Join 3,520 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Chests are good, butts are bad, mmmkay? Bingo!
April 20, 2012 12:48 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to know the reasoning behind keeping some posts up while deleting others, especially as it pertains to these particular threads.

Why has this post not been deleted? I felt there was a long-standing policy against posting outrage filter for the sake of outrage filter. Why is this post an exception? It's a single link to the rant of an incensed blogger, which seems like the definition of outrage filter to me.

Also, if that post stands because, as a community, we agree with that outrage and feel that objectifying people is wrong (not really a gold standard reason anyway, but okay), then why is this post okay?

Also, as oddman says here, I felt there was a long-standing policy not to approve posts where the sole purpose seems to be to point fingers and make fun of a subset of the population, which the men's chest hair site is definitely doing, tongue-in-cheek or not. Even those who disagree with objectifying people in principle seem to feel it is fine here. Because it is funny.

Which brings me to the dismissive feminist bingo snark. Aren't these comments the kind of "shitty sarcasm" the mods disapprove of even on the grey? They also seem to have a "let me get my popcorn" flavor to them, as though users are enjoying the drama, another practice disapproved of even on the grey. On the blue, where the standard is higher, why are they allowed to stand?

At the very least, there seems to be a double standard here, when feminists get a pass on making offensive generalizations about other Mefites in the thread.

Mods, could you please clarify why these posts and comments are okay? Any users want to weigh in on this? If the reasons are obvious, I'm just not seeing them.

Thanks.
posted by misha to Etiquette/Policy at 12:48 PM (268 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Mods are all out celebrating 4/20.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:50 PM on April 20, 2012 [16 favorites]


I wonder how many flags the "Do Not Take Pictures This Way" post got.
posted by crunchland at 12:55 PM on April 20, 2012


The mods are not going to give you a simple template that can be applied to all posts to show why one thing stays and one gets deleted. It doesn't exist. If you hate the post, flag it. If you find the comment to be offensive, flag it. Then move on. If the mods agree and delete it, then congratulations. If not, either readjust your flag standards or keep fighting the fight. Either way, MeTa begging for clarification won't help.

Ask yourself, is there any explanation that would actually suffice for you?
posted by Etrigan at 12:58 PM on April 20, 2012 [9 favorites]


We have had posts in the past that based on pictures of women's breasts. Is celebrating chest hair (albeit in a tongue-in-cheek way) really so different? Talking about how different bodies are different in various attractive/unattractive ways isn't taboo.

If objectifying is being done in a really problematic way, people aren't shy about saying so. The general consensus in the chest-hair thread was that it wasn't a problem. The audience was more divided when it came to the issue of the photo poses, w/r/t whether the women were posed in a way that was exploitative, or whatever, and a lot of the (now deleted) crap in that thread was pretty puerile.
posted by hermitosis at 1:00 PM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


...which the men's chest hair site is definitely doing, tongue-in-cheek or not.

Is there something wrong with me that I don't see any making-fun-of in that link? It's just a bunch of pictures of attractive dudes with hairy chest and some over-the-top fawning over said dudes by a lady who maintains a pinboard of attractive dudes with hairy chests.
posted by griphus at 1:01 PM on April 20, 2012 [13 favorites]


Mods, could you please clarify why these posts and comments are okay?

There are like four different things all wrapped up into one Metatalk post. But:

1. The "butts-and-tits movie poster shot" post was, eh. Not tremendous, it got a few flags, but it was a sort of pop-culture photo essay which is more interesting than just literally three paragraphs of someone on their blog saying "a thing is bad", and people seemed to feel okay about it as a post and a topic.

2. The resulting thread was really busy and we ended up doing a lot of work in there, but bumpy topics are bumpy and we don't delete every little thing, so, yeah, some comments that are middling at best in there. Situation not helped by trying a couple times to tamp down derails with the deletions we did make.

3. I've really only glanced at it, so if there's something complicated going on under the hood please do elaborate, but the hairy chest post seems like apples and oranges here, not because of Men vs. Women but in terms of the whole tone and presentation of the thing. It seems very much about sort of affectionate riffing on hairy chests, not ha-ha-hairy-chest-dudes-suck point-and-laugh stuff. We're more worried about posts that are like "these people suck, look at these dumb sucky people" than about stuff that's more in goofing territory, generally speaking.

4. I think the feminist bingo stuff can be annoying, yes. As with a whole lot of stuff, I can both appreciate where people are coming from being annoyed/frustrated by some bit of discursive mehness on a subject they care about and think they're doing an imperfect job of voicing that frustration. That said, the "shitty sarcasm" thing you're referencing is from a discussion in yet another metatalk thread recently about a comment that wasn't even deleted there, so framing this as "why aren't these things that I think are like that other thing you were talking about not deleted" leaves me not knowing what you're expecting: that we delete everything that looks like something else we didn't like but didn't actually delete?

Like I said, this feel like a bunch of distinct things that don't really roll together well or compare directly very well. I don't know if any of that helps for the specific individual things, but in any case I don't feel like there's some kind of simple Butt Shot + Hairy Chest + Sarcastic Metatalk Comments = ??? equation we can plug this all into.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:07 PM on April 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


As the penner of the supposed 'offensive generalizations,' I would like to point out that I was referring to a shitton of comments along the lines of 'Please send links with more pictures I shouldn't be taking or looking at' and reacting to the thought of finding examples of naked men in art with 'eww' and 'I enjoyed all those butt pics. Thanks!' and etc.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:11 PM on April 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


I wonder how many flags the "Do Not Take Pictures This Way" post got.

Not very many, actually.

Misha, you're conflating a number of things and trying to extrapolate hard-line rules when there really aren't any here. The first thing I want to point out, though, is that we don't actively approve either posts or comments - they need to be brought to our attention in the first place, and in the case of comments, that needs to be done quickly enough that we can delete them before they're thoroughly embedded in the conversation. Most of the comments you linked to weren't flagged at all. Therefore, unless one of us happened to be reading the thread pretty actively, we probably never saw them.

"Outragefilter" means something fairly specific to me - a specific act or set of acts by a specific person or people, posted without much context just to get people worked up about it. Social commentary is not exactly the same thing in principle (although it certainly can be in practice.) Feminist issues in general are not outragefilter by definition, although they can be presented that way. This one didn't strike me that way.

I didn't read the hairy chests posts as being mocking particularly, and the general vibe of the thread doesn't seem that way, either. Some people like hairy chests on men. *shrug*

You could certainly make the argument on both sides about the acceptability of objectifying men vs. objectifying women. There's are cultural and historical factors that mean they are not the same thing at all, but that doesn't mean that objectifying men is great. However, in terms of community standards, we've got some well-established guidelines around "boyzone" issues and I'm not aware that much of any discussion has happened around male objectification at all.

I can't really tell if that's the discussion you want to have or if you're just trying to figure out the rulebook here. If it's the former, let's do it - if it's the latter, sorry, we don't really have one. Not like it seems like you're looking for, anyway.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:11 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I figured there was a good mod definition of outragefilter on the site somewhere and I found this from Jessamyn a while back:

Outragefilter is basically a borrowed term for some sort of "Persona does something totally reprehensible, here's very little information about it. Grar!" and then the thread is basically full of people being like "this is so fucking awful!"

That's pretty much how I see outragefilter too, and I didn't think the post you reference met those criteria. It was a "here's a bunch of commentary on how stupid this thing is" post, which is maybe on the spectrum somewhere, but it falls way short of the "single paragraph story saying cops broke into a house and shot everybody's dog, with no further details" kind of post I think of as outragefilter, which pretty much leaves people nowhere to go but agreeing that it's outrageous.
posted by dfan at 1:16 PM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


The hairy chests thing made me a little weirded out in the same way that a "Look at these women with giant boobs" post would have. I'm pretty sure a "Here's some pictures of women with giant boobs" thing wouldn't have stood.
posted by Justinian at 1:17 PM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't feel like there's some kind of simple Butt Shot + Hairy Chest + Sarcastic Metatalk Comments = ??? equation we can plug this all into.

I have a marvellous proof for this equation which this margin is too small to contain.
posted by GuyZero at 1:19 PM on April 20, 2012 [22 favorites]


I'm pretty sure a "Here's some pictures of women with giant boobs" thing wouldn't have stood.

I suspect that its location on Pinterest, which has a very female user base and is something I associate more with photos of shoes, knitting, and interior design, has something to do with its reception here as jokey and affectionate. Context matters, and this is a context that emphasizes the humor, rightly or wrongly.
posted by Forktine at 1:23 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


It doesn't add up.
posted by griphus at 1:24 PM on April 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yeah I think you're getting a few different conversations crossed. I've been doing a fairly close read of those threads, as have the other mods and while we can give you a general "This is why we made the decisions we made (or didn't make)" this is not a place for bright line rules and it's probably not going to be. I know this is frustrating for some people but I feel like it needs to be a first principle when having this conversation. So, to your questions

1. Fungible assets posts was annoying but was one of those crossover situations where the topic was, yeah, one ranty guy but it was about a topic that a lot of people had a lot to say about. Barely flagged. So I didn't like it but figured I should lump it and be quiet about it. It didn't meet what my definition of outragefilter is which is basically a post that says "Can you believe these fucking people are doing this fucking thing?! Fuck them!" I know it's a weird line but that's where I saw it.

2. LARP/hair post - again almost no flags I didn't even look at it honestly, people seemed to like it, was not a shitfit-starter. We're not that psyched about posts that just point and laugh at people who seem stupid/disabled/different and that is the source of the humor or interest-level of the post. This was an assortment of hairy men and. well, whatever. I thought it was weird, the people who looked at ti seemed to mostly think it was interesting. Having a one step removal of this "Hey this comedian is doing this thing on Pinterest" is also different, not a ton different, but different.

3. "Aren't these comments the kind of "shitty sarcasm" the mods disapprove of even on the grey?" We were having a completely different discussion about the shitty sarcasm that makes MeTa problematic. It's uncool and problematic for a different reason in MetaFilter proper but that doesn't make those comments insta-deletes. There's no free pass for feminists being assholes any more than there is for any other sorts of assholes. As the other mods said, they weren't flagged at all which means we didn't see them. Yes those sorts of comments suck and shouldn't be part of a respectful discussion but also hey they sometimes happen and people should be able to respond like adults.

I get that you're frustrated about what you see as a trend but I'm sort of feeling that yeah, you're confusing the different things we've said about the different parts of the site a little bit and maybe letting your frustration get in the way of asking a real answerable question. We don't approve posts. When we delete posts it's either because the community has given them the aggressive thumbs down, or they are the sorts of posts that seem actively harmful to the community here because they go so terribly. There's a pretty short list of stuff that is on that list and yesterday seemed like it had a weirdly high deletion rate so we may have erred on the "keep" side more than we might have otherwise, but neither of those threads were thigns we're thinking "Oh we should have deleted those" I don't consider any of those posts/comments to be really messy/problematic except the bingo nonsense which was admittedly crappy.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:27 PM on April 20, 2012


I think it's odd that in a thread filled with a bunch of gross dudes telling women that their concerns aren't valid and also they just love boobs and butts and haha lol they'd love to see more boobs and butts what are the women complaining about haha?? -- it's really odd that your complaint is that women weren't more polite to the men who were being so dismissive. Rather than express my own frustration at this strange view of that thread, I'll just grit my teeth and say that we have a very different view of what is and is not appropriate.

Also, I think it's not so great that you linked directly to the young rope-rider's comment in some sort of attempt at a "gotcha." PROTIP: That's not a gotcha at all. When men have been subjected to millennia of systematized repression in the way that women have, then and ONLY then will men have the right to say "HEY BUT THIS THING YOU SAID ABOUT DUDES -- WHAT IF I PLUGGED WOMEN INTO THAT EQUATION INSTEAD!!" Until then, here I am playing the tiniest violin and spraying the tiniest bottle of Axe body spray while singing "what about the poor men."
posted by Frobenius Twist at 1:28 PM on April 20, 2012 [39 favorites]


It's a nice, happy day. Can't everyone go forth and be nice and happy instead of asking for Exact Rules That Will Always Apply No Matter What?
posted by rtha at 1:28 PM on April 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


If the rules aren't precise how will people D&D rules lawyer the mods every time they do anything?
posted by Justinian at 1:30 PM on April 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


This whole thing smacks of reverse sexism which is not a thing so let's never mention it again.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:32 PM on April 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


rtha: "It's a nice, happy day. Can't everyone go forth and be nice and happy instead of asking for Exact Rules That Will Always Apply No Matter What?"

I think it's okay to ask if a double standard exists for posts whose content objectifies men compared to ones that objectify women. I don't think that's happening here, but still, it should be okay to discuss.
posted by zarq at 1:34 PM on April 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, my Exact Rule that everyone should follow is that today is a nice day and y'all should go outside. If it isn't nice where you are, use that teleportation device to get yourself somewhere that is nice, then go outside.
posted by rtha at 1:38 PM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, my Exact Rule that everyone should follow is that today is a nice day and y'all should go outside.

Yes, take the laptop outside and post from there. You'll get some sun, maybe see a few gorgeous chests.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:48 PM on April 20, 2012


I think it's okay to ask if a double standard exists for posts whose content objectifies men compared to ones that objectify women. I don't think that's happening here, but still, it should be okay to discuss.

You don't think the asking is occurring or the post objectifying is occurring? Because "here are some hairy chests that I want to nuzzle in" is pretty much objectifying.
posted by Big_B at 1:59 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, my Exact Rule that everyone should follow is that today is a nice day and y'all should go outside. If it isn't nice where you are, use that teleportation device to get yourself somewhere that is nice, then go outside.

I'm going to go outside, and show the world my proud furry manly chest purpose built to soak up the tears of women and cradle their boobs.


I think my work here is done, now. Let's close up this thread, eh?
posted by Skygazer at 2:01 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


This callout feels dishonest as all hell to me. You got pissed that people don't agree with you and went looking for a "gotcha", didn't find one, made the mods write paragraphs and paragraphs explaining rules to you that you should know considering how long you've been here...just say that you think the feminists here are a bunch of hypocritical PC bitches, because that's what you intend to get across with your "questions".
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:01 PM on April 20, 2012 [18 favorites]


Yeah, that seems like pretty much the definition of objectification.

Note that I don't think the post should have been deleted. But then I don't think a "hey, boobs" post should necessarily be deleted either. I am a pretty hardcore tater non-deletionist.
posted by Justinian at 2:02 PM on April 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wow. That's... harsh, rope rider. Way harsh.
posted by Justinian at 2:03 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


& in case I didn't get it across in my comments, it reads to me like a parody of objectification of the type we typically see with photo collections of, for example, big boobs. But funny, because like most funny things, it's upsetting the typical order of things (men objectifying women in intensely specific ways).
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:05 PM on April 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's also funny because hairy chests are inherently kinda funny and archaic albeit also sexy.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:07 PM on April 20, 2012


And also not generally taboo in the same way that naked breasts are in many MeFites' home cultures.
posted by psoas at 2:08 PM on April 20, 2012


Just like Scott Bakula.
posted by griphus at 2:08 PM on April 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


...I was replying to Potomac Avenue, but if Scott Bakula is taboo in someone's home culture, I'd like to hear about it.
posted by griphus at 2:09 PM on April 20, 2012 [26 favorites]


Metafilter: Just like Scott Bakula
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:09 PM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


i don't think boobs to chest hair is the right comparison. there's been this thing going on for a while now where apparently the people who decide these sorts of things have decided that men's chests should be shaved, or at least manscaped, and that a big, bushy, soft, pillowy chest were right out of fashion. i've known quite a few men who were mocked and generally made to feel shitty about their abundance of testosterone.

that's not really the same as the relationship that boobs have in the beauty standard. i guess the closest would be women's body hair - maybe a blog that celebrates hairy pits or unwaxed mustaches. and that's a post i can totally see here. it's objectifying on one hand, but on the other hand it's saying "hey you, don't listen to the magazines and music videos and late night ads - your hair is awesome!"
posted by nadawi at 2:11 PM on April 20, 2012 [15 favorites]


There are almost no hard and fast rules. Other factors outside the control of the poster are sometimes relevant. Mod are human, not robots, and therefore subjective judgment comes into play. Comparing any single post against another single post is unhelpful, because many contextual factors may have come into play. Slight or occaisonal inconsistencies are inevitable, Mefites should be more concerned with trends than any one instance of a deletion or non-deletion.
posted by Falconetti at 2:15 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


i've known quite a few men who were mocked and generally made to feel shitty about their abundance of testosterone.

HEY

HEY YOU BUDDY

HEY WITH THE LARGE AMOUNT OF SECONDARY SEXUAL CHARACTERISTIC

LOOK AT ALL THAT SECONDARY SEXUAL CHARACTERISTIC

I BET IT RETAINS PHEROMONES MAKING YOU SEEM MORE ATTRACTIVE TO POTENTIAL MATES

YEAH TAKE THAT BUDDY
posted by griphus at 2:15 PM on April 20, 2012 [23 favorites]


When men have been subjected to millennia of systematized repression in the way that women have, then and ONLY then will men have the right to say "HEY BUT THIS THING YOU SAID ABOUT DUDES -- WHAT IF I PLUGGED WOMEN INTO THAT EQUATION INSTEAD!!" Until then, here I am playing the tiniest violin and spraying the tiniest bottle of Axe body spray while singing "what about the poor men."

Things that are wrong are only wrong if they've gone on long enough ?

Poor behavior is allowed as long as it isn't directed at a protected group ?

I think that's a curious standard.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:16 PM on April 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


griphus: "...I was replying to Potomac Avenue, but if Scott Bakula is taboo in someone's home culture, I'd like to hear about it."

And so, Dr. Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong, and hoping each time that his next leap will [not] be the leap [where the] home [culture finds him offensive.]
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:17 PM on April 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


I really dislike coming to metafilter to learn that I should be ashamed of having body hair, or grunting when I work out, or liking cars, or whatever. That sense of, "shit, I didn't even know I should be ashamed of X," is something that has driven me away briefly here and there, it's not a feeling I want, and the prevalence of it keeps me offline as much as life and my job allow.

I'd imagine it's what women deal with from the media pretty much non-stop.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:17 PM on April 20, 2012 [12 favorites]


I tend to think the over the top ness of the hairy chests posts undercuts to some degree the objectifying --- puts it on a silly tip rather than a creepy one. There's also the inherent power disparity thing which crops up in all these types of discussions --- men are less likely to feel threatened by women's overt lust because women tend to be physicslly weaker than men. It cuts down on the creep factor and makes such things more ridiculous, especially when as in the hairy chests thing the comic in question was deliberately trying to strike a silly tone. ("a forrest I want to LARP in"). So I think that's why I personally wasn't bothered by it. But it is certainly objectifying.

A more interesting question is whether society will ever get to the point where we'll have enough parity and representation of people of all genders and orientations as full human, active decision makers worthy of identifying with so that we'll all be able to do a little light slavering in the right context. 'cause the slavering I don't think we'll cure, and chicks are just as prone to it as dudes, just, on the whole, quieter.
posted by Diablevert at 2:19 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


i've been banging the "yay body hair" drum for just about as long as i've been banging drums about sexy things. i hope no one took my comment that i felt there should be shame in it.
posted by nadawi at 2:19 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hair is absolutely disgusting, shave your heads people.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:21 PM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


I really dislike coming to metafilter to learn that I should be ashamed -- Dude. Whatever you do, don't let a group of strangers on the internet define you. Alt-F4 that bullshit.
posted by crunchland at 2:22 PM on April 20, 2012


The only proper way to deal with this is a post about women with hairy chests.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:23 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


- Dude. Whatever you do, don't let a group of strangers on the internet define you. Alt-F4 that bullshit.

Speaking from my own context, I'm self-contained enough that shit on the internet mostly doesn't bother me. We can call that privilege, I have just enough of that to keep me a little bit insulated.

But there are these awkward moments where you're minding your business, and bam, turns out thing X annoys/disgusts/bores/frustrates people! That can get emotionally exhausting really fast.

I'm entirely sympathetic to the way women particularly are bombarded by it.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:26 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Things that are wrong are only wrong if they've gone on long enough ?

