Boyzone? Really? November 25, 2008 9:52 AM   Subscribe

Is this discussion boyzone-y?

In what might be a throwaway comment here, seanyboy calls "boyzone" on the thread. I wanted to engage that issue without derailing what seems to me like an exemplary discussion of the topic.

This is probably the worst abuse of the 'boyzone' label I've encountered. seanyboy seem to be concluding boyzone from only the following elements:
1. Apparent difference of opinion distribution along gender lines. (I take it to be that the "isn't this just like smoking" opinion is relatively male, in the sense that males seem to have a higher probability of sharing this opinion.*)
2. Expression of apparently 'male' opinion by users who are presumably male, without deference to apparently 'female' opinion.
Note that most of the problems usually discussed in connection with boyzone are missing. There is no intimidation or personal attack of female users or any female people, unless you count civil disagreement and inquisitiveness as intimidation. If anything, the proponents of the relatively female position are using more aggressive tactics that tend to silence opposition, for example by attacking other commenters for their perceived ignorance. But: I think most people on all sides of the discussion are being extremely reasonable. We are having an interesting discussion that includes syntheses of the various positions, for example touching on the interaction between notions of "choice" and "mental illness." Things are going fine.

To cry 'boyzone' here combines both its worst problems: 1) characterizing women as too weak to deal with even civil disagreement, and 2) characterizing seemingly honest male disagreement as coded discrimination. Fortunately, the thread proves those characterizations wrong. We should be proud.

The 'boyzone' call seems to me like a nuclear option, because it has the (intended) effect of making conscientious male writers check themselves. That's good when there's been a testosterone spill and Mefites are getting hurt or scared off. But in general I prefer a free-spirited exchange where posters aren't actively worrying about whether they might have the wrong opinion. Self-censorship and eggshell-walking should only be invoked for special occasions.

-----
*Whether this opinion is actually statistically more male or female or whatever is not really a concern of mine. Rather I'm trying to reconstruct what seanyboy means when he declares "boyzone" but doesn't explain himself. It's not implausible, though. One might think it's a statistically male opinion because it is somewhat callous towards anorexia, apparently a statistically female problem.
posted by grobstein to Etiquette/Policy at 9:52 AM (207 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

I admit I can't say for sure that seanyboy is being serious in the comment I link. Apologies if not.
posted by grobstein at 9:53 AM on November 25, 2008


The 'boyzone' call seems to me like a nuclear option, because it has the (intended) effect of making conscientious male writers check themselves.

I think you're indulging in hyperbole here. Making people think does not consititute a "nuclear option."
posted by ottereroticist at 9:55 AM on November 25, 2008 [6 favorites]


It's a little asshatty in places. I dunno about the boyzoney.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:55 AM on November 25, 2008


I was about to post this in the actual thread, but I'll put it here:

I'm picturing the alternate universe where the thread is about men with body dysmorphic disorder who have wrecked themselves on steroids because, when they look in the mirror, they see a 98-pound weakling, not a hulking disfigured pile of muscle. And the thread is full of hugs and rainbows and crying and bitching about the cover of Men's Health and has absolutely no snarking or calls for personal responsibility or anything else bad to say about those men.
posted by 0xFCAF at 9:56 AM on November 25, 2008 [7 favorites]


I'm trying to reconstruct what seanyboy means when he declares "boyzone" but doesn't explain himself.

Have you tried asking?
posted by ottereroticist at 9:56 AM on November 25, 2008


Example of a person leaving the debate for reasons that tend to be exacerbated rather than improved by invoking the 'boyzone' idea.

Because of all the heat attached to our discussions of boyzone in the past, bringing it up in a thread threatens to do more than "make people think." In fact, it can do the opposite of what it's supposed to do, that is limit the voices in a discussion rather than welcoming more voices.
posted by grobstein at 9:57 AM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


This thread may well have opinions different than your own- opinions, yes, it must be said, that you may find distasteful. I urge caution whenever engaging anyone else.
posted by xmutex at 9:58 AM on November 25, 2008


I meant the boyzone callout.

Not sure it all needs to be rehashed here, but I do think the generally dismissive attitude towards the subject is indicative of gender bias.
posted by seanyboy at 10:02 AM on November 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think the concept of boyzone itself is indicative of gender bias.
posted by adipocere at 10:07 AM on November 25, 2008 [27 favorites]


For the record, the equivalent isn't just a thread where women laugh at men dealing with prostate cancer. Not only is this thread largely full of men dismissing women's health concerns as illegitimate, but doing so in a way that seems strongly controlling of what women should be doing with their bodies. You know, the kind of stuff that creates body image disorders. It took me a while to realize that dismissing women for not eating enough is not any different that telling women they're too fat.

Of course men can participate in these conversations, but prudence and awareness of these concerns is worthwhile. Er, I mean, put down the keyboard, fathead-y
posted by allen.spaulding at 10:16 AM on November 25, 2008 [9 favorites]


I'm going to start signing all my posts with "Also: Boyzone. amirite."

Also: Boyzone. amirite.
posted by smackfu at 10:18 AM on November 25, 2008


Making people think does not consititute [sic] a "nuclear option."

Depends on whether you're the President of the United States or not.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:27 AM on November 25, 2008


One thing that I have noticed is that in these threads is that a lot of the mocking jokes tend to come from the male side. I personally like mocking jokes, but it probably does add to the perceived anti-female sentiment in these types of discussions.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:28 AM on November 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Of course men can participate in these conversations, but prudence and awareness of these concerns is worthwhile.

Generally speaking, yes. seanyboy has said he was serious. This is a discussion that should happen in MeTa probably and not in the thread. One of the reasons that anorexia threads seem to go so askew here is that there is a fair amount of hurf durfery from the outside and people not taking the topic particularly seriously.

I feel, as I feel with suicide threads, that people not taking the topic seriously, itself, is part of the problem being discussed. That is to say that people being all "meh, anorexia" [which, to be fair, is not a defining characteristic of that thread, I feel] can contribute to the larger societal problem of anorexia. Not that people shouldn't feel free to talk about what they want generally speaking but that how they speak about it is a part of the larger issue. People being all "who cares, fuck 'em" about suicide is part of the larger issue of why suicide is so complicated and upsetting generally speaking, because it's so hard to understand.

In a lot of ways this is just "hey what allen.spaulding said" No one, to my mind is asking people to "defer" to any particular female viewpoint, just pointing out that disregard for the people being discussed is, to many, part of the problem and that may be worthwhile to point out.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:35 AM on November 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


Well, as one of Mefi's resident textualist feminists, I'll take a shot at this.

The "boyzone" comment was totally valid. Not because the commenters expressed substantive opinions divided along gender lines, but because of the liberally favorited asshatty jokes interspersed with the substantive comments. Examples:

Ballooning?
posted by exogenous at 10:47 AM on November 25 [12 favorites +] [!]

Ballooning?

Are they really ballooning or is it just that they feel like they are getting bigger?
posted by Pollomacho at 10:54 AM on November 25 [5 favorites +] [!]

This thread isn't going to end well, but at least it will be thin.
posted by DU at 11:10 AM on November 25 [1 favorite +] [!]

What's the skinny with Facebook these days?
posted by gman at 11:46 AM on November 25 [+] [!]

hurf durf nothing-eaters
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 11:53 AM on November 25 [7 favorites +] [!]

I miss Pro-Scurvy.
posted by brownpau at 11:58 AM on November 25 [1 favorite +] [!]

Technology helps people evolve the ways they use to induce vomiting.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:24 PM on November 25 [+] [!]

Thin may have a taste all its own; I'm willing to bet that it's nothing like this roast beef and pepperjack cheese sandwich I'm scarfing down right now.
posted by adipocere at 12:32 PM on November 25 [+] [!]


Zoomorphic explained perfectly why these comments are boyzone: anorexia is a condition sterotypically affecting women, and so it can be treated with joking derision rather than the reflexive respect a typically male condition such as Asbergers gets. I would add that anorexia is particularly vulnerable to the boyzone jokes because it's not only a disease/condition that women have, but it is a disease/condition about their feminity (e.g., feminine = skinny, appearance-obsessed).
posted by footnote at 10:39 AM on November 25, 2008 [8 favorites]


My question is: So? The idea that somehow one group of people are more often likely to hold a similar position on a particular issue does not mean that there is something wrong with that opinion. Instead, if others differ, they should present an opposing point of view, rather than attempt to discredit the messenger, a logical fallacy which was first exposed in ancient times.

In other words, this is not a "problem" for MeTa. It is a substantive issue which belongs in the thread itself.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:41 AM on November 25, 2008


I went into that thread expecting no boyzone, but I have to say it kinda was. That said, there's some antisocial comments from all sides, it seems to me. Not a good showing overall.
posted by chinston at 10:42 AM on November 25, 2008


I thought it was unnecessary, which is unfortunate, because seanyboy had some great information to share. I was reading along, got to "boyzone", and just thought WTF. Do you want people to be receptive to what you have to say?
posted by -t at 10:44 AM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


That thread would maybe have been better without the "I SAY I SAY WHAT'S THE SKINNY ON ANOREXIA HURF DURF" comments. It's easy to see why people who care about it would get irritated about it.
posted by boo_radley at 10:45 AM on November 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


footnote, a lot of the initial comments were directed at the unfortunate use of the word "ballooning" in the post. It's a bit of a stretch to look at that as "boyzone", since this kind of clumsy wording would have elicited the same response in a thread about any topic, no matter how serious. And you know, I'm ok with that.
posted by Mister_A at 10:46 AM on November 25, 2008


Even if you're right, that's only two out of the eight comments I listed, Mister_A.
posted by footnote at 10:47 AM on November 25, 2008


Anorexia threads are a no-joke zone.
posted by smackfu at 10:47 AM on November 25, 2008


ottereroticist: "I think you're indulging in hyperbole here. Making people think does not consititute a "nuclear option.""

You're right. Two one-word fragments (one of which is a purposeful typo) definitely is a powerfully-reasoned appeal to other users' intelligences.
posted by Plutor at 10:48 AM on November 25, 2008


footnote, a lot of the initial comments were directed at the unfortunate use of the word "ballooning" in the post. It's a bit of a stretch to look at that as "boyzone"

Your very use of the word "stretch" indicates that you're too deep in the boyzone to even recognize you're in it. Women are more flexible than men and saying it's a "stretch" is just compounding the traditionalist notions of physical capability.
posted by 0xFCAF at 10:48 AM on November 25, 2008 [7 favorites]


Maybe some of the blame goes to the poster for setting all this up with the "ballooning" in the fpp? Sure it doesn't excuse other jokey comments, but come on.
posted by Big_B at 10:53 AM on November 25, 2008


I don't know about the boyzone question (what are the definitive criteria that must be met for a declaration of boyzone to be issued, again?), but-- you really thought that thread was "exemplary" and "conscientious"?

I usually feel pretty comfortable sharing my opinions and experiences on Metafilter, even when those experiences concern tricky and painful things like mental illness. But as someone who has struggled with an eating disorder and has had some experience with online ED communities, I don't feel comfortable getting into that discussion. There's just too much flippancy and derision.
posted by bookish at 10:55 AM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


8===D
posted by kbanas at 10:56 AM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


hurf durf nothing-eaters

I could be wrong but I interpreted this joke comment as being against the boyzone tone in the thread. The original HURF DURF BUTTER EATER comment was about an overweight woman complaining that some people flippantly say "Duh, eat less and exercise" as if she hadn't already thought of that. I see that comment mocking the "Duh, just eat a sandwich" stance that some people have on this isssue. I'm probably overthinking that joke though.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:56 AM on November 25, 2008


There seem to be two emerging theories about what is boyzone here: 1) the jokes, which wouldn't come up in an Asperger's thread (for example) and so are probably sexist (I haven't looked closely enough at the Asperger's threads to know whether I believe this; there's been some discussion back on the Blue); 2) the arguments and opinions of some posters are boyzone because they tend to dismiss women's concerns or control women's bodies.

1) and 2) are at least logically separate, though you could argue that a common environment gives rise to both.

I am most worried about theory 2), because to me it comes close to going after (mostly male) posters only for disagreement on the issues at play.
posted by grobstein at 10:58 AM on November 25, 2008


Even if you're right, that's only two out of the eight comments I listed, Mister_A.

Once people start punning, they're not going to stop. It's a punishing fact of life, but being punitive about homespun humor is only going to enrage the pundits and punt the discussion further in to left field. Punctuating a few jokes in the thread isn't boyzone, it's just joking or asshattery.
posted by 0xFCAF at 10:59 AM on November 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


but because of the liberally favorited asshatty jokes interspersed with the substantive comments. Examples...

