give anymore tools to the rules lawyers. They're whiny enough.
posted by lonefrontranger at 6:05 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


meh, I meant "then take away the responsibility for the user base..."

Obviously I haven't drunk enough yet. I will now go and remedy this.
posted by lonefrontranger at 6:08 PM on November 24, 2007


I think we dealt with that above, lfr. We're talking about the low-level drip-drip-drip stuff that really doesn't merit a derail of much length as it's throwaway to begin with. So let's just throw it that bit further.
I agree that if anyone makes a concerted argument, then let's have at 'em in the full and frank forum of MeTa or wherever, but not every time surely. We'll all be bored to tears.
posted by Abiezer at 6:11 PM on November 24, 2007


Actually Abiezer, I personally see it as an attempt to avoid the issue or take the lazy man's way out of a socially uncomfortable situation. By providing a specific flag, you then take the responsibility for the user base to publicly say to the offender "Hey, that kind of thing is not okay".

Eh, fuck it, sometimes folks are lazy. I mean, look, everybody has been talking about how some people are less confrontational than others, etc., but often I find myself cruising through the posts at times when I just can't be bothered to have the same boring argument with a different version of the same boring asshole who said the same stupid shit in another thread yesterday, or fifteen minutes ago, or last week, or whatever. As is so often said, why not then just flag it and move on? No one's saying you can't confront some doucherocket in-thread, just that there's no reason you should have to. I think all this has been pretty thoroughly covered.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:13 PM on November 24, 2007


I am [un]willing to ignore the fact that it's really unpleasant to feel like I have to ignore comments about Ann Coulter being a 'tranny cunt' ... or I'll get fifty comments calling me out for being a delicate flower

"Don't be insulting my cunt by comparing it to that skanky piece of shit, little boy. Cunts are to be revered, not demeaned."

Problem adroitly remedied. Clumsy writer is held accountable and told why in terms that he can probably understand, with an undertone that he needs to grow up a bit if he's going to continue hanging out with us.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:15 PM on November 24, 2007


lonefrontranger - I see this as the ever-popular tendency for a few shrill offensensitive rules-lawyer types to keep their pwecious widdle feelings from ever getting hurt.

Wow, what a complete pantload. That is, seriously, stunning in its total inanity and disregard for the actual tone of the discussion that's been happening. You critically fail at reading comprehension.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:19 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


bang on, tkolar. Not all sexist statements are offensive. And most that aren't (and some that are) are worth talking about. Racist and homophobic statements are not quite in the same boat largely for the reasons you mentioned.
posted by dreamsign at 6:20 PM on November 24, 2007


five fresh fish, That exact approach is encouraged. Also there is flagging. This is just not hard to get: both approaches are useful.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:20 PM on November 24, 2007


That card trivializes instances of homophobia on Metafilter.
What? For the comment in box N2? I think the card was brilliant in summing up all the tropes of defenders of sexism. But a small number of the examples, including N2, have some legitimacy; but their legitimacy is damaged when the Boyzone Brigade uses them.

I was thinking of apologizing for my early attacks on WCityMike and geekyguy, but upon re-reading, I realized I wasn't so much bad, as others who responded to them were so much better at making clear and non-snarky arguments. I thank all of you who did. (And watching geeky keep trying to come up with new arguments as his were shot down ultimately made me laugh more than it made me angry).

grumblebee: I still write "he." I do it because I'm committed to a particular aesthetic.
I have some writing 'habits' that are based on my own personal aesthetic. Some of them violate the 'style guidelines' of the place I get paid to write for. When writing for them, I follow their rules, but I "err" (in their opinion) at least once on about half my submitted articles. They change it, and they remind me of it. ("They" in this case, referring to one editor at a time, who is sometimes female and sometimes male) And sometimes (but not often) I do it "their way" here at MetaFilter or on my own blog if I think tht "my way" is likely to be misunderstood. I recommend that approach.


You know what, everybody? I personally feel that tossing out references to a person's genitalia as a form of insult is (1) lazy and unoriginal (2) intentionally provocative and (3) unavoidably gender-specific, which adds up to offensively sexist (though not necessarily always enough to be a deletable offense), whether it's a prick/cock/dick or pussy/cunt. (Not to mention the fact that calling some guys a big prick just inflates their egos when their obnoxious behavior is compensating for their small penises.) I thought the "dicks, pussies and assholes" speech in Team America World Police was kind of the definitive statement on that use of language and, for me, made subsequent use of that language seem just that much more lazy and stupid. The word "asshole", while being non-gender-specific (#3), is still #1 and 2, but discouraging it is not important, and we all have times we need something unoriginal and provocative.

"Not necessarily always enough to be a deletable offense" is where it gets tricky and a combination of the awareness of the MetaFilter community (in flagging) and careful judgment by the moderators are both needed. But you know, mistakes are inevitable - both in the direction of 'too strict' and 'too lenient'.

Recently, I laughed my ass off at a live performance by George Carlin. Very few of us can get away with stark, profane language the way he can (and some of us need to be reminded that we are NOT George Carlin) and yet, sometimes, some of his stuff didn't quite work. But his first great 'offense' thirty-some years ago was a routine explaining the "Seven Words You Can't Say on Television". In this performance (mostly the same as on this video posted by miss l), he told three very offensive, self-described sick jokes that were his usual style, and which would have, by themselves, been flagged to high heaven and promptly deleted here (and rightfully so). But he used them as punchlines in a very "meta" routine about dissecting humor and how something can be simultaneously fall-down-funny and painfully-cringeworthy. I thought it was brilliant. It got good laughs, but not the biggest of the show. And he warned the audience that he was a comedy profession and we should not try to re-tell those jokes ourselves - but most of us would. What's my point? While MetaFilter is a fairly open forum, NONE OF US (not even quonsar) is as skillful at using "bad language" as George Carlin, and even he fucks up sometimes. (That's why this was the 40-something-th out of 60-something performances of his new material he did before doing his next HBO show... and it was clear he was still tweaking this particular bit).

I could comment on a dozen more things that came up in this thread but on preview, I see some new comments that parallel some of my points (like Abiezer on "lazy" writing) and I'd better throw in my more-than-2-cents before the US dollar gets further devalued.
posted by wendell at 6:23 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


anotherpanacea writes "We're talking about a wording change in a flag description: surely it's possible that the concrete steps taken so far could be pretty negligible while the overall course being charted is slightly daunting? We're filling in the blank parts of the map here: I think it's prudent to tread cautiously."

Ok, that's actually a good counter. I disagree that the course being charted is daunting, but I understand what you're saying and it isn't illogical.
posted by Bugbread at 6:25 PM on November 24, 2007


Actually, Abiezer and kittens for breakfast said better things in response to lfr than I did. Cheers to y'all.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:25 PM on November 24, 2007


Languagehat, I get the feeling that, in many ways, the world is a cut-and-dried place for you. I envy you that. I can't be that way. For me, most things -- including my own motivations -- are gray.

You must be kidding. I find it hard to believe you actually think that; either that, or you've developed amnesia concerning everything I've ever written on this site. I'm Mister Shades of Gray; my instinct is always to take the contrarian side of any argument, and I've gotten in trouble for it. I never said this was a cut-and-dried thing; if you'll look right up there to my previous comment, you'll see "I too clung to he for a while; it seemed so familiar and obvious and time-honored. But eventually it sank in..." We're talking a period of some years there. It wasn't obvious or easy. But on the other hand, this was back in the '70s, when Feminism 101 wasn't as familiar as it is now. I'm hoping you'll go through the same internal struggle and reach the same conclusion; what disheartens me is your "I am large, I contain multitudes" approach: "I dislike sexism, yet I write in sexist fashion—well, it's a complicated world!"

I strongly disagree with your writing aesthetic. I think it's ALWAYS better to be specific.

That doesn't make any sense. My "writing aesthetic" is much the same; I take my cue from the imagists and acmeists, and prefer the precise image to vague generalities. But it's impossible ALWAYS to be specific. Do you never say "There are too many cars," but always "There are too many 1999 Ramblers and 2004 Subarus and..."? You can only be as specific as your referent, and in the case of "someone" there is no specific referent. Any "specificity" is imported by you to avoid being gender-inclusive. I'm sorry if this sounds confrontational, but your argument doesn't make any sense, so I have to read it as at least subconsciously disingenuous.
posted by languagehat at 6:26 PM on November 24, 2007


Of course, lonefrontranger ... the only reason why your position differs from LobsterMitten is because you show an utter lack of reading comprehension. Anyone who's even halfway intelligent believes in LobsterMitten and Company's position. All people who believe differently than LobsterMitten must believe differently than zhe because of stupidity and lack of reading comprehension, for, don't you know? Zhe and zher opinions are, of course, not opinions but simple unassailable facts.

And, also, of course, nanny nanny boo boo, *rasberry*, and such.
posted by WCityMike at 6:27 PM on November 24, 2007


DAMDAMDAM... correction to Carlin paragraph: "jokes that were NOT his usual style" NOT NOT NOT. Also "he was a comedy professionAL" I can never proofread myself enough.
posted by wendell at 6:30 PM on November 24, 2007


DarlingBri, with your "runs like a girl," you hit on a common sexist stereotype, the "x like a little girl" phenomena. It is little wonder that when women bring an issue to the table, we are often viewed as hysterical, or whining - we've been characterized this way since we were little girls.

A Mefi search on "* a little boy" brings up a handful of cites with low negative associations and primarily neutral references:
acting like; cried like; feels like; hanging around like; jumping up and down like; looks like; looks less like; seems like; sounds like...
...variations on the above

A Mefi search on "* like a little girl" turns up hundreds of cites with high negative associations, most indicating weakness:
bawling like; blubs like; breaks down like; complains like; cries like; dressed up like; giggles like; heart flutters like; I feel like; looks like; makes me look like; quivering like; running away like; runs like; runs screaming like; screams like; screams and cries like; shivers and shreiks like; sings happily like; sounds like; spasticly pants peeingly jumping up and down like; squeals like; squees like; stop acting like; swoons like; talking like; thinks like; weeps like; whines like; yelped like...
... variations on the above

There is a similar output of high negatives and weaknesses associated with "* like a girl" vs. low negatives and neutrals associated with "* like a boy* - but far too many to go into.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:32 PM on November 24, 2007 [11 favorites]


grumblebee wrote: If I'm not evoking a specific image, I'm not doing my job as a writer.

You're evoking an image of a man when you say "he." A male man, not a family-of-man man. Which is fine if that's who you have in mind, but if you want to create an image of a person of unspecified gender, then you shouldn't specify the person's gender.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:33 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


klangklangston writes "But I don't see many women, say, flying the Confederate battle flag, so poor white Southerners may still have a bit more to work on as a group.

"Plus, they can always secede."


Here's the problem: some people can make great snappy comebacks when insulted.

I can't. So the closest I can come to responding to that comment is:

Fuck you.
posted by Bugbread at 6:34 PM on November 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


Also, I'd like to apologize to everyone for being a man. And for that time I ran around "waiving my member around the site" — I just thought everyone would enjoy it. And for indiscriminately using the word "he" to describe both sexes. And for the semester I spent assisting the patriarchy in firmly cementing the glass ceiling in place to keep those uppity girlfolk barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. (I was in charge of the rubber cement; Joe Quincy held the glass in place while I applied the cement around the edges.)

I can't really go into further detail, so a blanket apology. I'll present myself for judgment on MeTa later; my idea is that I can assist backstage at "The Vagina Monologues."

Excuse me, I need to go attend to the concussion I gave that woman when I bashed her over the head with my club; then I need to go wash my leopardskin loincloth.

I sincerely hope some person has gone through, for "data collection purposes", and flagged all the dumbfuck generalizations about men in this thread with the "sexist" flag as well.

Of course, being a white straight male, I have no idea what I'm talking about and should just shut the bloody fuck up, right?
posted by WCityMike at 6:34 PM on November 24, 2007


Hey, WCityMike is back! And as fallacious as ever (NOT to be confused with fel... no, I'd better not go there). languagehat, I've told you I'm crappy at identifying fallacies, so tell me, isn't he doing the "straw man" thing, like big time?
posted by wendell at 6:34 PM on November 24, 2007


WCityMike, no.
I meant that lfr's line about the whiny oversensitive types was a stock line that wasn't responding in a good faith way to the particular, actual debate being had here. It's responding to an imagined debate about the freethinking tough guys and the whiny PC police pussies. Your own comments have been responding to the very same imaginary debate.

There are genuine reasons to be concerned about the proposals, I think, and other people have managed to actually articulate those reasons in a way that engages with the actual people here and now who are debating the specific situation at hand. So no, I don't think someone has to agree with me to have a reasonable view or to have good reading comprehension skills. They just have to come to the table with more than their mental cartoon of a woo-woo feminazi out to spoil the boys' good time.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:35 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Hey, wendell, glad to see you! How the fuck are you doing?
posted by WCityMike at 6:36 PM on November 24, 2007


I accept the reasoning there about trivialization. Still, homophobia deserves to be mocked and ridiculed, which is how I took it. It ain't mocking people, but a wretched and perverse bigotry. So I'm not so worked up about it. It's like a jibe that misfired, but didn't even puncture my (now pachydermalesque) hide.
posted by dash_slot- at 6:38 PM on November 24, 2007


INTERNET + ANONYMITY + AUDIENCE = TOTAL FUCKWAD

Shitcock.
posted by Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory at 6:38 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Madamjujujive, you rock my MeFi world.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:38 PM on November 24, 2007


LobsterMitten: Got it. I'm living in a cartoon world. Macho toughguy season! Feminazi season! Macho toughguy season! Feminazi season! It's Elmer Fudd season!
posted by WCityMike at 6:38 PM on November 24, 2007


I'm a bit offended by the implication that the women need this flag to keep the men in check, and that also seems a bit sexist.

Can I flag the flag?
posted by smackfu at 6:38 PM on November 24, 2007


Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory: The thing I love about the "fuckwad theory" is that the behavior it mocks is uncivil aggression. And, of course, calling someone a fuckwad is uncivil aggression. Thus, when someone posts the "fuckwad theory" in a thread, they are indeed at the same time calling themselves, as you put it, a "TOTAL FUCKWAD."
posted by WCityMike at 6:40 PM on November 24, 2007


WCityMike, wow I am impressed. That is seriously quite a piece of work. When I said that you had a cartoonish view disconnected from the actual arguments being offered, I didn't know the half of it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:40 PM on November 24, 2007


Of course, being a white straight male, I have no idea what I'm talking about and should just shut the bloody fuck up, right?

Fixed that for you, as the cool kids are saying this week.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:41 PM on November 24, 2007


WCM, I just wanted to tell you that I am also a white straight male, I sometimes have no idea what I'm talking about and sometimes I DO just shut the bloody fuck up, but not right now, and probably much less so in the immediate future. Still, if can lean, maybe you can. And here's one lesson I learned a long time ago, if you inaccurately identify observations about some men as "dumbfuck generalizations about men", then there's a good chance they accurately apply to you.
posted by wendell at 6:42 PM on November 24, 2007


LobsterMitten: I'm mocking your mockery.
posted by WCityMike at 6:42 PM on November 24, 2007


wendell: Please clarify "if can lean".
posted by WCityMike at 6:43 PM on November 24, 2007


Of course, being a white straight male, I have no idea what I'm talking about and should just shut the bloody fuck up, right?

No. You should just shut the bloody fuck up because you are successfully making yourself sound like an ignorant jackass who has had a few drinks.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 6:44 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


The cruel articulation of my existence is that, I am exactly what the label reads.
posted by Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory at 6:45 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


thehmsbeagle: Not to put too fine a point on it, from my totally sober mouth, I wish you many "fuck offs."
posted by WCityMike at 6:45 PM on November 24, 2007


DAM DAM DAM "if I can LEARN"... I already lean...
posted by wendell at 6:45 PM on November 24, 2007


Why oh why did that have to be the 500th comment? (OK, I am now totally humiliated. Not that it'll stop me)
posted by wendell at 6:46 PM on November 24, 2007


"And here's one lesson I learned a long time ago, if you inaccurately identify observations about some men women as 'dumbfuck sexist generalizations about men women', then there's a good chance they accurately apply to you."

Were that sentence to be uttered in this thread, I'm sure it'd get a flag.
posted by WCityMike at 6:47 PM on November 24, 2007


WCityMike, I say this with no snark of any kind, you are sounding sort of unhinged. Elmer Fudd? "many fuck offs"?
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:47 PM on November 24, 2007


some people can make great snappy comebacks when insulted. I can't. So the closest I can come to responding to that comment is: Fuck you. posted by bugbread

There, for all to see, is the rationale - premeditated - behind the all-to-common loss of civility on the 'filter.

Whether you see 'fuck you' as a sexual threat, or a snort of contempt, or a rejoinder to a protagonist you are frustrated with, clearly it is OK for the poster formally known as 'insightful' to lose it and resort to verbal abuse, when it is subjectively justified.

Pathetic. Are we even on the same bloody page?
posted by dash_slot- at 6:47 PM on November 24, 2007


WCityMike, if you're not drunk, I suggest you find a bottle. Is this really where you want to have your flameout?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:47 PM on November 24, 2007


So, when this thread opened up, along with the quansar thread, I was pretty surprised. I had completely missed the amazing amount of drama in The Neverending Thread, and I almost never miss MeTa drama! (I rarely comment during drama, but I watch it closely.)

Then, when I went back to read it, I was quickly reminded why I had missed it all. It was because of this comment. When I saw that, I just went, "Oh, God, there's no way I want anything to do with that or what's going to follow it." And then I left the thread, and I didn't go back.

That doesn't make me a delicate flower. Nor does that make me shrill or oversensitive. Nor does it mean that I can't appreciate the irony of it all. It just means that, sheesh, I don't want to read things like that. So, I did the wisest thing for a person in my position and left the thread. It's not my duty to make sure people behave respectably. I'm a newbie here, I don't have much invested, and I certainly don't have the cred to take anyone down for being offensive. If something annoys me, I can just leave.

I imagine there are a whole lot of people in my position. People who don't have much invested in the community yet, but might someday, and who could contribute a great amount, but don't have to. And people like that have no reason to deal with really annoying shit. Because that's what it is: shit. People like that can just leave because they have no reason to stay.

It's not a question of being too weak for some well-meaning joshing. It's a question of how that joshing appears, despite all intentions, and how it speaks of this community to those who might think they wish to enter it. It's a question of public decency, for decency's sake. And, so far as I see it, it's a simple request that people show just a little bit of respect for the other members of the community. I don't understand why that is causing some people to get so angry.

Anyway, at base, this is just me adding one more data point: yet another delicate flower/shrill feminazi/PC junkie/member of this community who got turned away from at least one meaningful conversation because of overt (if unintentional) signs of disrespect.
posted by Ms. Saint at 6:49 PM on November 24, 2007 [10 favorites]


Woohoo! WCityMike is back!

This thread was getting tough without a real live example of bad faith and uncivil discourse around.

Show us the righteousness of your way, dude! Soon we will all be converted to the church of adolescent objectivism!
posted by tkolar at 6:50 PM on November 24, 2007


LobsterMitten: "Elmer Fudd" was a mockery of your incivil but evidently perfectly acceptable comment regarding me responding to a cartoonish version of this debate. "Feminazi season", "toughguy season", and "Elmer Fudd season" was a continuation of the mockery based on a famous Warner Brothers cartoon.

And, yes, when someone tells me to shut the bloody fuck up, I am more than willing to go tell them to fuck off, many times over.

Neither of these reactions do I consider particularly unhinged. But I thank you for your concern.
posted by WCityMike at 6:51 PM on November 24, 2007


If "asshole" is gender neutral, it has only recently become so. It was not so long ago that saying "she's an asshole" had a delightful extra little zing of gender inappropriateness. I can't be alone in remembering this.

WCityMike: guys like you are half the reason anytime someone raises something even possibly offensive to men it can't be taken seriously. Thanks a bunch.
posted by dreamsign at 6:52 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Now that we're rounding out to the 500 comment mark, I'd like to add my thoughts on something. The relatively new-ish "plate of beans" meme is quickly descending into something used as an attempt to shut people down for actually analyzing things and has turned into a way to disparage someone's opinion as too serious and/or unwanted. An example of this would be in the recent "Green Team" thread.

Not too long after suggesting that a rape joke (the crowing achievement of the video) was offensive and unfunny, the "plate of beans" references came out. I'm not sure how finding rape jokes unfunny qualifies as overthinking. I always assumed "plate of beans" = "literal vs. metaphoric viking." As opposed to, I don't know, suggesting that a brutal act depicted as overeager vigilante justice (complete with woman running away afterward yelling, "Rape!") is somehow not hilarious.
posted by SassHat at 6:54 PM on November 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


dreamsign: I'm the sole obstacle to the Mefi Men's Rights Movement? Damn, I don't know my own strength!
posted by WCityMike at 6:55 PM on November 24, 2007


WCityMike, I have not been uncivil to you in any way. I have been taking you completely at face value and speaking exactly as I would to another person I was interacting with in the real world. Let me reiterate. Your conception of the debate that's going on here is not connected to the actual debate. I respect people who hold a position in the actual debate and argue for it in a good faith way. I can't respect the way you have been arguing here (if your last several comments can be treated as part of an argument instead of just drive-by trolling), since either you are badly confused or you are not arguing in good faith. This does not have to do with your being male or white etc, since those points are irrelevant and anyway I don't even know if you're male or white in the first place. It has to do with the poor quality of your reasoning and articulation.
posted by LobsterMitten at 6:57 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


LobsterMitten: I see. And the mere act of saying that someone's conception of an argument is completely disconnected from reality is, in itself, utterly civil?
posted by WCityMike at 6:59 PM on November 24, 2007


WCityMike: Yes, if it's phrased in a neutral, not personally insulting way. I think you're way off, as far as what you think is actually going on here in this debate. I don't think you're a terrible person, because I don't know anything about you at all. We're having an extended, many-person debate. It's not uncivil to say "this point is irrelevant to the actual meat of the debate; you are off-target if you think that's what the debate is about".
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:04 PM on November 24, 2007


(Though saying "the poor quality of your reasoning and articulation" is not terribly civil, I will grant you that.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:05 PM on November 24, 2007


Well I'll be.

The addition of a minor tweak to the flagging options seems like a great compromise between 1) the continued casual acceptance of juvenile bullshit sexist crap on MeFi and 2) overly heavy-handed thought-policing. Very elegant. Bravo.

So let's stop jabbering and see how the flag works out in practice for a while. It's an interesting experiment, at least. Here's hoping it works to shove this sprawling mess just a teensy bit closer to maturity on gender issues, without the need for all of us to always be constantly smacking down morons, a la DaShiv's solution.

Come on, there are plenty of places online where you can go to find guys making titty jokes (the comments at the AVClub's film reviews never fail to amaze me with their stupidity, e.g.). The last thing MeFi needs is to be a place where guys can feel free to FRIST POST shrieking "girls gone WILD!" comments into any thread with a feminist slant (hint: that happened here recently).

Just relax.
posted by mediareport at 7:06 PM on November 24, 2007


LobsterMitten: I see. Well, I believe we disagree as to whether a statement that someone's conception of an argument is disconnected from reality can be stated neutrally and without insult. And I think that your conception of my beliefs is, itself, as you put it, "cartoonish." I hope you take this statement neutrally and without insult.
posted by WCityMike at 7:06 PM on November 24, 2007


Allrighty, from slightly-less-frequent observation, I can also say if you inaccurately identify observations about some women as 'dumbfuck sexist generalizations about women', then there's a good chance they accurately apply to you. And I should have added emphasis on the "some" the other time too. So flag me.
posted by wendell at 7:07 PM on November 24, 2007


WCityMike, I find that totally neutral and not insulting at all, you will be pleased to hear.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:08 PM on November 24, 2007


I realize I am joining this late, but I'll throw in my opinion anyway. I would much rather just let people hash it out than to flag and delete. I have to admit I've gotten very frustrated having my comments deleted and I really hate how everything has to be sanitized so that it is unoffensive to everyone. I'm a women, I'm offended by really violent rape jokes, but I can deal with things that offend me and confront them if I choose to. We're all adults, do we really need metafilter to be G rated?
posted by whoaali at 7:12 PM on November 24, 2007


WCityMike - you are turning this thread about a complicated issue into a referendum on you. I'm not sure if you're trying to make some sort of satirical sideways point or just acting somewhat boorish (mock sarcasm, extended hyperbole) in order to stifle the conversation such as it was, but I'd like to -- very politely and carefully -- ask you to stop.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:12 PM on November 24, 2007


languagehat writes "You must be kidding. I find it hard to believe you actually think that; either that, or you've developed amnesia concerning everything I've ever written on this site. I'm Mister Shades of Gray"

LH, sorry to break it to you, but while you may think of yourself that way, and you may be that way, you don't come across that way. You're not "Mister Black and White", either, but you're not "Mister Shades of Gray". Maybe you're "Mister 0% - 10% Black, and 90% - 100% Black".
posted by Bugbread at 7:13 PM on November 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


smackfu writes "I'm a bit offended by the implication that the women need this flag to keep the men in check, and that also seems a bit sexist.

"Can I flag the flag?"


No, the flag is for use by us men, too. So what offends you isn't the flag, but the implication. So flag the implication.
posted by Bugbread at 7:15 PM on November 24, 2007


It's true, WCM. You are timpani and Kaufman to my djembe and Bly.
posted by dreamsign at 7:17 PM on November 24, 2007


jessamyn, that was the most polite and careful way of pointing out to someone that he has been identified as a Troll that I have ever seen on the Web. Bravo.
posted by wendell at 7:18 PM on November 24, 2007


I would much rather just let people hash it out than to flag and delete.

'Delete' isn't necessarily the only outcome of 'flag', though. Flagging something just brings it to the mods' attention. That could be negatively characterized as shouting "Moooooom!! Billy's looking at meeee!!" if you really want to put it in a negative light. But it's not always a call for deletion.

They could step in with a "knock it off, thanks" instead of deleting.
posted by CKmtl at 7:20 PM on November 24, 2007


dash_slot- writes "There, for all to see, is the rationale - premeditated - behind the all-to-common loss of civility on the 'filter.

"Whether you see 'fuck you' as a sexual threat, or a snort of contempt, or a rejoinder to a protagonist you are frustrated with, clearly it is OK for the poster formally known as 'insightful' to lose it and resort to verbal abuse, when it is subjectively justified.

"Pathetic. Are we even on the same bloody page?"


The problem is that someone is being uncivil to me in a clever and articulate way. I'm not clever. I can't shoot counter that lyrical, uncivil, verbal abuse with the same lyricism. That's the problem, in a nutshell: MeFi allows you to be a total dick to people, as long as you're clever about it. Someone being a dick back without the cleverness as seen as the aggressor.

I'm not saying this justifies what I wrote. I guess I should have...what...shut up and let him insult me?

Or, hey, I could have flagged his comment! Hey, look, an actual example of a case where flagging works better than replying in-thread! I should have done so, and I'm sorry. Let my unintentional but nonetheless inexcusable backslip into dickishness serve as an example of "we don't need flags, people should just respond in-thread" not working.
posted by Bugbread at 7:21 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Maybe you're "Mister 0% - 10% Black, and 90% - 100% Black".

That's a lot of black.
But yeah, what bugbread said.
posted by dreamsign at 7:21 PM on November 24, 2007


Can I be Mister Washed-out-and-blue? Sets off my pallid northern complexion and ginger tresses a treat. Also describes my state of mind and usual contribution to the discussion quite handily as well.
posted by Abiezer at 7:24 PM on November 24, 2007


I just want to make passionate love with all you wonderful people. The urge arose when cortex used the word "heteronormative". Oh my god those sweet ...six ...syllables.

WCityMike, you're not on the side of the angels here. I know what you mean, I hear what you're sayin', but chill, dude. I made a similar mistake upthread, and got lucky when languagehat bailed me out by catching the Harlan Ellison reference. Watch -- MeFi won't change, you'll still be able to say whatever the fuck you want whenever the fuck you want, and the level of HURFDURF will decrease. Betcha. Or at least, I hope so.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:26 PM on November 24, 2007


Grumblebee:

On the "using 'he' in writing" tangent, correct me if I'm misunderstanding you (and, the good news is, if I'm understanding you correctly, it's a brief summation!):

1) You think that using 'he' for gender neutral nouns offends people.
That bothers you.
2) However, using 'he' is what you feel most comfortable with. Substituting 'he/she/they' makes you unhappy with your writing.
That bothers you.
3) You are more bothered by 2 than 1, hence you use 'he' for gender neutral nouns.

Does that sound right? "It bothers me, I know it offends people, but I don't change, because changing me would bother me more?"
posted by Bugbread at 7:27 PM on November 24, 2007


Jessamyn: I disagree with your statement as to what I'm doing to this thread. My statements may be vitriolic, but that's because I'm responding to rather incivil vitriol itself, masked in stilted, pleasant language. I find it rather darkly humorous that someone can be "civil" in their name-calling and insults and this is perfectly acceptable, while employing wordplay, sarcasm, and hyperbole is unacceptable. Throughout this thread, those who are in favor of the change have called those who hold a different belief a variety of names, but they've not done them using hyperbole or sarcasm, but with academic language. That makes it no less incivil, and it's laughable to try to mount an argument otherwise.

This is, to put it plainly, a fucking idiotic idea. Offense is offense, and women do not need special protection, nor do they deserve special consideration, from offensive statements.

Saying Ann Coulter should be raped is extremely offensive. It doesn't deserve special consideration as "sexism"; it's just plain offensive. It doesn't come from a place of hating women; it comes from a place of hating shrill neocons to a point where your civility disappears. (Same with racist statements, which were already handled perfectly by the mods.) If I were to say that MaleNeoconPundit should have some sort of severe permanent trauma done to him — pick your own something out of a Tarantino film — that's no more nor any less offensive than saying Ann Coulter should be raped. Yet saying that MaleNeoconPundit should have some severe trauma done to him is not a sexist statement, but saying Ann Coulter should be raped evidently is.
posted by WCityMike at 7:28 PM on November 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


If you find yourself often second guessing what you say because you're afraid that someone is going to tell the mods about it, then you probably should have been thinking twice about it even when there wasn't a flag.

I just assume that if I intentionally or unintentionally say something sexist or racist or homophobic or whatever, then someone will flag it or call me on it, and I'll either apologize for it or I won't, and I'll get on with my life.

I think trying to create an 'intolerance-free' zone is going to be kind of fruitless, but I can't get all that upset about making the attempt. Being concerned about other peoples feelings can only be a good thing as long as it's not taken too far and we're all walking on eggshells.

I think part of the problem is that metafilter has gotten too fucking personal, with the pictures and meet-ups and all. We don't actually all have to be friends to share cool stuff we find on the web.

I think metafilter is best when it's just like 'hey, look at this cool thing i found on the interwebs' and everyone else is just like 'yeah, i think that's cool, too, and here is this other related thing.'

All the newsfilter/chatfilter shit is what causes the drama.

Uh, and that's all I have to say about this whole topic.
posted by empath at 7:32 PM on November 24, 2007


WCityMike, right on, that's perfectly sensible and much more on-target to the debate I was talking about.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:35 PM on November 24, 2007


The relatively new-ish "plate of beans" meme is quickly descending into something used as an attempt to shut people down for actually analyzing things

do you seriously believe that anyone could shut this thread down by inserting a mere "plate of beans" comment?

i don't

people say things that you will disagree with - it's your decision to engage them or pass them by - it's not their responsibility, it's yours

the only person who can shut you down is yourself

and i rather resent your taking my comment out of this context and comparing it to a totally unrelated context in another thread - that was a shameful and dishonest statement
posted by pyramid termite at 7:41 PM on November 24, 2007


I find it rather darkly humorous that someone can be "civil" in their name-calling and insults and this is perfectly acceptable, while employing wordplay, sarcasm, and hyperbole is unacceptable.

But -- and this is why everyone assumes that you're shitfaced -- you aren't doing any of those things. You charged in and screamed "YABBA DABBA DOO, FUCK YOOOOOOOU, MOTHAFUCKAS!!" This is only wordplay if you're nine. When you're a grownup, it's just trolling. Yes, this is going to be that kind of party, and yes, you have stuck your dick in the mashed potatoes. Go you, dude. Rage against that machine. What the fuck ever.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:47 PM on November 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


empath writes "I think part of the problem is that metafilter has gotten too fucking personal, with the pictures and meet-ups and all. We don't actually all have to be friends to share cool stuff we find on the web."