Things that aren't inherently particularly harmful are made harmful by the institutionalised social structures and behaviours they reinforce, and it's foolish to insist everyone pretend the same things are equally harmful (or harmful at all) when encountered outside those structures.
posted by emmtee at 2:27 PM on April 20, 2012 [15 favorites]


Yes, it is more wrong to say bad things about women. However, folks should not use that as a justification to say similar things about men. Otherwise you land in oppression olympics and a more oppressed group is telling women they shouldn't complain.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:32 PM on April 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


That sense of, "shit, I didn't even know I should be ashamed of X," is something that has driven me away briefly here and there, it's not a feeling I want, and the prevalence of it keeps me offline as much as life and my job allow.

I used to get that for a while and then someone posted an AskMe about wearing work shirts where the collar and the cuffs were colored differently than the rest of the shirt, and a bunch of people spoke up to tell him that it would make him look like a douchebag

He would look like a douchebag because his collar and cuffs would not match the color of his shirt. Not "there's a certain context to that style." Not "you might be able to pull it off, but if you can't it won't look great." No, just an objective opinion that you will look like a douchebag if you wear a button-down dress shirt where the collar and the cuffs are a different color than the rest of the shirt. Were the color to be uniform, he would, ostensibly, not look like a douchebag. That is what these people were contending.

At that point I could no longer regard with any seriousness any opinion on the internet which made me feel shitty.
posted by griphus at 2:34 PM on April 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Butt elephant.
posted by Melismata at 2:39 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think those kinds of shirts look sassy.
posted by elizardbits at 2:40 PM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


so there
posted by elizardbits at 2:40 PM on April 20, 2012


Sassy Banker is my new favorite show on Adult Swim.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:41 PM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


This thread needs more Scott Adams.
posted by edgeways at 2:42 PM on April 20, 2012


I'm pretty sure I was wearing that sort of shirt while reading question, too.
posted by griphus at 2:43 PM on April 20, 2012


While I understand where you are coming from, young rope-rider, I think we have to proceed in this thread from the assumption that Misha is being an honest actor here and really does have questions about policy. If there is some other issue that Misha has, we must wait for her to bring it to MeTa, and not guess at it for her.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:46 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


But there are these awkward moments where you're minding your business, and bam, turns out thing X annoys/disgusts/bores/frustrates people!

Yeah it's weird, I am a happily hairy-type of woman and I'm pretty immune to people being all "Ick body hair" but I get weirdly defensive when people get "Ick, speedo bathing suits on people who shouldn't wear them!" because I just feel that sort of statement says more about the intolerance of the person saying it than any sort of absolute "What people should wear" thing. Then I get a bit more meta about it and I think it says more about the cultural context where saying stuff like that is okay. And I know there are a lot of people for whom that is totally OK, it's just odd to me.

Like, in my mind even if someone is wearing something that looks weird on them in public, that just doesn't seem like any of my business and a sort of boring thing to talk about with other people unless you enjoy putting other people down. So stuff like People of Wal-Mart or whatever just weird me out. I am missing the part of my brain that enjoys being judgmental of strangers, or who has some sort of normative ideas about how people ought to look. It's sort of amazing that I have an internet job, actually. I'm curious about people and the choices they make, but I assume that like me their lives are complex and not really understandable from a quick outside look in a public place, as much as we might like to think otherwise.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:49 PM on April 20, 2012 [35 favorites]



I think those kinds of shirts look sassy.


Dude, what do Patrick Bateman, Bill Lumbergh, and Gordan Gecko have in common? French Cuffs.
posted by Diablevert at 2:54 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


the young rope-rider: “This callout feels dishonest as all hell to me. You got pissed that people don't agree with you and went looking for a ‘gotcha’, didn't find one, made the mods write paragraphs and paragraphs explaining rules to you that you should know considering how long you've been here...just say that you think the feminists here are a bunch of hypocritical PC bitches, because that's what you intend to get across with your ‘questions’.”

Bunny Ultramod: “While I understand where you are coming from, young rope-rider, I think we have to proceed in this thread from the assumption that Misha is being an honest actor here and really does have questions about policy. If there is some other issue that Misha has, we must wait for her to bring it to MeTa, and not guess at it for her.”

No, misha didn't hide her disdain and ire. This was a post flatly calling out feminists on Metafilter as trolls. That was the purpose of the post, and she spelled it out in black and white. To wit:

misha: “Which brings me to the dismissive feminist bingo snark. Aren't these comments the kind of ‘shitty sarcasm’ the mods disapprove of even on the grey? They also seem to have a ‘let me get my popcorn’ flavor to them, as though users are enjoying the drama, another practice disapproved of even on the grey. On the blue, where the standard is higher, why are they allowed to stand?”

Bullshit. This accusation that anybody who says they think a particular response is characteristic of sexism is "enjoying the drama" and is celebrating conflict and hoping to turn everything into a fight about sexism is bullshit. It's disingenuous, and it's assuming bad faith on the part of people here.

I have to say, misha, that we've had some disagreements in the past, and I appreciate where you come from on this stuff. And moreover I really value the conversations we've had. But this whole callout rubs me the wrong way. Why do you have to assume the worst in the people whose comments you've linked to above? Can you not talk about this stuff in a clear and level-headed way without accusing them of harboring malicious intent in coming to the conversation?
posted by koeselitz at 3:00 PM on April 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Dude, what do Patrick Bateman, Bill Lumbergh, and Gordan Gecko have in common?

Yes, in fact that is exactly the kind of response that cropped up dozens of times in the thread griphus referenced, to which he was referring.
posted by dfan at 3:01 PM on April 20, 2012


Mods, could you please clarify on a Friday evening. The new version of GRARing hour?
posted by Namlit at 3:02 PM on April 20, 2012


Dude, what do Patrick Bateman, Bill Lumbergh, and Gordan Gecko have in common?

They look sassy?
posted by emmtee at 3:06 PM on April 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yes, in fact that is exactly the kind of response that cropped up dozens of times in the thread griphus referenced, to which he was referring.

Yeah, I shouldn't have made that comment. It was an insensitive, d-bag move on my part. I'm sorry, griphus.
posted by Diablevert at 3:09 PM on April 20, 2012



Dude, what do Patrick Bateman, Bill Lumbergh, and Gordan Gecko have in common?


A terrible and depressing wasteland of conformity that is mens business fashion ?
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:13 PM on April 20, 2012


They're all fictional?
posted by shakespeherian at 3:22 PM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Aren't these comments the kind of "shitty sarcasm" the mods disapprove of even on the grey? They also seem to have a "let me get my popcorn" flavor to them, as though users are enjoying the drama, another practice disapproved of even on the grey.

1. My comment was not sarcastic. I don't even understand where you're getting "shitty sarcasm" from. It was a sincere expression of frustration.

2. Yes, I enjoyed the drama, if by "enjoy" you mean feeling incredibly frustrated and sad and disappointed.
posted by kmz at 3:23 PM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


They all have inky quills.
posted by griphus at 3:25 PM on April 20, 2012


At that point I could no longer regard with any seriousness any opinion on the internet which made me feel shitty.

My breaking point along those lines was the Metafilter thread about Crocs, where numerous people were arguing in deadly earnest that anyone who wore Crocs was clearly morally inferior and deserved to be shunned by right thinking people everywhere. I bought a pair of Crocs a week or so after reading that thread--mostly in the hopes of pissing off anyone who seriously held such a ridiculous view (and oh boy are they comfortable when you're working in the kitchen!).
posted by yoink at 3:31 PM on April 20, 2012 [9 favorites]


They are like walking on pillows!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:36 PM on April 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Listen, I don't know about any of you, but I've never seen that many hairy chests all stacked on top of each other. It was great! Like typing or saying a word over and over until it becomes not that word anymore and surreal and hard to not see it as cool and distorted by the multiplicity. More like, "Wow, whadda weird species we be" than anything objectifying! I mean seriously. Much lightening up needed here. Or hurry yourself over to the Cindy Sherman show at MOMA if you're in New York.
posted by thinkpiece at 3:41 PM on April 20, 2012


As to the topic of the thread, I think this is a classic example of the problem caused by living in an unjust social context--the appeal to "fairness" in a "what if all the labels were reversed" way just doesn't work. It's disingenuous to pretend that a gender-reversed equivalent of that Pinterest site would fly happily on Metafilter. Try to imagine any such thing (a Pinterest site in which some guy went on and on in a humorously OTT way about women's 'gams'? or about women's ankles? or about women's long hair?); we'd be in the thick of an intense discussion/fight about objectification ("yeah, I get that it's meant to be funny, but it's still reducing women to their fetishized body-parts..." etc. etc) in a trice.

And so we should! Because the fact is that while Male bodies are subject to objectification and sexualization and commodification in our society those forces are a minor head cold for men compared to the advanced pneumonia that women are suffering from in that regard. So you really can't just say "what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander" in these situations. Because it just isn't--that's the price we all pay for living in an unjust world. Someone calling me a "honky" or a "cracker" might be insulting, but it just can't possibly carry the same wounding force as the n-word, which has hundreds of years of ongoing historical oppression wrapped up in it. That's not because of anything special about the word, it's because of the social and historical context in which it is deployed.

An interesting corollary of this train of thought is that if we ever do arrive at a non-sexist future, many cultural products that we currently denounce as bearers of oppressive attitudes will probably continue to exist (or, rather, there will continue to be products that look rather similar to the "oppressive" one's of the past). In a non sexist world, a humorous Pinterest post by some guy playing around with fetishizing women's breasts or hair or what have you would be perfectly imaginable--but that will be because such a project wouldn't carry with it hte implicit message "this is the voice of society as a whole, telling you how your worth will be assessed according to whether or not your body accords with our norms"--it'll just be some guy having a goof.
posted by yoink at 3:51 PM on April 20, 2012 [31 favorites]


Hey, I had that moment when I found out on AskMeFi that apparently getting french manicures/pedicures is super-tacky. I was boggled and then a little freaked out that people might judge me on that and then a little angry that someone might judge me on something so small. I like to think the more of those moments I have, the more careful it makes me of not trying to do that to anyone else.

Also, I love Crocs. They come in so many cute versions now and they are so comfortable.
posted by flex at 3:52 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Every time I get a french pedicure I have an especial moment of deep and fulfilling enjoyment that there are apparently many many people who would be revolted/outraged by me and my shameful actions.

it is so fucking satisfying oh my god
posted by elizardbits at 4:03 PM on April 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


What comes to my mind was the AskMe (I think) that was somehow about how men navigate their underwear when they stand up and pee and I discovered that just yanking the front down was a terribly juvenile thing to do. I never was able to discover if those presenting that view were doing so ironically or seriously. I suspect both.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:11 PM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

I am missing the part of my brain that enjoys being judgmental of strangers
If I had the money to do so, I would pay someone that money to excise that part of my brain.

But at least (these days) I recognize that it's a petty, unworthy impulse and I mostly try to tamp it down. Sometimes it's fun to let that particular mustang slip its reins, though.
posted by kavasa at 4:13 PM on April 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


...hey that's a pretty cool metaphor for that I think, good job, me.
posted by kavasa at 4:14 PM on April 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Listen, I don't know about any of you, but I've never seen that many hairy chests all stacked on top of each other.

I'm not a super huggy, touchy-feely kind of guy normally, and even less so when naked and around strangers. But years ago I was at a clothing optional beach with friends, and this friend of a friend, sort of a muscular gay bear (are there non-gay bears?), was leaving and gave me a big old bear hug. It was a moment I remember vividly because it was the first time (and remains one of only two or three moments ever) I was in full-body, head to toes, naked contact with another man, and a hairy one at that. In particular, the feeling of our chest hair intertwining was really weird, and made it absolutely unlike hugging a woman.

Sexually it's not my thing, but in a purely tactile sense it was great, and made me understand why my girlfriends have tended to enjoy that I have some body hair. (It's also a slightly sad reminder to how a lot of men miss out on small pleasures in life, like hugs that feel different, because of how much we tend to avoid the "wrong" kinds of contact. As the reminder below the comment box says, everyone needs a hug.)
posted by Forktine at 4:21 PM on April 20, 2012 [25 favorites]


Someone calling me a "honky" or a "cracker" might be insulting, but it just can't possibly carry the same wounding force as the n-word, which has hundreds of years of ongoing historical oppression wrapped up in it.

The fact that "Cracker" doesn't carry the wight that other insults might doesn't mean that it is something that should be tolerated or encouraged.

It creates a ruleset where people are treated by different rules based on their gender, class, or ethnicity.

Is that the sort of community we seek to have here ?
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 4:31 PM on April 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also, I love Crocs.

Crocs look like shoes they'd force you to wear in a mental hospital.
posted by jonmc at 4:36 PM on April 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


There's wrong with being in a mental hospital.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:39 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tell that to Napoleon XIV.
posted by jonmc at 4:39 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


The fact that "Cracker" doesn't carry the wight that other insults might doesn't mean that it is something that should be tolerated or encouraged.

Not sure if serious. Assuming you are--I quite agree. Did you really think the takeaway from my comment was "everyone should call each other 'cracker'?

But on the other hand, we should also recognize that if someone claims that they are every bit as much a victim of "racism" as some black guy who has been called 'nigger' because some black guy once called them a 'cracker,' they are deluding themselves. The power of racism does not lie in how much some one individual happens to dislike people of a particular ethnicity--it lies in an entire complex of social and historical conditions. I could loathe Leichtensteinians with every fiber of my being, but there's simply no insult available to me that I can hurl at one which will have the power to marshal an array of deeply ingrained voices telling that person that they and all of their relatives and ancestors are inherently worthless.

(And just as a P.S, I do hope you're aware that the popular folk etymology of cracker from 'whip-cracker is purely fictional. The term is an old one that means 'braggart' and was used of poor white southerners by rich white southerners and northerners long before blacks started to use it of whites in general).
posted by yoink at 4:44 PM on April 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


There's no situation that can't be improved by having comfy feet.
posted by SweetTeaAndABiscuit at 4:46 PM on April 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Mentioning 'feminism 101' is basically like calling out people in the thread for being ignorant (or trolls), so I'd love to see that stop. It feels hugely dismissive. When I make a feminist discussion bingo card, that'll be on there.
posted by jacalata at 4:48 PM on April 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


It creates a ruleset where people are treated by different rules based on their gender, class, or ethnicity.

Is that the sort of community we seek to have here ?


I disagree; I don't think it encourages that at all. I think it encourages people to think about the historical, social, and cultural context of such inequities as sexism and racism, which do actually exist in reality. Women's bodies are more objectified than men's, and people of color are subject to racism in a way that white people aren't; these are facts, and acknowledging those facts (and the complex reasons for their existence) doesn't make Metafilter a community in which people are treated by different rules based on gender, etc.

Also, these Crocs rule.
posted by scody at 4:50 PM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Crocs look like shoes they'd force you to wear in a mental hospital.

You mean these shoes or maybe these or these or these or these or these?

Mentioning 'feminism 101' is basically like calling out people in the thread for being ignorant (or trolls), so I'd love to see that stop. It feels hugely dismissive. When I make a feminist discussion bingo card, that'll be on there.

I'm just going to link this comment instead of type it up again.
posted by flex at 4:51 PM on April 20, 2012


It creates a ruleset where people are treated by different rules based on their gender, class, or ethnicity.

Is that the sort of community we seek to have here ?


I really don't know what to tell you at this point. My answer is yes, sort of. I am totally okay being in a community where nigger is treated as a worse insult than cracker and we moderate this site that way. Insults are, generally speaking, not great ways to engage here but not always deleteworthy. However, there is a vast difference between calling someone a cunt and calling someone a dick (in the US). Similarly calling someone a retard versus calling someone a jerk. Or calling someone a spaz versus calling someone clumsy (in the UK).

The goalposts shift a little over time, but not much. Certain insults are worse because of the historical backstory involved in them. Not everyone has to know all of this right off the bat, but they have to be open to understanding it. The moderation of this site takes that into account. While we can discuss this generally as a community, there are certain things that are not on the table and loosening the moderation to allow racist and/or hate speech isn't an option. We're here to talk about the topic generally speaking, but there are certain things we come at from a moderating perspective as givens as far as how we do things here. Doesn't say anything about the larger world and how people communicate with each other there, but it does lay down the way we run this site.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:55 PM on April 20, 2012 [27 favorites]


I used it to mean, "I am unhappy that when someone says an obviously uninformed/sexist thing, fifty people get righteously angry and then they pile on to school that person on how very wrong they are, and then a few more people come in to defend the first person, and then the discussion derails into a very basic argument that has been had so many times before, and there is no more energy left in the thread to discuss the actual topic because we are back to... Feminism 101."

So you think you're saying it as shorthand for 'everybody stay calm and maybe don't pile on the thing that was just said that annoyed you for not showing enough background in your pet jargon because the fact of you piling on is what will ruin the discussion'? I think you need a better phrase. And I don't think most people are using it that way anyway.
posted by jacalata at 4:55 PM on April 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


I do wonder sometimes.

WIPPEN

WIPPEN (SLYT, 13s, NSFW)
posted by hnnrs at 1:00 PM - 6 comments


This post was deleted for the following reason: well that was a thing -- cortex

why delete that?

was it too naughty?

please - do you think your deletion reason helps?
posted by dash_slot- at 5:01 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


"It creates a ruleset where people are treated by different rules based on their gender, class, or ethnicity."

The exact same physical action or the exact same words are not in all cases treating someone "the same" in all situations. Picking a human being up in my arms is a specific action that is very, very different depending upon who that human being is, how old they are, how big they are, and numerous other things. Kissing someone. Employing someone is very different when it's someone who is thirty than when it's someone who is eight. Referring to a male as a "man" is different from referring to a female as a "man", even though it's the exact same words.

This insane insistence on treating people "the same" in terms of very superficial characteristics such that the exact words that are used or the exact actions that are involved is the only point-of-reference is just a self-serving argument that takes as its assumption what it's implicitly trying to prove — that the two contexts are the same. In every other aspect of our lives people intuitively understand that context makes a huge difference to the effects of actions and the meanings of words.

What you call "treating people differently" according to gender, class, or ethnicity is what I call "treating people the same" at the level that actually matters, not some superficial level chosen precisely because it's the level that denies that there's an important contextual difference between the two situations in the first place.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:10 PM on April 20, 2012 [23 favorites]


You can pry my crocs off my cold dead feet.
posted by OsoMeaty at 5:12 PM on April 20, 2012


The exact same physical action or the exact same words are not in all cases treating someone "the same" in all situations.

Additionally, treating people "the same" is not identical to treating them equally. Equality and sameness are not equivalent.
posted by rtha at 5:14 PM on April 20, 2012 [12 favorites]


I linked to this definition: "Feminism 101": Discussions on feminist forums are often disrupted, frequently but not always deliberately, by commentors who post often-seen questions/assertions which end up turning the discussion into arguing about their question/assertion instead of the original issue that was being discussed.

The bit you are quoting from my comment is my explanation of the context around my use of the phrase in the instance I was pointing to - ccontext, not definition.

Feminism 101 is when clichéd assertions derail a discussion into well-worn, exhausting tracks. I am pretty damn sure most of those people using it sincerely mean just that. It is not meant to be "pet jargon" - I have never taken a course in women's studies.

Feminism is not a rarefied academic argument - it speaks to a fundamental issue in our society. This is not a hobbyhorse or special interest group. It is as much a part of our lives as pop culture or art or technology or science or any other topic of a MeFi post.
posted by flex at 5:21 PM on April 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


Between this callout and the deletion of the Oatmeal gamer girl post (which I have no opinion on fwiw), I'm concerned that there's a move afoot to categorize anything involved in the intersection of geek culture and feminism as one of those things Metafilter Doesn't Do Well.

I know those threads can be clusterfucks and I can't blame the mods for giving them a hairy eyeball. On the other hand, suggesting that feminist criticism of something nerdy or geeky is inherently outragefilter is insulting and comes close to positing that feminists on the site are trolling or otherwise posting in bad faith. I'm glad the mods spoke up and clarified that the fungible assets post didn't fall into that category from their point of view.
posted by immlass at 5:33 PM on April 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


Metafilter is not a feminist forum, it is a general interest site that sometimes discusses feminism. Some people honestly debate things that are basic and accepted among feminists, and having those debates here is not the same as trying to have them there.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:34 PM on April 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


why delete that?

was it too naughty?