But is this really gender bias or just asshattery where people will make a tasteless joke about anything? Those jokes are no different than saying I'm of two minds about schizophrenia or have been going through a lot of hand-wringing about obsessive-compulsive disorder. Offensive, sure. But sexist? I don't see it as being motivated out of disrespect for women so much as disrespect for everyone.

which I certainly have been guilty of myself from time to time, so I am sympathetic to the plight of the offensive joke-makers. Some people enjoy offensive jokes. But I'm pretty sure that someone is going to get offended by them.
posted by GuyZero at 11:00 AM on November 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Well, I think you're right about that, burnmp3s - I don't think the commenter there, whose comments I generally enjoy, was dismissing the anorexics so much as dismissing the dismissers.

But sure, there were a few comments in there that were, to say the least, insensitive.
posted by Mister_A at 11:00 AM on November 25, 2008


But is this really gender bias or just asshattery where people will make a tasteless joke about anything?

Well, you're ignoring the premise. The premise is that in fact people ("boys") make more tasteless jokes about anorexia because it's about ditzy girls and their ditzy problems with their figures.
posted by footnote at 11:04 AM on November 25, 2008


Zoomorphic explained perfectly why these comments are boyzone: anorexia is a condition sterotypically affecting women, and so it can be treated with joking derision rather than the reflexive respect a typically male condition such as Asbergers gets.

The respect Asperger's gets here has less to do with gender and more to do with how many people think they might suffer from it here. Everyone's a little more sympathetic to something they identify with personally.
posted by scabrous at 11:04 AM on November 25, 2008


In general, unless nuclear war are actually a possibility, the phrase "nuclear option" is always going to be hyperbole.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:06 AM on November 25, 2008 [5 favorites]


The respect Asperger's gets here has less to do with gender and more to do with how many people think they might suffer from it here. Everyone's a little more sympathetic to something they identify with personally.
posted by scabrous at 2:04 PM on November 25 [+] [!]


Scabrous, you almost just proved the point definitively. The reason many mefi girls might think jokes about anorexia are boyzone is precisely because they can identify personally with anorexia -- if not their own eating disorders, their own experiences with societal expectations about femininity and thinness.
posted by footnote at 11:08 AM on November 25, 2008 [7 favorites]


Even if you're right, that's only two out of the eight comments I listed.

Buuut those two comments have the vast majority of favorites.

Which doesn't really prove anything other than reinforce the fact that using favorite counts to prove a point is a bad idea regardless of a conversation's subject matter.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:08 AM on November 25, 2008


I wouldn't recommend anyone take this particular accusation of 'boyzone' seriously.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:10 AM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


The irreverence in the thread isn't directed at anorexics. It's directed at predatory , mentally ill people who, by some people's measure, should be held accountable for participating in forums that may draw other susceptible people into their sickness, no different than celebrating suicide. I think reasonable people can draw the distinction without reducing it to gender differences.
posted by docpops at 11:11 AM on November 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


The irreverence in the thread isn't directed at anorexics. It's directed at predatory , mentally ill people who, by some people's measure, should be held accountable for participating in forums that may draw other susceptible people into their sickness, no different than celebrating suicide. I think reasonable people can draw the distinction without reducing it to gender differences.

Yeah, that would be a logical argument if anyone who chimed in with their adenoidal one-liners had RTFA.
posted by cowboy_sally at 11:17 AM on November 25, 2008


Scabrous, you almost just proved the point definitively. The reason many mefi girls might think jokes about anorexia are boyzone is precisely because they can identify personally with anorexia -- if not their own eating disorders, their own experiences with societal expectations about femininity and thinness.

I completely agree with you. I do not think that is an example of boyzone-y behavior, though, as much as it is a reflection on the carelessness of speech that is exhibited by a minority of users around here. You name the subject and these users will arrive with flaming words based on things they don't understand. It's just that there are more people here who identify with it than, say, people who identify with the AIDS epidemic, and they're more vocal about it.

Girls, boys, gays, straights, fats and skinnys all face a small minority of users here who have no compassion for those they don't understand. That's a problem we shouldn't cut down to fit the feminist agenda and one we should approach as a whole.
posted by scabrous at 11:20 AM on November 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: I'd rather not make this a personal issue. This isn't about how consistent I am (not very), but as to whether my "boyzone" callout was counterproductive and/or wrong. However - please feel free to MeFiMail me and I'll try and explain the perceived inconsistency.
posted by seanyboy at 11:24 AM on November 25, 2008


Sorry about the "ballooning", poor pun-management skills. I was hoping the thread would be about free speech and whether certain internet communities are helpful for people with this (and other) disorders that effect personality. I certainly didn't imagine that it would involve the hackneyed question of whether anorexia is like, real.

But I don't see a lot of sexism here, just typical internet hurfing and durfing about personal responsibility... nor do I see any unfair accusations, just disapproval of insensitivity.

It's not a great thread, but there are certainly better posts in it than most other places I have seen this issue discussed. So thanks.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:32 AM on November 25, 2008


Ok, Scabrous, so what would be "boyzone"? You still seem to be agreeing with me even as you purport to disagree. The whole point of calling out boyzone behavior is to keep an majority (presumably here, the boys) from flaming things based on their majoritarian ignorance in a way that alientates a minority.
posted by footnote at 11:32 AM on November 25, 2008


You're right. Two one-word fragments (one of which is a purposeful typo) definitely is a powerfully-reasoned appeal to other users' intelligences.

I detect the sarcasm, Plutor, but your point eludes me.
posted by ottereroticist at 11:39 AM on November 25, 2008


The comparison with Aspergers threads doesn't hold water. A better comparison would be with steroid-abuse threads. Check those ones out and come back and tell me how respectful of the "victim" they are.
posted by rocket88 at 11:41 AM on November 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm picturing the alternate universe where the thread is about men with body dysmorphic disorder who have wrecked themselves on steroids because, when they look in the mirror, they see a 98-pound weakling, not a hulking disfigured pile of muscle. And the thread is full of hugs and rainbows and crying and bitching about the cover of Men's Health and has absolutely no snarking or calls for personal responsibility or anything else bad to say about those men.

Actually, I'm pretty sure an OP about a pro-steroid group on Facebook reaching out to other young men and enouraging them to quit being weaklings and bulking up on a 30 day roids regimin would not be full of hugs and rainbows.
posted by jpdoane at 11:43 AM on November 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'd rather not make this a personal issue.

I'm not making it a personal issue. Should I have a reason to take something personally with you?

This isn't about how consistent I am

Throwing around the term 'boyzone' is a fairly easy, some might say lazy way to derail a thread. I couldn't say that was your intent, but you got called out for it, nonetheless, and you came here to participate in this call-out.

Insofar as grobstein and others are unclear about your motivations and your lack of explanation for your accusation, your comment history is as fair game as anyone else's in trying to figure out what your point really is.

However - please feel free to MeFiMail me and I'll try and explain the perceived inconsistency.

You're welcome to explain yourself here. Or not. If you think it's important enough to divert the thread's course as sharply as you did, the matter might be important enough to you to explain your point here. Or there. It's up to you.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:44 AM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


on non preview, what rocket88 said
posted by jpdoane at 11:45 AM on November 25, 2008


0xFCAF: I was about to post this in the actual thread, but I'll put it here:

I'm picturing the alternate universe where the thread is about men with body dysmorphic disorder who have wrecked themselves on steroids because, when they look in the mirror, they see a 98-pound weakling, not a hulking disfigured pile of muscle. And the thread is full of hugs and rainbows and crying and bitching about the cover of Men's Health and has absolutely no snarking or calls for personal responsibility or anything else bad to say about those men.


Are you kidding me? That thread would be absolutely savage from all sides, including men.
posted by spaltavian at 11:48 AM on November 25, 2008


"The comparison with Aspergers threads doesn't hold water. A better comparison would be with steroid-abuse threads. Check those ones out and come back and tell me how respectful of the 'victim' they are."

Absolutely... but when your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. There is a non-negligible number of people who show up to discussions on various subjects (of which "boyzone" is undeniably one) here at MeFi who have an incredibly limited tool-set, so to speak.
posted by toomuchpete at 11:49 AM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Man. One more example that it doesn't take much for people to be complete assholes to each other. And being "right" only seems to make people even more asshole-ish.

Yup. I'm staying a mile away from that thread.
posted by tkchrist at 11:51 AM on November 25, 2008


I'm picturing the alternate universe where the thread is about men with body dysmorphic disorder who have wrecked themselves on steroids because, when they look in the mirror, they see a 98-pound weakling, not a hulking disfigured pile of muscle.

Much rarer, but still happens. I'd imagine you'd get just as many LOLfatty comments though. I don't think it's so much boyzone, but rather jerkzone. Don't believe me? Do a testicular cancer or erectile dysfunction post and find out.
posted by electroboy at 11:51 AM on November 25, 2008


footnote, I think it's absurd that my "Ballooning?" comment has so my favorites - embarassing even. But how is the comment asshatty? It wasn't meant as a joke; it questioned the use of the word.
posted by exogenous at 11:54 AM on November 25, 2008


And the thread is full of hugs and rainbows and crying and bitching about the cover of Men's Health and has absolutely no snarking or calls for personal responsibility or anything else bad to say about those men.

That really would be an alternate universe. Lot's of threads about body building or something perceived as "macho" have been fucking ruthlessly savaged.
posted by tkchrist at 11:55 AM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm not making it a personal issue. Should I have a reason to take something personally with you?

I think someone's going to get signed up for some mailing lists...
posted by smackfu at 11:56 AM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


in fact [boys] make more tasteless jokes about anorexia because it's about ditzy girls and their ditzy problems with their figures.

I don't think that's a fact at all. You have any data to support the idea that more tasteless jokes are made about anorexia, as opposed to any other topic mefites might make tasteless jokes about? And even if "more jokes" were true, unless you are telepathic, you can't just declare these 'boys' are making jokes out of hatred for women.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 11:57 AM on November 25, 2008


It wasn't meant as a joke; it questioned the use of the word.

You're assuming they favorited it because it was a joke and not because they agreed with you.
posted by smackfu at 11:57 AM on November 25, 2008


Is it girlzone when people act as if a condition that affects men as well as women is a woman's issue?
posted by spaltavian at 11:57 AM on November 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


I don't think it's so much boyzone, but rather jerkzone.
Exactly. Every thread has disparaging jokes in them...even the obit threads. Every thread is also deemed worthy of solemn respect by someone out there. Why is your personal pet serious issue so special?
Just because this particular topic (anorexia) diaproportianately affects women doesn't make the jokey disrespect "boyzone".
posted by rocket88 at 12:03 PM on November 25, 2008 [5 favorites]


Here's an earnest question: What would make an anorexic teen become more inclined to take an honest look at their situation: a)solemn, after-school-type TV special style guilt inducing intervention tactics or b)snarky humor? I realize there is a lot of room between the two, but my guess (though IANATAG) would be that savage humor might just open eyes a bit more than parental style fretting. The humor tends to reach around defense mechanisms;the head-on style tends to consolidate defenses. This is largely tangential to this VERY IMPORTANT conversation going on here, but I have that question nonetheless.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:06 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is it girlzone when people act as if a condition that affects men as well as women is a woman's issue?

No. It may however be a boyzone when a condition that overwhelmingly affects women such as anorexia, domestic abuse, and rape [stats are 10 to 1, though fatality stats are skewed the other direction which is chilling] gets this predictable response.

Look, I don't think people are joking because they're misogynists, I think it's just that sort of casual jerky humor in this case gets directed against women making some people say "hey your casual humor is sort of jerkish and seems a little hostile towards its target" and people can decide how they feel about that and ow far is reasonable to go.

I went to college in the PC years when people would challenge my use of the phrase "it's not fair" because it was in some way implying a sort of racial divide, etc. I decided I wasn't willing to go that far to be polite. People here can make their own decisions, generally speaking, about what they want to do and we may make some modly decisions at the same time.

Holiday time in the US [and other places with expats and/or Christmas] brings out the savage humor in some people. This year is the same as before.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:08 PM on November 25, 2008 [6 favorites]


You're assuming they favorited it because it was a joke and not because they agreed with you.

I'm making no such assumption. Agreed with what? It was a one-word question. WTF?
posted by exogenous at 12:08 PM on November 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh, man, exogenous, I just favorited your last comment so hard!
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:12 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is it girlzone when people act as if a condition that affects men as well as women is a woman's issue?

No.


I was being jerkzone, because that wasn't actually a question. The answer is "yes".
posted by spaltavian at 12:13 PM on November 25, 2008


MetaTalk: I was being jerkzone
posted by Burhanistan at 12:14 PM on November 25, 2008 [5 favorites]


Holiday time in the US [and other places with expats and/or Christmas] brings out the savage humor in some people. This year is the same as before.

Just to echo this, last year starting around Thanksgiving we had a torrent of self-reflection and a ton of misogyny metatalk posts. I rather enjoyed it, last year, but I recall it was hell on the moderators, especially jessamyn. We mefites get stuck indoors and away from our desks, and we spin our wheels.