I dunno, I think it goes the other way: I've noticed a slight decrease in personal vitriol lately. Sure, EB and y2karl were ripping eachother to shreds, but overall the increase in personalization has led (I think) people to be a bit less likely to go on personal vendettas. Back in the old days, with no pictures and fewer meetups, I saw people being a little more personally vicious.

In other words, from what I can tell, personalization has led to less personalized insults.

pyramid termite writes "do you seriously believe that anyone could shut this thread down by inserting a mere 'plate of beans' comment?

"i don't"


Well, that's the difference between an "attempt" and a "successful measure".
posted by Bugbread at 7:47 PM on November 24, 2007


whoaali: everything has to be sanitized so that it is unoffensive to everyone. I'm a women, I'm offended by really violent rape jokes, but I can deal with things that offend me and confront them if I choose to. We're all adults, do we really need metafilter to be G rated?

to add to Ckmtl's response, no one has asked that Metafilter be G-rated or for "everything to be sanitized", and this fact has been well established upthread and in the thread that laid the ground for this one.

You (and lonefrontranger, among others who either haven't read carefully or for some reason have decided not rebut with logic what the mods have actually written about the changes) must have missed cortex's several comments, earlier, explaining

We aren't intending to go to heavy moderation, or to kowtow to anyone who complains, or any other such similar overstatement of the situation.

and

The posts and comments that get the most flags are the ones we scrutinize the most, and we've never relied solely on number of flags to decide whether something should go, nor depended on some sufficient number of flags before something was worthy of deletion.

and

I hate nixing something good that has a kernel of Fucked Up in it. There's no fixed policy there, and it makes for some complicated decisions now and then. I'll tend to leave something if the response it is getting is productive instead of a flamewar, and not so much if not, but it's hard to summarize it beyond that and every case is different.

posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 7:49 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Whooali said: I would much rather just let people hash it out than to flag and delete.

CKmtl reponded: 'Delete' isn't necessarily the only outcome of 'flag', though. Flagging something just brings it to the mods' attention.

This was actually not my perception of the flagging system until these recent discussions. Part of why I haven't flagged sexist stuff in the past is because I look at the comment and ask myself "This bothers/offends me, but do I think it ought to be deleted? No. So why would the mods want to know whether it offends me? Let's skip the flag." I think I've heard similar sentiments from other people during these discussions. If a number of us have been similarly confused, and our perception of what flags are for differs from how Matt and the other mods intend for the flags to be used, perhaps it might help to be a little more explicit.

If we do in fact want to encourage people to alert the mods to sexist comments that are not delete-worthy but might benefit from a mod popping in and saying "You know, a lot of people are finding your comment offensive and flagging it, please be aware of how it comes off to many women"-- perhaps it would be helpful to not only add "sexist" to the reasons list but also change the mouse-over text to make it more clear that flagging does not equal "I think you should delete this"? I'm not sure what the most appropriate phrasing would be, but maybe "Bring this post to the mods' attention" or "Flag this post for special attention" or something?
posted by EmilyClimbs at 7:49 PM on November 24, 2007


kittens for breakfast: Please illustrate where I came in and yelled at the top of my lungs in all capitals with multiple exclamation marks. Also, a cartoon reference taken out of context appears insane; a cartoon reference used in response to a charge that one is cartoonish makes perfect sense. Also, it's wonderful that I make a remark about proponents of this measure being incivil, and it's immediately followed by such an incivility. Thank you for the entirely indirect, and no doubt unintended, support provided to my statement.

Kittens, I'm concerned. With the aggression you're now manifesting, have you perhaps taken some meth? Are you in the midst of a meth high?
posted by WCityMike at 7:52 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


This thread metastasized while I was sleeping, as I figured it would.

Late, but my four (thousand) bits:

cortex: I think the important thing is that something happens and that we see the results

The problem is, as I've argued to pretty much bugger-all response probably dozens of times over the past couple of years, that the regime of flagging and silent deletion results in nothing visible happening, with results that nobody except those already paying attention see.

jessamyn: One of the failure modes is that some threads become so vicious and I-fucked-your-mom nasty that a lot of people don't want to participate in them anymore. People felt that this sort of thing was a) outside the bounds of what they felt the guidelines of the site were and b) not being dealt with in any sort of fashion either by in-thread callouts or flag-and-maybe-remove actions. The next question was why.

So the answer to something not working -- ie bad behaviour and unacceptable speech being undiscouraged my current moderation methods (flag and maybe delete) -- was 'more of the same'? That doesn't make a whole bunch of sense.

Look, casually sexist and racist speech is bad, duh. Hardcode sexist and racist attitudes are insupportable, superduh. Discouraging the former through awareness-raising or whatever is a noble endeavour, and destroying the former through BURNING WITH FIRE is a virtuous thing to do.

cortex: It bothers me that people weren't using the flag system to let us know about problematic stuff because they thought we didn't care.

Like I have said before, I think a significant reason people are not using flags as much as they might is that there are no easily visible positive or negative results of doing so. Certainly you care, that is evident to anyone who reads Metatalk. But of course, as Matt has self-defeatingly argued, the only people who know that are those who read Metatalk, and flagging is (according to him) intended more for the use of those who don't.

But again, like I've said so many times before that I don't know why I bother any more, you will not see any change in behaviour from bad actors unless there are clear, public and tangible penalties and negative results from such speech -- these should include things like visible deletion, freely-distributed timeouts and bans to the worst of the shitheels, and public shaming (free, of course, from racist or sexist pejoratives), and using Metatalk for the purposes of routinely talking about what is acceptable and what is not, rather than invisible flags and invisible deletions by the (ethical, hardworking, and evenhanded) authorities that have been unilaterally chosen to defend us from ourselves.

Yet again: mathowie seemingly doesn't get, from what he's said, even if perhaps cortex and jessamyn do, that it has been a change from an appeal to our peers to an appeal to Authority (in the abstract sense of the word) that is (to be histrionic about it (sorry is that a sexist word? I don't know sometimes, anymore)) killing some of what made Metafilter great.

Yet again: bad actors should be spanked, loudly and publicly, and we should be discussing the things that are said or done, or the unpleasant attitudes that grow around the site, and there should be consequences, not for accidental misspeech or losing one's temper, but for repeated and deliberate nastiness, and the community should be making it clear for ourselves what is acceptable and what is not. Hidden complaints and hidden consequences only MAKE THE SITUATION WORSE -- by making it seem, as people scan across the site and see (for example) sexist or racist crap before it's deleted, and then, as is natural, do not revisit the thread in question to see that it's been deleted, that such things are totally acceptable -- and I have argued this for years.

Adding these flag categories is meaningless, is my argument. It's fine and it's noble, and I agree unreservedly that this would be a better place for all concerned if we could shut down the 'I'd hit it' asstards, but it accomplishes sweet fuck-all other than making the admin and mods seem like they're on the case somehow; it's a 'you're doing a heckuva job, Brownie' moment, and I've come to expect better, despite recent developments in Fiat Luxiness from Matt.


madamejujujive: Most of the people who participated in that thread said they favored community self-policing over deletions or top down authoritative solutions. But let's face it, as the community has expanded to more than 60,000 members, self policing becomes a harder ideal to achieve.

This is what Matt says when this issue comes up: I do not believe it to be true. I think the deliberate movement away from it becomes a self-perpetuating argument favour of the authority-appeal alternative.


jessamyn: To restate we are NOT moving to heavier moderation.

To restate, I reckon you (collectively) should be, in the sense of encouraging and helping as 'the management' the community to see and and deal with this stuff, which you do as much as possible already, but are thwarted in doing by silent-flag-and-delete mechanisms. In the sense of highlighting and deriding bad behaviour, not hiding it away. Nothing will change amongst those who are too clueless to realize to offensive nature of what they say, or who don't care that they're being offensive, or are being offensive deliberately, unless they get their wee-wees slapped. They will continue doing what they do. For the vast majority of people who are not bad actors, nothing has changed or will.

five fresh fish: If MeFi is an offensive boyzone it is because people — and especially our moderators — have failed to publically tell-off the offenders. FFF is on the same page as me.

Pre-freakin'-cisely. There are other issues here -- sexism and racism themselves and what they are, freedom of speech and censorship, balancing inclusiveness and plain speech, hypersensitivity and boorishness, all the rest. I'm not talking about any of those, because I am quite certain I agree with most right-thinking folks about the broad strokes. Making the place less uncomfortable for women or non-euro or gay folks -- I'm all for it!

All I'm talking about here is the way that Metafilter is run; I've been saying for a while that the current strategy is a flawed one, and I think what is happening now shows to some extent that I'm not entirely wrong.

phaedon: In this sense, MeTa is now an incomplete account of how things move and shake in this virtual world. And I feel disconnected.

I applaud the attempt to do something, but much as I think jessamyn and cortex are doing a good job under the circumstances, I don't think the things that are being done are anything but a self-congratulatory bandaid, a fart in a windstorm. Sometimes the light touch can be too light, you know what I'm sayin'?

Still, MeFi will carry on, and it's mostly good. But this thread is, hundreds of comments notwithstanding, in and of itself a big deal. What is a big deal are the bottled-up feelings of frustration and disenchantment that are powering the reaction to such a small change.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:53 PM on November 24, 2007 [7 favorites]


WCityMike wrote...
Offense is offense, and women do not need special protection, nor do they deserve special consideration, from offensive statements.

Agreed. I have to say that I think Brandon Blatcher did a terrible disservice to this whole thing by presenting it as "the request of several female members who believe Metafilter has become or has been hostile to women."

It makes the racism thing seem tagged on as an afterthought and the inclusion of homophobia seem like a distant dream.

What I read in the other thread was that people (<>
There are some direct disagreements here about whether we should try to be more civil or just let them go. Fair enough. But the whole "we have to do something because women complained" thing probably could have been left out of this thread.
posted by tkolar at 7:57 PM on November 24, 2007


If I were to say that MaleNeoconPundit should have some sort of severe permanent trauma done to him — pick your own something out of a Tarantino film — that's no more nor any less offensive than saying Ann Coulter should be raped.

WCityMike, you are disregarding a crucial difference between those supposedly equivalent remarks, namely a cultural context in which sexual threats are commonly and pervasively used to enforce behavioral compliance against women.

This threat is a real and present awareness for us in a way that the threat of Tarantino-esque violence is not for you.

And while it's not surprising that you aren't personally aware of what it feels like to walk around under the threat of sexual violence, it is surprising and disappointing that you are so strenuously resisting the efforts of numerous women (and men) to enlighten you.

I must say, it's making me think less of you.
posted by ottereroticist at 7:57 PM on November 24, 2007 [5 favorites]


Well, that's the difference between an "attempt" and a "successful measure".

except to actually attempt something, one would have to believe that it was doable in the first place, right?

but i forget, you have one of those magic web browsers that determine what the intent of other posters is, don't you?
posted by pyramid termite at 7:58 PM on November 24, 2007


Kittens, I'm concerned. With the aggression you're now manifesting, have you perhaps taken some meth? Are you in the midst of a meth high?

...Steve? Is that you?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:59 PM on November 24, 2007


I totally think the flag change is a good idea.

And yet I agree with a lot of the people opposed to the change.

How can that be?

Well, simply because the people opposed to flagging are often phrasing things in the form "Metafilter should be a place where..." ("where people counter bigotry in-thread", "where the community polices itself successfully" "where bad ideas are countered by good ideas"). I totally, totally agree that should be the case.

But it isn't.

So we're left with either leaving things in a bad state, hoping that one day things will somehow become the way they should be, despite the fact that this hasn't happened in the 3,056 days since the site was formed, or with taking a step which might forever prevent our theoretical but insanely unlikely ideal, but might actually improve things.
posted by Bugbread at 7:59 PM on November 24, 2007


Well, enjoy the forthcoming "religion-ist/meat-ist/vegetarian-ist/old-ist/young-ist/etc.-ist" flags...

Despite what anyone might say in defense of the contrary, when you single out and pander to that which a particular group might find more than just "flag it and move on" offensive, or when recognizing a comment as offensive isn't enough and we must specifically note which type of asshat comment we're flagging and who we can and cannot afford to offend, this is exactly where we're headed.

(NOT FLAGIST)
posted by rollbiz at 8:00 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


rollbiz writes "Well, enjoy the forthcoming 'religion-ist/meat-ist/vegetarian-ist/old-ist/young-ist/etc.-ist' flags..."

Yeah, because if mathowie's 8 years of site administration show anything, they show that he's incredibly likely to create a flag called "offensive/racist/sexist/religion-ist/meat-ist/vegetarian-ist/old-ist/young-ist/etc.-ist".
posted by Bugbread at 8:01 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


If I were to say that MaleNeoconPundit should have some sort of severe permanent trauma done to him — pick your own something out of a Tarantino film — that's no more nor any less offensive than saying Ann Coulter should be raped.

Tarantino cinematic traumas do not happen to 1 in 20 men, so when a poster says that, we can be fairly certain he is speaking in hyperbole. Since rape does happen to 1 in 20 women, or 1 in 15, or 1 in 10 depending on who's stats you're reading, it hits a little closer to home. It is uncomfortable to some of us to have the threat of rape used as a throwaway comment in discussions. It is grounded in reality in a way something out of the movies is not, and is IMHO much more offensive. The threat of sexual violence against women is very real; the threat of Quentin Tarantino is not.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:02 PM on November 24, 2007 [7 favorites]


no one has asked that Metafilter be G-rated or for "everything to be sanitized", and this fact has been well established upthread and in the thread that laid the ground for this one.

Yes, but my definition of sanitized is unlikely your definition of sanitized. I already thought too much got deleted before this and now it's just going to be worse.
posted by whoaali at 8:03 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Whoops, that'll learn me.

What I read in the other thread was that people (note dual-gendered term) were unhappy with the frequent descent into frat-house offense-for-offense's sake discussions around here -- unhappy enough that they wouldn't recommend the site to friends, and were considering leaving themselves.

There are some direct disagreements here about whether we should try to be more civil or just let them go. Fair enough. But the whole "we have to do something because women complained" thing probably could have been left out of this thread.
posted by tkolar at 8:04 PM on November 24, 2007


(to be histrionic about it (sorry is that a sexist word? I don't know sometimes, anymore))

I'm getting this from the Online Etymology Dictionary:

histrionic
1648, from L. histrionicus "pertaining to an actor," from histrio (gen. histrionis) "actor," said to be of Etruscan origin.


So it doesn't seem to be related to this one:

hysterical
1615, from L. hystericus "of the womb," from Gk. hysterikos "of the womb, suffering in the womb," from hystera "womb" (see uterus). Originally defined as a neurotic condition peculiar to women and thought to be caused by a dysfunction of the uterus. Hysterics is 1727; hysteria, abstract noun, formed 1801.


I will be eagerly awaiting more words to look up, as I feel helpless to make any other useful contribution to this conversation that doesn't start with "grrraarrrrhhhhhhhhh".
posted by lemuria at 8:04 PM on November 24, 2007


"when you single out and pander to that which a particular group might find more than just "flag it and move on"

this is EXACTLY what I am taking issue with. Why not "homophobic"? Why not "fascist"? I could go on. I agree the "racist" seems a bit tacked on. Honestly the whole idea smells of special-snowflake-ism.

[NOT SPECIAL-SNOWFLAKE-IST]

or basically, what Skorgu said.
posted by lonefrontranger at 8:09 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


WCityMike: if you have been reading this site for any length of time you probably realize that I hate political correctness, thought policing etc, worse than any human possibly could. I am the furthest thing from a new age sensitive male. I love violent movies, filthy jokes and consider Kevin Smith my personal muse. The SheFites have said that the sexually violent humor is getting to them and they'd prefer we lay off it. I'll live. I think you will, too.
posted by jonmc at 8:12 PM on November 24, 2007 [14 favorites]


Yeah, because if mathowie's 8 years of site administration show anything, they show that he's incredibly likely to create a flag called "offensive/racist/sexist/religion-ist/meat-ist/vegetarian-ist/old-ist/young-ist/etc.-ist".

bugbread, I'm sorry but could you kindly show me where this action does not lead to that action when enough people from a particular group complain?

I hate homophobic comments. Perhaps we need a flag specific to this...I've recently realized that my gender identity has changed, and I hate the word tranny. May I have a flag please? I love eating bacon and I'm sick of people telling me that meat is murder. I'll expect that a flag for anti-baconist comments is forthcoming...?

Offensive is offensive, and generally the simplest answer to dealing with jackasses is the best one.
posted by rollbiz at 8:12 PM on November 24, 2007


Bugbread, you're right. I just went back and read the Jade Raymond thread and I think my memory of it was worse than the reality. I have no problem with a frank discussion of whether or not something is sexist. (Or homophobic, racist, ageist, etc etc.)
posted by sugarfish at 8:12 PM on November 24, 2007


I'm happy to know that I've never once said anything on this site that was homophobic/sexist/ or rasict, and I've never felt the need to stifle such a thought or comment since one has never come to mind. Amazing that a proud white southern male could be so civil. These new guide lines don't bother me in the least as I've never broken them.
posted by nola at 8:13 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, but what DarlingBri and OtherEroticist have said do not yet change my mind. I find rape and sexual assault reprehensible and awful, and were it to happen to someone I knew, I'd find myself liable to go a bit crazy. I also will acknowledge that rape is more likely to happen to a woman than it is likely for a Tarantino-style violence to occur to a man. However, I don't believe likelihood influences level of offense. When someone makes a rape joke on here -- and, really, has it been that much of a recurrent and regular plague upon our threads? -- does it foster concern that someone will actually be a target of rape by the jokee? No, but I understand that it does display an offensive level of cavalierness about a topic that's far too awful to be joked about. However, men do experience significant violence against their persons as well. I am simply saying that I don't believe violence against women is worthy of an exclusive kind of consideration that needs to be set apart from the offense that is violence against persons.

OtherEroticist, this is a discussion of concepts and ideas. I've adopted a more civil discourse because obviously that's a more productive tack to take here. But I can't say that I am troubled much by your disappointment with me if the way in which you are approaching this thread is that you are somehow attempting to "enlighten" those who approach the issues raised here in a way different than you do.
posted by WCityMike at 8:14 PM on November 24, 2007


Can we still make dead baby jokes? 'Cause without those, I'm nothing.
posted by tehloki at 8:14 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


maybe we ought to have a flag where one can just write in the reason one is flagging it
posted by pyramid termite at 8:16 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


I was a participant in the other thread and it was one of the best discussions I've read on Metafilter before. People disagreed with one another but for the most part the discussions were civil and focused. Name calling was really infrequent. As someone cited to earlier, several men who came into the thread feeling like things were okay and women were overreacting changed their minds. And lots of women -- more women than I've ever seen in a boyzone thread at Metafilter before -- explained why they were silent or avoided the blue, or certain types of threads in the blue.

I've been here four years and lurked longer, and met my husband at a Metafilter meetup. I try to check in with the site every day. So, I feel very invested in this community. In the past I have not been afraid to call out comments when I thought they were boyzonish, but a while ago I tried to stop participating in those types of threads because you speak up and you get shouted down, often by people who you respect in different circumstances, and it can be fairly demoralizing. And like Ms. Saint, I started to fear that anyone perusing my comment history was going to think I was a shrill, humorless feminist. And it's exhausting to fight this battle over and over. And there are other ways I want to spend my time.

Lots of women here (and specifically in the other thread, which I can't recommend highly enough) are saying that some rhetoric here makes them not want to stick around. So many times in other boyzone threads I have left with the message that I need to be careful of *my* behavior -- don't assume that anyone means offense, trust that the speaker does not mean to sound misogynestic. And I'm okay with doing my part, but I've never understood why it's always wound up being only my problem. In the other thread, there were several guys who said hey, I really didn't realize the real effect that this language has on you, and given that, I'm going to try to change my behavior. That is the best I have felt about Metafilter in a very long time. Ever, really. So, thanks.

And thanks, too, to Matt, Jess, and cortex, who participated in the endless thread over thanksgiving for fucks sake. Sorry about that, and thanks for your comments there and here.

This flagging does not seem like a giant change to the site, so i don't really understand where alot of this anger is coming from. So, too, do I also not understand the anger upthread directed against jenny diski. But whatever. I appreciate this move forward. Thanks.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:18 PM on November 24, 2007 [11 favorites]


Actually, the only flag I'd consider adding is 'personal attack.' That kind of stuff causes more clusterfucks than all others combined.
posted by jonmc at 8:19 PM on November 24, 2007 [8 favorites]


but if you want to create an image of a person of unspecified gender, then you shouldn't specify the person's gender.

I don't believe it's possible to create an image of a person of unspecified gender. If it is, I'm not skilled enough to do it. (Not specifying gender isn't the same as creating an image of a person of unspecified gender.)


Does that sound right? "It bothers me, I know it offends people, but I don't change, because changing me would bother me more?"


Yes. That's exactly right. It's a pretty disgusting way to behave, I grant you. And I wrestle with it.

It's really for others to judge more than me, but I don't think I'm a bad person. I'm not a 100% good person, but I think there's more good in me than bad. In terms of Feminism, I believe women are mens equals in every way I can think of. Most of the smartest people I know are women (though I take it on trust that men are equally smart). I believe women should have equal opportunities and pay (and I'm disgusted that they don't). I believe we should all work to make women feel more welcome on this site. The sexism here is repulsive. The boyzone stuff is horrible (even to me, a boy). There's are many ways I have altered my speech since having my consciousness raised in the 70s.

Yet I use "he."

I don't use it because I have some convoluted argument about how it's not actually sexist. It IS sexist, and I'm contributing to the amount of sexism in the world by using it. Which is bad. It's a clear-cut bad act and I take full responsibility for it.

Which doesn't mean I plan to stop doing it. But it does mean I will keep thinking about it and debating it internally. Maybe one day I'll come to the same epithany that languagehat did.
posted by grumblebee at 8:22 PM on November 24, 2007


you will not see any change in behaviour from bad actors unless there are clear, public and tangible penalties and negative results from such speech -- these should include things like visible deletion, freely-distributed timeouts and bans to the worst of the shitheels, and public shaming

This is one thing I like about the way the moderation works on the Something Awful forums. When someone is an asshat and gets banned the offending post gets tagged with “User was banned/put on probation for this post” as a warning to other potential asshats. Seems a better deterrent than just disappearing bad comments.
posted by Tenuki at 8:22 PM on November 24, 2007


The "personal attack" flag is a great idea, and combined with the offensive tag it would be a fantastic solution that wouldn't necessitate naming every single group that might find any comment or post by any of the 60,000+ members here to be out of line.
posted by rollbiz at 8:23 PM on November 24, 2007


minor tangent/theory: I think that some of the apprehension some of the guys mighthave about these new flags is that we're all going to have to turn into 'new age sensitive males.' And I don'tthink that's the case and I don't think most of the MeFemmes want that. Believe it or not I actually consider myself pro-feminist even if I have some beefs with some feminists. In fact, I'll make it one of my missions to prove that you can be a beer-swilling, porn & sports loving, cock-rock listening 'typical guy,' and still be pro-feminist. I hope so, at least.
posted by jonmc at 8:25 PM on November 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


This is one thing I like about the way the moderation works on the Something Awful forums. When someone is an asshat and gets banned the offending post gets tagged with “User was banned/put on probation for this post” as a warning to other potential asshats. Seems a better deterrent than just disappearing bad comments.

See, that's exactly what I'm talking about. A way to mark, visibly, how a person's posting history has impacted upon the site. A sort of immediate and objective marker of reputation. The fact that they do this at SA doesn't make it any less of a brilliant idea. Its effectiveness for social control would do a hell of a lot more than blind deletions and private emails.

Also, everything the wonderchicken wrote on this topic.
posted by felix betachat at 8:30 PM on November 24, 2007


The "personal attack" flag is a great idea

Sorry, jon, but no, it really isn't. It's not what words we choose for the dropdown list that are the problem, it's the mechanic of flagging itself.

But I'm just repeating myself now, so I'll toddle off for some coffee, I think.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:31 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


A sort of immediate and objective marker of reputation.

That worked out great for Hester Prynne.
posted by jonmc at 8:31 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Sorry, jon, but no, it really isn't. It's not what words we choose for the dropdown list that are the problem, it's the mechanic of flagging itself.

stav, my old buddy, my ace, we go way back, so I'll be blunt. I use flagging pretty sparingly myself, but I feel better about clicking from the list, or in particularly egregious cases, emailing the mods, than starting a full on brawl in a thread and making an enemy. I've been at this for roughly 6 years actively, and I can tell you that I'm a very different cat than back when I started and I've got to credit the occasional remonstarnces of some mefites with some of that, but I'd prefer it be done with class (ie privately) since it allows all parties involved to maintain some dignity.
posted by jonmc at 8:34 PM on November 24, 2007


But the whole "we have to do something because women complained" thing probably could have been left out of this thread.

Yes, that was bad phrasing on my part, as I noted upthread. Mucho apologies.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:35 PM on November 24, 2007


I hate the word tranny

The guys at AAMCO are gonna be pissed.
posted by jonmc at 8:42 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Pyramid Termite, I wasn't trying to call you out for making a reference in this case. I simply was reminded of it and since this is a big ol' MeTa thread about sexism/silencing of women, I thought it'd be best (considering we were already well over 500 comments in) to bring it up here, rather than to start a new thread about it. I wasn't trying to connect your reference to it (or DaShiv's prior to yours) as an example of attempting to silence people.

I was just saying that this new prevalence of using it as a way to nullify someone's viewpoint is lame and somewhat nonsensical. To suggest that someone's overthinking something is to suggest that what they are talking about is not an issue and not worthy of discussion. It tends to come up a lot when women are complaining about sexism on site. Hence, it is related (if tenuously) to the matter at hand.

I genuinely did not mean to invoke your previous mention upthread. In that case, I would have quoted you directly (as I try not to mince words in MeTa).
posted by SassHat at 8:43 PM on November 24, 2007


I hate the word tranny

The guys at AAMCO are gonna be pissed.


Jon, do you really want to play that game? Honestly?
posted by sugarfish at 8:45 PM on November 24, 2007


In an age of nascent social networks, one of the web 1.0 success stories (definition: someone is making a living doing it) finds itself grappling with growth and moderation issues. Let's see. What makes MetaFilter good? Why do I (who signed up on a freebie back in the day and has no sockpuppets so has never directly put one red cent into mathowie's pocket) keep coming back?

1) People smarter than I am post here. I've been entertained and enlightened for years by posts and comments I wouldn't have found anywhere else.

2) I knew going in that I was joining a forum of smart people with sharp elbows. Kewl.

3) There was a level of boisterous discourse that attracted me, and I felt comfortable speaking frankly in the threads.

4) There was a remarkable level of self-policing. People got called out, pointed to, shunned and and ostracized for all sorts of reasons, some good, some bad. It was a free-wheeling, find-your-own-vibe kinda atmosphere.

I share WCityMike's misgivings, but I eschew his vehemence, cuz I really don't think it's going to make much of a difference at all.

stav has some good points, and since he is one of the fundamental components of MeFi, I'll defer to his better judgment.

And grumblebee sounded like EB to me too, 'hat. Although there was a point where I wanted to scream about him being so goddamn reasonable.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:46 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


However, I don't believe likelihood influences level of offense.

Well, that's fine; we don't have to agree. I am simply trying to explain to you why I, personally, do think it is more offensive. To me it's the difference between "I hope your baby dies of virulent nincompoop disease!" and "I hope your baby dies of a congenital heart defect." They are both awful things to say. One is grounded in the ether and one is grounded in reality. The latter is more offensive in my book. Granted, its a little finite as a distinction, and I fully understand why you don't see it that way.

I agree that the women of MeFi do not need "an exclusive kind of consideration." The flag can be used by anyone, to flag sexist comments targeting people of any gender. An equal opportunity flag, if you will.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:50 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Jon, do you really want to play that game? Honestly?

I'm not playing any game. The comment I was quoting was someone getting a bit overheated, so I decided a little levity might be nice. (and way back there was a thread where I used the word 'tranny' as a contraction, not a slur, and a brief flareup ensued, followed by a fairly rational discussion of the term and surrounding ideas. Used to be those kind of things happened quite often.)
posted by jonmc at 8:50 PM on November 24, 2007


Oh, crap, here we go again. OK, jon, a couple of things (I'll be blunt, too):

1) What makes you think that a 'personal attack' flag would accomplish the results you prefer? I don't see any causal connection there, only potential for more impotent anger when nothing happens.
2) It's not about you in your hypothetical situation, it's about making it clear to others (in their thousands) that personal attacks are uncalled-for. This negative-reinforcement-for-the-flagged-only (and not for anyone else, because it's silent) is precisely what's wrong with the current system, in my humble.
3) Classy? Equally easy to say 'sneaky' or 'stealthy' or 'underhanded', amirite?
4) You may have become better over the years, but I'd suggest that was precisely because of the public pushback against your previous demeanor, something that silent flagging and deletion cuts out of the feedback loop. I'd have to say you're arguing against yourself, there.

On preview, BitterOldPunk and I (old punk, if not so bitter, mostly) are both big fans of the Number List. This is good.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:50 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


And grumblebee sounded like EB to me too, 'hat. Although there was a point where I wanted to scream about him being so goddamn reasonable.

It's funny how different other people see us than how we see ourselves. I don't feel at all reasonable.
posted by grumblebee at 8:51 PM on November 24, 2007


When someone makes a rape joke on here -- and, really, has it been that much of a recurrent and regular plague upon our threads

It depends who you ask. Plague? Probably not. Predictable in threads about weird sex, creepy women or newsfilter posts about rape? Yeah, actually. I just looked through the last ten threads tagged rape out of the 89 that we have (not counting the one I deleted a few days ago for general crappiness) and only one of them devolved into jokes about having sex with (female) children. Another one had a bunch of facile solutions about how to end rape in our lifetime, and yet another turned into a big fight about whether it's really rape if a woman is unconscious and someone has sex with her. Admittedly, that last one was a newsfilterpost about pretty much that issue.

So no, it doesn't happen much. On the other hand, for me having a thread turn into a bunch of rape jokes every few months or so, is maybe one too many.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:55 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


3) Classy? Equally easy to say 'sneaky' or 'stealthy' or 'underhanded', amirite?

It's kind of like what I said with my 'Hester Prynne,' comment above, that I don't think that public pileons do much besides make people dig their heels in deeper just to save face. Think about it: when you were a kid, did you like it when your parents yelled at you in front of your friends, or did you prefer that they pulled you aside to dress you down?

You may have become better over the years, but I'd suggest that was precisely because of the public pushback against your previous demeanor, something that silent flagging and deletion cuts out of the feedback loop. I'd have to say you're arguing against yourself, there.

Actually, it was usually from people getting passed whatever snit I was in at that particular moment and actually addressing the substance of what was getting tome that would make me ease up.

and grumblebee, you're one of the most reasonable people aroundhere, trust me.
posted by jonmc at 8:57 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


I basically echo grumblebee above, but I have faith in the moderation here, so I think things will work out well in the end.

So, too, do I also not understand the anger upthread directed against jenny diski.

I dislike her. Why? Two words: hey ho. A bastardization of a perfectly useful work song pacing phrase, every time I've heard it used nowadays, it carries with it connotations of supremely arrogant, nonchalant dismissiveness. Hey ho.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 9:03 PM on November 24, 2007


and grumblebee, you're one of the most reasonable people aroundhere, trust me.

If that's true, we're all doomed.
posted by grumblebee at 9:06 PM on November 24, 2007


we're all doomed anyway.

hors d'ouvre?
posted by jonmc at 9:07 PM on November 24, 2007


felix betachat writes "See, that's exactly what I'm talking about. A way to mark, visibly, how a person's posting history has impacted upon the site. A sort of immediate and objective marker of reputation. The fact that they do this at SA doesn't make it any less of a brilliant idea. Its effectiveness for social control would do a hell of a lot more than blind deletions and private emails."