No, it was too ridiculously thin. I thought it was charming as a bit of silly animation but it was literally thirteen seconds long. Without the soundtrack it could have been an animated gif.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:54 PM on April 20, 2012


A thread about a feminist topic is a feminist forum, wherever it happens to be, as a thread on any other topic is a forum for that particular topic. A forum is a place to have a discussion. One thread with a topic = one place to have a discussion on that topic.

Some people honestly debate things that are basic, but not every discussion is the appropriate place to debate basic things, even on a general interest site. That applies to any topic I can think of; you don't go into a discussion of perfect omelet technique to ask about frying an egg. The non-threaded format here means if you want to have a basic debate, you're having it right in the middle of everyone else having a not-so-basic discussion. Similar derails on any frequent topic here annoy people trying to have those discussions - this is no different.
posted by flex at 6:08 PM on April 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


A thread about a feminist topic is a feminist forum, wherever it happens to be, as a thread on any other topic is a forum for that particular topic.

No more than a thread about Catholicism is a Catholic forum or a thread about Republicans is a Republican forum. The choice of topic doesn't mean we have to agree not to debate the basic assertions of those groups since the more complex assertions flow from them.

That applies to any topic I can think of; you don't go into a discussion of perfect omelet technique to ask about frying an egg.


I see nothing wrong with that question.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:26 PM on April 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


men are less likely to feel threatened by women's overt lust

Men really probably ought to feel threatened by Stacey Nightmare's overt lust.
posted by hermitosis at 6:31 PM on April 20, 2012


Ha. I thought Meatbomb's snark was great and a very good point.
posted by jayder at 6:44 PM on April 20, 2012


If I take a picture of my hairy butt, will that even the score all the way 'round?
posted by notsnot at 6:55 PM on April 20, 2012


I tend to think the over the top ness of the hairy chests posts undercuts to some degree the objectifying --- puts it on a silly tip rather than a creepy one.

Yes, the young rope-rider has already made it clear that it's okay to objectify people here if you do it in a funny way. I am sure she will remember that the next time this issue comes up when a woman is objectified in a funny way. I am sure she will not cry fowl, or mention feminist bingo if any guy tells her to "lighten up."

You got pissed that people don't agree with you

Nope. Maybe that's you? You did make an awful lot of comments in that thread with ALL CAPS. If you can not see the hypocrisy in you accusing me of not acting in good faith, maybe you should get a mirror.

Anyway, I actually just got back from a nice dinner out a little while ago, and I'm having a lovely evening, which is why it took me so long to comment in this thread. I feel like it's healthy to get a little distance when you're feeling frustrated, and so I did that.

Still feel like this Meta is completely called for. I made this post because I have been seeing this HUGE double standard a lot lately. These two particular threads are not even the most egregious examples, they are just illustrating that larger point.

I also still feel the feminist bingo crap should go (and by the way, I did flag those comments, and they were called out in the thread by a few people).

Koselitz: Why do you have to assume the worst in the people whose comments you've linked to above? Can you not talk about this stuff in a clear and level-headed way without accusing them of harboring malicious intent in coming to the conversation?

1. I am being clear and level-headed, and
2. Because those comments break the guidelines by every measure we have here. They are snarky, sarcastic, are used to attack other users and add nothing to the discussion.

I used the point that cortex had just called someone out for being sarcastic on the grey just to illustrate that the feminist bingo comments were worse, on the blue, and not even called out by a mod. I find that disturbing, especially when jessamyn says that "there's no free pass for feminists to act like assholes" and then adds a lame (in my opinion) "Yes those sorts of comments suck and shouldn't be part of a respectful discussion but also hey they sometimes happen..." rather than getting rid of the comments.

Look, I know a lot of women feel that Mefi used to be more a boyzone. Guess what? I actually agree that was the case.

What I don't agree with is saying it's okay to act jerkish because you're more oppressed than the other guys. My understanding is that we don't like jerkish behavior here, period.
posted by misha at 7:14 PM on April 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Metafilter is not a feminist forum, it is a general interest site that sometimes discusses feminism. Some people honestly debate things that are basic and accepted among feminists, and having those debates here is not the same as trying to have them there.

I understand that a lot of people think that 'feminism' means something a lot more specific than it actually does, and that therefore it's a word that tends to read as special-interesty to a great many people. It isn't, though. Feminism is civil rights. I like to hope and assume that anyone that I meet is a feminist, in the same way that I like to hope and assume that anyone that I meet isn't a racist or a homophobe. Metafilter isn't a racial issues forum, and it isn't a gay rights forum, and yeah, it isn't a feminist forum, but I like to think that there should be a certain set of beliefs of human decency and parity that we can assume as default unless challenged: that women and men ought to be dealt with in equity by society is one of those.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:20 PM on April 20, 2012 [41 favorites]


Yes, the young rope-rider has already made it clear that it's okay to objectify people here if you do it in a funny way. I am sure she will remember that the next time this issue comes up when a woman is objectified in a funny way. I am sure she will not cry fowl, or mention feminist bingo if any guy tells her to "lighten up."

I am responsible for my words and behaviour in this thread -- less than stellar though they have been --- and I don't think it's right for you to put my words in YRR's mouth. In the very comment you cited I was at pains to say this was my personal opinion. If you find it objectionable I am certainly willing to talk it over with you, but I ain't YRR and i'm not a mod either, and whatever foolishness I spit shouldn't be used to indict other commenters or the site itself.
posted by Diablevert at 7:25 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


misha: “Because those comments break the guidelines by every measure we have here. They are snarky, sarcastic, are used to attack other users and add nothing to the discussion.”

They do not "break the guidelines by every measure we have here." They do not "attack other users;" calling a sexist comment a sexist comment is not an attack. It is not against the guidelines to be snarky, to be sarcastic, or to add nothing to the discussion, even if those things were true of the comments you're talking about. You've done very little to justify this claim that these comments are against our community guidelines. I'd kind of like to hear you back it up, if you can.
posted by koeselitz at 7:37 PM on April 20, 2012 [9 favorites]


by the way, I did flag those comments, and they were called out in the thread by a few people

Seriously, you didn't. I don't know if your flagging mechanism is broken but we did not see flags from you on those comments you linked to. Feel free to hit us on on the contact form if you want to troubleshoot that.

rather than getting rid of the comments.

By the time we saw them they were over a day old and many people had replied to them in the thread. I'm not even sure we would have deleted those comments if we saw them when they went up. They're jerkish but being jerkish here isn't in and of itself against the rules. Neither is being sarcastic. Neither is snark. Neither is being non-discussion-adding. And the general jerkish comments weren't attacking any particular user which is the stuff that will get your comment deleted. We don't delete a lot of comments in MetaFilter but we do leave notes and try to get conversations back on track. And people are welcome to come to MeTa if they want to talk about things that weren't deleted.

We can and do look at things and say "Yeah we'd prefer that people didn't do that" but also not delete it. That's not just my opinion, whether you think it's lame or not, that's how the site runs.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:43 PM on April 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


jessamyn, my screen shows I flagged nine comments in that thread, so I don't know what to tell you.
posted by misha at 8:20 PM on April 20, 2012


In which thread? The butts or the chest hair?
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:22 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: etc
posted by shakespeherian at 8:23 PM on April 20, 2012


Yeah maybe we're speaking past each other but I saw no flags from you on the feminist bingo comments--the ones you seem to be arguing most strongly should have been deleted by us--which was all we were saying, that we hadn't seen them at the time and not til much later.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:23 PM on April 20, 2012


I understand that a lot of people think that 'feminism' means something a lot more specific than it actually does, and that therefore it's a word that tends to read as special-interesty to a great many people. It isn't, though. Feminism is civil rights. I like to hope and assume that anyone that I meet is a feminist, in the same way that I like to hope and assume that anyone that I meet isn't a racist or a homophobe. Metafilter isn't a racial issues forum, and it isn't a gay rights forum, and yeah, it isn't a feminist forum, but I like to think that there should be a certain set of beliefs of human decency and parity that we can assume as default unless challenged: that women and men ought to be dealt with in equity by society is one of those.

Sure, but I doubt seriously the comments generally accused of being deraily are suggestions that men and women should not be treated equally since that isn't really a popular position around here. The debates center around the meaning equity and there is a lot of disagreement there, right down to some folks thinking gendered insults aren't as big of a deal when targeted at men than at women and some who disagree with that.

There is a bit of controversy among some Feminists on the idea that men can even be Feminists in the first place which makes it tough to say even something as fundamental as a basic definition of Feminism is without controversy and debate.

Feminists blogs and forums are feminist in a sense beyond the sense most reasonable people are feminists. A lot of them are trying to further develop and progress feminist thought, that isn't the mission statement for a general audience conversation on the topic.


In which thread? The butts or the chest hair?

Metafilter: ...beat me to it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:26 PM on April 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


It is not against the guidelines to be snarky

It must be, because I had a snarky comment deleted recently.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:28 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, misha, I see that you flagged a bunch of comments in the one thread, but none of the ones you linked to were ones you flagged.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:30 PM on April 20, 2012


The only proper way to deal with this is a post about women with hairy chests.

I think the proper female equivalent here would be a post about pubic hair, au naturale.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:44 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Big_B: "You don't think the asking is occurring or the post objectifying is occurring? "

I don't think there's a double standard.

I think it's pretty obvious that both the asking and objectifying are occurring, yes.
posted by zarq at 8:58 PM on April 20, 2012


I don't know about anyone else, but I relieved when I saw the so-called 'shitty sarcasm' comments from 'the feminists' on that post because a good deal of the comments you didn't call shitty were really, truly upsetting to me. It's never a good experience reading comments and wondering if you accidentally took crazy pills because you'd just read 20 offensive comments in a row and no one was saying anything.
posted by toerinishuman at 11:08 PM on April 20, 2012 [13 favorites]


* was relieved.
posted by toerinishuman at 11:17 PM on April 20, 2012


I think it's odd that in a thread filled with a bunch of gross dudes telling women that their concerns aren't valid...

Wow. So I understand the part where you say if someone disagrees with you we get to make fun of their appearance, but I'm confused on the other part. Do you want us to dismiss their opinions because of their gender or because of their physical appearance? Oh wait, I think I get: If a male disagrees with you, we call them ugly. Then we get to dismiss them because of their gender and their looks! Brilliant! And to do it in a thread that exists specifically to request for the kind of behavior to stop. Well played.

Meanwhile, in math news, did you know that there is a maximum amount of how obtuse an angle can be? Once you make a half circle, that's as obtuse as you can get. An angle more obtuse than 180 degrees is just a less obtuse angle in the other direction.
posted by BurnChao at 3:08 AM on April 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Kyrdemon didn't come rushing in at the start of the thread to shit on it with the bingo comments. They came after considerable provocative discussion had occurred. Her/his comments reflected, in a (I thought) good-humoured summary, the kinds of ideological positions that were being taken up in response to the post.

It's hard to find the right voice to make these kinds of observations of discourse - a stab at humour; you're too sarcastic; earnest, and you're humourless and needy; angry, and you're a raging man-hating feminist; defending a point, you're shutting down those who disagree with you. I thought the bingo card analogy was a fair attempt to observe whilst navigating all these ways in which lending a voice to feminist critique is difficult.
posted by honey-barbara at 3:50 AM on April 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think it's odd that in a thread filled with a bunch of gross dudes telling women that their concerns aren't valid...

Wow. So I understand the part where you say if someone disagrees with you we get to make fun of their appearance, but I'm confused on the other part. Do you want us to dismiss their opinions because of their gender or because of their physical appearance? Oh wait, I think I get: If a male disagrees with you, we call them ugly.


I believe in this usage 'gross' doesn't refer to outward appearance (since for the most part nobody on Metafilter knows what anybody else looks like) but to 'gross' behavior. Which was being exhibited. As the comment says.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:13 AM on April 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yeah, that is big leap, dude. Kind of like the guys who read:
The most common pose inspired by women in movies in my Facebook albums is still freaking Charlie's Angels, because they have guns, it's cute, it's sexy, and also possible to handle with a normal spine.
And responded with variations of "how dare you say the Charlie's Angels pose is sexist?" At a certain point that kind of damage seems to make it impossible to read the words....
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:40 AM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


My understanding is that we don't like jerkish behavior here, period.

Honestly, this reflects my biggest frustration with Metafilter. There are a lot of commenters who will say something churlish or worse and then seem to feel vindicated when others favorite their comments. Being an asshole in the service of a belief that has some other adherents to back the speaker up is no more acceptable than being a lone asshole. Nonetheless, profoundly ideology-driven people insist on seizing on anything they can scorn (whether or not the original comment was maid in good faith) and turning comment threads into petty point-scoring exercises.

In addition to being completely pointless (keep fighting the good fight, on the internet, against unseen malefactors you will never meet, in a thread that will be forgotten a week later), this sort of behavior has a tendency to block worthile discussion and suck all the oxygen out of a thread.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:58 AM on April 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


I thought the bingo card analogy was a fair attempt to observe whilst navigating all these ways in which lending a voice to feminist critique is difficult.

My sense is that some of the folks unhappy about the bingo card are perfectly happy to shut down feminist voices on the site. (E.g., "this is not a feminist forum" as if that makes it inappropriate to use feminist analysis or mention feminist jargon) A while ago there was an effort made to shift the Overton window of this place so it was somewhat less feminist-hostile. Lately there's been some backlash, deliberate or not, on that point.
posted by immlass at 6:28 AM on April 21, 2012 [9 favorites]


(The oddest thing about this whole thing is the assumption by some in the thread and now by Misha here that the hairy chest pinterest must be some kind of false flag operation dedicated to mocking poor, hairy-chested men for their disfigurement. Looks to me like the author is just crazy into hairy chested men, dudes. Learn to take a compliment.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:38 AM on April 21, 2012


My sense is that some of the folks unhappy about the bingo card are perfectly happy to shut down feminist voices on the site. (E.g., "this is not a feminist forum" as if that makes it inappropriate to use feminist analysis or mention feminist jargon) A while ago there was an effort made to shift the Overton window of this place so it was somewhat less feminist-hostile. Lately there's been some backlash, deliberate or not, on that point.
posted by immlass at 2:28 PM on April 21 [+] [!]

Saying this isn't a feminist forum is a response to the inevitable complaints about "having" to discuss feminism 101 and it is pretty digengenuous to pretend otherwise.

Feminism bingo cards are just snarky bullshit, but it is clearly allowed so people will continue to throw them out there.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 6:40 AM on April 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


The bingo cards are fine, just ask what they need to win, give it to them and move on. Everybody's a winner!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:59 AM on April 21, 2012


just ask what they need to win

Empty cards, BB. Empty cards!
posted by immlass at 7:02 AM on April 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


No, someone was clearly looking for specific actions or comments to complete their card. Once they had it, they stopped talking about the card. WIN WIN.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:05 AM on April 21, 2012


It's good that you're happy with your solution, BB, but I feel like showing the audience how the trick works might not be the way to go. Esp. if it reads as "just say 'yes, dear' to wifey, and she'll stop nagging".
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:09 AM on April 21, 2012


Saying this isn't a feminist forum is a response to the inevitable complaints about "having" to discuss feminism 101 and it is pretty digengenuous to pretend otherwise.

"This is not a feminist forum" is also "I don't want to have to engage with feminist criticism of things I like" which, well, life is hard. Feminists are in ur pop culturez criticizin' ur posin'.

No, someone was clearly looking for specific actions or comments to complete their card.

I'm looking for the day when the same lame comments don't get made again and again when feminists pop up and dare to comment negatively about something on this site. I know I'll wait in vain, but that's what I personally want.
posted by immlass at 7:09 AM on April 21, 2012 [14 favorites]


"This is not a feminist forum" is also "I don't want to have to engage with feminist criticism of things I like" which, well, life is hard. Feminists are in ur pop culturez criticizin' ur posin'.

In the last 2 days I have seen two people make the point (I was one of them).

They were both made clearly in the way that I described, but perhaps you know what I believe better than I do?

I'm looking for the day when the same lame comments don't get made again and again when feminists pop up and dare to comment negatively about something on this site. I know I'll wait in vain, but that's what I personally want.


Yes, Metafilter is such a difficult place to be a feminist, left wing (and I am on that side of the fence as well so I'm not knocking) views of all kinds are so hard to dare to express.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 7:16 AM on April 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yes, Metafilter is such a difficult place to be a feminist, left wing (and I am on that side of the fence as well so I'm not knocking) views of all kinds are so hard to dare to express.

We should all be grateful that the management lets us express our wacky ideas, I guess.

Metafilter is a better place than a lot of forums on the web to be a feminist, sure. But there's been a lot of pushback in the last six months to a year against people expressing feminist views here. Maybe you're on the side of the feminists here; great, that's nice. But if it's OK for people to be tiresome about other people's feminist views, it's OK for feminists to be tiresome too. What I object to about this callout is that it's holding feminists to a higher standard of conduct than people they're arguing with. I read that fungible assets thread the day it was posted and it's been cleaned up, looks like. But at the time it was fuller than it is now of eyerolly stuff where people were grumping at the post. Said grumping was not deleteworthy, but was no worse IMO than the stuff that got called out with the bingo card and the boyzoning and so on.

Having said that, I don't know you from adam nor do I remember anything you may have said in that thread, so when I point out that some people (like the OP of this callout, for one) are disingenuous when they complain about feminist bingo or feminist criticism of pop culture here, it's really not about you personally.
posted by immlass at 7:41 AM on April 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


I have no idea who you are talking about and it looks like a strawman from here.

The callout only seeks to hold feminists to the standards they impose on others, as well as seeking clarification on mod policy.

Problem there is the only clarification you are ver likely to get is that there will be no clarification.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 7:57 AM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Problem there is the only clarification you are ver likely to get is that there will be no clarification.

It's important to us to set expectations correctly. Misha and everyone else here received a lot of explanations for why, on our end, things went down the way they did as well as some of our thinking about the general topic she brought up. We responded to her questions point by point. We also all re-stressed the "We have guidelines not hard and fast rules" statement because

1. That seems to confuse people who are used to being other places where that is not the case.
2. Misha seemed confused about a few other things and it seemed good to start from first principles to build back up to why the site and moderation team wasn't responding the way she felt that they should in this instance.

Some people aren't going to be okay with the fact that a lot of stuff is determined at the time, using community inputs as well as our experience working with this community. We're going to have to be in agree-to-disagree territory about whether that's the best way to run a website like this one but the fact is it's the way it runs. If people think there's a systematic bias going in one direction or another, let's stick around and talk about it, but pointing to the non-deletion of a few snarky comments isn't going to be a good linchpin of that argument.

And, more specifically, that feminist bingo card stuff isn't really okay in a general sense. If people see people becoming the "feminist bingo card" person, flag the comment and we'll deal with them. We didn't this time for reasons we explained above [didn't see them and they were enmeshed in the thread by the time we did]. I don't know what you are looking for specifically in terms of clarification that would be more suitable.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:10 AM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't want anything. I was just trying to point out what I think the reason of the callout was.

I think there is a bias but it is a management decision so there is no point in arguing about it.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 8:17 AM on April 21, 2012


I question the value of keeping something around, even if it's against the guidelines, just because it got "enmeshed in the thread". Mods: Maybe you can explain why you think that is such a big consideration? By that I mean, how much does that weigh in compared to other considerations? If something was really really really awful, and you had somehow missed it and it became very enmeshed in the thread, would it have to stay no matter how awful?
posted by secretseasons at 10:54 AM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


well, the mods have said many times that once something is linked in metatalk, the bar to delete it becomes very, very high - so bringing troublesome comments here is about the least likely path to getting them deleted.

personally, i'm disheartened to see the feminist in fighting especially since i generally respect the women on both sides of this particular issue. makes me glad that i've stayed mostly out of the women's interest threads as of late.
posted by nadawi at 10:58 AM on April 21, 2012


I have a hard time even imagining the "boyzone" Metafilter of the past that people describe. It now seems to be a contest about who’s the most sensitive and easily offended. I thought both the "stop taking this picture" post was ridiculous, so I only read the first few comments, it was obvious where that was going to go. I also thought the hairy chest post was pretty terrible, both of them should have been deleted for just being thin and pointless.
posted by bongo_x at 11:01 AM on April 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


My sense is that some of the folks unhappy about the bingo card are perfectly happy to shut down feminist voices on the site. (E.g., "this is not a feminist forum" as if that makes it inappropriate to use feminist analysis or mention feminist jargon)

No, all I said is that you should not deploy that jargon to shut down what you perceive as a derail if it is an appropriate discussion for a general interest site. Appropriate topics of conversation differ between forums explicitly designed to discuss advanced feminist topics and forums where a lot of people disagree with basic concepts or honestly want to learn about them and ask questions.