I wonder if there's a way to channel this energy somewhere better than mean-spirited jokes and overly-sensitive callouts? (Omigod, the opposite of misogyny is also prejudice!) After all, we also had people so desperate to get away from family during the holidays that they uncovered the whole GiveWell fraud. Perhaps the mods would consider another best post contest in December?
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:22 PM on November 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think someone's going to get signed up for some mailing lists...

It seems to have escalated beyond mailing lists, but that behavior is on them. /shrug
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:23 PM on November 25, 2008


savage humor might just open eyes a bit more than parental style fretting. The humor tends to reach around defense mechanisms;the head-on style tends to consolidate defenses

In my experience, making fun of a serious problem someone has does not make them open up and consider your point of view. It's much more likely that they will assume, correctly or not, that you are an insensitive jerk.

This is why, although I love telling jokes and making fun of things, I try very hard not to make fun of people in ways that are hurtful. A lot of bullies think that they are just making harmless jokes, but it's not fun to be the person on the receiving end of those jokes.
posted by burnmp3s at 12:25 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Zoomorphic explained perfectly why these comments are boyzone: anorexia is a condition sterotypically affecting women, and so it can be treated with joking derision rather than the reflexive respect a typically male condition such as Asbergers gets.

You know, early on I called for a similar level of skepticism as found in other mental illness threads. Not at all the one-sided sexist attack zoomorphic apparently perceived. And that wasn't even considering, as others noted in the thread, that the level of skepticism in Asbergers threads particularly is severe, certainly lapsing into the mocking if not outright derision. And Pollomacho had the likely result to zoo's hypothetical.

catwoman, who zoo cited, started her post by stating: "Developing anorexia is not a choice, but rather an illness" despite this being one of the very points, if not the point, in contention. Posters later on in the thread who have first or second-hand experienced anorexia go on to talk about how choice factors in, so this kind of bullying is really not on.

I think the concept of boyzone itself is indicative of gender bias.

Indeed.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:30 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Can't we just call out jerky behavior as jerky behavior without making all sorts of assumptions about the gender and motivation and state of oppression of people involved? Boyzone is a sexist term, and it annoys me no end to hear it used by supposed equality proponents. I would like the freedom to be brusque, argumentative, or jerky without being called "unfeminine" (I'm perfectly fine with being called "brusque" "argumentative" or "jerky" when appropriate without any outdated gender role BS attached) , and I suspect men who are not being asshats in these thread resent having a behavior they do not engage in linked to their gender.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:32 PM on November 25, 2008 [13 favorites]


This thread is necessary to balance out the shout-outs to the Straightener and HopperFan, plus the soulbee thread. Equilibrium has been restored, carry on.
posted by fixedgear at 12:32 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


The reason many mefi girls might think jokes about anorexia are boyzone is precisely because they can identify personally with anorexia

And the result is, apparently, a conversation where there are facts, and there are boys' opinions, the facts to be stated outright, as aggressively as possible, because any disagreement is an attack.

I can't condone the jokes, but there was a lot of asshattery in there on both sides.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 12:34 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


The original HURF DURF BUTTER EATER comment was about an overweight woman complaining that some people flippantly say "Duh, eat less and exercise" as if she hadn't already thought of that.

the original comment was actually about a woman who had been exposed (on another site) as someone who ate whole sticks of butter. it was one moment in her long history of creating drama around herself on internet forums and blogs, and the events that lead up to her using it are more complex and absurd than it might at first seem.

no larger point, except that it's probably better to assume mefites are using HURF DURF comments in ignorance of the original intention of U.N. Owen.
posted by shmegegge at 12:39 PM on November 25, 2008


In my experience, making fun of a serious problem someone has does not make them open up and consider your point of view.

That seems right. I suppose it all hinges on the tone of the humor.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:40 PM on November 25, 2008


Boyzone? How demeaning. The proper term is "Menzone," please.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:50 PM on November 25, 2008 [5 favorites]


the original comment was actually about a woman who had been exposed (on another site) as someone who ate whole sticks of butter. it was one moment in her long history of creating drama around herself on internet forums and blogs, and the events that lead up to her using it are more complex and absurd than it might at first seem.

Yeah, I had heard that, although the whole thing happened before I ever started reading MetaFilter. In context, though, it seems like most of the hurf durf variants tend to mock the hurf durfer rather than the hurf durfee.

For example, see these examples from cortex's excellent analysis of hurf durf theory:

characterization of dismissive attitudes toward a topic (”hurf durf chauvinism!”, “HURF DURF TAROT”)

mocking paraphrases of argumentation (”hurf durf why can’t I tell all my awesome black jokes”, “Hay guyz I hrd DAILY KOS is 2 drs dwn on da left hurf durf”)

posted by burnmp3s at 12:51 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Which, you know, is kind of heedless of the feelings of we who say "hurf durf".
posted by everichon at 12:56 PM on November 25, 2008


Though there are times--more frequently, as the year wanes--when I find myself saying "durf hurf".
posted by everichon at 12:58 PM on November 25, 2008


After all, we also had people so desperate to get away from family during the holidays that they uncovered the whole GiveWell fraud. Perhaps the mods would consider

I like where you're going with th—

another best post contest in December?

Oh. I thought we were going to yell at hedgefunders.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:02 PM on November 25, 2008


In context, though, it seems like most of the hurf durf variants tend to mock the hurf durfer rather than the hurf durfee.

The main thing I took from my study was that intent was fairly hard to read. My default assumption is that they were neither mocking the hurfer nor the durfee so much as just riffing on an injoke for the sheer pleasure of riffing.

As long as we're speculating about this sort of thing, that's how I read the pile of favorites on exogenous' comment, too. With variations and exceptions I'm sure, I think it's mostly people communicating (to themselves? to exogenous? to the general readership?) that they thought his one-word callout of comically unfortunate word-choice was apt. Not so much either agreement nor "ha, good joke" as "ha, good notation of language catastrophe". Marking the marking of an accidental pun.

That it happened right out of the gate makes it one of the first things that anyone coming into the thread saw, which is a big force multiplier in favoriting.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:07 PM on November 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't think the boyzone moniker is fair. This thread on declining sperm count has as many poor jokes, dismissive attitudes, and general snarkery as the pro-ana thread. That one is about (primarily) women and one is about men shouldn't matter. It is unjust to apply a double standard here.

Furthermore, painting themselves as being FOR anorexia is an invitation to derision. If these sort of groups were merely a support mechanism, the annoyance at insensitivity would be justified, but that's not what is happening here.
posted by waraw at 1:12 PM on November 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


Just saw this thread. To clarify my position on Metafilter's generally humane treatment of Asperger's, take a look at this monster thread from 2004. There are definitely the smug asshats who grouse about the APA's hyper-labeling and whiny outcasts, but the majority of the thread centers around a rational discussion of the condition, shout-outs to the OP for such a thoughtful topic, and various anecdotes of living with Asperger's or around those affected with it. I'm still scanning for a comment along the lines of, "People with Asperger's should just figure out how to act normal like the rest of us," but at this rate, the anorexic thread is by far heavier with comments about anorectics' personal responsibility and their general stupidity. The skepticism in the Asperger's thread is generally cautious, querying and respectful. There's much less "Fuck those narcissists" and tactless puns.
posted by zoomorphic at 1:19 PM on November 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oops, I think one of my hyperlinks was misdirected, but still! That thread, and the laudable facilitation of dialogue and tolerance, is one of the reasons I really respect my kindred Mefites. The anorexia thread is one of the reasons I grind my teeth at night.
posted by zoomorphic at 1:22 PM on November 25, 2008


Not so much either agreement nor "ha, good joke" as "ha, good notation of language catastrophe". Marking the marking of an accidental pun.

Good point. Although there was a similar pun joke available in the recent suicide thread, which someone pointed out (but didn't get any favorites and was eventually called out for bringing it up), and someone else posted (but didn't get any favorites). That thread was definitely not free of mocking comments in general, however, so I don't know if that proves anything.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:23 PM on November 25, 2008


just typical internet hurfing and durfing

Love it. Almost always, the hurf and the durf are amalgamated, but it's obviously fruitful to pry them apart. But where is the divide? A first attempt: the 'hurf' is the complex emotive state that the hurf-durfer expresses when he/she reads a distasteful piece of internet (e.g. "HURF?") and the 'durf' is the complex emotive state that the hurf-durfer expresses when he/she posts her reply (e.g. "DURF!"). I (and I suspect many of us) often hurf without durfing; one who durfs without hurfing is, I submit, your garden variety troll.
posted by Kwine at 1:24 PM on November 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Ask not for whom the hurf durfs. It durfs for thee.
posted by 0xFCAF at 1:26 PM on November 25, 2008 [12 favorites]


I. What. Boyzone? Sexist?
Doesn't anorexia affect white people more than any other race? So would those comments also be racist?

I'm just wondering where we draw the line.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 1:31 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Goodness me.

It seems to have escalated beyond mailing lists, but that behavior is on them.
I'd like to assure blazecock pileon that I haven't signed him up to any mailing lists or done anything outside of commenting on this post.
By "personal", I mainly meant that I didn't want to get into a situation where I derailed the thread by refuting contradictions in my posting history. I've no desire to make this post about me. i.e. I didn't want it to be personal.

My initial callout of boyzone was made because I thought people (men) were trivialising an important issue. It's correct that I made the assumption that the trivialisation was due to a male perspective. This may not be correct but at the time this is how I felt.

Any call of boyzone by myself was made to highlight insensitivity. If I had felt the tone of the thread was sexist, I really would have used the word sexist. In retrospect (as it's hard to remember my exact feelings at the time) I feel that the comments provoking my response really were unempathic & there was a lack of understanding of the seriousness of the issues involved.

I had no sense that I'd be blundering into a war of the sexes.

That some people (men) seem so sensitive to calls of boyzone is interesting. I would tell you all to grow thicker skins, to understand that this is just the naturally aggressive nature of metafilter & it's not a personal attack on your sex. I'm sure however that the irony of that particular statement would escape most of you.

I disagree that "boyzone" is a sexist word, as I believe sexism must exist within the context of enforced power & privilege. I'm also very wary of any male who calls sexism on female behaviour in predominantly male settings. From what little I know of the subject, this is an area of discussion which provokes high feelings on both sides. LOL invisible backpack, etc. Anyway - I don't know enough on this to do anything more than butcher well thought out arguments, so I'm staying away.

I've also been accused of derailing the thread. As it had started to devolve towards one liners and Hurf Durf jokes before I'd even said anything, I'd argue that I'm more of a derailee than a derailer. You can't accuse the first person you disagree with on the derailment of doing the derailing. It was derailed well before I got there. If anything, (andf this is going to sound like me blowing my trumpet) I bought some sense back to the thread by pointing out that the issue was a serious one.

If there's anything that I've taken away from the anorexia thread that's relevant to this discussion it's the comment made by Metroid Baby who states she was almost too scared to post the comment for fear of the reprisals. It's one of the best comments on the thread, and for metafilter to work well, people need to be aware that in sensitive areas snarking will scare away this kind of comment. You can (of course) level exactly the same accusation at me. Already someone has said that my "boyzone" comment may have stifled discourse. I hope not, and I hope that in the future I can better detect when a comment I want to make will reduce the level of argument.
posted by seanyboy at 1:43 PM on November 25, 2008 [6 favorites]


ottereroticist : I think you're indulging in hyperbole here. Making people think does not consititute a "nuclear option."

To give you all an idea of how my mind works; I read this entire thread and the whole time I was obsessing over this concept. I got nothing for or against the Boyzone discussion beyond the fact that I now want to make a short film where someone is hooked up to an EEG which is acting as a detonator for a backpack sized nuclear weapon. If they think too much, ten city blocks gets turned to radioactive ash.

Basically Speed, but with trying to keep from thinking...

Though one could pose a strong argument that Speed was Speed with no thinking.
posted by quin at 1:50 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Holiday time in the US [and other places with expats and/or Christmas] brings out the savage humor in some people. This year is the same as before.

You're absolutely right - the nights are getting longer, the days colder (at least in my hemisphere), and the holidays are there to be managed. You head to the ol'internet looking to blow off some steam and -whooooo doggie! Here's a hot steaming pile of argument to get into! What a great way to ride those unpleasant stress hormones.

Honestly, I hadn't thought of it as a pattern before, but MeFi went relatively nuts for two full months last November through January. It might be nice if we could have a little detente on skirmishes in the Great Gender battle. Though I think the boyzone comment is worth considering and taking what you will from it, this wasn't an extreme incident of embedded gender bias in a thread - more of an everyday level of assumption-making about what anorexia is, who it affects and why, and how serious it is.

I think it's possible that those questions could be taken on inthread without a big fight. Most people seem to agree it's a serious illness of complex cause that asymmetrically surfaces in women, found in a culture with strong messaging about measuring up to ideal female standards as a requirement for social value. Some people aren't there yet, and their understanding of anorexia is that there's these girls that don't eat enough because they want to be skinny. This seems to me to be a problem of education and unconscious bias, not ill intent. Yes, there's a low level of literacy about eating disorders in our society, and probably about women's health issues in general, and that's in itself a marker of institutionalized sexism. But the solution to a low level of literacy is recognition of the lack of information, and then, good information. And if the problem is one of unconscious bias, then raise the consciousness abut the bias. A lot of people might question the reality or nature of anorexia because of unconscious bias, and in the thread they've received responses containing a lot of information about anorexia and asking them to question their unconscious bias. Seems manageable, and things have been respectful since that question was raised.
posted by Miko at 1:50 PM on November 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


Doesn't anorexia affect white people more than any other race? So would those comments also be racist?

Indeed it does - and I've read an analysis along those lines, actually - that whenever discussion of the problems of obesity in the West come up (which disproportionately affect poor, brown people), there will be a suggestion such discussion ought to be shut down because of issues such as anorexia (which overwhelmingly afflict a much smaller number of people, who are mostly white and better off).
posted by rodgerd at 1:59 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


For the record, my hurf durf asshattery was nothing more than an attempt at an in-joke about Metafilter's inability to deal with certain complex subjects without someone or everyone getting mortally offended.

A tendency that has been beautifully exemplified in this thread!

Weird random fact: I have a very close friend who went through several spells of life-threatening anorexia during high school and college, and who is a man.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 2:01 PM on November 25, 2008


footnote, I think it's absurd that my "Ballooning?" comment has so my favorites - embarassing even. But how is the comment asshatty? It wasn't meant as a joke; it questioned the use of the word.
posted by exogenous at 2:54 PM on November 25 [+] [!]


Sorry that I misinterpreted. I hereby strike your comment from the list of offensive puns. It was merely innocently aiding and abetting asshattery, not asshatery itself.
posted by footnote at 2:26 PM on November 25, 2008


Asscufflinkery, maybe.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:32 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


I disagree that "boyzone" is a sexist word, as I believe sexism must exist within the context of enforced power & privilege. I'm also very wary of any male who calls sexism on female behaviour in predominantly male settings.

It's a good thing I'm not a man then is it? Because as far as I'm concerned, blanket assumptions about genders and their associated expectations, prejudices, and stereotypes are sexist. It's inconceivable to me that anyone would get a pass on prejudicial statements based on a perception of minority/majority statistics. I guess that means when it's 50/50 female-male, we can say all the most egregiously gender based stuff we want, and no one is really being discriminated against.

Of course boyzone is a sexist word. It equates a certain type of undesirable behavior to a gender, without showing any sort of true biological connection, and while engaging in broad prejudicial assumptions. It is language that divides Metafilter into two groups: boyzone, which by it's definition excludes women and encompasses all men, and indicates and indeed promotes that men are the majority and therefore encompass all baggage that the word "majority" suggests; and not-boyzone, which is everyone who is not a boy, and therefore presumably have an entirely different and elevated sense of propriety, humor, taste, and maturity, as well as an inborn vagina-based empathy for all other women, because we are all the same.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:34 PM on November 25, 2008 [11 favorites]


whenever discussion of the problems of obesity in the West come up (which disproportionately affect poor, brown people)

Bullshit. Poor is poor. It doesn't see class and I'll bet good money the numbers don't support your lame "brown" mention there.
posted by xmutex at 2:40 PM on November 25, 2008


boyzone, which by it's definition excludes women and encompasses all men...

Well, it encompasses all boys and as to whether this extends to all men as well is a question of whether the person using the term is merely being counter-offensive or is being pejorative as well.

I'm fairly sure that I'd be set straight in short order if I started referring to all women on MetaFilter as "girls".

Am I right, girls?

I maintain that MeFites are able to be offensive for reasons other than a crippling affiliation to identity politics.
posted by GuyZero at 2:41 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I hadn't thought of it as a pattern before, but MeFi went relatively nuts for two full months last November through January.

And to think, everyone was so glad for November to come and the election craziness to be over.
posted by Pax at 2:45 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


*shruggo*
posted by Pax at 2:47 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm also very wary of any male who calls sexism on female behaviour in predominantly male settings.

Be as wary as you want. There are obviously sexist statements that can be made in any company. The company doesn't define whether or not the statement is sexist.

But then you sound like one of these "black people can't be racist" types. Congratulations on your tunnel vision. In the face of a world of evidence, it must have been hard won.

rather than the reflexive respect a typically male condition such as Asbergers gets.

LOL. Thanks. I needed that.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 2:57 PM on November 25, 2008


....Something which some may find amusing:

The only prior use I've ever seen for the word "Boyzone" was in this context: "Boyzone" is apparently the name of an Irish boy band, kind of like the Backstreet Boys or N'Sync.

Which has made the above thread a really, really surreal one to read.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:09 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Am I right, girls?

You better show these broads some respect.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:16 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


you sound like one of these "black people can't be racist" types.

This actually makes sense within a certain academic and sociological framework. Unfortunately, it does not make sense with how many people, possibly most, understand the words racist and/or racism. As a result people who mostly agree wind up talking past each other because they are angry and annoyed which is too bad.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:22 PM on November 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


Ok, Scabrous, so what would be "boyzone"? You still seem to be agreeing with me even as you purport to disagree. The whole point of calling out boyzone behavior is to keep an majority (presumably here, the boys) from flaming things based on their majoritarian ignorance in a way that alientates a minority.

I think the term boyzone sucks. It immediately introduces the thought that it's an okay zone for a boy to be in. As a boy, it isn't. The phrase boyzone is sexist in its own right.

If a few boys shit in a sandbox and throw it at girls, it doesn't make the sandbox a comfort zone for boys who aren't shit throwers. It's only comfortable for those who are throwing shit. The fact that they're boys doesn't make it okay to label the area a boyzone. It's not; it's a zone where only the jerks are comfortable.
posted by scabrous at 3:24 PM on November 25, 2008 [6 favorites]


Can I please favorite everything that Miko has ever said, ever? OK THNX.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:29 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Without reading this thread, I was pretty certain his boyzone comment was utterly snarkerific. Some of the opinions about anorexia expressed in that thread, though... Ugh. xmutex has one Get Out of Metatalk Free card from me, so I'll let him use it here.
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:30 PM on November 25, 2008


I came here to say what EmpressCallipygos said. I honestly thought this thread was going to be about a crappy 90s boyband in some way, and read the first handful of comments accordingly.
posted by Acheman at 3:44 PM on November 25, 2008


re: the Gender Battles on MeFi, clearly the anorexia issue was just brought up in the wrong form, on the wrong forum.

If it were posted in the form of a question on AskMeFi by an anorexic young woman who didn't know what to do, all the snarky know-it-alls would be compassionate, because they could show they know everything about anorexia, and they'd get to tell her what to do!
posted by citron at 3:47 PM on November 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Derp derpa derp is the new hurf durf. This has been a public service announcement.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:52 PM on November 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Things to remember:
1. A lot anorexics are male.
2. A lot of the people who vocally trivialize anorexia on a regular basis are female.

A lot of men just plain don't think about anorexia, because it's a "women's issue" and therefore does not affect them. This can lead to a lot of confusion when it does affect (or afflict) one of them.

In that thread, note that liquidwolf's first comment, a borderline troll, at least ended in a question mark. It's ignorance, but it's ignorance asking to be corrected. (I think the other, more hurfdurfy comments are entirely due to that horrible pun in the FPP.)

Conversely, many women also see eating disorders as a "women's issue" and think that, since they're women, it "affects them" even if it doesn't affect them, and that this means they understand it innately, and can therefore dismiss it as nothing more than dumb skinny bitches being dumb skinny bitches. I would imagine that, on the whole, this female arrogance is far more detrimental to young women than the corresponding male ignorance.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:12 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


(Huh. I meant to attribute all hurfdurfery to a general abstraction of the concept of eating disorders, but, blah.)
posted by Sys Rq at 4:16 PM on November 25, 2008


Also: My personal boyzone contains both testicles and compassion.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:20 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


It took me a while to realize that dismissing women for not eating enough is not any different that telling women they're too fat.

So my not-yet-wife and I are in the grocery store, and I was a very thin person (always had been, always get a lot of attention -- mostly negative -- about it.) I go up to the soups, and I'm deciding which one to buy, and I pull out one that looks appealing -- and happens to be a "low-fat" soup.

My not-yet-wife opens her mouth and says that I shouldn't be getting the low-fat one. Clearly this was based on her feeling that I am too thin.

I know this, because she immediately clasped her hands over her mouth, apologized profusely, and made it clear that she realized how awful it was that she had said it, that she was doing to me what her mother always did to her re: foods with fat, et cetera. It was a big deal to her, and she felt terrible -- she spontaneously re-apologized for it several times in the months following.

The thing is, to me, it meant nothing. Literally, nothing. I wasn't offended, I wasn't upset, and all it made me think was "do they have the non-low-fat version around here somewhere?" before she freaked out.

The lessons highlighted by this anecdote, if there are any, are:

1. Generally speaking, women are significantly more sensitive to weight-related and food-related issues than men are, and it's important for men to realize this when speaking about weight-related and food-related issues with women;

2. Generally speaking, men are significantly less sensitive to weight-related and food-related issues than women are, and it's important for women to realize this when speaking about weight-related and food-related issues with men.

In short: it's everyone's fault, and both sides (if you want to define it by sides) need to give a little so we can all get along.
posted by davejay at 4:24 PM on November 25, 2008 [5 favorites]


Or davejay is it just that you are skinny? On the whole society values skinniness over fatness hence anorexia.

Would you have felt different if you were fat and you were looking at normal soups and your not-yet-wife said that you should be looking at the low-fat ones?
posted by meech at 4:31 PM on November 25, 2008


Or davejay is it just that you are skinny? On the whole society values skinniness over fatness hence anorexia.

Would you have felt different if you were fat and you were looking at normal soups and your not-yet-wife said that you should be looking at the low-fat ones?


How the hell would he know how he reacts to something he hasn't felt?
posted by scabrous at 5:02 PM on November 25, 2008


“It's easy to see why people who care about it would get irritated about it.”

This is tangential (but then this is SPAR...er...metatalk) - at least part of the discussion concerned the board itself and free speech issues.

I’m curious if the same folks inclined to be irritated by certain comments were of the opinion the pro-anarexia board should be shut down.

That doesn’t negate (or even address) the boyzone argument, but it does introduce another possible perspective.

“I disagree that "boyzone" is a sexist word,”
Pfffffffft!
*spits O.J. all over the screen*

Ah, guy gets kicked in the testicles - comedy a’la’ “Ow! My Balls!” teh funny.
Woman gets her genitals assaulted - outrage.

I’d agree as a social trend. Interpersonally there’s no excuse for a black man to call me Mr.Charlie or Cracker if I’ve personally treated him with courtesy and respect.

I am not responsible for what other people who happen to share the color of my skin do.

Nor am I responsible for what other people who happen to have the same kind of genitalia I have (albeit much smaller than mine in scale) do.

Boy? I haven’t been a boy since I buried my father as a kid and had to take care of my family.

I suspect my African American friends might have some words on the matter of word choice as well.

I’d agree there may be some male misunderstanding involved.
And I’d allow that latitude there, with scabrous’ caviat that everyone faces “a small minority of users here who have no compassion for those they don't understand” - and indeed, shouldn’t have to.
But I’m not going to use force.

Nor would I initiate intentionally demeaning language and seek to excuse it when it’s used on (what I consider Metafilter to be, thanks to the mods) an otherwise level playing field by saying it stems from powerlessness.

Maybe in the world at large, and again, as a broader social point I take your meaning and might even agree.

But in this case, no, I don’t think it’s warrented.
A caution against misogyny, sure, even the arguments in support, ok, but this “boy” business - no.

That I am fairly thick skinned and haven’t commented on this doesn’t mean I didn’t, or don’t disagree with it.

I’m not really offended by it per se, because I recognize the off the cuff emotional response.

But attempting to justify it here, and codify it in that manner, no, I can’t accept that as a reasonable argument.

Don’t tell me I don’t have a right to be offended when you say you think you have the right to use derogatory labels as a matter of principle.
If it isn’t deliberate - why not use ‘Guyzone’ or some such.

Your other points I can accept and hell, I’ve been saying there’s too much assholery and aggression generally speaking for a while now. And I’d agree it comes in a variety of flavors.

One of which is intentional provocation as opposed to perhaps incidential provocation or thoughtless insensitivity. The latter two need not be borne without some comment, but they don’t justify the former in response.
For me - the term itself - meh. If one is pissed off, one can say a lot of things, language gets looser as does intent.
But the deliberate provocative use of the language - whole other deal.

Or what oneirodynia said about blanket assumptions. Ass, you, me, all that.

But as I said - point taken on being pissed off about the tone. I don’t think you’re way off base. But I think some good points have been made more broadly as well.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:07 PM on November 25, 2008


you sound like one of these "black people can't be racist" types.

This actually makes sense within a certain academic and sociological framework.


What a total cop-out. The fact that academics can re-define racism, and then proceed to have a discussion in which it makes sense that black people can't be racist, doesn't make that statement any more legitimate, it makes the academics full of shit.
posted by Dasein at 5:16 PM on November 25, 2008 [5 favorites]


Males who express offense over perceived anti-male sexism are whiners, frankly.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 5:24 PM on November 25, 2008


What a total cop-out. The fact that academics can re-define racism, and then proceed to have a discussion in which it makes sense that black people can't be racist, doesn't make that statement any more legitimate, it makes the academics full of shit.

Look, I think it's fairly irritating that many people in academia have a tendency to redefine common words of English to mean things that are slightly different and then get shirty when people use the alternate definition. I still can't spell difference or intention correctly 50% of the time (thanks Derrida & Saussure)

However, if what we're trying to aim for is a general increase in understanding, it might be useful to know why people who think "black people can't be racist" might actually think that way because it informs their arguments and rhetoric. There's no actual truth to any of this stuff, all we have are the words we use and how everyone uses and perceives them.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:32 PM on November 25, 2008 [5 favorites]


Males who express offense over perceived anti-male sexism are whiners, frankly.

Your dick is bigger, we all get it.
posted by scabrous at 5:37 PM on November 25, 2008


The fact that academics can re-define racism, and then proceed to have a discussion in which it makes sense that black people can't be racist, doesn't make that statement any more legitimate, it makes the academics full of shit.

Doesn't it bother you that you have no idea whatsoever about the content of these discussions, before you go around calling people out for being full of shit? I know that the militant defence of ignorance is popular these days, but jeez, I don't expect to have to read it on Metafilter.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:47 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


HURF DURF TAROT

I actually got a publishing deal to make a HURF DURF deck. Instead of wands, cups, swords, and coins, you have buttersticks, buttercups, butterknives, and those gold-wrappered butter pats that they have at the diner. I'm not worried about perceived bias -- most people already know that the butter industry is a total boyzone.
posted by hermitosis at 5:51 PM on November 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


Don't forget butterface.
posted by fixedgear at 5:55 PM on November 25, 2008


Or davejay is it just that you are skinny? On the whole society values skinniness over fatness hence anorexia.

True, but criticism and such can happen on both sides. My wife, who is very skinny but also definitely not anorexic, gets a lot of shit from random people about it, just like many fat people do (it's really amazing how random people think it's appropriate to comment on the weight of strangers). I also used to be incredibly skinny and got some of the same reaction, but (a) less of it [probably because I'm male], and (b) it didn't bother me [because it was temporary for me and wasn't a lifelong issue like for others, and possibly also because I'm male].
posted by wildcrdj at 6:20 PM on November 25, 2008


I just wanted to take a second because one of my comments got cited above as somehow mocking anerexia or somehow belittling the women and men that suffer from it or their families. My comment was not mocking anorexia nor was it belittling those who suffer from it. My comment was mocking the pro-ana community, a community that feeds upon and enables dangerous and sick behavior. A pro-schizo site that encourages people to liten to the voices in their heads would be pilloried. A pro-crack site would be mocked. Why should pro-ana be different?

It seems to me from reading much of what is written here that the hubub regarding my mocking of this site comes from both a misunderstanding of what was the focus of my ridicule and a sort of sophmoric attempt to read something extra, something sexist, between the lines.

First off, as I said above, I was (poorly) attempting to ridicule the site. Anorexia is not a laughing matter even for people with an immature sense of humor such as myself. The people that suffer from this disorder face real pain. Their families face real pain. That is clear. If my attempt to mock the pro-ana community appeared to mock anorexics or their real pain, well I am sorry for that.

Next, I just wanted to say that my attempt at jerky humor did not come from a sexist place. I do not associate mental illness with a specific gender or sex, not even a sp[ecific disorder that attempt that tends to occur more often in one or the other. That subtext is of the beholder's creation, not of mine, and is a biased assumption based on facts about anorexia and not about me.

Mental illness, I feel, is something we do not handle well in the West, regardless of a person's sex, gender, race, socio-economic status, etc. Of course things get worse for those who are somewhere closer to the bottom of the social pyramid. Access to effective treatment takes money, luck, geography, and support. The pro-ana community does not offer real support, it offers exploitation in the guise of support.

I had a lot more to write here, but I just feel like your minds are made up anyway and it isn't worth it. I feel like anything I write at this point is just going to be derrided as some sort of defensive posturing or a whine or further mocking or I don't know what, but I just wanted to at least lay out where my feelings lie.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:21 PM on November 25, 2008 [2 favorites]


The fact that academics can re-define racism, and then proceed to have a discussion in which it makes sense that black people can't be racist, doesn't make that statement any more legitimate, it makes the academics full of shit.

I knew I'd want to remember what Jessamyn said before on this.
posted by Pax at 6:53 PM on November 25, 2008


Black person says: "White people are inherently inferior." (or woman says: "Men are inherently inferior.")

You can certainly demonstrate that this statement does not "exist within the context of enforced power & privilege". However, if you attempt to explain it through context (as a reaction to a real or perceived societal power structure), you're making room for explanations for things you probably do want to call racist. The white person saying "Black people are inherently inferior" can't justify that statement as non-racist by some appeal to legitimate motivation. Neither can the black person.

I'm also very wary of any male who calls sexism on female behaviour in predominantly male settings.

I'm very wary of any person of any stripe who claims to be on the right side of an issue by definition. And I'm looking forward to the day when double standards are not accepted under the ever-convenient standard of combating false equivalence.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:48 PM on November 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


After the last few posts on the grey, full of positive words and warm feelings, I was afraid things had changed forever. I never should have doubted.

Good ol' MetaTalk.
posted by grouse at 8:06 PM on November 25, 2008


another best post contest in December?

Oh. I thought we were going to yell at hedgefunders.


I think a lot of I-bankers are suddenly out of work, so we may well see another influx of hedge charities and venture philanthropists in a year or two. The non-profit world sees more than its fair share of failed managment-types who figure they can still whip those lazy bleeding hearts into shape with a little B-school discipline.

But seriously, what about a December 2008 Best Post contest? Surely the budget can be strained to make room for a few gold stars, even with you on the payroll full time?
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:06 PM on November 25, 2008


The difference is, in the academic discussions, in the recognition that black people and women may be able to say whatever they want, including statements that coming from a member of the dominant class would be definitely racist or sexist, and yet still those statements will not actually have a racist or sexist effect because of the ongoing power differential between those classes of people and the dominant class. The statements are those of opposition to bias, but they don't have the power to continually justify the ongoing conditions of violence in a cycle that reifies itself.

So at the same time you could say that a statement like 'men are inferior' is, on its face, sexist in that it divides and judges people based on the class of 'sex,' the same statement can also be seen as not sexist -- because no matter how many women say sexist-sounding things, until we have truly equitable social, legal, and personal conditions, they carry no weight at all or, perhaps, have the effect of moving dialogue toward greater equitablity. Whereas when men say sexist-sounding things, they are members of the dominant class justifying the superiority of the dominant class.

Calling it a 'double standard' has always been doublespeak to me - because everything in an inequitable society is already a double standard. Until we have an equitable world, double standards are our norm.
posted by Miko at 8:39 PM on November 25, 2008 [13 favorites]


burnmp3s writes "One thing that I have noticed is that in these threads is that a lot of the mocking jokes tend to come from the male side."

I'm going to guess that the majority of all comments here come from the male side.

seanyboy writes "I had no sense that I'd be blundering into a war of the sexes. "

What are you new here? It's like throwing gasoline on an all ready lit fire.

jessamyn writes "This actually makes sense within a certain academic and sociological framework."

Because for those people the definition of racism is so specific as to be jargon. In the same way that I don't consider a wheel and a rim to be the same thing, riggers know shackles and clevises are completely different animals, a plumber would never use union and coupling to refer to the same fitting and a F&B receiver doesn't think fish is meat.
posted by Mitheral at 8:39 PM on November 25, 2008


This thread is now about echidnas.

They are my land's fluffiest reptile.
posted by turgid dahlia at 8:39 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


In the same way that I don't consider a wheel and a rim to be the same thing, riggers know shackles and clevises are completely different animals, a plumber would never use union and coupling to refer to the same fitting and a F&B receiver doesn't think fish is meat.

And nerds go all crosseyed if you use kb instead of kB.
posted by Justinian at 8:44 PM on November 25, 2008


WikiPedia gives a 'sociological definition' of racism which is very straightforward ("a system of group privilege") and not at all jargon-y or grand-theory-y.
posted by Miko at 8:49 PM on November 25, 2008


I think a lot of I-bankers are suddenly out of work, so we may well see another influx of hedge charities and venture philanthropists in a year or two.

For a moment there, you had me worried, thinking that you were going to predict a big boom in Metafilter membership.
posted by box at 8:51 PM on November 25, 2008


Calling it a 'double standard' has always been doublespeak to me - because everything in an inequitable society is already a double standard. Until we have an equitable world, double standards are our norm.

So applying different rules to each group is going to get us closer to an equitable world.
posted by Kwantsar at 8:58 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


So applying different rules to each group is going to get us closer to an equitable world.

In a world in which applying blanket rules to everyone will have the effect of continuing to privilege the already dominant class above others into perpetuity, absolutely yes.
posted by Miko at 9:01 PM on November 25, 2008 [8 favorites]


the same statement can also be seen as not sexist -- because no matter how many women say sexist-sounding things, until we have truly equitable social, legal, and personal conditions, they carry no weight at all or, perhaps, have the effect of moving dialogue toward greater equitablity.

You're confusing sexism with discrimination. I can think a sexist thought, have it not impact at all upon the external world, and that doesn't make it not sexist. Whether a sexist idea or expression "moves dialogue" does not change that it expresses a prejudice based on sex.

Another word we apparently like to keep a fluid definition of is terrorism. No one wants to define it because everyone wants to be able to engage in behaviour that, were the other guy to do it, would be terrorism. "Employing terror as a means to induce political change" might be one very simple definition. An act. A motive. No definite result necessary. Maybe a given terrorist act moves the world toward greater equality. Terrorism is, after all, the tool of the weak against the powerful. That, however, does not change the nature of the act. It may or may not justify it in someone's eyes, but it does not give you unlimited license to define the word as it conveniences you.

Calling it a 'double standard' has always been doublespeak to me - because everything in an inequitable society is already a double standard. Until we have an equitable world, double standards are our norm.

So you get paid more for the same job as I, by the same employer, same hours -- everything. That's not a double standard, you say. Everything in an inequitable society is already a double standard. This is just moving toward a more even score. Except maybe they fire you and pay three other women. That, too, might be moving toward a more equitable result by the numbers, even if it isn't fair to you. But apparently we can't say that. Notions of fairness and justice depend upon your group affiliation and are not intrinsic in any act.

Justice does not exist as an aggregate. If it did, then we could justify the utter subjugation of a hundred women to raise up a thousand others. And if you were really a hard-core utilitarian, you wouldn't be concerned with which members of society were the ones suffering and which were not. It's you who is employing double-speak to rename means in service of their goals. You can't seem to face the fact that a unjust act could serve a greater good. Instead, you seem to feel compelled to deny it could be unjust, even on an individual level. Double speak, through and through.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:07 PM on November 25, 2008 [3 favorites]


I would add that while you observe that it is difficult for members of a privileged group to not only understand but perceive their advantage, you've defined sexism in a way that preferences you, in every conceivable situation, by definition.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:09 PM on November 25, 2008


I started to write a response but it takes me years to write anything comprehensible - so instead - what Miko said.
posted by meech at 9:15 PM on November 25, 2008


One thought/question on an earlier point:

"Zoomorphic explained perfectly why these comments are boyzone: anorexia is a condition sterotypically affecting women, and so it can be treated with joking derision rather than the reflexive respect a typically male condition such as Asbergers gets. I would add that anorexia is particularly vulnerable to the boyzone jokes because it's not only a disease/condition that women have, but it is a disease/condition about their feminity (e.g., feminine = skinny, appearance-obsessed).
posted by footnote at 10:39 AM on November 25 [5 favorites +] [!]"


On arguing against media portrayals, public profiles, cultural bias and the like there's very often the argument made that we, as a people, give our children 'a complex' and make them ill with anorexia. Is there any evidence at all to suggest that the condition (this scary scary clinical condition) has an environmental cause?

So many mental disorders seem to be born disproportionately by those with some sort of genetic predisosition or those having suffered grave distress. Schizophrenia runs in families, alcoholism seems linked to exposure and no one catches teh aspbergers.

Body image issues effect many people in various ways but so few of them ever manage to strictly stave themselves. It just doesn't happen that often. Lots of people eat poorly, cut bits of themselves off or add bits, wear ridiculous shoes designed to hobble them, spend obsessively on wardrobe, chemically castrate themselves in search of a more desirable profile. Not many of these people are ever motivated strongly enough by their condition to kill themselves by it.

So tell me - is there data to suggest that the colloquial 'anorexia', unhealthy as it may be, is linked any stronger to anorexia nervosa than the fashionable 'aspergers' is to clinical diagnosis of aspergers and atypical placement on the spectrum?
posted by mce at 9:38 PM on November 25, 2008


"Until we have an equitable world, double standards are our norm."

This is not an academic discussion. The term 'boyzone' was used - here. That is ok because in society at large we don't have equitable conditions?

So any woman can come up to me on the street - and no matter how I might personally champion a feminist cause, no matter how I might teach my daughter self-reliance and self-actualization, she can call me a 'oppressive pig' because, generally speaking, men, outside of our interaction, are.

Y'know, I get the theory here and if we're talking broadly, ok, sure, it's not sexist. And yeah, all the other stuff (when men say sexist-sounding things as a member of the dominant class) is.

But in practical execution, abuse is abuse is abuse.
It's preaching to the choir, it's not going to convert the ignorant (willful or otherwise) and it will ultimately sour folks who'd otherwise be allies.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:25 PM on November 25, 2008


It's preaching to the choir, it's not going to convert the ignorant (willful or otherwise) and it will ultimately sour folks who'd otherwise be allies.

I'd have to suffer a lot of abuse at the hands of random women on the street before I decided sexism is the way to go.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:58 PM on November 25, 2008


Or davejay is it just that you are skinny? On the whole society values skinniness over fatness hence anorexia.

Would you have felt different if you were fat and you were looking at normal soups and your not-yet-wife said that you should be looking at the low-fat ones?


Obviously I can only speak about my feelings based on what I've been through, and what I've been through hasn't left much of a mark -- and yet my whole life I've been criticized, been made fun of, been beaten up, and/or been ridiculed by strangers and friends and enemies and loved ones, for being skinny. Being a guy, presumably there's an expectation that if

I'm typing this in the dark and a moth just flew into my laptop screen

you are a guy and skinny and weak you're deserving of abuse. 90-lb-weakling and all that. Being 6'1" and 129lbs in high school, being unable to buy jeans off the rack, being unable to take my shirt off in the locker room without suffering the slings and arrows, and so on and so forth.

Funny thing is, as much as it contributed to my lower-than-it-should-have-been self-esteem (at least until I was old enough to get laid, and if women found my body appealing, why shouldn't I?) there have been only a few times in recent memory that I've given it any thought:

- when a thread like this comes up; and
- when somebody made a comment about me being unduly skinny, and it caught me off guard because it had been a few years since someone had made such a comment because my weight had crept up to around 160.

So I guess I'd just add the bold words below to your statement...

On the whole society values skinniness over fatness in women

...and concur that if I were fat I might feel differently, but the fat men I've known over the years have said otherwise on the rare occasion it came up. Heck, I know a guy who was overweight and outgoing and friendly and very well-liked -- then he lost a ton of weight and looked terrific, but somehow lost his personality in the process, and suddenly wasn't well-liked any more. Nothing's cut-and-dried.
posted by davejay at 12:10 AM on November 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


oh, and forgot to say: on the chance that fat men -- and heck, skinny men -- feel differently than I, then I can expand the point of my previous post to "everyone feels differently about what topics are sensitive, so we should be aware we might be offending someone, but we must also be aware that what we find offensive may not even be on another person's radar -- both sides still have to give a little."
posted by davejay at 12:13 AM on November 26, 2008


Ah, guy gets kicked in the testicles - comedy a’la’ “Ow! My Balls!” teh funny.

Just finished watching Idiocracy, which features this concept heavily. And it is most definitely teh funny.
posted by davejay at 12:15 AM on November 26, 2008


I love how Internet discussions of behavior inevitably degrade into semantics wars. And by "love," of course, I mean, "nothing," or "zero," from the French "l'oeuf", or literally, "the egg."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:17 AM on November 26, 2008 [10 favorites]


Wow so the bit where I say "this is a contentious area, but it's what I feel" is the bit which causes all the argument.

That "what is sexism" & "what is racism" argument has been done to death here. All arguments have been made many times. I just wanted you to know what side of the fence I was on. It goes part of the way towards explaining why I would call "boyzone" and that's supposedly the issue here.

It doesn't bother me that the word "boyzone" offends you. boyzone, boyzone, boyzone. I'm sure that lots of the things I've said in the past have offended you. Also, I'm sure that my use of the word has not reinforced the dominance of women in metafilter over the struggling men.
posted by seanyboy at 12:20 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


is this where i come to belch & scratch my balls?
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:34 AM on November 26, 2008


The only prior use I've ever seen for the word "Boyzone" was in this context: "Boyzone" is apparently the name of an Irish boy band, kind of like the Backstreet Boys or N'Sync.

Which has made the above thread a really, really surreal one to read.


Since this whole discussion has been inadvertently rendered completely ridiculous due to the pervasive use of the name of an Irish boy band to refer to the subject under discussion, perhaps it's time to move on to another subject - like the perhaps even more important issue that Metafilter threads tend to be overwhelmingly biased towards the values of people living typical American/European lifestyles. To avoid any more embarrassing mix-ups, I suggest that this phenomenon be designated by a completely new term that I have coined: Westlife.
posted by tomcooke at 2:33 AM on November 26, 2008 [14 favorites]


This is not an academic discussion. The term 'boyzone' was used - here.

So? I know this guy who's a linguist and he wrote an academic paper on "diddly-infixation" with respect to Ned Flanders. This was a serious paper given at a conference. ANYTHING can be dissected from an academic semantic scalpel point of view, which is sometimes helpful to step back and remove the immediate emotional reactions from a situation and replace them with vague and obtuse terminology.

(Also: What Miko said.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:24 AM on November 26, 2008


ANYTHING can be dissected from an academic semantic scalpel point of view once you've divested yourself of the notion that you need to be in any way relevant to anything of any importance to anybody of any place or time.

Stepping back a little & examining the issue more objectively, if one examines the constructivist paradigm of expression, one is faced with a choice: either reject cultural dematerialism or conclude that truth is intrinsically dead. The premise of nihilism holds that the goal of the reader is deconstruction, but only if cultural dematerialism is valid. Therefore, the primary theme of the model of textual subcapitalist theory is the common ground between society and sexual identity, in other words, the semantic & syntactic symbolism of the denatured trope, boy/zon(e).
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:33 AM on November 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


Is this one of the most nebulous questions I've seen in the gray?
posted by telstar at 4:08 AM on November 26, 2008


I have to say that I'm really very happy to see the people with direct experience now commenting in that thread, and I don't know if it would have happened without that bit of intervention provided by seanyboy and some other commenters. The first dozen comments, at least, did not bode well for encouraging this kind of participation.

We could have had a whole thread full of jokes and opinions that those girls should just eat a sammich, or we could have input from people who have suffered or do suffer from this problem, and people who have treated or lived with sufferers, and people who have spent time trying to understand anorexia and it's social implications. I do prefer the second route, and I have to say, if seanyboy is accused of driving durn bronzefist out of the conversation, I don't really get that. He had made only one previous (one-word) comment before leaving, and his main thrust was that he doesn't believe it's a mental disease... why not cite some articles, or at least other discussion that addresses that point of view?

For me, the post inspired me to start reading articles about anorexia, and I now understand quite a bit more about it than I did yesterday, and seeing personal anecdotes really helps to fill in my ignorance. A lot. I wouldn't have spent enough time reading that thread to benefit this way if it had continued the way it began.
posted by taz at 4:15 AM on November 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


I thought this referred to Boyzone. Hence, confusion.
posted by mippy at 5:18 AM on November 26, 2008


That's cool but let's stay On Topic here OK?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:23 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


because no matter how many women say sexist-sounding things, until we have truly equitable social, legal, and personal conditions, they carry no weight at all

So it is OK for me to complain about those Chinese and their ways while I am in China then? Or am I still the Man somehow, even when I am over there?

I wish I could better explain why this comment seems so off to me, Miko. It is only racism when you are in a position of power, and your words carry political power? Then I guess as a disenfranchised and low-income foreigner it is impossible for me to be a racist in my current context, yeah? WTF?
posted by Meatbomb at 5:26 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


You're confusing sexism with discrimination.

No; I could just as easily say you're confusing sexism with discrimination. In the construction I'm talking about, sexism is bigger than discrimination - discrimination is a behavior, sexism is a system of thought and behavior.

But I agree with Seanyboy that this is at best a warmed-over argument, and one I've exhausted myself on here before. To hold up my half of it requires dredging up a lot of energy that needs to go into preparing a holiday celebration, defending against arguments from the extreme and from hypothetical imaginings of things I might have said but didn't, and a lot of digging around in history websites to demonstrate how a 'double standard' in law is at times actually necessary to create conditions of equality, employing examples like th ADA, for instance. But I'm not up for it - it's too busy a day.

It will come around again, I'm sure. Happy Thanksgiving.
posted by Miko at 5:39 AM on November 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


Is this one of the most nebulous questions I've seen in the gray?
posted by telstar

Also: Astrologyzone. amirite.
posted by Grither at 6:47 AM on November 26, 2008


Ha, er...astronomyzone.
posted by Grither at 6:48 AM on November 26, 2008


Boy? I haven’t been a boy since I buried my father as a kid and had to take care of my family.

This misses the element central to the definition of boyzone: Immaturity. (Compare puerile.) The word is meant to be applied to grown-up behavior resembling that of a less mature individual.

It's the gender-specificity I take issue with. What's wrong with, "Oh, grow up"?
posted by Sys Rq at 7:41 AM on November 26, 2008


It's said over and over in other spots on metatalk but no one here has suggested FLAG IT AND MOVE ON. Do we really want to get to a place where people feel 'I can't post about X because it will be perceived as Y' where Y equals sexist, racist, or possibly offensive to somebody somewhere? Snark is going to happen regardless of subject. If it's OK to include snarkery in a discussion of a subject affecting males, then it must also be OK to include it when the tables are turned.

(re-signs up for Facebook, starts pro-cirrhosis group)
posted by waraw at 7:44 AM on November 26, 2008


Whenever there is one of these threads, one half of me follows the arguments, examines my own behavior and generally is edified. The other half of me gets the Ween song "Boys' Club" jammed in his head for days.
posted by Bookhouse at 7:54 AM on November 26, 2008


In general, unless nuclear war are actually a possibility, the phrase "nuclear option" is always going to be hyperbole.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO POST A THREAD?
posted by oaf at 8:04 AM on November 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


Do we really want to get to a place where people feel 'I can't post about X because it will be perceived as Y' where Y equals sexist, racist, or possibly offensive to somebody somewhere? Snark is going to happen regardless of subject. If it's OK to include snarkery in a discussion of a subject affecting males, then it must also be OK to include it when the tables are turned.

I'm definitely for free speech and I wouldn't want to censor anyone for presenting their views or bringing up controversial topics. On the other hand, though, I think it's worth looking at our own discourse and asking "Are we creating an environment that is in some way hostile to people that are different from us?"

If snark is pervasive enough in topics that women care about that the female members of the site feel bullied, then there might be a problem. Similarly, if snark on topics that men care about reaches the point where men felt uncomfortable expressing themselves, that could be a problem too. Jokes and mocking are completely appropriate in some situations, but they can be disruptive or harmful in other situations. Regardless of your views on racism, sexism, or other issues, it's worth trying to make MetaFilter a place where everyone feels that their opinions are given some minimum level of respect.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:39 AM on November 26, 2008

Do we really want to get to a place where people feel 'I can't post about X because it will be perceived as Y' where Y equals sexist, racist, or possibly offensive to somebody somewhere?
I've been anorexic, I've got stuff to say about the pro-ana phenomenon, and I'm sure as hell not posting any of it in the middle of that discussion. So I guess my question is whether you think it's worse to have people silenced by the fear of being perceived as sexist or to have people silenced by sexism, or at least by insensitivity aimed mostly at women. Because it looks like it's going to be one or the other.
posted by craichead at 8:57 AM on November 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


If snark is pervasive enough in topics that women care about that the female members of the site feel bullied, then there might be a problem.

Snark and general kvetching is the problem. There has been and continues a general idea that it's ok to bitch, moan, complain and snark over some minor detail of a post to the point that it can derail the post. This is been a "feature" of Metafilter for a while and probably always will be to some extent.

However, when it's someone VERY IMPORTANT issue, then feathers are bound to be ruffled. I'd suggest taking it was a grain of salt and calmly asking that he post or posters take it a bit more seriously. Yes, this is annoying at times, especially when it has to be done repeatedly, but I think it the best way to address the problem quickly while not getting derailed into whether the snark should or should not be there.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:05 AM on November 26, 2008


craichead, isn't there a third option of Flag It And Move On? of recognizing that everything is going to be snarked at by someone, and when individual comments are over the line, they should be flagged?
posted by waraw at 9:13 AM on November 26, 2008

craichead, isn't there a third option of Flag It And Move On?
I did move on. I didn't flag, because it didn't seem worth it. I also didn't bother posting in the thread, or even reading most of it, because I don't read metafilter to get pissed off and upset. That's not the third option: that's the first option. We create a safe space for insensitivity to women, and you don't get as much participation by women as you would otherwise. (And you could insert any group there: people who have dealt with mental illness, religious people, old people, whatever.) Whether that's a problem or not depends, I guess, on whether you think that the women in question have anything to add to the discussion.
posted by craichead at 9:23 AM on November 26, 2008


I laughed outloud at the puns about ballooning (esp the one about "or do they only think it is ballooning"). Does that make me a boy or just a fan of dark humour? You don't know, because you can't see my gonads, nor do my gonads define me. I also laughed at the same "offensive" schizophrenia and OCD jokes in this thread ("being of two minds", "wringing my hands") - and I am currently on medication for mental health issues. I would laugh hardest at jokes about myself.

Frankly, who the hell checks the gonad status of posters? I can't see your sex when I see your handles - and why are people checking? Have you decided that Y-chromosone owners aren't allowed to post on some topics, or that black humour in "women's" threads will be limited to those who can produce some menstruel blood for verification? (does Paypal ship vials?)

Black humour is black humour, no matter who says it. Sometimes it's in bad taste - sometimes it's in bad taste and still needs to be said, because we deal with dark things by laughing at them, especially people with mental issues - sometimes it's that or suicide. We are human - we laugh inappropriately. And anyone who claims "but they wouldn't do it about men's issues" is in complete denial. Men's problems get joked about all the time, by both men and women.

I hate the "boy-zone" callout. It's one of the most poisonous things on metafilter. Stand up for yourselves, women (and men who also call "boyzone")! You have fingers - type already! Defend your position and show the other person why they are wrong using the power of your persuasiveness, not the moral authority of your genitalia (or sympathy with female genitalia).
posted by jb at 9:31 AM on November 26, 2008 [5 favorites]


I read through some of this thread before going to bed last night, and heard this story on the radio about 10 minutes later. Sort of eerie.

The latest updates say that the student union is going to "reconsider" the matter.
posted by CKmtl at 9:36 AM on November 26, 2008


Can't we just call out jerky behavior as jerky behavior without making all sorts of assumptions about the gender and motivation and state of oppression of people involved? Boyzone is a sexist term, and it annoys me no end to hear it used by supposed equality proponents. I would like the freedom to be brusque, argumentative, or jerky without being called "unfeminine" (I'm perfectly fine with being called "brusque" "argumentative" or "jerky" when appropriate without any outdated gender role BS attached) , and I suspect men who are not being asshats in these thread resent having a behavior they do not engage in linked to their gender.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:32 PM on November 25 [14 favorites -] Favorite added! [!]


I don't often repeat whole comments "for truth", but the favorites won't led me keep adding.
posted by jb at 9:37 AM on November 26, 2008


That some people (men) seem so sensitive to calls of boyzone is interesting. I would tell you all to grow thicker skins, to understand that this is just the naturally aggressive nature of metafilter & it's not a personal attack on your sex. I'm sure however that the irony of that particular statement would escape most of you.

It's interesting that you assume that all those who dislike "boyzone" callouts are men.
posted by jb at 9:43 AM on November 26, 2008


craichead, isn't there a third option of Flag It And Move On?

Flag It And Move On is a bunch of bullshit. It always has been. You will never find the phrase used by any of the admins of the site if you go through its entire history (except possibly through quoting or reference to someone else saying it), and you'll find the overwhelming majority of instances in which it is used is as a dismissive petulant snark to silence discussion. The way to deal with sexism/insensitivity/bullying, be it intentional or accidental, is not with silence. To repeat, because I cannot stress this enough: Flag It And Move On is not and never has been a sitewide policy or community expectation. It is merely the toss-off phrase used by people who want to silence either people they disagree with or discussions they don't care about.
posted by shmegegge at 9:54 AM on November 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think it's irrelevant whether the people who dislike the boyzone callout re men, jb. The point is that you're saying that those who object to certain comments should develop thicker skins and deal with it, in order to protect the delicate feelings of those who enjoy those comments and don't like being called sexists. Why the double standard? If women should grow thicker skins, can't we say the same thing of people who enjoy obnoxious, arguably-sexist comments?
posted by craichead at 9:59 AM on November 26, 2008


Why the double standard?

Did someone tell women to grow thicker skins? I seem to have missed that.
posted by GuyZero at 10:21 AM on November 26, 2008


I'm a (pseudo-)academic, and I completely disagree with the "academic" definitions of sexism and racism. I think they are weak and not intellectually rigorous, and yes, I have studied status (race, gender AND class) as a historical social phenomenon, and I am very interested in how status and power structures interact.

But then again, this lack of rigour and over-fixation on language and clever sounding arguments (in the humanities and soft social-sciences) as opposed to, you know, reality and logic is part of what has made me want to leave academe as soon as I have the degree.

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

I think it's irrelevant whether the people who dislike the boyzone callout re men, jb. The point is that you're saying that those who object to certain comments should develop thicker skins and deal with it, in order to protect the delicate feelings of those who enjoy those comments and don't like being called sexists. Why the double standard? If women should grow thicker skins, can't we say the same thing of people who enjoy obnoxious, arguably-sexist comments?
posted by craichead at 12:59 PM on November 26


People here have expressed concern that "boyzone"-type comments unwittingly create an unwelcoming atmosphere in the metafilter conversation, but callouts of "boyzone" intentionally create a freezing atmosphere in the discussion. And it is a "nuclear option" (not an exagerration, but a metaphor).

I didn't say women should "get a thicker skin" (check back if you wish) - I said that they should respond to the opinions and comments they disagree with, and argue with them. I said they should type, which is just what I'm doing - and that is what people did in the actual anorexia thread, and the result was an interesting discussion about the relationship of mental illness and personal choice (and there isn't a simple division between the two).

I actually do tend to ignore it - I saw it in the original comment, frowned, was annoyed, and then went on. I wouldn't be talking about it except that this thread was created. But since this thread has been created, I will talk about it, and why I find it annoying. I find it annoying because it is not only sexist, it's sexist and hypocritical, because it's a sexist way of calling out sexism. In the original thread, it was more dismissive of men than any of the comments it referred to had been of women.

They weren't even sexist comments - some could be said to have been insensitive to, or ignorant of, anorexia, but none were sexist. They were "eater-ist".

I didn't really want to go here, because I don't like to talk about my gonads, but I have ovaries, and I don't understand anorexia. I no more understand anorexia than any owner of testicles. I have no special magic "woman-understanding" that links me to every other ovary owner. I'm an eater - I understand overeating, I have a special knowledge of that. So does my dad, who is an overeater. I don't know if he would admit it, but he is, and so is my brother. My mother, however, is a food addict, which is very different. She understands bingeing and purging, which I don't. I'm not saying I don't understand body issues - of course I do. But so does my husband, and most other men I know.

Anyways, oneirodynia said it all better than I did. But I did want to register my annoyance with the "boyzone" sexism discussions, in which I feel like women (and their allies) are given a special status, even a superior status to men, as the arbiters of sexism and appropriate language.
posted by jb at 10:31 AM on November 26, 2008 [4 favorites]


I think this could safely be paraphrased as "grow a thicker skin":
Stand up for yourselves, women (and men who also call "boyzone")! You have fingers - type already! Defend your position and show the other person why they are wrong using the power of your persuasiveness, not the moral authority of your genitalia (or sympathy with female genitalia).
And frankly, while I appreciate the lecture, you guys are frequently not worth the effort. I'm just not going to put myself out there in order to educate a bunch of juvenile little jerks who think they're a lot smarter and wittier and more interesting than they really are. If you want to go on having stupid opinions about anorexia, knock yourself out. It's truly not my problem.
posted by craichead at 10:32 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


"...flagging allows us to see how many people have similar opinions."

If someone chooses not to flag something they find offensive, the system doesn't work as it should.

I think there's a large assumption of bad faith here. I am not arguing that jerks have the right to be as jerky as they wish, but that the flag system works.

There are several different arguments going on: 1) Is sexism as bad as it was 1 year ago? 2) Is the snark/insensitivity in this thread (whether deserved or no) worse than snark/insensitivity in other non-gender-specific threads? 3) Does a segment of society which is promoting highly unhealthy behavior deserve more snark than sympathy?
posted by waraw at 10:39 AM on November 26, 2008


It doesn't bother me that the word "boyzone" offends you. boyzone, boyzone, boyzone.

Oh! That changes everything; I guess we don't have to be bothered that you find the thread "boyzone", then.

I thought we were thinking, feeling people who care about the way we treat others and want to work together for the greater good, so I was all for the let's-be-a-little-more-sensitive-to-each-other approach, but I guess there's always room for a little I-don't-care-if-I-offend-you-just-stop-offending-me.
posted by davejay at 11:05 AM on November 26, 2008 [5 favorites]


Metafilter: you guys are frequently not worth the effort
posted by An Infinity Of Monkeys at 12:29 PM on November 26, 2008


I'm surprised by the reaction to the word "boyzone" and also by how people seem to be defining it. My understanding from the first time I saw it on Metafilter has always been "a conversation in which the assumption is that all those participating are male". It's not simply that sexist things are being said, it's that the initial assumptions of the discussion make it very unwelcoming for women to participate.

A quick google search gave me some posts that had been referred to in the past as "boyzone" that seem to fit this definition:
(male) world leaders' faces on naked women, defending the right of women to flash their breasts at Mardi Gras, Consent Condoms, Monica Lewinsky, birth Playmates, BBC babes, Jennifer Connely happy with nude scenes, Do you have an abnormally large male genital?

I'm not sure that the pro-ana thread actually meets that definition.

Do we really want to get to a place where people feel 'I can't post about X because it will be perceived as Y' where Y equals sexist, racist, or possibly offensive to somebody somewhere?

It would be nice if people at least considered that possibility, and didn't think it was a ridiculous idea.

How about this: Do we really want a place where people who are not straight, white, male Americans employed in the technology industry don't feel comfortable? I think for the most part Metafilter has changed for the better in the 7+ years I've been reading and the however many less years I've been participating. I hope that the change continues until one day it is reflexive for all members to not post something that is obviously racist or sexist.
posted by hydropsyche at 12:41 PM on November 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: you guys are frequently not worth the effort

FTFY
posted by UbuRoivas at 12:42 PM on November 26, 2008


I'm surprised by the reaction to the word "boyzone" and also by how people seem to be defining it.

There's a link about it in the Wiki.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:49 PM on November 26, 2008


“I'd have to suffer a lot of abuse at the hands of random women on the street before I decided sexism is the way to go.”

I agree. But that doesn’t address my point. The defense of the comment as sexism avoids addressing the comment as provocative. And deliberately provocative. Maybe sometimes that’s necessary to get someone’s attention.
But again, it’s not the comment or the verbage that irritates me it’s the form of argument for the justification for it. As davejay said ‘I-don't-care-if-I-offend-you-just-stop-offending-me.’
Someone says something when they’re pissed off - ok, understandable. And hell, I’m not even in the ‘is ‘boyzone’ or is this thread sexist’ argument.
I’m saying a society - and I mean a small society such as metafilter - can’t tolerate exclusivity in derogatory comments.

If you say “fuck you” to me, I can, and might, say “fuck you” back. This “oh, you can’t say ‘fuck you’ to me because of what’s going on in society” or “with me” etc. argument doesn’t wash. (Same deal as the rent a cop mook in Repo Man saying you can’t say ‘fuck you’ to him because you haven’t earned the right yet)

I’ll happily table all the other stuff - I’ll cede the entire argument on sexism.

“‘Ah, guy gets kicked in the testicles - comedy a’la’ “Ow! My Balls!” teh funny.’
‘Just finished watching Idiocracy, which features this concept heavily. And it is most definitely teh funny.’”

So your understanding is what they were going for there is the representation of the actual nutshots being funny, not a satirical commentary on the audiance for such a show?
Big ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos’ fan are ya?

“I'm sure that lots of the things I've said in the past have offended you.”

And that’s such a good method of discourse.

“Also, I'm sure that my use of the word has not reinforced the dominance of women in metafilter over the struggling men.”

Complain to the mods if you think metafilter is a male conspiracy. It ain’t my world. Are some comments sexist? Sure, maybe. Is metafilter or any given thread sexist? I don’t know. Reminds me of the ‘Jewish horse’ from ‘Life is Beautiful. (My first thought was - what, is it circumcised?).
Nothing wrong with holding folks personally responsible for what they say. But I think it’s gotten blown out of proportion.

“ "Are we creating an environment that is in some way hostile to people that are different from us?"... regardless of your views on racism, sexism, or other issues, it's worth trying to make MetaFilter a place where everyone feels that their opinions are given some minimum level of respect.”

Very well said burnmp3s. Applies all around.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:51 PM on November 26, 2008


I read that last line as "Apples all around"
posted by nola at 1:30 PM on November 26, 2008


I'm surprised by the reaction to the word "boyzone" and also by how people seem to be defining it.

There's a link about it in the Wiki.


So I was right about the commonly used definition on Metafilter, which seems to be different than the one being used in this conversation, as far as I can tell. How is that definition sexist or anti-male?
posted by hydropsyche at 1:42 PM on November 26, 2008


Complain to the mods if you think metafilter is a male conspiracy. It ain’t my world.

No. The point of Metatalk has always been to hash things out among the people who use the place. Sometimes it's agonizing, but it's still better than any other model for online communication I've seen.
posted by taz at 1:45 PM on November 26, 2008


because no matter how many women say sexist-sounding things, until we have truly equitable social, legal, and personal conditions, they carry no weight at all

Yes, until woman run Wall Street and Washington, negative attitudes towards males cannot conceivably impact relationships, families, schools or workplaces.

The mental contortions in this thread are astounding.
posted by spaltavian at 1:49 PM on November 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


I would just like to point out that the original metatalk post was not a callout of the thread, but rather a request for a definition of "boyzone." In that sense, this has been a very useful discussion. "Flag and move on" wouldn't have worked in the same way.

I didn't say women should "get a thicker skin" (check back if you wish) - I said that they should respond to the opinions and comments they disagree with, and argue with them.

That's what we're doing here, and that's what was done in the thread. And I'd also like to note that you're making an awfully big assumption that the people calling "boyzone" are all girls.
posted by footnote at 1:52 PM on November 26, 2008


Yes, until woman run Wall Street and Washington, negative attitudes towards males cannot conceivably impact relationships, families, schools or workplaces.


Of course they can impact them. But they will not carry any weight when it comes to structuring and setting norms for the institutions (marriage, school, family, workplace) that the expressions take place within - not if they aren't members of the dominant class. What they say becomes necessarily just commentary - not the ideas of a person with power to change the structure and direction of the institution itself.

Let me be clear, I'm not in support of random attacks on males. But I am one of those who believes that the words of someone with greater status have more power and can cause more real harm than the words of someone with lesser status, as long as the speech is within a larger context that supports the person who has greater status more than the person with lesser status.

The mental contortions in this thread are astounding.

It would be so nice to talk about this stuff without the sneering, wouldn't it?

The basic idea that spawned this thread was: let's be respectful. We're talking about a severe, life-threatening mental illness, and the idea was floated that perhaps, as a group, we could refrain from leaping to laugh at and belittle its victims. Is opposition to that idea really something people want to go to the mat for? Is the position that we should all accept belittling and laughing at an illness just because it seems sort of distant from some people's life experience the one we really want to advance? I think we can do better.
posted by Miko at 3:02 PM on November 26, 2008 [8 favorites]


This is not an academic discussion. The term 'boyzone' was used - here. That is ok because in society at large we don't have equitable conditions?

So any woman can come up to me on the street - and no matter how I might personally champion a feminist cause, no matter how I might teach my daughter self-reliance and self-actualization, she can call me a 'oppressive pig' because, generally speaking, men, outside of our interaction, are.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:25 AM on November 26 [+] [!]

So it is OK for me to complain about those Chinese and their ways while I am in China then? Or am I still the Man somehow, even when I am over there?

I wish I could better explain why this comment seems so off to me, Miko. It is only racism when you are in a position of power, and your words carry political power? Then I guess as a disenfranchised and low-income foreigner it is impossible for me to be a racist in my current context, yeah? WTF?
posted by Meatbomb at 8:26 AM on November 26 [1 favorite +] [!]

Yes, until woman run Wall Street and Washington, negative attitudes towards males cannot conceivably impact relationships, families, schools or workplaces.

The mental contortions in this thread are astounding.
posted by spaltavian at 4:49 PM on November 26 [+] [!]


Oh, come on. Obviously it's possible for a thing to be Not Sexist/Not Racist and still be hurtful, not okay, objectionable, etc. I think it's pretty obvious that people who object to the broadened usage of sexism and racism aren't saying "I think that anti-male/anti-white/etc statements are just great!"-- but saying "Sexism/racism isn't the right term for that particular act, because sexism/racism involves strengthening the power and privilege differentials in society, and these anti-male/anti-white statements don't do that."

(Yeah, I get that Miko's "carry no weight at all" phrasing sounds a bit off, but if you read the whole comment it's pretty obvious what she's saying-- "statements that coming from a member of the dominant class would be definitely racist or sexist, and yet [from women/minorities/the less privileged group] those statements will not actually have a racist or sexist effect because of the ongoing power differential between those classes of people and the dominant class..")
posted by EmilyClimbs at 3:19 PM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


With all due respect, Miko (and in your case, that's a whole lot of respect), it is possible to both support the ideal of not acting like asshats in threads on sensitive subjects, and also to think that it's poor form to shout Boyzone every time a few Y chromosome Mefites act out. Raising the discourse is everyone's responsibility.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:26 PM on November 26, 2008 [3 favorites]


And I'd also like to note that you're making an awfully big assumption that the people calling "boyzone" are all girls.
posted by footnote at 4:52 PM on November 26 [+] [!]


That was a bit of loose language, which I shouldn't have engaged in. The irony being, of course, that the person who called boyzone happens to be male (or says he is, which as good as you get on the internet), and some of the people saying that calling "boyzone" is annoying are female. The calling of "boyzone", though, is done either by a female or by a male on behalf of females on the grounds that women will be intimidated or made to feel uncomfortable by the conversation. And I'm saying that I respect women and their own chutzpah too much for that - I don't want women to be shrinking flowers, worried about comfortablity. I want them to get in and mix it up. Frankly, women aren't shrinking flowers - they can be frightful fighters in verbal engagements. (Or so anyone who was a girl in junior high knows.)

And I don't buy that "we're on the bottom of the social power structure" argument. Sexism is real - but it works both ways. Women have never been simply on the bottom - gender is woven through other power structures of race and class, and isn't a simply heirarchial structure anyways (traditionally genders are unequal, but also separate, which gives females more power than males over certain things). There are women's roles and men's roles - and men are as restricted to their roles as women are. How many men are accepted as babysitters? My family needs money, and my husband is awesome with kids, but he thinks no one would hire him.

Women are not a minority, we make up more than 50% of the population, and have broken so many barriers in the last 50 years that growing up in the 1980s and 90s, the only profession where I felt my gender might possibly be a problem was in acting (because so many great roles are male - but then, after I saw a woman play Petruccio - brilliantly - I knew what was really limiting me was my lack of talent). The kind of educational and professional barriers my mother faced just 20 years earlier in the same school system had melted away. Yes, women do have problems establishing authority, because all of our cultural forms for authority are masculine. But that's also changing - viz Clinton, Thatcher or Palin (only one of whom I like, and two whom I respect - but all are very successful at establishing authority and power).

We fear going out at night, but we are less likely to be attacked than men. Maybe I'm ugly, but I do not even get harrassed or ogled on the street - though a homeless man might have tried to kiss me when I was giving him a hug (he asked for one, and I thought about how everyone needs a hug occaisonally).

I hate some of the continuing inequality - and I'm so pissed at John McCain for supporting the Ledbetter decision. I am aware that married women in academia, for example, are less likely to succeed than married men, and that this has nothing to do with their minds or willingness to work but about how their relationships with their husbands interact with their carreers and the great expectations put on them (being the womb carrier doesn't help either). I'm also aware that while women and non-white academics have made great strides, they are less likely to be hired into full-time, tenure track positions - and they are generally paid less. But all of this also reflects choices that women, including myself, make about their careers.

And I'm certainly not going to turn around and say that because there is both sexism and structural disadvantages against females that there isn't sexism and other structural disadvantages against males. Women surpassed men in going to university in the United States in 1982. Men are far more likely to be in prison - or to be violently attacked. When I lost my wallet while in downtown Toronto in the middle of the night, I got a free ride home on the TTC - my brother was in the same circumstances, and they made him walk (a four hour walk). I hate that some jobs won't hire women (including the combat trades in the US military), but I also worked at a donut shop that refused to hire men, as I found out later.

Anyways - this is way off-topic. I supose I'm just ranting because its not often society has free discussion on gender, any more than it does on race.

But I would finish by questioning some assumptions:

- is metafilter actually so male, or do people just assume that posters are male until they are specified as female? Do some voices just sound "male" regardless of the poster?
posted by jb at 4:48 PM on November 26, 2008 [2 favorites]


Defend your position and show the other person why they are wrong

Not everyone enjoys spending their time that way. (Hint: Most of those who do are males.)
posted by languagehat at 5:18 PM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


jb, I think you're framing the issue a bit too broadly. The question here is whether the "boyzone" operates to silence certain swaths of women on metafilter in a way we might not want. This silencing effect happen whether or not men are also disadvantaged by gender stereotypes in other ways.

This discussion about "boyzone" is about is the very specific context of women's participation in group conversations. This is not made up theorizing -- it has been empirically shown that certain kinds of standard mix-gender conversation settings end up with women sitting quiet while men take the floor. I think that's not really what we want for Metafilter. Sure, you could say (as I did in law school, one of the classically male-dominated conversation settings) that it's the quiet women's responsibility to speak up over the men. But think its a perfectly valid endeavor to try to create community norms on Metafilter that don't force the female participants to overcome that kind of barrier.
posted by footnote at 6:04 PM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


These threads definitely go up during the holidays. We don't this here. Go take out your problems on your dysfunctional family like normal people.
posted by jonmc at 6:06 PM on November 26, 2008



- is metafilter actually so male, or do people just assume that posters are male until they are specified as female?


Keep in mind that there are lots of lurkers, so the actual breakdowns might be hard to figure out. I think Matt did a survey a while back that showed a majority male populace, but I think that was a while ago.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:04 PM on November 26, 2008


The survey we did sorted it out at 67% male. Based on my back of envelope calculations this seems about right though I'd guess that AskMe is closer to 50/50. I think cortex may have done some estimations at one point.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:50 PM on November 26, 2008


Go take out your problems on your dysfunctional family like normal people.

You are my dysfunctional family, jonmc! Awwwww!
posted by Justinian at 11:14 PM on November 26, 2008


"The point of Metatalk has always been to hash things out among the people who use the place. Sometimes it's agonizing, but it's still better than any other model for online communication I've seen."

Yeah, fair point. Not where I was going though (bit hyperbolic on my part). But it is something important to clarify.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:16 PM on November 27, 2008


You know who else was a male?
posted by Smedleyman at 1:16 PM on November 27, 2008


You know who else was a male?

My cat, but now he just looks back over his shoulder at me with an angry look as if to say, "if I'd known you were going to do that to me I would have sprayed up this whole motherfucking place."
posted by Pollomacho at 7:36 AM on November 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


You know, there are several things I wanted to comment on throughout the course of this thread. But I was too busy stuffing my face and hanging out with my family that I missed it all.

But I guess I'm glad I got here in time to discuss cats!

My cat, but now he just looks back over his shoulder at me with an angry look as if to say, "if I'd known you were going to do that to me I would have sprayed up this whole motherfucking place."

My friend's cat kept getting urinary tract blockages or something, and they only way to ensure he'd be safe was to completely remove his penis. There's always this look of distant, wistful confusion on the poor thing's face.
posted by Ms. Saint at 11:56 AM on November 28, 2008


So your understanding is what they were going for there is the representation of the actual nutshots being funny, not a satirical commentary on the audiance for such a show?
Big ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos’ fan are ya?


Bad choice of phrasing; what I was saying was that the movie featured significant nut-shot comedy, and that the movie as a whole was funny, not the crotch-kicking per se -- but I just took it for granted that everyone would think the movie funny for the "satirical commentary on the audience..." etc.

Oddly enough, the day after my comment I talked about the movie with a co-worker, who said he sees a corollary between what people enjoy in the movie and whether "they're worth talking to" (his words); some see the movie as social commentary (and find it funny), and he generally finds extended conversations with these people engaging -- but some just think it's silly and fun and miss the deeper message (which, let's be honest, isn't particularly deep), and he generally finds talking to these people for more than five minutes to be painful.

Having said all that: I *do* think that the nut-shot melodies on Robot Chicken are hilarious, and I'm not ashamed to say so.
posted by davejay at 9:35 PM on November 28, 2008


jonmc: We don't this here.

Right, that's what I was about to say. Wait, what?
posted by Pax at 11:58 PM on November 29, 2008


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