The problem is, at SA, the punishment is the banning. The marking is the signpost for others. At MeFi, there isn't really banning for comments like that. So you'd get all the marking with none of the punishment. Which means people who are groovy with the behaviour in the first place wouldn't particularly have any incentive not to do it, unlike at SA.
posted by Bugbread at 9:09 PM on November 24, 2007


Just as a final tack-on point before I retire for the evening.

The MeFi women who have issues here are not asking for an "exclusive kind of consideration." I don't want to speak for "all the women who are currently irritated by the issues being dicussed in this thread, which is of course not all the women of MeFi," but things like:

a big fight about whether it's really rape if a woman is unconscious and someone has sex with her

...and many of that thread's friends demonstrate that MeFi can be hostile to women in a way it simply is not towards men. The fact that that debate even took place here blows my mind. Sadly, it gets blown all the time, and each time I'm shocked because I persist in thinking better of MeFi as a whole.

So, you know - special consideration, no. Basic consideration, yes.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:09 PM on November 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


bugbread: point well taken. Passive social control doesn't do much in the face of sociopathy. Still, I stand by my point that flagging is fundamentally ineffective.

Oh, and sleep tight Darlilng51358.
posted by felix betachat at 9:16 PM on November 24, 2007


I've been a supporter of the idea that a marker be left behind for deleted comments (with the name of the commenter) in order to help explain the context of comments that follow without deleting every response comment, as well as a way I can see who the greater troublemakers are (among all the rest of us troublemakers). But that idea was shot down repeatedly in the past, and it's been a while since I've felt it worth mentioning, but as long as stavros (or as Matt calls him starvos) is bringing it up I say HELL YEAH.
posted by wendell at 9:17 PM on November 24, 2007


another stab in the dark: a lot of us use kidding and ribbing as a sign of affection or acceptance. Others may take it as being dimissive. How can somebody say 'let's not take ourselves so seriously lest we get overheated and ridiculous' without sounding callous and dismissive. I think that's a legitamite question.
posted by jonmc at 9:20 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


So you'd get all the marking with none of the punishment.

Change the way comments are moderated. If a comment warrants deletion, give the commenter a 24hour timeout and mark the post.
posted by Tenuki at 9:22 PM on November 24, 2007


...and many of that thread's friends demonstrate that MeFi can be hostile to women in a way it simply is not towards men. The fact that that debate even took place here blows my mind. Sadly, it gets blown all the time, and each time I'm shocked because I persist in thinking better of MeFi as a whole.

As I recall, that "debate" was largely fueled by someone who revealed himself in time to be a full-on troll, and who has lately removed himself from the site. In all likelihood, in large part because of the past week or so's increased focus on eliminating general shitbaggery (and also because his trolling nature had become so obvious that no one took him at all seriously anymore, which kinda messed up his MO). When a measure to reduce jackass behavior in fact inspires jackasses to leave the site, it's all kinda win/win to me. 'Night.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:22 PM on November 24, 2007


I'd like to call out "SheFite" and "MeFemme." Ugh.
posted by pinky at 9:51 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


I would like to reclaim MetaFilly.
posted by lemuria at 10:05 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


revealed himself in time to be a full-on troll, and who has lately removed himself from the site

Y'know, I've been following this whole thing pretty much from the beginning, but you're going to have to narrow it down.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:23 PM on November 24, 2007


...Not this debate. THAT debate. The one in specific that was being referred to. I couldn't hope to find the genesis of "this whole thing." I'm not even sure what this whole thing is, Alvy!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:30 PM on November 24, 2007


i came back to check up after a few hours and - yowzah. the sight of a number of mostly well-meaning liberals grappling with the limits of their tolerance fascinates me like a multi-car pileup on the freeway. women and ethnic minorities were allowed to board the train, but the gays were left at the depot with no homophobia tag, and the southern gentlemen and people of faith can't find a space in the parking lot.

i've never flagged a comment, ever, i think it's a waste of time. i understand from real life that certain groups believe that if they complain stridently enough, they can restructure the terms of the dialogue in their favor. the next step beyond equal rights is inculcating an exaggerated deference toward your group, and the same people most assiduously doing this feel no compunction about tossing "boyzone" and "testosterone" around as pejoratives. political correctness has arrived and is trying to institute sharia on metafilter, several bold female operatives put this in play (under the false flag that they were being intimidated from contributing) and the allure of victimological cant along with the fear of denunciation seduced many others of both genders into sheeplike endorsement of some tired shibboleths.

applause for the "singular they" referenced above, all this time i thought i was being lazy and ungrammatical for acknowledging that "he" is insufficient in many contexts, "he and she" is awkward and "s/he" is abominable.

the discussion about "cunt" reminded me of when i was a young teenager visiting a library, finding an interesting new book. i thought it might be about travel and exploration from the title tropic of (cancer or capricorn, i forget which) by a guy named henry miller. i leafed through it for about an hour, absolutely bug-eyed, remember very little now except for one passage where the protagonist marvels that every single woman he sees on the street has a cunt between her legs, which in his opinion was scarcely less remarkable than if every single woman he saw had a calendar between her legs. for months afterward i'd see a woman on the street and spontaneously envision her having a little datebook or day planner tucked up there, good times, hey ho!
posted by bruce at 10:32 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oh. Okay.

::Thinks about it, plays Proximity instead::
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:33 PM on November 24, 2007


Alvy Ampersand writes "Y'know, I've been following this whole thing pretty much from the beginning, but you're going to have to narrow it down."

Yeah, I'm a little unclear on that, too. We've lost quonsar, EB, vronsky, and jennydiski. I'll assume the "he" knocks out Jenny, but past that I don't know who that refers to.
posted by Bugbread at 10:34 PM on November 24, 2007


Reading this thread now...so far I'm surprised at WCityMike's vehement disapproval of this measure, without having read any of the previous hash-out showing how and why this came about. I really, really like that poster and now I'm a little stunned that he is so quick to dismiss. I hope that his reaction isn't the majority reaction of MeFi.
posted by agregoli at 10:40 PM on November 24, 2007


i understand from real life that certain groups believe that if they complain stridently enough, they can restructure the terms of the dialogue in their favor. the next step beyond equal rights is inculcating an exaggerated deference toward your group, and the same people most assiduously doing this feel no compunction about tossing "boyzone" and "testosterone" around as pejoratives. political correctness has arrived and is trying to institute sharia on metafilter, several bold female operatives put this in play (under the false flag that they were being intimidated from contributing) and the allure of victimological cant along with the fear of denunciation seduced many others of both genders into sheeplike endorsement of some tired shibboleths.

Are you for real?
What do you think when you see neighborhood squirrels sitting on your yard - that there's a secret CIA program to monitor your soil with clandestine acorn-cams? Everything in this comment is just loopy.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:56 PM on November 24, 2007


Real life isn't like that, unfortunately. Personally I'd prefer to confront bigots, racists, chauvinists, and assholes of all stripes in an open manner that says it's NOT OKAY to do that. I mean what's wrong with the tried-and-true public shaming method for confirmed assholes?

Sometimes you can't. I could have used a magic real-life "sexist, racist..." flag in a work situation recently. Someone yammered something like "Who the fuck should care about some dead faggot ballet dancer?" and I happened not to be in any position to complain about it. A magic flag that I knew would be seen only by sympathetic moderators and would make that comment disappear would have been a good tool to have in my tool belt.
posted by pracowity at 10:57 PM on November 24, 2007


political correctness has arrived and is trying to institute sharia on metafilter, several bold female operatives put this in play (under the false flag that they were being intimidated from contributing) and the allure of victimological cant along with the fear of denunciation seduced many others of both genders into sheeplike endorsement of some tired shibboleths.

Dear Bruce:

In real life, I am polite and ladylike and rely on the natural tendency of the men I surround myself with to behave in a gentlemanlike manner and not employ the c-word in my hearing. I rely on men to recognize that there is a difference in what is appropriate in a boisterous men-only environment and, say, a cocktail party. I rely on men not to break out odd Henry Miller references as a thrilling excuse to say CUNT CUNT CUNT DAYPLANNER!!!!

And it totally works. (I have them brainwashed.)

But on MetaFilter, you see, my desire to be in charge of the world - neutering men left and right, forcing them to bow in submissive fealty to my throne of politically correct nonsense, a ban on straight men noticing boobs!- well! MetaFilter is more complex and full of weirdos than real life, and such a bold goal required a bold plan.

At first I wasn't quite sure what to do! Speak up when I felt that comments were ungentlemanly? Sure, but WHAT ELSE? What else could I do to really destroy the unwarranted good time people were having? Flag horrible choke-on-a-penis comments? Mere child's play! If I was really going to do this, really reclaim the internet for women to lord over, I needed more. Much more.

And then it hit me! I reached out to the literally dozens of women who occasionally post here. Listen, I said. I know you're totally satisfied with the status quo. But wouldn't it be fun to force men to be our obedient slaves? Wouldn't it be delightful to turn this joint into a needlepoint-discussing, Vagina Monologues-performing, feelings-sharing coffee circle?

Huzzah, most of the women said. Will there be uniforms?

There will be uniforms, I said. Emasculating ones. Are you in?

We're in, the ladies said. Let me know when the meetings are.

(The meetings have been on alternate Wednesdays for the past two years.)

Finally, our goal is in sight! COMPLETE FEMALE DOMINATION! It's a shame that you've discovered our plan, but we're so close to full victory that it hardly matters.

Signed,

Sister Delicate Flower of the Bold Female Operatives
Sharia Law Mission Force
MetaFilter FemaleFilter Division
posted by thehmsbeagle at 11:03 PM on November 24, 2007 [87 favorites]


political correctness has arrived and is trying to institute sharia on metafilter, several bold female operatives put this in play (under the false flag that they were being intimidated from contributing) and the allure of victimological cant along with the fear of denunciation seduced many others of both genders into sheeplike endorsement of some tired shibboleths.

fellow operatives:
we have a breach
repeat: security breach
our shibboleths are in danger
abort
posted by lemuria at 11:07 PM on November 24, 2007 [5 favorites]


bruce, I'm not sure you're serving your agenda well by equating people who are uncomfortable with violent rape fantasies being bandied about as "liberal". It seems to me you're thus alienating everyone who falls into the category of "decent".
posted by psmith at 11:11 PM on November 24, 2007 [3 favorites]


Man, bruce is going to be pissed when he finds out that the secret ringleader behind all this is actually a staunch conservative male living on a submarine deep in the Atlantic Ocean.
posted by Bugbread at 11:14 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


CUNT CUNT CUNT DAYPLANNER

thehmsbeagle has given the secure signal known only to the inner femmecabal

retreat, sisters

six tampons bark at noon
posted by lemuria at 11:17 PM on November 24, 2007 [11 favorites]


thehmsbeagle said: Wouldn't it be delightful to turn this joint into a needlepoint-discussing, Vagina Monologues-performing, feelings-sharing coffee circle?

And there's always the Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society. We could even have matching shirts!
posted by amyms at 11:19 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Heee hmsbeagle, you kwack me up. I wish I could favorite your comment 1,200 times. And I'll definitely make the next meeting. I know, I know, I promised to take the minutes last time, and then I totally flaked, but this time I'll really be there. (Hey, is this thing on?)
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 11:19 PM on November 24, 2007


lemuria said: six tampons bark at noon

My box of maxi-pads meowed at midnight. I think my secret signal decoder is broken!
posted by amyms at 11:23 PM on November 24, 2007


They're probably just hungry. Try some warm milk in an eyedropper.
posted by lemuria at 11:29 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


grumblebee, plural "they" works perfectly well in most instances. It keeps my copywriter's heart warm and gender-neutral. If you meet people at the party, ask them their names.

onlyconnect writes: And I'm okay with doing my part, but I've never understood why it's always wound up being only my problem.

"One aspect of the backlash is the accusation that those who advocate attention to oppression, culture, and diversity are trying to put us into a straitjacket of 'political correctness' (Tataki, 1997)... This draws our attention to the discomfort of the privileged rather than to the pain of the oppressed. Such discussion implicitly blames those who attempt to discuss their oppression for making the privileged uncomfortable -- thus blocking discussion of privilege. The truth is that those who draw our attention to such social phenomena as the absence of people of color in our professional organizations, or inequities in the status of women or minorities in terms of salary, power, and visibility, make us uncomfortable. We no longer feel 'safe' in an atmosphere that values 'political correctness.' Reverting the discussion from the issues of inequity to the discomfort of the privileged blocks a necessary part of change, since those who experience social oppression never had the privilege of feeling 'safe' in the first place." (Monica McGoldrick, "Introduction: Re-visioning family therapy through a cultural lens." Re-Visioning Family Therapy.)
posted by occhiblu at 11:30 PM on November 24, 2007 [10 favorites]


somebody calling themself lobstermitten just asked me if i was for real. why don't we both take the turing test and see who scores higher?

hmsbeagle, lemuria, funny stuff. all it wanted was the magical incantation guaranteed to strike men down in their tracks, yes, the most potent, most awful...

i have a yeast infection!

psmith gets just one point for parlaying a violent rape fantasy strawman with the concept of decency. just about every time i've heard of this concept, it's been from someone who didn't like what someone else was saying (or doing, or watching, even in the privacy of their own home) and sought to marginalize them. good luck with that.
posted by bruce at 11:41 PM on November 24, 2007


Tell me more about take the turing test and see who scores higher. Can't we?
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:45 PM on November 24, 2007 [13 favorites]


Hello, strawman? Sharia calling.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 11:46 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


five fresh fish: This is a truly global community. It behooves everyone to remember that the associations and issues one's own self has with use of certain language is almost certainly not the norm for the world.

Yes, the world is mysogynist and sexist, indeed. That doesn't mean Metafilter has to reflect that.

occhiblu: As jessamyn pointed out in the other thread, women are not somehow a special-interest addition to the community. We are part of the community. If you [editorial you] are somehow thinking of the entire community as white, straight, and male, and see taking into account the feelings of "anyone else" as infringing on the community, then you're not really getting the idea of "community," at least as it fits on MetaFilter.

Thank you for bringing that point up again.

DarlingBriL: "big fight about whether it's really rape if a woman is unconscious and someone has sex with her"

The fact that that debate even took place here blows my mind. Sadly, it gets blown all the time, and each time I'm shocked because I persist in thinking better of MeFi as a whole.


My mind has been blown several times during this thread alone, and probably hundreds of times in the other two.
posted by agregoli at 11:50 PM on November 24, 2007


omg, bruce gave me a point!

I'll probably lose it for excessive celebration in the end-zone but whatever man. A point! I've never been here before!
posted by psmith at 11:55 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


LobsterMitten writes "Tell me more about take the turing test and see who scores higher. Can't we?"

Can you elaborate on that?
posted by Bugbread at 11:56 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]


bugbread, LobsterMitten, turing test: heh.
posted by cgc373 at 12:01 AM on November 25, 2007


turing test

for determining whether a bogey you're talking to is human or cybernetic.
posted by bruce at 12:01 AM on November 25, 2007


Why do you think can you elaborate on that?
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:01 AM on November 25, 2007


bruce, I have published academic research on the Turing test. You don't need to explain it to me.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:02 AM on November 25, 2007


Do they have a "turing-type test" to help determine if a commenter is a performance artist or merely paranoid?

Your last name isn't Vilanch, is it?
posted by wendell at 12:10 AM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


poor brucie, i can't watch
*turns away*
posted by de at 12:10 AM on November 25, 2007


(Maybe that was unkind, since you were replying to a kind of question I asked. Here's the explanation: My initial comment "Tell me more about take the turing test" was a joke. There are automated systems that are meant to pass simple versions of the Turing test, and they often have that kind of strategy for composing responses to things the interrogator says. You say "It's a nice day", the automated system (bot) says "tell me more about a nice day", and so on. bugbread's comment and then my later one were both also jokes on that kind of formula.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:11 AM on November 25, 2007


(I'm out for the night, though - if I don't respond anymore that's why)
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:12 AM on November 25, 2007


LobsterMitten writes "bugbread's comment and then my later one were both also jokes on that kind of formula"

D'oh! I wanted to turing-string him along a little longer! According to Eliza, my response to his latest comment "turing test. for determining whether a bogey you're talking to is human or cybernetic" was going to be "How long have you been talking to is human or cybernetic?"
posted by Bugbread at 12:18 AM on November 25, 2007


sorry about that lobstermitten, i wasn't aware that you were just feigning ignorance. if you have published academic research, you probably know more about it than i do, but the rote conventionality of some of your comments juxtaposed with "are you for real" made me wonder just how real you were.

on preview, i realize that others are trying to make hay out of what initially appeared to be posturing on your part, and since it's 12:27 a.m. here and i have to get to bed too, i'll leave you with one last oink for the night:

pull up your skirt and show me your day planner!
posted by bruce at 12:28 AM on November 25, 2007


Thanks for a prime example of being bested in repartee and falling back on a bit of sexism-as-a-club there, bruce. Exactly the sort of comment I'd have no problem being deleted. Pathetic.
posted by Abiezer at 12:42 AM on November 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


Since you already pulled down your pants and showed us your spreadsheet?
posted by taz at 12:42 AM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow, that's not even remotely funny, bruce, even in the ironically self-aware way I assume you were using it. But neither was Krrrlson's sally upthread, which remains undeleted, though I have to assume it was flagged with our shiny new flag reason a whole bunch of times.

Ironic, ain't it?

Also, hours later, having reread my great long freakin' disquisition earlier, I see there are so many mistakes as to make bits of it almost incomprehensible, even to me, and I wrote the damn thing. So yeah, sorry. Too early in the Sunday a.m. for me.

Also, also: that looks like a man's spreadsheet, only smaller! Hah!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:48 AM on November 25, 2007


I was thinking more the ass area, stav... so, more like, "looks like a man's spreadsheet, only larger".
posted by taz at 12:53 AM on November 25, 2007


I'm starting to wonder if this all couldn't be solved with a Gresemonkey script.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:56 AM on November 25, 2007


Grease.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:56 AM on November 25, 2007


I just noticed Vronsky had a painting by Rothko as his profile picture.
posted by delmoi at 1:05 AM on November 25, 2007


Turing Test

for determining whether a bogey you're talking to is human or cybernetic.


Coincidentally, one of Turing's hypothetical tests was to determine whether the tester could tell if the person on the other console was a Man or a Woman.
posted by delmoi at 1:11 AM on November 25, 2007


delmoi writes "I just noticed Vronsky had a painting by Rothko as his profile picture."

Blazecock Pileon has a painting by Vronsky.
posted by Bugbread at 1:30 AM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


I just noticed Vronsky had a painting by Rothko as his profile picture.

Must be an art fan or a stalker — nothing to do with me.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:44 AM on November 25, 2007


It was just a joke, Blazecock. Sorry.
posted by Bugbread at 1:45 AM on November 25, 2007


Must be an art fan or a stalker — nothing to do with me.. I didn't think it did, but I did think it was kind of funny.
posted by delmoi at 1:55 AM on November 25, 2007


Chiming in way after the crock pot has stopped roiling to indicate that I'm female and glad to have this flag thing expanded. I wasn't aware of the underlying ethos of the flag before this.

Before I paid my $5 there were some threads I backed out of with the impression that MeFi was not somewhere I would be comfortable -- because of Boyzone.

Also it is 5am and MeTa has stolen hours I should have been sleeping.
posted by subbes at 2:02 AM on November 25, 2007


I'm catching this whole thing late as well, and I'd just like to state publicly how heartened I am that the whole boyzone thing is being taken seriously. It's definitely a factor that's limited my participation in the site and I was really touched to see actual polite discussion and male users being actually committed to the issue!

I too would never have thought to use the "offensive" flag for casual sexism, but now I definitely will.
posted by SoftRain at 2:33 AM on November 25, 2007


I'm in favor of the flagging solution simply because as others upthread have put it much better than I can, I like this place and don't want the majority of my contributions here to be "tireless crusader against intolerance". And to be honest I think I've only encountered one instance of flat out bigotry on this site. There is a bit of subtly nuanced prejudice, and a LOT of exclusionary cultural assumptions. But these don't offend me so much as they're just tiresome. If the flagging option frees me up to share my perspective on other more interesting topics, I'm all for it.

If I feel like something warrants comment on my behalf, I'll still say my piece. If I choose not to, maybe I'll still feel like a contributing member of the community.

To those who feel like this is trampling on their freedoms of speech and expression, I can share with you a conversation I've had too many times. Hopefully it will shed some light on the debate.

A: How come it's ok for Black people to say the N-word, but I can't?
B: Why would you want to say that?
A: I don't, but (insert earnest speech about divesting words of their power, putting inequality behind us, free speech, etc.)
B: Interesting point. Since you put forth such a convincing argument, by the power vested in me by the state of Black America, I hereby grant you the right to say it. Just this once. I won't get mad or anything, but you have to buy me a drink and I'm going to tell everyone you're a racist.
posted by billyfleetwood at 2:52 AM on November 25, 2007 [13 favorites]


Grease.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:56 AM on November 25 [+] [!]


Word.
posted by Grangousier at 3:08 AM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Life of illusion, &etc.
posted by Wolof at 3:18 AM on November 25, 2007


grumblebee: It's funny how different other people see us than how we see ourselves. I don't feel at all reasonable.

Finally something we agree on, grumblebee.
posted by grouse at 3:53 AM on November 25, 2007


Thanks for clarifying gnifti. Personally, I feel there is a HUGE difference between "kut" when it is used almost unconciously (and that actually already excludes use in forums) as a swear word when something bad or extremely irritating happens, and "kut" when it is used to refer to a woman. I recognize that the words are the same, but the context is so different that I just do not connect the two that much. The way I understand it, in this thread, we are talking about the "stomme kut" variation, not the "kut, my computer broke down". You said -I take back the "tranny cunt" phrase. I used it as an example, in retrospect a very ill-advised one, lifted straight from the quote I referred to in my first comment. I wouldn't gladly use such a phrase, and I despise its use. so it seems that we agree on this.

I still find "kut" somewhat offensive in the first example as well though. It is an unfortunate example of a swear word that we grew up with and that is difficult to change, but I much prefer people saying shit or damnit. I guess "kut" is a stronger word for me than it is for you. When my (young) daughters friends say "shit" I'll smile and say that that is not a very nice word. When they say "kut" (I was amazed at the vocabulary of five year old children at first...) I tell them that that is not an acceptable word in our house.

The discussion about gender neutral insults made me wonder: are there gender neutral insults in Dutch? "eikel" en "klootzak" are strictly male. I also thought it interesting to read that the he/she issue is stil so relevant in the US. Many (usually technical) English books I read use both he and she, changing every chapter or so. I really liked it that this issue is addressed and seen as a problem in English language books, but apparently it is not the norm yet. Still, in Dutch books I never see this. "He" is still almost universally used to mean "he or she" and people who say something about that are dismissed as being feminist loonies (much like we cannot even have a discussion about our national tradition of blackface around this time of the year - people who say that we might slightly change the tradition are ridiculed and that's it)

I say let's not ban the idiots (as I was getting at with my entire song and dance), but confront them.
I totally agree with that as well. I don't want more deletions, just a general understanding that this place is not a boyzone and that things you may say when you are among your friends, are not acceptable here.

onlyconnect said:
a while ago I tried to stop participating in those types of threads because you speak up and you get shouted down, often by people who you respect in different circumstances, and it can be fairly demoralizing.
I can relate to this. I wrote earlier that I am mostly in AskMe, but I did not even realize clearly myself that one of the reasons that I don't read much of the discussions on the Blue is because of this. I realize that that makes me one of the silent women who just shuts up or leaves, instead of talks about it. I am grateful to jennydiski and the other women who spoke out about this.
posted by davar at 4:23 AM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


I, on the other hand, have been watching this since the beginning and have been simply too busy to do anything other than favorite the amazing contributions from posters like occhiblu and madamejujive and jonmc.
Yes, you heard right, any thread that gets those three together on anything is amazing.(Oh, I posted and and skimmed Brandon Blatcher's early comments for which I apologised)

I, too, have avoided the blue and walked away from the pole vaulting thread before I had any strong evidence of where it was going just because of past posting history.

Lazy, I know, but it just gets so damn exhausting that it is easier to avoid. Being a woman on Metafilter often feels like being a salmon swimming upstream while watching the male trout comfortably swimming around their little pools (trying to find the lest gendered metaphot I can!)

I have ecouraged 6 women over the last years to join Metafilter, a community that is very important to me, because I thought they would make great additions to the discourse. Three of them seriously lurked to the extent we had great discussions of different threads but none wanted to join, citing the kind of issues we've been discussing here. (I offer this cos people were looking for datapoints and suggesting since only 45 of us posted in the Endless Thread, we are some histrionic minority group. These threads prove it was the tip of the iceberg.)

I also received EB's e-mail and besides a strong instinct to support a member I respect I decided on balance that I like what is happening in response and so don't feel his call to arms reflects my feelings about this community.

Thank you to all the posters who have, over and over again, made the kind of comments that create a better atmosphere for me personally in my community.
posted by Wilder at 4:42 AM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nthing singular "they" as the way to go - it's not perfect, but so much less clunky than s/he or she/he, and doesn't draw attention to itself unnecessarlly like she or he by themselves might. As for the idea that trying to de-gender language is comparable to Newspeak - well, yes, it is, in a way. The idea of Newspeak is to make counter governmental or revolutionary thought impossible by controlling language, but I don't see the disadvantage to changing language to make expressing bigoted or prejudiced ideas difficult. For another example of a fictional language designed around the same principles as Newspeak, but with a much more benign intent, Iain Banks talks about the language of his fictional Utopian society, the Culture, as having been deliberately engineered to weed out prejudice. He's basically following the strong Sapir Whorf hypothesis, which I don't totally suscribe to, but I do think the way we use language bears careful thought and examination of any prejudices that might be embedded within it.

Anyway, I'm getting a little off topic. For what it's worth, I've followed the threads on sexism with great interest, and think the new flag is, while not necessarily a step in totally the right direction, given that "offensive" did indeed cover both of the newly explicit terms, at least a much needed statement of intent by the powers that be, and one I fully support.

I still think that MeFi has some of the best and most intelligent discourse of almost any site I've seen on the net, boyzone or not, and that's a thing worth protecting, for everybody's sake.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 5:07 AM on November 25, 2007


Davar, I was using 'kut' as a general statement of rage. As in: your shoeties break in the morning when you're in a rush.

I don't want to bore our non-Dutch friends here with subtle points about Dutch swearing. So I'll leave it at that for the Dutch part.

But still: there's a difference to me in whether

a. an insult term is generally so aggressive as to be outside the norm of normal banter. Obviously different people will have different thresholds and that will be an inevitable source of friction. To me personally getting annoyed at others on mefi is something I take as par for the course of mefi being a community of people that are different. I expect the same kind of leeway from others. But that leaves a category of statements that are just too far out there to be funny. Let's call that the rape category. I think despite the amount of discussion here that given concrete examples we'd pretty much agree on our rejection of those. If a comment like that doesn't have any other redeeming features I guess that we'd agree that nothing is lost in deletion.

b. the argument that genital insults aren't admissable in company of adults in a bar kind of atmosphere because that would be demeaning to the gender that has the genitals. I was actually incredulous that anybody would seriously think that. I should be offended as a man because somebody is being called a dick??!? That's silly.

But if the word 'cunt' is much more offensive in American english than in British english, well, then I've learned something. (I think 'kut' as in 'stomme kut' is similar but that's just me).

Ideally imo there would be brawl threads and non-brawl threads and then the guys being guys pushing & shoving could continue and people who don't like that could move on.
Because I like the brawls now and then as a break from the sensible discussions and overthinking.

Ok, that's enough with the procrastinating. Back to my thesis.
posted by jouke at 5:12 AM on November 25, 2007


Oh, and props on the turing test jokes. That was pretty funny.
posted by jouke at 5:16 AM on November 25, 2007


Astro Zombie - I wouldn't want to go for a Greasemonkey scropt, killfile-type route (if that's indeed what you're suggesting), because while I find some remarks that cross the line by other users sometimes pretty telling, I don't presume to judge a person in toto on one or two things they say (and the kind of person who says pretty much nothing but stupid bollocks doesn't tend to last long anyway).
posted by Abiezer at 5:25 AM on November 25, 2007


Shoeties?
posted by Reggie Digest at 5:25 AM on November 25, 2007



I'd like to call out "SheFite" and "MeFemme." Ugh.


Please tell me you're kidding. I am baffled at how those are ofensive.
posted by jonmc at 5:47 AM on November 25, 2007


I'm very late, but I'd like to say that this seems like a very reasonable, measured approach to an issue. Personally, I have very rarely felt excluded from a thread, so that has never come up for me, but I absolutely agree that advocacy of sexual violence, even in a jokey way, should not be accepted. Is this new flag system the only way to accomplish that? Probably not, but it's what the mods have chosen, so be it.

I don't really understand the issue for some of the people posting in the thread, to be honest. Nobody's taking away your god-given right to say cunt, if you want to say it-- people are just saying that if you want to, be prepared to see some blowback from people who find that offensive.

(Personally that's not the sort of thing that offends me, but I understand why others find it offensive. So be it. I don't set myself up as the universal offensiveness judge.)

On the other hand, I do think the truly hateful stuff will, hopefully, be more called out as beyond the pale, and be deleted. That's my sense of the intentions, here, and that seems totally reasonable.

I'd like to draw an analogy, to clarify why I personally think the rape stuff is, in fact, unacceptable. Saying Ann Coulter should be raped with knives, or suffocated with cocks, is like saying Clarence Thomas should be strung up on a tree and his cock cut off and stuffed in his mouth. In other words, lynched. It's especially offensive, isn't it, because you know that African-Americans did, and still occasionally do, suffer from such hideous treatment. Well, that's why the rape stuff is so bad-- it's a punishment that is specific to being a woman, like lynching is specific to being black. It's really not just like saying "I hate that woman, I'd like her to die." Or even "I hate that bitch, I want her to die." The translation is more "That person deserved to die, but first, to be put in her place as a woman."

I hope I haven't offended anyone with the graphic lynching portrayal. And yes, I do know men are raped. But as a crime of violence against women rape has a specific message, and I hope that's something that men can understand.

I spend a lot of time in 'boyzones'-- metafilter, WoW-- and I'd like to think that the men I spend that time with could sometimes STFU and listen to what people say, rather than jumping to conclusions and assuming the goal is to 'stifle free discourse' or whatever.

As far as I am concerned, you can keep your buckets of cocks. Just think about the implications of what you're saying, is all. is that so hard?
posted by miss tea at 5:53 AM on November 25, 2007 [8 favorites]


I suggest that the current notice below the comment box be expanded with something like: "Please remember that Metafilter is a diverse and inclusive community". This would act as a relatively gentle reminder against insensitive comments and also to send a message that if someone's feeling alienated on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, etc. they can expect support from the rest of the membership.

Also, while I appreciate that not everything can be listed on the flag menu, I do feel a bit uncomfortable about homophobia being left out, given how pervasive it is (I don't mean here so much as in society in general).
posted by teleskiving at 5:56 AM on November 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


Please tell me you're kidding. I am baffled at how those are ofensive.

Perhaps because they mark out women as "the other": Mefite is the default, Shefite is the special group? In the manner of "actress" and such.

just a guess. I am inside no-one's head except mine.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:57 AM on November 25, 2007


They've both been used as playful, slangy ways of saying 'female mefites' for years by male and female users alike and this is the first time anyone's expressed any offense. I've learned a lot about sexism and sensitivity in these two threads, but I kind of think that this particular might be crossing over into oversensitivity. But corrrect me if I'm wrong folks.
posted by jonmc at 6:06 AM on November 25, 2007


posters like occhiblu and madamejujive and jonmc.
Yes, you heard right, any thread that gets those three together on anything is amazing.


actually, me and mjjj go way back, and occhi and I kid around on MeCha all the time. She wasa guest at my post-wedding party last year. These arguments aren't as personal as you might imagine.
posted by jonmc at 6:11 AM on November 25, 2007


Reginald D: Shoeties?
Ahem. In Dutch, like in German, we concatenate words into bigger words. I stand corrected. I meant: Shoe ties.

posted by jouke at 6:17 AM on November 25, 2007


Are there comparable playful, slangy terms for male MeFites, such as "HeFites" or "MeFellas"? If so, fine. If not, why would there need to be a special label for females?
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:23 AM on November 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


I agree that 'cunt' is offensive in American English, so I very rarely use it. For a difficult/stupid male I usually use the word 'asshole,' but for some reason, it sounds strange when said about a woman, I'm not sure why.
posted by jonmc at 6:24 AM on November 25, 2007


Are there comparable playful, slangy terms for male MeFites, such as "HeFites" or "MeFellas"?