That doesn't mean you can't have whatever conversation you want, you just have to tolerate a higher level of what you will perceive as noise surrounding it in the thread.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:06 AM on April 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Maybe you can explain why you think that is such a big consideration? By that I mean, how much does that weigh in compared to other considerations? If something was really really really awful, and you had somehow missed it and it became very enmeshed in the thread, would it have to stay no matter how awful?

Well there's a balance between a deletion being a better move for the continuing health of the thread and the community, and a deletion being more of a bump problem in and of itself.

So, let's be clear, on MeFi proper we don't delete comments because there are things we feel people should never see. We don't run that sort of a site, people are always going to see things they might not want to and we try to be clear about how that works here. We approve nothing except projects posts and anon questions. Everything else we can, at best, remove after the fact.

We delete things because they derail threads, because they're needlessly attacky, because they start fights, because we try to have some sorts of standards about what is generally okay here. So, things like racial slurs are problematic not just in and of themselves, but also because we don't want people to just toss them around here in a casually "I'm using racist words to make a point about racism" way [which then people don't understand and it causes shitstorms] and also because people will follow up with a bunch of "WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU MEAN BY THAT?" comments and then the thread is about that and not the topic of the thread. A few other considerations...

- deleting something that a lot of people have already quoted leads to a bunch of "What got deleted... this thread reads weird... why is this weird...?" line of discussion and is sometimes not better. People often will quote someone's soon-to-be-deleted comment and then follow up with three or four paragraphs of their own comment and then we're torn about whether to axe comments of people replying to now-deleted comments [often we'll just email the people the text of their comment and ask them to repost without the part that refers to the deleted comment]
- sometimes people apologize by the time we've seen something and it seems like a better idea to leave shitty-comment-plus-apology rather than axe it all
- sometimes people have spent so much time calling out an individual user for something that they said that deleting their comment but leaving the "THIS USER said something really shitty" is actually worse.
- often lately we really prefer to leave a note in the thread and be like "okay from this point forward no lazy bingo comments okay?" which makes it clear that sort of thing isn't okay but doesn't involve axing comments. People can then see what's problematic and come here to discuss it if they want to. This is easier with a larger staff so we've been able to do that more lately.

So, to your specific question, most of the time, in MeFi if something is "really really really awful" we axe it and don't care about the fallout. This is stuff like people hurling racial slurs at each other, outing people's personal information, suicide threads, death threats, that sort of thing. We'll just do a scorched earth thing. But we don't like doing it. This case was nowhere near that. It was lazy snark about a topic that a lot of people feel strongly about but I'm not even sure if we would have deleted it if we'd seen it at the time. But the fact that it was enmeshed in other comments made it even more complicated. Flagging stuff early helps us deal with stuff sooner and that's what we'd prefer.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:22 AM on April 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I question the value of keeping something around, even if it's against the guidelines, just because it got "enmeshed in the thread". Mods: Maybe you can explain why you think that is such a big consideration?

Because excising it at that point creates a conspicuous void, basically. At a certain point deleting things can be more disruptive on the balance than leaving them. Sort of a no-win situation.

If there's something crappy in a thread that hasn't been significantly responded to or commented on, we can nix it and there's no real problem—the remaining conversation still works, there's no weird whiplash from reading what folks are saying in order. And we try and get at stuff promptly in large part because of that; better to see flags on something right away, get in and kill it before it turns into a big call-and-response mess.

But if something has a bunch of people responding to it, cleaning up can be trickier.

Sometimes those responses are all very on-point in addressing the original comment and nothing else, and no one responds to those responses, and then it's all a self-contained little derail or exchange and we can remove the handful of comments involved and leave it at that without a problem. We do that sort of thing fairly regularly.

But a lot of the time it's messier: crappy comment A gets direct responses B and C and D that we could nix but also response E that addresses it but also makes some substantial on-topic point, and some comment F responds to comment C with some getting-back-to-the-topic rerail, and the commenter responsible for A responds to B with a more reasonable clarification or restatement G of their initial problematic comment A, and it goes from there.

At that point, we have a few choices, none of them great:

- nix A and nothing else, leaving a whole set of sub-conversations partly about a comment that is conspicuously missing and maybe or maybe not quoted in responses.

- nix A and B, C, D to try to gut the core derail exchange but leave the more substantial responses that came later, but with an even more conspicuous hole in the the conversation.

- nix A through G to really get the whole discontinuity thing more contained but in the process nix an awful lot of decent attempts at on-topic conversation and while maybe creating a smoother read for future readers leave the to-then participants in the thread really disoriented

- don't nix any of it, and try to manage the thread more in terms of mod intervention with a rerailing note and only maybe pruning aftershocks from a couple people who didn't get the memo in time.

Which is the way to go depends mostly on context, and we've done all of those at different times when it seemed like the best of the not great choices we had available to us. Like I said, it can be pretty no-win: pulling stuff out of the conversation can be disruptive, and so can leaving it in.

In a lot of cases what ends up making the most sense is to leave the whole shebang more or less in place and to try and address it in thread and just put the brakes on further commentary down that path, or to encourage that it go to Metatalk for discussion. Not every single case, but a lot of the time that's what seems most workable. Let people talk it out.

And further to that, when something on the site becomes the subject of direct public discussion in a Metatalk post, if it's not just something that is just completely no-questions needing to be deleted but it just happened and we hadn't seen it yet, then there's more of that argument for leaving it standing since if folks are going to talk about it, removing it creates again that whiplash thing where people end up having a conversation about what they think or remembered happening without any way to actually look at the specifics. Which again isn't an always/never sort of thing—bringing something up in Metatalk doesn't give it deletion insurance or whatever—but that's a factor in how this stuff plays out.

If something was really really really awful, and you had somehow missed it and it became very enmeshed in the thread, would it have to stay no matter how awful?

It would really, really depend on the situation. Something that's really really really awful would be likely to get flagged up the wazoo very quickly and would generate email and mefimail; it's not the sort of thing that we could really "somehow miss" at that level, so much as maybe something where really unlucky timing kept all of us away from the site for a couple hours. I think the more objectively awful the thing is the less likely that we'd go with the "leave it there" choice as a general rule, disruption/discontinuity or not, but I can't give you a blanket statement about how all hypothetical cases would work out.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:27 AM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


you should not deploy that jargon to shut down what you perceive as a derail if it is an appropriate discussion for a general interest site.

Okay, but you know what? A lot of the stuff that was deleted in that photo/pose thread was seriously not appropriate. I don't think the people who reacted to it were out of line, or that it should have been tolerated as background noise.

Gender equality is not a fringe interest, and having a true "general interest" site means that boyzone types get to deal with the consequences of entering into these sorts of discussions ass-first.
posted by hermitosis at 11:50 AM on April 21, 2012 [26 favorites]


Okay, but you know what? A lot of the stuff that was deleted in that photo/pose thread was seriously not appropriate.

Sure, which is why I think such comments should be deleted and have not once defended any of them in this thread. A reminder of the concept I am commenting on:

Here is a definition of "Feminism 101": Discussions on feminist forums are often disrupted, frequently but not always deliberately, by commentors who post often-seen questions/assertions which end up turning the discussion into arguing about their question/assertion instead of the original issue that was being discussed.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:00 PM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey, I got name-checked in MeTa. Cool!

(Does that come with an achievement badge or something? A pony? Anything?)
posted by oddman at 1:15 PM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


hermitosis, I don't know what comments were deleted before I read that thread, but I absolutely am 100% behind gender equality.

That's really why I made this Meta, in a nutshell: I feel like the pendulum is swinging too far in the other direction. Where once we had a boyzone, now we have a "anyone who disagrees within in a feminist thread is a sexist creep" zone.

What I would like is tolerance and respect on both sides.
posted by misha at 1:33 PM on April 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


I feel like the pendulum is swinging too far in the other direction. Where once we had a boyzone, now we have a "anyone who disagrees within in a feminist thread is a sexist creep" zone.

You've said this repeatedly in threads. You've also tended to accompany it with some pretty derisive things about the people you feel engage in this behavior, and suggested its a side-wide issue.

This seems to me to be hugely unfair. Plenty of people participate on this site in discussions of feminism in good faith. The percentage that don't seems about evenly matched on both sides, and both are problems, but neither define this site, or dominate the discussion.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:55 PM on April 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


hermitosis, I don't know what comments were deleted before I read that thread, but I absolutely am 100% behind gender equality.

That's really why I made this Meta, in a nutshell: I feel like the pendulum is swinging too far in the other direction. Where once we had a boyzone, now we have a "anyone who disagrees within in a feminist thread is a sexist creep" zone.


I think the first line, here, is the answer for the second one: You don't know what sexist creepy shit was posted in that thread which then got deleted, so I'm not sure why you're assuming that it was pounced on because of oversensitivity.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:12 PM on April 21, 2012 [20 favorites]


Yeah, unless you know what comments were deleted, it seems a bit over the top to accuse people of being intolerant toward anybody who disagrees when the subject of feminism has come up.
posted by koeselitz at 4:30 PM on April 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


misha: That's really why I made this Meta, in a nutshell: I feel like the pendulum is swinging too far in the other direction. Where once we had a boyzone, now we have a "anyone who disagrees within in a feminist thread is a sexist creep" zone.

That is your feeling, not objective truth. To give my personal perspective, I've had to curtail my participation in MetaFilter to a bare minimum because I feel like MetaFilter is close to being the old boyzone it once was. On the other hand, I recognize that it might be that I'm less tolerant of that kind of bullshit than I used to be. Either way, I decided last month to stop reading MetaFilter threads because for the last few months hardly a day went by when some comment wouldn't either depress or enrage me. Having people on the internet affect my mood that much every day was something that wasn't good for my well-being. So I decided to limit my engagement. I can't quite bring myself to leave, since this place has been home for me for so long, but I can't bring myself to stay either.
posted by Kattullus at 4:58 AM on April 22, 2012 [15 favorites]


While I certainly accept the possibility of there having being bad, or worse, comments that I didn't see because they'd been deleted, no one is giving any specific examples in this thread, or referring to them in the orignal threads, so you're right, of course I can't know.

But here's the problem:

1. If the misogynist, offensive boyzone comments preceded those feminist bingo questions, making those bingo questions simply the result of frustration, then wouldn't those be more entrenched than the bingo ones? But they must not have been, or the mods wouldn't have deleted them. Because we don't delete those.

2. If the misogynist, offensive boyzone comments came after those feminist bingo questions, then the justification of the feminist bingo comments arising from frustration with the boyzone.

You can't really have it both ways.

I don't see the flags and neither do you, and I don't know whether all the comments flagged were by men or women and neither do you, feminist or chauvinist and neither do you. Only the mods know. That's why I made the Meta

It certainly would be REALLY helpful, then, if instead of using words like gross, porn, disgusting and boyzone, users who do see misogynist comments would quote them specifically. I don't see how you can accuse me of acting in bad faith because I know there are these offensive things going on, and also argue that actually there is a l seedier side of Mefi I am not seeing. I appreciate that shakespeherian took the time to do this.
posted by misha at 1:12 PM on April 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well let's take a look at what we deleted. We deleted very little from that thread.

First comment in the thread: A bunch of hot women with nice asses. Not sure what the problem is with the pictures.

the nothing for half a day and then we deleted: i think we've narrowed the problem down. fun pictures are immoral and sexist.

and then another comment by that user who we basically felt was trolling at that point as well as a bunch of attacky comments directed towards that user. That's it.

But they must not have been, or the mods wouldn't have deleted them. Because we don't delete those.

I am finding this sort of approach to the work we do a little tiring and I'm not sure what you are looking for from us. You say you think that you're seeing evidence of the view you have talked about but instead of having a "Let's talk about this" discussion you're just being sort of aggressive about it. You seem to want to have a discussion with the mods about something, but when we answer your direct questions we get this static. What are you looking for at this point?

We've already said we might not have even axed the bingo card comments if we'd seen them. We may not have said--but I am saying now, for me--that there is a difference between boyzone-ish sounding comments that are just "HURF DURF BOOBIES" and comments that are saying some variant of "I am sick of HURF DURF BOOBIES comments" [which includes "Oh look people are doing things that help me fill out my feminist bingo card"] both in the content of the message and the context in which they appear here on MetaFilter.

I understand that the comments bothered you and I think I understand why they bothered you but you seem to be coming at this with guns ablazing and I have yet to feel that we are having a discussion about this where we're even talking about the same thing.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:27 PM on April 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


I feel like the pendulum is swinging too far in the other direction. Where once we had a boyzone, now we have a "anyone who disagrees within in a feminist thread is a sexist creep" zone.

I think this is exceedingly unlikely.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:36 PM on April 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


When there are comments like this around, trivializing sexual assault to use it as a rhetorical bludgeon to personally attack members who disagree in a debate, we maybe can be confident there are still some areas where there isn't quite enough sensistivity here yet.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:45 PM on April 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


jessamyn, I was responding to the commenters who said I just wasn't seeing the whole picture, not to anything you said.

I was agreeing that it's possible I hadn't, but that all I can do is approach the site from what I'm seeing and experiencing myself. I appreciate your expounding on what was flagged, as now I have a clearer picture. If I'm right, only three comments were deleted that are (clearly, I agree) not adding anything to the thread.

As far as the enmeshed comments part, I was just following the logic that makes sense to me--earlier comments are going to get referred to more than later ones, so naturally they are going to be the most enmeshed.

I honestly was NOT trying to attack you or any of the mods.

Don't get me wrong, I am not back-pedaling, and I do disagree with the decision to let them (I mean the bingo* stuff) stand, but you've already explained why you decided to, and that's the moderators' decision to make, not mine.

So no gotcha intended, at all.

*By the way, last night I flagged the Bingo comments on my iPad (it is an older, first edition iPad if that makes any difference at all). After seeing yours and taz's responses, I took note. This morning, I don't see "flagged" by those comments on my laptop, either. I don't see how that can happen, but then I don't see how my iPad can have a wireless connection with my laptop AND a bluetooth connection with my phone and still have the time off by 15 minutes on my iPad settings, while the other two read the same, correct time...I dont get it.

But whatever went on, it's clearly on my end, so I'm sorry about the misunderstanding there.
posted by misha at 2:53 PM on April 22, 2012


It's worth keeping in mind that the argument that feminism was necessary when there was a lack of equality between the sexes, but has now gone too far, and that women's freedoms now need to be pegged back and monitored (by disinterested and rational observers, i.e. dudes) to reestablish the equality that briefly existed, is neither uncommon nor new.

Although it is admittedly not generally put forward in the context of the rights of women (and indeed men) to express their appreciation of a hairy chested chap.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:59 PM on April 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Although it is admittedly not generally put forward in the context of the rights of women (and indeed men) to express their appreciation of a hairy chested chap.

It definitely wasn't put forward in this tread at all. As I understand it, Misha's point was that the amount of rudeness allowed on the site shouldn't be dependent on the popularity of the poster's ideology.
posted by Winnemac at 4:28 PM on April 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


It definitely wasn't put forward in this tread at all.
I feel like the pendulum is swinging too far in the other direction. Where once we had a boyzone, now we have a "anyone who disagrees within in a feminist thread is a sexist creep" zone.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:17 PM on April 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


(It's MetaFilter-specific, but the metaphor of the pendulum is a familiar one - the problem being that if you have unfair to women on one side of the swing, gender equality at the low point of the swing, and unfair to men on the other,you have a metaphor which seems, when you make it, mathematical. How could the position of a pendulum relative to its lowest point be in doubt? To which the answer is, pretty clearly, that this isn't a pendulum..)
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:23 PM on April 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


"What comes to my mind was the AskMe (I think) that was somehow about how men navigate their underwear when they stand up and pee and I discovered that just yanking the front down was a terribly juvenile thing to do. I never was able to discover if those presenting that view were doing so ironically or seriously. I suspect both."

I remember having a discussion in high school where basically six or eight of us guys realized that no one ever used the flaps except maybe on some boxers, but certainly not on briefs. The serpentine geometry of the flap path just doesn't make sense for my dick.
posted by klangklangston at 5:54 PM on April 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


And I've complained about bingo cards before, but that thread was full of willfully ignorant, disingenuous and just plain stupid bullshit to the extent that really, snarky dismissal was all it deserved.
posted by klangklangston at 5:56 PM on April 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know the comment you were referring to and it just can't possibly mean what you say it means.

It's a thread about snarky rude comments of a certain type being tolerated and you claim she's calling for a roll-back of feminism monitored by an all male panel of observers. It just does not follow regardless of the metaphor. It doesn't even make sense given the topic of conversation and the people we know are the moderators.
posted by Winnemac at 6:41 PM on April 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Looks to me like the author is just crazy into hairy chested men, dudes. Learn to take a compliment.

Is this ironic? Sarcasm? Sincere?

My sarcasmometer is broken, so it is hard to tell.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:58 PM on April 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


This one being allowed to stand? The OP is basically grinding the axe while up on the soapbox.
posted by Talez at 9:15 PM on April 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Before my shift, but it looks like there was a bit of a mod schism on that, with the upshot being that it was definitely problematic but not flagged much and an interesting developing internet culture story that was bigger than Person X broke the rules. I do agree about the framing.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:53 PM on April 22, 2012


Hey, Misha - there is no group of feminists here, acting as one. There are a lot of individual people with varying attachment to feminism/womanism, voicing opinions, some of which are more commonly shared than others. Let me put that in personal terms: I am an ardent feminist and if there's a cabal, I didn't get my invitation. (Not that I want an invitation. It took me forever to cough up my $5 because it meant violating my I Am Not a Joiner rule.)
posted by gingerest at 1:07 AM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's strange that I find myself, Winnemac, expaining the concept of analogy so early in the morning - but also, I have to confess, sort of exciting.

First up, google searches for "feminism" + "pendulum has swung too far"and "gender equality" + "pendulum has swung too far".

As you can see, what we have here is a tremendously common device - the posit that there is a straight line (or an arc) with "'women are disenfranchised" on the near side and "men are disenfranchised" on the far side, with a central point where there is equality between the genders. So, goes this posit, feminism was necessary to address whatever set of injustices the speaker felt women were suffering in the past (in this case boyzone on MetaFilter), but (after a period of gender equality - the midpoint of the arc or line), the pendulum/line has now swung/moved too far, which must be addressed to restore equality.

This is the language Misha used in this tiny subsection of that argument. To quote (again):
I absolutely am 100% behind gender equality.

That's really why I made this Meta, in a nutshell: I feel like the pendulum is swinging too far in the other direction. Where once we had a boyzone, now we have a "anyone who disagrees within in a feminist thread is a sexist creep" zone.

What I would like is tolerance and respect on both sides.
The thing about the pendulum is, however, that it is a totally imaginary pendulum. As such, you can draw the scale pretty much wherever you want, and decide from there what constitutes tolerance and respect, and indeed what constitutes gender equality.

For example, let's assume for a moment that kyrademon, when s/he wrote the comment about feminist bingo that Misha objected to at the top of the thread here, was not doing so purely because s/he could - because that swinging pendulum had given him or her the power to insult men with impunity. What might s/he have been doing instead?

Kyrademon actually lists, in the post, a number of types of responses which seem to him or her to be dismissive. We have one example - the very first response to the post, in fact, which was deleted, quoted here by Jessamyn:
A bunch of hot women with nice asses. Not sure what the problem is with the pictures
Here's another one, from the thread:
anansi, i totally get it. definitely too much ass and not enough tits in that pose.
and
I enjoyed all those butt pics. Thanks!
From Misha's PoV, the problem started when somebody said something mean about these posts - because pendulum. From another perspective, this line of argument - "Ha! You thought you were making a point about the representation of women, but all you've succeeded in doing is giving me a boner!" - is itself problematic. And also creepy.

But you notice the things which support your particular pendulum drawing - as Misha suggests here, s/he simply doesn't notice these posts, even when they are directly referenced. As far as s/he is concerned, kyrademon was making an unprovoked attack, safe in the knowledge that the pendulim has swung too far.