I don't know, but if anyone wants to use them, go right ahead. I find them amusing and see no ill intent in them.
posted by jonmc at 6:25 AM on November 25, 2007


I just like playing with words and coming up with coinages and stuff. As a writer, It gets dull using the same words over and over.
posted by jonmc at 6:26 AM on November 25, 2007


just about every time i've heard of this concept [decency], it's been from someone who didn't like what someone else was saying...and sought to marginalize them.

*jaw drops*

Dude, you need to hang out with better people.

(jonmc, I bet pinky doesn't think Shefite and MeFemme are offensive so much as hideous abominations of langugage. If so, she's totally right. Stop, for the love of god.)
posted by mediareport at 6:27 AM on November 25, 2007


Thanks for clarifying jouke. 'Cunt' is actually bad enough in US English that your point that it would be a schoolyard insult isn't commonly true, unless the kids go to Reservoir Dogs Elementary. Unless I'm mistaken, it's the second-most-intentionally-degrading single-word insult that US English has to offer.

I'm pretty foulmouthed but it still kind of singes my eyebrows, and when I hear men use it to describe a woman they're angry at, my estimation of them plummets. I suppose because some women have had guys say it to them with the intention of exploiting its maximum potential to degrade, and that's a strange harvest to try to reap just for a throwaway comment on Metafilter that the subject in question will never see.

Even more problematically for those whose argument is "I'm making a powerful point!": I think it gets used as a put-down more frequently when women are being 'too loud' or opinionated, so that as much as I hate Ann Coulter, I think of the last time a guy broke out that special-case language for me for being insufficiently agreeable, and the perverse effect of it is that I have to empathize with Ann! Fucking! Coulter! for a second in spite of everything. DO NOT WANT!

Another weird thing in this thread: suggesting that 'dick' expresses the same intentions in the speaker as 'cunt' does in US English is too facile (if you're American). I learned the insult 'dick' from frequently hearing guys describe other guys that way, and hearing women use it a lot is a new thing.

So, to get some insight on some of the problems with the word: instead of asking whether women ever call guys dicks (which ignores the difference in freight between 'dick' and 'cunt'), why not ask why some US guys call other people both dicks and cunts, but they intend cunt to be a much more serious insult?
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 6:28 AM on November 25, 2007 [5 favorites]


Pheh. You've never appreciated me, so I'll ignore that.
posted by jonmc at 6:29 AM on November 25, 2007


unless the kids go to Reservoir Dogs Elementary.

Right before they attend Sam Peckinpah High.
posted by jonmc at 6:31 AM on November 25, 2007


But corrrect me if I'm wrong folks.

Done. You're wrong. SheFite and MeFemme definitely mark women as the Other. The fact that they're also extremely cutesy terms is also subtly in the put-women-in-their-place-pat-pat-on-the-head territory in a way actress as opposed to actor is not.
posted by Stewriffic at 6:36 AM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


(And now I'm worrying that people [mostly men] will think I'm Miss Shrill Feminist for even saying so. We've got a zero sum game, though. At least I dared to say something, which I wouldn't have a couple of days ago.)
posted by Stewriffic at 6:40 AM on November 25, 2007 [5 favorites]


Stewriffic, I'm just going to have to respectfully disagree with you. And the reason it's so importatnt to me is that my writing style here on MeFi (slangy, conversational, and frank) is a big part of my enjoyment of particpating here. I hate hate hate writing in formal academic writing. It's just not me, and I need fun coinages as much as anybody.
posted by jonmc at 6:41 AM on November 25, 2007


They've both been used as playful, slangy ways of saying 'female mefites' for years by male and female users alike

Actually, searching Metatalk pulls up only three uses of 'MeFemme over the years,' all of them from you, jon. There are two uses in the blue, the earliest in 2002, from you, and one a few years later from rainbaby talking about herself, and one in the green, from peacay.

'Shefite' gets no results. The site search isn't perfect, though, so it might be missing lots of playful, slangy uses of the words. Otherwise, congrats on the unique coinages beloved of many male and female users.
posted by mediareport at 6:42 AM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


I hate hate hate writing in formal academic writing.

So, not using casually patronizing terms for women = "writing in formal academic writing"? Please just consider the possibility that this is another one of those cases where you have something to learn about feminism.

I know, I know; they're rare, those cases. But please consider it.
posted by mediareport at 6:45 AM on November 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Fun with language is great. I'm all for it. You and I are on the same page about formal academic writing, too.

You might just want to choose other words to make more fun, is all I'm saying. Ones that are a little less loaded--and I'm guessing it didn't even occur to you that there's loaded-ness happening. So now you know that at least this one (newbie) MeFite thinks so.
posted by Stewriffic at 6:47 AM on November 25, 2007


will think I'm Miss Shrill Feminist for even saying so.

I'm go with uptight-about-an-issue. It does seem silly to get angry over that, as jonmc's use of the term was pretty innocent, especially since he was agreeing with the changes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:49 AM on November 25, 2007


mediareport: even within feminism, there's differences of opinion on the appropriateness of slangy terms like 'chick' or 'babe' in certain situations, see the debate in the second half of this old thread.

And by 'formal,' I just mean that it gets dull using only 'woman' and 'female' all the time, at least for me. YMMV. But it any case, I think your beef with me is driven more by personal emnity anyway.
posted by jonmc at 6:50 AM on November 25, 2007


Hey Brandon...I'm actually not angry in the least, and taking my words at face value, I don't really see how what I've written would imply that I was.

jonmc expressed surprise that there could be anything off about using SheFite, etc. so I explained why yes, there most certainly could be.
posted by Stewriffic at 7:03 AM on November 25, 2007


Coming in way late here to say that:

a) I like the addition to the flagging tag (but would like it even more if it read "Offensive e.g. sexist/racist" so as to emphasize that offensiveness isn't limited to those two things).

b) In all the to-do over "OMG the PC Police are coming!" and nitpicking over specific words, what is being lost is the fundamental message that a sizable proportion of the MeFi community is being alienated -- that is, kept out of the definition of "community" -- by the way things are, even if that was never anyone's calculated intentions. How big that alienated group might be is clearly open for debate, but it is obvious that it includes more than "just" women.

That doesn't mean that everyone needs to be all silenced and symbolically castrated to create a bland pseudo-community where only nice things can be said. But it does mean that we collectively have a responsibility to acknowledge this reality, and consider what adjustments can or should be made going forward to avoid the worst of the exclusion. MeFi is a global community, and reflects the inequalities and inadequacies of the world within which we live. But we don't have to uncritical in our acceptance of these imperfections, and I would hope that we can make our "community" slightly more open.

(And I say that as one of the most un-community people here -- I don't go to meetups, post my photo, link to other social networking sites, and the only MeFiMail I ever received was from Matt. I'm not the poster boy for community involvement or creation. But I really like the parts of the site I use -- I like AskMe a lot, and enjoy skimming the main page for the occasional interesting FPP -- and I really value the efforts here to make things even better and more inclusive.)
posted by Forktine at 7:04 AM on November 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Fair enough Stewriffic, it could be seen as "off". Doesn't mean it is though.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:08 AM on November 25, 2007


By the jockstrap of Zeus, what's this PC malarkey?
My tongue has been cut by the MeMatriarchy!
posted by Abiezer at 7:11 AM on November 25, 2007


I think your beef with me is driven more by personal emnity anyway

What a dumb accusation. I just thought you were being casually sexist here, jon (again), and was surprised to read your suggestion that MeFemme and Shefite were fairly widely used and accepted terms on the site, because that wasn't my impression at all. A couple of quick searches and I found that your suggestion was indeed pretty far from the truth, and since those two coinages make the writer in me vomit, I figured it was worth pointing out.

Look, I'll admit I find that you regularly say dumb things regarding sex and gender (I'll be happy to continue that discussion via meffymail if you like), but I also have no doubt you're a nice guy. Your blindness in these threads, though, is fair game.
posted by mediareport at 7:12 AM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm with jonmc in so far as I have used MeFemmes or similar before (as mediareport has found) and I'll confess to not having a sense of it as loaded. Or at least, I'm not a female so I probably have a tin ear to how it is received. I'll note it but this is one instance where I think that a sideline scuffle on a small point would detract from the main purpose being discussed here. I'm sure jonmc and I both said it with friendly rather than any patronising intent, but again, I do understand that's not necessarily how it's received.
posted by peacay at 7:14 AM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


So, are ya'll saying that Shefite and similar forms should not be used, as it's sexist?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:16 AM on November 25, 2007


mediareport: saying that I 'make the writer in [you] vomit' and that wy comments are 'an abomination against language' seem to indicate you don't much care for me as a writer, and since that's the only form you 'know' me in, I took it as a sign of personal dislike.

I think that what we're hitting with a lot of these issues is a debate on what mefi is. When the site was smaller, it was more like a bunch of people who knew eachother pretty well sitting around bullshitting, and I think we all can stipulate that in such situations linguistic rules are more relaxed than in larger more formal settings. As the sites grown larger this has become a problem, because it's difficult to 'get to know' 60k+ people, and I think we all have different ideas about what this place is. Just a theory.
posted by jonmc at 7:23 AM on November 25, 2007


I agree with peacay that we could go on talking about those two words for another few hundred comments because that's just how we are - but since almost nobody uses them, I don't really see the point. This is hardly the sort of thing that instigated the sorts of conversations we've had lately.
posted by taz at 7:28 AM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Brandon: I'm not sure how I feel about that. Part of me thinks that would be stupid, but part of me sees how the language we choose can inform the way we think.

(n.b. i'm not a proponent of the strong version of S-W, but I do think there's merit in it.)

p.s. I'm going to the zoo now. Have a good day, everyone!
posted by Stewriffic at 7:28 AM on November 25, 2007


seem to indicate you don't much care for me as a writer

Sometimes. Just sometimes. Let's take the rest to meffymail, shall we?

*pulls jonmc into the closet*
posted by mediareport at 7:38 AM on November 25, 2007


I think SheFite and MeFemme are funny in the context jonmc intended them, but in case anyone else needs some backstory...

There has traditionally been this sense where whatever the standard form of a word or group name is, the female version of it is made by adding some female [and sometimes diminutive] suffix or qualifier to it. This is oe of those "in some cases not for all" things but it's a constant feminist issue so you get things like

male term--female term--"lady" term--gender neutral term

policeman--policewoman--lady policeman--police officer
mailman--mailwoman--lady mailman--mail carrier
waiter--waitress--female waiter--server
actor--actress--female actor--actor (? term getting reclaimed)
poet--poetess--lady poet--poetry writer, poet (?)

To many people, similar to the he/she/they thing above, the addition of a feminized version of the term implies strongly that the original term didn't include women. So saying poetess is in a way saying that poets are, by definition, not female, otherwise why add the term? My research into pronouns indicated strngly that a woman seeing a job ad for a policemen would not think that was a job she could apply for, for example. So there are a few more issues

- the "man" suffix has gender overtones leading to confusion in job titles
- the "ess" suffix has both the diminutive and female aspects to it making it substandard as a solution (sculptress, aviatrix)
- the "lady _________ " version, ugh
- the gender neutral job titles are often seen as a decent solution and yet you'd think people were suggesting "personhole cover"-like suggestions when trying to advance mail carrier instead of mailman or fire fighter instead of fireman. The idea that women needed inclusion, in our language, in their job descriptions, was something that for some reason got people really pissed off.

Then there are the reverse examples such as the women who demanded to be called fishermen (as wikipedia tells me) but they are rare.

So, while I think SheFite is amusing and I don't think you meant it in any diminutive or "Hey you're not a regular MeFite, you're a SHEFite" way jonmc, that sort of slicing out of group memberships has a tradition that itself has meaning even if your intention was totally okay. So, we talk about that and everyone can walk away feeling marginally better about the whole thing I reckon and you can say what you feel like but maybe understand why it's not always getting the reaction you want.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:42 AM on November 25, 2007 [6 favorites]


You know what pisses me off? "Male Nurse," "Male Model," "Male Nanny," "Male Secretary," etc.

This HeFite understands the SheFite drama.
posted by Reggie Digest at 7:55 AM on November 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Actually, searching Metatalk pulls up only three uses of 'MeFemme over the years

I hate it when people beat me to the search-based refutation of an assertion. HATE IT.

But what they said, and what jessamyn said—in this context, and in the cited contexts, not really a big deal and mostly just amusing (if slightly cloying) wordplay. It's not like "HeFite or SheFite" is a mandatory profile toggle, here, so hey.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:09 AM on November 25, 2007


I've used HeFite too, in a context where SheFite is also used.
posted by GrammarMoses at 8:12 AM on November 25, 2007


I'm going to the zoo now.

What, this zoo isn't good enough for you?

[NOT ZOOIST]
posted by languagehat at 8:32 AM on November 25, 2007


Without getting into it, I'm not a fan of SheFite or MeFemme et al. I'm not going to automatically mentally brand anyone who uses it as an asshole, but, eh.

Obviously, one may need to refer to "the women of MetaFilter" as a discreet group now and then, but if the women of MetaFilter is too long to type, TWOMF is shorter than either of it's alternatives.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:48 AM on November 25, 2007


Thanks to the admins for adding this flag. And for the purposes of adding another datapoint:

I'm another one of those women who just don't bother participating in threads where there is sexist content. Now, like lonefrontranger, I have no problem with confrontation, I'm more than happy to call people out when I think they are being offensive and defend my position. However, being happy to do so, and having the time for a protracted debate are often mutually exclusive (I do most of my mefi reading at work, and I do actually, you know, work). I'm generally unwilling to call someone out if I can't hang around and bat back any of their points. Which leaves me with ignoring it (tacit approval?), calling them out and then leaving the thread (seen as not having the courage of my convictions?) or not participating in the thread in the first place (so as not to boil up with impotent anger). The vast majority of the time I choose the latter.

Knowing that flagging something is not necessarily going to get it deleted, but may draw increased mod attention is a good thing for me. I don't think I've ever flagged something as offensive before, as, while I might find it offensive, I'm also not a fan of comments being removed. Also, with the discussion (particularly in the mega-thread) and increased awareness, I feel better about speaking up even if I might have to leave the thread because I know that there will be probably be more people in-thread who are willing to call out rape jokes, etc., than previously. For me, it's the discussion and increased awareness, more than the two-word addition to the flag queue, that is the important bit. And no, I don't think I'm a special snowflake or a delicate flower, and I have no desire to censor anyone. There are myriad ways to be insulting in the English language without resorting to sexism/racism/homophobia. Go to town.
posted by gaspode at 8:51 AM on November 25, 2007 [5 favorites]


Rumination prefaced by a full frontal confession: I'm not a very good Metafilter member. Have yet to make a FPP, don't contribute much and when I do, it's generally of the "I agree/don't agree" phatic sort or a context-maddened dithyrambic tangle that I can't otherwise indulge in elsewhere. Definitely have made a few wince-provoking comments that I wish could be retracted -- including the inevitable and sorry 'I'd hit it' -- which, in the midst of perfervid thread containing (just for a possible example) the Venerable Bede, Qin Shi Huangdi's terracotta hordes, Hildegard of Bingen and 'Dick in a Box,' must have, at the time, made me laugh.

After reading this thread, not so much.

Which means I'm not a bad Metafilter member either, as long as I remember that here, as in any community, it's transactional. Give what you take, and if you're more apt to take and not give, at the very least, don't do damage. Don't presume the perspective suggested by the vocal hundred or so is the full measure of the place. Contribute; don't be fruitless. If snark has true wit, then it will illuminate as well as burn. If shock has value, then it will blast away pretentious mist as well as ruffle feathers.

I learn a lot at MetaFilter; in many respects, it's the closest thing thus far to what I want the web to be. It would be tragic to watch it lose the delicate equilibrium between reactants and products (and the necessary neutral base to which I belong) and degenerate into a flat and flavorless soup (gelid elephant piss, anyone?).
posted by Haruspex at 8:58 AM on November 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


ArmyOfKittens: Mefite is the default, Shefite is the special group? In the manner of "actress" and such.

If the use of SheFite that's being referenced here is my use of it in one of the previous dual sexism threads, "MeFite" is not the default.

I said HeFites and SheFites, because "men and women of MetaFilter" seemed boring at the time.
posted by CKmtl at 9:00 AM on November 25, 2007


Metawomen?

Femites?

Shetas?

UOOMF (United Ovaies of Metafilter)?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:00 AM on November 25, 2007


This whole site is going to crap.
posted by Balisong at 9:01 AM on November 25, 2007


Then you better watch out, because the whole site had spicy bean burritos last night.
posted by brain_drain at 9:10 AM on November 25, 2007


I'm shocked by all you people who thoroughly endorse the use of 'they' as singular. I was taught, vehemently and strictly, that using 'they' as singular leads to your immediate, torturous death, sending you to Grammar Hell where demons stab you incessantly with instantiated apostrophes.
posted by Ms. Saint at 9:16 AM on November 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Give what you take, and if you're more apt to take and not give, at the very least, don't do damage. Don't presume the perspective suggested by the vocal hundred or so is the full measure of the place. Contribute; don't be fruitless. If snark has true wit, then it will illuminate as well as burn. If shock has value, then it will blast away pretentious mist as well as ruffle feathers.

Words to live by.

This whole site is going to crap.


You certainly seem to be helping it along. Is there some reason you're posting that pointless comment all over the place?
posted by languagehat at 9:17 AM on November 25, 2007


Grammar Hell is a lot more fun than Pedantry Purgatory.
posted by Reggie Digest at 9:18 AM on November 25, 2007


I was taught, vehemently and strictly, that using 'they' as singular leads to your immediate, torturous death, sending you to Grammar Hell where demons stab you incessantly with instantiated apostrophes.

I hate to tell you this, but you were taught by one of those English teachers who knew nothing about the scientific analysis of language but lots about the "rules" invented back in the eighteenth or nineteenth century about not ending sentences with prepositions, not splitting infinitives, and all that crap. Trust me (I have a master's degree in Science! Linguistics!): singular they is perfectly good English (that Wikipedia page has citations going back to Caxton, and this page has more, from "Jane Austen and other famous authors"), and the prejudice against it is irrational and (I am happy to say) fading away. Use it with pride!

Goddammit, I made comment #700 and didn't even notice...
posted by languagehat at 9:23 AM on November 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


I've used HeFite too, in a context where SheFite is also used.

Yeah, that was the first time I ever saw it; and I commented as such about the novelty of it, which is why seeing jonmc's assertion that it was common made me blink this morning. Heh.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:26 AM on November 25, 2007


all over the place?
posted by languagehat


You mean both places?
posted by Balisong at 9:28 AM on November 25, 2007


Ms. Saint writes "I'm shocked by all you people who thoroughly endorse the use of 'they' as singular. I was taught, vehemently and strictly, that using 'they' as singular leads to your immediate, torturous death, sending you to Grammar Hell where demons stab you incessantly with instantiated apostrophes."

Ah, I see the disconnect here: a lot of us are atheists.
posted by Bugbread at 9:40 AM on November 25, 2007 [2 favorites]



I dunno about the sexist thing, but I have to agree with mediareport that Shefite and MeFemme are hideous abominations of language.

Sorry jonmc, they can't all be winners.
posted by tkolar at 9:47 AM on November 25, 2007


Zoos make me sad. :(
posted by trip and a half at 9:56 AM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


jouke and davar (and anyone else who's interested, of course), I linked this essay on Shakesville, On "Bitch" and Other Misogynist Language, in the other thread. I think it's worth a read for getting at some of the stuff you're talking about.

So, unlike the racial slurs that would not be neither tolerated nor defended, the misogynist slurs that would be both tolerated and defended were thusly justified:

1. The Brits use it.
2. I use it.
3. The guy who used it is "no misogynist." He was using this term for female genitalia to insult a man, after all, and his intent was not to be misogynistic.
4. Comparing cunt to the n-word isn't accurate and trivializes the n-word.
5. He can't "abide" the policing of their comments threads by the PC police (i.e. me).

Quite honestly, I've had almost this exact same conversation before with male, self-identified liberal/progressive bloggers at whose blogs I objected to the use of sexist language.... and it always goes the same way. So let me just respond to this point-by-point, since they're the same responses I inevitably get in such exchanges, and all of them have been raised in the comments of Shakes on multiple occasions.

posted by occhiblu at 10:08 AM on November 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'm gonna really stick my foot in it — hell, my entire leg — and make an observation:

The women on MeFi are at least somewhat responsible for MeFi being a boyzone. Time and again we read in this thread that women have silently acquiesced.

Change is not going to happen if no one is made aware of the problem. Change is not going to happen if no one challenges the offenders. Change is not going to happen if you don't speak up for what you believe in.

Flagging is not a solution of any sort. It does not provide feedback to the offender. It does not provide feedback to the community at large. It does not make any sort of public statement of "this is unacceptable."

Women, if you want MeFi to change, you're going to have to get involved.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:18 AM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


I dislike the idea that we cannot say that a feminist is being shrill, oversensitive, and/or hysterical. It's an attempt to win the argument by owning terminology. What if a feminist is actually being shrill, oversensitive, and/or hysterical? Do we ignore it? Do we use another word, which will inevitably be added to the group of words we can't use?

To draw an analogy on an easy target, "We Creationists/Intelligent Design Adherents have often been accused of not understanding science. You may no longer use that in any arguments."

As to breaking out "offensive" into little groups, let's just talk about all of the groups you've marginalized by not including them: Jews [although the inevitable debate of race vs. religion might be invoked], the alphabet zoo of LBGTQ, immigrants, the handicapped, the mentally disabled, the neurologically unique (I saw a poster informing me that autism is a trait, not a handicap, remind me of that when you want an IEP), and on and on.

If we're gonna call out sexism, let's talk dick, cock, prick, dork, putz, schmuck, and jerk. How many dicks is that? Fuckwad? What's wrong with semen? If I hear women use "cunt," why can't men? If you're saying that men shouldn't be allowed to do something women do, is that sexist? Not to mention the myriad ways you can call someone's intelligence into question, and how much of that is heritability? Let's apply this principle evenly. Through the power of oversensitivity, practically anything other than "I like cheese" is objectionable.

Stick to "offensive," it's just fairer. And then everyone get a thicker skin. I've had to, and it's not that hard. Realize that the Universe as a whole does not care about your feelings, then realize that you're not "owed" anything. If something bonks you particularly hard, bonk back. If someone really pisses you off, by all means, go for it, but don't think that you have some right to live in a world where nothing is going to hurt your precious, overpampered American feelings. Take a look down Maslow's hierarchy occasionally and be glad at how high up you are right now - it tends to put life in perspective.
posted by adipocere at 10:19 AM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'd like to say something.

I'm exhausted. How about we all get drunk and sing Ramones songs for awhile?
posted by jonmc at 10:27 AM on November 25, 2007


Zoos make me sad. :(

The bears really bum me out.

I think most of the objections to SheFite and MeFemme to be a general lingo/cutesy portmanteau thing than a sexist thing, but that's just a guesstimate.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:29 AM on November 25, 2007


Many women here are already very involved, fff. But as many women here have already said, speaking up solo has not always gotten support from others (male or female). Others tried for a long time, but because, hey, there's only so much time you can spend here, they stopped. Others found that speaking up derailed worthwhile threads that were about other interesting and important topics. Others just don't have combative natures. Not everyone does.

There is a metric shitload of reasons why, up until now, people who were bothered by this felt isolated and ineffective.

However, the flagging and guidelines tweak, and this discussion, are NOT designed as a substitute for speaking up. Both men and women are now becoming more aware that they are not the only ones bothered by some of the noxiouscrap that gets dumped on this site. People are going to speak up more, but the flags and guidelines -- and this lengthy discussion -- are part of a pre-emptive educational effort and an after-the-fact, neutral pointer to community standards, versus hashing out the same old emotional argument over and over again.

Many of us find sexism to be an important topic. That doesn't mean we don't find a host of other topics interesting. We'd like to be able to talk about these issues without being perceived as single-issue net nannies. Seriously.

(And yes, we've gone back and forth on the power of a single well-timed bon mot. Dude, I get the inspiration for one of those every two months, if I'm lucky. I mean, I could crib from Zombie Dorothy Parker if necessary, but she's not quite of this century, is she?)
posted by maudlin at 10:34 AM on November 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Women, if you want MeFi to change, you're going to have to get involved.

Fine.

What if a feminist is actually being shrill, oversensitive, and/or hysterical?

The problem is is that some people on the site equate a woman having an opinion different from theirs as "shrill, oversensitive or hysterical". I disagree with you- which one am I? Go right ahead, pull 'em all out. Because guess what? Not only does the universe as a whole not care about your "Boo hoo, now I can't use the word cunt anymore" hysterics (and cunt is a foul word that no one should use ever in proper conversation, so no tears from me), but the people in charge of this site don't care either. That's why when faced with story after story of women being turned off by the vile, misogynist shit that some people spew, they decided to take a stand. And maybe that means you don't get to say everything that comes into your pretty little head without being called out for being a dumbass. I promse you most of you aren't going to grieve the loss of the open highway between your brain and your mouth.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:38 AM on November 25, 2007 [6 favorites]


jonmc: If it's Shefites and Hefites, it seems fine to me. If it's Shefites and Mefites, then it's got the problem identified above. Either way, it's not the kind of thing I think the flagging is for. (my own personal $0.02)


ff and adipocere:
Sigh.

Hey women, after this combined 2000+ comment week, I really think we need to "get involved" and "just say something". Surely our well-reasoned comments on this topic will convince people that empty-headed drive-by misogynist one-line comments are, well, maybe not meeting the standard we set for ourselves here. If only we were willing to rise from our fainting couches and speak up. Doesn't that seem like a good idea? Why didn't we think of that, especially with so many of us gathered in here, talking about recipes and knitting and football season? Why have we been frittering away our time?

Further, the problem, as I'm coming to understand it, is that we are too wimpy, American, thin-skinned and should just shut up and take it because people elsewhere in the world have it worse.

So, I'm glad that progress has been made here.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:39 AM on November 25, 2007 [8 favorites]


I could crib from Zombie Dorothy Parker

Men seldom make passes at undead asses?

sorry
posted by jonmc at 10:39 AM on November 25, 2007


What I like about you
You really know how to dance
When you go up down, jump around
Talk about about true romance

posted by tkolar at 10:40 AM on November 25, 2007


Nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah nah... I wanna be berated.
posted by GrammarMoses at 10:41 AM on November 25, 2007


jonmc: If it's Shefites and Hefites, it seems fine to me.

Honestly, I'm not all that attached to the phrases. I'm just trying to keep things from going from civility to sterility is all.
posted by jonmc at 10:42 AM on November 25, 2007


tkolar: that's the Romantics*

for confusing the Ramones with the Romantics, I sentence you to spend eternity with Celine Dion. That's just beyond the pale.

*The Romantics had their moments including that song, but they arent even the beginnings of a pimple on the Ramones' asses
posted by jonmc at 10:45 AM on November 25, 2007


Agreed about sterility. I don't think there's too much risk of that, even if people feel extra touchy about stuff in this specific discussion.

Also: Sheena is a punk rocker.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:47 AM on November 25, 2007


And we're a happy family.

(and I am actually sitting here in Queens, but I'm fresh out of refried beans. Me and pips are heading to Key Food in a quick, maybe I'll buy some)

*wanders off with bat in search of brat)
posted by jonmc at 10:51 AM on November 25, 2007



I dislike the idea that we cannot say that a feminist is being shrill, oversensitive, and/or hysterical


No one said you can't. Just be prepared to back it up as opposed to throwing it out there to dismiss their concerns.

And maybe that means you don't get to say everything that comes into your pretty little head without being called out for being a dumbass.

Ah, irony. Ya didn't have to try and tear him a new one.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:55 AM on November 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


will think I'm Miss Shrill Feminist for even saying so. ...

I'm go with uptight-about-an-issue. It does seem silly to get angry over that ...

What if a feminist is actually being shrill, oversensitive, and/or hysterical?


Very very often, a person who raises an issue about community norms and/or language and/or changes to norms and language is described as angry (female or subgroup), oversensitive (female or subgroup), shrill (if female), hysterical (if female), bitter (if physically disabled), no matter how calm and thick-skinned the person and their (ha!) commentary. Receiving that response, the person may in fact become angry, because their commentary is being rejected on that basis instead of on its merits.

It's not to say that the hypothetical person is always correct. A responder can state, "I disagree with you," for these reasons, or for no reasons, without characterizing the person's state of mind.

True example: There are people in the disability world who disapprove of the casual use of the word "crazy." I am in the disability world, and I do not follow that particular rule of blanket disapproval. I have listened to the argument, and just say, "I don't think I can go there," or "I just don't agree that the word is as harmful as you think," or "I think you're giving the word too much power," or whatever. I don't say, "Wow, you must be an oversensitive wack-a-doodle nut-job to raise such an issue." There's no need to be disrespectful or to start using loaded language just because I'm on the other side of an actual controvery.

And I don't necessarily think I'm right right right. Maybe I'm wrong. That's why it's good to discuss and interact without challenging the other person's state of mind.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 10:55 AM on November 25, 2007 [8 favorites]


Five Fresh Fish, I refer you to my previous post.

The women on MeFi are at least somewhat responsible for MeFi being a boyzone. Time and again we read in this thread that women have silently acquiesced... Women, if you want MeFi to change, you're going to have to get involved.

Unless you are satisfied with the status quo, it is every bit as much your job to advocate for change and call people out on their shit as it is my job. In fact, it is the job of every man on MetaFilter who would like this place to be as comfortable for female members as it is for him.

Considering that there are so very many more males than females here, in fact, we should all be able to STFU about this, and your voices should solve this problem for us in no time flat.

Result!
posted by DarlingBri at 10:55 AM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Well, she is now.
posted by trip and a half at 10:56 AM on November 25, 2007


FFF wrote...
Flagging is not a solution of any sort. It does not provide feedback to the offender. It does not provide feedback to the community at large. It does not make any sort of public statement of "this is unacceptable."

This is the second time you've suggested this, FFF. Admittedly I was a bit snarky in addressing it the first time, so let me be clear:

The Metatalk archives are absolutely brimming with complaints by people who had comments deleted. Why were those comments deleted? Well, often because they had a pile of flags attached to them.

So while a single flag is not much feedback, a pile of them that grabs moderator attention and causes a deletion very much IS feedback. And contrary to your earlier assertion:


Post deletion doesn't raise flags; the offender likely never even knows the post disappeared.


... many people clearly DO notice that posts disappear and start long, whiny, Metafilter threads about it.
posted by tkolar at 10:57 AM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]



for confusing the Ramones with the Romantics, I sentence you to spend eternity with Celine Dion. That's just beyond the pale.


Damnit! I couldn't remember so I searched the web. I accept my punishment with humility, but only if whoever created this page gets the same sentence with Kenny G.
posted by tkolar at 11:01 AM on November 25, 2007


for confusing the Ramones with the Romantics, I sentence you to spend eternity with Celine Dion. That's just beyond the pale.

DUDE! That just...

Well, that seems more or less fair, actually.

One-two-three-four!

Jackie is a punk, Judy is a runt
They both went down to Berlin, joined the Ice Capades
And oh, I don't know why
Oh, I don't know why
Perhaps they'll die
Oh, yeah
Perhaps they'll die
Oh, yeah
Perhaps they'll die
Oh, yeah
Perhaps they'll die
Oh, yeah

Second verse, same as the first!
Jackie is a punk, Judy is a runt, I'm tired of typing this so you get the idea, ummmmmmmmmm, perhaps they'll die, oh yeah, etc.