From a moderation perspective, it's already been stated that both approaches are potentially awkward, because potentially derailing. The idea that non-feminist viewpoints are getting an unfair shake because of the perceived popularity of feminist ideology is, as far as I can tell, unevidenced. On simple numbers, the most popular argument in that thread is that the link is mistaken because Art History (119 favorites and counting).

the man of twists and turns: Sincere, I think. To make her argument (that there was a hypocrisy going on in the moderation of these two threads, caused by feminists getting special treatment, qv pendulum), Misha posited that the "sole purpose" of the chest hair Pinterest board was "to point fingers and make fun of a subset of the population". I think that's a reach: a number of other possibie purposes exist. Cortex identifies one:
very much about sort of affectionate riffing on hairy chests, not ha-ha-hairy-chest-dudes-suck point-and-laugh stuff
The young rope-rider advances the possibility in-thread that the author is humorously riffing on how sexy hairy chests are, and is also sincerely attracted to hairy chests. I think that seems perfectly credible - there's nothing inherently ludicrous about the idea of being attracted to hairy chests, or about a stand-up comedian seeking to be funny about their personal tastes.

It's notable, I think, that (a) people are petitioning Stacey Nightmare on Twitter to get their hairy chests onto her pinboard and (b) the discussion in the thread allays oddman's concerns by not being mean-spirited - it sparks discussions about types of body hair, how people feel about their body hair and the kinds of body hair people find attractive.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:42 AM on April 23, 2012 [12 favorites]


running order squabble fest: " It's notable, I think, that (a) people are petitioning Stacey Nightmare on Twitter to get their hairy chests onto her pinboard"

If the success of the various "rate my..." sites is anything to go on, there is clearly no shortage of people who will knowingly open themselves up to voyeurs and/or potential humiliation on the internet.
posted by zarq at 7:19 AM on April 23, 2012


That's a very good point, actually.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:50 AM on April 23, 2012


(b) the discussion in the thread allays oddman's concerns by not being mean-spirited - it sparks discussions about types of body hair, how people feel about their body hair and the kinds of body hair people find attractive.

I don't think this disproves a double standard as a discussion of what male users considered attractive in a woman would probably become flagageddon within 5 minutes and be deleted.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 8:20 AM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


as a discussion of what male users considered attractive in a woman

With respect, most posts that are about women at all (women scientists, women crime victims, women visual artists) turn, at some level, into a discussion of what male users consider attractive in women. Less so now than they used to. AskMe threads about bra fittings turn into discussions of what male users think about how women's bras fit. It's really only been recently that AskMe questions about women's topics looking for women's perspectives have mostly women commenting in them. This site still has a majority male population and we're a talkative bunch so this isn't that unusual. But honestly the difference in a historical and sociocultural context of a mixed gender group talking about men's body hair and a group of men talking about what size breasts they like is still fairly large.

And I'm speaking as the person who went on the "I'd hit it" campaign and made a challenge to membership to stop saying objectifying shit (about men or women but most of the comments were directed towards women) because it was getting so predictable and tiresome. And tried hard to get gender equality of some sort on our staff (not that the dudes aren't also feminists because they totally are) because I felt that sort of thing mattered. And I pride myself that this site is one of the places on the internet where people can, sometimes, have decent discussions about complicated topics like rape and gender issues without the thread devolving into some sort of rash of "She was asking for it" ironic jokes, but also not turning into some sort of total echo chamber the way you see on sites that are just considered women-only sites or safe spaces or what have you.

We don't have trigger warnings unless users put them in themselves. We let people use the word bitch and most other gendered insults. I had a long conversation with a user who may leave the site because we axed a comment of his calling someone (not a user) a cunt. And honestly, maybe that's okay. We try to give people a reasonable toolkit here as far as guidance and explanation to help them get along with other users here but some people aren't interested in that and that's also a choice they can make. Or they can come here and talk about it. So we're on notice. Some users feel like the site is maybe too coddling of feminists or women's topics or whatever. We'll keep an eye on that. Its on our long lists of things to try to pay special attention to, and MeTa does a good job of sort of heightening our awareness of topics that some members care about (in both directions). I really don't agree that we are moderating the site that way, but it's easy to keep an eye on.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:43 AM on April 23, 2012 [19 favorites]


I had a long conversation with a user who may leave the site because we axed a comment of his calling someone (not a user) a cunt.

I'm honestly curious and I'll drop it if you don't wish to go any further but was this perchance a user from the Commonwealth (for brevity's sake, Australia/NZ/UK) and was it a man or a woman that they were referring to?

One thing I've noticed that's entirely different between the US and Australia is how that word is used and in what contexts. In the US it seems to be reserved exclusively for referring to females with the intention of degrading women while in Australia it's used mostly between men referring to men with its intention being derived from context. In some social groups and contexts it's even a term of endearment!
posted by Talez at 9:52 AM on April 23, 2012


No it wasn't someone from the UK/NZ/Aus, I don't think. We understand that there are cultural differences in how people use the word, but we also expect people to know or at least understand the "We don't use cunt here as an insult" or at least be understanding of it when we explain it to them. This user felt that that insult, used to refer to a particularly reprehensible person, was the perfect word and was annoyed that we were censoring their exact words. We've had similar discussions with this user about racial epithets and I think it's just a difference of perspective in how to talk about things in a mixed audience.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:59 AM on April 23, 2012


running order squabble fest: “... the discussion in the thread allays oddman's concerns by not being mean-spirited - it sparks discussions about types of body hair, how people feel about their body hair and the kinds of body hair people find attractive.”

Reggie Knoble: “I don't think this disproves a double standard as a discussion of what male users considered attractive in a woman would probably become flagageddon within 5 minutes and be deleted.”

To be clear: the point is that a double standard is a good thing in this scenario.
posted by koeselitz at 10:23 AM on April 23, 2012


> I don't think this disproves a double standard as a discussion of what male users considered attractive in a woman would probably become flagageddon within 5 minutes and be deleted.

No, for this be actual evidence of a double standard on the part of the moderators, there would have to have been a lot of men being creeped out by the post, flagging and complaining in thread or via the contact form, with the moderators ignoring their complaints.

You can't accuse the moderators of ignoring men's complaints about sexism or sexual objectification of men, if men aren't actually complaining about it, or if very few of them are. You can ask why we don't react this way ("we" meaning men in this case), but it not evidence of bias in site policy.

I think it's reasonable to assume that if a lot of men did find a post (or category of posts) creepy and complained about it a lot, there's a decent chance the post would get deleted (or the category would get more scrutiny).
posted by nangar at 10:46 AM on April 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


To be clear: the point is that a double standard is a good thing in this scenario.
posted by koeselitz at 6:23 PM on April 23 [+] [!]


Fair enough, I disagree but there you go.

No, for this be actual evidence of a double standard on the part of the moderators, there would have to have been a lot of men being creeped out by the post, flagging and complaining in thread or via the contact form, with the moderators ignoring their complaints.

You can't accuse the moderators of ignoring men's complaints about sexism or sexual objectification of men, if men aren't actually complaining about it, or if very few of them are. You can ask why we don't react this way ("we" meaning men in this case), but it not evidence of bias in site policy.

I think it's reasonable to assume that if a lot of men did find a post (or category of posts) creepy and complained about it a lot, there's a decent chance the post would get deleted (or the category would get more scrutiny).
posted by nangar at 6:46 PM on April 23 [+] [!]


I don't think the double standard is entirely, or even mostly of the moderators doing. How they act on it is their call but the double standard itsself comes from the users.

And as a general point I don't really think that context matters. It isn't the fault of anyone on this website that there is a context of women being subjigated throughout all of recorded history.

If we are all to be equals here we should all have an equal right to be assholes and/or an equal punishment/disincentive for being assholes.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 10:55 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure how qualifying assholeness can be removed from the greater culture.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:59 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Talez, here is a enormous, delicious MeTa about that issue, and as it turns out, obfuscating the origin/intention of the speaker is a pretty good way to confuse everyone about how offensive you intend to be!

Love it.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:02 AM on April 23, 2012


I'm not sure how qualifying assholeness can be removed from the greater culture.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:59 PM on April 23 [+] [!]


Just swap a few characterisitics of the person saying the thing and see how it sounds.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 11:08 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


And as a general point I don't really think that context matters.

What? Of course it matters. How about some made-up scenarios:

Context 1: FPP about something in which how the subject of the FPP looks is the point

Context 2: FPP about something that the subject of the FPP discovered

In context 1, people are going to talk about the way the subject looks (is pretty, is tall, has nice tattoos, whatever). That's the point of the FPP, so okay.

In context 2, if people come in all "wow she's hawt I'd hit it" - well, the context matters, because it's an article about [a chemist who discovered some cool new chemistry thing], so what the fuck does how hawt she is have to do with it?

It isn't the fault of anyone on this website that there is a context of women being subjigated throughout all of recorded history.

It is the fault of users if they insist on perpetuating it.
posted by rtha at 11:33 AM on April 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


Some users feel like the site is maybe too coddling of feminists or women's topics or whatever. We'll keep an eye on that. Its on our long lists of things to try to pay special attention to

I'm relieved to learn—and I hope the parties so concerned will be as well—that the mods are putting all those fears of Metafilter becoming "too pro-feminist" on a special list.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:38 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


What? Of course it matters. How about some made-up scenarios:

Context 1: FPP about something in which how the subject of the FPP looks is the point

Context 2: FPP about something that the subject of the FPP discovered


Context 1: Delete the post, what is this? Hot or Not?

Context 2: Delete the comments whether they are talking about big breasts or rippling biceps.

And I was actually referring to the context of how groups have been treated historically (or even in the present), that way lies oppression olympics.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 11:47 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some people honestly debate things that are basic, but not every discussion is the appropriate place to debate basic things, even on a general interest site.

flex, if that is true, could you be a dear, and offer to serve as the Mefite who posts in every single Metathread what level of discussion we're allowed to have? Kthxbye.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:56 AM on April 23, 2012


And as a general point I don't really think that context matters.

Sorry: it really does. We do not get to arbitrarily decide "Welp, nothing that happened in the past matters anymore because now everything's equal."
posted by davidjmcgee at 12:06 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


"This is not a feminist forum" is also "I don't want to have to engage with feminist criticism of things I like" which, well, life is hard.

[snark] immlass, thanks so much for putting words into furiousxgeorge's mouth. That's both productive and appropriate. [/snark]
posted by IAmBroom at 12:10 PM on April 23, 2012


Honestly, this reflects my biggest frustration with Metafilter. There are a lot of commenters who will say something churlish or worse and then seem to feel vindicated when others favorite their comments. Being an asshole in the service of a belief that has some other adherents to back the speaker up is no more acceptable than being a lone asshole. Nonetheless, profoundly ideology-driven people insist on seizing on anything they can scorn (whether or not the original comment was maid in good faith) and turning comment threads into petty point-scoring exercises.

Inspector.Gadget, I'd favorite that as my favoritest favorite ever (EVAH!), if you hadn't misspelled "made".


[Metafilter] now seems to be a contest about who’s the most sensitive and easily offended.

THIS, bongo_x. A thousand times this.

For every Mefite wanting to engage, educate, and move people who don't understand or see his or her point of view, there are five aching to be the first to just get a good dig in.

I'm guilty too.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:12 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's what *I* think happened in that thread.

The discussion started out somewhat excited. A few jagoffs posted some "hurr, hurr, I like boobeez!" comments. The thread was declared a "boyzone" by someone. Those eggregious posts got deleted - but the "boyzone" comment wasn't, leaving only a small fraction of the posts that weren't feminist-friendly. Really. Go count'em.

So, by any reasonable measure, it was no longer a "boyzone", but a lively debate, that verged on namecalling and throwdowns, but basically not flaggable, between those who found the meme under discussion horribly offensive, and those who were more "meh" on it.

However, from that comment, to later dismissive jibes about "Feminism 101" (sorry, not offered at my engineering alma mater!) and "bingo cards", it became an environment that was increasingly hostile to anyone who didn't toe the party line of the majority in the thread (those who found the pose offensive). That put "us" (on the "Meh" side of reaction) on the defensive; we got called out and attacked, in ways that wouldn't be tolerated from openly unrepentent sexists* attacking feminists.

(*Which I contend many of us weren't - we simply have differing opinions on where the important battles to fight are.)
posted by IAmBroom at 12:12 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


And as a general point I don't really think that context matters.

Sorry: it really does. We do not get to arbitrarily decide "Welp, nothing that happened in the past matters anymore because now everything's equal."
posted by davidjmcgee at 8:06 PM on April 23 [+] [!]


Does that mean native americans get to say whatever they like to any american, male or female? I mean if we want to talk about shitty treatment past and present those guys have a hell of a lot to be angry about, they might even be justified in using the "c word".

Opression olympics all the way down.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 12:14 PM on April 23, 2012


“Does that mean native americans get to say whatever they like to any american, male or female? I mean if we want to talk about shitty treatment past and present those guys have a hell of a lot to be angry about, they might even be justified in using the ‘c word’. Opression olympics all the way down.”

You trying to pull this semantic trick of acting as though people are endorsing misandry. Nobody is saying that, since misogyny is bad, misandry is okay.

Slapping someone across the face is not as bad as murdering them. Does the fact that I believe this indicate that I'm okay with it if someone wants to go around administering face-slaps to anyone they please?
posted by koeselitz at 12:19 PM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Reggie Knoble: “And as a general point I don't really think that context matters. It isn't the fault of anyone on this website that there is a context of women being subjigated throughout all of recorded history... And I was actually referring to the context of how groups have been treated historically (or even in the present), that way lies oppression olympics.”

I appreciate that this is a difficult question, but you can't erase the past and pretend certain things haven't happened. This was explained very well by jessamyn up above: the simple fact is that, for example, "cracker" is going to have a very different impact compared to the n word. It seems fundamentally important to accept that differing impact, since denying it generally means denying the context that we're talking about.

I think I see what you're concerned about. You seem to be concerned about double standards because you feel as though they water down justice and make it impossible to actually apply moral categories in a fair way – that is, because double standards seem, on their face, fundamentally unfair. The term "double standard" is generally meant to convey unfairness and inequitability. I know a lot of people who are very concerned that, for instance, affirmative action is evil because it's fundamentally unfair.

But – well, I said above that the point is that a double standard is a good thing in some situations. To be clearer about that, I think that when we call this a "double standard," we're editing out essential things about the situations we're talking about. If I say the word "cracker" and the n word are entirely equivalent, I'm editing out the standard use of those words – and that's not just context; it's fundamental to the situation itself.

It would be the same if, to take an unrelated example, a blind person (through some weird circumstance) was holding a loaded weapon and happened accidentally to point it at my head without pulling the trigger. Compare this to a situation in which I'm a bank teller, and a thief points a loaded weapon at my head and threatens to kill me if I don't hand over the money. One could say: 'well, these are the same situation. Someone pointed a loaded weapon at your head. Since both situations are equivalent, we should punish both equally. The context that one of the people holding the gun was blind doesn't matter; what matters is the fact that they held a loaded weapon to someone else's head.' But would that make sense? It seems as though the 'context' is an essential part of the situation, one that changes completely the character of the encounter.

I choose the example of a gun put to one's head because that case, like this one, is about the meaning of an action and the potential threat implied. And that's the essential thing here, I think. It matters whether the person holding the gun is a blind person who likely doesn't mean anything by it or a possibly-homicidal bank robber – it matters because of historical context, of what any one of us might expect from the situation based on our experience and our knowledge of what's happened in the past. And it's the same with sexism on the internet. Putting it bluntly, we can simply expect much worse from misogyny than we can expect from misandry.

None of that, again, makes misandry okay; but the two are categorically different, and cannot be treated as equivalents.
posted by koeselitz at 12:20 PM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


You trying to pull this semantic trick of acting as though people are endorsing misandry. Nobody is saying that, since misogyny is bad, misandry is okay.

Slapping someone across the face is not as bad as murdering them. Does the fact that I believe this indicate that I'm okay with it if someone wants to go around administering face-slaps to anyone they please?


I think people are endorsing a double standard, you did so plainly above and as I said that is fine, I don't really expect to convince anyone of anything here, I am just putting my point forward for general consideration.

That said I find being accused of a semantic trick pretty shitty and given the considered response you have since posted that I can see on preview it is probably beneath you.

Regarding the second post I don't see who the blind person is in the context of MeFi, a blind person can aim a gun at you without meaning to but a person typing on the internet is always in control of what they say.

Also there is basically zero potential threat to typing words on MeFi. This is why I don't think context matters.

Nobody is invading personal space or following down dark alleys or even talking in person, nothing we do here is any real kind of threat.

And when I talk about equal treatment I'm not saying abolish all rules and allow a tyranny of the majority, I am talking about imposing the sames rules of civility on everyone.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 12:32 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also there is basically zero potential threat to typing words on MeFi. This is why I don't think context matters.

We've lost a lot of members over the years due to shitty sexist behavior on the site. I'm not sure how you personally calibrate your threat meter, but that indicates to me that the words we say here do matter.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:36 PM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


flex, if that is true, could you be a dear, and offer to serve as the Mefite who posts in every single Metathread what level of discussion we're allowed to have? Kthxbye.

Just to come full circle, this is actually what cortex was referring to in the other MeTa thread that misha is referring to in her pos, the "shitty sarcasm" Just say what you mean. I'm not sure what prompted you to post two nasty digs against women in this thread in a row and then start in with your sincere comments, but it would be nicer to just skip the earlier stuff. It makes all these conversations more difficult.

I am talking about imposing the sames rules of civility on everyone.

We do. Calling someone a cracker is less incivil (uncivil) than calling someone a kike. Don't blame me, blame society.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:45 PM on April 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


Nobody is invading personal space or following down dark alleys or even talking in person, nothing we do here is any real kind of threat.

We're not running a police precinct here; this is an online community centered around link-sharing and discussion. The bar we set for a basic level of success in getting people to co-exist here is not "no one gets stabbed in an alley".

So when we've got stuff where what seems like a systemic issue of a large group of the userbase casually (and generally speaking not really intentionally) making another whole large group of the userbase really uncomfortable being here and reading discussions here as a matter of course, that's the level where we're going to take a fairly hard look at what's going on. That's essentially what's happened with boyzone stuff over the last few years; see the epic metatalk discussions from a few years back as sort of the focal point for that.

About as far as that goes is that we've tried to be more attentive to stuff that relates to not having this place just be kind of awful to be around as a woman in the way that a whole lot of places on the internet are, indeed, kind of awful. Threads aren't improved by dudes calling women bitches or cunts or whores, and they're not improved by running dialogues on how fuckable some person who had the bad luck to be female and the subject of a post is. That's more or less what the boyzone stuff was about. It is, really, enormously better these days specifically for the lack of that stuff.

Beyond that, people have very mixed opinions about gender- or sex-related topics and air them pretty openly on a regular basis around here, and disagree with each other, and get snarky with each other, or call each other names and shit when stuff gets out of hand. And on this site snarky is generally okay in the strict sense that it's not grounds for deletion by itself, even though I think much of the time it makes for pretty crappy conversation. People getting into straight-up namecalling nonsense or "no fuck you" stuff are looking more at getting shit deleted.

We don't care what ideological stance is behind any of that stuff; mostly we just want people to make that basic effort to be decent to each other. We don't have an "unless you're a woman or a feminist" exception there, and we've told folks on either sides of those conversations to cut it the hell out on plenty of occasions.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:58 PM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Reggie Knoble: ... I find being accused of a semantic trick pretty shitty and given the considered response you have since posted that I can see on preview it is probably beneath you.”

Well, to get this out of the way, I'm sorry if that sounded overly accusatory. I only meant this: I'm not okay with hatred towards men, and I don't believe anybody here is.

“And when I talk about equal treatment I'm not saying abolish all rules and allow a tyranny of the majority, I am talking about imposing the sames rules of civility on everyone.”

That makes sense to me. And I agree. I guess all I'm saying is "don't be hateful toward people based on their gender, and especially don't be misogynist" is perfectly fine as a basic rule of civility. The fact that misogyny is worse than anti-male sexism doesn't mean either one is okay, and it doesn't mean basic rules of civility are being applied in a lopsided way.
posted by koeselitz at 1:04 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


We're not running a police precinct here; this is an online community centered around link-sharing and discussion. The bar we set for a basic level of success in getting people to co-exist here is not "no one gets stabbed in an alley".