Third verse, different from the first!
Jackie is a punk, Judy is a runt
They both went down to Frisco, joined the SLA
And oh I don't know why
Oh I don't know why
Perhaps they'll die
Oh, yeah
Perhaps they'll die
Oh, yeah
Perhaps they'll die
Oh, yeah
Perhaps they'll die
Oh, yeeaaaahhhhhhhhhhh [end]

posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:02 AM on November 25, 2007


Merry Christmas, I don't want to fight tonight.
posted by Sailormom at 11:10 AM on November 25, 2007


"Now I can't use the word ..." completely sidesteps the question. If you say one group can do something, and another is disallowed, is that, or is it not, discrimination?

It's a simple question. If you do call it discrimination, tell us about how much you've gotten on women using the word, not just men. Don't try to derail, just ... answer.

By the way, "dumbass" is offensive to people who might not be born with your scintillating intellect. Try to be a little more sensitive, okay?

I did not say that "just saying something" is gonna solve your problems. It won't. Not the first time or the tenth. Try the hundredth. It's a long, tough slog for anything you want that involves changing people's behavior. And it's one that doesn't work if you're trying to automate it into a series of checkboxes. It involves repeated confrontation and it is not fun. The Civil Rights movement didn't get anywhere by mass mailing people with a little postcard that says "Check X if you think we should be treated fairly."

It also means that you'd better leave your hypocritical behavior and unsound logic at the door, because if you are less than pristine you will be called on it. If you do not apply the same standards of behavior to yourself that you would like others to follow, you will be called on it. If you want your personal favorite issue to be recognized, but ignore everyone else's, expect that someone will notice.

I emphasize this because I'm a screeching liberal who knows exactly why we're losing: we fail to walk that walk. Al Gore, Nobel Prize, and one story about this eco-unfriendly house blows his cred. Yeah, partially it's because we can't express our philosophies on an eighteen inch bumper sticker in 72pt Arial, but it's also because we deliberately ignore the fact that any halfway-bright racist (or just your average kid) can ask questions like, "If there's a Miss Black America, why isn't there a Miss White America?" If you can only evade with "But why would you want to use that word?" you've failed to win the hearts and minds of the people who ask that question. Failed. Because those guys are the mini Rush Limbaughs who have a lot of influence over their posse of friends.

It just makes me sick that my side is so freaking ineffectual and so prone to lousy argumentation that inevitably gets plowed down when the proles pick up on it. I hope it upsets somebody, because I'd rather people on my side be ticked off at me and consider using something that might actually work, rather than sticking to ideology and getting creamed in the polls once again.

P.S. "Bitter" = disabled? Explains a lot about me. Is there like a place I can look this stuff up?
posted by adipocere at 11:13 AM on November 25, 2007


time to lay down the law.

First rule is: the laws of Germany
Second rule is: be nice to Mommy
Third rule is: don't talk to Commies
Fourth rule is: eat kosher salami.
posted by jonmc at 11:14 AM on November 25, 2007


The KKK took my baby significant other away!
posted by languagehat at 11:17 AM on November 25, 2007


It just makes me sick that my side is so freaking ineffectual and so prone to lousy argumentation that inevitably gets plowed down when the proles pick up on it.

'the proles?' You complain about condescension and misunderstanding and then pull that out?
posted by jonmc at 11:23 AM on November 25, 2007


"Bitter" = disabled? Explains a lot about me.

Hee -- see, that was funny!

People don't follow the disability language battles as much as others, but you can google "bitter cripple" or "bitter crip" and find lots of discussions.

There are also pieces/blogs written by disabled people who use the term as an in-joke.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 11:23 AM on November 25, 2007


adipocere, the idea isn't that flagging will make us all think the same etc. The idea is to make it explicit that stuff like sexism (including anti-gay etc) is flaggable, that it's not necessarily condoned by the site, that moderators might take some action if something is bad enough.

And alongside this, after these huge conversations, people will speak up more, and hopefully get a little more "oh, sorry about that, didn't mean it to come off that way" rather than "you uptight bitch, didn't get enough last night?" or whatever.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:31 AM on November 25, 2007


What, this zoo isn't good enough for you?

Zoos make me sad. :(


Yeah, I didn't end up making it all the way there. I got distracted along the way by some roadside kitsch and then decided that it was really too cold to be out and about.

So apparently this zoo will have to do. Oh, and there's a good chance that the zoo would have made me sad, too, but I heard there were prairie dogs.
posted by Stewriffic at 11:34 AM on November 25, 2007


It just makes me sick that my side is so freaking ineffectual and so prone to lousy argumentation that inevitably gets plowed down when the proles pick up on it.

Yeah, me and the other janitors were just laughing about that last week. Then we went back to deconstructing Ramus, cleanin' the terlits, and making "I'd hit it" comments about Aspasia.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:53 AM on November 25, 2007


Speaking only for myself and not for all women, I personally don't find most gendered words off-putting in and of themselves, be they bitch, cunt, hitting it, shefite, hysterical, or aviatrix. It's all about the context. Since I like words and I think that all of them have appropriate uses, I do understand the knee-jerk "they're taking my words away" reaction that some folks are having here, even when those same people are taking this fear to an extreme that has in no way been proposed (i.e. sharia law, rampant castration, secret societies, army of feminist androids [gynoids?]).

So even in the most offensive context imaginable, it's not usually the word itself that I find alienating, it's the actual opinion being expressed. While I can (and will) flag the most egregious examples of sexism ("Poster X is a stupid cunt") I'm not going to start flagging people just for disagreeing with me, and that's what makes me not want to read or participate in discussions on this site: people's legitimate, but infuriating, opinions.

For example, the aforementioned pole vaulter and Jade Raymond threads are infuriating to me not because of the vocabulary used or jokes that people made, but because over and over again people posted apparently-serious opinions that I personally believe to be sexist bullshit ("if a woman takes a job she should expect to be considered a stupid cumbucket"), or neglected to understand fundamental concepts which in my worldview are pretty basic ("it is not always a nice compliment when a teenager receives relentless sexual attention from adult men"). I'm sort of exaggerating here...but I'm also sort of not.

I'm not going to start flagging people for holding opinions that I don't share, so...yeah. I can pretty much choose to not read stuff on these topics or I can get into huge arguments every time, and I hate arguing, because I personally (not speaking for all women) am a tender, dainty blossom. Or, everyone can change their opinions to be mine. I think that this would be the most efficient solution. Let me know if you would like a copy of my womanifesto.

If you say one group can do something, and another is disallowed, is that, or is it not, discrimination?
because we deliberately ignore the fact that any halfway-bright racist (or just your average kid) can ask questions like, "If there's a Miss Black America, why isn't there a Miss White America?"


When you were a kid, did you ever ask your parents why there's a Mothers' Day and a Fathers' Day, but no Children's Day? And they said "Every day is Children's Day"?

Still true!
posted by lemuria at 11:56 AM on November 25, 2007 [17 favorites]


And then I'd say, but that's not fair! And they'd say, life isn't fair??? Dad, is that you????
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:58 AM on November 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


Yeah, proles. Sorry I neglected the snark tag on that one, but I thought it was obvious in the middle of threat at least marginally devoted to NewSpeak. Also, uh ... where'd I use "condescension"?
posted by adipocere at 11:58 AM on November 25, 2007


army of feminist androids

Searching for that phrase on Yahoo or Google turns up nothing, which is just odd. You'd think Rush Limbaugh or someone similar would have said it. Good band name though.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:09 PM on November 25, 2007


sorry about that lobstermitten, i wasn't aware that you were just feigning ignorance. if you have published academic research, you probably know more about it than i do, but the rote conventionality of some of your comments juxtaposed with "are you for real" made me wonder just how real you were.

Oh, bruce. LobsterMitten wasn't "feigning ignorace." she was elegantly demonstrating yours. Sack up and take your lumps.
posted by desuetude at 12:18 PM on November 25, 2007


That's too long and doesn't really have a good sound to it. Army of Fembots, sure. Gyndroid Militia, maybe.
posted by adipocere at 12:19 PM on November 25, 2007


Late to the party (mostly because I actually read both of these monster threads) but it seems to me that the mods have done a good thing.

It's good to clarify what the "offensive" flag is for: previously it seemed, to me at least, that it was for only the most heinous transgressions. And those who believe in calling out bullshit in-thread can still do so.

The two options are not mutually exclusive. The mods have given a gentle nudge to those who'd prefer to flag quietly and move on, while leaving the field of battle open for the enthusiastically combative.

Hopefully the overall level of discourse will improve as the stupid boyzone antics are quietly (and loudly) discouraged. Personally, I'm rarely offended by stuff I read here, partly because I'm kinda dense that way and partly because I've spent my whole professional life in science, which is still something of a boyzone, albeit a rather highbrow one. I'm used to taking crap as well as dishing it out, and I love most of the crap that gets slung around here. But I can see how some of it would offend people, so toning it down will hopefully encourage participation from MeFites whose perspectives we currently don't get to hear. As well as make room for more clever snark ('cause, boyz, "I'd hit it" just isn't witty, m'kay?)

Finally, I have to say that these 2 monster threads are the most interesting and insightful things I've read on MeTa in my entire time here. It's heartening to see people of good will begin to understand other peoples' perpectives, and instructive to see who doesn't. I'm extremely impressed at the eloquence of some MeFites and have an increased respect for the delicate balancing act our mods do so dexterously. Keep up the good work, and keep this forum the best of the web!

And I have developed a total girl-crush on LobsterMitten.
*looks around* What? Sexist?
aw crap, just flag me

posted by Quietgal at 12:24 PM on November 25, 2007


ThePinkSuperhero: get a haircut, or I'm sending you to military academy.
posted by lemuria at 12:25 PM on November 25, 2007


Team Vag has always and will always be my favorite. MeFi is the second result for it in English Google searches.... so far.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:26 PM on November 25, 2007


When you were a kid, did you ever ask your parents why there's a Mothers' Day and a Fathers' Day, but no Children's Day? And they said "Every day is Children's Day"?

Still true!


Good point. I agree. But I think it steers the conversation away from a thornier subject: in a world where there are, unfortunately, many abused people, we don't have the time or energy to right all their wrongs at once. We either have to right no wrongs at all, or we have to make semi-arbitrary decisions about who to focus on first. And in such a situation, the squeaky wheel is most likely to get the grease.

For instance, if you're an abused black kid in high school, there's a chance you might find a champion; if you're an abused girl in high school, same thing. Same if you're gay. But if you're a white middle-class kid who happens to be different -- maybe nerdy or whatever -- and picked on, you're less likely to find people flocking to your cause. Basically, you don't have a large enough lobby to be a squeaky wheel.

I'm not complaining about this situation. It's a fact of life. A sad fact, but a fact. But I'm also not going to pretend it doesn't exist. In my experience, good people -- people who care about helping other people -- like to ignore this fact (because they're rightly devoted to fairness it's hurtful to them to focus on unfairness that they can't do much about). But it's the sort of fact that Timmy might ask his father about.
posted by grumblebee at 12:30 PM on November 25, 2007


ThePinkSuperhero: get a haircut, or I'm sending you to military academy.

Nuh-uh!! DADDY COLD CHEF!!!! HEEEEEEELP MEEEEEE!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:35 PM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


But if you're a white middle-class kid who happens to be different -- maybe nerdy or whatever -- and picked on, you're less likely to find people flocking to your cause.

This is why God invented punk rock.
posted by lemuria at 12:39 PM on November 25, 2007


Also, gothic rock, but you got to like velvet and graveyards.
posted by lemuria at 12:40 PM on November 25, 2007


Thanks for the link occhiblu.
I don't think I ever used an insult like that on mefi and I have no reason to think I will. So I'm not planning on becoming the great advocate of using these particular words on mefi.

All the same out of courtesy a concise reaction to that link.

1. I don't subscribe to the train of reasoning that the using the word 'mysogynist' entails.

In my mind people in general are misanthropic now and then about other people. Sometimes these other people are women, sometimes men etc. This will not change and women aren't a special case here. In other words I don't believe women as a category are being especially oppressed (outside of egregious cases like women that are being beaten by their husbands etc). This is all within the general context of the Netherlands btw, the only society that I know from my own experience.

2. insults as a rule are constructed to incite anger and, well, insult and as a result delve into the murky unreasonable vocabulary of the lizard brain. So hardly any of them will pass the test of very finely tuned sensibilities and well behaved discourse. A lot of them belong to the class of idiomatic expressions: their meaning isn't constructed out of the meanings of the words they are constructed out of. So if somebody is angry at me and calls me a dick that to me does not carry any meaning wrt male genitals and the socio-political postion of people who have these genitals. It just means "I hate you and want to strip you of your dignity".
Or, another example, languagehat saying "krijg de typhus" to me here doesn't trigger any parts in my or his brains that pertain to illnesses, their causes, symptoms and remedies.

Some expressions of the lizard brain should never be written down in my opinion. But still, cleansing language of these terms in general will just beget us a hypocritical façade language that's reminiscent of Ned Flanders. I'm not in favour of that.

I don't expect you to agree with me. So I'll leave it at this and get back to my thesis.
posted by jouke at 12:43 PM on November 25, 2007


(I'm not being flippant here, I take musical subcultures quite seriously. Except when people wear capes, I can't hang with that shit.)
posted by lemuria at 12:45 PM on November 25, 2007


But if you're a white middle-class kid who happens to be different -- maybe nerdy or whatever -- and picked on, you're less likely to find people flocking to your cause.

This is why God invented punk rock.


In my case, I was the nerdy kid who liked classical music, so I was shit out of luck.
posted by grumblebee at 12:51 PM on November 25, 2007


Finally, I have to say that these 2 monster threads are the most interesting and insightful things I've read on MeTa in my entire time here. It's heartening to see people of good will begin to understand other peoples' perpectives, and instructive to see who doesn't

Amen. And hearing from all the women I don't usually hear from because they've been driven away by the boyzone stuff makes me want to hear more from them, and makes me regret not at all the guys who will inevitably stomp out with loud outcries about the coming feminaziarchy, clutching their buckets of cocks to their manly chests. Go with god, but go, as they say.

I don't believe women as a category are being especially oppressed (outside of egregious cases like women that are being beaten by their husbands etc). This is all within the general context of the Netherlands btw, the only society that I know from my own experience.


Which, btw, is the experience of a male. You might want to ask a representative sampling of Dutch women whether they agree with you. (Dutch Feminist Zombie Attack!!!!!!)

I was the nerdy kid who liked classical music, so I was shit out of luck.

You and me both, pal!
posted by languagehat at 1:08 PM on November 25, 2007


lemuria, just wanted to chime in and say thank you for this comment. You articulated something that's been weighing heavily on my mind but I couldn't see where it would be appropriate to say it, or if it should even be said. The Jade Raymond thread and the pole vaulter thread had plenty of sexist comments, or it's probably more accurate to say there were a lot of comments that revealed a sexist worldview. And those threads bother me much more than overtly sexist jokes and comments.

But that's a difficult problem to address, and the only thing I can think to do is challenge the ideas in-thread. But this is a difficult thing to challenge, because people don't seem to understand when you try to challenge what underpins their ideas, rather than the specific ideas themselves. A lot of times I'd find myself challenging attitudes , and I have found it be difficult for people to understand where I'm coming from when I do that.

It would be like if the Race/Genetics threads were dominated by people who supported the idea that of course race and genetics are linked. As it is, those people usually make up a minority. Even though they may argue their points without using any slurs or racist jokes, the racism still comes through loud and clear. That's how I feel about the sexism in a number of threads that don't involve jokes or slurs at all.
posted by Danila at 1:10 PM on November 25, 2007


I meant to say race and intelligence
posted by Danila at 1:12 PM on November 25, 2007



Good, because if it's bad form to mention that race and genetics are connected then I'm just going home.
posted by tkolar at 1:17 PM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


adipocere writes "By the way, 'dumbass' is offensive to people who might not be born with your scintillating intellect. Try to be a little more sensitive, okay?"

I want more women here. So I don't think we should insult them. I don't particularly care to get more stupid people here. If stupid people find this an intimidating site and want to stay away, that's fine by me.

lemuria writes "over and over again people posted apparently-serious opinions that I personally believe to be sexist bullshit ('if a woman takes a job she should expect to be considered a stupid cumbucket')...I'm sort of exaggerating here...but I'm also sort of not."

I understand the "sort of exaggerating" part, but care to explain the "sort of not" part? Sounds like you're just trying to misrepresent other peoples' arguments and get away with it by pointing it out yourself first.
posted by Bugbread at 1:18 PM on November 25, 2007


hee hee yeah tkolar, sorry about that, although even that is up for some debate (genetics vs. social construct), I do not think it's racist at all
posted by Danila at 1:19 PM on November 25, 2007


WeFite.
posted by Partial Law at 1:23 PM on November 25, 2007


Sounds like you're just trying to misrepresent other peoples' arguments and get away with it by pointing it out yourself first.

I meant that I was exaggerating to some extent so that I could express my perception of many posts concisely without having to go through and pull out a lot of specific quotes and parse all of their individual nuances again. I wanted to acknowledge that I tend to have an emotional response to opinions that I feel are sexist, so my perception of the underlying attitudes behind the comments that bother me might not be entirely, impartially accurate.

But you're probably right.
posted by lemuria at 1:28 PM on November 25, 2007


I was the nerdy kid who liked classical music

Dude, that's the punkest part.
posted by lemuria at 1:31 PM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


But if you're a white middle-class kid who happens to be different -- maybe nerdy or whatever -- and picked on, you're less likely to find people flocking to your cause.

That's the story of my childhood, which predated both the rise of Punk Rock and the rise of Nerd/Geek Power. But that was so far back in the Dark Ages (before 1969) that the abused kids in other 'groups' didn't often get the support they needed either, so I didn't feel left out but rather a camaraderie with the more visibly abused, even if I've never been quite accepted by even them.

Which ties into one of the few things I've learned in 50 years of life that I allow myself as a "UNIVERSAL LAW OF HUMANITY". That people, all people, whether among the empowered groups or disempowered, will gravitate toward people who are similar to them, in appearance, philosophy, tastes, whatever. Some of us sometimes go out of our way to seek people with 'interesting differences', but they will rarely hang around without something substantial in common. As diverse as MetaFilter may or may not be, all but the most psychotic trolls (or persons who are so alienated they don't believe there IS anybody like them - like me) are here because they see something of themselves here.

As far as jonmc's "MeFemmes" and "SheFites" are concerned, they struck me wrongly too, not so much demeaning as trivializing, a little too cute (cutesy?) especially in attempting to refer to ALL female MeFites in this discussion. An occasional reference to HeFites and SheFites together or in a comparison would probably be less off-putting than SheFites alone.

And let me assure any and all women who are afraid to speak up in response to sexist asshattery in-thread, that, whenever I'm in the web-neighborhood, I will chime in, sound off and support you, though usually with a bad pun (but NOT referring to either female or male geitalia).
posted by wendell at 1:34 PM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Here's the problem: some people can make great snappy comebacks when insulted.

I can't. So the closest I can come to responding to that comment is:

Fuck you."

Really? You wanna stand on Mississippi's state flag? Fuck that, it's racist and it should have been voted down. Sorry that some good Southerners get tarred in there along with the retards, but when they start being trotted out as some poor martyr class to deflect from sexism, I got no problem calling that out.

Being a Southerner is an almost totally intentionally constructed identity, but too many people embrace the stump-fucker aspects of it. I'll defend the South when it seems shit on unfairly, but this ain't then.
posted by klangklangston at 1:47 PM on November 25, 2007


From the Shakesville essay:

When a reader pointed out to me that my use of the word "lame" to mean "stupid" could be offensive to disabled Shakers, it wasn't that she was too sensitive; it was that I was not sensitive enough.

Word. I can only hope that someday I too will evolve to this higher level of consciousness.

This does make a good add for the language handbook. 'Lame' is still acceptable for literal description, but figurative use is right the fuck out. I'm adding that to 'kerfuffle'. Shit, who knew? And of course, they-singular, not to be forgotten, for sure.

-----

Lovely.

I can see why some feel the offensive tag is not enough. No wonder all the comments claiming this is more or less an issue of discourtesy are rebuffed. Divergent worldviews must be identified and brought to the attention of the administration. I see.
posted by BigSky at 2:26 PM on November 25, 2007


Being a Southerner is an almost totally intentionally constructed identity

no, it's not - any more than being a midwesterner is - and there's much, much more to it than confederate flags and racism

there are genuine cultural differences - the churches are different, the work ethic's different, the food's different and the music's different, not to mention the language
posted by pyramid termite at 2:34 PM on November 25, 2007


I can see why some feel the offensive tag is not enough. No wonder all the comments claiming this is more or less an issue of discourtesy are rebuffed. Divergent worldviews must be identified and brought to the attention of the administration. I see.

My comment that you linked has nothing to do with anything you just said. Was it a mistake?
posted by Danila at 2:35 PM on November 25, 2007


Danila,

If you look at my first and second posts it should clarify. The post does need a bit more context. Briefly, I think you and I are at opposite ends here. In your post you said that threads where members expressed 'racist' or 'sexist' attitudes were more disturbing than overtly sexist material. My point is that I dislike the flags because they take the focus away from courtesy to others and put it on how any member might define 'racist' or 'sexist'.
posted by BigSky at 2:49 PM on November 25, 2007


OK, I've read the majority of both threads. It took me the best part of a day, dammit.

I hadn't realised at all how women viewed threads like the Coulter ones, although it's obvious in retrospect. MJJ's post about them on the other thread was a real eye-opener. And it pisses me off. Frankly, creating a climate that a reasonable majority of women find oppressive is not on.

It pisses me off on a deeper level too, however. The net seemed to me to make this better: it's all just words on screen. Here, I've liked that I can take on someone's ideas and opinions without ever knowing their gender. I'm a big guy, and in real life I have to watch when debating with women that I don't let any sort of physical domineering threaten them from speaking up against my points.

The idea that we can do this online with comments that aren't even directed at them is saddening. Especially since more than once I've seen people (trolls, mainly) be able to skip off any insult that comes at them with a "Hee hee hee can't hurt me" attitude. But I can't do that myself, and I'm not going to suggest women attempt to, either.

That said, this stay-silent-but-favourite thing is rubbish. That Allison Stokke thread has lots of men going "good god, she's hot, I like hot" in more-or-less objectionable ways, then there is a post by thehmsbeagle calling them out on it. There are 43 favourites on it, way more than there were "hit it"s. Jesus H Christ, that's some posse. If there had been 43 posts after hers going "damn straight. Shut it, nerds", there would have been a lot of contrite posters thereafter.

I realise and agree that people shouldn't have to speak up all the time to stop obnoxious behaviour, but on the other hand, when there are 43 of you hanging about, just post and run. You change community consensus by being that community.

It's for this reason that I don't want to use flags to fix this either. Flags don't change the atmosphere, they just whisper to mom. Additionally, unless it's a separate flag, it's useless for collecting data, and I don't trust the admin flag UI:
Cortex: The followup on flagging has always been and will always be a pretty light-touch, case-by-case situation
Really? Cos when we last spoke about this, you effectively said "we don't have time to evaluate everything case-by-case; lots of flags just clutter up the flagging queue, and we'd have to go clear them out".

Favouriting and flagging ain't shit.
(As ways of changing minds, I mean. I like the favourites system!)
posted by bonaldi at 2:55 PM on November 25, 2007


klangklangston writes "Really? You wanna stand on Mississippi's state flag?"

I do? I said this when?

Oh, yeah, of course. All southerners are racists, so if you insult all southerners, and one of them gets offended, it must be because they're racist. How simple!

Or perhaps you just overlooked this simple interpretation:

You're defending the belittling of all southerners because a few of us are tremendous cocks. And you're implying that we can either suck it up, or secede.

That's what I'm saying "Fuck you" to.

klangklangston writes "I'll defend the South when it seems shit on unfairly, but this ain't then."

"This"? The only "this" I see here is you saying Southerners deserve to be made fun of. You mean you're not going to defend the South from yourself?
posted by Bugbread at 2:55 PM on November 25, 2007


BigSky, I'm not sure I understand your dislike of the flags. Do you dislike the other flags because they change the focus of things on the site, or only the change in wording of the offensive/etc. flag, because instead of its original pure focus on the abstract category of offensiveness, now it says sexism/racism, but not all the other stuff it could also say?
posted by cgc373 at 2:56 PM on November 25, 2007


Unless you are satisfied with the status quo, it is every bit as much your job to advocate for change and call people out on their shit as it is my job. In fact, it is the job of every man on MetaFilter who would like this place to be as comfortable for female members as it is for him.

MeFi has had almost a decade of norming. I've been here most of that time. I was unaware that it has become a toxic environment that is driving away people who would contribute scintillating ideas and wit.

Now I like me some good discussion, bad puns, heated arguments, and witty retorts, so I am all for changing the community behaviours so as to attract those people back into our community. I know it's supposed to be all about the links but for me this place has always been about the conversations.

Thing of it is, though, as I'm one of the folk who's unaware of the problems, I'm hardly likely to be very effective at calling people out on their shit. In fact, I often like the shit that's being hurled, because it helps keep the idiots and bozos out of here.

So it's gonna have to be up to the people who are offended to identify the offenses for us, so that we can all become more aware of what's going on. We can only change our behaviours when we're aware of them.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:58 PM on November 25, 2007


This thread moves too damned fast. And takes too long to load. And to type in the comment box. Waaaah.
posted by cgc373 at 2:59 PM on November 25, 2007


StriketheViol re jennydiski: I dislike her. Why? Two words: hey ho. A bastardization of a perfectly useful work song pacing phrase, every time I've heard it used nowadays, it carries with it connotations of supremely arrogant, nonchalant dismissiveness. Hey ho.

If you can really dislike someone because you think "hey ho" = "supremely arrogant, nonchalant dismissiveness," but have reservations about how it might be nice to discourage people from using unambiguous violent rape language because it can make women on the site feel unwelcome, then I am . . . nonplussed.

To me her use of "hey ho" here sounded like verbal cue downplaying her question. Sort of like, "[serious stuff. serious stuff. serious stuff. possible interpretation. But hey, I'm trying not to take myself too seriously.]"
posted by onlyconnect at 3:02 PM on November 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


No wonder all the comments claiming this is more or less an issue of discourtesy are rebuffed. Divergent worldviews must be identified and brought to the attention of the administration. I see.

Well, on the other hand, there's the fuckin' door.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:20 PM on November 25, 2007


fivefreshfish, do you hear anybody saying that women intend not to speak up? The women and dudes who see a problem are speaking up at tremendous, staggering length here. And many people are saying "wow, I never realized until I read these hugely labor-intensive discussions that this was so disturbing to a lot of people". That is, previous speakings-up in threads didn't get the message across.

Part of the point is that if, to change minds, we need some of the many dozens of essay-length posts that have been composed here, then going the all-individual-action route would mean derailing every thread where someone makes an assy remark into a big conversation about "woe is me, free expression, uptight bitches, PC police, other groups are oppressed too, etc".

So instead of all-individual-action, let's underline the sense that the site as a whole isn't so hot on the violent sexual punishment imagery etc, isn't a lowest-common-denominator free-for-all. We'll underline this sense by making explicit some of what's covered by "offensive", and by doing some more clean-up deleting, and by having a brief guideline in the FAQ. And alongside this, individuals will still speak out -- even, increasingly speak out -- as they find specific instances that they think are problematic.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:20 PM on November 25, 2007


To me her use of "hey ho" here sounded like verbal cue downplaying her question. Sort of like, "[serious stuff. serious stuff. serious stuff. possible interpretation. But hey, I'm trying not to take myself too seriously.]"

Perhaps. However, most (all?) of her other comments clash with the "I'm trying not to take myself too seriously" interpretation.

I don't know her well enough - small sample size and all that - to dislike her (Hell, I didn't know who she was until I googled it up a couple days ago), but I wasn't very impressed by her tone or way of doing things.
posted by CKmtl at 3:24 PM on November 25, 2007


As to the meFemmes and SheFites comment, it's all about context. That's a big part of what people are trying to say here. Nobody is trying to take your right to say what you want. Just think about context. In a conversation about sexism and ways to combat it, diminuitive pet names for women aren't going to go over as well as they would in a "what should we name the Metafilter women's volleyball team" thread. In the latter thread, you're a hero. In this one you missed the mark a bit.

adipocere:it's also because we deliberately ignore the fact that any halfway-bright racist (or just your average kid) can ask questions like, "If there's a Miss Black America, why isn't there a Miss White America?" If you can only evade with "But why would you want to use that word?" you've failed to win the hearts and minds of the people who ask that question. Failed.

Are you sure about that? I've had some very deep and profound moments with people I know and love, and a few people who couldn't stand being in the same room as me, and a lot of people who just flat out didn't know better with that ver statement. When somebody asks for my permission to tell a racist joke under the pretense of not being racist, but hey this joke is funny (and this happens way more than one would think) my response is always "Sure, just look me in the eye while you tell it."

Most people pass. The rest try, and lose their nerve. One guy made me laugh so hard, I almost choked to death on my drink.

Here on the internet it's hard to get someone to look you in the eye and challenge their prejudice based solely on the reality of standing right there in front of them. So we have to resort to rhetoric, questioning, argument and pleas for tolerance. it's amazing how many pleas for reason and tolerance are countered with stubborn "logic".

I did not say that "just saying something" is gonna solve your problems. It won't. Not the first time or the tenth. Try the hundredth.

Can any half-bright racist ask about the double standard of a Miss Black America pageant? Sure. Was I able to answer that question with wisdom and insight by the time I was 8 years old? You betcha.I heard that question so many times, that I automatically write anyone off who asks it as an imbecile unworthy of my time and energy. I know you're not actually asking that question, which is why I'm responding to you.

You think the people who are speaking up don't have the logical consistency to handle you equality.You want people to get thicker skin? If you're complaining about the simple suggestion that you think about the impact of your words, and the effect they have on others. Then you probably aren't even in the same skin-thickness ballpark as some of the people who are speaking up here. Your argument is weak. Which isn't to say it's illogical, just that it lacks courage.

Do I think I'm a special snowflake, or that the universe owes me something? Unfortunately I grew up in a country that has disabused me of that notion from birth. Which makes me lucky. Because I know that everything I have is something I earned. When you've earned something, you don't have to be afraid of someone taking it away, because you know you can just go out and earn it again. Tell me, Why are YOU so afraid?

You have no idea how demeaning your statements are. If I flagged your statement as simply "offensive" it would be so far over your head you couldn't crane your neck far enough to see it.
posted by billyfleetwood at 3:30 PM on November 25, 2007 [19 favorites]


Ah! JennyDiski's a "someone". That explains a lot about her posting approach. Here everybody speaks like they do in real life, and she clearly wasn't. It was very much "writing" she was doing as opposed to her natural voice -- witness her comment about "I often use profanity" -- and it was driving me crazy.
posted by bonaldi at 3:33 PM on November 25, 2007


Well, on the other hand, there's the fuckin' door.

You're proving his point.
posted by Kwantsar at 3:34 PM on November 25, 2007


cgc373,

From my perspective, the value of moderation lies in maintaining a place for open discussion by stopping those who are not as interested in discussion as they are in getting a rise out of others. If we all behave with some courtesy towards each other then there's no need for moderation. Not that that's a real possibility but it's the perspective I take. If someone is putting out an idea for discussion that some find objectionable, well those who are disturbed need to grow a thicker skin. My dislike of the flags is not their absence of homophobia and other assorted biases and prejudices, although that is an artificial line, but a focus on whatever qualifies as 'sexist' or 'racist' to each site member. My main concern is the possible branding of discussions as racist or sexist because they challenge the assumptions of the progressives. And no, I don't think "I'd hit it" is an idea for discussion, but I do think that startlingly beautiful teenagers like Allison Stokke simply have to put up with a certain amount of sexual attention. As much as they might prefer to have their accomplishments stand alone it just isn't a realistic possibility and I don't think it needs to be talked about like some great injustice. In fact, I think that's a little silly. It's just the way things are. Now, that might be a sexist thought but there is no intended discourtesy to anyone here. In my opinion, putting sexist next to offensive as if a comment doesn't need to meet the standard of offensive is more likely to make this a blander site rather than a more polite one.
posted by BigSky at 3:41 PM on November 25, 2007


You're proving his point.

His point's been addressed. Over and over. He's not raising an objection that hasn't been raised. He doesn't like the answer. Okay. The answer is clearly unlikely to change. I don't think the mods are gonna get rid of the tag because BigSky, in reply #1081 to this post, said for the nth time that he thinks it blows. Maybe they will. That'd be really amazing. But they won't, so it won't be that amazing at all. Therefore. Suck it up or walk. You want people to shoot from the hip? There ya go.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:45 PM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Bonaldi said:

That said, this stay-silent-but-favourite thing is rubbish. That Allison Stokke thread has lots of men going "good god, she's hot, I like hot" in more-or-less objectionable ways, then there is a post by thehmsbeagle calling them out on it. There are 43 favourites on it, way more than there were "hit it"s. Jesus H Christ, that's some posse. If there had been 43 posts after hers going "damn straight. Shut it, nerds", there would have been a lot of contrite posters thereafter.

Well, you know. That was my comment. I remember it pretty well. I read that thread and was really... fairly upset. I couldn't believe that a bunch of adult males thought it was acceptable to sit around and leer at a teenage girl, and then to mock women in general who objected to being leered at. I couldn't believe that this was apparently the accepted mode of discourse on this here MetaFilter. I couldn't believe that other adult males, some of whom must have teenage daughters, weren't telling people to settle the hell down. It made me feel sick. And pissed off. And I had to walk away from that thread for a little bit.

And then I came back and weighed the very minor benefit of saying something:

I would feel temporarily better, perhaps one or two people would realize that maybe peoples' behavior in that thread was sub-optimum, but of course no real change would occur.

against

The blowback: accusations of being a humorless/oversensitive/bitchy/uptight nanny who just wanted to TAKE AWAY THEIR FUN; how there's always that one woman who shows up to go "Well, I'm a woman, and I find it super-flattering to be a teenage pole-vaulter who racks up the I'd hit its, so...." which then leads a certain kind of person to jump up and go SEE, you're overreacting!!!! a representative of your tribe has spoken!; just the general... horribleness of trying to explain to a group of defensive men than their sexual kidding around is actually kind of hurtful; how impossible it is to make any kind of reasonable point when you're talking to defensive people; how I would say something earnest and honest and get shut down by people implying that I was silly and could not possibly have experienced a conversation in a way I just finished explaining I experienced it.

Every single time I decide to make a comment like that in a thread full of this kind of behavior, I have to gird my loins. I think this is true for the other people who make such comments.

And then - fun! - you have to deal with the fact that, over time, if you make Too Many Of These Comments, there are people who will dismiss you as a shrill, humorless feminazi, not ever worth listening to. (But of course if you don't speak up, then you're weak and too wimpy to get involved in the conversation, and certainly don't deserve any kind of consideration! It's an interesting Catch 22.)

So, in my experience, it's just really profoundly inaccurate to assume that if the ladies would just get it together and toss off a few reprimanding comments, things would settle down, and/or that it's easy to toss off these reprimanding comments.

It's not easy. And people don't respond well to them. And it makes it even easier for a certain kind of person to assume that you're shrill/humorless/nannylike/etc.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 3:52 PM on November 25, 2007 [23 favorites]


Thing of it is, though, as I'm one of the folk who's unaware of the problems, I'm hardly likely to be very effective at calling people out on their shit. In fact, I often like the shit that's being hurled, because it helps keep the idiots and bozos out of here.

So it's gonna have to be up to the people who are offended to identify the offenses for us, so that we can all become more aware of what's going on. We can only change our behaviours when we're aware of them.


This reminds me a little of the attitude I was talking about upthread when I said I had left so many boyzone threads with suggestions from guys about how to proceed and interpret things going forward (i.e., generously), but where those who so instructed me had no corresponding responsibility to evaluate the potential impact of their own words (or the words of other members) on me or others.

Lots of women here and in the other thread have taken time (often time they couldn't really afford over this holiday weekend) to explain the problem and their reaction to it. A few examples of the problem are jocular banter that casually reduces the worth of a woman to a sexual object, or worse, employment of violent and in particular sexually violent language when putting some woman that is disagreed with by a poster in her place. Maybe you have read these comments by women and do not grok them well enough to apply them independently. And maybe you fear the result of unintentionally misapplying them in these conversations that in past experience can be highly charged. Maybe, too, you don't want to take responsibility for trying to do so because, as so many others here including women have said, it takes effort to make a call out, and there are many shiny things here we'd often rather look at. I understand all of these completely.

But here we are, on the same site in the same MetaTalk thread, trying to find a Way Forward. I will commit here that I'm going to try with the callouts and the flagging. And too I'm going to try to help you understand and empathize with my point of view, without intentionally insulting you or making things personal. But you try too, okay? Because this is a community, and we're in this together.
posted by onlyconnect at 3:56 PM on November 25, 2007


as if a comment doesn't need to meet the standard of offensive

As has been said before: That's not the idea. The idea is to make clear what kinds of things can count as offensive here. Some sexist stuff will count. That's what the flag reminds us of.

Which stuff? Judgment call for each user to make, and then if a comment gets a few flags, judgment call for the mods to see if they'll take some action. No hard-and-fast Rules, just general guidelines, just like every other tacit norm around here.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:57 PM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


kittens for breakfast,

I don't expect the mods to change anything. I restated my point because the post I made earlier this afternoon needed some clarification. Danila expressed an idea that in my opinion is entirely in the wrong direction and I couldn't resist pointing to it. Hopefully that excuses my repetition. Somewhat ironic that this correction would come from you with nearly 20 posts in this thread but what the fuck ever right? I know what my choices are, thanks anyway.
posted by BigSky at 4:07 PM on November 25, 2007


Every single time I decide to make a comment like that in a thread full of this kind of behavior, I have to gird my loins. I think this is true for the other people who make such comments.

Yes, I absolutely get and understand this. I've been in similar places myself. That said, I think it's massively underestimating the power of 43 zings from women. You don't have to be reasonable, reasoned and earnest, not every time. It's possible, and potentially more effective, to just shout down the idiots, or zing 'em.

We do it here all the time, on all sorts of subjects, from bad grammar to idiotic thinking. Not everybody deserves a Reasoned Debate About Why They're Misguided, Perhaps.

I mean, seriously, male egos are some fragile shit, especially from women's comments. The amount of male posters in that thread in Allison Stokke's league had to be tiny. Mock 'em!
posted by bonaldi at 4:10 PM on November 25, 2007


Ah, okay, BigSky. Because as far as I could tell, all you were doing there was just pitching the same exact bitch you've been pitching all along. Must be a nuance thing. I stand corrected.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:14 PM on November 25, 2007


Whether a high school athlete is pretty (or staggeringly beautiful, or not pretty enough, or whatever) and what kinds of sexual action a total stranger imagines he'd like to take regarding her, is really - really, really, really, really, painfully, oh my god what the fuck, where am I - not a conversation that needs to be saved for its glorious expressive power, its controversial ideas (wait, men would like to bang a pretty girl? I've never heard of this, please go on.), its wit, or the way it makes Mefi such a great place to hang out. It's gross and leering and lame-ass at best, and at worst its shameful. Seriously, you think there is a great redeeming value in that kind of construction-worker-wolf-whistle street-harassment garbage?

This is just not where you want to stage your battle, if your battle has to do with expressing ideas that don't get enough airtime. The idea that teenage girls are meant to be leered at is about 80% of US commercial media, as far as I can tell. We get it. We're here to have better conversations than that.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:23 PM on November 25, 2007 [8 favorites]


I still find it ridiculous that people are failing to grasp the main point of the flags - if we stop to call people out, "stand up for women," and point fingers at every fucked up piece of sexist garbage that someone carelessly tosses out there, we will be derailing/otherwise adding more noise to every other thread on the site. "43 zings" would be great and all, but does it really make sense to bog down an otherwise normal post with dozens of comments calling out someone for something as senseless as an "I'd hit it?"

Ideally, there would be a solution that didn't involve offending comments just mysteriously disappearing, and if that's your beef, we're in perfect agreement. But frankly, many of the members here bury their sexist nuggets in comments that are otherwise innocuous or in a way that makes them seem to disown such sexism in an ironic/funny way. So what to do then? Flag it? Walk away? Start a callout pissing match?

This is something that we will have to find a better solution to, but in the meantime, let's use this as an easy method to getting rid of the senseless one-liners and keeping track of just how common such offending remarks are turning up. The first step is awareness, which this thread and the two that precede it demonstrate is clearly lacking.
posted by SassHat at 4:27 PM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm confused, LobsterMitten, was that comment meant for me? Because I agree wholeheartedly with it!

"43 zings" would be great and all, but does it really make sense to bog down an otherwise normal post with dozens of comments calling out someone for something as senseless as an "I'd hit it?"
Well, yes, because that's how norms are defined. Seriously, how well do you guys think a "bad spelling" flag would work? Yet this place has some of the best grammar on the net.

It's not an easy method, it's a rubbish method that will leave comments being deleted again and again and no real difference in their posting rate. It might generate more information, though.
posted by bonaldi at 4:30 PM on November 25, 2007


Speaking as someone who's had a comment deleted under the new system, I think it's good. Mefi has been a boyzone for far too long. The new system will make it a lot easier for the mods to find and remove any sexist, offensive comments against men or women. Thankfully we don't get a whole lot of racist comments, but i'm sure those will get shot down quickly.

it's tricky to put in a flag for "pesonal attack" in the general sense though because any given post is so full of snark that it's hard to know where to draw the line.. in my experience a good snark gets more favourites than a link to a well-written article - and the usual circumstance is that someone will start of with a subtle snark and things will escalate. Of course, subtlety isn't everyone's strong point and the end result is usually someone with the distinct feeling they are being insulted but without appropriate snark to respond with. Don't get me wrong, snark is what metafilter is often read for - but I've seen people getting flamed out for abusing a user in retaliation who had been attacking them through the whole thread - but with a bit of subtlety.

If the "personal attack" flag was implemented, I think it would be better changed to "escalation" - that way there would be no "OMG u deleted mine but not HIS OMG". but instead "you are not raising the level of discourse, you are slowly turning this into a snarkfest. have a nice day."

just an idea.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 4:31 PM on November 25, 2007


In fact, it is the job of every man on MetaFilter who would like this place to be as comfortable for female members as it is for him.

Please, no. Look how well that worked for Ethereal Bligh, who after months of practically choking to death on his own self-righteousness regarding this issue wound up eventually attacking a female member because she didn't fall in line behind his rhetoric. Awesome! That's some FEMINISM.

The last thing this place needs are more self-appointed Thought Cops. Metafilter Thought Cops are generally cultural elitists that disdain what they consider to be the base sensibilities of the common man, and are convinced that they are waging a war to save high discourse.

But if EB were capable of digging way, way down for a real deep moment of personal honesty he might be willing to admit that his crusade was based on nothing more than an effete nerd's secret dream to finally for once be the one that wears the boot that steps on the neck of the community. That's how it looked from where I was standing as his contributions steadily warped from passionate to pathological to poisonous.

Please, for real, let the women do the calling out, they do not need champions for their cause amongst this crowd.
posted by The Straightener at 4:32 PM on November 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


The blowback: accusations of being a humorless/oversensitive/bitchy/uptight nanny who just wanted to TAKE AWAY THEIR FUN; how there's always that one woman who shows up to go "Well, I'm a woman, and I find it super-flattering to be a teenage pole-vaulter who racks up the I'd hit its, so...." which then leads a certain kind of person to jump up and go SEE, you're overreacting!!!! a representative of your tribe has spoken!

This is why the tribe mentality is, itself, a problem, and why I am a proponent of general individual or moderated civility over new protectorates for groups or isms. I am concerned about how my voicing dissent, sticking out, or otherwise failing to toe the line on any women's issue could be reacted to as a betrayal to "my team." How are we addressing conflicts such as these?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:32 PM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


I just reread my last comment, and I didn't really intend for it to come of so attack-y. I was having a completely unrelated conversation with my roommate as I typed it.

But really, anyone working under the assumption that people just woke up yesterday and realized "hey, there's offensiveness in the world! Let's wish it away!" is sorely missing the point.

I just think it's sad that people are still afraid that equality for some means loss of privilege for others.

Adipocere made this comment upthread: The Civil Rights movement didn't get anywhere by mass mailing people with a little postcard that says "Check X if you think we should be treated fairly."

The images from that era that haunt me the most aren't the lynchings or the firehoses or the dogs. It's the lunch counters. Those people weren't causing trouble. They weren't shouting in the street. They weren't asking to move into anyone's neigborhood, or to work at their companies. They were simply sitting down and ordering a tuna sandwich. And people spit on them. That was the little postcard with the checkbox. That was the inconsequential action that exposed the larger problem.

And before anyone accuses me of making a one to one analogy here, let me save you the effort. I'm just saying, look at the thing for what it is. Noone is asking anyone to take a step down, we're asking you to take a step up.
posted by billyfleetwood at 4:33 PM on November 25, 2007 [7 favorites]


(Unless your "we" was a "we women", LobsterMitten, which kinda sucks. MeFites are here to have better conversations.)
posted by bonaldi at 4:34 PM on November 25, 2007


bonaldi, that comment was meant for BigSky who specifically mentioned the Allison Stokke thread. Sorry for confusion
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:36 PM on November 25, 2007


His point's been addressed. Over and over. He's not raising an objection that hasn't been raised. He doesn't like the answer. Okay. The answer is clearly unlikely to change. I don't think the mods are gonna get rid of the tag because BigSky, in reply #1081 to this post, said for the nth time that he thinks it blows. Maybe they will. That'd be really amazing. But they won't, so it won't be that amazing at all. Therefore. Suck it up or walk. You want people to shoot from the hip? There ya go.

Heh. You don't like his opinion, and it rings too familiar in this context, so it's time to bring out the STFUs. But you're shooting from the hip. And writing choppily. With flare. So you don't actually need to write "STFU". Instead. You write more cleverly. Shouting him down, but in a writerly fashion. So from the hip. Bravo.
posted by Kwantsar at 4:39 PM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is just not where you want to stage your battle, if your battle has to do with expressing ideas that don't get enough airtime. The idea that teenage girls are meant to be leered at is about 80% of US commercial media, as far as I can tell. We get it. We're here to have better conversations than that.

Is this directed to me?

Check that post, I didn't make a comment. I doubt you'll find any comment in my history to be along those lines. You might not know it from my contributions in this thread but I have better things to do than make a virtual wolf whistle. Metafilter is pretty weak sauce when it comes to supplying porn and I'm not in here campaigning to change that.

My comment in the 6:41 pm post was an example of the sort of thought that might be labeled sexist but would not be discourteous. As an example it stands alone; it is not a defense of the thread. I could care less if the thread had been closed or if half the posts had been dropped. How was that not clear? This is almost as glaring an instance of bad faith as languagehat's idiocy above. And you've been relentless in accusing others of poor participation in the discussion throughout this thread.

Please.
posted by BigSky at 4:43 PM on November 25, 2007


also bonaldi, yeah, it was "we Mefites" not "we women".
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:44 PM on November 25, 2007


800!
posted by GrammarMoses at 4:44 PM on November 25, 2007


Heh. You don't like his opinion, and it rings too familiar in this context, so it's time to bring out the STFUs. But you're shooting from the hip. And writing choppily. With flare. So you don't actually need to write "STFU". Instead. You write more cleverly. Shouting him down, but in a writerly fashion. So from the hip. Bravo.

Actually, you'd be amazed how much I'm holding back. The cleverness comes so easily to me that, frankly, it's real fucking hard to turn off. I'm sure you know exactly what I mean.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:45 PM on November 25, 2007


Ok, BigSky, honest misunderstanding. It sounded to me like you were saying that thread was a-ok with you. And in other places you have been saying we need to have controversial discussions, so I took it that you were approving of that thread as the kind of thing the thought police would want to take away but which should be allowed to stand because it's so controversial. If that's not what you meant, I was wrong. Didn't intend to misrepresent your position on that thread.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:47 PM on November 25, 2007


Look how well that worked for Ethereal Bligh, who after months of practically choking to death on his own self-righteousness regarding this issue wound up eventually attacking a female member because she didn't fall in line behind his rhetoric.

I said this in the other thread, but . . . EB got insulted alot during his time here, and I think came to feel that shelling out insults was a way to get taken seriously here. He didn't start out that way. His comment to amyms was insulting, but not sexist. So I don't think this insult is relevant to this particular debate, unless you want to talk about politeness here in general.

nothing more than an effete nerd's secret dream to finally for once be the one that wears the boot that steps on the neck of the community

Why can't he just be an imperfect person who cared about these issues? When people speak up about this stuff, why must you assume that they have the worst possible intentions?

Please, for real, let the women do the calling out, they do not need champions for their cause amongst this crowd.

We're in this community together, and I'd like it if you tried to understand my point of view and, if you agree with it, support me in making changes to improve the atmosphere here. I don't need you to save me, but I'd like you to give a hand with the cleanup.
posted by onlyconnect at 4:55 PM on November 25, 2007 [4 favorites]


"...those who believe in calling out bullshit in-thread can still do so."

This is the part that confuses me the most.

It's always been "don't muck up the thread with non-related crap. If you want to discuss the behavior of someone in the thread, take it to MeTa. Is that no longer the case? Does this new flag mean we're supposed to derail threads by calling out remarks in-thread?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:56 PM on November 25, 2007


There's supposed to be another quotation mark in there after the word "crap". If that matters.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:57 PM on November 25, 2007


Or even after "MeTa", which makes more sense.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:59 PM on November 25, 2007


The Straightener writes "Please, for real, let the women do the calling out, they do not need champions for their cause amongst this crowd."

What if you're one of the guys who wants more women here, and therefore since sexism appears to be a major obstacle, wants to help lessen it? You're not exactly fighting as a champion of the women, you're fighting for your own selfish goals. Is that still permitted, or would you need women to champion your cause because if you champion your own cause it would be seen as your championing their cause?
posted by Bugbread at 5:00 PM on November 25, 2007


I am concerned about how my voicing dissent, sticking out, or otherwise failing to toe the line on any women's issue could be reacted to as a betrayal to "my team." How are we addressing conflicts such as these?

Ambrosia Voyeur, I can't speak for the entire cabal, but I wouldn't worry about it. Nobody is going to make you be a boy if your opinion is different than that of other women taking issue in a thread.

In fact, the whole point of this thread is to make it easier for women to dissent and say on MeFi. It would be pretty ironic if someone came down on you for the wrong flavour of dissent.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:00 PM on November 25, 2007


BigSky: Okay, I've now looked your comment over again. Here's what you said:
My main concern is the possible branding of discussions as racist or sexist because they challenge the assumptions of the progressives. And no, I don't think "I'd hit it" is an idea for discussion, but I do think that startlingly beautiful teenagers like Allison Stokke simply have to put up with a certain amount of sexual attention. As much as they might prefer to have their accomplishments stand alone it just isn't a realistic possibility and I don't think it needs to be talked about like some great injustice. In fact, I think that's a little silly. It's just the way things are. Now, that might be a sexist thought but there is no intended discourtesy to anyone here. In my opinion, putting sexist next to offensive as if a comment doesn't need to meet the standard of offensive is more likely to make this a blander site rather than a more polite one.

Now, that looks a lot like a defense of that thread. It sounds like you're saying that "beautiful teenagers have to put up with sexual attention" is one of the "ideas that challenge the assumptions of the progressives" but which should not, by your lights, be "branded sexist". Connecting to your earlier concerns that we not cut off discussion of controversial ideas, this sounds like a defense of that thread on grounds of controversial-idea-hood.

Again, I don't intend to put words in your mouth, but that is how it sounds given what you said above.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:04 PM on November 25, 2007


TheStraightener, I think having a reasonable and not-totally-shitty space for discussions is something everyone can get behind. Why make it just a women's issue? Because one person, or maybe a few people, have historically gotten overheated and seen themselves as Champion of the Issue, suddenly men of good will aren't allowed to object to sexist crap? I don't buy it. Anybody should feel free to call that stuff out. Also people should try to keep their cool and not get it into their heads that it's all about Their Commitment to feminism and what Their Opponents think and so on -- and this is true of any kind of discussion we have around here. Nobody is the captain of the women, just like nobody is the captain of the Mefi Theists or whatever other group. That doesn't mean that people need a certain anatomy to object to sexism, and it doesn't mean that all women need to march in lockstep either. Why would it? It means, as jessamyn said so succinctly above, don't turn these debates into a referendum on yourself. This goes for people of both sexes, on all sides of any debate.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:14 PM on November 25, 2007


It's for this reason that I don't want to use flags to fix this either. Flags don't change the atmosphere, they just whisper to mom. Additionally, unless it's a separate flag, it's useless for collecting data, and I don't trust the admin flag UI:
Cortex:
The followup on flagging has always been and will always be a pretty light-touch, case-by-case situation
Really? Cos when we last spoke about this, you effectively said "we don't have time to evaluate everything case-by-case; lots of flags just clutter up the flagging queue, and we'd have to go clear them out".


bonaldi, I recall a thread from a while back where flagging vs. the limitations of the admin UI came up, but I honestly don't remember it—or the specific context of my comment that you're paraphrasing—well enough to know if it was germane to what we're talking about here. Do you have a link?
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:27 PM on November 25, 2007


AV: There's a big difference between saying:
1. "Well, I don't know what everyone's so worked up about. I'm a woman and it doesn't bother me."
and
2. "Lest we overgeneralize, I'd like to offer another voice here - I'm a woman and it doesn't bother me. I like to think of these things as opportunities to snark back... [etc] So, that's another way to look at it."

I think it's mainly an issue of framing your comment as one of the many views that women have around here vs. framing it in a way that can feel like "I feel differently so this isn't really a problem". I don't think your comments in the previous thread were of the "shut up" variety at all, and I appreciated the intent behind them. But I think that perception (born of defensiveness) is something that one needs to be aware of in entering the debate to say "not all women feel that way". In saying that, I think you take on an extra bit of responsibility for being explicit that you're coming from a mindset of solidarity in diversity. Or, of course, if you're not coming from a mindset of solidarity, then go ahead and say so like a regular disagreement.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:28 PM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


>I just think it's sad that people are still afraid that equality for some means loss of privilege for others.

I would have favorited your comments in this thread eight hundred times if I could. I think this bit speaks the truth.

Equality does mean loss of privilege. It's just that it can be replaced with something better than privilege, but it's damn hard to get people to believe that.

Distress that one can't just hurl the word 'cunt' out into the internets without reflection, or use MeFi as a personal locker room for drooling about women is a genuine emotional reaction, because that is a real loss of privilege. It's the privilege of not having to audit oneself in that specific way.

It would be nice if it were possible to convince everyone that if more women contributed, we would have interesting and valuable points to present, such that it would be a different environment, but a better one, and that such a change doesn't have to mean that fun dies a bitter death in a corner somewhere. I don't know that anything other than time will do that.

And now I have got to stop looking at this thread and finish my exciting and dynamic seminar paper about Asquith's last year as Prime Minister. If fun were to die a bitter death in a corner, it's going to be because it accidentally read my paper. I will protect the fun from my paper. I promise.
posted by winna at 5:35 PM on November 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


I see your point.

My intent was to show an idea that might be distasteful to make a further point (sexist vs. discourteous). The idea - "beautiful teenagers attract a lot of male sexual attention and this is not something to get worked up over or bother trying to change". I'm not taking a position on whether it would be commonly considered sexist or not; different people, different opinions and all that. I am putting it out there as an example of a statement that doesn't need to be pruned from the site for being offensive (assuming that some sizable portion actually did find it offensive).

Perhaps the structure "I don't think "I'd hit it" is an idea for discussion, but..." does suggest that I think the thread itself is suitable for Metafilter. That's my own sloppiness of expression. I don't have anything invested in the thread one way or the other. If I remember right, the FPP starts with a story about how the girl and her family are dealing with the attention. If you want my opinion, as a thread it seems fine enough. Since I think all the wolf-whistle comments are performative and they make for an ugly atmosphere, I don't have a problem with them being removed. In fact, I lean that way. Just because I think wringing one's hands over some hot chick getting a lot of looks is a bit ludicrous, doesn't mean I think Metafilter is an appropriate venue for the admirers to express their appreciation. Those are different statements. My interest is in statements that are engaging in discussion, even ones that have repulsive worldviews standing behind them.
posted by BigSky at 5:35 PM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


BigSky: much clearer. Thanks.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:44 PM on November 25, 2007


Mr_crash_davis, the policy against thread-crapping is pretty loose, as far as I can see. There has always been plenty of calling-out and it's only when things get really acrimonious that somebody hauls it into MetaTalk. Calling stuff out in-thread is an attempt to re-rail the discussion by shutting down the obnoxious garbage that upsets some people and distracts others. It's sort of a pressure relief valve to prevent a bigger blow-up later (not that I don't love me a good flame-out, but it's annoying to watch an interesting thread degenerate into a vortex of stupidity that sucks people into the same old arguments).

The new flag (same as the old flag, pretty much) is there for the less combative MeFites, in my view, so they can quietly protest whatever is pissing them off. Some people just don't like to get into arguments, online or in person, but their views are no less valid than the Snark Battalion's. One reason why we have moderators is so that the quiet types can make their opinions felt through the Invisible Hand of the Triumvirate. Of course it takes a lot of flags to have any visible effect, which I think is a fair trade-off for not sticking your neck out.

I rarely participate in call-outs because:
1. I'm pretty thick-skinned and tend to shrug off things as "stupid post from idiot user" rather than "hey, that's pretty hurtful".
2. Quite often what I think is an over-the-top insult or piece of idiocy turns out to be just a cultural reference I don't get (like a line from a movie or something) and I don't want to come out with guns blazing only to find that I haven't been watching enough TV lately.
3. My perspective seems, on average, to be about 15° off from most people's and I just don't feel that I'm contributing anything useful beyond my own personal, idiosyncratic interpretation of things.

However, after these MeTa discussions, I will try to call stuff out if I think it would be offensive to a person of good will. I might even flag it too, just for good measure. A two-pronged attack, if you will. I honestly did not realize that there was so much sense of intimidation here (I'm pretty dense sometimes) so I will try to put my thick skin to use for the greater good.
posted by Quietgal at 5:50 PM on November 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


BigSky, I agree with what you're saying, and I think it's totally in line with what most people want from the site. Additionally, in line with what you're saying, I found this study fascinating, demonstrating that sexist jokes tend to encourage sexist behavior more than earnest sexist discourse does. I think, to some extent, that's what a number of us have been reacting to, this creation of a culture in which sexist jokes become a way to avoid engaging on actual issues, a way to immediately dismiss anyone who tries to argue against them.

I really think that discouraging, and hopefully eliminating (through social pressure), the nasty jokes will create a site that encourages more serious engagement and substantive discussion. I'm much more willing to engage with someone who's making a good-faith argument with which I seriously disagree than with someone who's throwing me under the bus simply to make other people laugh -- that's pretty much the definition of the schoolyard bully.
posted by occhiblu at 5:53 PM on November 25, 2007 [4 favorites]


(and because for some reason I can't shut up right now)
AV: More succinctly, it can sound like one is saying "It doesn't bother me, and therefore other women are wrong to be bothered." Assuming this isn't what you mean, then that's the interpretation I think one needs to tread carefully to avoid. Of course, one can just go ahead and say the shorter version ("it doesn't bother me") and then explain if people get their backs up. This is assuming you are supporting the legitimacy of their being bothered about a given case, and just wanting to add in data that not all women feel that way.

Of course, if you do actually want to argue that other women are wrong to be bothered about a specific case, then you should expect to get resistance just like anybody else who was making the same argument. That doesn't seem like a problem about disloyalty or solidarity, since with regard to that one case you're actually not on the same side.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:55 PM on November 25, 2007


LobsterMitten, your care and insight continue to be laudable.

But defensiveness is a problem in that discourse, not dissent. (And may I add here digression, which is also sometimes treated as eclipsing or silencing, when really that's a glitch in the unthreaded board format, wherin we need to be able to tolerate multiple conversations at once.) The commitment to take people at face value and assume best intent should not fall apart within a group.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:02 PM on November 25, 2007


The Straightener writes "Please, for real, let the women do the calling out, they do not need champions for their cause amongst this crowd."

bugbread writes What if you're one of the guys who wants more women here, and therefore since sexism appears to be a major obstacle, wants to help lessen it? You're not exactly fighting as a champion of the women, you're fighting for your own selfish goals. Is that still permitted, or would you need women to champion your cause because if you champion your own cause it would be seen as your championing their cause?


I like LobsterMitten's take on this (as on other things in this thread) but I would like to point out, as I have before, that we are all better at spotting B.S. when it's being spouted by one of our own. ie: men perceive male bullshit more clearly, as women do female b.s.. So while I don't want to suggest that us men should stay quiet (isn't that part of the problem?), it's that exaggerated, let's-score-some-points calling out that deserves a calling out of its own. Of course, this is almost a no-win situation, because those taking the words at face value will inevitably come up with the usual arguments -- projection, defensiveness, personal agenda re: the commenter -- that you end up with sincere people derailing the thread with a defence of the self-interested Defender Of What Is Right.

So. I don't know. I say play it by ear.
posted by dreamsign at 6:08 PM on November 25, 2007


As to your clarification, I understand completely. it's odd how the contentious nature of Global Feminism rears its head in such trivial arenas as the usage of "cunt," but that's the sort of thing we're looking at here.

Usually, FWIW, I'm saying "it doesn't bother me right now, because I'm happy to have a chance to dissect it." In-depth analysis of language, gender and culture are, I hope, never derails!!!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:10 PM on November 25, 2007


thehmsbeagle,

Yes, a woman who repeatedly makes attacks like that gets mentally written off, because it seems to be equating any male who does these things as a rapist and/or pedophile and that gets tiring after a while.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:12 PM on November 25, 2007


but I would like to point out, as I have before, that we are all better at spotting B.S. when it's being spouted by one of our own. ie: men perceive male bullshit more clearly, as women do female b.s..

I said in the other thread, all I'm asking for is guys to be willing to say, "Hey, not cool." Or, "Hey, knock it off." Or, "Hey, not cool, knock it off."

I don't expect -- and I assume none of us expect -- any guy who doesn't feel comfortable doing so to get into a long drawn-out rebuttal argument with citations to relevant feminist texts. Just do that guy thing where you're all "Dude, uncool" and the other guy rolls his eyes and looks abashed at the same time and then you throw the basketball at his gut and he throws it back at you while making a goofy face and then you get on with your game, you know?

I mean, for the most part, when I'm in analogous situations of asking someone to stop trashing a group of which I am not a part, I tend to stick to things like, "Can we stop saying stupid things about gay people, please?" or "Racism, not really funny." It doesn't need to be more complicated than that if you don't want it to be.
posted by occhiblu at 6:20 PM on November 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


I care about this issue and I've followed the other threads closely and I just spent an hour and a half reading this one, and it doesn't seem like much more is getting accomplished. The same arguments seem to be rehashed with a different cast. I'm going to take a break and have a bourbon and see how the new flag wording and commitment to thoughtful commenting and self-policing take root. I suggest that we all do the same.

*has bourbon*
posted by Kwine at 7:07 PM on November 25, 2007


on meds, can't drink.

*sips diet coke, but in a manly way*
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:09 PM on November 25, 2007


(And may I add here digression, which is also sometimes treated as eclipsing or silencing, when really that's a glitch in the unthreaded board format, wherin we need to be able to tolerate multiple conversations at once.)

Or not a glitch, in that it encourages us to limit our diversions and more or less enforces a round-table, conversational style of communication.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:10 PM on November 25, 2007


I don't expect -- and I assume none of us expect -- any guy who doesn't feel comfortable doing so to get into a long drawn-out rebuttal argument with citations to relevant feminist texts.

Wow, I just realize how unclear I was in my previous comment. No. I was referring to bugbread's question about men stepping in to say "cool it", but noting that there are also times when guys step in to play Defender (not the video game) where it is nothing more than a pathetic exercise in point-scoring. And that this is easier for other guys to discern. So it might appear to some female MeFites as a genuine attempt to stand up for women, whereas other guys may (I'm suggesting: correctly) see it as insincere grandstanding. Trolling of a different sort. I could point to specific examples but I don't think that would be polite.

My hope would be that whenever a guy stands up to say "cool it" he does so without paternalism, and with sincerity, but it ain't always so. And to your specific example, I would never have a problem with someone simply saying "Hey guys, not funny," because that's far less likely to be grandstanding (if it is, it's pretty unobtrusive).
posted by dreamsign at 7:14 PM on November 25, 2007


noting that there are also times when guys step in to play Defender (not the video game) where it is nothing more than a pathetic exercise in point-scoring.

Ah. Yes. And those times are annoying. And women actually *do* know what's going on with that, trust me. But I think that people who do that on these topics are likely to do that on any topic, it's a personality trait rather than a topic-specific one. So I doubt it'll trip up anyone who actually gets it, anyway. (Plus, I'd rather err in that direction than the other.)
posted by occhiblu at 7:23 PM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Good point. And as I said before, a no-win situation anyway, if not readily perceived so best left alone.
posted by dreamsign at 7:27 PM on November 25, 2007


dreamsign: calling out the people who are playing Defender is probably not necessary. I don't understand this "each gender sees through its own crap more easily" stuff. I don't really think that's true. Women (or, I?) can see through that stuff quite easily, we just don't feel the need to leap up and point out the insincerity.

Also, I think in many cases, people who think they are being super-perceptive and discerning the Real Motivation behind someone else's remark are deluding themselves.

In any case, calling supposedly-insincere male feminists out leads to pointless fights about their personal motivations for their comments, when really, who gives a damn? The point of interest is whether indeed the called-out remark/joke/whatever is actually guilty of sexism/misogyny/racism/homophobism/etc. Calling out insincere callers-out is derailing, counterproductive (since they then get huffy and it becomes about them), and pointless (since what's the benefit to them if they aren't called out? some people might think well of them, some will totally see through it, and most people will continue not to even notice their username).
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:27 PM on November 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oops- nice timing.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:28 PM on November 25, 2007


So it might appear to some female MeFites as a genuine attempt to stand up for women, whereas other guys may (I'm suggesting: correctly) see it as insincere grandstanding.

I would disagree with that suggestion. It seems to me that "You're just saying that to score points/get laid/prove how sensitive you are" is the flip side of "You're just saying that because you hate men/aren't pretty/are on your period," and the same people who say the latter will say the former.
posted by L. Fitzgerald Sjoberg at 7:32 PM on November 25, 2007 [5 favorites]


Or not a glitch, in that it encourages us to limit our diversions and more or less enforces a round-table, conversational style of communication.

But it also encourages a lot of talking past one another and more of a merry-go-round than a round table, at times. Bringing new ideas into a "round table" is difficult and side-conversations are therefore not without value. In any case, I don't think silencing divergent viewpoints even on the basis of their tangentiality is wise.

Also I agree with L. Fitz that suspicion over men's motives is petty.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:45 PM on November 25, 2007



Meanwhile, over at FARK...
posted by tkolar at 7:59 PM on November 25, 2007


tkolar! I almost just posted the same thing. Jesus.
posted by Stewriffic at 8:03 PM on November 25, 2007


Meanwhile, over at FARK...

Yay, we're more civil than Fark. (I guess if we set the bar on the floor we could feel proud for leaping over it.)
posted by Tuwa at 8:08 PM on November 25, 2007


It seems to me that "You're just saying that to score points/get laid/prove how sensitive you are" is the flip side of "You're just saying that because you hate men/aren't pretty/are on your period," and the same people who say the latter will say the former.

I have to disagree with you Lore. There are plenty of men who *will* say anything to get laid, and I don't think calling them on it is comparable to blowing off someone's opinion because of some supposed bitterness and or hormones on their part.
posted by tkolar at 8:10 PM on November 25, 2007


Meanwhile, over at FARK...

Good reading! I plan to make, "Hey everyone! Stop disrespecting this poor hippo faced broad" part of my regular vocabulary here.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:17 PM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yay, we're more civil than Fark. (I guess if we set the bar on the floor we could feel proud for leaping over it.)

Well, among other things it's a reminder of why many very decent men at this site are surprised to hear the atmosphere described as "boyzone". Metafilter is so far ahead of large sections of the internet that it's easy to find yourself believing that things are at least tolerable for women here.

Having large numbers of female posters stand up and say "Uh, no, not really" has come as a surprise to more than a few people.
posted by tkolar at 8:22 PM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


There are plenty of men who *will* say anything to get laid, and I don't think calling them on it is comparable to blowing off someone's opinion because of some supposed bitterness and or hormones on their part.

Gah. There are also plenty of women who are cranky when on PMS. This is a non-starter. It's petty and rude to infer someone on the internet is any of these things.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:22 PM on November 25, 2007


This is a non-starter. It's petty and rude to infer someone on the internet is any of these things.

Eh, probably. I think I'm just enamored of the tactic because I saw it used so effectively on EB the other day.
posted by tkolar at 8:35 PM on November 25, 2007


occhiblu and LobsterMitten too,

I can't argue past this point. I understand what kind of atmosphere you want and it would be an improvement, no doubt. So I do hope the site become more welcoming. I suspect that a lot of the problems are connected more to the acceptance and encouragement of snark than anything else. It's a lot easier to look at words as only a tool for getting a desired reaction instead of being at least partially a moment of self expression. But that's another thread.
posted by BigSky at 8:36 PM on November 25, 2007


So it might appear to some female MeFites as a genuine attempt to stand up for women, whereas other guys may (I'm suggesting: correctly) see it as insincere grandstanding.

The whole "you're just trying to get laid" argument used on Metafilter just baffles me. Who cares why someone says what they say? If a guy honestly thinks he's going to get laid because of a few comments in a Metatalk thread (and I highly doubt anyone thinks in such simple terms), why not just let him think it and be ruined by his own disappointment?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:40 PM on November 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


BigSky, just to clear it up, I didn't suggest that the moderators do anything. But I am going to repeat that there's sexism beyond the jokes and slurs. Personally, that sexism bothers me more. And I will also repeat that the best I can think to do about it is challenge it in-thread from now on. I didn't say anything about the flagging system. I specifically said it ought to be challenged in-thread.

And now for an example. I believe that the assertion that men who defend feminist ideals just want to get laid is a sexist assertion. Again the implication that this is what women are good for, and this is supposedly the likely reason any man would speak up for them. As was articulated by several male feminists in the other thread, the derision they receive from the social group far outweighs any sexual benefits (which equal zero). They do it because they believe in it.

But to others: "Thoughtful, eloquent call for equality" = "I wanna hit that"

It's dismissive and yes, I think there is sexism in it.

But I don't think the flagging system is really made to address that sort of thing. It's very subjective and there just isn't anything overt. I accept that reasonable limitation as a challenge to myself, to speak up more. I don't think those who make the statements are sexist or have any sexist intent. Quite frankly, I don't think anyone is free of bigotry. So I'm not calling to ban all bigotry, it's impossible, it would require banning everyone, everywhere. But I'm not okay with just shutting up either.
posted by Danila at 9:11 PM on November 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


I did not read this ridiculously long thread, but I noticed that the flags are still the same.
What happened?
posted by exlotuseater at 9:17 PM on November 25, 2007


At any rate, I think that anything that we can do to make MeFi more woman-friendly is a good thing.
posted by exlotuseater at 9:20 PM on November 25, 2007


exlotuseater: Try a hard-refresh of your browser.
posted by WCityMike at 9:21 PM on November 25, 2007


If a lot of female users start expressing that the men who speak up are doing it to score points, boyzone comes back.

And I do have to wonder how we're supposed to tell the men from the women when we've got names lik exlotuseater, ThePinkSuperhero, Bigsky, tkolar, LobsterMitten, and the like?

It's going to be very interesting to see if a lot of female users get flagged for making sexist comments.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:36 PM on November 25, 2007


I believe that the assertion that men who defend feminist ideals just want to get laid is a sexist assertion. Again the implication that this is what women are good for, and this is supposedly the likely reason any man would speak up for them.

WTF? The implication is that men are pigs and would never actually give a fuck for equality unless it gives them a place to stick their dicks.

It is part of a long history of men being represented stupid beasts capable only of fucking and fucking-up. It permeates damn near every prime-time sitcom, from Tim the Fuck-Up Toolman to "Hank" Fuck-Me-Baby Duchovny.

Sexism goes both ways. It isn't always about women.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:48 PM on November 25, 2007


I've been accused of trying to "score points", but most of the time by other males.

And I almost flagged jessamyn for saying that her favorite name for a MetaFilter female clique was "Team Vag". But then, I don't like dragging genitalia into everything. I don't think that sounded right.
posted by wendell at 9:52 PM on November 25, 2007


"Team Vag"

What do you have against vagabonds?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:03 PM on November 25, 2007


We're here to have better conversations than that.

This, I think, is the crux of the matter. Honestly, I'm all for censorship of shitty comments if it raises the level of discourse. It's a website, not a constitution.
posted by danb at 10:11 PM on November 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


five fresh fish: You're absolutely right that it's sexist against men, and it also has the unpleasing elements noted by AV, Danila, and the "who cares" aspect noted by TPS. In short, it's a pointless and harmful kind of accusation. Pomposity is pomposity, and is equally available to men and women, and is mockable without resorting to "you're a pig just doing this to get laid and the stupid women can't see through your fancy talkin' ".

I fully expect that some women will get flagged for saying sexist stuff. Women are plenty capable of crass stupidity, just like men are. Being in favor of less frathouse idiocy, I don't care if it's men or women who are generating that idiocy. Can't imagine that this is an especially controversial point.

Overwhelmingly, feminists are against sexism, whether it's directed at men or women. Overwhelmingly, feminists are against crass and degrading insults to men, and we don't engage in them. I find it hard to fathom why that is so surprising that lots of people in this thread have said "yes but if you favor this, then you have to not insult men! And you wouldn't want that, because it would expose your hypocrisy!" No. I, and most feminists I know, don't play that.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:20 PM on November 25, 2007


"five fresh fish: You're absolutely right that it's sexist against men, and it also has the unpleasing elements noted by AV, Danila, and the "who cares" aspect noted by TPS. In short, it's a pointless and harmful kind of accusation. Pomposity is pomposity, and is equally available to men and women, and is mockable without resorting to "you're a pig just doing this to get laid and the stupid women can't see through your fancy talkin' "."

Oh, t'hell with that. The "Ladies, I sure do love the cunnilingus" comments are sleazy, and they crop up all the damn time, especially on AskMe.
posted by klangklangston at 10:30 PM on November 25, 2007


klang, I think we were talking about men who speak up in defense of feminism in discussions of this sort, not about responses to sex AskMes. Maybe I'm misunderstanding your comment?
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:50 PM on November 25, 2007


Overwhelmingly, feminists are against crass and degrading insults to men, and we don't engage in them.

Wow, you hang out with very different feminists than I do. Frankly, yours sound a bit boring...
posted by tkolar at 10:53 PM on November 25, 2007


Insults to individuals, yes. To men as a whole, no.

As I've said a seven million times above, the whole standup comedy "men are like this, women are like that" schtick is not funny -- it's tired and stale and not remotely clever. So if you think that's an awesome comedy good time, great, have fun. Men like sports and barbecue, and will do anything to get laid, and women like shopping and really just want a big rock and someone to cuddle, as I understand it. Enjoy!
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:15 PM on November 25, 2007


It took me about 45 seconds to figure out 1. that you did indeed mean "rock" and it wasn't a typo and 2. what kind, ie not the "you are my rock" kind... or is that what those gold digging blingatrixes really mean when they say that?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:22 PM on November 25, 2007


Heh, even reading it over myself I kind of stumbled on that.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:27 PM on November 25, 2007


The "Ladies, I sure do love the cunnilingus" comments are sleazy, and they crop up all the damn time, especially on AskMe.

Yeah they do, and it's very pathetic.
posted by Danila at 11:39 PM on November 25, 2007


Insults to individuals, yes. To men as a whole, no.

I hope you see some of the irony in your comments, one day.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:49 PM on November 25, 2007


What does that mean?
posted by thehmsbeagle at 11:53 PM on November 25, 2007


? I would be pleased if you would elaborate. I'm saying I don't make sexist jokes about men as a class. But I do make jokes about individual humans I know and their personal, observed idiosyncrasies. Where's the irony here?
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:55 PM on November 25, 2007


(Closing up shop for the night now; sorry to step out in the middle of an exchange.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:12 AM on November 26, 2007


Ah. Thanks, WCityMike.
posted by exlotuseater at 3:44 AM on November 26, 2007


tkolar writes "There are plenty of men who *will* say anything to get laid, and I don't think calling them on it is comparable to blowing off someone's opinion because of some supposed bitterness and or hormones on their part."

I agree, in principle, but the only people I know well enough to determine these ulterior motives are close friends and acquaintances (by close acquaintances, I'm talking about, for example, work colleagues you've worked with a long time, or guys who live in the same dorm, or the like). I've never seen a "you're just saying that to get laid" comment on the internet where the person saying it knew anywhere enough about the person targeted by it for it to seem even remotely valid.

five fresh fish writes "And I do have to wonder how we're supposed to tell the men from the women when we've got names lik exlotuseater, ThePinkSuperhero, Bigsky, tkolar, LobsterMitten, and the like?"

You know what? I've always hesitated to suggest it, because the blowback would be enormous, but one of the features I've always wanted was a little "male" or "female" icon that appears next to every name in comments. Not because knowing whether the commenter is male or female is vitally important to the conversation or my evaluation of their comment, but just because English pronouns are gendered, and 1) I'm always having to click on a person's profile to double-check that I get my "she/he" right, and 2) my memory sucks, so I'm always having to click on their profile. Even if I've clicked and checked someone's gender 100 times before.

LobsterMitten writes "Pomposity is pomposity, and is equally available to men and women, and is mockable without resorting to 'you're a pig just doing this to get laid and the stupid women can't see through your fancy talkin" '."

Actually, I think the implication is "You're a pig, you're just doing this to get laid, and...guess what? It's never going to happen, because you're so fucking transparent." I don't think that specific argument is denigratory to women, but it is sexist to men, and it's just a useless argument anyway, so I think we all agree that it sucks, and the specifics of how it sucks aren't really that important.

LobsterMitten writes "Overwhelmingly, feminists are against crass and degrading insults to men, and we don't engage in them. I find it hard to fathom why that is so surprising that lots of people in this thread have said 'yes but if you favor this, then you have to not insult men! And you wouldn't want that, because it would expose your hypocrisy!' No. I, and most feminists I know, don't play that."

I think it's just because the kinds of people who are clearly and obviously feminists are the extremists. The normal feminists don't stick out much, so they don't get noticed as being feminists. And when the extremists are the obvious folks, some folks will believe that what the extremists believe is representative of what the group believes in general. Happens all the time with religion and conservatism threads here. So if you've got a bajillion level headed feminists and ten extremist man-hating types, the man-hating types are the ones that stick out.

In fact, these last two threads have been really good as far as this goes. I don't recall MeFi having any extremist feminists. But on the odd chance that hypothetical MeFite Bob had an image of feminists as all being crazy whack-jobs, because all the normal feminists went under Bob's radar, these two threads of level-headed discussion will hopefully realign his image of what the average feminist is really like.

Ambrosia Voyeur writes "It took me about 45 seconds to figure out 1. that you did indeed mean 'rock' and it wasn't a typo and 2. what kind, ie not the 'you are my rock' kind... or is that what those gold digging blingatrixes really mean when they say that?"

I'm still confused. What does the "big rock" mean? "Strong sturdy indefatigable man", or "diamond"?
posted by Bugbread at 4:15 AM on November 26, 2007


I read it as "diamond." Wanting a strong, sturdy, indefatigable mate isn't specific to women, in my experience.
posted by GrammarMoses at 4:48 AM on November 26, 2007


Danila,

You are right. When I replied to your comment I knew that there was no direct mention of flagging, but I passed right over the part about replying in thread. So I figured it was safe to assume you thought more embedded instances of sexism or racism could or should be addressed with the flags. But clearly you didn't and it should have been apparent.
posted by BigSky at 4:50 AM on November 26, 2007


A suggestion from a male in the peanut gallery: 'not cool' works for some, but there's a certain personality type that sort of thrives on that (and on people getting visibly pissed). It makes them feel like they're hitting a nerve or whatever. In that case, just say 'you're looking ridiculous and stupid. and you're boring everyone.'
posted by jonmc at 5:32 AM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


What does the "big rock" mean?

I read it as "diamond."


Actually it's the pro wrestler. They're nice to have around.
posted by jonmc at 5:34 AM on November 26, 2007


...(Must. Not. Objectify. Well-Muscled. Wrestler-Turned-"Actor")...
posted by GrammarMoses at 5:39 AM on November 26, 2007


Muscleist!

*drags skinny self into living room to do pushups. stops because cigarette keeps burning the rug*
posted by jonmc at 5:45 AM on November 26, 2007


GrammarMoses writes "Wanting a strong, sturdy, indefatigable mate isn't specific to women, in my experience."

Well, 1) we're talking stereotypes, not reality, and 2) I meant literally physically "strong" and "sturdy". I don't think there's a stereotype that men want women who are massive, powerful, and lumberjacky.
posted by Bugbread at 6:25 AM on November 26, 2007


there's a stereotype that men want women who are massive, powerful, and lumberjacky.

well, I'm scrawny and lazy, but I own a lot of plaid shirts. Close enough?
posted by jonmc at 6:32 AM on November 26, 2007


There's no greater ornament to man or woman than woodchips in the turn-ups.
posted by Abiezer at 6:47 AM on November 26, 2007


> Yes, a woman who repeatedly makes attacks like that gets mentally written off, because it seems to be equating any male who does these things as a rapist and/or pedophile and that gets tiring after a while.

So, basically the women who have said that they try not to post too much about the boyzone issue so that their posting history doesn't give off a whiff of humorless shrill feminist are correct to be concerned about male perception of such issues.
posted by onlyconnect at 7:00 AM on November 26, 2007


Brandon Blatcher writes "Yes, a woman who repeatedly makes attacks like that gets mentally written off, because it seems to be equating any male who does these things as a rapist and/or pedophile and that gets tiring after a while."

Attacks like what? hmsbeagle is talking about whether or not to make attacks about a specific topic, but hasn't provided any examples of what kind of attacks.

For example, on an "I hope Coulter gets raped with knives" thread:
Woman A: "Rape jokes aren't funny."
Woman B: "Stop living out your sick fantasies on MeFi."

Both are attacks on the same topic.
Attacks like A don't seem to be equating any male who makes a sexist comment as a rapist.
Attacks like B do seem to be equating any male who makes a sexist comment as a rapist.

Equating all males who say sexist things with rapists or pedophiles gets tiring after a while. But not all comments against sexism seem to be equating a male who makes a sexist comment with a rapist or pedophile.
posted by Bugbread at 7:20 AM on November 26, 2007


Overwhelmingly, feminists are against crass and degrading insults to men, and we don't engage in them.

Wow, you hang out with very different feminists than I do.Insults to individuals, yes. To men as a whole, no.

Actually, I was thinking of Lily Tomlin's wonderfully crass: "We have reason to believe that man first walked upright to free his hands for masturbation.", a comment I have seen elicit a laugh from more than one die-hard feminist (as well as a lot of other people).

But then the point of this conversation has been that a) Metafilter is not a stand up routine and b) while a comment made once in private conversation might be hilarious, that same comment repeated umpteen times in a public forum becomes something different entirely.

So for purposes of this discussion it doesn't really matter what people do or don't find funny with their immediate friends. The question has been how to set a decent baseline and expectations in this very public semi-anonymous arena..
posted by tkolar at 7:47 AM on November 26, 2007


Ann Coulter isn't underage.
posted by Balisong at 7:48 AM on November 26, 2007


...must....preview...formatting...
posted by tkolar at 7:49 AM on November 26, 2007


Balisong writes "Ann Coulter isn't underage."

"Rapists and/or pedophiles", not "rapists and pedophiles".
posted by Bugbread at 7:53 AM on November 26, 2007


But not all comments against sexism seem to be equating a male who makes a sexist comment with a rapist or pedophile.

We can argue that this reaction is irrational, but I think what's almost more important is that folks do have this reaction. People who speak out on the same topic repeatedly get written off as one-note Charlies with an axe to grind, who don't merit the attention of someone with a more balanced posting history. As hmsbeagle said above, it's a Catch-22.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:02 AM on November 26, 2007



So, basically the women who have said that they try not to post too much about the boyzone issue so that their posting history doesn't give off a whiff of humorless shrill feminist are correct to be concerned about male perception of such issues.


Yep. Any person who spends a lot of their posting time making comments about a single topic -- particularly ones pointing out their dislike of other people's comments -- is going to very quickly get written off as a loony by both men and women.

The whole "fight 'em in the trenches" attitude has a grand bravado about it, but ultimately it turns your life into one long battle, and no one wants to be around you because all you do is complain.

But in the words of Obi-Wan Kenobi, "There are alternatives to fighting..."
posted by tkolar at 8:02 AM on November 26, 2007


Actually, I was thinking of Lily Tomlin's wonderfully crass: "We have reason to believe that man first walked upright to free his hands for masturbation.", a comment I have seen elicit a laugh from more than one die-hard feminist (as well as a lot of other people).

I laughed when I read that. I'm a feminist. That doesn't mean I'm hateful towards men or that I tear them down all the time. Or even at all. I wouldn't ever even tell a joke like that. But I laughed. So what?

It simply means that I am not a HUMORLESS feminist, because the two don't go hand in hand that often, frankly. Or are we not allowed to laugh at any jokes?
posted by agregoli at 8:14 AM on November 26, 2007


It sounds like tkolar has arrived at a similar view on this to me coming from a different starting premise, which makes me inclined to think it'll ought to be a workable solution.
Also, I really wouldn't set myself up as a feminist. Quite apart from the presumption that would imply on my part, politically I tend towards universalist philosophies. But for my money you can't live as a man around men and not develop some sort of sense for what is really just offensive or lazy-minded crapola, if you give it even the minimum of thought. It's as much a concern for the shabby idea of what masculinity is implied by some of this, in one sense. Also why one of the things the Straightener said way back struck a really false note with me, the bit about this being geeky types finally getting a chance to impose their will on the community. Not my experience at all. I've argued this sort of stuff with some right hairy-arsed bastards I either used to work with in factories and on building sites or served in that pub job I mentioned somewhere way up thread. And you might be surprised to find I was never the only one who thought like this - the genuinely mean-spirited types were pretty much always a minority to my recall.
posted by Abiezer at 8:18 AM on November 26, 2007



I laughed when I read that. I'm a feminist. That doesn't mean I'm hateful towards men or that I tear them down all the time. Or even at all. I wouldn't ever even tell a joke like that. But I laughed. So what?


You'll have to ask LobsterMitten. She was the one who suggested that feminists were overwhelmingly against crass statements about men.

My experience has been that feminists are possessed of the same wide variety of temperaments as any other large population.

And no, laughing at that statement doesn't make you a man-hating ogress any more than laughing at "I'd hit it" makes a man a misogynist pig. Humor is humor, and some like it crass.
posted by tkolar at 8:26 AM on November 26, 2007


I'm just happy to know that any pushback I give against someone being a dumbass means that I'm calling them a rapist and/or a pedophile.

Geez, folks. Really?
posted by thehmsbeagle at 8:36 AM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Actually, I was thinking of Lily Tomlin's wonderfully crass: "We have reason to believe that man first walked upright to free his hands for masturbation.", a comment I have seen elicit a laugh from more than one die-hard feminist (as well as a lot of other people).

I laughed when I read that. I'm a feminist. That doesn't mean I'm hateful towards men or that I tear them down all the time.


Hell, I laughed when i read that, and I'm a man. Saying that men like to jerk off is liking saying that dogs like to hump legs, not exactly incendiary.
posted by jonmc at 8:43 AM on November 26, 2007


Well, if the dog creates enough friction, sparks might fly.
posted by brain_drain at 8:52 AM on November 26, 2007


thehmsbeagle writes "Geez, folks. Really?"

"Folks" is plural. "Brandon Blatcher" is singular.
posted by Bugbread at 8:55 AM on November 26, 2007


tkolar - I was saying that stuff in response to the "just think, if you say sexist jokes about women are offensive, you'd have to say the same about sexist jokes about men -- and surely no feminist would be willing to do that" vibe that I have gotten from some commenters above. It strikes a nerve with me because feminism just is not about slagging men as a class. At all. Hence my vehemence.

I didn't mean that the only yardstick should be what I find funny or something, and I've probably overstated my own rigidity when it comes to no-sexist-jokes on both sides. I was just resenting the implication that somehow it's an important element of feminism to be against men.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:12 AM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was just resenting the implication that somehow it's an important element of feminism to be against men.

Me too. It's not a part of anything *I* would call feminism.
posted by agregoli at 9:17 AM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Saying that men like to jerk off is liking saying that dogs like to hump legs, not exactly incendiary.

I agree, but on the other hand, "Men will always be pigs" is incendiary, to me. EB caught fire over that one and most people who reacted to his nasty response to amyms didn't seem remark that it was offensive, only that he overreacted to their "difference of opinion" on the matter. The resignation and embedded disrespect in that summation of you higher sex-drive havers is nothing if not a wedge, which is where offense begins, imo.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:23 AM on November 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


I was just resenting the implication that somehow it's an important element of feminism to be against men.

Gotcha.
posted by tkolar at 9:29 AM on November 26, 2007


I think AV is dead-on about that.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:30 AM on November 26, 2007


AV: to tell you the truth, as self-confessed oversexed male, it dosen't bother me all that much. Other people's mileage may vary. But if taking a joke at my own expense (or making one at my own expense, which is what 99% of my humor is) lightens the atmosphere sometimes, I'm completely fine with it. I don't want this place to become Fark (nothing against Fark, it's fun sometimes) but I don't want it to become a society tea either.

Plus, questions of degree ahve to come into play, too. It's a long way from 'men like to jerk off and look at boobies" to violent rape humor. To be equivalent, it would have to be castration jokes or something like that.
posted by jonmc at 9:33 AM on November 26, 2007


I'm just happy to know that any pushback I give against someone being a dumbass means that I'm calling them a rapist and/or a pedophile.

I was referring to your comment in the female polevaulter thread and your explanation of that comment in this thread.

And you know what, I was wrong. So, to thehmsbeagle, I apologize for misunderstanding and misrepresenting your comments. Theres a lot in them that I vehemently disagree with and think is a clear example of the huge chasm of misunderstanding on this issue. But none of that changes the fact that I was wrong, so again I apologize.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:33 AM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


And you know what, I was wrong. So, to thehmsbeagle, I apologize

You're a classy guy, BB. That ain't easy to do. These threads do seem to bring out good behavior in the face of fairly strong differences of opinion.

And jonmc, don't ever stop humpin' those legs!
[NOT DOGGIST]
posted by languagehat at 9:48 AM on November 26, 2007


LobsterMitten said Overwhelmingly, feminists are against crass and degrading insults to men, and we don't engage in them.

Key word would be "degrading". Context is everything, as many people have said already. I expect "degrading" (or "against men" or otherwise hostile or mean-spirited) wouldn't accurately describe Tomlin's routine, nor the atmosphere of a mixed-company joke telling session. Also, I laughed, and I'll try that joke out on my husband later.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:49 AM on November 26, 2007


Re BB, I hope this does not sound annoyingly persistent, but I think my point still stands -- that people will read things about you that aren't there into callouts, and assume that you are humorless, overreactionary, etc. So that it still seems reasonable to worry about making too many or too pointed comments lest you gain a reputation as someone who only cares about boyzone issues and is "oversensitive" about them, even if you comment on lots of other issues in the blue and green. Even though, as Stagewhisper said so eloquently in the mother thread, if we really called out everything that deserved it, even we would look at our own posting histories and think "grind, grind, grind."

In this way maybe more use of tagging will be helpful, because it could have an effect via the mods and also won't poison our posting histories going forward.

posted by onlyconnect at 9:53 AM on November 26, 2007


oops, I should clarify that when I said "EB caught fire" I meant in the "caught on fire" sense, though he took fire resulting from his response, natch.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:02 AM on November 26, 2007

Actually, I was thinking of Lily Tomlin's wonderfully crass: "We have reason to believe that man first walked upright to free his hands for masturbation.", a comment I have seen elicit a laugh from more than one die-hard feminist (as well as a lot of other people).
I have to note, though, that the joke still works if you adjust it to "...that humankind first walked upright..."

Or did anyone here think women don't?

Given that both men and women walk upright, maybe the joke's not quite the jab at men as males after all.
posted by Karmakaze at 10:09 AM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Karmakaze, you can diddle and stroll? I cannot. You are a better woman than I.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:16 AM on November 26, 2007


Or did anyone here think women don't?

Of course not. But (and this is debatable, I'm sure) I think women have a very different sex drive than men do: less visually oriented, less competitive, less obsessive. And therein lies the joke.
posted by jonmc at 10:17 AM on November 26, 2007


"Saying that men like to jerk off is liking saying that dogs like to hump legs, not exactly incendiary..."

Well, perhaps not incendiary, but I will depart from Team Vagabond on this point and say that I don't think it's funny and I wouldn't repeat it. I really, really don't like generalisations like that because they are pretty much by definition inaccurate - not all men are anything, except possibly endowed with specific sets of chromosomes. Given that we live in an enlightened age where people can avail of gender reassignment, I'm not even sure we can say that.

Specifically, I don't like that generalisation because it compares men to dogs, which is common in our culture and problematic for all kinds of reasons, from being an unflattering comparison to relieving men of some degree of responsibility for their actions by implying they are programmed for Pavlovian responses.

I also object to it because it implies an absolute about men's sexual habits and sexual drives that is simply not true. A man who is asexual or has a very low sex drive is not a lesser man because he doesn't fit this stereotype.

And finally, I don't like stereotypes about men because if I'm OK with it when you make generalisations about males, I have to be OK about it when you stereotype women. So I prefer to just not participate in it whenever I can possibly avoid it.

(Yes, I admit that I live in a world of critical thinking overdrive. And that my husband thinks I'm eating a plate of beans on this one.)
posted by DarlingBri at 10:21 AM on November 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


Karmakaze, you can diddle and stroll? I cannot. You are a better woman than I.

Maybe it's a bow-legged stroll. It's not like early humanoids had an elegant and stately gait.
posted by CKmtl at 10:27 AM on November 26, 2007


DarlingBri, you're beyond plate of beans and into crockpot territory, yes. Nothing personal.

Again, this is where different communication styles clashing causing misunderstandings. To an awful lot of people (male and female), rough raunchy teasing and kidding is actually a sign of acceptance; saying 'come join the fun.' For other people, not so much.

But if we were to start chastising people for any humor that could possibly be offensive to anyone, we're going to be left with puns, knock-knock jokes and people slipping on banana peels. That's not civility, that's banality and it's infantilizing.

Does this mean that the only choice is between the enviornment described above and a free-for-all playground shouting match? No, it just means that we have to work out a reasonable balance is all.
posted by jonmc at 10:31 AM on November 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


Well, and let's be honest: they didn't have a whole lot to get done on any given day, so they'd probably just stop and sit down and diddle themselves in comfort.

Early humans: they had time to masturbate.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:33 AM on November 26, 2007


I had Diddle and Stroll represent me in a a recent court case. Once they'd taken matters in hand, things quickly led to a most satisfying outcome.
posted by Abiezer at 10:39 AM on November 26, 2007


Unfortunately they were defeated on appeal by Dewey, Scruem and Howe.
posted by jonmc at 10:41 AM on November 26, 2007


that people will read things about you that aren't there into callouts, and assume that you are humorless, overreactionary, etc.

Totally agree, so picking battles is important.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:56 AM on November 26, 2007


DarlingBri, you're beyond plate of beans and into crockpot territory, yes. Nothing personal.

But the beans! They are so tasty!

But if we were to start chastising people for any humor that could possibly be offensive to anyone

Just in case that was being steered in my general direction, I just need to be clear: I certainly wouldn't chastise anyone for making that joke, or change my opinion of them if they did. And I wouldn't flag it on MeFi! I just find that sort of predictable humour tiresome, if ubiquitous, and would not repeat it myself.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:57 AM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Fair enough. My point was that part of being an adult is realizing that we all live in a world filled with billions of people who more often than not hold opinions, tastes and senses of humor different (often vociferously so) to one's own, and there's really not a whole lot that can be done about that. Nor would I have it any other way.

And sometimes (and I am most expressly not talking about the concerns violent sexual humor being discussed in this thread) conversations around here can get a wee bit stilted, arid and maybe a little bit precious. And that's why whatever beefs I might have, I am glad that the 'rude & crude' contingent exists here.
posted by jonmc at 11:07 AM on November 26, 2007


I would disagree with that suggestion. It seems to me that "You're just saying that to score points/get laid/prove how sensitive you are" is the flip side of "You're just saying that because you hate men/aren't pretty/are on your period," and the same people who say the latter will say the former.

It certainly can be, which is why I had no concrete suggestion to make, despite it (grandstanding; point-scoring) being something that happens with some regularity here. But like it or not, sometimes that's the truth behind the comment.

I don't understand this "each gender sees through its own crap more easily" stuff. I don't really think that's true. Women (or, I?) can see through that stuff quite easily, we just don't feel the need to leap up and point out the insincerity.

I expected that notion to meet with some resistance. No one likes to think they have a blind spot, especially when it's regarding those who seem to be agreeing with you. FWIW, I've reached this conclusion through conversation and observation with a close circle of perceptive friends of both sexes (it's not really my conclusion but ours), and I've seen it borne out regularly on MeFi, as recently as the threads under discussion. Note I'm not saying that "women have such and such blind spot". It appears that guys are just as blind in the same way.

But we agree that calling it out is likely to lead to a counterproductive derail, and I don't like to see sincere people get sucked into a defense of some credit-seeking schmuck.
posted by dreamsign at 11:22 AM on November 26, 2007


And that's why whatever beefs I might have,

I have no idea why, but I read that as "whatever queefs I might have" and thought, "wow, jon really has come a long way."
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 11:46 AM on November 26, 2007


and hosted from Uranus writes "I have no idea why, but I read that as 'whatever queefs I might have' and thought, 'wow, jon really has come a long way.'"

Jokes about ejaculation distance are not appreciated.
posted by Bugbread at 12:17 PM on November 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


So while I don't want to suggest that us men should stay quiet (isn't that part of the problem?), it's that exaggerated, let's-score-some-points calling out that deserves a calling out of its own.

I don't like to see sincere people get sucked into a defense of some credit-seeking schmuck.

I can't help but feel a bit as though I have fallen down the rabbit hole when the same thread that advises me not to jump to negative conclusions about the authors of "I'd hit it" type comments also suggests I be suspicious of male feminists for their exhuberance. I just don't agree, I guess.
posted by onlyconnect at 1:14 PM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


onlyconnect writes "I can't help but feel a bit as though I have fallen down the rabbit hole when the same thread that advises me not to jump to negative conclusions about the authors of 'I'd hit it' type comments also suggests I be suspicious of male feminists for their exhuberance. I just don't agree, I guess."

I don't particularly agree, either, but I don't think the messages are contradictory. They're both saying "don't take comments at face value". I kinda reject that on the grounds that I'm not a mind-reader, so unless you're being really clearly and obviously sarcastic or ironic, I'll believe that what you're saying is what you really think. But I don't see a fundamental disconnect between the two arguments.
posted by Bugbread at 1:34 PM on November 26, 2007


Without reading the thread in question I'll let that stand as the very reason that this looks like a knee-jerk reaction.

I think you're having a subject/object problem with who it is that's being knee-jerk. Close to 2000 comments on this issue in the other threads suggests that it's more likely to be you than the people who spent time actually, like, discussing and thinking about this.

I haven't gotten far in this thread, yet, so perhaps geekyguy's incredible idiocy magically goes away later in the thread. In which case, cheers.
posted by OmieWise at 1:52 PM on November 26, 2007


Everyone's been saying "chiming in late," but I won't, because at this point there's no telling how long this thread may go.

Late or not, my two cents: I'm a girl; I've never made a FPP though I read the blue a lot; I haven't seen anything that would make me leave the site in wrath, although I've seen plenty that makes me think, "geez, what an asshole." Sexist, homophobic, whatever--I just don't see the point. Let it go; it's not helping your cause any, whatever that cause may be.

I've read the super-duper long threads and just want to say thanks to a lot of men and women, lobstermitten outstanding amongst them, for the rational, non-violent protest. By which I mean, thanks for persevering without stooping to the level of some of the truly inane, or uninformed, or abusive contrarian views that have been expressed.

Two little slips that made me laugh:

WCityMike:
Also, I'd like to apologize to everyone for being a man. And for that time I ran around "waiving my member around the site"

Yes, WCityMike, waive your member. That's all anyone is asking--no automatic deletions, no top-down censorship. Just... waive it. For the benefit of all.

DarlingBri:
Obviously, one may need to refer to "the women of MetaFilter" as a discreet group now and then

Ha. That's the problem, right? That we've been a little too discreet until now? Or maybe that now we're not being discreet enough? :)

One more thing: grumblebee, I know where you're coming from on the "he/they/s/he" thing. I can't stand the singular "they"--just never have been able to get the hang of it. Maybe I will, someday; for now it just reads as wrong to me. "He" (inclusive) has a long pedigree, which for me is hard to shake. And I read "he" (in an example such as the one you gave) with a specificity, and elegance, that is lacking with "they."

At the same time... In my own writing, I've tried to find work-arounds. And when my pastor alternates genders when telling anecdotes in sermons, I appreciate it. Yes, it politicizes the speech a tiny bit (i.e. draws attention to the style rather than the content), but in a good way. An inclusive, 'I recognize the power of language' sort of way--understanding the limitations, the awkwardnesses, the implications of making any one choice. FWIW.
posted by torticat at 2:04 PM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


> Yes, WCityMike, waive your member.

Well played, madam. Well played.
posted by WCityMike at 2:07 PM on November 26, 2007


Ha. That's the problem, right? That we've been a little too discreet until now? Or maybe that now we're not being discreet enough? :)

But but but... discretion is the better part of valour!

(DOH.)
posted by DarlingBri at 2:18 PM on November 26, 2007


Upthread, a reference was made to a Mefi NewsFilterPost thread in which Mefites debated "whether it's really rape if a woman is unconscious and someone has sex with her." I'm not challenging the thread's existence, nor the implications, but I'd like to read the thread itself. Would anyone be kind enough to provide linkage? It doesn't appear to have been linked to, unless I missed something.
posted by WCityMike at 2:29 PM on November 26, 2007


I've been watching this thread go by in my Recent Activity page, because I snarked somewhere in the first couple of dozen comments, and here's what I've noticed:

There are a lot of men in this thread who are completely fucking clueless and are just simply floundering their way towards eventually accumulating enough words to someday have the ability to engage in a conversation about feminism.

I don't mean to pick on anyone in particular - this thread is loaded with examples like a bourgeois Christmas tree is with shiny balls - but let's take 5ff's admirably open-minded comment:

It's going to be very interesting to see if a lot of female users get flagged for making sexist comments.

No, it's not.

It's not going to be interesting at all, not to anyone who's ever spent any time thinking about or observing these issues. This "experiment" is a meaningless non-intervention and the only possible useful effect it could have would be to get people like 5ff thinking enough about the topic to make a comment like that. The rest of us - the ones who already understand that we are at the bottom of an ocean of unconscious sexism, racism and class warfare when we wade out into an internet forum - are not going to learn a goddamn thing. There sure as fuck aren't going to be any news flashes for any women from this whole shitpile.

At one point I considerd recommending a Women's Studies class to some of the people in this thread - but honestly, I think it would take longer for most of you to register for the class on the phone than you have actually ever spent thinking about feminism in your entire lives.

That's sort of sad. You guys need to start really thinking about what's going on around you and what it means.
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:44 PM on November 26, 2007 [7 favorites]


I've found the thread in question. You think I could've just used Google to begin with, duh.
posted by WCityMike at 2:46 PM on November 26, 2007


abiezer and jonmc - you will be glad to know that Sioux, Grabbit & Runne took it to the Supreme Court... The outcome is expected shortly...

(sorry about the elipses... I can't help it)
posted by Sk4n at 2:58 PM on November 26, 2007


I totally forgot about that thread. Seven months later there's still no proposal. Who could have predicted that the Evening Standard would have misled us so badly?
posted by grouse at 3:00 PM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't particularly agree, either, but I don't think the messages are contradictory. They're both saying "don't take comments at face value". . . . But I don't see a fundamental disconnect between the two arguments.

If that were true, then someone would also be encouraging us to interpret "I'd hit it" comments in the most negative way possible, and enthusiastic male feminists in the most positive light possible. Instead we're exhorted to believe that those who seem against us are with us, and those who seem with us are against us. Which is delightful in a spy novel, but here not as much.
posted by onlyconnect at 3:07 PM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


ikkyu2: Please, chill. Seriously.

Up until this moment I associated your username with interesting and good things. What purpose does spewing this bile achieve?

I can only hope that someday I will become as enlightened as you are about the sea of oppression that we are all swimming in. No, I take that back, going through life with such a negative view off human interaction, and such a huge chip on my shoulder, would totally suck.

At one point I considerd recommending a Women's Studies class to some of the people in this thread

Holy fuck, you are the strawman all these moronic sexist woman-haters have been frightened of.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:10 PM on November 26, 2007


If that were true, then someone would also be encouraging us to interpret "I'd hit it" comments in the most negative way possible, and enthusiastic male feminists in the most positive light possible. Instead we're exhorted to believe that those who seem against us are with us, and those who seem with us are against us. Which is delightful in a spy novel, but here not as much.

It's kind of a dopey idea that hinges on the notion that heterosexual guys, by virtue of their heterosexuality, can't say anything to or about a woman without it really meaning that they want to get into her pants, which itself ties in with the idea that sex is inherently degrading to women, because if a man wants to have sex with a woman then he actually wants to degrade her, so he can't possibly think positively of women if he wants to sleep with women, and then it all becomes a huge Gordian knot of Catholic guilt that even years of therapy cannot hope to untangle, so it's probably best to just dismiss this as the silly bullshit it is. (On the other hand, there walk among us plenty of people of both genders who will say anything to get laid, so it's best to use one's discretion. As TPS said, though, talking about gender issues on Metafilter is probably the most roundabout, hopeless means of getting laid imaginable, so I can't imagine this prospect is motivating too many decisions here either way.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:22 PM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Cortex, it's this post I'm referring to. I was talking about mods using discretion to not delete things when they were heavily flagged, and you said:
Which would require reworking an otherwise-functional flag admin interface to implement some sort of specific exception for this subset of threads that piss tons of people off but shouldn't be dealt with because some folks don't like seeing them deleted.

In a later comment you basically said the opposite, but I haven't been able to see how that circle squares.
posted by bonaldi at 3:27 PM on November 26, 2007


ikkyu2 writes "That's sort of sad. You guys need to start really thinking about what's going on around you and what it means."

"This whole thing is stupid. It's only going to make people who've never thought about these things start thinking about these things. Instead, you need to start thinking about these things."

onlyconnect writes "If that were true, then someone would also be encouraging us to interpret 'I'd hit it' comments in the most negative way possible, and enthusiastic male feminists in the most positive light possible."

Eh? Both comments mean "Don't take everything at face value". You're saying that those comments only mean that if someone were also encouraging people to take everything at face value and then amp it up? If I said you should give Bob a donut, and also give Alice a donut, these would be non-contradictory only if somebody else suggested that you not give Bob a donut, and not give Alice a donut either? If nobody suggested that they get no donuts, "Give Bob a donut" and "Give Alice a donut" would be contradictory?

I don't understand how "A and B are not contradictory" can only be true if someone suggests "Not A and Not B too!"

But, if it makes you feel...better (? I don't know the word I'm looking for), I mentioned above that I generally do take things at face value, unless they're obvious extreme sarcasm. So for your "A and B are only non-contradictory if someone suggests C" proposition, I'm basically proposing C, so I guess A and B are non-contradictory. I just don't understand how my suggestion to take things at face value is what proves that A and B don't contradict.
posted by Bugbread at 3:32 PM on November 26, 2007


cortex: Well, and let's be honest: they didn't have a whole lot to get done on any given day, so they'd probably just stop and sit down and diddle themselves in comfort.

And you know this how? Perhaps our female forebearers actually were quite over-scheduled and sat down to consult their dayplanners... their often-thumbed, be-stickied dayplanners.
posted by dogrose at 3:49 PM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Pencil me in for Tuesday anytime, baby!
posted by Abiezer at 4:10 PM on November 26, 2007


Cortex has it the other way 'round: they didn't diddle themselves all day because they had nothing to do, they had no free time because they were so busy diddling themselves!

Then the labour laws were relaxed to increase diddling break time, and the iron age started.
posted by Bugbread at 4:13 PM on November 26, 2007


Hello, Mr. Carlin? George? I think we have another one to add to your list of Filthy Words... Yeah, it's dayplanner... No, apparently it now refers to women's genitalia... Well, it's a long story, but somebody at MetaFilter was overthinking a plate of beans and it just didn't wendell when...... Uh, hello? Are you there? Hello...? Hello...?
posted by wendell at 4:16 PM on November 26, 2007


"Dayplanner": My goodness gracious me, oh, my. How the world does change. Lordy.
posted by cgc373 at 4:26 PM on November 26, 2007


Brandon Blatcher: thank you. You're a neat dude. I appreciate you starting this thread, and being generally decent.

PS: I have never read a post on MetaFilter and though "Man, I really want to have sex with that person!" no matter what kind of philosophy they were espousing. If someone is really looking to pick up chicks on MetaFilter, it seems like they'd have a really high failure rate.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 4:35 PM on November 26, 2007


ikkyu2: Please, chill. Seriously.

Meatbomb, this is awesome. It's like a parody of the use of intra-group shaming to try to control opinions you don't like.

"Man, lighten up, it was just a joke. I thought you were cool!?"
posted by OmieWise at 4:37 PM on November 26, 2007


If I could go back and do it all over (but I can't go back, I know), were I in law school once more and heard a professor ask rhetorically "WHO IS THE REASONABLE PERSON?!" as if this were some deep and unanswerable question, I would totally raise my hand and say "LobsterMitten".

Dude [non-gendered 'dude' invocation intended] you are rocking this so mightily.
posted by psmith at 4:38 PM on November 26, 2007 [5 favorites]


bugbread/onlyconnect: I think the sensed contradiction is this:
-When I [or the people I approve of?] say something apparently shabby, please interpret in light of my good intentions.
-When he says something apparently good, please interpret in light of his shabby intentions.

I'm not sure if we have any examples in this thread of any one individual saying both, so there may not be that kind of internal contradiction in anyone's position. (And I can't be arsed to look through and try to find out.) But even supposing that some person did hold both, it isn't strictly speaking contradictory, it's just saying "interpret me [or the people I approve of?] as a nice guy, and interpret other guys as not nice." It's special pleading.

At any rate, I think the impulse to call out men who one sees as bad-faith grandstanders on this issue is largely a wasted one. The calling-out impulse seems equally likely to come from a motivation of playing Defender [great term, dreamsign] and trying to keep women from getting suckered by the act or something else unrelated to the merits of the position under discussion.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:42 PM on November 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


(Also, I have to say: thank you so much to everyone who has said kind things about me. I haven't wanted to respond individually in thread, and haven't gotten around to memailing, but I'm really chuffed. Thanks.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:45 PM on November 26, 2007


Indeed, Psmith. LobsterMitten is so reasonable and patient and right on that I'm hoping I can convince her to be in charge of all my communiques to the outside world.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 4:45 PM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


thehmsbeagle, I think yours are probably funnier without any help from me.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:48 PM on November 26, 2007


As TPS said, though, talking about gender issues on Metafilter is probably the most roundabout, hopeless means of getting laid imaginable, so I can't imagine this prospect is motivating too many decisions here either way.)

kittens, there's a whole load of male behavior that has nothing to do with the man thinking there is any possibility of sleeping with a woman involved, but has everything to do with sex. If we don't see eye to eye on this point, there's really no place we can go beyond this.

ikkyu2: Please, chill. Seriously.

Up until this moment I associated your username with interesting and good things.


That balloon was burst for me with the botox-joke-callout.

On preview: Lobstermitten -- I'm still in agreement; calling out such behaviour is asking for trouble and I have no plans to do it. I never said though that good intentions were an excuse for shabby behaviour. Intentions are hard to read on the internet, even among those who know each other IRL. That would be quite the trick: "Sure, I referred to that woman as *@#$R*. But I'm a nice guy!" I don't buy that either.

In any case, if you'll excuse me, reloading this thread is increasingly reminding me of traveling in the family's aging motorhome through the mountains of B.C.. One more time, and we might not make it.
posted by dreamsign at 4:50 PM on November 26, 2007


So, this entire change is predicated on the assumption that Mefi Users aren't bright enough to know that sexism and racism are also offensive?

Are we really so stupid?
posted by Megafly at 4:57 PM on November 26, 2007


Welcome aboard, Megafly. The flag label change was motivated by people saying in the other thread that they hadn't thought certain kinds of offensive sexist comments "counted", and they hadn't flagged them for that reason. So yes, in a way.
This issue is discussed in some depth above.
posted by LobsterMitten at 5:06 PM on November 26, 2007


So, this entire change is predicated on the assumption that Mefi Users aren't bright enough to know that sexism and racism are also offensive?

Are we really so stupid?


Apparently, yes.

Perhaps we should start a couple of 1000+ post threads with some examples of this problem.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:14 PM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Heart you to, ikkyu2.

Jokes about ejaculation distance are not appreciated.

They always come up short of funny, eh?
posted by five fresh fish at 5:51 PM on November 26, 2007


c/to/too/. sigh.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:52 PM on November 26, 2007


That happens to a lot of guys, fff.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:56 PM on November 26, 2007


Massive reload indeed. May we move this to yet another thread as a continuation?
posted by agregoli at 7:03 PM on November 26, 2007


mmm longboat
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 7:05 PM on November 26, 2007


kittens, there's a whole load of male behavior that has nothing to do with the man thinking there is any possibility of sleeping with a woman involved, but has everything to do with sex. If we don't see eye to eye on this point, there's really no place we can go beyond this.

No, I think that's true, of course. I think it's true of women, too. I'm just not seeing the sexual element -- common to all of us, and indivisible from our characters -- as being some kind of obstacle to men and women relating to one another in a positive way, as seemed to be the implication. Which is, minus the snark, kind of what I said above. But I'll save this line of thinking for Epic Thread, Part II, should it be relevant to what's said there and, more importantly, should it come into being at all; reloading this one takes so long I feel like I'm back on AOL in 1998, so I think it's about finished.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:29 PM on November 26, 2007


I read this whole deal except toward the end where my eyes started to skitter uncontrollably around the room. I am having to keep one of them shut in order to type this.

I remember a really long time ago in a thread somewhere klangklangston was talking about jokes about sexism should be okay. I have laughed many times at various i'dhitit stuff because it's not always sexist, although it is about sexism. I am enraged at other i'dhitit stuff, because it's sexist. I wondered whether these two fantastic examples I have got here for everyone to look at might help clarify: this one is about sexism and it is sexist. Don't click because it will either set your hair afire or make you laugh, and if it makes you laugh it means you are a Trent Lott figure [not misssissippist]. This one is about sexism, but it's not sexist. Do click because it will either make you laugh or you are asleep and should turn off the computer.

In any thread where it's a joke about a person "I'd hit it" is infuriating, but I think it would be hilarious in this thread--see 'cause in this thread the joke would be on "I'd hit it" itself--it plays upon the ridiculousness of I'dhititism. I think it would be fine, here--am I suffering from longboat madness? Does it matter, since nobody's here reading this, anyway? Is this schroedinger's cat or the tree in the forest question?

That's question one.

Question two, are some--some--of the women who are "not bothered" perhaps post-bothered? I ask because my own arc went: pre-bothered, bothered, very bothered, miserably bothered, post-bothered. Post-bothered, in my case, has been a pretty conscious adaptation. I am not one of those people who say, "I am a post-feminist who said goodbye to all that youthful foolishness and I shave my legs now, for I am wiser and see now that what I thought was my convictions was all folly and I prefer my legs this way; it's a personal choice." I am one of those people who say, "I am an exhausted feminist-in-thought-but-not-so-much-deed-anymore-and-really-not-even-entirely-in-thought-anymore-when-I-think-about-it-which-depresses-me-so-I-don't-too-much. I shave my legs to be inoffensive and I have schooled myself carefully so that I no longer notice 'bitch' as much as once I did and thus do not risk making sudden loud noises and disrupting the conversation." When I'm not bothered by sexism it is because I have decided not to be. It has enabled me to live in the world, but I'm not proud of it. I admire people who are bothered and say so, especially people who never went post and have remained bothered and vocal about it for decades. Props to you all.

Point one:
Asshole for women sounds weird because standard American English demands we use gendered slurs for insults when the insulted person is female. This is just a fact and let's all accept it and stop with the crap about cunt does not always mean cunt sometimes it means asshole. If it meant asshole we could call women asshole without feeling weird. Standard American English needs to change so that gendered slurs are no longer acceptable. It is standard to call Condi Rice a ballbreaking bitch. It is no longer standard to call her an uppity nigger wench. Uppity nigger wench sounds very wrong because racial slurs are no longer standard. They once were standard, but we got over that by deliberately choosing to use new terms and tolerating the wierdness until the new terms became standard. My mom has got over calling everyone under the sun "colored" and "oriental." Sure, Asian and black sound weird to her, but we got her to start using them in private so that the old terms wouldn't slip out in public and get her the stinkeye. In the secret recesses of her heart, I'm sure she uses the old language, as anyone is free to do in the secret recesses of their heart.

Point two: We should eliminate "Man" as the word for "our benighted species" and we should use "their" for "his/her." We all grew up with "their" and had to be schooled out of it and this "use his" crap is just some ancient latinschool rule along the lines of "never split an infinitive" and don't start a sentence with a conjunction. If Lily T. had only used nonsexist language and said "Homo sapiens evolved the upright posture because it enables us to multitask" a lot of unfair essentializing of men and women would have been avoided.

Point three: SWEARS are fine. It's SLURS that are not fine. I don't belive anyone has said that they are bothered (or post-bothered or pre-bothered) by swearing.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:02 PM on November 26, 2007 [15 favorites]


Don Pepino, I'm with you on the substance of a lot of what you just said (as far as my own happy vision of the future world, not so much in the context of achievable change on Mefi - which I imagine you're not talking about anyway). More importantly, I'm enjoying the hell out of "pre-bothered, bothered, very bothered, miserably bothered, post-bothered". It has a delightful seductive quality, this long phrase. We could use it to name each of the ships in the feminist armada, and crew them accordingly. I commend you on its invention.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:50 PM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Don Pepino, that was lovely. I don't agree with every last bit of it, but to pick nits with such a lyrical post would put me a war with my poet's soul.

Well done.
posted by tkolar at 10:15 PM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


standard American English demands we use gendered slurs for insults when the insulted person is female. This is just a fact and let's all accept it and stop with the crap about cunt does not always mean cunt sometimes it means asshole.

I'm not accepting of language traditions that remind girls that they are not greeted as a tabula rasa at their birth because of the characteristic "female" already scrawled upon it. That goes for "Lady+Profession" just as it goes for the sexualization of words like Mistress, Madame, and special slurs just for girls.

Because I am absolutely a jackoff.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:27 PM on November 26, 2007


Because I'm a Victorian, not only do I not find using "cunt" in casual conversation empowering, but I really like saying "Lady+profession", particularly if the profession is something like "cartographer".

(I think my narrow segment of feminism is pretty much me and some forgotten Edwardian novelist, though.)
posted by thehmsbeagle at 10:32 PM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


are some--some--of the women who are "not bothered" perhaps post-bothered?

I am stealth-bothered. I don't ignore it. That is, I really remember when people have said something I think reveals a character flaw, and I keep tabs and address it in my own good time as best I can. Institutional Sexism, you may ask? Well, there's only a smug answer for that. But don't get me started on leg shaving.

Okay, Don Pepino, it took me two goes, but I just saw Beowulf, so. Your comment is pretty much the other extreme on things that make you think about sexism and are interesting scale.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:48 PM on November 26, 2007


Don Pepino, your conjugation of botheration is brilliant.
posted by dogrose at 11:55 PM on November 26, 2007


psmith writes "If I could go back and do it all over (but I can't go back, I know), were I in law school once more and heard a professor ask rhetorically 'WHO IS THE REASONABLE PERSON?!' as if this were some deep and unanswerable question, I would totally raise my hand and say 'LobsterMitten'."

I would travel to whatever city your law school was in, crash your class, and second your nomination before security had a chance to throw me out.

Don Pepino writes "I wondered whether these two fantastic examples I have got here for everyone to look at might help clarify: this one is about sexism and it is sexist. Don't click because it will either set your hair afire or make you laugh, and if it makes you laugh it means you are a Trent Lott figure [not misssissippist]. This one is about sexism, but it's not sexist. Do click because it will either make you laugh or you are asleep and should turn off the computer."

I don't think it clarifies. I didn't find either to be funny, but the first was just a list of slang for vaginas, and not particularly offensive. The second had the scintillating line "I got a lot of bitches to plow" (note: "scintillating" was sarcasm). I don't know the people behind those two songs, so I don't know if there's something about the second that makes it non-sexist and the first sexist (and, to be fair, I only listened to the first half of each), but on their face, the "sexist" versus "non-sexist" seems to be swapped.

Don Pepino writes "Asshole for women sounds weird because standard American English demands we use gendered slurs for insults when the insulted person is female."

I agree that "asshole" sounds odd, but I think you're overstepping your claim. It's not that all slurs for insults against females have to be gendered, but that "dick" and "asshole" are generally gendered male, "cunt" and "bitch" generally gendered female (except in Britain and in some parts of the gay community). However, look at "fuckwit", "dipshit", "fuckhead", etc.: they can all be applied equally to men and women. So standard American English uses some gendered slurs only for men, some gendered-slurs only for women, and some general-purpose slurs for both.
posted by Bugbread at 4:17 AM on November 27, 2007


Don Pepino, I love what you have to say. I also thought the second video was hilarious and a sendup of a sexist schmuck. I don't think that pretending that men never say things like "bitches to plow" in the context of parodying that type of attitude is necessary, really. It's rude, yes, but it's not presented sincerely.

I don't think I am post-caring so much as putting sexist comments into a bunch of boxes, based on my assessment of the person. Sometimes that's harder on the internet.

- You're clearly a completely lost cause, so why should I even get into with you. With these, I usually make it a point never to interact with the person.
- You're a lost cause, but I am forced to interact with you. With these, I have to play it by ear, depending on the context. Often I will go with an eye roll and 'not cool.'
- You're a well-intentioned but clueless person. With these, I will devote some time to having a real conversation about why whatever the person said is offensive and inappropriate.

Sadly, a whole lot of people fall into the first class, and I do think I may be guilty of putting some (many?) MeFi commenters there. I am planning to make a concerted effort to go with number three, when warranted.
posted by miss tea at 4:46 AM on November 27, 2007


If Lily T. had only used nonsexist language and said "Homo sapiens evolved the upright posture because it enables us to multitask"

I think this was just part of a larger point, but...changing her statement to that makes it completely unfunny.
posted by agregoli at 6:19 AM on November 27, 2007


I'm glad to see some awareness cropping up already (read the comment underneath as well).
posted by agregoli at 8:13 AM on November 27, 2007


Well, it's true I did obliterate the original joke by sacrificing "walk + masturbate" in favor of "multitask." I obscured my point, too, and all because I wanted to make a bright new joke for our bright new century. Maybe my joke is completely unfunny or maybe... the humor is just a little more evolved than we're used to. Stone age, bronze age, nuclear age... Bluetooth age! O brave new world where you can look out the window and see the citizenry Segue-ing merrily down the sidewalk, stimulating their genitals, and scheduling a dental appointment... all at the same time!

Bugbread, if you'd watched the whole first video (do not) you'd have seen that there's a pile of visual "slang for female genitals" of the traditional "ha stinky sloppy ha-har" variety. I hate that video because it reduces half of humanity to "looks like a taco, smells like a fish." The second one is about a resourceful man who has made a local tavern into his personal bottle club and avoided corking fees and who claims to be in the lucky position of having "about a billion other bitches to plow" in addition to the woman he is hitting on in the video. He is also graced with an extraordinarily gifted wingman. You don't see the woman he is hitting on except for her hand--the purpose of the video is not to laugh at the woman and her stinky taco, it's to laugh at the insane behavior of the barflyguy and his talented sidekick, and, this is what I particularly love, it's not mean to them, either. It is mean to no one. It celebrates the mundane and tiresome in human interaction and shows it to us from a new angle that reveals how everyday ugliness and smallness can be sublime. There is evidence of great effort and craft, and they've actually managed to say something. It's not just "hey, ha ha, Kokomo and cameltoe scan the same, ha, let's juxtapose this picture of a sloppy joe with this picture of a woman's lycraed crotch, a-ho-ha-har."

Fuckwit dipshit et al aren't typically applied to women. They're examples of neuter words that are gendered male, like asshole. If they are beginning to be used for both sexes it's a positive new development that proves my point about the language evolving.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:16 AM on November 27, 2007


How about dumbass? I've heard both "he's a dumbass" and "she's a dumbass" for...well, forever, so I guess we'll count that as 1985, when I was in junior high.

Anyway, again, don't want to disagree with the idea that there are a whole passel of gendered insults for both men and women, just the idea that all insults to women in US English are gendered.

Actually, it occurs to me that the "disagreeable personality" adjectives (dick, cunt, asshole, bitch) are gendered, whereas the "low intellect" adjectives (dumbass, fuckwit (maybe it's only in Texas that it's genderless), shit-for-brains, etc.) are gender neutral.
posted by Bugbread at 9:29 AM on November 27, 2007


> As TPS said, though, talking about gender issues on Metafilter is probably the most roundabout, hopeless means of getting laid imaginable, so I can't imagine this prospect is motivating too many decisions here either way.)

How you doin'?
posted by WCityMike at 9:37 AM on November 27, 2007


I can't stop following these threads, even when I have work to do :(
posted by onalark at 12:53 PM on November 27, 2007


I can't stop following these threads, even when I have work to do :(

Ain't it the truth.

Don Pepino, I crew on both the good ships Miserably Bothered and Post Bothered, as you say to get on in the world. I also tend to tune out low-level nonviolent insensitivity because it's a mote in my own eye. I assume the imperfections and prejudices that live in the secret recesses of my heart sometimes make me sound like an idiot too. I also think there are fewer of those bits than ones of pure ignorance, and prefer to use that as a baseline assumption about everyone until proven otherwise. For example, dudes here I'd completely written off as unable to get it have got it, at least to some degree. Dudes who seem not to have got it may yet get it. This stuff is hard to get. If we're at the bottom of an endless sea of prejudices and someone asks us how's the water, and the answer is um, what water? -- well, that's the place all of us fishes start out from, right?

Yes, I like to mix metaphors, very much.

I like parody and I like allusion and I like subtlety -- I like humor of utter crudeness -- but only if done well. So when a thread gets into total boyzone parody, there is that feeling like Dave Chapelle must have had when his satire started being repeated by a bunch of white people who actually meant it, who felt he was giving them permission to finally scream nigger at the top of their lungs. Some dudes are parodying sexism because they find it laughable and ridiculous on its face. But then some dudes do it because it is just that fun to start screaming CUNT CUNT DAYPLANNER about women. How do you argue that? How do you say to dude, no, what dude over there said was cool because he is poking sophisticated and good-natured fun, whereas you obviously mean to debase and insult women in general? Ay yi yi.

That is why I liked billyfleetwood's comment about racist jokes. It boils things down to a straightforward premise: could you look me in the eye and say it? If you can't, what does that tell you? Maybe you are that guy of superlative wit and skill who can tell a sexist joke on a satirical level that makes me laugh so hard I choke. But to be that guy you really have to have 1). ace comedic skill and 2). clear-eyed intention. If you really think at some level that women are not your equal, your punchline will fail, except with the others who agree with you and then start hooting and hollering while I swing onboard the Miserably Bothered to take my shot at your laughing faces. Or more likely, to sail the hell off, wondering why I picked this port to hang out in at all.
posted by melissa may at 1:53 PM on November 27, 2007 [7 favorites]


melissa may writes "That is why I liked billyfleetwood's comment about racist jokes. It boils things down to a straightforward premise: could you lo