Tell that to the person who started talking about threats.

Threads aren't improved by dudes calling women bitches or cunts or whores, and they're not improved by running dialogues on how fuckable some person who had the bad luck to be female and the subject of a post is.

And they aren't improved by calling white people crackers (not that I have seen that done very often, it just seems to be the go to "OK insult"), or using the sad old feminist bingo card or feminism 101 tropes to try to silence disagreement but that stuff always ends up making an appearance and staying there.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 1:07 PM on April 23, 2012


feminism 101 tropes to try to silence disagreement

??
posted by shakespeherian at 1:20 PM on April 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


One, we haven't had a historic problem with people calling white folks crackers on the site. Not never, I'm sure, but it's sure hasn't been a thing that kept happening all the time and making white people here super uncomfortable about participating. I don't feel like this is a point of comparison that is useful if we're having a discussion about what actually happens here rather than what would be bad if it were happening.

Two, the bingo card stuff falls into, as I think we've said several times, "annoying but not necessarily deletable" territory, just like lots and lots of other stuff on the site. It's not some uniquely protected bit of not-great conversation, and as much as it's identifiable for the specific bit of jargon ("bingo" is pretty memorable the nth time you've heard it) it is not something that happens in a vacuum and without opposition. People make annoying remarks in both directions on a whole lot of vectors around here, including people being critically snarky or jerkish about feminists or feminism or the idea that someone should ever have to think about what they say or who they say it to, etc.

I think in general people can, with good intent or not, be obnoxious in how they discuss stuff they have strong feelings about. That includes feminism, it includes men's rights, it includes freedom of speech and political ideology and which megalithic hardware/software manufacturer is the absolute worst and so on.

It sucks when people are obnoxious; obnoxiousness is not by itself a 100% predictor of comment deletion; people who think someone is being obnoxious in a way that gets in the way of a worthwhile conversation are strongly encouraged to ignore the obnoxiousness and continue on with the worthwhile-conversation bit.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:21 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Just swap a few characterisitics of the person saying the thing and see how it sounds."

Yes, truly it is a shame that white people can't call black people "nigger." Why, just swap the races and it's totally acceptable! You have plumbed the semantic depths and come back with universal truths, and are not just pissy over privilege denied.

And woeful gnashings, I feel such sorrow in my heart over being sarcastic toward such shallow pronouncements. Surely if everyone was prevented from being churlish toward inane earnestness, we would have the agora we all long for where no one would ever have to hear that their under-examined emotional reactions were actually kinda dumb and thoughtlessly insulting.
posted by klangklangston at 1:21 PM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


So with the thing about people who might have good intent but end up being obnoxious about it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:22 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


"using the sad old feminist bingo card or feminism 101 tropes to try to silence disagreement but that stuff always ends up making an appearance and staying there."

Intelligent disagreement doesn't need to be silenced; stupid disagreement is noise. That your comments are yours gives you reason to resent being told to stuff 'em, but that's not a justification for their worth. If you don't want your contributions implied to be stupid, don't post stupid comments.
posted by klangklangston at 1:23 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


??

Some people choose to disengage when others imply they are stupid or are some how getting in the way of what would be an awesome high level discussion.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 1:24 PM on April 23, 2012


"Some people choose to disengage when others imply they are stupid or are some how getting in the way of what would be an awesome high level discussion."

And?
posted by klangklangston at 1:25 PM on April 23, 2012


Which feminism 101 tropes are used to silence disagreement, though? I think there's a difference between trying to silence disagreement and trying to explain to someone that they are very, very wrong.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:26 PM on April 23, 2012


Or, as a different point, some people choose to disengage when they have to deal with the same stupid comments over and over again. We've lost good people over bullshit here. Not to be blunt, but I'd take Kattallus and Languagehat and any number of women over coddling idiotic comments about feminism.
posted by klangklangston at 1:28 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Klang, if you want to do your thing where you act all righteously angry because you know basically everyone agrees with you and you get a shotload of leeway you just go ahead.

I don't think I will be replying to any of it though.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 1:30 PM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Which feminism 101 tropes are used to silence disagreement, though? I think there's a difference between trying to silence disagreement and trying to explain to someone that they are very, very wrong.

The whole thing, its just jargon for you are an idiot and I wish you would go away.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 1:31 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow, this went weird.
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:35 PM on April 23, 2012


Reggie Knoble: “And they aren't improved by calling white people crackers (not that I have seen that done very often, it just seems to be the go to ‘OK insult’), or using the sad old feminist bingo card or feminism 101 tropes to try to silence disagreement but that stuff always ends up making an appearance and staying there.”

We all agree, I think, that 'cracker' is not an 'OK insult.' So at least there's that.

Maybe you can clarify something for me – are you saying here that calling certain comments sexist, or implying that they are via the 'feminism bingo' snark, is equivalent to calling somebody a 'cracker'?

We can sort of talk about that, if you want. It's similar, I think, to situations where one says something that someone else says is racist. It doesn't make conversation easy, but confronting those kinds of claims is an essential skill of conversation, particularly for those of us who are in historically privileged groups (white males, like me). When someone says "that thing you just did was racist" or "that comment you just made was sexist," it's pretty much my responsibility to be able to respond to that clearly and succinctly and take the person's claim for what it is. That doesn't mean every accusation is true, but it does mean this stuff is serious. It absolutely can't be swept under the rug with the claim that such questions "silence discussion." In fact, to the contrary, such claims should be the start of discussion.

Basically, when I get accused of sexism, then I want to respect that accusation and confront it honestly and directly, and if I did something wrong, I want to own up to it. That's my responsibility. This is true even if – heck, especially if – the person accusing me is a crank or a nutcase. This stuff is important.

“The whole thing, its just jargon for you are an idiot and I wish you would go away.”

Ah. If you read these "feminist bingo" comments as meaning that, I can understand why they'd bother you. I guess all I can say is that I don't think people necessarily meant that.

And aside from that, accusations of sexism are kind of a big thing, and something we have to confront if we're going to deal with this issue in a civil way.
posted by koeselitz at 1:36 PM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


The whole thing, its just jargon for you are an idiot and I wish you would go away.

I'm sorry, I'm not trying to pester you, but I don't really understand what you're saying-- I'm sure it's my fault. Are you saying that talking about feminism and things like the male gaze, systemic patriarchy, etc. is tantamount to coded messages to dismiss someone who disagrees? Or is there something more or less specific that you're referring to?
posted by shakespeherian at 1:38 PM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Are you saying that talking about feminism and things like the male gaze, systemic patriarchy, etc. is tantamount to coded messages to dismiss someone who disagrees? Or is there something more or less specific that you're referring to?

No. Speaking about those things is fine (as if anyone needed my permission). It is when people disagree and people start complaing about having to talk about feminism 101 that it becomes a sort of subtle message that the only reason anyone could possibly disagree is that they just aren't smart or educated enough.

The bingo stuff is just saying that the points people are making are so predictable that they aren't even worth engaging and are only worth mockery. And predictable they may be but that pretty much goes for both sides.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 1:52 PM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I assume that he is specifically referring to the phrase 'feminism 101'. In my opinion, and I think he's arguing the same thing, when someone says 'oh no, looks like we're doing feminism 101 again' or 'I shouldn't have to teach you feminism 101' or '
Good lord, it's like feminism thread derails 101 in here'
, they are saying 'look at these ignorant people who are making ignorant statements that they would not make if they had learned the basics that I take for granted. I refuse to engage with someone who has not already learned this material.'

There is a secondary debate to be had over when this attitude might be appropriate, touched on upthread with the 'metafilter is not a feminist forum/any thread about feminist issues is a feminist forum' comments, and that specific debate might be interesting (about most topics, really).
posted by jacalata at 1:55 PM on April 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Okay, I do understand what you're saying, and I can see why that kind of thing could read as condescending and dismissive-- thank you for explaining that. For my part, however, I'd like to point out that it genuinely is frustrating to continually have to explain to people that media representations of women as primarily sexual objects for the gratification of male viewers is a problem, especially when the topic of the thread is about something a lot more interesting than that. It's like if every thread about biology was constantly getting bogged down by arguments over whether evolution is real-- it's exhausting, and it gets in the way of any other conversation that could have been had. And yeah, I realize that there are actual people who haven't grappled with some of the more basic issues of feminism, and that for those people to bear the brunt of everyone's ire because they happened to be the 96th person in a row not to have grappled with those issues isn't fair. It seems like the lesser problem of the two, however.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:59 PM on April 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


Just to come full circle, this is actually what cortex was referring to in the other MeTa thread that misha is referring to in her pos, the "shitty sarcasm" Just say what you mean. I'm not sure what prompted you to post two nasty digs against women in this thread in a row and then start in with your sincere comments,

jessamyn, I'll accept all of that criticism except your claim that I posted "two nasty digs against women in this thread in a row". I did not. I posted nasty digs against people. Couldn't care less whether they are XY or YY; I disagreed with their posts (and could have said without snark, yes).
posted by IAmBroom at 1:59 PM on April 23, 2012


I posted nasty digs against people.

Who happen to be women. It is not your fault that you did not know both commenters were women, but that doesn't make it any less true.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:04 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd like to point out that it genuinely is frustrating to continually have to explain to people that media representations of women as primarily sexual objects for the gratification of male viewers is a problem, especially when the topic of the thread is about something a lot more interesting than that.

I hope this doesn't sound snarky but you really don't have to. On any given thread on the subject there are loads of people who have the same general view as you and many who profess to want to have the same discussion as you, you could just talk to them.

If people do want to have the more basic discussions they can handle that side of things.

It seems like the lesser problem of the two, however.

I'm not really sure why, as I said above that problem is essentially of your own making, nobody forces any particular kind of discussion onto you.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 2:07 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Reggie Knoble: "I'm not really sure why, as I said above that problem is essentially of your own making, nobody forces any particular kind of discussion onto you."

So... the problem isn't the folks making sexist remarks, it's the people who are offended by sexist remarks?
posted by Karmakaze at 2:13 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


So... the problem isn't the folks making sexist remarks, it's the people who are offended by sexist remarks?

The two problems being discussed were as follows

1) Feminists frustrated because they feel the need to discuss the basics of feminsm with anyone who appears not to know them

2) People (who may or may not be feminists themselves) who express disagreement with certain basics of feminism or who appear to not know certain basics of feminism being treated as though they are stupid and being mocked.

So i'm not sure where you are coming from here, at least not in response to the comment you quoted.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 2:21 PM on April 23, 2012


Feminists frustrated because they feel the need to discuss the basics of feminsm with anyone who appears not to know them

I think that's a disingenuous framing of what I said. I'm talking about a situation in which a thread is about, say, sexual objectification of women in action movie posters, and then a bunch of people come into the thread and say 'That's not a problem, look, men in action movies aren't realistic either!'

This isn't the same as me, like, hunting through the site in search of people who might not have heard the gospel yet.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:32 PM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I posted nasty digs against people.

Who happen to be women. It is not your fault that you did not know both commenters were women, but that doesn't make it any less true.


But it does make it much less relevant, jessamyn.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:34 PM on April 23, 2012


Reggie Knoble, I applaud you for having complete patience with explaining the same few basic concepts over and over again. Seriously, it's clearly something that sounds like it's not a problem for you and so you don't realize what a problem it can be for other people.

I am not a patient person, and so, yeah, I'm going to be a little cranky about saying "Research shows that fathers who fight for custody get it more than 70% of the time, and in those localities where fathers do get a bum deal around custody, that's not because of feminism--it's because of the sexist and gender essentialist preconceptions that women are 'natural parents'" yet again in response to the person who thinks that "Feminism is no longer needed because what about dads who don't get custody?" is an original or well-founded argument.

We have had "but aren't catcalls a compliment?" discussions on this site, during the years that I have been active here, time after time after time. It gets old. It gets frustrating to explain the same basic things that seem to me to be self-evident over and over.

I don't know what your vocation or avocations are, but may I make a comparison to engineers v. people who think they've invented perpetual motion machines? Many of the people who sincerely believe they've invented perpetual motion machines feel that "Go read the four laws of thermodynamics" is dismissive cruelty. And maybe it is, but people have limited patience for having the same discussions over and over. People think "Godwin's Law" is a dismissive and cruel way to respond to comparisons to Hitler, and maybe it is, but people have limited patience for having the same discussions over and over.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:37 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think that's a disingenuous framing of what I said. I'm talking about a situation in which a thread is about, say, sexual objectification of women in action movie posters, and then a bunch of people come into the thread and say 'That's not a problem, look, men in action movies aren't realistic either!'

This isn't the same as me, like, hunting through the site in search of people who might not have heard the gospel yet.
posted by shakespeherian 3 minutes ago [+]


Well apologies but I thought it was obvious that these discussion would be happening in a relevant place and not that you were prosthelytizing in any and all threads.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 2:39 PM on April 23, 2012


I'm talking about a situation in which a thread is about, say, sexual objectification of women in action movie posters, and then a bunch of people come into the thread and say 'That's not a problem, look, men in action movies aren't realistic either!'

Especially where the same discussion had just come up a couple of months ago in regard to Jim Hines's hilarious blog post about fantasy book covers and the various responses. (Jim's followup about male characters on fantasy covers is also great.)
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:40 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Reggie Knoble, do you really think that people who are coming from a feminist position, or looking at issues from a feminist position, are "proselytizing"?
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:42 PM on April 23, 2012


people have limited patience for having the same discussions over and over.

It's like some kind of Eternal September.

I get that this is a problem. But either new people and viewpoints are welcomed all the time and you get this problem of people arriving with an opinion that's been argued to death already, or you tell people upfront that they need to already know and agree with a certain set of ideas or leave. I don't think you can have an open/welcoming community that does not retread the same ground many times. For some topics (like evolution) mefi (and most of society) has basically gone with option b - accept it or leave. It's not clear if we are at that point with feminism (and by feminism I don't mean 'women are allowed out of the kitchen', I mean discussions of the effect of male gaze on comic book art and the way people intrinsically belong to the patriarchy).
posted by jacalata at 2:47 PM on April 23, 2012


Reggie Knoble, do you really think that people who are coming from a feminist position, or looking at issues from a feminist position, are "proselytizing"?

No more than shakespeherian really thinks feminism is "the gospel", it was simply a figure of speech to describe somethng that he/she is not doing.

I understand repetition can be frustrating in a position where it must be done, I just don't get why it is something that must be done on MeFi, especially when likeminded people are so numerous that less frustrating conversations seem like they would be easy to have..
posted by Reggie Knoble at 2:50 PM on April 23, 2012


See, the thing is just because those conversations are frustrating and stupid and repetitive doesn't make them derails. On a Feminist forum, hell yeah they are, not necessarily the case here. That does mean you aren't going to be as likely to get the same deep quality of discussion here, but there are alternate benefits to the conversation from having the more diverse audience with varying levels of understanding.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:04 PM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think the problem is that, for women, this isn't an academic subject. This is our real lives. I think these threads would go more smoothly (with fewer people bringing up the "Feminism 101" thing) if people made the attempt to take women at their word when something bothers them.

The reason why these discussions get so tiresome is because, inevitably, it seems that women are required to demonstrate evidence that something not only bothers them, but that it would bother a reasonable, neutral party (i.e., a man) under the same conditions.

Like, hey, I shouldn't have to "prove" that I find cheesecake poses of women in the media degrading, but it seems like women aren't allowed to simply say so without having to listen to lectures on the history of western art, or how this is how advertising works, or some kind of "you don't understand, this is only natural," evopsych bullshit, or or or or ad infinitum.

So in the spirit of making these discussions go as smoothly as possible - and I want to emphasize that I'm not talking about any particular poster, just a general theme I see - it would certainly help me not to feel so burned out by these threads if people would hear, "Hey, as a woman this kind of thing makes me feel alienated/threatened/annoyed," and just freaking accept that. You know?
posted by Salieri at 3:22 PM on April 23, 2012 [32 favorites]


Well apologies but I thought it was obvious that these discussion would be happening in a relevant place and not that you were prosthelytizing in any and all threads.

See, that's the problem with thinking of MetaFilter as a "general interest" site. We're actually quite diverse and often oddly specific, and there's always going to be a post here or there that you don't care about, or understand the point of.

The question is: when that happens, can you sit back and read and learn, or ask interested questions, or respond graciously when someone points out that you are clearly underinformed on the subject? Or will you fall back on the god-given (to men) sovereignty of your own opinion and let your personal threshold of awareness on the subject set the standard at which the discussion shall commence?
posted by hermitosis at 3:29 PM on April 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Reggie Knoble: “... on MeFi, especially when likeminded people are so numerous... ”

This seems to be another point of disagreement. Maybe I'm wrong, but I've gotten the impression that you believe that there is a large number of people who profess feminism here on Metafilter – correct?

The thing is that, while I might agree on that, it's not a question of number; it's a question of proportion. And each thread is, to some degree, a microcosm. Every person who professes feminism does not participate in every thread about a feminist topic. In fact, there are times when it seems as though those who profess feminism are distinctly in the minority. I would venture to say this is most of the time. I appreciate that the feminists are often louder, but that doesn't mean we're more numerous. And the fact that we're still seeing abjectly sexist comments, the fact that they are still something that comes up not infrequently, indicates (I think) that the proportion is a bit different from the one you're hinting at here.
posted by koeselitz at 4:03 PM on April 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


See, the thing is just because those conversations are frustrating and stupid and repetitive doesn't make them derails.

Perhaps not, but you can see why someone might perceive them as such, can't you? Again, when someone says "But this perpetual motion machine is different!" it's not perceived as bad manners for someone to respond with "The laws of thermodynamics say otherwise."

Is there any way that one can say "I am frustrated about having to explain something that is a basic concept that I deal with many times every day in my actual life" without it being perceived as bad manners or hypersensitivity or "PC police" or similar, when that thing relates to feminism?
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:09 PM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is there any way that one can say:

Sounds to me like you found it.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:11 PM on April 23, 2012


I understand repetition can be frustrating in a position where it must be done, I just don't get why it is something that must be done on MeFi

I am being totally serious here: what would you suggest as a strategy that you could hear without feeling that you were being treated with rudeness? I get that "This is Feminism 101" feels rude and alienating to you. What would not feel rude and alienating to you?

Would someone saying "I am frustrated that once again people in this thread are making stupid sexist jokes" feel more to you like a person-to-person communication? Because to me, it sounds like you're talking about a communication style that upsets you, but it seems from your other comments that there is no style of communication of this particular content that would not upset you.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:13 PM on April 23, 2012


I think the problem is that, for women, this isn't an academic subject. This is our real lives. I think these threads would go more smoothly (with fewer people bringing up the "Feminism 101" thing) if people made the attempt to take women at their word when something bothers them.

In threads where catcalling comes up, it seems inevitable that someone (a guy) will comment that he can't imagine not feeling flattered if the situation were reversed, and then there might be a string of replies that try to come up with analogies, and one of those analogies is usually something about being in prison, or being hit on by a gay man at a bar, and then there's a little derail over whether or not the analogy is homophobic, etc.

The thing is, it could all be avoided if people would stop and think that maybe they don't need a perfect analogy; you can just take the word of someone who says "I don't like that." Not everything needs to be understood bone-deep. It's okay to just believe someone when they tell you they don't like a particular thing, or they find a behavior threatening.
posted by rtha at 4:15 PM on April 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


This seems to be another point of disagreement. Maybe I'm wrong, but I've gotten the impression that you believe that there is a large number of people who profess feminism here on Metafilter – correct?

The thing is that, while I might agree on that, it's not a question of number; it's a question of proportion. And each thread is, to some degree, a microcosm. Every person who professes feminism does not participate in every thread about a feminist topic. In fact, there are times when it seems as though those who profess feminism are distinctly in the minority. I would venture to say this is most of the time. I appreciate that the feminists are often louder, but that doesn't mean we're more numerous. And the fact that we're still seeing abjectly sexist comments, the fact that they are still something that comes up not infrequently, indicates (I think) that the proportion is a bit different from the one you're hinting at here.
posted by koeselitz at 12:03 AM on April 24 [+] [!]


Yes that is correct.

Self identified feminists make up 100% of the mods and most of the commentors in pretty much every thread about feminism.

That is why a mod usually ends up leaving a note that the thread is not to become a discussion of one users opinions on the subject, because one user is usually all you can find to disagree with the consensus after a few hours.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 4:15 PM on April 23, 2012


I am being totally serious here: what would you suggest as a strategy that you could hear without feeling that you were being treated with rudeness? I get that "This is Feminism 101" feels rude and alienating to you. What would not feel rude and alienating to you?

Would someone saying "I am frustrated that once again people in this thread are making stupid sexist jokes" feel more to you like a person-to-person communication? Because to me, it sounds like you're talking about a communication style that upsets you, but it seems from your other comments that there is no style of communication of this particular content that would not upset you.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:13 AM on April 24 [+] [!]


Honestly, ignore them. You must know a sexist joke is getting deleted right? So if people don't quote it then it will be like it never existed within a fairly short period of time.

If the same user keeps doing it then they will be sorted out by the mods one way or another.

Have the discussion you (a general you) profess to want, let people who are comfortable talking to newbs who want to discuss feminism 101 do it becuase there is nothing less likely to persuade someone in the way you want to than a feeling that a person is talking down to them through gritted teeth to "educate" them.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 4:22 PM on April 23, 2012


I think Metafilter generally takes the position that if you find comments offensive, I think bad sexist jokes qualify, you should flag it and move on, or discuss it in Meta if you want a public discussion.

If the topic/conversation itself is about sexist jokes, expressing your frustration with them does not seem at all rude. However, some folks give humor a free pass for offensiveness, it's a widely held view with some folks and there are some legitimate points there even if you disagree. So in that situation, defending the jokes isn't something that should be considered a derail, it's just a part of the conversation.

There isn't as solid an argument for objectifying women in film, but if someone is honestly making a serious argument there beyond the "I <3 Boobies" stuff that will get deleted you have to choose to argue the point or ignore it, it's not a derail no matter how annoying it is.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:23 PM on April 23, 2012


Honestly, ignore them. You must know a sexist joke is getting deleted right? So if people don't quote it then it will be like it never existed within a fairly short period of time.

A number of the sexist comments in "Unfungible assets" were not deleted, for reference. We know what was deleted, broadly - Jessamyn listed them upthread. The things which remain in the thread were ipso facto not deleted.

However, this is not hugely impactful on the answer to Sidhedevil's question:

Would someone saying "I am frustrated that once again people in this thread are making stupid sexist jokes" feel more to you like a person-to-person communication?

And the answer to that, it seems is "no" - or at least, not enough. The only acceptable response is silence.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:45 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Basically, when I get accused of sexism, then I want to respect that accusation and confront it honestly and directly, and if I did something wrong, I want to own up to it. That's my responsibility. This is true even if – heck, especially if – the person accusing me is a crank or a nutcase. This stuff is important.

About that, koeselitz... I respect your contributions on the site, and in the sometimes volatile feminist-oriented threads, when we've disagreed before I've even pointed you out as a calm voice of reason in the middle of a storm.

I put thought and effort into my post, and I linked to comments to show where I was coming from. I called no one out by name at all, except oddman, as I agreed with the point he made.

Yet I was accused of being malicious against specific other users. And you came right out with this:

"...Why do you have to assume the worst in the people whose comments you've linked to above? Can you not talk about this stuff in a clear and level-headed way without accusing them of harboring malicious intent in coming to the conversation?

Really, suggesting I was not being "clear and level-headed" just because you disagree with me?! That honestly took me aback, especially coming from you. It has the same dismissive tone as when a man discounts a woman's objections as "She's just being emotional!"

Honestly, I felt a little blind-sided by that. I know you as a feminist, and that seemed out of character. Disagree with my position all you want--we've debated often--but that was a low blow.
posted by misha at 4:50 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Honestly, ignore them.

No. I am not going to ignore that bullshit. But thank you for being clear.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:51 PM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Self identified feminists make up 100% of the mods and most of the commentors in pretty much every thread about feminism.

That is why a mod usually ends up leaving a note that the thread is not to become a discussion of one users opinions on the subject, because one user is usually all you can find to disagree with the consensus after a few hours.


My analysis, based on the same dataset as you is that there is a small subset of people who will argue about a particular topic ceaselessly until we step in and tell them to move on or take stuff to email/MeMail. I do not think that this is a consensus issue, I think it's a "learn how to get along on a site with many different people with many different viewpoints" situation. We've had people in threads on various hobbyhorses, not all of them "Convince me that what feminism says is real" types of discussions and at the point at which the thread becomes one person doing a "take on all comers" style of conversation, we ask them to wrap it up.

And my take is that he userbase here is not primarily feminist, but they're also not primarily sexist either. I think the vast majority of the userbase is on board with the basic idea of gender equality and probably has a lot of smaller issues where their opinions vary dramatically from one another. The issue is that the stress points between more activist feminists and mainstream "sure women should get paid the same for equal work" are often the points that inspire a lot of discussion and back and forth. And where both sides can get a little pushy about getting their point across or feeling misunderstood. So the conversations get a little touchy. Usually they don't turn into one person being like "Well convince me then!" and everyone else fussing with them because most people don't enjoy that sort of conversation; it's barely more fun to be in than it is to watch.

But yeah there is a presumption that people will either understand a mainstream feminist perspective or be open to at least talking about it (not arguing its first principles) because that's the sort of place this is. People who just don't know much about whatever the topic is, great, lots of people would be happy to talk to you about it. People who need to be convinced at a first-principles level about the merit of the things most people have already moved beyond are making the thread about them and their own level of understanding. There are ample places on the internet to get more information and I've seen many people happily directing people to check those things out if they're unclear on some of the basic stuff. It's when people in a thread basically put the brakes on a discussion and insist repeatedly "No I want you to explain to me why {perpetual motion machine won't work}" that we'll step in and suggest that they take that side conversation to email.

It's not a derail to ask, it's a derail to insist that the people having the conversation have it at the level that you require despite the fact that the conversation was going along just fine before you got there. This works out really well a lot of the times in science threads and even history and art threads. It works out a lot less well in threads about race and gender issues, partly because we're not working from the same presuppositions, but partly because it's a situation where everyone feels that by benefit of having a race or a gender, they understand the complicated world of race and gender dynamics. And yes, people could be more polite in pointing that sort of thing out, that doesn't remove the "please don't be That Guy" request form the table.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:53 PM on April 23, 2012 [14 favorites]


Self identified feminists make up 100% of the mods

Which is funny to me because I don't think I've ever self-identified as a feminist. I get the feeling that my position on stuff is pretty much in sympathy with the general ideological basics of feminism and that's totally fine with me, but it's nothing I've ever studied or read up on in any detail and mefi is pretty much the only place I find myself in even semi-regular discussions involving it, and I certainly haven't always agreed with folks who do in fact self-identify as feminists about some of the stuff that gets discussed here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:12 PM on April 23, 2012


There isn't as solid an argument for objectifying women in film, but if someone is honestly making a serious argument there beyond the "I [heart] Boobies" stuff that will get deleted you have to choose to argue the point or ignore it, it's not a derail no matter how annoying it is.

Well, if it's annoying, then people are going to respond like annoyed people. Some are more patient and mindful in their responses to these sorts of arguments than others (I admit to being rather impatient at times), but why is it up to the aggrieved to shoulder 100% of the annoyance so that these certain other users can feel totally confident about the relevance of their contributions to such a conversation? If someone wanders into a post about the objectification of women and simply MUST argue in earnest that the premise upon which the post and the article itself are based is totally invalid, they had better be able to respectfully say their piece, post their own links, and skedaddle. That basically applies to almost any social issue I can think of. Some of our more contentious "family members" here at MetaFilter have figured this out, and while they still manage to have their say (since apparently they MUST), they do it as quickly and respectfully as possible and then resist the urge to come in and rebut ad infinitum. I may not respect their beliefs, but I respect that they are thinking of the site as a whole, and of conversations as a whole.

I honestly think jessamyn's insight here is incredibly valid, and I'm glad that someone like her is around to make "adjustments" when hotheads like me lose sight of the larger picture.
posted by hermitosis at 5:15 PM on April 23, 2012


Self identified feminists make up 100% of the mods and most of the commentors in pretty much every thread about feminism.

If that were true, then the whatcha readin' fpp and its associated meTa wouldn't have gone into the browser-crashing territory. And then there's the elevator fpp and its meTa. There are lots more.
posted by rtha at 5:23 PM on April 23, 2012 [9 favorites]


And yeah, I realize that there are actual people who haven't grappled with some of the more basic issues of feminism

See, I find this kind of remark right here frustrating. And also, in light of the argument that actually came up, a bit disingenuous. Because this is responding to:

2) People (who may or may not be feminists themselves) who express disagreement with certain basics of feminism or who appear to not know certain basics of feminism being treated as though they are stupid and being mocked

And the response assumes that disagreement = this person has never been a victim of sexism.

I am a woman. I recently turned 46. I assure you that I have had to grapple with feminist issues for a long time, probably longer than some Mefites have even been alive. Because yes, I am that old.

What's more, I could tell you stories of my Mother, and her Mother, and what they had to deal with, that are even worse--like when my grandmother, at 21, was fired from a factory job she really needed, simply because she wouldn't have sex with her supervisor, or cover for the other girls on the factory assembly line who were having sex with him (also to try to keep their jobs) during work hours.

But just because I personally have grappled with issues that I feel are important and central to feminism does not mean that I necessarily agree something specific is offensive, or sexist, just because another woman says it is.

The assumption that someone who disagrees with you personally does so because that person is ignorant, uneducated on feminism, or sexist is incredibly condescending. And that tactic is often used to shut down any dissent in a thread, not just clearly misogynistic comments.

What's more amusing to me personally is when other women assume that because I disagree with them I must be a dude.

I think there are definitely battles to be fought on the feminist front. I just don't feel like some issues that have come up in threads are necessarily the battles we should be fighting.

Oh, and I disagree that "there is no pendulum". I've lived long enough to see that pendulum effect in other areas, from drug experimentation being the norm to a Just Say No dogmatism, for example. And in my experience, it tends to keep swinging from one extreme to the other unless someone takes a stance right in the middle and stops it there.

But I think I am in danger of threadsitting, so I'll stop commenting in my own Meta now.

For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
Nelson Mandela
posted by misha at 5:45 PM on April 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


I am a woman, and I'm older than you, if we're going to do the argumentum ad verecuntiam here.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:51 PM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


But just because I personally have grappled with issues that I feel are important and central to feminism does not mean that I necessarily agree something specific is offensive, or sexist, just because another woman says it is.

And vice versa. Neither you nor I are the Pope of Women. Neither you nor I is the sole arbiter of what is sexist and what is offensive and what is not.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:54 PM on April 23, 2012


misha does not appear to be claiming authority, just experience, in response to an argument that may be read as suggesting she has none. I don't really see how you think her expression of disagreement with some women is a claim of exclusive authority.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:58 PM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I take that as a given, Sidhedevil, and show my respect by not assuming that you are sexist or ignorant because your opinion differs from mine.
posted by misha at 6:00 PM on April 23, 2012


And the response assumes that disagreement = this person has never been a victim of sexism.

No, because grappling with feminism is not a necessary result of experiencing sexism. Every woman ever has experienced sexism. It's inextricably woven into our language and culture and has been woven into every culture in known history. Feminism has not. It's not something that people learn just because they are women, which is why teaching/learning/discussing/raising awareness are so important. I personally have a lot to read and digest still.

It is also sometimes charitable to assume that some are arguing from ignorance. Otherwise you would say that they genuinely thought about it and decided that, for example, having a profit motive makes any behavior excusable or not worth discussing. That is a sociopathic and reprehensible position if taken with full knowledge of what it entails and implies.

There is also an aura of "everyone is equally right" about your comment, and that is something that I disagree with on principle. Some statements are wrong, some behaviors are wrong, some actions are wrong, some ethical systems are wrong. I will always believe this and will always comment here as though I believe that some things are good and some things are not. If that offends you, well, I hope you find some moral relativists to hang out with, although they might be chagrined at the way you have deemed some ways of speaking unacceptable.

Oh, and I disagree that "there is no pendulum". I've lived long enough to see that pendulum effect in other areas, from drug experimentation being the norm to a Just Say No dogmatism, for example.

I guess I haven't lived long enough to see the gynarchy that would be the opposite of the patriarchy; rather the opposite, which is why this particular scare tactic rings false to me. Women in the US had more access to abortion when I was ten than they do now, for example.

I've also spent time, in real life and on the internet, in groups of people who agree with be about basic principles of feminism and who would not tolerate or accept many of the comments in that thread, and guess what--they are perfectly fine groups of people, there are men who are comfortable and happy there, no one has been thrown to the wolves by the mean feminists who insist on asking people not to say sexist things. They are more pleasant and relaxing than metafilter, certainly.

I think there are definitely battles to be fought on the feminist front. I just don't feel like some issues that have come up in threads are necessarily the battles we should be fighting.

Okay, and then you criticize koeselitz for something that many would find nitpicky or ridiculous (I don't necessarily agree). Are your hurt feelings (or lack thereof) to be the only arbiter of appropriate feminist critique?
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:55 PM on April 23, 2012 [14 favorites]


flex, if that is true, could you be a dear, and offer to serve as the Mefite who posts in every single Metathread what level of discussion we're allowed to have? Kthxbye.

I already spend more time than I really have available participating in and thinking about this site. The bit of explanation of my stance that you quoted, as well as my earlier link to my explanation of my use of "Feminism 101", are sincere attempts to convey where I'm coming from, what I'm thinking, what my intentions are. I dislike being misinterpreted or misunderstood, so I engage with others in good faith to explain, and discuss, and not dismiss them.

I do my best to add value to the community and make my contributions substantive. I try hard not to snark since I don't like being snarked on - Golden Rule. I probably come off as too earnest. Communicating only in text is tricky.
posted by flex at 7:00 PM on April 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


"The assumption that someone who disagrees with you personally does so because that person is ignorant, uneducated on feminism, or sexist is incredibly condescending. And that tactic is often used to shut down any dissent in a thread, not just clearly misogynistic comments. "

That a rhetorical tactic can be used as unjustly silencing does not mean that every instance of it is as such. Idiotic comments are idiotic irrespective of whether or not people feel bad for being called idiots. And yes, when someone says that because someone got paid, they're not being exploited, that's an argument that's idiotic, libertarian or both.

"Oh, and I disagree that "there is no pendulum". I've lived long enough to see that pendulum effect in other areas, from drug experimentation being the norm to a Just Say No dogmatism, for example. And in my experience, it tends to keep swinging from one extreme to the other unless someone takes a stance right in the middle and stops it there."

There are so many problems with this analogy — basically all of them stem from you deciding where the medium is and deciding that your position is it and all others are illegitimate. Especially when the argument is that it's swung too far in favor of feminism on MetaFilter. What evidence is there of this? Well, some people are condescending because others don't grasp basic tenets and make hoary (and stupid) arguments against feminism. That seems to argue that the pendulum still hasn't hit that halfway swing — if it had, the baseline wouldn't be the "But my girlfriend thinks she's badass showing off her tits and ass!" It would be, "Despite recognizing the cultural context which other women find degrading, and the over-use of this cliche pose, my girlfriend personally enjoys posing that way." Which, frankly, I don't think would get much push-back at all here.

Further, you're not the middle — threads like the Geeklist one show that you've got a pretty established stake in, at the very least, being critical of feminist responses. That you've declared that you must stand for the middle is like the white liberals of MLK's Birmingham jail letter declaring that the pendulum has swung too far in the favor of disruptive civil rights protest — it's unconvincing on its merits, and based on a misleading and self-serving appeal to centrism over sense.
posted by klangklangston at 7:29 PM on April 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


hay misha - so like. It's always weird for me to participate in this stuff because I am not a lady. Some of my feminist values do come from self interest (I believe misogny to be the tree from which the gnarled branch of homophobia grew), but it makes it pretty weird for me to be all explaining feminism to women.

I think my "are you serious" comment in the butt-pictures thread wasn't great - sorry - but the thread really was going in a pretty shit direction. When someone is like "hey this kind of sucks," and then a bunch of people are all "no it doesn't because I love looking at titties," that is definitely some basic misogyny stuff happening. The particular comment I quoted was personally insulting because when someone goes "eww" at male bodies, it's also a way (whether they realize or meant this or not) of pathologizing my attraction to those bodies.

So for a number of reasons I was pretty dismayed to see those responses.

There have also been a few somewhat recent threads specifically addressing dimorphism in superhero/action type illustration and why, specifically, that sucks and why "but I like titties" is not a sufficient answer to that. And personally I do use women a lot as my role models, and so while I won't claim equivalency with a woman despairing at depictions of women in culture, I feel like I've got a taste of it. I really, really, really a lot can not see myself as Thor or Captain America or whatever the hell and just in general the people I'm cheering for in fiction are the women.

So yeah it bugs the hell out of me to see catwoman or the diablo 3 demon hunter wearing ridiculous heels, and it would be nice to be able to talk bout that but I usually can't because that thread, from the get go, was mostly a bunch of people talking about how hot the women in the posters were.

So no, the pendulum has not "swung too far", either here or in the wider society. Even here on mefi, where I guess we have contests to be offended about things, the default response to stuff is pretty sexist.
posted by kavasa at 9:45 PM on April 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


the young rope-rider: If that offends you, well, I hope you find some moral relativists to hang out with, although they might be chagrined at the way you have deemed some ways of speaking unacceptable.

That's funny. I never break the law; I get flack around here for objecting to copyright infringement and torrenting, for heaven's sake. But TIL I am a moral relativist. I did not know this about myself.

I've also spent time, in real life and on the internet, in groups of people who agree with me about basic principles of feminism and who would not tolerate or accept many of the comments in that thread

What was that about deeming some ways of speaking unacceptable again?

Seriously, all I've said is I think everyone should be held to the same standard: show respect to each other and don't be a jerk. If you don't think that's acceptable, I guess we'll just have to disagree. And I also find it interesting to be around people who don't agree with me all the time.

Okay, and then you criticize koeselitz for something that many would find nitpicky or ridiculous (I don't necessarily agree). Are your hurt feelings (or lack thereof) to be the only arbiter of appropriate feminist critique?

I responded to koeselitz, who had previously criticized me, after he said he wanted to know if something he did came off as sexist, to tell him that particular thing did, to me. Not sure why you feel the need to weigh in on that.

I don't think anyone should be the "arbiter of appropriate feminist critique" because I don't feel there is such a thing, in that feminists are different and have differing opinions. I've been really clear about that.

kavasa: So yeah it bugs the hell out of me to see catwoman or the diablo 3 demon hunter wearing ridiculous heels

Oh, yeah, me too! I hate that women in movies wear ridiculous heels when it is obviously nonsensical to do so. Van Helsing was a great movie, but Anna in that movie had the most ridiculous outfit, with these high-heeled boots that would make you sprain an ankle if you broke a sweat (and she drew her sword, I think, 6 times? But never used it!). I think a lot of people in that thread, women and men, would agree that that's just silly.

Klangklangston: Further, you're not the middle — threads like the Geeklist one show that you've got a pretty established stake in, at the very least, being critical of feminist responses.

I favorited a lot of comments in that thread, too. Maybe you feel that I am critical of feminist responses because we just don't agree on what constitutes a "feminist" response. I'm okay with that.
posted by misha at 10:43 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Van Helsing was a great movie

Okay, now it's REALLY on...
posted by hermitosis at 11:11 PM on April 23, 2012

Seriously, all I've said is I think everyone should be held to the same standard: show respect to each other and don't be a jerk.
So I guess that's the crux of the thing right? So I'll link to some comments that struck me as just as (if not more!) jerky as playing feminist bingo: one two three four five six etc.

And the problem is that in a lot of ways they don't feel as jerky as going BINGO! in the thread, but I really do think they are. Because, to me, the fundamental message is "I am titillated by these pictures and that renders your concerns invalid." Right? And so everything I might care about in a woman's role in an action film just goes poof into who-caresville because a straight guy gets his heroes and some boobies on the side.

And it's not an issue of there being an echo chamber or something - there was already cool discussion about Nolan developing, a comment from someone who can run in heels, Jehan's thing about "maybe this is a relic of Victorian nudes" etc etc. Tons of great stuff! And it all derailed into fighting about straight guy's boners, as it usually does, everywhere, in every thread.

I know we're kind of getting into "who started it" territory, which isn't great. But I guess I'd suggest that if we're holding people to the same standards, it's worth pointing out that there was legit sexist crap in that thread first, and that placing the onus on the insulted to maintain an unflappable, polite calm seems kind of unfair to me. Like it would be better if that thread had been posted and the first note of dissent was something more nuanced than "you're outvoted by my penis."

So yeah, pendulum, still on the misogyny side, even here. Including really clueless, shitty comments in this thread about how we all compete to be offended. It's really tough to read that and not respond with a straight up "eat poison," right? But no, must always be polite to everyone always, regardless of how rude they are in response to that politeness.
posted by kavasa at 11:26 PM on April 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


Oh, and I disagree that "there is no pendulum". I've lived long enough to see that pendulum effect in other areas, from drug experimentation being the norm to a Just Say No dogmatism, for example. And in my experience, it tends to keep swinging from one extreme to the other unless someone takes a stance right in the middle and stops it there.


This is a very good example of the problems of the pendulum model - which can be boiled down to there is no pendulum. It also demonstrates that we are talking about gender equality as a whole, and not just MetaFilter, so that should help Winnemac out with his/her question.

The idea that one day we were all HEY DRUGS EXPERIMENTATION and the next NO DRUGS EVER is what's called a grand narrative. It represents a very small slice of a historical situation being sold as the overarching theme of the age.

Did something Nancy Reagan said in 1982 have much impact on college students in Greece? Or indeed African-American children growing up in poverty in the United States? I would say probably not. You can see the 80s as a time when the national discourse - as dictated by the First Lady - turned hard against drugs, or you can see it as a time when cocaine use in the US really expanded out of its traditional markets. You can, for that matter, look at the Reagan administration's hard line as a continuation of policies Reagan had been espousing since the 60s - that is, in grand narrative terms the age of drugs experimentation. Meanwhile, many countries are now experimenting with decriminalization - including parts of the US, although not under that name.

Grand narratives are tempting because they are easy to learn and easy to teach, but they tend to flatten out the complexities.

So, problem the first of the pendulum model - it focuses on big, simple narratives. And it has a narrative of its own: that society lurches from injustice to reversed injustice until the righteous stop it at the bottom of its swing - where things are precisely just. That represents a hearty temptation to believe oneself to the representative of this point of perfect balance - a temptation that I think you are succumbing to above, Misha.

Of course, there's nothing particularly unusual about believing oneself to be right, but there's a difference between that and believing oneself to be the representative of a state of mathematically perfect ethical balance.

So, there's that. And, of course, the other problem with the pendulum - or rather, with thinking of oneself as the representative of the still state of the pendulum, since the pendulum itself does not exist, is that it doesn't allow for ambiguity. If the pendulum is over there, things that look like the pendulum is over here can't exist.

So, one would have to invest heavily in the idea that the mention of feminist bingo was an unprovoked attack on the oppressed men of MetaFilter, protected by feminist moderators, because of the narrative logic of the pendulum. So, despite shakespeherian pointing out an example of undeleted provocation about ten posts into this thread, here, Misha cannot see them - again, because of the narrative logic of the pendulum. Hence this gotcha:
1. If the misogynist, offensive boyzone comments preceded those feminist bingo questions, making those bingo questions simply the result of frustration, then wouldn't those be more entrenched than the bingo ones? But they must not have been, or the mods wouldn't have deleted them. Because we don't delete those.

2. If the misogynist, offensive boyzone comments came after those feminist bingo questions, then the justification of the feminist bingo comments arising from frustration with the boyzone [sc. does not exist].

You can't really have it both ways.
Despite the undeleted presence in the thread of comments like:
anansi, i totally get it. definitely too much ass and not enough tits in that pose.
We are seeing this kind of jokey one-liner popping up in today's women's-issues thread, as well - qv.

So, the pendulum model is, I think, problematic to the point of inutility. There are instead many, many different issues being contested between different viewpoints. Equal pay, access to birth control, sexual assault prosecutions, street harassment, access to executive positions, political power, sexist movie posters, people showing off their e-boners in response to criticism of sexist movie posters - these and many other issues are individually contested and affect each other. And the broad bin of issues you could box up and call "gender equality" are in turn implicated in many other issues. Which is messy and complex, but such is life.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:50 AM on April 24, 2012 [7 favorites]


I favorited a lot of comments in that thread, too. Maybe you feel that I am critical of feminist responses because we just don't agree on what constitutes a "feminist" response. I'm okay with that."

You may have favorited every comment in the thread for all I know, but it's more fair to go by your comments in the thread. Favoriting may mean agreement to you, but it doesn't to everyone and it's a little presumptuous to assume that people would not only remember your comments but also trawl your favorites.
posted by klangklangston at 7:26 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


placing the onus on the insulted to maintain an unflappable, polite calm seems kind of unfair to me.

In MeTa discussions about even WORSE threads, in which truly appalling comments have been allowed to stay up by the mods because of... well, they have their reasons... that has actually been the sort of consensus on how to proceed. Which has sometimes resulted in a lot of hurt feelings, or people feeling like the site isn't the "safe" space they maybe thought it was, but the point that always emerges is that you have to accept the site as it is to play ball here, and sometimes that means that something you regard as hate-speech will be allowed to remain, and your choices are to leave the thread (or site, as a handful have done), or deal wit the offendor with unflappable and polite calmness.

Anyhow, by now we've learned not to regard MeFi as a "safe" space (by the standards of certain other forums), just like others struggle to deal with the fact that MeFi is, by default, NSFW. It can be difficult, because for many of us these issues are connected to some serious (and often negative) emotions and experience, so yes, you have to be as calm as possible, or else it might be that your comment will get deleted while the original one stands. And I have definitely become a more sensitive flagger in the meantime.

Anyhow, I'm glad there are enough other people here who are sympathetic to these issues, usually someone manages to step forward and say what needs said while keeping the peace.
posted by hermitosis at 7:40 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


misha: “I put thought and effort into my post, and I linked to comments to show where I was coming from. I called no one out by name at all, except oddman, as I agreed with the point he made. Yet I was accused of being malicious against specific other users... Really, suggesting I was not being ‘clear and level-headed’ just because you disagree with me?! That honestly took me aback, especially coming from you. It has the same dismissive tone as when a man discounts a woman's objections as ‘She's just being emotional!’ Honestly, I felt a little blind-sided by that. I know you as a feminist, and that seemed out of character. Disagree with my position all you want--we've debated often--but that was a low blow.”

I wish I hadn't said that part, misha. I had no right to say you were being malicious, to accuse you of not being clear or level-headed. So let me say, as directly as possible – I'm sorry for that, misha.

I followed the "fungible assets" thread a bit, though I didn't comment in it, and I was mostly appalled. There was some pretty terrible stuff there. I could see why shakespeherian, who seems (to my eye) to be the bluntest of the comments you called out, got frustrated. It seemed egregiously unfair to me to characterize the people who made the four comments you called out as being trolls, as sitting back and taking some delight in creating and stoking conflict. I guess they must have read that way to you.

With respect, I still feel as though you were missing the forest for the trees there. There was a lot of crazy stuff going on in that thread. The comments you linked to (1, 2, 3, 4) weren't one-off snarks; they were expressions of deep frustration with the direction the thread was taking. I appreciate that, separated from their context, they may appear just grating, sarcastic snippets – although calling them "shitty sarcasm" is still a little much. But they should not be separated from their context. And if anything, we should be talking here about whether or not people need to be a bit more careful in expressing their frustration at frankly terrible comments.

But that's not the approach you took here. You made this a referendum on how feminists on Metafilter have gone too far, and how feminists here are being given carte blanche to treat anybody else however they want as long as it's in the name of feminism. And moreover the way you framed this post was as a question to the mods about why certain things are tolerated while certain other things are not. The strong implication, particularly in the title here, is that there's a double standard, and that the mods participate in this double standard, joining in with the feminist crowd and enforcing rules of civility in a lopsided way.

You may feel as though not calling anyone out "by name" was a way of being gentle in your criticism – but it didn't seem that way to me. I'm sorry if I ready you wrong. But accusations of "shitty sarcasm" aren't gentle, whether you mention the person by name or not. Really, it felt like you weren't so much shooting to soft-pedal the criticism so much as you intended to generalize it to make a point about the status of feminism on Metafilter at large.

Maybe you didn't realize it; but a lot of this stuff seemed pretty personal. The accusation that all of these people were just trolling – that they were doing this for the fun of it, taking pleasure in the conflict and injecting the sexism debate into threads where it didn't belong – seemed to me to take it beyond simple disagreement.

And I guess I just come back to where I was when this started. I don't agree with you at all. You haven't shown, even a little bit, that any of the comments you linked to were jerky or offensive or crude or in any way against the guidelines we as a community agree on. You haven't done much to argue that they're against the guidelines, either. You've spent more time pointing to a double standard. I disagree on that, too. I don't think the moderators here have ever enforced things in a lopsided way, and I respect them for being clear on that.
posted by koeselitz at 7:48 AM on April 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


misha: “Seriously, all I've said is I think everyone should be held to the same standard: show respect to each other and don't be a jerk. If you don't think that's acceptable, I guess we'll just have to disagree. And I also find it interesting to be around people who don't agree with me all the time.”

Look, misha, let's be honest with each other. Maybe I'm misreading this thread, maybe I've been misreading it all along, but I missed the part where anybody here said or implied that it was okay to disrespect others and act like a jerk. The chief disagreement here I've had with you – I guess I can't speak for anybody else – is that I disagree when you say that the four comments you called out above were in any way jerkish. I think they were absolutely apt. We can agree to disagree if you want, but let's be clear on what we disagree about. The importance of civility is not in doubt on either side of this debate.
posted by koeselitz at 7:51 AM on April 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Reggie Knoble: " Honestly, ignore them. You must know a sexist joke is getting deleted right? So if people don't quote it then it will be like it never existed within a fairly short period of time.

If the same user keeps doing it then they will be sorted out by the mods one way or another.


The thing is, sometimes they don't. There are only five mods (mathowie rarely gets directly involved in threads) and they can't be everywhere.

Plus, (and in my opinion more importantly,) the mods' role is not to educate the userbase, but rather to keep threads moving smoothly. Censoring comments does that by excising contention. But a side effect of that is it also shuts down discussion. Deletion is a mod tool, but it's not the best one if you're trying to present another perspective to someone and instigate a discussion.

If one doesn't take advantage of teachable moments, then they become lost opportunities. The best way to counter the perpetuation of wrong information is to address it head on. So speaking out really is the best tool we have here.

Have the discussion you (a general you) profess to want, let people who are comfortable talking to newbs who want to discuss feminism 101 do it becuase there is nothing less likely to persuade someone in the way you want to than a feeling that a person is talking down to them through gritted teeth to "educate" them."

I agree with this. Tone matters. But as someone who has spoken up a number of times in the past, it definitely can be frustrating. How many battles for equality and acceptance must one fight before they become unnecessary? I'm a guy -- it's not as if I'm living the experience that women must, day in and day out. If I find it wearying, I can only imagine how they feel about it.
posted by zarq at 9:21 AM on April 24, 2012 [4 favorites]

In MeTa discussions about even WORSE threads, in which truly appalling comments have been allowed to stay up by the mods because of... well, they have their reasons... that has actually been the sort of consensus on how to proceed
Yeah I totally get that, I'm more responding to misha's contention that there's an unequal treatment of feminist vs. non-feminist jerkitude, pretty much by saying "actually they're treated very similarly, here is my evidence for my position."
posted by kavasa at 12:42 PM on April 24, 2012


Last week, Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote a blog entry titled, "Racism vs. the Race Card". In it, he discussed the modern trend of frequent and angry denunciations of black-against-white "racism". (I often mention that several recent surveys have found that a majority of Americans believe that racism against blacks by whites is no longer a serious problem; while, in contrast, a majority of Americans believe that racism against white by blacks is a serious problem.) Here is Coates's key paragraph:
The conservative movement doesn’t understand anti-racism as a value, only as a rhetorical pose. This is how you end up tarring the oldest integrationist group in the country (the NAACP) as racist. The slur has no real moral content to them. It’s all a game of who can embarrass who. If you don’t think racism is an actual force in the country, then you can only understand its invocation as a tactic.
I think this goes double, and for a large cross-section of Americans, not just conservatives, with regard to sexism. For many, many people, it is a core assumption that discussions of sexism and feminism are not at all sincerely about core moral values and injustice — rather, they're postures, a set of related tactics involved in power politics (whether the battleground be the polis or office).

If someone were to mention that the usual untruths and fallacies that often are mentioned by antisemites have made numerous appearances in a discussion of antisemitism, most or all people reading would understand this as a sincere expression of fatigue and frustration of having to frequently encounter these things in most every discussion of antisemitism. But when the same sentiment is expressed about the corresponding anti-feminist tropes, then it's received by many people as a hostile attempt to silence discussion. While the "bingo cards" quips are sarcastic, they are simply expressing that frustration. Why is it that every damn thread on sexism and feminism includes one or more people throwing out the same anti-feminist tropes? And why is it right or fair that all of these threads end up becoming all about a back-and-forth argument concerning those tropes and not about the topic at hand? If we are to follow the lead of those who claim that this is all about power and tactics, then we'd naturally assert that those contrary expressions are not, themselves, delivered in earnest but are, instead, derailing tactics intended to silence the entire discussion. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

In this thread are numerous examples of people characterizing the views and discussions of anti-sexists/feminists here and elsewhere as being nothing more than tactics in the sense that Coates is describing. They see all these discussions as "rhetorical poses" and not something that is of core, immediate, personal interest to the participants, nor involving their most fundamental moral values. So, of course, their attention is focused upon anything and everything they can find to buttress a tu quoque argument about how non-feminists are so horribly silenced and how men are so horribly treated.

I don't doubt that some minority of such persons are sincerely concerned about these things — there's a few issues, such as custody in family courts, where I agree that there's systemic, institutionalized injustice against men. So I can understand how some people might be completely in earnest in playing this sort of role in a discussion. But I don't think this describes the majority of such persons. The majority are doing exactly the same thing that Coates says conservatives have done when calling the NAACP "racist". In the vast majority of such arguments, there is no goddamn comparison between the sexism that anti-sexists are concerned about and the "sexism" that the dissidents are concerned about. In the case majority of cases, it's something absurd like a blog post about hairy chests. These false equivalencies would be risible if they weren't so poisonous.

If this post were unique or unusual, then I'd be much more inclined to view it as being in earnest. Mistaken, but earnest. As it is, given that misha frequently plays an anti-feminist role in threads here, I'm skeptical. That's she's female is of no great consequence. Some of the most outspoken and hateful sexists have been women. And a much, much larger number of women have acted as apologists for sexism. Misha plays that role on MeFi, her assurances here of being opposed to sexism and supporting egalitarianism notwithstanding. The very first thing out of the mouths of these anti-anti-racists is that they are deeply opposed to racism and that's why they're so concerned about the horrible acts committed against whites by blacks. Racism and sexism are as racism and sexism do, not what people claim are their motivations.

I'm no more interested in being civil to anti-anti-sexists than I am in being civil to anti-anti-racists. As a practical matter, there's many more of the former than there are of the latter and so they're everywhere, even on MetaFilter. That doesn't make them any less noxious. Indeed, it makes them more pernicious. They shouldn't be coddled, they should be vigorously opposed.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:40 PM on April 24, 2012 [15 favorites]


Ivan Fyodorovich just said most of the things I have wanted to say but been too frustrated and confused to articulate.

Also I think it would be a miracle that would make the world a better place if we could figure out how to shorthand "I dislike or even loathe this thing you like or even love, but I still like *you* fine. Attacking the thing isn't meant to attack you." It would take a lot of acrimony out of talking about "liking problematic things" and even regular old discussions of Crocs, French cuffs, and bra fitting.
posted by gingerest at 9:08 PM on April 24, 2012


That is an excellent insight that I hadn't consciously thought about and I thank you for articulating it so well, Ivan.

I wonder how we can apply that insight to subverting this tired trend, not just on MeFi but anywhere we encounter these types of rebuttals.
posted by flex at 8:05 AM on April 25, 2012


Ivan Fyodorovich: " I don't doubt that some minority of such persons are sincerely concerned about these things — there's a few issues, such as custody in family courts, where I agree that there's systemic, institutionalized injustice against men. So I can understand how some people might be completely in earnest in playing this sort of role in a discussion. But I don't think this describes the majority of such persons. The majority are doing exactly the same thing that Coates says conservatives have done when calling the NAACP "racist". In the vast majority of such arguments, there is no goddamn comparison between the sexism that anti-sexists are concerned about and the "sexism" that the dissidents are concerned about. In the case majority of cases, it's something absurd like a blog post about hairy chests. These false equivalencies would be risible if they weren't so poisonous."

So you're essentially saying that anti-feminists are trolling, then? That they do not believe in the positions they are arguing for? Isn't that what they say that feminists are doing by raising things like bingo cards? Deliberately distracting from the discussion in order to not address it?

I think you made very valid points about the way such arguments are used to silence opposition. But I also think it's clearly possible that men can feel strongly about perceived threats to their cultural power and rights, and that they might be completely oblivious to the sexism and inequality inherent in our society. They call it an "invisible" knapsack for a reason. People who have privilege are often unaware that they possess it, until it is pointed out to them. And then sometimes even not then. In addition, quite a few religions and many aspects of modern culture still promote the 'value' that a woman is supposed to be subservient and raise a family's children -- to play a secondary familial role to a male breadwinner. As with the various quirks of our languages, there are patriarchal assumptions built into all aspects of our lives. Countering them and establishing a mindset that values true equality requires more effort than simple dismissal. It demands a fundamental shift.

I would suggest not to assume ignorance is deliberate malice unless proven otherwise.
posted by zarq at 8:10 AM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


"They call it an 'invisible' knapsack for a reason. People who have privilege are often unaware that they possess it, until it is pointed out to them. And then sometimes even not then."

Usually not then.

It's a key quality of privilege that it's invisible to the privileged, and that this is the case is not in itself any sort of indictment of the privileged.

What is an indictment of a great many people, though, is what I think is a characteristic continued defensiveness and a willful refusal to recognize their own privilege once it has been, as you wrote, "pointed out to them". And that defensiveness drives a reactionary activism. It's not the people who are blithely unaware of their privilege who take anti-anti-sexist positions in public — it's the people who have an emotional investment in denying the privilege. Those are not people lacking an opportunity to becoming aware of it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:24 AM on April 25, 2012


Everybody has an emotional investment in their own opinions, Ivan, as their opinions are generally derived from their lived experience. "I told you your opinion was invalid because you're a member of a suspect class, and now you have the gall to disagree with me, as if what you think is the truth! The nerve!" No one's going to receive that well.
posted by Diablevert at 10:37 AM on April 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


"No one's going to receive that well."

Again, it's not about how one reacts the first time one is challenged in this way. It's what one does later. This is not about the universal human emotional investment in one's own opinions. It's about being continually, aggressively, and self-servingly unwilling to take seriously the possibility that one's moral assumptions are mistaken and that one's related behaviors are detrimental to others.

Think about how annoyed to the point of disgust many of us here are about how aggrieved and defensive Wall Street bankers are in their certainty that they are both virtuous and unfairly scapegoated. That's how I feel about defensive white people, about defensive men, about defensive Americans, about defensive heterosexuals, and others. I ran out of patience long ago with the moral obliviousness of these folk — not coincidentally because I'm one of them in almost every respect. If I can open my eyes to how people unlike me live, and listen to what they have to say, and let go of my emotional investment in my presumed blamelessness, then so can anyone else. They don't have to do it on day-one, or by the age of twenty-two, or overnight. They should, however, have managed it by their thirtieth public argument on the topic. That's not too much to ask.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:38 AM on April 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


"No one's going to receive that well."

Again, it's not about how one reacts the first time one is challenged in this way. It's what one does later.


And in some cases later is when they may have investigated the privledge aspects of the discussion but still disagree on the point in question but the response is still "Backpack!".
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:57 PM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


« Older PONY TIME: Can we have a "...  |  People are pasting urls as tex... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments