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Gender-Filter September 6, 2013 11:54 AM   Subscribe

Recent on the blue, there have been a perceived recent spate of posts which highlight gender inequalities. I decided I would try to approach these with an open mind, but am immediately drawn into the more contrary (and in my opinion, incorrect) comments.

It seems while my initial goal is to approach from a neutral position, In practice, I specifically seek out and fixate on the comments or sections of the post material where I feel justified in retaliating or are debate-worthy, see my contributions in this thread , and engaging in fighty, emotional "I'm right and seemypointdammit" comments.

I would appreciate any input from people on how to approach a thread that engages a immediate personal defensiveness and desire to argue, but with an open mind, to see other's points of view and broaden one's perspective.

In the referenced thread, I'm definitely in the minority, but it still really got my goat. I have a sneaking suspicion I'm not all that progressive as I thought, and I harbor some "old ideas," hence my immediate defensiveness, and this is something I'd like to try to correct.

I'm married with a daughter, my mom is a strong, woman figure, and to top it all off I'm one of two guys in my entire office, so I think being able to peruse threads like the recent gender inequality posts with an open mind would help my life in general and help to identify where I am being dishonest with myself, and what needs to be worked on.

Does anyone have any advice on how they were able to approach FPPs and the ensuing threads which historically had affected them emotionally (and perhaps irrationally) in order to be able to absorb new information and viewpoints?
posted by Debaser626 to MetaFilter-Related at 11:54 AM (360 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

Does anyone have any advice on how they were able to approach FPPs and the ensuing threads which historically had affected them emotionally (and perhaps irrationally) in order to be able to absorb new information and viewpoints?

Read, don't post. Or if not that, at least read before you post.

Assume people are speaking with the best intentions, e.g. from their direct experience, about some behaviors they've noticed from some people, and remember they're not talking about you.

Be ready to walk away and do something else for a while if you find your bp rising. Maybe watch this.
posted by phunniemee at 12:08 PM on September 6, 2013 [16 favorites]


A good rule might be that in threads about issues that are contentious for you, don't post. Or just don't post if you feel like you have to post. Use that energy to read and work to understand and empathize with those positions you feel you want to argue against. You might not end up agreeing, but it's a good exercise.

As a middle-class person consciously trying to fight my own classist issues, I try to do this in threads about class and socioeconomic status. I can feel that same defensiveness rise up sometimes, but I try to just chill, read, and realize that not every conversation needs my voice. We're not deciding on laws here, we're having a discussion; taking time out from participation won't have any real-world consequences of note. It is okay, and even good, to not participate in a conversation if you think it's particularly sensitive for you.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 12:14 PM on September 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


I would appreciate any input from people on how to approach a thread that engages a immediate personal defensiveness and desire to argue, but with an open mind, to see other's points of view and broaden one's perspective.

Man have I been there before. I've found that two things are pretty much crucial when you feel like you're throwing yourself into the ring to get ripped apart:

1. Try to keep yourself detached from the discussion as long as you possibly can. The more of a thread's arc you can take in before responding, the more aware you'll be of why people are reacting to you the way that they do.

2. Regardless of whether you feel you're in the right/wrong or the majority/minority, present your opinions with the awareness that you're offering a subjective or limited perspective on what's being discussed. If people have heard you say "Here's my perspective, I know it's just my perspective, I'm curious what other people think about this perspective", then they'll be more willing to address you as if you're a participant in a conversation and not an enemy to be engaged with.

The reason those threads get contentious is not that contrary opinions are offered, it's that people offer contrary opinions, other people say "well here is why there is a problem with that", and the first group of people double down and go "no I don't think there's something wrong after all". Assume that everybody in a contentious thread has had to write these arguments twelve thousand times before, and offer your stance in a way that will exasperate them the least. That includes acknowledging in advance that you may not understand all sides of the story and that you would genuinely like to know more.
posted by Rory Marinich at 12:14 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sexism, that's why.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:15 PM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Absolutely, just listen (read) and don't talk (post) for a while. This is what I do when I'm feeling defensive about, for example, racism topics as a white person. I recognize that my experience as a white person doesn't give me the same perspective or expertise on the topic of racism that a person of color/racialized identity will have. It's important for me, as someone interested in actually examining my own privilege and relative cultural power, to just listen and not assume that everything I have to say on the subject is of equal or greater value than the things people of color are going to say. I think a lot of the same parallels can be drawn to men posting in threads related to sexism.
posted by Ouisch at 12:15 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I almost feel, actually, like there is a rule that applies to Metafilter posts and Metafilter comments alike:

If you feel that PEOPLE NEED TO READ THIS, you shouldn't post it or should take 20 minutes away from the computer before you post it. Don't post outragefilter threads, don't post comments that are you shouting on the internet. Metafilter is about discussion, and wanting to shout about something means you might not be ready for discussion.

nb I didn't read most of the thread you're referencing because I'm tired of the whole nice guy discussion as a whole, and of thinking about how nice guy-ism manifests in relationships dudes have had with me. So I'm not aiming the above rule at you particularly.
posted by c'mon sea legs at 12:17 PM on September 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


First of all, it is great that you are seeking out advice on something you want to change about yourself. That makes me really happy, and it's a great first step.

I'm going to ramble a little bit about patterns I see in discussions about gender, specifically patterns I see in men. Some, all, or none of this may apply to you - feel free to pick and choose. I skimmed your contributions in the thread you linked but I haven't done any deeper digging or anything.

One thing that comes up a lot is that people read statements about "men" to be about "me." So something that's obviously a broad-brush statement - "men don't read body language" - is read as a personal accusation - "you don't read body language." Or, weirder, "Almost all sexual assault is committed by men" seems to be read as "you have committed or will commit sexual assault." This doesn't seem to happen as much when you flip the genders - women, reading "women are socialized to be non-confrontational" tend to nod and go "yes, that is totally a pattern even if I happen to be an outlier." Acting on that personalization tends to lead the conversation in super-weird me-me-me directions, and leaves everyone thinking everyone else is an asshole.

Similarly, people tend to react to statements that point out large, gender-based patterns as attacks to be defended against, not problems to be solved. So a discussion about dealing with chronic creepers within a social circle becomes about how a given behavior is or is not worthy of the term "creepy," rather than a discussion about how to be a good bystander or how to talk to your male friends about behavior that is making people uncomfortable. This is super-frustrating especially when it repeats itself over and over and over. A better way to approach this is "You are saying this is a problem, so let's take that as read and think about ways to handle the situation as you've described it." Or, even better, stop and think - really think - about ways situations you've been in might map to the description as given, even if you didn't notice it at the time. The most heartening discussions, for me, are when somebody says "Oh shit, you mean *that's* what that feels like from the other side?"

The last thing (although I may come back later) is this: you have fucked up in some sexist/racist/homophobic/transphobic ways in the past. You will again. Everyone has. That high-blood-pressure angry defensive feeling is often your subconscious recognizing a familiar pattern that means hey I fucked up. Sit with that feeling and explore it honestly, not at your keyboard but in your own head. You can't do better until you can listen to that feeling without trying to redirect it outward.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:18 PM on September 6, 2013 [124 favorites]


For starters, don't read usernames. Supposedly Matt designed the site with usernames below each comment so we'd encounter the content before its author. (True?) For me, that helps in some threads. I'm more inclined to react emotionally to a person than to an idea or a statement, and if I do react emotionally then it can color how I read subsequent comments. Sometimes I make an effort to ignore the bylines altogether. I reinforce this, if I'm going to reply to an idea, by avoiding second-person pronouns.

Somewhat contradictorily...I also ignore certain users. There are a few people in certain thread topics who show up for the fight. I know how they're going to engage with the discussion, and I know what reaction I'll have if I react, and I know that won't go anywhere productive. So I dismiss those people preemptively. For me, personally, this works well.

And then I try to remember we all mostly agree on the big points. Nobody deserves to starve or go homeless. Science does some cool stuff. Everybody should fall in love. Et cetera. I'm talking big, big issues. No matter how mired we get in throwing vile invectives about the reeeeally narrow issue of whether a male should express interest in a female when the two are alone inside a hotel's elevator after midnight, we agree on the big stuff. To de-escalate, one of us needs to remember that. And as Dr Phil would say, the responsibility for remembering that isn't 50/50, it's 100/100. It's my responsibility to do that in every single instance, whether the other person does or not.
posted by cribcage at 12:21 PM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


What is Metafilter about? Having a good time!

If you're going into one of those threads that you can tell in advance is going to push your buttons (whatever your buttons may be), you're going to have a bad time.

There's threads and posters I just avoid because the ensuing conversations are not fun for anyone whose goal is not to argue with anonymous strangers on the internet. That's not a good time.

It's all heat and no light in those kinds of threads. Just walk away.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:22 PM on September 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


This is a good question. One way that I have been able to listen to conversations, both on-line and in real-life, that were likely to upset me in some way has been to make a conscious decision to be an observer. And even more so, to be a detached observer. I remember one time years ago when my yearly meeting (an assembly of all the Quaker meetings in a particular region) was considering whether to send its usual annual contribution to a Quaker high school that had refused to let a lesbian teacher and her partner live in faculty housing. I knew going into the meeting to discuss it that it would be very heated and very painful, and I made a decision not to speak in the meeting. I prepared myself to be a listener, and when people said things that I might conceivably take personally ("lesbians aren't fit role models for high school students," or whatever), I would remind myself that they weren't really talking about me.

I find contentious conversations very stressful, and sometimes I choose not to be part of them. Other times I try to be present and listen. Sometimes I will respond later, often elsewhere--I might write about the issue on my blog, for instance, after I've thought about it for awhile, rather than jumping in when I'm having immediate, strong feelings.

Another way to participate, if you don't want to be silent, is to ask good-faith questions. I get a lot of questions about things in my life, like our choice to support our 6-year-old in living as a boy, that aren't actually questions.

So, a lot of, "Don't you think that..." Not a question. Actually an opinion disguised as a question.

"You are doing X, aren't you?" Again, not an actual question.

"I'm concerned that..." Not a question.

A good-faith question is structured as an actual question, is open-ended, and expresses a willingness to hear more about the other person's experiences and thoughts.

So, let me think of an example. I have a friend who is a Libertarian. If I wanted to learn more about why she is a Libertarian, I wouldn't start with, "You do know that Libertarianism is a bankrupt political philosophy, right?"

I might ask questions like:

"How long have you thought of yourself as a Libertarian?"

"What were your political views before that?"

"What appeals to you about Libertarianism?"

"Are there areas where you disagree with Libertarian principles, or make exceptions?"

And so on.

In that thread, in place of your second comment, you might have said, "I don't understand how a man thinking, Oh, no, I'm in the friendzone is sexist. What am I missing?" You might still not be persuaded by the answers you get, but you'll come off as a person interested in hearing others' viewpoints and capable of changing his mind, instead of someone with an entrenched opinion.

Finally, don't get too caught up in trying to be understood. Try, rather, to understand what other people are saying. I've talked about this before, but I have a "two comments and out" policy for internet discussions. I say my piece, and if someone responds in a way that suggests they missed my point, I will try one time to clarify. If they still respond by mis-reading me, I let it go. Either I'm not doing a good job of making my point, or they're never going to read what I have to say in good faith.

Whenever I violate this rule, I regret it. I come off badly, and I waste time arguing with someone who isn't interested in a real discussion, but only in somehow "winning" or making me look bad. I was trolled recently on a website where an article I wrote had been published, and I went one round beyond my Rule of Two, and boy howdy I regretted it.
posted by not that girl at 12:24 PM on September 6, 2013 [33 favorites]


Supposedly Matt designed the site with usernames below each comment so we'd encounter the content before its author. (True?)

The reason for this design is so that I can read something and think "haha hey great comment who said that!" and then find out that it's MCMikeNamara.
posted by phunniemee at 12:24 PM on September 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


how to approach a thread that engages a immediate personal defensiveness

A thing I try to do (and am not always very good at) is to think of a thing this friend of mine in college came up with, which is: when I'm feeling defensive, what is it that I'm really defending?

Sometimes I'm defending a legitimate but very personal thing, but doing it badly and I should just step out. Sometimes I'm defensive because someone made a political point that sounds like something I really disagree with but I don't know or can't really articulate why, exactly, and so maybe I should ask them real, non-snarky questions about what it is they believe so I'm sure I understand what it is they're trying to say.

Sometimes, after some thoughfulness and reflection, I discover that the thing I'm defending is actually kind of indefensible. I feel bad, but I also learn something.
posted by rtha at 12:28 PM on September 6, 2013 [13 favorites]


The reason for this design is so that I can read something and think "haha hey great comment who said that!" and then find out that it's MCMikeNamara.

I thought it was so I could read old threads and think "haha hey great comment who said that!" and then find out that it was me.

haha jk most of the time I only notice myself because past me has said something abominably obnoxious and stupid
posted by Rory Marinich at 12:29 PM on September 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Debaser626, sometimes I have had moments in threads like these where I've felt like, "Hey, not all guys do that, or "Hey, I've acted like that before and I had no sexist intentions" or "Hey, I actually feel pretty sorry for the guy in [hypothetical situation]" so I see where you're coming from.

The two things that have helped me are the two big themes of this thread so far:

1. Have the self-discipline not to post. I guess you just need to do what you need to do to make this happen. You could try logging out and viewing the site that way, maybe? Or you could compose a post in an email and email it to yourself, and after you read it over you could make a decision then about whether to post (hint: decide not to post it).

2. Really listen to what other people are saying, as if you actually want to understand them. This is a sort of first principle of productive conversation-having. It takes a lot of effort and energy and self-discipline, though, since there seems to be a natural predisposition to want to be heard instead of wanting to listen. This often manifests itself in verbal conversations as spending time that should be spent listening to think up your argument. Online it seems to manifest itself in increasingly ugly exchanges with strangers.
posted by MoonOrb at 12:39 PM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Given that you describe yourself as "married with a daughter, my mom is a strong, woman figure, and to top it all off I'm one of two guys in my entire office," why not A) take a break from these threads for awhile (say, for a week or a month or something) and use that time to B) ask the women in your own life about these specific issues? For example, have your daughter or your coworkers ever felt mansplained to? Does your mother or your wife regularly take certain safety precautions that you'd never think of?

And then, when they answer -- just listen. Even if what they say is confusing or maddening to you. Even if you're sure they're wrong or misunderstood something or are just being overly sensitive. When you feel defensive or angry -- that ugly, ashes in the mouth feeling that we all get -- remind yourself that they all have knowledge and experiences that you don't have. (Maybe in and of itself, that's hard for you to accept?) Try as hard as you can to sit with your discomfort and just listen (or at least say very little). Don't prepare rebuttals in your head while someone is talking. Enter into these conversations with the absolute promise to yourself and to them that this is not about starting an argument (or even necessarily about having a back-and-forth discussion just yet -- maybe that can come later), but solely as an exercise in finding out what you don't know. Ask and listen. That's all you have to do.

Then go about your life and take the time to absorb what they've said. Observe the world around you -- when you're out walking on the street in public, when you're at work, when you're running errands, etc. -- and see if anything they've said that might resonate. Does your perspective start to shift? Are there things that didn't make sense when your wife or coworker said them at first, but start to make sense now? Do you find yourself surprised or even uncomfortable with what you start to see -- both in the world, and in yourself?

I guess what I'm saying is: you're posting this question from a place of curiosity and good faith. Keep following those impulses. But maybe the place to follow them first is in your own life with the women you already have relationships with. Then see if that might change how you can approach the discussions here.
posted by scody at 12:41 PM on September 6, 2013 [47 favorites]


Does anyone have any advice on how they were able to approach FPPs and the ensuing threads which historically had affected them emotionally (and perhaps irrationally) in order to be able to absorb new information and viewpoints?

As mentioned above, aside from blatant insults, trolling, and derails, the comments that annoy you the most are usually going to be the ones that prick at your unexamined privileges. We all have them, we all take them for granted, we all fuck up big time by repeatedly ignoring them. It's like sticking a fork in an electrical socket -- how many times you get shocked is ultimately up to you.

Believe me, I understand how much the immediate reaction to comments that touch that particular nerve can feel like an angry voice exclaiming, "Unexamined privilege, me? I'm a progressive person, no way!" But that first flush of nascent outrage should, in a best-case scenario, lead to a little introspection and a lot of examination of your own underlying motives. It's not that we're all trying to medal in the Oppression Olympics, it's that we were all but universally born with certain advantages that other people do not have, and that their disadvantages are as inconceivable to us as our advantages are inconceivable to them.

Understand that you have oceans of unexamined privilege that will remain forever invisible to you, that you have taken these things for granted for a very long time (usually since birth), and that people expressing viewpoints that are contrary to yours are probably not doing it to hurt or spite you, but rather in order to shine some light on aspects of yourself you would prefer not to acknowledge. Everyone does this, some more adamantly than others, and you shouldn't feel like it's some kind of personal failing until you start consciously tuning out the voices of people you've managed to wound with your words and sentiments.

One of the most important lessons I've learned is that when someone challenges one of my most dearly-held beliefs, the first thing I need to do is run that deep-seated conviction to the goalpost. Am I still comfortable with it? Taking seemingly incontrovertible beliefs to their logically consistent ends will help you gain flexibility and perspective; as rtha notes, doing this will show you the bottom line truth of what you are advocating, in all its beautiful and/or horrifying glory. It will help you work toward understanding that some of the opinions you find objectionable are those that you subconsciously translate as threats to your ability to maintain a comparably privileged position without having to contemplate how people who don't have those privileges might feel about it. Examining and re-examining your own dogma is healthy and good. Change is good, personal growth is good (and often excruciatingly painful). I love it when someone chimes in on a thread with something like, "Wow, I've been thinking [x] all along, and you all have helped me realize that I have been completely blind to [y]. Sorry it took 100 reiterations of the same premise for everything to click into place, and thanks." It hurts, but it's worth it.

Try hard to remain patient and compassionate, try even more hard not to explode in a sparkly tirade of curses and insults when you are feeling infuriated or insulted, remember that we're all pretty much in this together, and above all, step away from the computer and take a jog around the block if you're coming down with a case of but-someone-is-wrong-on-the-internet-itis!
posted by divined by radio at 12:49 PM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


One thing that comes up a lot is that people read statements about "men" to be about "me." So something that's obviously a broad-brush statement - "men don't read body language" - is read as a personal accusation - "you don't read body language." Or, weirder, "Almost all sexual assault is committed by men" seems to be read as "you have committed or will commit sexual assault." This doesn't seem to happen as much when you flip the genders - women, reading "women are socialized to be non-confrontational" tend to nod and go "yes, that is totally a pattern even if I happen to be an outlier." Acting on that personalization tends to lead the conversation in super-weird me-me-me directions, and leaves everyone thinking everyone else is an asshole.

I want to buy 6 or 7 sock puppets just so I can favorite this more times.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:01 PM on September 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


For the record, I really appreciate people using the gray for this purpose (i.e. to figure out how to better work with the site/community.)
posted by Navelgazer at 1:04 PM on September 6, 2013 [25 favorites]


Oh, and as such, my general aspirational rule is simple: aim to always read the most generous interpretation into what other people write.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:05 PM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]



Does anyone have any advice on how they were able to approach FPPs and the ensuing threads which historically had affected them emotionally (and perhaps irrationally) in order to be able to absorb new information and viewpoints?


Either just read'em and see if there's anything you learn from them or just skip'em. Sometimes people are wrong on the internet and that's ok, you don't have to fix that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:06 PM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Does anyone have any advice on how they were able to approach FPPs and the ensuing threads which historically had affected them emotionally (and perhaps irrationally) in order to be able to absorb new information and viewpoints?

I'm actually going to address this as bigger than just the sexism issue, because I think that's a red herring. This is a big question that honestly we all could stand to learn from. It's one I'm still struggling with myself.

For me, the things that helped were:

Making friends with mefites or chatting with them
. It's one thing to read a long list of comments that seem to be, or are, attacking you, when you don't know who's involved. It's easy to think that their snarkiness or upsetness means they actually hate you or are gunning for you. I mean, sometimes maybe they are, but I don't think it's common. I actually am pleased when I see usernames I recognize, even when they're on opposite sides - it feels like there's someone at the table you know is decent, so they must have a reason for reacting the way they are. MeMail is also good for this.

Ignoring people. If someone seems like they're just commenting to push buttons, just ignore them and do not respond to any of their comments. This is hard, especially if they direct stuff at you. They may get irritated and try to up the ante. But somehow I think going in knowing, "Hey, I'm going to ignore all of BlahUser's posts" helps a bit - you know your expectations.

Consider that people use hyperbole when they're pissed.
One of the things that tends to get me hot is when people refer to a broad class of people, of which I am a member, in an insulting fashion. Whether it's gender, sexuality, color, creed, or political belief, it's a temptation to instant rage. Trying to remember that even though someone may be saying that everyone of your identity group has sex with donkeys, it doesn't mean they realize that they are also suggesting that you, as a part of that identity group, have sex with donkeys. It's a weird mental compartmentalization thing.

Intersperse your reading with video games. Thread getting hot? Switch over to an engrossing video game for half an hour before coming back. Check your facebook or your evil. Do not click on the page. It only exists to taunt you. Ignore its siren cry.
posted by corb at 1:07 PM on September 6, 2013 [13 favorites]


Nthing the "if you find yourself saying the same thing/clarifying multiple times, get out of the discussion" as a valuable rule. Not only does it keep me from getting into me-vs-Metafilter arguments, it also usually makes me write my thoughts out more carefully the first time so I don't have to clarify and repeat.

Also, my experience as a woman is that I have known guys who were very feminist/progressive in some ways and not so much (or almost anti-feminist or deliberately ignorant of their privilege and happy to take advantage of it) in others. It's not only possible to have a mixed set of values/instincts/etc., it's probably normal.

And I personally ignore threads that punch my buttons as best I can. Sometimes it means taking an unofficial site vacation for a while. Life is too short to drink bad beer.
posted by immlass at 1:09 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Acting on that personalization tends to lead the conversation in super-weird me-me-me directions, and leaves everyone thinking everyone else is an asshole.

1. This is a thing I see a lot (not by you, just in general) that I think can really tank threads. I have this problem too sometimes, and it's weird. Like, I'm not "normal" in a lot of the usual turns of that phrase but when someone says something shitty about librarians I'm all HEY WTF DUDE even though they are likely (probably not unless it's some stupid jab in Metatalk) just talking about their general experiences, not complaining about me. So, turning that discussion into me and my librarianing ways is 1) boring 2) not the point. This is what we mean by making a conversation "All about you" is asking a bunch of questions about something you don't get as if the goal of the thread is to educate or reform YOU. Because as much as I love our crew of nitpickers, they will fall for this and then that's what the thread becomes. Awful. No one likes it, not even the people engaging in it. Think: your dog humping your friend's leg. Both your friend and the dog are like "What is going on here?"

2. Also, realize that the people who may in general have the positions you respect and appreciate may not be correct about other things (in a "this is inconsistent" way or in a "this isn't a generally held belief even though they are saying it is" way). It's good to have non-MeFi places to talk about MeFi where you can discuss "Yeah I don't think that person is right about that..." without having to get into it in the thread. It's good for me when I'm reacting to something someone says to just chat with someone else off-site who is like "Yeah that thing they said wasn't right, even though I like and respect their opinions generally..." Sometimes there are things on which reasonable people disagree, sometimes people want a thing to be true so badly that they feel that saying it over and over again makes it true, sometimes their lived experience means that it has always been true for them and they either don't or can't generalize. Sometimes people are just wrong and it's okay for them to be wrong, for both more and less accurate definitions of "wrong"

It's totally okay to ask open-ended questions about this, but it's very important to be careful. Think

A. "Gee I've always liked your vegan recipes over on AskMe but you said here you eat honey. I'm having a conflict about eating honey because of $REASONS would you mind talking me through your thinking on this?" as opposed to
B. "I thought you were vegan, why are you eating HONEY since everyone knows blablablabla"

First option makes it clear you're curious not angry and that you presume the other person is intelligent and has thought about this and you'd like them to share that with you (note: not everyone likes this, especially if it's one of those 101 topics that maybe you should google). Second option is an attack, implies that you hold the truth about the situation, is blowhardish. Above all, if you are not trying to fight with someone, always try to phrase a discussion-starter giving them an out (to not engage) or a way to save face (if they did make a mistake) so everyone can come out of the discussion with dignity intact if at all possible. Fights are always avoidable, always.

3. Treat others the way you'd like to be treated. If you find others' biting sarcasm difficult to deal with when discussing tricky issues, don't employ it yourself just because you now think you're "right" Similarly, don't get too worried about other people's conversational affectations and don't nitpick them. Once you're asking people to define a thing you should be Googling, you are in too deep and you should go for a walk. Many people have a "three comments and out" policy when they are enmired in a discussion. It's not a bad idea.

4. You (general you) chose to be here. Others did too. You knew when you came here you'd be interacting with people who were different from you and interacting here is a choice, 100% of a choice. If you're constantly here and hating it, why do you stay? Everyone's got reasons they come to online communities and further reasons why they stay. Understanding your own motivations for interacting here can help you understand how to be your best self here. Setting your own expectations (and we-as-mods can help with that) is an important part of being able to enjoy your (totally voluntary) time here.

I often approach discussions about difficult topics not as if I'm trying to determine the truth of a subject--a thing that I think is nearly impossible to do-- but if I'm trying to understand how people understand or perceive a topic. I may disagree with a lot of people, but I consider it a win if I walk out of a conversation knowing more about how people feel about the issue than I did when I went in (in addition to all the other factoids I've collected along the way)
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:13 PM on September 6, 2013 [16 favorites]


Trying to remember that even though someone may be saying that everyone of your identity group has sex with donkeys

This reminds me, it's also really useful to realize that sometimes there is a gap, occasionally a wide one, between what you heard people saying and what they were actually saying. I know it's difficult to give people a good faith reading if you feel like they're antagonizing you personally, but sometimes asking people to rephrase "Would you mind saying that a different way, to me it sounded like you said that these people have sex with donkeys? Is that correct?" can save a lot of RARARARARA that winds up being over a miscommunication. I'll sometimes show up in a thread when people are getting rage-y about something they are paraphrasing that the "other side" did just to remind people that hearing stuff that way in their head is not the same as the other people actually having said it. You see this sort of thing go wrong a LOT in MetaTalk so it's worth knowing that you can fall prey to it as well.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:16 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


To be honest, one of the main reasons I found myself thinking about making a post to MetaTalk was when LobsterMitten called me out and halted the back and forth as a derail, I wanted to run to MetaTalk to complain about the unfair treatment I was receiving (the other participants weren't mentioned, and it wasn't a discussion of the semantics of how to cleverly spell cutie pie, blahblahblah), and then to point out the unfair portrayal of men as a sex on the front page recently. But then... well.. for what?

I was angry, and I asked myself why I was angry, and why I couldn't properly formulate a response in my head to the comments and content which angered me, and well... As concisely noted above, it was an indefensible argument, borne out of something that probably only makes sense to my emotional inner, 3-year old, and some things that I don't necessarily enjoy admitting to myself.

But now, I'm really glad I asked this question. There's a whole bunch of really, really good stuff here, on how to approach threads, life, and perspectives in general.

I don't expect there to be a magic "light switch" answer for me, but I guess the issue is that I possess self awareness, but not the emotional maturity to engage the self-awareness in a timely and/or appropriate manner. In fact, a more rational me posted something very similar to restless_nomad's "it's not me, just some other men" not too long ago.

I think I'll take scody's advice and talk to my wife about her experiences, (She works primarily in a male dominated law enforcement field, so I'm sure she has some perspective galore), try to stay silent and open in threads which start get my goat in the future, avoid them if needed and/or failing that step away, watch the bunny video, and bookmark this thread and the other responses and those to come for additional insight.

on preview: Do not click on the page. It only exists to taunt you. Ignore its siren cry. Too true. I must've closed and opened my browser a half dozen times before all the previous mod comments in the vein of "take a walk, it's a nice day outside' entered my head and I broke away.
posted by Debaser626 at 1:19 PM on September 6, 2013 [34 favorites]


Check your facebook or your evil.

I am dying to know if this is a typo or a "taters" thing or what.
posted by rtha at 1:19 PM on September 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


yeah i just realized if i have to keep clarifying it's time to step out, from another thread, thanks to reading this thread. i appreciate this thread and the advice y'all are giving
posted by titus n. owl at 1:22 PM on September 6, 2013


I grew up in The Deep South. I married a wonderfully not racist man. He pursued a military career and I got to live in different places. Early in the marriage, he told my father he didn't like racist jokes. After that, my father never told them to me again either. I did not realize how racist my parents and my assumptions were until I had been married for a while.

A wonderful experience for me was talking in a college class about how I realized as an adult that I probably could not have dated a black boy as a teen "without there being a lynching." A black woman reacted strongly to that. She stood up and angrily told me "Yeah, and it might have been you. A lot of black families would not have accepted you either." I did not really feel threatened. I was glad for the experience, for this glimpse into how angry blacks are about how they get treated -- and rightly so. But I had already done a lot of therapy and was thus inclined to view the incident as a therapeutic breathe of fresh air for both of us. Most people likely would have felt personally threatened.

Like the black woman in my class, a lot of women are very angry, and justifiably so, because being female means you are a second class citizen and you have probably endured some rather ugly things merely because you are female. Metafilter is a large site that is not simply male dominated. It has a fairly unusual culture in comparison to other internet communities I have participated in. If you are male, the culture here may be utterly alien to anything else you have known. Here, you will see expressed the suppressed rage that so many women quietly live with. That is highly likely to get your goat and feel personally threatening. It can also cause discussion to skew in a way that strikes me as sometimes antimale.

Someone once said something like "Real justice means justice for both sides." People who are angry and hurt are often not ready to think about what justice for both sides would look like. They often lash out in a manner that seems vindictive. I think sexism hurts both men and women but I think women have definitely suffered more. I think you need to realize that some of your feelings as a man are legitimate and some are kind of abusive assumptions rooted in male privilege. It will take time to sort out which is which. In the mean time, you are going to be highly prone to really stepping in it on certain subjects.

You might try keeping a journal and privately examining why you react so strongly to some things. Try to sort the wheat from the chafe for a time. Then plan to defend the male side somewhere down the road, after you can more clearly articulate why "reverse sexism" is still sexism...or whatever coclusion you draw that is not just some kneejerk defensive reaction. Other people being angry and hurt mostly is not about you. You being angry and hurt is probably mostly not about them either.

Take care.
posted by Michele in California at 1:22 PM on September 6, 2013 [25 favorites]


I have a sneaking suspicion I'm not all that progressive as I thought, and I harbor some "old ideas," hence my immediate defensiveness, and this is something I'd like to try to correct.

I'm married with a daughter, my mom is a strong, woman figure, and to top it all off I'm one of two guys in my entire office, so I think being able to peruse threads like the recent gender inequality posts with an open mind would help my life in general and help to identify where I am being dishonest with myself, and what needs to be worked on.

Does anyone have any advice on how they were able to approach FPPs and the ensuing threads which historically had affected them emotionally (and perhaps irrationally) in order to be able to absorb new information and viewpoints?


Hi. I don't know you from some stranger on the street. I have no idea what ideas you espouse or not. I'm just here to tell you that just because a bunch of people on the internet think *one thing* doesn't mean you are wrong, in your opinions.

Good job having an open mind, and wanting to engage in self-improvement. But with the way you present women in your life, it doesn't seem like you're some type of sexist dude who is trying to uphold the patriarchy (purposely).

Sniff before you drink your drink, it may be laced with internet.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:29 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, another thing I thought of - when you are saying something, try to make "I" statements. If what you want to say is "[Group of people] do/experience/act blah blah blah" but what you actually mean is "In my experience as a member of/in interaction with [people of some shared traits], blah blah my experience." It doesn't always work, in the sense that some people will misread. There's someone in that thread who's doing a fair amount of "women are like this and men are like that" but when questioned a little more closely rephrases to the "In my experience" thing.
posted by rtha at 1:30 PM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


A. "Gee I've always liked your vegan recipes over on AskMe but you said here you eat honey. I'm having a conflict about eating honey because of $REASONS would you mind talking me through your thinking on this?" as opposed to
B. "I thought you were vegan, why are you eating HONEY since everyone knows blablablabla"

First option makes it clear you're curious not angry and that you presume the other person is intelligent and has thought about this and you'd like them to share that with you (note: not everyone likes this, especially if it's one of those 101 topics that maybe you should google). Second option is an attack, implies that you hold the truth about the situation, is blowhardish. Above all, if you are not trying to fight with someone, always try to phrase a discussion-starter giving them an out (to not engage) or a way to save face (if they did make a mistake) so everyone can come out of the discussion with dignity intact if at all possible. Fights are always avoidable, always.


Oh, that is so fucking good. Props.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:35 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Good job having an open mind, and wanting to engage in self-improvement. But with the way you present women in your life, it doesn't seem like you're some type of sexist dude who is trying to uphold the patriarchy (purposely).

I just want to point out that people who are otherwise nice, good, decent, non-sexist (or non-racist or whatever) people often unintentionally reinforce patriarchy or other oppressive systems. I don't think it just just an artifact of internet culture to be sensitive to these things. I think it is emotionally gratifying to believe that if one's intent is wholesome then one cannot possibly be x-ist, but that is unfortunately not true. The question isn't so much whether your intent or your internal life is x-ist, but whether your actions and words hurt people, uphold or promote oppressive ideas, regardless of your pure intent or goodness as a human being.
posted by Ouisch at 1:45 PM on September 6, 2013 [13 favorites]


It's hard to keep your cool when people say "[Group you are part of] does [this bad thing]." Most posters don't, and can't. It's absolutely standard for MeFites to angrily say "You realize when you talk about [group], you're talking about *me*, a member of this community." And the certainly will not accept "No, I was talking about other members of the group, not you." And your'e quite right that saying "Women do ______" would be taken much more poorly by women than men are expected to take "Men do _______."

It's a double-standard. Life is full of them! They aren't going away. In the real world outside of Metafilter, women have to deal with a lot of shitty double standards. Just remember that Metafilter, like life, is neither logical nor fair. I's got blind spots, unexamined assumptions, cliques and claques, and illogical taboos. Like every other community that has ever existed. But it's also not the world, nor is it the internet, nor is it The Left. It's a smallish online community, populated by a bunch of people. That's all. The fact that this particular community made of these particular people have double standards regarding a lot of issues is no more upsetting or surprising than any other group doing the same.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 1:49 PM on September 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


Speaking only for me, some of the most irritating fights that I've been involved in seem to really be about splitting hairs - I objected to some person's opinion or flip remark about some facet of something, even if I agreed with the general opinion. That's always something to be careful of.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:50 PM on September 6, 2013


I think it is emotionally gratifying to believe that if one's intent is wholesome then one cannot possibly be x-ist, but that is unfortunately not true.

This is totally a true statement. It's also, I think, sometimes harder for people who genuinely want to be good, egalitarian, open-minded people to engage in challenging conversations than for people who really do believe that poor/black/female/queer people are not as good as they are and don't deserve equal treatment. And even the latter are usually genuinely outraged if someone suggests they're x-ist.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:51 PM on September 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


I think it is emotionally gratifying to believe that if one's intent is wholesome then one cannot possibly be x-ist, but that is unfortunately not true.

While that's true, we can all benefit from giving people the benefit of the doubt. Instead of getting the rage on in the middle of the thread oftentimes a private email is a good idea. That allows the person to self correct either by contacting the mods or by re-entering the thread to say that they said something awkwardly.

We all get it wrong sometimes. If it's a one-off thing, then a private memail is the way to move toward resolution.
posted by 26.2 at 1:57 PM on September 6, 2013


I just want to point out that people who are otherwise nice, good, decent, non-sexist (or non-racist or whatever) people often unintentionally reinforce patriarchy or other oppressive systems.

Dude, the OP seems genuinely open to new ideas, but it also seems like he's kinda not feeling good. I'm just trying to raise his spirits.

Yeah, you're right...but lets not turn this OP into the dude who gives to a women's scholarship fund but goes out and hires women based on ass size. He seems nice and genuine, and is having a hard time with coming to terms with the fact that he may not be a bad guy because he's part of a group that has total douchebags.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:00 PM on September 6, 2013


Dude, the OP seems genuinely open to new ideas, but it also seems like he's kinda not feeling good. I'm just trying to raise his spirits.

This would be one of those cases where a general statement gets turned into a personal accusation.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:01 PM on September 6, 2013 [16 favorites]


First thing I'd say is that frantic, burning demand that they see your point? That's exactly how they feel about their point.

Second thing I'd say is roaring in to explain HEY WAIT THAT ISN'T SEXIST EXCUSE ME is attacking someone's deeply held personal experience and you may be able to make all the Robert's Rules of Order technically correct points you want, but you're attacking an emotional experience with logic and most people are going to go "What a dick" rather than "Hmmm, that man condescendingly explaining to me how mansplaining isn't a thing at all totally made me realize mansplaining isn't a thing at all."

And please remember, as a man, you're under an entire societal paradigm that demands you know everything. How many times has the mechanic walked up to you and gone "Well, it looks like your wham jam is flubbing on the wigwag" and you nodded solemnly and asked if he could fix it rather than admit you have no idea what he's talking about? Or your plumber or your general contractor or whatever would qualify as "a field you know nothing in that you have to talk to professionals about." If you're like most of us, it happens pretty often.

But you don't, that's the thing. I don't know anything about you, but there are a ton of experiences you don't have. Maybe you haven't fly-fished in rural Alaska, but if you come barging into a thread going HEY WAIT A SECOND LET ME TELL YOU I KNOW A THING OR TWO ABOUT FISHING BECAUSE I BUY ONE OF THOSE WAL-MART KITS EVERY SUMMER WHEN WE GO TO THE BEACH AND…, you're going to look like a doofus.

Or if you're talking about interactions with the police and harrumph "Well, they've never been anything but respectful to ME! You must've done something!", that's probably because you've never been a poor black kid in a nice car (or any car) after dark. Doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

Or, to take something less emotionally charged, let's talk barber shops since I was in one today (of the not-a-salon sort where dudes hang out and shoot the shit and get haircuts from salty-mouthed old men). If you were talking about the best place to get a shave and haircut and a woman came charging in to go "HEY I don't know about where YOU go internet crazy man, but where I go they don't put a hot towel on my face OR rub a dangerously sharp piece of metal against my cheeks…!" would you go "Hmm, yes, an excellent point that totally invalidates my experience?"
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 2:03 PM on September 6, 2013 [13 favorites]


This would be one of those cases where a general statement gets turned into a personal accusation.

Huh? (genuinely)
posted by hal_c_on at 2:03 PM on September 6, 2013


I often approach discussions about difficult topics not as if I'm trying to determine the truth of a subject--a thing that I think is nearly impossible to do-- but if I'm trying to understand how people understand or perceive a topic.

This is so important.
posted by knapah at 2:03 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Speaking only for me, some of the most irritating fights that I've been involved in seem to really be about splitting hairs - I objected to some person's opinion or flip remark about some facet of something, even if I agreed with the general opinion.

Seconded. I notice this a lot in the threads on gender issues, where rules-lawyering everything to within an inch of its life seems to be the favorite tactic of the handful of guys in here who Just Don't Get It. It really comes across as "this guy is trying to look for a loophole to prove how he's actually right and everyone else is wrong" and it's infuriating.

lets not turn this OP into the dude who gives to a women's scholarship fund but goes out and hires women based on ass size.

I'm not seeing how that's happened in here as such, but it's a good thing to keep in mind as something to avoid, yes.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:05 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Huh? (genuinely)

Because you seemed to interpret that comment as aimed at the OP in order to make him feel bad rather than a general "here is a thing that a lot or all of us fall into sometimes" statement.
posted by rtha at 2:09 PM on September 6, 2013


It's hard to keep your cool when people say "[Group you are part of] does [this bad thing]." Most posters don't, and can't. It's absolutely standard for MeFites to angrily say "You realize when you talk about [group], you're talking about *me*, a member of this community."

Actually, that seems like a totally valid tack. So valid that I'm considering using it, in exactly those words, when someone does something like that.

What does everyone else think? Or would that be viewed as too confrontational?
posted by corb at 2:09 PM on September 6, 2013


At least, that's my interpretation.
posted by rtha at 2:09 PM on September 6, 2013


What does everyone else think? Or would that be viewed as too confrontational?

I think it is always unproductive, and often corrosive and hostile, to tell somebody what they said. It's totally valid to tell somebody what you heard; but that's not just different phrasing, it's a different statement altogether.
posted by cribcage at 2:15 PM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Huh? (genuinely)

Most of the folks in here are talking about conversational patterns that they see in general. Ouisch was pointing out a logical flaw in the "but I'm a nice person" defense, a commonly-used defense in these sorts of situations and one which you were specifically invoking. Your response was "Hey don't accuse this guy of such horrible things, he seems nice." No one was accusing him of anything. We're talking about patterns, not people.

What does everyone else think? Or would that be viewed as too confrontational?

Take out "angrily" (which helps nothing) and it's a reasonable tactic some of the time. But it is really easy to fall into the "talking about a group = talking about me personally" fallacy there, too. It's really important to consider the actual context and honestly try to figure out if there's a pattern that people are seeing that may not apply to you, personally, or if it's a stereotype with little or no basis in reality.

I use that a lot in trans threads recently, because there are people who have never met a trans person and know fuckall about them - saying "there are actual trans people here and you need to behave as if they're real and have feelings" heads off a lot of maybe-unintentional nastiness. But I can't think of very many other specific instances where that response makes a ton of sense.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:16 PM on September 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


We're talking about patterns, not people.

Why? The OP specifically says: Does anyone have any advice on how they were able to approach FPPs and the ensuing threads which historically had affected them emotionally (and perhaps irrationally) in order to be able to absorb new information and viewpoints?

From my viewpoint, he may totally think "oh shit, they're talking about me"...especially since the bit that was referenced in the post was me talking ABOUT the OP".

But thanks. I'll be mindful of that...everyone should be.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:21 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Admiral Haddock: What is Metafilter about?

To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.

Admiral Haddock: You weren't listening to my question, were you?

No, not really. Sorry.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:26 PM on September 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


This would be one of those cases where a general statement gets turned into a personal accusation.

To go on about this, one reason people like me interpret general statements like this (or heck, me, I have done this) is that in offline contexts I have seen this occur. That is, I have both used and seen general statements used as a form of attack. It is something we should aspire to avoid doing.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:26 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you really want to read a post that you realize is (or will) upset you, log off. Keep reading, but now you can't quickly insert yourself into the discussion. Keep reading, and if your hackles are all up, go do something else. Think on the topic if you like, but as long as you're not plotting your scathing retorts.

Come back to the thread, still logged out, and see if 1) the comments that bothered you before still bother you, and if so 2) see if anyone has discussed those points that bother you. Often I feel the need to reply to a lively thread, but realize that the particular topic that bothered me received a great response from someone already, and I have nothing to add.

To be honest, I have personally come to realize there are threads that are nothing but strife for me, and I glance at them and read something else. It took me a while to get (mostly) comfortable with the idea that I don't have to defend my ideals, because they are not solely my ideals, and/or they are incorrect notions that were based on an incomplete understanding of a topic or situation. Or I realize that there's enough GRARRRRR in the thread already, and my words would only be additional noise.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:31 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


That is, I have both used and seen general statements used as a form of attack.

Yes, that is a really good point and brings up something else that always bears repeating: Tone doesn't always carry well over text.

This means that sarcasm almost always backfires, because not everyone reads it as sarcasm. And sometimes earnest statements get read sarcastically, and that ends badly, too. And certainly that thing you can do in person where you say "Sometimes I think doing x is a bad idea" in the most innocent possible tone of voice but you glance pointedly at whoever just did x is something a) you can't do on the internet but b) sometimes people will think you were doing anyway.

So in general, when you're composing a reply, reread what you're replying to in a completely neutral tone and see if it changes your reaction. Assuming people are not being sarcastic or arch is part of assuming good faith. And not being sarcastic or arch in a heated discussion is part of acting in good faith.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:32 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't think of very many other specific instances where that response makes a ton of sense.

In the supeovergeneralization-type threads where there is new stupid legislation people are talking about and some people are like "Fuck Texas/Kansas/Alabama/Arizona" and it's useful to say "Hey I'm a person from that state and let me tell you how it looks from our end..."

However, it's tricky because when you step out to say "Hey you're attacking ME when you say that...." it's still basically making a thread about you which is rarely constructive. There are a few cases where that [attack] may be the desired effect (intentionally or sort of sidewaysedly) or people don't care if you feel bad. In a lot of cases it's incidental, that the comment wasn't about you originally and even if you get offended by it because you feel like it was about you it may still not be about you. Many people on the internet get offended sort of for other people, and having angry conversations about how other people might or might not care about things is a weird puppet show dynamic that is not helpful.

It's good to keep from making lazy generalized swipes at types of people. It's usually better, when responding to this type of thing, to just start that discussion with "Let me tell you how it looks to me..." or something similar and not "You're talking about me and I resent the fuck out of what you are saying...." I have good luck with the "You may not realize when you say it that way it makes it sound to me like what you are saying is ________ " formation and then people can have an opportunity to be really clear about what they mean so there's not that ambiguousness hanging there.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:33 PM on September 6, 2013 [5 favorites]



I use that a lot in trans threads recently, because there are people who have never met a trans person and know fuckall about them - saying "there are actual trans people here and you need to behave as if they're real and have feelings" heads off a lot of maybe-unintentional nastiness. But I can't think of very many other specific instances where that response makes a ton of sense.

Well, that's kind of what I mean: The habit of posters of saying "Men do x", and then, when a man says "No I don't," reply "Why are you taking it personally? You should just listen to what people think about people like you!" That's a response no one would accept without massive grar if the noun were anything other than "men." But an online community with double standards is hardly the end of the world, nor a symptom of creeping tyranny. It's just a community.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 2:37 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't understand the comparison you're making at all. It just sounds to me like you're demonstrating the first point I made in the thread.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:42 PM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Screw this, ima go check my evil.
posted by Mister_A at 2:42 PM on September 6, 2013 [13 favorites]


In the supeovergeneralization-type threads where there is new stupid legislation people are talking about and some people are like "Fuck Texas/Kansas/Alabama/Arizona" and it's useful to say "Hey I'm a person from that state and let me tell you how it looks from our end..."

However, it's tricky because when you step out to say "Hey you're attacking ME when you say that...." it's still basically making a thread about you which is rarely constructive.


As a person living in Georgia, I like to point out that the city I live in is strongly Democratic, along with several other places in the state. It's good to remind people that any state/country or city is not a monolithic block of people who think the same way.

I don't understand the comparison you're making at all. It just sounds to me like you're demonstrating the first point I made in the thread.

Fuzzybastard's point is good one to make though, as the lack of the lack of a qualifying descriptor when people say "men" or "all men" can be easily be interoperated as literally being all men. Perhaps it shouldn't be, but people are far from flawless. It's probably what irrigates some people about the term mansplaining.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:47 PM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


corb: Check your facebook or your evil.

rtha: I am dying to know if this is a typo or a "taters" thing or what.

I took "evil" to be used in place of "vice," nothing more wicked or intriguing.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:51 PM on September 6, 2013


corb: Check your facebook or your evil.

rtha: I am dying to know if this is a typo or a "taters" thing or what.


Well, I meant to say email. But you know, if you're the type that has mad scientist experiments in dungeons, you should probably check on that too. Not, you know, like I do anything like that or anything. *shifty eyes*
posted by corb at 2:54 PM on September 6, 2013 [20 favorites]


I have found that my discussions online on contentious topics started going much better when I tried as much as possible to avoid sarcasm and double negatives (of which I am very fond). I work to explain my points as straightforwardly as possible (though I sometimes slip up). With that, the "two comments and out" on any particular point becomes easier, because it's easier to assume that other readers probably understood my point and there's no point repeating the same thing over and over.

When I do feel defensive as a majority-participant in a discussion about minority concerns, I tend to try to identify my objection in my head -- basically, think out how I would respond in a comment -- and then think through what the likely response would be. That tends to lead to one of three outcomes:

* Because I like participating in high-quality discussions, I tend to assume the response would be logical and well-thought-out; this internal conversation has now shown me the flaws in my reasoning and I may not need to make the comment at all.

* If the internal debate has left me convinced that the discussion participants are ignoring an aspect of majority-culture behavior/beliefs that magically explains away their annoyance, hurt, or anger, I remind myself that they also live in majority culture and are competent intelligent adults, so they've probably already understood whatever aspect of majority culture I'm about to contribute and yet understanding it has not, in fact, erased their annoyance, hurt, and anger. My re-explaining something they already understand and have discarded is not helpful, and so I don't comment. (Ignoring this tends to be where the "mansplaining" or "whitesplaining" or "cissplaining" accusations come in.)

* If the internal debate has left me confused about a certain point, then I ask a straightforward clarifying question to make sure I'm understanding what was said. If I get a response, and I still don't agree, I go back to step one and imagine the next round of conversation.

I also remind myself that it's perfectly ok to belong to a group of people that sucks, especially when there's nothing you can do about it. I'm white. White people, in a lot of ways, suck. I can't stop being white, but I can admit that white people have done a lot of shitty things, that I feel bad about that, and that it's my responsibility to be as non-shitty as possible -- which is only possible if I'm willing to admit that white people do shitty things.

As an example, I was doing anti-casino petition work, and I asked a man to sign. It turned out he was Native American and took my anti-casino stance as an anti-Indian stance, so he fired back a question about why we weren't trying to regulate the whites instead. My immediate response was defensiveness (because I'm one of the good ones!), but I took a beat and realized, "Hell, yes, white people have been and are HORRIBLE to Indians and my anti-racism doesn't magically make that go away." So we had a tense half-second, and then I sighed and said (non-sarcastically), "Yeah, the world would probably be better off with us regulated more, wouldn't it?" And he laughed, and we had a good conversation, and it turned out he was against the casinos for the same reasons I am, and we parted with smiles. And that actual pleasant exchange of real beliefs wouldn't have happened if I had chosen to identify more with my racial identity rather than trying to honestly understand the justified anger of the man in front of me.
posted by jaguar at 2:55 PM on September 6, 2013 [15 favorites]


Fuzzybastard's point is good one to make though, as the lack of the lack of a qualifying descriptor when people say "men" or "all men" can be easily be interoperated as literally being all men.

That is literally the first thing I said in the thread, yes.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:55 PM on September 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: Fuzzybastard's point is good one to make though, as the lack of the lack of a qualifying descriptor when people say "men" or "all men" can be easily be interoperated as literally being all men. Perhaps it shouldn't be, but people are far from flawless. It's probably what irrigates some people about the term mansplaining.

I think this is one of things, along with disclaimers about "this is only my opinion," or "I am speaking for myself" that could be mentioned, but isn't really necessary. Thinking for a moment, most people would agree that no one believes ALL men eat live bats or ALL government employees are heartless red-tape machines, but when stating "men eat live bats" or "government employees live only to create more bureaucratic hold-ups" it's understood that these broad brushes aren't all-encompassing. Do we really need to insert "some" or "many" before any population, gender, or other broad group term?
posted by filthy light thief at 3:06 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


In the first comment in this thread, phunniemee said "Assume people are speaking with the best intentions" and I thought "this is one of the RARE places on the Internet with active comments that you can say that for". Congratulations, Metafilter. There are a few specific people here who are clearly suspect so I try to keep certain usernames in mind and when I find them I try to just disregard them, delete them in my mind if MeFi doesn't... unless I catch myself agreeing with one of them, in which case I give some serious reconsideration to my opinion...

corb: Check your facebook or your evil.
I've deleted my Facebook account. My Evil account is taking a lot more work.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:08 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's hard to keep your cool when people say "[Group you are part of] does [this bad thing]." Most posters don't, and can't. It's absolutely standard for MeFites to angrily say "You realize when you talk about [group], you're talking about *me*, a member of this community."

Actually, that seems like a totally valid tack. So valid that I'm considering using it, in exactly those words, when someone does something like that.

What does everyone else think? Or would that be viewed as too confrontational?


Hi corb,

You actually recently told me a gentler version of that. You said you thought you were one of the women I was talking about. I responded "no, not likely" in essence.

Internet discussions are kind of like the six blind men and the elephant, but in reverse. I say "elephants are bad" and the guy who owns a spear goes "elephant tusks are kind of like spears. Why are you saying my spear is bad??? (grar)" The guy who owns an orchard and that's how he makes his living says "Elephant legs are kind of like tree trunks. Why are you vilifying me for selling apples?? I have a family to feed!!(grar)" And so on.

I seem to bring that out in people more than average. I find I cannot tell jokes without bending over backwards to signal that it is intended as lighthearted humor and not judgement. It causes me a lot of social problems, which I frankly resent because it is often in a context where several other people were cracking jokes and that was fine but I am not allowed to join in the fun because people feel Judged if I do it. I have struggled with that for years and I still do not have a solution. I am mentioning that to say I am keenly aware of the way people mentally match any part of a description to themselves, often very inaccurately, and feel Judged because of the degree to which people react strongly to me personally. They are almost always wrong about my intent but it still gets me attacked by people who feel that I "started it." They feel judged and attacked, then I feel wrongly accused and unfairly excluded from fun and games and held to a different standard. Everything goes to hell.

Not to say you shouldn't communicate how the statement feels to you but coming from a place of accusation typically goes badly. I have been on the recieving end of such accusations (and, no, I don't mean from you) and it is near impossible to get past being wrongly accused of something I have not done. That is something to keep in mind if you really want to keep lines of communication open and get people to hear your side.
posted by Michele in California at 3:14 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess my only request to the community is that people _slow_down_. If you want to respond to a comment, don't just read the words. Take a moment to think about what that person's actually saying. With contentious topics and fast-moving threads, it's tempting to just go with your first instinct and fire off a quick response. I know because I've made that mistake. However, if you're interested in actually having a conversation and persuading somebody of your viewpoint, it helps to see them as a conversation partner, not some adversary whose words are there to be picked apart until you've found some kind of "gotcha".

I dunno, I used to be really into arguing with people online. I think I've been better at avoiding that recently. One thing that's inspired me to change my ways is that, if all you're doing is looking for a "gotcha" or making some kind of angry, snarky point, you're not going to convince anyone of anything. You'll get plenty of "favorites" from people who already agree with you, but you're not actually going to accomplish anything.
posted by evil otto at 3:18 PM on September 6, 2013


restless_nomad: I don't think that's quite the same as what you said. Your first statement was:

One thing that comes up a lot is that people read statements about "men" to be about "me." So something that's obviously a broad-brush statement - "men don't read body language" - is read as a personal accusation - "you don't read body language." Or, weirder, "Almost all sexual assault is committed by men" seems to be read as "you have committed or will commit sexual assault." This doesn't seem to happen as much when you flip the genders - women, reading "women are socialized to be non-confrontational" tend to nod and go "yes, that is totally a pattern even if I happen to be an outlier."

I don't think "Women are socialized to be non-confrontational" is the same kind of statement as "Men don't read body language."

If you said "Men are socialized to ignore body language," most men would probably agree, even if they regarded themselves as outliers. But if your sentence was "Women are non-confrontational," I think you'd find a lot of women getting quite confrontational about such a blanket assertion

There's a difference between using a group descriptor as an object or a subject, and the difference is the ascribing of intentionality. When you ascribe those things to someone who doesn't have them, you get pushback. I think people should be very careful about saying "[Group] [verb]s," because that really is a statement that denies the existence of members of that group who don't [verb].

I think this is quite clear to people when one talks about the group they identify with, but gets fuzzy when talking about others. When one is speaking, there seems to be no difference between saying "Most sexual assaults are committed by men" and "Men commit sexual assault all the time." But they are different, and substituting any other noun would, I think, make that clear.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 3:22 PM on September 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


Fuzzybastard's point is good one to make though, as the lack of the lack of a qualifying descriptor when people say "men" or "all men" can be easily be interoperated as literally being all men.

Only by people who are really trying to interpret that way. It's like the example I've used a few times before: I have never heard a driver react to a "stop drunk driving" campaign with an angry assertion that they only drive sober, so the whole campaign is a general attack on drivers. So people clearly are able to see that general statements do not refer to them particularly in many cases.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:24 PM on September 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


My defensive techniques in threads I find contentious and GRAR_making are (some already mentioned upthread):

1) Try and assume the best. I don't always succeed, but the effort makes me somewhat kinder, which helps.

2) If I find myself commenting angrily, I try to not hit post and go do something. This is almost always the right decision. Again, I don't always succed, but that's my goal.

3) After several exchanges, especially if I feel myself heating up, I begin asking myself "will this comment help at all?" Usually, the answer is no. That's a good time to do the dishes or clean the cat box.

4) When I get really mad and want to make a MeTa, I contact the mods and say "would this be good?" "Am I making sense?" They usually say "What do you hope to achieve?" and, if I can't answer it, I don't post the MeTa.

I'm not the member I want to be, but I am closer to my goal than I might be, so there is hope.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:29 PM on September 6, 2013


It's hard to keep your cool when people say "[Group you are part of] does [this bad thing]."

It's also hard to keep your cool when you say "I have experienced men doing [thing]" and the response right out of the gate is "I am a man and I don't do [thing], therefore you have misinterpreted your own experience."
posted by rtha at 3:31 PM on September 6, 2013 [43 favorites]


Note: Everyone needs to check their evil.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:36 PM on September 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


Does anyone have any advice on how they were able to approach FPPs and the ensuing threads which historically had affected them emotionally (and perhaps irrationally) in order to be able to absorb new information and viewpoints?

After many years of refusing to do so (for a number of reasons, including not liking the idea of what it says about me as a person that I just CANNOT FUCKING COPE with a thing) I finally started using the mefi killfile for one user with whom I just cannot fucking interact in any useful way.

I highly recommend this as a last resort action for regaining sanity.
posted by elizardbits at 3:36 PM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


I took a long break from Metafilter (and probably will continue it) because I have had a history of taking things too personally and investing too heavily in conversations, especially ones that cut close to things I care deeply and passionately about.

I mean no offense by saying this, but for me, one of the things that's changed for me between the last time I tried to participate and the past couple days' participation for me in the Super PAX Man thread is that I got in a much better headspace. I got out of what was for me a very unwittingly but still extremely toxic relationship. I was able to take a lot of the insane pressure I was experiencing at work simply out of the role (and I know I'm very lucky to be able to accomplish that) and I got my ducks in a row and did a lot of therapy and I figured out how to relieve pressure and how to feel good about myself and my accomplishments every single day.

That helped a lot.

The other thing that worked for me and that has changed for me from then until now is that I have learned to set really firm boundaries, figure out what participating in a thread that's cantankerous is going to cost me and where I have to stop. I stop before I am overly invested. I stop before I start taking things that I misunderstand or are written clumsily or that are intentionally insulting so very personally that I cannot be reasonable about my response.

Finally, the last thing that's helped me, especially in the Super PAX Man thread is a little counterintuitive given feedback about not taking things personally is that I have exposed my real personal experience. Kind of like jessamyn suggests. It is a little fraught because it's an extremely vulnerable place to invite people (even from the relatively intimate confines of the end of a Metafilter thread) into. But what I've been doing lately is writing about deeply personal experience (e.g. "Yes, I am a survivor of beatings and bullyings and this is what I fear and this is why what you are saying right now hurts me and scares me so much."). It's a very hard line to walk but the rewards are possibly actually making a difference and building a bridge with people who are convinced we're on opposites sides of the problem.

Doing this I of course still have to make sure I assume good intent, that I know where my thresholds are and I need to withdraw if I'm too invested or too angry or too whatever. I need to self-filter and really evaluate whether a response is needful and will help the conversation keep going profitably.

But assuming I have the energy budget, assuming I'm in good trim and can handle it if things go poorly, personalizing and articulating my personal experience has demonstrably helped build bridges in that thread, and I'm proud of that. That's good stuff, and I'm glad it's possible for me to help achieve sometimes.
posted by kalessin at 3:36 PM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


rtha: There's a difference between "I have experienced men doing [thing]" and "Men do [thing]". I think part of the frustration is that people think they're saying the former when others are hearing the latter.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 3:38 PM on September 6, 2013


I think part of the frustration is that people think they're saying the former when others are hearing the latter.

And it is always better for the conversation to assume the former rather than the latter, even if it's not phrased exactly right.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 3:43 PM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Sure, that's a thing that definitely happens, where people "hear" something the poster didn't quite mean.

The other thing also happens, here on this site.
posted by rtha at 3:44 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Only by people who are really trying to interpret that way.

See, I don't think most people are rally trying to interpret things in a negative, they're just overly self identifying with a group that belong to at that particular moment, for any number of reasons.

I have never heard a driver react to a "stop drunk driving" campaign with an angry assertion that they only drive sober, so the whole campaign is a general attack on drivers. So people clearly are able to see that general statements do not refer to them particularly in many cases.

Sure, but those are things one can control. It's not so easy to change one's sex, so being hearing "all men are X," where X is negative, can be upsetting to you some.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:46 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm just glad my 'it's a trap' comment's sentiment was taken in good humor - I'm glad I stepped out of that, as the whole thing had me so confused with the satire angle, and then the whole Fedora thing came into it, and I was so close to getting all apoplectic about half a dozen things, but I did not even know which points that were actually bugging me were even real, reactionary, trolling, or satire, or... Arrrrgh!

So I thought it best to just be kind of a warning beacon in way that would not come off as something needlessly snarky, and I think that was perhaps the best thing for me to do at the time.

Thanks, Debaser626. This discussion here is exactly what I needed to see to recalibrate my head.
posted by chambers at 3:48 PM on September 6, 2013


And it is always better for the conversation to assume the former rather than the latter, even if it's not phrased exactly right.

What about the people who mean it, though? Who really think that all people who hold a specific job, or vote a specific way, or belong to a specific group, are evil? Because I've seen some iffy ones out there, but I've also seen ones that seemed totally dehumanizing, reducing all people in a group to stereotype. Usually along political lines.
posted by corb at 3:48 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


What about the people who mean it, though? Who really think that all people who hold a specific job, or vote a specific way, or belong to a specific group, are evil

Totally ok to ignore people. Seriously, you lose nothing and get to keep all the time you would have spent answering them, plus you don't wind up angry and/or frustrated.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:50 PM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yup, Brandon's got it. There are some conversations that aren't particularly productive. It's much more useful to be [that kind of person] and be visibly a good member of the community than it is to challenge someone on deeply-held political beliefs out of a sense of personal grievance.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 3:53 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


It seems while my initial goal is to approach from a neutral position, In practice, I specifically seek out and fixate on the comments or sections of the post material where I feel justified in retaliating or are debate-worthy, see my contributions in this thread , and engaging in fighty, emotional "I'm right and seemypointdammit" comments.

This is ONLY my advice for gender threads, it may or may not apply to other kinds of threads. The best way I can articulate it is in a fairly roundabout way though.

I actually think that I completely understand how you feel. The reason is that it really frustrates me when I know that I am right and other people are unjustly ignore what I'm saying or stubbornly contradict me for no rational reason.

I have been like this ever since I noticed that I had pretty good logical reasoning ability (around 8 or so?) At that time, I thought this was a trait that adults would be really impressed by and approve of me for. I thought they would find it endearing and appreciate it.

I also thought, because I knew adults liked it when I helped them with chores, etc., that adults would like it when I corrected their reasoning and pointed out where they had made mistakes or were wrong. I truly thought that would endear me to them.

Wooo!!! Big, big mistake! It turns out that adult men, especially adult men in a religious community who actively preach submissiveness (and in some cases, silence) for women, do not like having a little girl pointing out their errors in logical reasoning!

They reacted to me with annoyance, and, many times, anger. I stood in corners facing the wall, I was yelled at, I was kicked out of classrooms, I was separated from the other children, and I received corporal punishment when I got home.

So, I understand the feeling that you're angry and want to fight when someone is wrong on the internet and not listening to you. I became very, very, VERY angry and developed a really, really strong urge to fight after years and years of being punished for the things I said, by people who I believed were incorrect.

But I've only given you my situation up to the age of 13, 14. And around a decade and a half has passed since then.

A decade and a half in which this has continued to happen.

Not from the same men, but from men in school, men in the workplace, men I just have to deal with in my day-to-day life. It is almost always men giving me this particular kind of trouble. I got this just the other week from one of my neighbors.

When I was younger, it was easier for me to accept it, because I thought it was happening, in part, because I was a child. Now I see it happening well into my 30s and beyond and I feel like... I can't believe it's still happening!!!! I can't believe this is still happening to me as an adult!!!! I read this comment from a MeFite who is getting it from male undergraduates who she is teaching. If that happened to me my blood pressure would go through the roof. I am at the point where I'm just thinking, "why can't you guys JUST STOP. You've been acting this way for so long and it's so counterproductive in so many ways for you to aggressively push your wrong opinions out of nothing more than stubbornness or ego. Why can't you JUST STOP."

So, again, I feel like, I totally understand how it feels to be frustrated when you feel like someone is wrong and won't listen to you. I think it would be helpful if you came into gender threads remembering that many women deal with behavior like this, constantly, in their day to day lives.

So my advice is, I think it's totally fine for you to post, and totally fine to ask questions or even point out something that you think is wrong when you think it is wrong, and have a back and forth dialogue. But if you get the urge to be AGGRESSIVE about it, emotional, angry, act like you are being personally insulted, I think that's where many women start to become very annoyed themselves, because that's like using your aggression to win - NOT using logic to win. And you are annoyed by that too, right?
posted by cairdeas at 4:03 PM on September 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


I would argue MetFilter is safe harbor for everyone, but it more freely tolerates outbursts from the dejected and trodden upon, almost giving them "voice", really. An opinion that highlights a position from a historic oppressor will be removed, almost instantly, and maybe with good reason. Those comments never bring joy to anyone, not that the ones that remain do - it's just those at least allow the down and out crew to be ok for another day.

And that's always ok.
posted by four panels at 4:12 PM on September 6, 2013


An opinion that highlights a position from a historic oppressor will be removed, almost instantly, and maybe with good reason.

The majority of our commenters would be considered, in one way or another, to be in the category of "historic oppressors" and so I'm not sure I understand this comment. Would you mind clarifying it, since I think its saying something about our moderation that I do not understand.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:15 PM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


it is always better for the conversation to assume the former rather than the latter, even if it's not phrased exactly right.

But would you assume that if it was a group you identify with at the head of the sentence? That's the thing---it's really easy to tell people "I'm not talking about you." It's much harder to say "I understand that you're not talking about me."

it's totally fine for you to post, and totally fine to ask questions or even point out something that you think is wrong when you think it is wrong, and have a back and forth dialogue. But if you get the urge to be AGGRESSIVE about it, emotional, angry, act like you are being personally insulted, I think that's where many women start to become very annoyed themselves,

Well, sure, but again, if someone said to you that your point would be better heard if you were less agressive, emotional, or angry, would you react well?
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 4:20 PM on September 6, 2013


But would you assume that if it was a group you identify with at the head of the sentence?

Maybe, maybe not. I'm far from perfect. But the entire point of this thread is discussing ways to improve our participation and the general discourse in these threads.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:22 PM on September 6, 2013


Well, sure, but again, if someone said to you that your point would be better heard if you were less agressive, emotional, or angry, would you react well?

In a gender thread? Probably not, but I feel like I just explained why it's different for women...
posted by cairdeas at 4:27 PM on September 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


>Only by people who are really trying to interpret that way.

See, I don't think most people are rally trying to interpret things in a negative, they're just overly self identifying with a group that belong to at that particular moment, for any number of reasons.


In doing that, though, they are assuming the worst intentions. If you read "men do X" and your immediate response is to get mad and say "I don't do X; that's invalid!" rather than asking yourself "huh, do a lot of men do X?" "Have I ever done X?" "if not, why not?" or even "why am I so angry?" you have kind of gone off the path of good assumptions. Because, if you assume that the commenter has some experience of men doing X, you are going to approach the whole question from a different angle.

Because I see this "worst reading" all the time in sexism threads (and elsewhere, but sexism is what's on the table tonight). It extends to things statements like "the majority of rapes are committed by men." This is a very uncontoversial statement. A few seconds of halfway honest effort with the search engine of your choice will confirm it. But a surprising number of men hear that statement and parse it as "the majority of men are rapists." And then argue vehemently against a statement that no one has made. I can't imagine anyone making that mistake without some ill intent.

And the mistaking "men do X" for "I do X" is almost as extreme a substitution. Since people are clearly capable of mentally dividing themselves from groups to which they belong, by choice or accident, the question is why is this such a sticking point? I don't really believe that it's because it's hard/impossible to stop "being male." Many men have no trouble criticizing men as a whole -- there are plenty of male MeFites who do this regularly.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:30 PM on September 6, 2013 [13 favorites]


And ThatFuzzyBastard, a HUGE part of the reason having that said to me is irksome is because it's most often said to me when I'm NOT being aggressive/angry/emotional, simply as a rhetorical tool to shut me up. I don't think that happens to men very often, that they're told to stop being emotional when, in their own minds, they are saying factual things with a complete absence of emotion.
posted by cairdeas at 4:30 PM on September 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


What about the people who mean it, though? Who really think that all people who hold a specific job, or vote a specific way, or belong to a specific group, are evil? Because I've seen some iffy ones out there, but I've also seen ones that seemed totally dehumanizing, reducing all people in a group to stereotype. Usually along political lines.

We had this thread already.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:34 PM on September 6, 2013


This might seem simplistic, and I'm no Metafilter angel, but I find it really useful to remind myself, before I post, to reread the comment I'm responding to a couple of times. Slowly. Lots of different writing styles, voices and perspectives can lead to me misunderstanding intent.

Next, I can always feel defensiveness or blind spots in my body before I'm even conscious that I'm formulating my brilliant reply. So I've taught myself to pay attention to the physiological signs -- a little heat, a tight throat -- that mean I'm agitating and itchy and spoiling to mouth off.

Finally, and I have to work hard on this one, glib is never helpful.
posted by thinkpiece at 4:39 PM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


ugh rustic, that was a really shitty thread
posted by MoonOrb at 4:41 PM on September 6, 2013


rtha: It's also hard to keep your cool when you say "I have experienced men doing [thing]" and the response right out of the gate is "I am a man and I don't do [thing], therefore you have misinterpreted your own experience."

This is something that I had a really bad habit of doing until recently-ish – rtha and I got into at least one heated fight because of it – and I think it's an important part of why some of these threads go poorly. I've noticed that it very frequently is phrased as something like this:

"I am a man and I know people who have done [thing], but let me explain to you why they were really doing thing, as opposed to your explanation of [cultural sexism/institutionalized problems]: it's really that they [have a belief or attitude which is a byproduct of c.s./i.p.]"

The challenge is explaining why a particular notion is sexist/socially harmful/whatever in terms that help people reading the thread understand:
  1. A part of the problem involves mistaken assumptions and not just pure, malicious intent.
  2. If you belong to the demographic being called problematic, it is counterproductive for you to make the thread about you. That doesn't mean there's no room for you to speak or offer a perspective, but you need to be doubly careful that you're aware of who the perpetrator of a problem is versus who the targets are.
That second one is especially tricky, because there are a lot of people in whichever "oppressive group" who feel like they have things to say, and who perceive that their group isn't receiving enough sympathy in a discussion. But it's not necessary to say "not all men do this thing, and the ones that do it have a reason". That's generally a given, and it's rare that somebody's perspective is so extreme that they assume otherwise.

I have an enormous amount of sympathy for whichever various demographics I happen to belong to [straight/white/male/not a guitar player]. When I write fiction, poetry, essays, etc., I tend to write centrally from my own experience, and I have no guilt doing so. I just wrote a poem about the process of objectification/the male gaze that focuses on the feelings of the objectifier and not at all on the feelings of the objectified, because that's the experience that I know how to write. But conversations have rules of their own, one big one of which is respect all the participants. And in a discussion about a problem that women face which involves both men and women, trying too hard to explain/justify the male perspective in a situation can make the conversation about sympathizing with the men at the expense of the women, which can be kind of shitty.
posted by Rory Marinich at 4:43 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't think that happens to men very often, that they're told to stop being emotional when, in their own minds, they are saying factual things with a complete absence of emotion.

Speaking as a man... I think it happens all the time. Men are told from very early on that any sign of emotion is an instant delegitimizer of anything they have to say. Even anger, the one emotion men are allowed to feel, is only allowed if it comes from a position of power. From very early childhood, boys are put in situations where they are being persecuted, and if they cry, they lose; this is standard schoolyard-bullying stuff.

And it hardly ends with graduation; men learn early on that if you want to get by in business, you let your superior steal your ideas and don't get mad about it; if you want to make it in academia, you let students' insults or your colleagues dismissal wash off your back; if you want to make it as an entrepreneur, you must let people insult you on-line and not get emotional. Women get all of this too. That's kind of my point.

Assuming that your suffering is unique to you or people like you, or that the things you hate to experience are okay to do to other people, is a guarantee that you will inflict pain on others.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 4:45 PM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Specifically, with the threads about women and men, I've been noticing lots of dudes who can't seem to grasp that the situation out there in the world is unequal, and that trying to enforce some strict equality in narrow situations is a) bogus and b) going to perpetuate injustice. Not all men, not only men; it's a pattern that appears in these gender threads.

If you catch yourself making a formulation like this: "How would YOU like it if I substituted 'man' for 'woman' [or 'black person' for 'man' or whatever] in this sentence?" If you find yourself doing this, you are almost always wrong because there is usually a greater context and there are social problems trying to be solved that you're discarding to try to 'win by definition'. Furthermore, you are almost surely not actually being harmed even in the hypothetical scenario, and instead you are trying to create outrage within yourself. It's weird, it's like you're saying, "Aren't I entitled to be exactly as outraged as a black person should be in this flippy-swappy scenario?" when you're not actually outraged and have no cause to be, you're just trying to claim rhetorical ground. It's like those people who object to "cracker" and you want to ask them, do you really feel the need to use the n-word?! It's kind of gross, fake outrage.

You can't swap stuff in and out and reanalyze; it's bullshit. What a lot of guys call equality is more like, when the winning team with a big lead in the first half is content to trade point for point down the stretch. I think that is almost a subconscious thing the way a lot of people are socialized, they want to deny a bigger picture and just worry about the world immediately around them and what they can see and do because what more can you ask? It can have the best intentions and innocence to it, but still not result in just outcomes in the big picture. But.... also recognize that a lot of people do it kind of aggressively in a debate time-to-win-the-argument kind of style that looks, very much, like someone who is trying to guard their inherently unfair advantage.

Try to resist the (universal) urge that when you see someone getting something, or getting some allowance because of some membership you don't have, you want to jump in and say, "If they get that, WHAT DO I GET?!" Sometimes you're already good and you don't need any more! Sometimes you already got your thing! Sometimes you get a different thing that's not totally parallel! Sometimes—horror of horrors—maybe it was a minor inequality you'll just have to take on the chin. Even if you're in this last situation, ask yourself how much of that you've been asked to do your whole life compared to other people, and where, now, you really sit in relation to other people in the grand scheme of things. What, really, do you have to complain about? In discussions about gender relations, this is why you will see jokes like feminazi stole my ice cream, or in general unprivileged people just flat out saying to privileged people: you guys are such. fucking. babies. From where they're sitting, the privileged people are still way, way ahead.

(With sexism in particular there is the fundamental fact that it's women who have children. So much forms around this little crystal of inequality, in my opinion. It's not an accident that Genesis has this as one of the things God shouts to Adam and Eve as he's giving them the boot, as a kind of "ENJOY LIFE, FUCKERS," to humanity. Just because of this alone, men would have to give up something that women would not, in the heteronormative world, in terms of a hypothetical balance sheet that people would say doesn't exist but it kinda does in the collective subconscious and weighs heavily on the way boys and girls are socialized and thus who people kind of are and therefore the assumptions and goals they take into those relationships where they want to have children....)

Anyway I've said a lot of stuff and might not even post this comment, but I guess I'd say in the situation you're describing, maybe try asking these questions:
(Oh no, a group is attacked and I'm a member of that group!)
- Wait, do I actually do that thing they are talking about?
- If so, do I know it's wrong and I won't do it again? Is it a fair cop?
- If I don't do it, do I think it's bad? Am I defending the right to do that?
- How much do I even belong to that group?
- If I had to step aside and make an honest assessment of that group as if I was not in it, would I actually kinda agree with what they said?
- How much do I actually know what I'm talking about here, anyway?
- If I am wanting to assure them I don't do this, why? If I know I'm all right, isn't that enough?
- Is this attack part of some pattern where my group is actually being oppressed and shat upon out here in the real world??? If this statement hurt me, am I going from this to a hard hard life or am I in a sense going to cry all the way to the bank?
- Why, really, am I rushing to try to disprove/minimize/dismiss their point of view?

Or basically what jaguar said about the casinos. I guess this has just been a really long-winded way of me saying: be mindful of the big picture.
posted by bleep-blop at 4:47 PM on September 6, 2013 [10 favorites]


ugh rustic, that was a really shitty thread

yeah, it was, I wanted to remind everyone
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:51 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Speaking as a man... I think it happens all the time. Men are told from very early on that any sign of emotion is an instant delegitimizer of anything they have to say.

Yeah, but, when you realize that toxic situation arises from the cultural sense that emotion is feminine, so an emotional man is effeminate (pretty much the worst thing for many), you've just proven cairdeas's point. Emotion is beaten out of boys to "make them men," not so much from hatred of emotion....
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:51 PM on September 6, 2013 [14 favorites]


Well, yes. And when you demand, or allow others to demand, that men "take it on the chin" when they're being mistreated or otherwise put in a situation that's going to be emotional, you're perpetuating precisely that toxic situation.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 5:09 PM on September 6, 2013


Wow Debaser626, it's really great that you asked this. I really wish that more people would be as open to listening and learning as you!

Here are two pieces of advice I picked up here and there that have been majority helpful for me in having conversations with people about contentious topics:

Impact trumps intent.

This is the single greatest piece of advice that I have. What I mean by it is that even if you are the kindest and most respectful person on earth, you can still say and do things that have a negative impact.

No one means to mansplain, that's not their intent, they think that they're helping a woman out. No one means to be a creeper, they're just trying to respectfully show their attraction. However, the impact they have on others is still very hurtful, even if their intent comes from a place of kindness. "I didn’t mean it that way" doesn't excuse racism/sexism/ageism/etc; that's the point that many people have been trying to make. Some people are hurting women, even if they are really nice and didn't mean to do it, the behaviour/mentality still needs to stop.

Privilege: assuming that something isn't a problem, just because it isn't a problem for you.

This is what I always think of when someone calls me on my privilege. Am I minimizing a problem just because it seems minimal to me? Because I don't have to deal with it all the time? Because it seems like an isolated incident? Because I have to deal with objectivity worse issues everyday?

It's extremely unfair to gage another person's problems based on your own personal tolerance for pain and discomfort. Your "toughness" isn't the definitive bar for the rest of humanity, and even if it was, you aren’t privy to a person's entire back story to property contextualize the problem and judge accordingly. The very best thing you can do when someone is explaining their problem base your opinion on their lived experience, not your internal narrative.
posted by Shouraku at 5:11 PM on September 6, 2013 [27 favorites]


Fuzzy, you know what I was saying about rules-laywering?.....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:13 PM on September 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


And when you demand, or allow others to demand, that men "take it on the chin" when they're being mistreated or otherwise put in a situation that's going to be emotional, you're perpetuating precisely that toxic situation.

Right. Which is why many feminists (both female and male) argue that the fight against sexism and patriarchy benefits not only women but, in certain ways, men as well.

So if you think that boys and men should be socialized to express a wider range of emotion, you're not actually arguing against feminism. You're arguing for it.
posted by scody at 5:14 PM on September 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


My best advice to anyone who really wants to be open to learning new ways to see and understand the world is that for me it has always helped to first be open to the idea of being wrong. Saying I'm sorry, and meaning it, saying shit, now I see what you were trying to get me to see... magic happens whenever I remember just how limited my perspective really is. Good luck, and thanks for trying. That's a huge step.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:14 PM on September 6, 2013 [7 favorites]


when you demand, or allow others to demand, that men "take it on the chin" when they're being mistreated or otherwise put in a situation that's going to be emotional, you're perpetuating precisely that toxic situation.

I think the disconnect is that some men feel that they are being mistreated when someone says something negative about men-in-general and others do not. And some men feel the need to make this mistreatment the central focus of threads that started out being about something else. So unless there is some larger issue that absolutely must be addressed in that thread (sometimes there is, to my modly eye, often there isn't) it's important to be mindful of the fact that overcommenting about fine points of specific things people say can often have the appearance of making it seem like you think that the issues that affect you or people like you are actually more important than either the original topic of the thread or other people's discussions. I know that bean counting on these things isn't helpful but sometimes specifically counting up comments to see if you're maybe taking up more than your share of them is a useful exercise.

Fuzzy, you know what I was saying about rules-laywering?.....

Please just speak in entire thoughts. These sort of implied ellipsised comments are unhelpful and come across like snark even if maybe they are attempting to do otherwise.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:14 PM on September 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


cairdeas, I'm a masculinely identified transgendered intersexed (but I was raised as a man) person who was raised second wave feminist and taught to value emotions and emotional expression as much as ideas when discussing things. I was also, like you, a clever kid and was doing the same sorts of adult-challenging you were and my experience and development and reaction to being patronized and put down and shut up were basically equivalent to what you describe.

All my life I've had a pretty quick and uncontrollable rage impulse to being put in that position by those kinds of people. As I've gotten older and more experienced I've gotten better at coping, but I wouldn't say I have a solid, healthy relationship to the dynamic and I still quite resent it when it happens or I bring it on.

I totally get you and wanted to reassure you that it seems to be a pretty standard reaction from men who are threatened by my both emotional articulateness and my logic. It happens sometimes, but kind of more rarely from women who are threatened or who disagree. There are certainly women who argue that way too, but it doesn't seem to be as enculturated as it is with men.
posted by kalessin at 5:15 PM on September 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Assuming that your suffering is unique to you or people like you, or that the things you hate to experience are okay to do to other people, is a guarantee that you will inflict pain on others.

I dunno, this sounds like a good and wise thing, and it's certainly true that it's in the nature of life to be unsatisfactory and everyone has their own sorrows. One of the things I hate about the phrase "First World Problems" is that it's often used (or misused) to dismiss a legitimate grievance on the grounds that someone, somewhere has it worse. On the other hand, the way you've framed it can be a convenient gateway to reversing that dynamic and dismissing, say, the general experience of harassment faced by women by appealing to murder statistics for men. They are both suffering, but they don't have much to do with each other.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:17 PM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Misery calculus generally does not work as a reasoning point.
posted by kalessin at 5:21 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


My apologies, Jessamyn.

Fuzzybastard - my apologies as well, let me try again. The way you phrased your response here really, really feels like a kind of "gotcha" - like you've tried to lead the people in the conversation through some complex series of twists and turns into a trap which you will use to hoist them on their own petard. And - as you have clearly learned, to my own chagrin - that kinda causes me and others to start getting Buttpearlish about what you're saying.

I suspect, though, that if instead of saying " And when you demand, or allow others to demand..." if you prefaced that entire comment with "However, I feel like when you demand, or allow others to demand...." it comes across a lot less...."cleverly", for lack of a better word. It's not so much "hah, I am springing my trap of logic on you!" as it is "you know, I get what you're saying, but I honestly do feel thus and such". I have no problem hearing out someone's sincere thoughts about what they feel in a situation - but it's not so much fun if it feels like the person I'm talking to hasn't really been listening to what I'm saying and has been instead simply cross-refrencing the things I say with some internal checklist of Conversational Chess Gambits or something.

That's what I meant about the rules-lawyering thing, and that's something that happens in the gendered threads a lot and that just sets me off in particular.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:25 PM on September 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


I suspect, though, that if instead of saying " And when you demand, or allow others to demand..." if you prefaced that entire comment with "However, I feel like when you demand..."

I agree with this. It seems to me that when we say things like "I feel like" or "it seems to me that" or "from my point of view" or "in my estimation" we sometimes are able to avoid unnecessary conflict here. That's because it's clear that we're only expressing our point of view and not implying that our point of view is some unassailable truth. When we express our points of view without these types of qualifying phrases, I often find that what we say comes across as if we're trying to tell the whole world Just How It Is, and I understand why that leads to conflict.
posted by MoonOrb at 5:39 PM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


scody: Yeah, I agree that saying men should be able to express emotion without being derided for it is an argument for, not against, feminism. That's one of the many reasons why I very much identify as a feminist. And also why I think identifying as a feminist means that it's wrong to silence men with accusations of being emotional.

Empress: It's not a carefully-laid trap---I'm not that clever! It's intended as a sincere demonstration that people seem to me to be talking up one standard and posting by another. And I think that's both not nice and deserves to be identified and called out. You're being listened to, you're being heard, but it seems to me that the things I'm hearing you say don't square with what you're doing and what's up with that?

I don't think it's rules-lawyering to say "Wait, you're saying the rule is don't do X and then you did X to me. That's not okay." I think that's a request for good faith.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 5:44 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Wait, you're saying the rule is don't do X and then you did X to me. That's not okay.

I think it's really important to be clear that none of the things being discussed here are rules, and that even folks who know what sort of rhetoric leads to the best outcomes aren't always able to use it in every situation. I know I certainly can't, and it's my job.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:52 PM on September 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


I do understand you didn't MEAN for it to be a trap, Fuzzy; I'm pointing out, though, that the way you phrased what you said made it SOUND like it was a trap, and that's what maybe leads to a lot of these conversations getting heated. Because all we have to go on is the words each other chooses to use. And, in that one example I called out - which is actually similar to other speech patterns I've seen you use in other comments - the words you've chosen to use do come across as a gotcha. And so the points you're trying to make, which I agree are valid, actually, get lost.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:52 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is currently my favorite ever thread on MeFi. Attendance here should be mandatory. I have learned a lot, and have had a lot of things confirmed about what are the best practices at this site. Thanks.

One of the problems with even a fairly social site like MetaFilter, however, is that the folks posting are, largely, strangers to one another who will not have any contact outside the site itself. In another part of my internet life, I am a regular character in the drama of a Chicago-based internet food chat site. I have much more status over there than I do here, which is based on a long history of participation there, and I can (if I want to) get away with a lot more good-natured mischief over there without much repercussion (also, it's a site about food, and to tell you the truth, my participation over here at MetaFilter has made me aware of a lot of privileged BS and assumptions going on over there, so thanks)

That said, one of the lessons I learned at that Chicago-based internet food chat site was taught early on by one of the moderators, and that was to consider that, in the context of that community, which exists in large part to put together real-life dinners and other get-togethers among its members, that before you post something, you need to consider that you might be eating dinner across the table from the object of your (ire, disdain, contempt, what-have-you), so have a care. That creates a strong incentive to play nice, or at least as nice as you would with someone you typically encounter in real life. Here on MetaFilter, we have to up our game considerably and be aware of the inherent mediators between us. Yes, real life meetups do occur here, but not as a core mission. Just a thought or two; tell me what you think.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 6:12 PM on September 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


Take all the time you spend in angry threads and volunteer. Spend your metafilter time answering real questions on the green and in the lighter (and yet more consequential!) threads elsewhere.
posted by michaelh at 6:21 PM on September 6, 2013


Speaking as a man... I think it happens all the time. Men are told from very early on that any sign of emotion is an instant delegitimizer of anything they have to say. Even anger, the one emotion men are allowed to feel, is only allowed if it comes from a position of power. From very early childhood, boys are put in situations where they are being persecuted, and if they cry, they lose; this is standard schoolyard-bullying stuff.

And it hardly ends with graduation; men learn early on that if you want to get by in business, you let your superior steal your ideas and don't get mad about it; if you want to make it in academia, you let students' insults or your colleagues dismissal wash off your back; if you want to make it as an entrepreneur, you must let people insult you on-line and not get emotional. Women get all of this too. That's kind of my point.

Assuming that your suffering is unique to you or people like you, or that the things you hate to experience are okay to do to other people, is a guarantee that you will inflict pain on others.


ThatFuzzyBastard, you are illustrating the opposite of what cairdeas said. She said that when women are totally unemotional, they are accused of being emotional. You're saying that when men are being emotional, they're accused of being like women. Those are not the same.
posted by stoneandstar at 6:27 PM on September 6, 2013 [12 favorites]


Empress: Could you clarify what was there about my phrasing that made it seem like that to you?
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:53 PM on September 6, 2013


Fuzzy, I did just that here.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:54 PM on September 6, 2013


Part of why it's more accepted to talk about "men" writ large than "women" is the normative privilege of men.
posted by klangklangston at 7:22 PM on September 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


Totally ok to ignore people. Seriously, you lose nothing and get to keep all the time you would have spent answering them, plus you don't wind up angry and/or frustrated.

This is probably really good advice in one sense, Brandon Blatcher. I have been working on ignoring certain people or certain attacks and it is making my experience here more productive.

But in another sense, it's really hard for a complex variety of reasons, and one of them I think can be summed up in the phrase hostile environment.

I'm not saying these situations are the same, but when this happens, it reminds me of what it felt like when I was in the Army - a woman in an all-male environment - where periodically, something really shitty would be said about women. Sometimes shitty enough for me to shake or feel unsafe. And when something like that would be said, and would go unchallenged, it was as if one of them had taken this big, enormous shit in the middle of the room. And I could try to ignore it all I wanted, but that shit would still be there, for me or anyone else who happened to come in the room.

One of the phrases that was used a lot back then, particularly when they were training us on some other stuff, was, "Silence is assent." It meant that if someone spoke up and said something, and you didn't say anything to counter it, you were agreeing with them. Through your silence and lack of challenging them, you were agreeing with them.

These are the things that make it hard for me, when someone is generalizing negatively about a class I belong to, when I step into a thread. Except worse, because that shit in the middle of the room, those words that make me and people like me into something low and vile and the butt of someone's joke, is preserved forever. Every time someone steps into that room, every time someone reads that thread, they will see those words. And to me, if that goes unchallenged, if it is not deleted and no one counters it down the thread, that person will feel: this is what we feel here. This is what we think here. We all agree. We all agree that all of those people are low and vile and acceptable targets of our hatred.

Again, everyone's mileage may vary. But this is how I personally feel, and this is why it is hard for me.
posted by corb at 7:31 PM on September 6, 2013 [13 favorites]


I may be misunderstanding (if so, I apologize), but I'd say it's the opposite, actually--that, in society as a whole, "male" is so accepted as the default and you hear a lot more statements about "women" as a bloc, because femaleness is seen as being defining, while maleness is neutral. That, I think, is part of the reason for the "well, I'm a man and I'm not like that!" backlash.
posted by kagredon at 7:34 PM on September 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


(Er, that was directed at klangklangston.)
posted by kagredon at 7:34 PM on September 6, 2013


Yeah, one of the signs of privilege tends to be that one gets to see oneself as an individual rather than a representative of a group. So, women are used to answering for all women, people of color for all people of color, etc., whereas men are not used to answering for all men.
posted by jaguar at 7:49 PM on September 6, 2013 [20 favorites]


whereas men are not used to answering for all men.

Yet men's experiences are often extrapolated to stand for universal human experiences, whereas women's experiences are often seen as only relevant to women, not as universal.
posted by scody at 8:41 PM on September 6, 2013 [19 favorites]


@ JimInLoganSquare

A real person, a lot like you

I thought there was also an xkcd that made a similar point, but this appears to be as close as it gets: http://xkcd.com/322/.
posted by Michele in California at 8:45 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just want to add that this MetaTalk post was well framed, clear, and constructed in a thoughtful manner that elicited useful and intelligent responses, well done! I hope you find feedback that is useful.
posted by HuronBob at 8:58 PM on September 6, 2013 [8 favorites]


women are used to answering for all women, people of color for all people of color, etc., whereas men are not used to answering for all men

But do you mean that one shouldn't ask people to answer for all members of their group? Or that it is right to ask people to answer for all members of their group? Or are you saying that women should less often have to answer for all women, men should more often have to answer for all men, and eventually privilege will equalize in the middle?

I apologize in advance if that sounds like a set-up, but it seems to me that your statement contains an implicit prescription in one of those three directions, and I'm trying to understand which it is. Or if it's something else entirely.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:05 PM on September 6, 2013


whereas men are not used to answering for all men.

> Yet men's experiences are often extrapolated to stand for universal human experiences, whereas women's experiences are often seen as only relevant to women, not as universal.


Definitely. I think it all works together, though: So if "male" is the unmarked category, which means it doesn't count as a "special interest" group, while "female" is the marked category, which indicates a deviation from what we as a society think of as the "standard," then men are set up as generically human while women are set up as members of group with similar experiences, beliefs, thoughts, likes, etc. If one is generically human, then one can assume that one's experiences are unique; if one is part of a marked group, then one tends to spend a lot of time dealing with assumptions that one shares all the experiences, beliefs, thoughts, likes, etc. of everyone else in the group.

Which means that women usually get a lot of practice in developing a sort of double consciousness, where we can identify with "Women" as a group or not, depending on whether any particular statement about the group resonates with us as individuals. I'd react to something saying "All women believe X," for instance, but probably not to "Women believe X," if I thought that X was a fairly common belief among women, even if I didn't share it.

My suspicion is that men are way more used to seeing themselves as "generically human" rather than negotiating their group identity as much, and so don't get as much practice developing that double consciousness. (I think gender policing also tends to be much harsher for men than women, so it may be dangerous at times for men to think of themselves as being outside the norm for male experiences, beliefs, thoughts, likes, etc.) So when an individual man sees a statement about men as a group, he may not be used to going through the process of separating out his own identity from the statement in evaluating it.

That was really long. And I just thought that all through right now, so it may be totally off-base. I don't, in any event, mean it as an excuse for (some) men taking things personally when it's not meant that way.
posted by jaguar at 9:06 PM on September 6, 2013 [32 favorites]


it seems to me that your statement contains an implicit prescription in one of those three directions, and I'm trying to understand which it is.

I didn't really mean it that way, no. As my comment above tries to explain, I was thinking of it more as a reason that men may take a statement about "men" personally, whereas women might not take a statement about "women" as personally.

I don't think it's great that women get lumped together, but I do think it's good when people are able to not take things personally. So there's good and bad on both sides.
posted by jaguar at 9:10 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dude, you just called yourself out on the grey? I think that's awesome. I wish more mefites had this level of self-awareness.
posted by lollusc at 9:15 PM on September 6, 2013 [11 favorites]


...It's probably what irrigates some people about the term mansplaining.

♫ 'Splain drops keep fallin' on my head.... ♫
posted by y2karl at 1:43 AM on September 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


Another way to participate more positively in threads is watching yourself for signs of doubling down on your ideas. If you find yourself clarifying and reexplaining for more than a couple of exchanges, it's Nita bad idea to let it go. You do not have to Win the Internet. A rated behavior is Taking on All Comers, where you either engage with a bunch of posters individually on a topic (easy to doin fast-moving threads) or move serially as commenters disengage with you. Usually, it's best to not respond to several people when one comment to all will do. This feels kind of rude, but it means that your responses are less personal and more reasoned.

Also, if you are swimming against the stream in a thread, if most of the comments disagree with you, it's not a bad idea to disengage (and, perhaps, reexamine your stance in your own space -- this is not always "capitulating," sometimes it's "learning").

tl;dr -- winning a conversation is not really an achievable goal, and Internet Points don't get you anything worth the aggravation.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:34 AM on September 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


In my experience, the most constructive way for me to participate in gender threads is to read them. If I feel like commenting, I go back and read the thread again, or at least skim through and re-read the best parts. If I still have something on my mind, I think hard about what I just read, and then say to myself, "Don't write anything here." Then I decide not to write anything, which usually means I understood what I read.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 6:26 AM on September 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Personally, I am trying to stick to a rule of no analogies/no shoe on the other foot examples/minimal satire and sarcasm when I am in contentious threads. Those seem like the express tickets (for me at least) to being taken the wrong way or making an asshole out of myself.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:58 AM on September 7, 2013 [12 favorites]


The no-analogies thing would be really great in a lot of threads where things are really tense. They can be great tools for explaining things in a more sedate setting but it just gives a bunch more variables for people to hack away at if they're already sort of annoyed.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:07 AM on September 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think it is useful not to paraphrase as well. If you start a sentence with "so what you're saying is ... " there's a real possibility that you may misstate what the other person said. If I am not clear on what the other person has said, I ask for clarification, and try to always respond to what they actually said.

And if I feel myself getting too heated, I now drop out of a thread for several hours, and leave it altogether. This has helped.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:48 AM on September 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


First off, for Kagredon, scody and jaguar got my meaning and explicated it well. "All men are created equal," etc.

The Fuzzy Bastard: "But do you mean that one shouldn't ask people to answer for all members of their group? Or that it is right to ask people to answer for all members of their group? Or are you saying that women should less often have to answer for all women, men should more often have to answer for all men, and eventually privilege will equalize in the middle?"

Generally the first. Individual men don't speak for all men, though, depending on their position, they may speak for many, and this doesn't mean you can't speak generally of "men" as a bloc. Men tend to be taller, men tend to earn more for the same job, men tend to be blind to their privilege. But I don't identify with "man-caves" even though I'm a man.

Generalizations about women should be handled more carefully, as there has been a historical tendency to use those generalizations — especially those made by men — as a way of disadvantaging or constraining all women.
posted by klangklangston at 11:03 AM on September 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


If you use "tend to be", you're likely to get very little objection. If you use "are", you're likely to get a lot.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 3:50 PM on September 7, 2013


If you use "tend to be", you're likely to get very little objection. If you use "are", you're likely to get a lot.

In my experience, there's not much real-world difference in the pushback you get with either phrase. People who are quick to take offense are going to take offense regardless of the verb; people who take a beat to understand the point are going to react to the actual point rather than the phrasing of it, assuming it's phrased clearly enough to be understood.
posted by jaguar at 3:56 PM on September 7, 2013 [10 favorites]


Fuzzy, I totally agree that it's an issue that men are socialized to be unemotional, and that we need to work against this patriarchal conditioning that results in disproportionate violence for men. I think another harmful way the patriarchy also socializes men is that it tells them that their experiences are front and central.

To speak about my experiences as a man in gendered discussions - or in any discussion where I am a majority privy to a minority speaking about their experiences, I often notice that because of said socialization, I tend to focus on what is being said about me, as a man, as a majority. Sometimes I feel that these statements are inaccurate or not representative of my own experiences; most of the time these experiences are generally correct and agreeable, but severely lacking in nuance; so sometimes I feel the need to jump in to defend myself and to defend my own group and to add in the nuance that the conversation is clearly lacking.

But I don't. And that's because I realize that due to my experiences, I have accidentally interpreted the conversation as a conversation about me and my group and my majority - because I am SO used to being forefront and center and conditioned to being forefront and center. And in reality, it's not even the central topic. The conversation is about women talking about their experiences, find shared ground, and trying to educate on what we can all do to make the world a more inclusive, less shitty place.

So I don't speak up because my socialization is tainting the way I interact with others. I realize that following my first instinct to barge in and attempt to add my own voice in is completely off-topic and off-base and will be treated as such. And I realize that it's not as if I'm lacking opportunities to talk about my experiences - hell, I've got every other thread to speak up in since my experiences as a male are presumed to be the default; when was the last time a woman barged into a non-gendered thread on video games or movies or the latest on-goings in Syria and accused everyone of not adequately discussing how women figure in? And even if it happens once in a blue moon - when was the last time her words were granted so much inherent right about privilege that it toppled and derailed the entire conversation to center around the woman's experience?

Patriarchal socialization is shitty; it prevents us from relating to women, to trans* people, to whatever minorities, as if they were autonomous individuals capable of dicussing things within their own contexts as opposed to in relation with the majority. Which is a demeaning and shitty way to treat people.

But fortunately - socialization can be overcome, can't it?
posted by Conspire at 5:24 PM on September 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


Conspire: I hear what you're saying, but when people are saying untrue things about you---and when people say "Men are ____" and "Men do ____", they are talking about you---it's irresponsible not to speak to your experiences and identity. To simply shut up when people are saying untrue things about you does not make the world more inclusive, only more shitty.

Progressives have a chronic bad habit of treating anything less-privileged people said about more-privileged people as unchallengable. For example, when I was in college, it was understood that it was inappropriate to challenge "Afrocentric" accounts of history, even when they contradicted known history, because after all, all that "known history" was Eurocentric. As a result, many African history departments lost a decade pursuing shibboleths and hiring charlatans, and are only now starting to dig their way out of the hole and start doing real history (interestingly, the historically black colleges were far less vulnerable, because they had no well-meaning white administrators unwilling to call out obvious falsehoods).

To say someone's untruths should be given a pass because that person is less-privileged is ultimately condescending; it says "Your suffering makes you unable to think clearly, or to treat as an intellectual equal, and should be indulged as a tantrum." That sucks.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 5:38 PM on September 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Progressives have a chronic bad habit of treating anything less-privileged people said about more-privileged people as unchallengable.

And people with the majority privilege all too often challenge the experiences that people with less privilege report, which is a very different thing from challenging someone who alleges that (making this up) "Columbus came to the New World in 1742."

About the former, saying "No, you are wrong," is both offensive and dumb; about the latter, saying "No, you are wrong," challenges a fact they are alleging, and a fact is a falsifiable thing. A person's experience is not.
posted by rtha at 5:45 PM on September 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Except they're not saying untruths, but speaking in broad sweeps that are otherwise mostly true from vantages of both experience and fact, and the discussion doesn't really need a full-blown academic discussion of how men figure into what they're saying?

Furthermore, can I ask where you derive the assumption that when you're defending yourself against these characterizations, you really presume to speak for all - or even most men? I know for my own part, I don't feel like you are speaking to my experiences as a male at all.
posted by Conspire at 5:48 PM on September 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


ThatFuzzyBastard, we get it. You don't like it when people make generalizations about men. That's fine. You're allowed to continue not liking it.

This thread was a request for strategies about how to deal with it constructively when such situations arise. At this point, it seems like you're just nitpicking and going in circles rather than using any of the strategies suggested in this thread, or contributing your own.
posted by jaguar at 5:58 PM on September 7, 2013 [10 favorites]


This may be a stupid question, but why has there been a jump in threads and posts related to gender (usually in a context that puts men in a not-so-flattering light) and gender identity? I started visiting MeFi again after drifting away, and I was surprised by the Tumblresque flavor it seemed to be taking on.

I know, I know: don't read the social justice threads if you don't like them. Still, I'm curious about how they came to be increasingly prevalent.
posted by elmwood at 5:59 PM on September 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Because women and trans* people are fucking tired of being treated like shit and are speaking out more.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:01 PM on September 7, 2013 [24 favorites]


Yeah, but it's more than that. I'd suspect it's because women and trans folk on Metafilter are frustrated with how discussions on gender and gender identity have gone lately, which kind of might encourage a "Look at THIS, guys" sort of mentality. I know for example I really welcomed the girlfriendzone post because I was frustrated with some recent shitty dialogue over sexism.
posted by corb at 6:52 PM on September 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


when I was in college, it was understood that it was inappropriate to challenge "Afrocentric" accounts of history, even when they contradicted known history

It isn't clear to me what you mean by "Afrocentric" here, but I assume you're referring to controversies like those surrounding books like Black Athena. YMMV, but IME, that was never regarded as anything but a controversy. It certainly wasn't, even among "progressives," ever an unchallengeable orthodoxy. If it was where you were schooled, you should ask for your money back.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:28 PM on September 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


when people are saying untrue things about you---and when people say "Men are ____" and "Men do ____", they are talking about you---it's irresponsible not to speak to your experiences and identity

Without intending this as snark, the thing about speaking up this way is that it does not have the rhetorical effect you intend. It reinforces the impression that a man who posts in this manner is defensive of his person and privilege (particularly the privilege of not being emblematic of his sex/gender, a privilege a lot of women don't enjoy) and more interested in reinforcing that privilege than in attending to the actual content of the complaint about men/the patriarchy/etc.

That's why it generally gets a lot of eyerolls and "but what about the menz?": because it comes off, even when not intended, as if it's more important to reassure a man's ego than it is for women to have whatever discussion they're having about issues that concern them more or less deeply and are probably already pissing them off. Moreover, it comes off that the anger of a man is more important and requires reassurance from women and the anger of women is not so important and requires no reassurance from men.

My $0.02, YMMV.
posted by immlass at 8:48 PM on September 7, 2013 [16 favorites]


It reinforces the impression that a man who posts in this manner is defensive of his person and privilege (particularly the privilege of not being emblematic of his sex/gender, a privilege a lot of women don't enjoy)

I would like as many women as possible to have precisely that privilege; I would like everyone, at least in this little corner of the world, to have that privilege. I think anyone who says "Women are ______" or "Women do ______" should get called out hard. I think that if one doesn't like people in a group being treated in some way, it is more constructive to stop treating them that way, rather than to treat those in other groups that way in the hopes that it'll all even out.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:11 PM on September 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would like as many women as possible to have precisely that privilege; I would like everyone, at least in this little corner of the world, to have that privilege. I think anyone who says "Women are ______" or "Women do ______" should get called out hard. I think that if one doesn't like people in a group being treated in some way, it is more constructive to stop treating them that way, rather than to treat those in other groups that way in the hopes that it'll all even out.

That is very nice, but if the most important thing to you in a discussion about women's issues is to say "I AM A MAN AND I AM NOT BAD", you are contributing to making things harder for women. If you believe this is sexist behavior and shouldn't be tolerated on the blue, why not flag it and encourage those who feel the same to do so as well? It will serve the same purpose and avoid the constant derails.
posted by immlass at 9:19 PM on September 7, 2013 [19 favorites]


I think that if one doesn't like people in a group being treated in some way, it is more constructive to stop treating them that way, rather than to treat those in other groups that way in the hopes that it'll all even out.

1. Recognizing and discussing the effects of male privilege within a patriarchal system is not the same as oppressing men the way women are oppressed within that patriarchal system. (And women speaking freely about their lived experiences under patriarchy is not an exercise in making men feel bad in order to get things to "even out.")

2. Recognizing and discussing the effects of male privilege within a patriarchal system is not the same as personally criticizing, attacking, and/or (falsely) accusing every man of equally participating in the oppression of women within that patriarchal system.

So, to take GenjiandProust's example above, acknowledging the fact (and it is an objective fact) that the vast majority of sexual assaults are committed by men is not the same as accusing most men of being rapists, nor is it the same as accusing you of being a rapist.

I assume that you, a self-identified feminist, understand all this. So I am genuinely confused as to why, in a thread that is specifically about men making a good faith effort to better understand and participate in discussions about gender, you are repeatedly insisting that discussions about gender primarily function to attack and lie about you.
posted by scody at 10:14 PM on September 7, 2013 [19 favorites]


Moreover, it comes off that the anger of a man is more important and requires reassurance from women and the anger of women is not so important and requires no reassurance from men.

I just want to add my voice to the chorus: this is exactly how I hear these statements, and when I examine them more closely, that impression just gets more reinforced.
posted by KathrynT at 10:19 PM on September 7, 2013 [18 favorites]


"Progressives have a chronic bad habit of treating anything less-privileged people said about more-privileged people as unchallengable."

Progressives are more monolithic than men, I grant, but do you think people who identify as progressives might find this a bit unfairly reductive?
posted by klangklangston at 11:52 PM on September 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


2. Recognizing and discussing the effects of male privilege within a patriarchal system is not the same as personally criticizing, attacking, and/or (falsely) accusing every man of equally participating in the oppression of women within that patriarchal system.

To be fair, though, many threads about gender which begin discussing what you characterize as 'the effects of male privilege within a patriarchal society' turn into "Men do x" complaint threads, and that is the point TheFuzzyBastard has been making. It really shouldn't be okay to use "Men" as a shortcut for "the subset of men who actually do x".

The oft-repeated complaint on the site is that men come into threads about sexism and make them all about them by denying women their experiences. In my experience, the pattern starts with a comment like, "Men are always doing x to women and I am so frustrated by that!" Then a man replies, "But I don't do x, and I don't know any men who do x!" That is interpreted to mean, "Therefore, x is not a big deal and you women are making a fuss over nothing." Which, yeah, would be denying women their experiences.

What has actually happened, though? A woman gave an impassioned example, and a man replied with an equally impassioned counter-example. Both of those experiences can be valid.

Both men and women read threads about gender on Metafilter. I happen to think that's a good thing. We have, I believe, gender parity in our moderation on Mefi as well. No one enjoys special privilege, here on Metafilter, simply by virtue of their sex. There's no valid rationale for it being okay to say "men" instead of "men who do x" here.
posted by misha at 12:00 AM on September 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Both of those experiences may be valid, but one is more relevant than the other in a thread about women's experiences - especially when women already know that many men don't see this stuff happening which is why they're sharing in the first place.

Also MetaFilter exists in the world, so trying to say that this is a space free of privilege is just goofy. I think that's been addressed upthread, though.
posted by Corinth at 12:25 AM on September 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


one is more relevant than the other in a thread about women's experiences

That's why "I am a man and I don't do this", generally with bonus upset, is a derail. (And just as I suggested that TFB flag stuff he finds sexist, I'm going to start flagging it as derail, and moving on.)
posted by immlass at 7:15 AM on September 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


Saying "men do X" is not describing one's experiences; it's extrapolating from one's experiences into a blanket description of a group. Pretending those two things are the same is a nasty old right-wing trick, and it does not merit the respect due to a description of one's experiences.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:29 AM on September 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


TFB, it's coming through loud and clear that you think it's important to speak out when you're upset by "men do _____" type of statements. But, how do you respond to the argument that there is a time and place for voicing these kinds of concerns, and voicing them in feminism threads is a time and place that leads to tension and conflict that could otherwise be avoided? Or are you firmly rooted to the position that you must always speak out about this, no matter the context?
posted by MoonOrb at 7:51 AM on September 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


For someone who extrapolated their own experiences into a blanket description of "progressives" and "college history teachers" just over 12 hours ago, this is a bit rich. Of course, that's really besides the point, because this is supposed to be a thread about working towards making gender threads better in the first place instead of an airing of grievances. As jaguar put it upthread, nitpicking and going in circles is only making the problem worse and comes across as grudgeposting instead of a constructive conversation.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:54 AM on September 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


What has actually happened, though? A woman gave an impassioned example, and a man replied with an equally impassioned counter-example. Both of those experiences can be valid.

You know, I'm actually going to go against the grain a little and say this can be done right, but is not usually.

Doing It Right Man: "I'm a man, and I have never done this, and no one I know has ever done this!"
Lady In The Thread: "You may be right that you've never done this, but statistically, a majority of men do this, often in these ways. Do you think it's possible that some of your friends may do this and you may not be aware or see it?"
Doing It Right Man:"Oh my god! Bruce Willis has been dead all along! Looking back, I can totally see how some people I know might have engaged in sexist bullshit! I am going to go re-examine some shit now. Have fun, ladies!"

Doing It Wrong Man: "I'm a man, and I have never done this, and no one I know has ever done this!"
Lady In The Thread: "You may be right that you've never done this, but statistically, a majority of men do this, often in these ways. Do you think it's possible that some of your friends may do this and you may not be aware or see it?"
Doing It Wrong Man: "No! You are a hysterical lying liar what lies! Also some lady once told me it didn't happen, so it's totally okay. Shut up, lying ladies!"
posted by corb at 9:44 AM on September 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


I don't think making caricatures out of either position does much to advance the discussion here, no matter how well intentioned.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:59 AM on September 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


Yeah, I've had exchanges where the other person says "I had no idea thing you are describing is so common!" and okay! The conversation can move on.

But in other conversations, we have to round and round and round because someone is insisting that that thing can't possibly be that common or if it is it can't be that serious and by the way before we get around to talking about creating a system for reporting and dealing with that thing we absolutely have to talk about false allegations first thing and solve that problem before we can talk about your alleged problem.

Sigh.
posted by rtha at 10:40 AM on September 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


The "girlfriend zone" thread linked in the original post has 420 comments. I just did a search for "men do" and "men are" on the whole thread. There are a grand total of five comments that use that language in which "men" is not modified by "some" or "a few" or "and women." (I did exclude comments in which "men are" or "men do" was in scare quotes and obviously being used to dismiss the phrase in quotes, like "men are from mars.")

As far as I can see only one (#4) is even close to maybe almost kinda being problematic, but even that is not some sort of "here's an eternal truth about men" as much as it is a "society doesn't encourage men to do these things" comment.

1. Men do learn social cues

2. Actually, men are just as capable of reading body language as women are

3. Men are assumed to be sex-obsessed

4. Men are not educated in social cues and the coyness that poets like Andew Marvell alternately celebrate and deride is often advocated in books like "The Rules" is a big part of this.

5. It's that boys/men are told from a young age to be assertive, aggressively so, often at the expense of people who may disagree with them/stand in their way.


So, really, the idea that if people would just qualify and adjust their speech to avoid generalizations then Poof! all objection to calling out sexism would go away! is provably false. Can we stop talking about it now?
posted by jaguar at 12:02 PM on September 8, 2013 [15 favorites]


I've just come from reading up on (for precision, I would say I've thoroughly read about 80% of the comments, and skimmed the rest) the MetaTalk thread that called out the "mansplaining" AskMe post in August and has 800+ comments. I've also recently participated in the SuperPAX Metafilter thread as well as this thread. And I participated, for what it's worth, in the AskMe thread that the MetaTalk thread was about.

I have a few questions:
1) There is at least one person in this thread who seems to be up to his old tricks from the MetaTalk thread about mansplaining. Not the same tricks that arguably got him a one day breather and seemed to prevent him from going on about his cause there for the rest of that thread, but the preludes to that, where he is simply unable to listen to dissent and respond to it constructively. It seems like part of what's going on this thread is endless refrains of disagreement with this guy and yet he continues. What is up with this?
2) Is this, for me, as a sometimes reader, sometimes commenter type user with strong opinions ideally (from a moderator standpoint) a flag-and-move-on sort of situation? I mean instead of engaging with the immovable object.
3) Toward that end is there an extension for Chrome that allows me to search and replace for certain folks from their actual comment text to something like "(x) has made a comment" that I can expand if I want to or not, as I choose? I know this changes Meta* to reddit in a way (not threaded) but it feels to me like I can do a better job as a Meta* member if I have the option of seeing (instead of the option of blocking) comments that to me are senselessly repeated over and over again. I would be OK if enabling this option also disabled me personally from commenting. It seems to me sort of poetic justice that if I cannot bear to see all sides of the current discussion that I shouldn't allow myself to post a comment.
4) What is this "Social Justice crowd" term and what is this "Tumblresque" quip? Are they both to do with a perceived progressive liberal political and conversational bent? And to what end? I see mostly the folks I do not agree with at all seeming to say that they feel targeted or policed or left out when using these quips. Is that an accurate pattern of usage for these terms?
posted by kalessin at 1:41 PM on September 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


What is up with this?

Name him or drop us a note on email and we can tell you. I have no idea why you are talking about which is a little sad in and of itself, but there you are.

a flag-and-move-on sort of situation?

Probably. Again, without specifics I have no idea.

#3 - no idea

What is this "Social Justice crowd" term and what is this "Tumblresque" quip?

Weird new shitty shorthand that we're trying to not get much of a foothold here. There is some discussion of it in the trans* MeTa thread (in decent ways and that thread is mostly decent) and you can check it out there.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:17 PM on September 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thanks jessamyn. I e-mailed you so as to not continue sounding weirdly obsessive and passive-aggressive with that line of questioning. I think flag-and-move-on, but would love to hear back in e-mail, should you have time.

Also as a general note, I am looking for a combination of greasmonkey (or tampermonkey as it's known in the world of Chrome Extensions) as well as the user script, Mondo Meta which I am reading up on and should be able to implement to my specifications shortly.
posted by kalessin at 2:24 PM on September 8, 2013


So, really, the idea that if people would just qualify and adjust their speech to avoid generalizations then Poof! all objection to calling out sexism would go away! is provably false. Can we stop talking about it now?

I don't think anyone has made that claim, so sure.

However, the idea that maybe we should all try not to make lazy generalizations still has validity for me. Do you disagree with that? How about the larger point that we all try to be charitable with our interpretations?

TFB, it's coming through loud and clear that you think it's important to speak out when you're upset by "men do _____" type of statements. But, how do you respond to the argument that there is a time and place for voicing these kinds of concerns, and voicing them in feminism threads is a time and place that leads to tension and conflict that could otherwise be avoided?

A Metatalk thread like this one is the appropriate place to voice those concerns, though.
posted by misha at 3:08 PM on September 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


However, the idea that maybe we should all try not to make lazy generalizations still has validity for me. Do you disagree with that? How about the larger point that we all try to be charitable with our interpretations?

YES. I believe we should not make lazy generalizations. I try to avoid it as much as possible in my own writing.

BUT IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS PARTICULAR TOPIC. It is a derail. Even when people avoid generalizations, lazy or not, people get offended and take things personally. So "avoid generalizations in your own writing" is not a good answer for "How do I approach contentious threads without getting triggered so that I can absorb new information?"

"Stop assuming that people are making lazy generalizations," however, is probably a good answer.
posted by jaguar at 3:20 PM on September 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


A Metatalk thread like this one is the appropriate place to voice those concerns, though.

And voice them he has...over and over and over and over again. The problem isn't that he isn't being allowed to voice those concerns, the problem is that this thread is supposed to be about working on solutions. At this point it feels like he either wants to complain or that he's more interested in concessions than compromise. If that's not what he wants, why doesn't he engage in working out solutions rather than picking at scabs?
posted by zombieflanders at 3:49 PM on September 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, between this thread, the one on tone arguments, and the mansplaining thread, I now have absolutely zero faith that we won't be having this argument in a couple months down the road even if a general agreement was made on the generalization issue. It may not be TFB, but someone will complain (likely in a thread about harassment or rape) that "most men" is too broad, and anything more than "some men" or even "a very small minority" will be offensive to them.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:06 PM on September 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


I think anyone who says "Women are ______" or "Women do ______" should get called out hard.

Good. So when's the last time you called someone out for doing that?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:19 PM on September 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


someone will complain (likely in a thread about harassment or rape) that "most men" is too broad, and anything more than "some men" or even "a very small minority" will be offensive to them.

The problem, imho, isn't being offensive, it's being inaccurate. Incorrect statements are far worse than hurtful ones.

Good. So when's the last time you called someone out for doing that?

It's such a community norm, I've never seen someone not get called out more quickly than I could type. But the other sort has not become a community norm, which is why I haven't shut up about it.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:15 PM on September 8, 2013


And voice them he has...over and over and over and over again. The problem isn't that he isn't being allowed to voice those concerns, the problem is that this thread is supposed to be about working on solutions

Yes. I think he keeps voicing his concern because he feels it is a problem that hasn't been solved. I get that you disagree on that. I know that, because you have also said so repeatedly.

At this point it feels like he either wants to complain or that he's more interested in concessions than compromise. If that's not what he wants, why doesn't he engage in working out solutions rather than picking at scabs?

Compromise involves concessions. That's how you find middle ground. Working out solutions starts with a complaint, and ends with suggestions on how to fix the problem. In this case, one suggestion is asking others not to over-generalize. The pushback against that is what has kept the issue going as much as anything.

There was denial it was even a problem:
The "girlfriend zone" thread linked in the original post has 420 comments. I just did a search for "men do" and "men are" on the whole thread. There are a grand total of five comments that use that language in which "men" is not modified by "some" or "a few" or "and women".
When I ran the same search, I got 100 hits for "men". Lot more than five, so I start going through them to see how they are used. The title of the thread is 'Why do men keep putting me in the girlfriend zone?' 'Why do men keep putting me in the girlfriend zone?' is the name of the parody that makes up the sum total of the FPP, too, and those are the very first words in the thread, from the pullquote MartinWisse chose to frame the FPP. There's over-generalizing right from the get-go. It's hardly subtle. Ignoring that completely seems disingenuous.
posted by misha at 10:33 PM on September 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


The problem, imho, isn't being offensive, it's being inaccurate. Incorrect statements are far worse than hurtful ones.

Then for accuracy's sake, the next time you purport to speak for men as a group, would you mind saying "men except for Conspire" instead of "men"? Because I've mentioned, what you're saying really does not reflect my experiences as a male.
posted by Conspire at 10:41 PM on September 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


If someone is going to try to say that "Why do men keep doing X to me" refers to "all men, everywhere, every single one of them" instead of "The subset of men who I have met and who have not only done X, but done X to me," then we have major reading comprehension differences, not political differences.
posted by jaguar at 10:43 PM on September 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


I want to note that I would like to be excepted from generalizations about men as well, seeming as I don't tend to fit categorizations that are often chauvinistically applied to that group, especially by some of the folks pushing what appears to be a socially conservative agenda in this and other related gender threads.
posted by kalessin at 11:06 PM on September 8, 2013


Oh, and me too. Because threads about women's issues aren't actually about women's issues, but about me, personally, as a man.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:33 PM on September 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


Well to clarify, I am totally okay with being a guy and having women or men speak in general negatively about the greater population of all typical, heteronormative, cisgendered men.

It doesn't bother me because I know that the general population of such men have done some pretty fucked up things to specific individual women and populations of women and I figure that at its worst this type of criticism is only likely to irritate me a little bit and not put me at a lifetime's disadvantage.

What I don't want to be implicitly included in is some pundit's (including those around here acting like pundits) who invariably speak for me as if they know my mind and they are sure I would and do agree with them on some outlandishly sexist assertion or another.

I find it infuriating to have my self determination taken away from me by a clueless pundit type.
posted by kalessin at 11:54 PM on September 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Progressives have a chronic bad habit of treating anything less-privileged people said about more-privileged people as unchallengable. For example, when I was in college, it was understood that it was inappropriate to challenge "Afrocentric" accounts of history, even when they contradicted known history, because after all, all that "known history" was Eurocentric. As a result, many African history departments lost a decade pursuing shibboleths and hiring charlatans, and are only now starting to dig their way out of the hole and start doing real history (interestingly, the historically black colleges were far less vulnerable, because they had no well-meaning white administrators unwilling to call out obvious falsehoods).

I don't know the facts behind this anecdote, but based on my lifelong experience as a faculty brat and an academic (social privilege, I do have some), I find it more feasible that historically black colleges would likely have been less vulnerable because their African history departments had existed for long enough to accrue multiple historians with a diversity of perspective, and consequently could both criticize their own body of work and hire faculty appropriately. University administrators don't hire faculty - faculty do. If a white arts and humanities faculty couldn't differentiate between good and bad history, that means the shibboleth and charlatan problem substantially antedated the African history departments.

Topic: as a rule, I try to shut up and listen to people who don't share my privilege, because I really do owe them that much. Even if I'm not personally their oppressor, I share in a social structure that puts me above them. Listening supportively costs me very little. People are experts on their own lived experience, and no matter how much I study, I can't compare to that. Once in a while someone might have a reason to misrepresent their experience, but not nearly as much as people seem to worry about. I would sooner give the benefit of the doubt and do right by someone who isn't what they say than withhold it too much and be certain that I'm doing someone wrong.
posted by gingerest at 12:03 AM on September 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


It's such a community norm, I've never seen someone not get called out more quickly than I could type. But the other sort has not become a community norm, which is why I haven't shut up about it.

Hmm. I've seen a couple posts about "why is it that so many ads depict guys as being dumb," and I've definitely chimed in a couple times on those posts that "yeah, I agree, that's not fair". I don't let the fact that other people have spoken before me keep me from adding my own voice to the callout. Is there any reason why you do?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:19 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I ran the same search, I got 100 hits for "men". Lot more than five, so I start going through them to see how they are used.

Wait a minute, before we continue...what exactly did you find? Seeing as how this is an essential part of the discussion, just throwing that out there makes it sounds like it was totally a widespread problem that kept happening over and over again.

The title of the thread is 'Why do men keep putting me in the girlfriend zone?' 'Why do men keep putting me in the girlfriend zone?' is the name of the parody that makes up the sum total of the FPP, too, and those are the very first words in the thread, from the pullquote MartinWisse chose to frame the FPP. There's over-generalizing right from the get-go. It's hardly subtle. Ignoring that completely seems disingenuous.

As jaguar pointed out, this is itself a disingenuous reading of the FPP and accompanying links. Perhaps a better example can be found?
posted by zombieflanders at 4:19 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's over-generalizing right from the get-go. It's hardly subtle. Ignoring that completely seems disingenuous.

But...it's a parody, as you acknowledged. A parody of the (over-generalizing) "why do women keep putting me in the friend zone" thing.
posted by rtha at 5:15 AM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Weird new shitty shorthand that we're trying to not get much of a foothold here.

`SJW` is shitty shothand in the same way `MRA` is. Funny how different their reception has been.
posted by 0 at 5:16 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The problem, imho, isn't being offensive, it's being inaccurate. Incorrect statements are far worse than hurtful ones.

Ah, yes, this is quite the familiar refrain, I've dealt with this confrontational style before. Next will come the demand that we drop the qualifiers, so someone will use a general number like "roughly half" at which point the response is "if you mean 50%, say that." So 50% is used, but no no no, the real number is 47%, what are you trying to pull with that 50% BS? Okay, 47% it is--no, wait, table ii.b in Section 5, Subsection D actually says 46.8%, nice try on pulling one over on us, you lying liar who likes to tell lies (BTW, at no point will the margin of +/- 5% be mentioned by the offended party). Or maybe somewhere along that line of conversation, it will be that the study was sponsored by RAINN and is therefore biased, I have another study from the JustTrueStats.com that actually says it was 20%, and thus the previous numbers must be invalid. Or maybe the last government study was conducted in 2008, and anybody who's not a complete idiot knows there's been a tectonic shift, so we can't use those, which means that the game is over and I Am Right And You Are Wrong (subtitle: Because It's Always Us Vs Them).

I've seen this attempt to destroy any meaningful conversation with constant nit-picking hundreds of times online and off. It's absolutely poisonous, almost always deliberate, and even when done out of an obsession for total accuracy it rarely does anything but bring the discourse down. This is what I was talking about when I said I've lost faith that we can avoid this argumentative derail-y stuff. I see absolutely nothing to dissuade me from that. The numbers must be right because that's the true injury being done here. Not women being harassed or raped, not calls for equality being treated as complaint porn, not the fear that so many women live with every day. Nope, it's always going to be that 3.2% margin of error that's the real weapon. The real victims in the discussion of the constant, brutal, institutional attacks on women will always be the men.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:21 AM on September 9, 2013 [15 favorites]


`SJW` is shitty shothand in the same way `MRA` is. Funny how different their reception has been.

You have got to be shitting me. Please tell me this is a parody, and that you're not just ignoring nearly a century of the use of the term "men's rights" and several decades of the use of "men's rights advocacy" by organized groups of men explicitly engaging in attacks on women's equality and feminism.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:26 AM on September 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


"Social Justice" also has a long history. The acronyms-as-othering-rhetoric (aka shitty shorthand) has little to do with their real world counterparts.
posted by 0 at 5:31 AM on September 9, 2013


You have got to be shitting me. Please tell me this is a parody, and that you're not just ignoring nearly a century of the use of the term "men's rights" and several decades of the use of "men's rights advocacy" by organized groups of men explicitly engaging in attacks on women's equality and feminism.

To be fair, I want to punch MRA types in the face, and I see his point - we sometimes use it as shorthand for people who may not actually associate with MRA types, but it's a slippery slope down the woman-hating highway.
posted by corb at 5:34 AM on September 9, 2013


"Social Justice" also has a long history. The acronyms-as-othering-rhetoric (aka shitty shorthand) has little to do with their real world counterparts.

These are wiggle words. Social Justice Warrior was popularized as a pejorative by those opposed to social justice and is rarely used by the wide spectrum of people engaged in activism, whether they are strident or not. MRA was created, popularized, and still is proudly used by most who are a part of it.

we sometimes use it as shorthand for people who may not actually associate with MRA types, but it's a slippery slope down the woman-hating highway.

We do? But again, even if that was the case, SJW is being used like this all the time. It's only when people are called on it that they claim it doesn't mean everyone, and even that happens irregularly.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:45 AM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


MRA is very much a self identification in the way that SJW isn't.
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 5:46 AM on September 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


We do?

Yes, we do. A lot.
posted by 0 at 5:51 AM on September 9, 2013


That seems to be following the same dubious assumption as "only snarky attacks get the most favorites."
posted by zombieflanders at 6:29 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


0, please provide examples. A lot of examples.
posted by kalessin at 6:40 AM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'll cop to probably doing it myself sometimes, though I try not to when I'm thinking about it, it's hard not to be snarky about MRA-types, even if they wouldn't self-identify that way.
posted by corb at 6:54 AM on September 9, 2013


Social Justice Warrior was popularized as a pejorative by those opposed to social justice

You keep saying this. It keeps being a lie.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:58 AM on September 9, 2013


You keep saying this. It keeps being a lie.

That's a hell of an allegation. It's the sort of thing one should either back up or apologize for.

I literally have never heard "social justice warrior" used in any way other than perjoratively; I have never heard it self-applied. Do you have any evidence to the contrary?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:02 AM on September 9, 2013 [13 favorites]


I have never heard it used that way, and would also point to conflict within the term itself to suggest that it would never be used that way.

The word warrior is generally only used as a positive factor by those who believe in violence as an acceptable method of resolving conflicts. These tend, overall, to be correlated with more conservative political beliefs, and not often aligned with those who believe in "social justice". Thus, it is unlikely that anyone would ever self-describe in such a way as there would be cognitive dissonance.

"Social justice advocate" now, I have heard.
posted by corb at 7:09 AM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


You can use Google as well as I, kalessin. How many of the people referenced (note the referents are usually non-specific boogeymen) do you think self-identify as MRAs? The self-identification thing is nitpicking my original point anyway. Does Tumblresque as a pejorative have a different sting depending on if the referent actually has Tumblr account or not?

If SJW is considered weird shitty shorthand and it's use here is to be discouraged, I nominate MRA for the same consideration. I don't expect the nomination to have much effect, but hope some folks will at least think for a moment about how they are similar constructs.
posted by 0 at 7:10 AM on September 9, 2013


Do I really need to link to (for instance) reddit's MRA subreddit to prove that many people proudly take this as a self-designation?

"SJW" is a thing that doesn't actually exist. It's a name flung at people who are advocating for social justice in ways that the name-flinger thinks is wrong and bad. "MRA" is a thing that does actually exist, and is a thing that people call themselves.
posted by rtha at 7:20 AM on September 9, 2013 [13 favorites]


I have never heard it used that way, and would also point to conflict within the term itself to suggest that it would never be used that way.

Just from the first page of Google results:

Urban Dictionary:
A pejorative term for an individual who repeatedly and vehemently engages in arguments on social justice on the Internet
Know Your Meme:
Social Justice Blogging is a type of blogging where the poster dedicates their time to demanding equality for racial minorities, women, LGBTQ groups, the disabled, etc. These bloggers are often criticized for being rude, obnoxious or misinformed about the topic, especially on Tumblr where people who mockingly called “social justice warriors” will attempt to find any excuse to fight for their beliefs.
Social Justice Warriors IRL:
Acceptable submissions will pertain to things pertaining to ridiculous privileges, womyn and femanazis, and so on
/r/TumblrInAction:
How to find juicy social justice warriors on Tumblr:

Browse SJW tags! When taking material from a tag to post here, either screenshot it or link to the blog post, do not simply link to the tag page. To link to the blog post from a tag page, click the folded paper graphic at the top right corner of the post and copy that URL here.

Tags to watch include...
Social justice
Privilege
Feminism
MRA
Masculism
Misandry
Misogyny
Genderfluid
Genderqueer
Queerplatonic
Demisexual
Otherkin
Multiplicity
Plurality
Headmates
White people
Ableism
Fatphobia
posted by zombieflanders at 7:22 AM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Do I really need to link to (for instance) reddit's MRA subreddit to prove that many people proudly take this as a self-designation?

I'm of the opinion that the vast of majority of people labelled as MRA on MetaFilter are having the label applied to them rather than being a person who self-identifies as such. You are of a different opinion. No matter. All I ask is that people who feel they have been unfairly cast as representing a certain stereotyped point of view think about how they might cast others unfairly as well.
posted by 0 at 7:31 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


MRA is the actual name of a movement. And in most of the usage you're pointing to, it is people saying that somebody is engaging in tactics or expressing a worldview consistent with the MRA, which is a fair criticism, and can actually be supported or refuted.

There is no movement called SJW. There is no philosophy or tactic presented under that rubric. It cannot be supported or refuted, because its only function is as a perjorative.

If you think people are being unfairly compared to the MRA, that's probably a fair point to have a discussion about. However, it's not the discussion you're having.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:31 AM on September 9, 2013 [14 favorites]


You can use Google as well as I, kalessin. How many of the people referenced (note the referents are usually non-specific boogeymen) do you think self-identify as MRAs?

Apart from Ditko's Mr. A and the unrelated Moral Re-Armament Movement? I kid, I kid. Seriously, though? A quick browse shows stuff like people linking to /r/MensRights (a sub-Reddit by and for Men's Rights Advoccate). The OP of the AskMe on the first page says that the person they are afraid of being part of the MRA movement because
He believes that there is no such thing as patriarchy. Women get paid the same amount of money for the same amount of work. Health care should not cover contraception as employer should not be responsible for that. Men create things and women make their way into them and take them away.
Do you actually believe this is misuse of the term?

The self-identification thing is nitpicking my original point anyway. Does Tumblresque as a pejorative have a different sting depending on if the referent actually has Tumblr account or not?

Talk about nit-picking.

If SJW is considered weird shitty shorthand and it's use here is to be discouraged, I nominate MRA for the same consideration. I don't expect the nomination to have much effect, but hope some folks will at least think for a moment about how they are similar constructs.

Since MRA seems very much to be descriptive of actual movements self-named as such, and the use here seems to follow that conscription and can hardly be considered to be similar constructs, that seems like an awfully one-sided demand.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:36 AM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


A quick skim and random clicking through the google results for MRA on mefi seems to break down into discussions of Steve Ditko's comics and discussions about actual MRA sites. Are there specific links in that list that illustrate what you're talking about? Because I'm not seeing this apparently obvious "vast majority."
posted by rtha at 7:39 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm of the opinion that the vast of majority of people labelled as MRA on MetaFilter are having the label applied to them rather than being a person who self-identifies as such. You are of a different opinion.

Your opinion stands as almost entirely unsupported, whereas those of a different opinion have plenty of supporting evidence. You came into this conversation with an assumption, and when challenged to back up this assumption, you made a snide "just Google it" comment. So now that even that doesn't back you up, you're just going to create this supposed trend out of thin air?

All I ask is that people who feel they have been unfairly cast as representing a certain stereotyped point of view think about how they might cast others unfairly as well.

When we start seeing that as a trend instead of a baseless accusation, then sure.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:42 AM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


that's a hell of an allegation. It's the sort of thing one should either back up or apologize for.

I literally have never heard "social justice warrior" used in any way other than perjoratively; I have never heard it self-applied. Do you have any evidence to the contrary?


You stated that people who use the term are in fact against social justice (rather than for social justice, and convinced that the approach used is counterproductive).. You have repeatedly accused me of lying about my motives, which is really pretty shitty of you. The burden of backing up accusations is on your end.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:52 AM on September 9, 2013


I'm of the opinion that the vast of majority of people labelled as MRA on MetaFilter

It's the sort of thing we pay attention to here since yeah if people were getting called that a lot we'd probably step in. My recollections which are, as always, sort of hazy, are that this is the sort of thing that maybe 3-4 regular members have been called out on in a "That sounds like an MRA thing to say" way. We do see it sometimes when new people show up out of noplace and start making threads on gender topics suddenly about them and their own viewpoints and people are like "Where did you come from?"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:52 AM on September 9, 2013


I don't know who you're talking about, TFB, but it's not me, and you no longer seem to be making sense.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:56 AM on September 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


The word warrior is generally only used as a positive factor by those who believe in violence as an acceptable method of resolving conflicts.

Not entirely true in my experience where it's sometimes also used within activist circles to describe an activist who is heroically fighting the good fight in a very hostile environment as an admirable or admiring term, but has no real connection to violence except as violence (mostly verbal) done TO the activist.

You can use Google as well as I, kalessin.

This is not an entirely useful response first because it is flippant and second because the Google results are of poor quality. MRA is used as an acronym for other things and google parses MRA as "mr. a" as well as just "MRA". Finally, of the first 10 hits on that search, two are hits on Metafilter tags (accuracy debatable but I'm not really willing to invest in it), one is an outright mismatch, two are quotes of outsiders used as part of a post or comment and 3 are talking specifically about MRA sites external to Metafilter. So that's 7 that are not particularly relevant to this conversation nor to the examples I asked you to provide. Or a 2:7 Signal to Noise Ratio.

I'm of the opinion that the vast of majority of people labelled as MRA on MetaFilter are having the label applied to them rather than being a person who self-identifies as such.

Most of us social justice activist types also think that external folks are identifying us as SJWs so it's an interesting bit of rhetorical parity. Maybe a truce is in order?
posted by kalessin at 7:58 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


TFB, have you got links or something that point to SJW used non-perjoratively or by people who call themselves social justice warriors in a non-ironic fashion?
posted by rtha at 8:01 AM on September 9, 2013


You stated that people who use the term are in fact against social justice

Actually, no I said "popularized." Considering that I first saw it popping up more and more on places like the chans, Encyclopedia Dramatica, and the shittier corners of Reddit, seeing it land on the shores of MeFi was a very unwelcome shock.

This is the main reason I object to it so much, BTW. The people that I saw wholeheartedly using it thought nothing of making non-whites out to be inferior animals, women advocating for equal rights to be whiny bitches who deserved to be beaten and raped, gays to be unnatural pedophiles, and trans* people to be whiny indecisive freaks with chopped-off penises and inside-out vaginas. The fact that MeFites are making it a hill to die on here is really fucking appalling to me.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:05 AM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think nearly all of them aren't. And bringing hateful stuff other people say elsewhere over to MetaFilter doesn't actually help this discussion at all so it would be great if people didn't do this.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:08 AM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I should clarify that I've only seen social justice activists call themselves warriors as a single term and not as SJWs, and only in the most fervent drumbeat sort of activist self-help enclave rituals replete with rollings of eyes and frothings at mouths. It's quite a sight. I love it when humans get all monkey and weird. :)

But then only as warriors, not as high falutin' Social Justice Warriors.
posted by kalessin at 8:08 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just went a-Googling about "social justice warrior". I found one socialjusticewarrior.com who seemed pretty earnest but it's a person who appears to be a little on the edge, sort of a feminist outsider or at least feeling comfy enough in the role ehas to write essays about making sure your pro-choice arguments are consistent with your radical feminism, which strikes me as potentially a little difficult to argue from a man's perspective without being all personsplainy. (I'd originally falsely identified the author of the site as a guy because of paralanguage but now I'm not so sure, so I'll leave it at that.)

But anyway, the rest of the hits I found (and I didn't do a comprehensive search by any stretch of the imagination) were mocking sites and discussions.

It's really easy, I note, to set up a nice, tempting, stereotyped-to-the-gills straw man of what a "social justice warrior" is and then knock it down and declare victory. That's why we're arguing for accuracy in descriptors, especially about social justice warriors, of which there appear to be many in the conservative view of things, but not so many from the would be social justice warriors themselves.

Straw men are also not really all that helpful in a reasoned argument but they're great for screamy fights.
posted by kalessin at 8:22 AM on September 9, 2013


I think nearly all of them aren't. And bringing hateful stuff other people say elsewhere over to MetaFilter doesn't actually help this discussion at all so it would be great if people didn't do this.

To be clear, I don't think that TFB or anyone here believes that stuff (I just assume they don't know of it), I'm just saying that that's what informed my understanding of the term and my sensitivity to it being used and vehemently defended.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:24 AM on September 9, 2013


zombieflanders, I have no dog in the "socialjusticewarrior" fight, but I am going to say that I think a lot of the hard time I, personally, have on Metafilter sometimes is with people who have had a hard time on other websites or with other people in real life who believe things, and then apply it to me. I completely understand the emotional reaction, but I think it tends to hurt actual mefites who do not believe that stuff, by laying the emotional reaction on top of what those mefites are saying.

I'm not calling you out or anything - honestly, I think what you just described above is probably a lot of other people's emotional reactions as well, and I don't want to ding you just for being honest and self-examining about it. But it might be something to be mindful of, that it affects how we all deal with each other.
posted by corb at 8:38 AM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm not calling you out or anything - honestly, I think what you just described above is probably a lot of other people's emotional reactions as well, and I don't want to ding you just for being honest and self-examining about it. But it might be something to be mindful of, that it affects how we all deal with each other.

I see what you're saying and I agree. However, I also want to point out that, at least with TFB and 0's posts, the accusations are being pointed at repeated misuse of terms like MRA on MeFi, an accusation that has yet to be proven, let alone definitively. It's an honest mistake to have an emotional reaction to something that is generally understood (at least by the Internet at large) to be an attack, less so to just create a narrative from the barest wisps of hints and then use it to justify retaliation for an imagined attack.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:46 AM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've made no accusation. I have pointed out that MRA and SJW have quite distinct histories on this site. This is pretty self-evident to me and do not think "definitive proof" required is for me to note the distinction in our collective response and to request that people turn it over in their heads a bit. But since you want proof before granting me that space to participate, will you accept jessamyn's recollection that that 3-4 regular members and some newbs have been "called out on in a 'That sounds like an MRA thing to say' way" as some evidence I'm not just imagining things? I doubt the people that jessamyn is thinking of self-identify as MRA.
posted by 0 at 9:08 AM on September 9, 2013


I'm late to this, but wanted to respond to the OP. I think I'm coming from a similar place, and have completely changed how I try to approach feminism/sexism conversations over the last six years or so.

OP: I think being able to peruse threads like the recent gender inequality posts with an open mind would help my life in general and help to identify where I am being dishonest with myself, and what needs to be worked on.

You can agree or disagree with this, but I started getting a lot more out of those discussions when I decided that the most interesting stuff going on in gender threads is stuff that I personally have never experienced.

As a random example, there was an Ask back in 2010 where a man got a wrong-number text from a woman about a first date, and asked whether he should text back later and ask how the date went. If you're a man who's struggled in gender discussions (like me or the OP), stop and consider how you would feel about sending a text like that. A woman sends a wrong-number text about a date, you text back to ask how it went. How does that make her feel? Then consider some of these responses, each from different people:
I would freak the goddamn hell out.

it's going to give her anything from a bad moment to a really bad week

That would creep me the hell out.

... about a 50% chance that she'd find it sufficiently creepy to weird her out for the rest of the day or week.

I would be skeeved beyond belief.

How do you feel about frightening an individual and making them feel like they have to change their phone number?

Here's the real worst that could happen: You text her, she thinks you're the kind of person who would google up her address, she doesn't text you back, but spends the next 1-3 days kind of nervous that you are following her around AT ANY GIVEN TIME.

I would be totally unsettled by this, and would probably look up your number/try to find out if your some weirdo/be really, really nervous about this for a week or so.

There is a pretty big chance she'll be slightly or even very frightened to realize that now some unknown stranger has her number.

It kind of ruins your day and makes you double check your locks at night.

One of the scariest things that happened to me was getting a text from a number I didn't know, late at night, while I was home alone, and just after having had a very difficult breakup with seriously unhinged boyfriend which involved me having to change the locks: it said "i am here". Now, you texting her could potentially not bring up that sort of feelings or worries, but it might. Don't do it.

My sister has been stalked. Having a stranger start texting like this would likely give her nightmares for a few days about shit she's gone through.

it could upset and frighten her to the point where she calls the cops

This would scare me a lot. I would probably be freaked out for a few days

I'm a fun/spontaneous person, and this would scare the hell out of me.

Data point: As a woman who has been stalked, this would freak me out pretty badly.

I would feel ashamed and embarassed, and I would immediately delete the text, block the number, and tell people about how much it freaked me out. I'd feel bad for a day or two.
Did you guess that she would be scared for days afterward? Did you guess that she would consider changing her number and double check the locks on her door? Did you guess that she would have nightmares? Did you guess that she would feel ashamed?

I never would have. But this is lots and lots of people talking about their own personal experience in similar ways -- I have to conclude that what they're describing is a pretty normal way for women to feel. That's a hint that the way many women are experiencing the world is totally different from the way I'm experiencing the world. Specifically, things that are trivial and unimportant to me (a random text from a stranger) are of life-threatening importance to them.

Once you think about the world that way -- two totally different experiences of the same thing -- you start seeing it everywhere. Imagine walking through an unfamiliar neighborhood, not a particularly dangerous neighborhood, at night, alone. Do you think your experience of that is the same as your female friends? Or, you're out on a first date and your date asks if they can come back to your place. Same experience for a man and a woman? You're in a new place and thinking of going to a party by yourself to meet people. Same experience? You're dressed up nicely and walking down a street past a lot of people of the opposite gender. Same experience? You're at a conference for work, and you hear two people behind you talking about someone's body. You're not sure whether they're talking about you. Same experience? Your doctor mentions that you could stand to lose ten pounds. Same experience? You're in a meeting with five people who are all men, and you contradict something one of them said. Same experience? Are you sure?

What I found is that each of those situations, like the wrong-number text example, is a terrible gold mine of experiences that are totally different from mine -- experiences that are scary, infuriating, or embarrassing where I would just cruise through without a second thought. So the most important and interesting thing I can do in any conversation about gender is to try to get a glimpse into that alternate world. I used to take lots of other strategies: nitpicking the word choice, pointing out the details the author got wrong, trying to make sure the presentation is strictly fair to me and men in general, thinking of hypothetical innocent explanations for the behavior of the men involved, pointing out women who are engaging in hyperbole, suggesting alternate strategies that should have been used instead. Those made me feel good because they were pretty much the only thing I had to contribute, because it's always nice to score points against someone in a debate, and in particular because they helped to prove that the world was fair and that my place in it was normal. But it's like focusing on the dirt and throwing away the gold -- I came away with nothing that was worth anything. Whether or not my points were right, they just weren't the interesting part.

Ignoring the dirt and focusing on the gold has been more rewarding.

(I absolutely don't want to suggest that there's a universal experience for men or women in each of those situations above. I just mean that it turns out I personally have a lot to learn about what those situations are like for other people, mostly from women, and that what I can learn is a lot more valuable to me than what I can contribute by correcting errors in the presentation.)
posted by jhc at 9:13 AM on September 9, 2013 [34 favorites]


But since you want proof before granting me that space to participate, will you accept jessamyn's recollection that that 3-4 regular members and some newbs have been "called out on in a 'That sounds like an MRA thing to say' way" as some evidence I'm not just imagining things?

This is a bizarre direction to try and go with this; Jess' point is that it's as close to "doesn't actually happen" as it can get without hitting the literally-never-happened threshold, not that it's An Obvious Problem That We Need To Recognize.

If you want to argue that there's any substantial thing that needs looking at regarding the actual occurrence of this phenomenon you're concerned about, yes, you need to buck up and actually present a case that involves talking about specifics of where it's happening instead of just handwaving about it as some reflexive tit-for-tat dealio.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:13 AM on September 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


jhc, thanks for that. I hope the OP still reading, in spite of the derail.
posted by scody at 9:20 AM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hmm, ok, if the mod view is that "MRA as shitty shorthand" doesn't actually happen on this site, then I stand corrected. Perhaps I'll flag next time I see it.
posted by 0 at 9:20 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had to look up MRA to figure out what the hell people were talking about. That's how not in-tune with its use I was at the start of this conversation.
posted by kalessin at 9:21 AM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I had to hit urbandictonary for both MRA and SJW. Neither one meant a thing to me. Clearly I'm not spending enough time on the internet.
posted by jfuller at 9:46 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


kalessin: I found one socialjusticewarrior.com who seemed pretty earnest

This whole 'SJW' thing is a pure and proper derail -- and I'm sort of shocked that TFB was choosing it as something to react so harshly about since it's only shown up at all here as a misguided analogy to 'MRA' -- but in acknowledging that website as a single potentially unsarcastic and self-affirming use of 'social justice warrior' you perhaps didn't look at the last line on its about page?
posted by nobody at 9:50 AM on September 9, 2013


the mod view is that "MRA as shitty shorthand" doesn't actually happen on this site, then I stand corrected.

My point was twofold

- MRA as shitty shorthand is a thing that happens almost never
- when we do see it it tends to be more of a "You are acting here like you are part of this group" thing and less of a "You are one of these people" thing. This is generally acceptable.

If we see someone going after someone and calling them a men's rights activist when they are not engaging in something that appears to be men's rights activism at that time we will absolutely step in and call bullshit on it. However, this is something that almost never happens outside of specific discussion in MetaTalk which is moderated differently from the rest of the site.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:54 AM on September 9, 2013


Between this, the new brogate at a tech conference thread, and the re-homing thread, I'd just like to say that the next person who posts a cute animal video would be doing us all a SOLID.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:53 AM on September 9, 2013 [17 favorites]


but in acknowledging that website as a single potentially unsarcastic and self-affirming use of 'social justice warrior' you perhaps didn't look at the last line on its about page?

Did you miss the penultimate line of the about page?

Taken together, I consumed the about page as a lone warrior's struggle to turn the phrase around from the UrbanDictionary standard definition that we are all using (including me) for the term.
posted by kalessin at 10:55 AM on September 9, 2013


Debaser, if you're still here, my advice is:

1. Read all the comments before adding your own. When you get to the bottom, show all the new comments before posting. Make sure no one has already said what you were planning to say, or that the tone of the thread hasn't shifted (which it tends to do in posts with hundreds of comments). It may be that the issue has already been settled, or that people are (thankfully!) ignoring an obvious derail, and you answering the derail would prolong it.
2. If you think what you're about to say could read overly snarky, could be taken the wrong way, is a great zinger, or if you're writing it with a thought to how many favorites it might get - don't post it. Save it in word if you think it's just so awesome that it can't be lost, and come back and read it later to see if you still think you should post it. But probably, don't post it.
3. If you notice that one particular MeFite seems to push your buttons, either don't read his/her comments (if you look at who wrote first, which I don't) or just resolve not to respond. Very hard to do, but I have a few that I start to get het up, and when I look and see who it is, I think "Oh, yup, that's why. Next." We don't agree, we aren't going to agree, and trying to talk it out is pointless, so I don't. That may sound crappy and judgmental, but it's better than responding and getting all crappy and judgmental in the the thread. This doesn't mean I don't read the comment; I don't want to close myself off to other perspectives, even if they kinda piss me off. Because, why? The reason I'm upset may tell me something about myself, and I want to know what that is, even and especially if it's not really a nice thing about myself.
4. Continue to read threads that push your buttons, or present experiences you don't have; it's a great way to get a new perspective on something you thought you already knew all about. Find ways to ask questions that aren't expecting people to explain the entire theory of feminism (for example) or making it sound like you're questioning the rightness of another's position.

You've done such a hard thing today by admitting that you don't always do this right. The only way I could figure out how not to be an asshole here was to not be here for a lot of years and do some growing up. Honestly, this post has eased some of my GRAR from the last several days; it helps to know that someone is listening when a bunch of people say "Check your assumptions." Thanks for this, good luck, and I look forward to reading your posts (and any additional response here if you come back).
posted by jennaratrix at 11:09 AM on September 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


Ye gods. Having to talk people who object to use of the term "men's rights activist" off the ledge in a thread created to ask users "how they were able to approach FPPs and the ensuing threads which historically had affected them emotionally (and perhaps irrationally) in order to be able to absorb new information and viewpoints" is through the looking glass.

One of the least endearing parts of gender-related discussions is the injection of these pseudo-helpful asides and disingenuous requests for positional clarification, which are designed only to call the very existence of sexism into question. They are drawn from the same small collection of examples of dogmatic denialism, but they are always brought up as though they are incredibly clever, brutally honest, and novel ideas. Why does this keep happening?

People who chime in with this stuff seem to be laboring under the belief that maybe this will finally be the time all the silly womenfolk and allies will throw our hands up and capitulate to the desires of the handful of people who so desperately want to change the subject. That they continue to engage in such successful derailing tactics does not speak to their implicit truth, but rather solely to the dogged persistence of their advocates. I have no idea why else people like TFB would be moved to respond to EVERY discussion about women's issues with a host of "but--!" and "well, actually--!" other than an apparent hope that they will be able to permanently change the discussion to a topic they find more palatable if they just repeat themselves often and loudly enough. Do they think their curiously patriarchal concerns will make us shut up once and for all, that we will eventually realize the error of our ways and slink off, soundly defeated, into the sheltering night? Hilarious. And I can't touch the "social justice warrior" garbage with a ten-foot pole -- just check out the latest PAX thread! Whee!

All of this "I totally respect women and everything, I'm just saying" nonsense has been addressed specifically, repeatedly, and exhaustively since the advent of feminist thought, in blogs and high-level academia, in person and online... but here we are, hundreds of comments later, spinning in circles around derails. As ever it was, so ever it shall be.

To go back to the OP and expand on the notion of considering that your viewpoint may indeed be affected by the fact that you are a man, if you are thinking of expressing one of the following sentiments in a gender-related thread, I would recommend taking a moment to consider the fact that women* have likely heard it before, responded to and eviscerated it both pithily and at great length, that none of it is new or surprising to us, and as such, that we may not greet your helpful interjections with the unfaltering respect you believe they deserve. To be very clear, I'm absolutely not advocating the notion that you can't or shouldn't be allowed to say these things, I'm only pointing out that these sorts of "for your own good!"-styled objections are generally not met with infinite patience and utter sincerity, which may go a long way to explaining much of the contention around these sorts of threads.

An incomplete list, to be sure:
* But what about false accusations/alimony/"grey rape"/socially awkward men/women who poke holes in condoms because they want to collect child support/women who verbally consent to sex when they are otherwise too intoxicated to function/women who say "no" when they really mean "yes"?
* But some of my friends are women, and they say they have never experienced sexual harassment/assault
* But some of my friends are women, and they say they are flattered when they are catcalled and whistled at on the street
* But how else am I supposed to let a woman know I am attracted to her?
* But if you respond to or acknowledge harassment in any way, you are just being whiny and letting the bad guys win
* But most women are never raped and most men are not rapists, so we clearly do not need to talk about this like it's some kind of widespread problem
* But I am not sexist, personally, so you should not be talking about your obviously incorrect notions of sexism in front of me like I'm not even here
* But if you continue to talk about your experiences with rape/assault/harassment, you will foment an atmosphere of wholly unwarranted suspicion toward all men everywhere, and the fact that I could become an innocent victim of this suspicion is significantly more important than you erring on the side of caution so you don't get raped/assaulted/harassed
* But if you don't want to seem paranoid, you should really extend your trust and goodwill to men who are clearly not rapists, like me
* But rapists are monsters made easily identifiable by the scarlet letters embroidered on their clothing, there is thus no reason for you to be anything less than completely trusting of any/all men who have not specifically proven themselves to be untrustworthy, and if you do not listen to me, you are victimizing yourself and letting fear rule your life
* But it is incumbent upon women to do absolutely everything in their power to make sure they are not raped/assaulted/harassed, including drinking absolutely no alcohol but also drinking some and above all not drinking "too much," wearing clothes that are sexy enough that I can still readily identify you as a woman but also not too sexy, behaving in a manner that could not be construed as either frigid or slutty, both taking care to reject men who are rapists but also never rejecting an obviously well-intentioned man because you might hurt his feelings, and most importantly never admitting that you have ever felt uncomfortable or or uneasy around a man who was not wearing a t-shirt that says 'RAPIST'
* But females are naturally sensitive and hyperemotional, and this is just another one of your typical overreactions
* But misandry is real, and I know this because I met a woman in college who called herself a radical feminist and she always talked about how she wanted to exterminate all men, not to mention Valerie Solanas -- game, set, match
* But everyone has to deal with shitty behavior, not just women
* But I do not receive this behavior as gendered/sexist, and since it is invisible to me, your idea that it is gendered/sexist is invalid
* But there is just absolutely no way that the main reason I do not receive this behavior as gendered/sexist is because I am a man
* But you are being shrill/unreasonable/emotional/hysterical, and you will lose me as an ally if you do not start using a more measured/rational/reasonable tone
* But if you would only start saying "some men" or "very, very few men" or "almost no men at all, really," instead of just "men" without including a minimizing qualification, the possibility that I will someday agree to take what you say at face value rather than insisting that your experiences are isolated and ultimately meaningless will be increased, however imperceptibly
* But when you say "men," you mean "all men, yes, absolutely every single man on Earth, most especially every man reading this thread, their friends, and their families, even their dear old granddads, god rest their weary souls"
* But you are talking about a subject that makes me very uncomfortable, and since the most remarkable aspect of this conversation is the way I feel about it, I will continue trying to redirect the conversation back to focus on me and my feelings to the exclusion of you and your feelings because we all know what's really important here, ladies

On the off-chance you think that making one of these points is going to result in a feminist person honestly admitting defeat and saying something like, "Wow, you got me! Busted! I totally hadn't thought of that before, you're so right!" you are probably mistaken. If you think that your point will not open any minds but will instead contribute to a generalized air of mistrust, disbelief, and condescension toward any woman who refutes it, a/k/a sexism, you are probably correct. And if you still feel the need to make these assertions -- even though you know they've already been refuted dozens to hundreds to thousands of times, in thousands of venues everywhere around the physical world and all of the extant internets -- you might consider this a heads-up that the ensuing conversation might be somewhat less than friendly and accommodating to your perspective insofar as it continues to deny the very existence of ours.

* By using the word "women" without qualification here, I mean "women who are experienced with discussing issues related to our gender" but also "100% literally every single woman, in retrospect and perpetuity, on this planet and all others, yes, every last one, I am speaking on behalf of them all, for I am the voice of all women."
posted by divined by radio at 11:19 AM on September 9, 2013 [167 favorites]


Oh, here's another good tip -

Unless you're speaking about a government who is criminally punishing someone for something they said or wrote, you are not talking about censorship. So that means saying some yutzes who said something stupid at a conference shouldn't have done so is not censorship, and implying that it is doesn't help the conversation.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:24 AM on September 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


Yeah, Chocolate Pickle is just taking a huge ol' dump all over that thread.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:26 AM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


That they continue to engage in such successful derailing tactics does not speak to their implicit truth, but rather solely to the dogged persistence of their advocates.

See also: Fox News's annual hand-wringing over the nonexistent War on Christmas, and the Tea Party's screeching over white people's near-total social, political, and economic powerlessness following the usurpation of the presidency by a Kenyan.
posted by scody at 11:32 AM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


So this comes back around to the stuff I used to argue with cortex and jessamyn about a lot and I think post-therapy for me boils down to a sort of calibration issue.

At what point is the best option to stop responding in any way (even the way the tail end of this thread tried to do where we tried to respond with reason to hand-wringing and concern trolling)?

I think I used to be less committed to the idea of not responding than I am now, but still I suspect that I go too far into assuming good intent than I should. Because responding reasonably is the default around here it can make us entirely too gullible to concern trolling and other rhetorical methods used by some of the less ethical among us and get us spinning around endless derails.
posted by kalessin at 11:37 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The less ethical among us?
posted by 0 at 11:41 AM on September 9, 2013


Rhetorical ethics. It's a thing.
posted by kalessin at 11:46 AM on September 9, 2013


Taken together, I consumed the about page as a lone warrior's struggle to turn the phrase around from the UrbanDictionary standard definition that we are all using (including me) for the term.

Oh, yeah, I'm totally with you on that reading. Just that still makes it stand as a datapoint for the term being firstly a derogatory one and only now being ironically reappropriated by that individual (and thus more analogous to 'bitch' than to 'men's rights activist').

But in any case this is still a total derail (and I know that's not your fault), especially evident by the two of us having difficulty remembering which aspect of the larger discussion is represented by each permutation of SJA/MRA // slur/not-a-slur.

(Hm, in case it's unclear, I'm one of the ones icked out by what sounds like anti-feminist talk. But since I'm acquainted with TFB personally -- along with his wife -- I've been staying out of it. But I guess I'll add: I don't think he's a closet anti-feminist -- nothing in-person has ever come close to suggesting as much -- but I think it's weird that he keeps on sounding like one here.)
posted by nobody at 11:56 AM on September 9, 2013


It could be a basic assumptions/membership/audience issue. But I don't know. The hard part is that feminist TFB really rails against folks who would, with less railing, probably happily be allies.

Like, if the railing went outward, away from potential allies instead of toward them.
posted by kalessin at 11:59 AM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Exactly!
posted by nobody at 12:01 PM on September 9, 2013


Wait, now kalessin is saying "If only you'd moderate your tone, you'd have more allies"? I thought all had agreed that anyone making that argument was trying to change the subject or derail the conversation. If that consensus has changed, if there's some agreement that tone matters and a bad tone makes for a bad discussion, I'll be delighted.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 12:50 PM on September 9, 2013


"Your argument is putting off your allies" is different from "Your tone is putting off your allies." I think everyone arguing against tone arguments would be perfectly delighted to have discussions about their actual arguments instead.
posted by jaguar at 12:53 PM on September 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Re-reading, I realize that may have come off as sarcastic. It's not, though--- it's entirely sincere.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 12:54 PM on September 9, 2013


TFB, one thing I've noticed about "tone argument" is that it's a term of art with some nuance to it. At least when I think about what we mean by "tone argument" here, I think about a situation where you have a discussion involving one group with more power and one group with less power, and members of the powerful group shut down argumentation by saying things like "Well if you'd just be nicer maybe I'd listen." This really isn't a two way street, though, because one of the benefits of being in the more powerful group is that, really, having your tone criticized isn't going to shut off your argumentation.

For the record, I'd like it if we were all a little more generous to one another. But I am trying to explain the apparent inconsistency you mention above. If I wanted to use much more hyperbolic language, I guess I could say that one way of thinking about making a tone argument is that it's a tool of oppression.
posted by MoonOrb at 12:58 PM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wait, now kalessin is saying "If only you'd moderate your tone, you'd have more allies"?

That's not what kalessin said.
posted by rtha at 1:01 PM on September 9, 2013 [8 favorites]


Holy shit, divined by radio, that was fucking marvellous. Lest anyone think otherwise: not being ironic. That's going on my personal favorite comments ever list.
posted by Ipsifendus at 1:05 PM on September 9, 2013


I used "railing" because I feel it describes your general approach, TFB, to whatever obstacles you imagine are in your way.

What I was arguing was that if you picked your targets more carefully that you might have more allies and fewer people telling you to watch how and where you use your arguments.

Because for a person who claims the identity of a feminist I find it really interesting that almost all of your argumentative targets are your fellow feminists. You don't, for instance, choose to take on 0, cupcake1337, zoo or Justinian when they are being righteously sexist, silencing or just unnecessarily or excessively evocative at the expensive of women's rights.

So I don't consider suggesting that you consider the targets of your railing a "tone argument". It's more a rhetorics criticism or a piece of interpersonal feedback freely given. I don't give a shit if you keep saying the same things to the same people No skin off my ass.

For your furthe reference, if indeed you are arguing from a perspective of innocence and naievete (which I quite suspect you aren't), most tone arguments are argued from a position of victimization (from the speaker's point of view). They rely on the idea that etiquette trumps true speech about true emotion and experience. So a person arguing a vindictive tone argument usually says something guilt-inducing about how the testimony makes them feel and then follows up with something proscriptive about how it would be better for everyone if the tone changed for "the better".

In your case, TFB, I only said something akin to, "Hey, no skin off my ass, but if you want to take less crap less often, maybe you should take care with who your targets are."

That's a tone argument in only the barest technical sense and devoid of context and other subtleties you've so far showed absolutely no awareness of or care for, so I ask myself now, why do I bother?
posted by kalessin at 1:09 PM on September 9, 2013 [13 favorites]


If I wanted to use much more hyperbolic language, I guess I could say that one way of thinking about making a tone argument is that it's a tool of oppression.

I think this is the crux of the problem, though. Because if only majority voices can make or be criticized for making a tone argument, then it's less a neutral statement applied to a type of argument, and more a statement that requires a price of entry of accepting structures of oppression.

It's kind of like how racism to a social justice perspective is different than racism to an average perspective. Social justice perspectives would say that racism can only occur from majority to minority, because it's about power, while most people would say that racism is when someone treats someone else badly because of race.

You may take things from a social justice perspective, and that's cool, but I do think it's unfair to expect everyone else to as the price of commenting on Metafilter.
posted by corb at 1:16 PM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


"as the price of commenting on Metafilter"? That's $5, same for everyone, regardless of what definitions of racism they know and use. But "as the price of commenting on Metafilter without receiving this specific criticism over and over again and without also alienating people who experience racism"? More accurate.
posted by Ouisch at 1:24 PM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


There's a reason Libertarianism is huge among MRAs and white supremacists.

Okay, so here's a convenient example of the kind of thing I was speaking of. Although Pope Guilty doesn't explicitly call a member of the community an MRA, if one follows the context of the comment back there is one specific member's comment that is being implicated here as belonging to the unholy trinity of Libertarianism/MRA/WhiteSupremacy. So basically a bunch of crap that that person didn't say is now being loaded onto them.

That's exactly how I've seen SJW used on metafilter recently: as lazy stereotyping rather than as a personal slur against a specific user*. If it's problematic to use SJW that way (and I agree it is), it shouldn't be a huge stretch to suggest MRA should be treated likewise. (*I'm open to links that suggest otherwise, but couldn't find any myself.)
posted by 0 at 1:26 PM on September 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think this is the crux of the problem, though. Because if only majority voices can make or be criticized for making a tone argument, then it's less a neutral statement applied to a type of argument, and more a statement that requires a price of entry of accepting structures of oppression.

That's because it's effectively impossible to make a tone argument against somebody in power. Making a tone argument is saying "unless you phrase what you say in a way I like, I don't have to listen to what you are saying." That is not a statement that a person in the less-powerful position can say. Do I get annoyed when my boss speaks dismissively or sneeringly* to me? Yes, I do. Do I have any leverage at all to say "I'm not paying attention unless you're nicer to me about it?" No, I do not. That's because in the employer-employee relationship, the boss is the one with the power.

* Hypothetical. My boss is awesome and treats her people with respect.
posted by Lexica at 1:27 PM on September 9, 2013 [13 favorites]


0, cupcake1337, zoo or Justinian when they are being righteously sexist, silencing or just unnecessarily or excessively evocative at the expensive of women's rights.

On non-preview, does being called "righteously sexist" et al count?
posted by 0 at 1:28 PM on September 9, 2013


corb, that is why I described "tone argument" as a term of art. In my view it's a rhetorical technique that applies only to what I guess we could call the oppressor.

When the argument is made by the oppressor to the oppressee, it has the effect of basically preserving the status quo. I think of it as effectively saying, "I'm not going to even consider your point of view until you're nicer about it." So, the status quo is preserved, nothing changes. This benefits the oppressor. If we suppose the argument is made in the other direction, and it is the oppressee who says to the oppressor, "I'm not going to consider your point of view until you're nicer about it," well...the result is the same. Status quo is preserved, since the oppressee can make no headway with the oppressor in the discussion.

This is why when I think of "tone argument," it's a tool that can really only be applied by one side.

(Also...when you say "you may take things from a social justice perspective...", did you mean "you" generally? Or were you referring to my views here?).
posted by MoonOrb at 1:28 PM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's a reason Libertarianism is huge among MRAs and white supremacists.

Duly flagged.
posted by corb at 1:28 PM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I should have previewed, because Lexica said it better.
posted by MoonOrb at 1:29 PM on September 9, 2013


Okay, so here's a convenient example of the kind of thing I was speaking of. Although Pope Guilty doesn't explicitly call a member of the community an MRA, if one follows the context of the comment back there is one specific member's comment that is being implicated here as belonging to the unholy trinity of Libertarianism/MRA/WhiteSupremacy. So basically a bunch of crap that that person didn't say is now being loaded onto them.

This isn't even close to an example of what you were speaking of, and certainly not a "convenient" one. He was saying people who self-identify as MRAs and white supremacists tend to espouse libertarian viewpoints. At no point did he say that libertarians tend to be MRAs or white supremacists, nor does he ascribe being libertarian or an MRA or a white supremacist to any user.

That was a bullshit callout and you know it.

That's exactly how I've seen SJW used on metafilter recently: as lazy stereotyping rather than as a personal slur against a specific user*. If it's problematic to use SJW that way (and I agree it is), it shouldn't be a huge stretch to suggest MRA should be treated likewise. (*I'm open to links that suggest otherwise, but couldn't find any myself.)

There was no MeFi user or other person being stereotyped as an MRA. You're making something problematic by inverting and stretching the phrasing to the breaking point.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:34 PM on September 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


There was no MeFi user or other person being stereotyped as an MRA.

Yes, that was my point. Nobody has stereotyped anybody as an SJW either. But the problems with the shitty shorthand are recognized nonetheless.
posted by 0 at 1:38 PM on September 9, 2013


Oh, and BTW the comment Pope Guilty was responding to says "[t]here's a strong strain of libertarianism among engineers and techies," with the commentor never once indicating that they were themselves an engineer or techie.

That same also equates people speaking out against harassment as Nazis, so there's that.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:38 PM on September 9, 2013


On non-preview, does being called "righteously sexist" et al count?

I am commenting on actions and assertions I have seen you make, 0. I didn't call you an MRA. I said I had observed you be righteously sexist. What is your complaint? That you haven't been righteously sexist?
posted by kalessin at 1:39 PM on September 9, 2013


What is your complaint? That you haven't been righteously sexist?

LOL. I give up.
posted by 0 at 1:41 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, that was my point. Nobody has stereotyped anybody as an SJW either. But the problems with the shitty shorthand are recognized nonetheless.

Holy fuck, are you being this obtuse on purpose? I repeat: He was saying people who self-identify as MRAs and white supremacists tend to espouse libertarian viewpoints. At worst, he was "stereotyping" MRAs and white supremacists as being libertarian, which isn't actually a stereotype, as one can easily find many examples of those willing or even proud to admit they are MRAs or white supremacists and libertarian.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:43 PM on September 9, 2013


Yes, that was my point. Nobody has stereotyped anybody as an SJW either. But the problems with the shitty shorthand are recognized nonetheless.

Can you at least acknowledge that SJW doesn't even exist except as a rhetorical fantasy, while MRA and white supremacy are movements and people that exist in the real world and identify as such?
posted by rtha at 1:45 PM on September 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


I ran into this with some work colleagues who are also TEA party members. I made reference to the teabagging thing and about how illustrative it was of how out of touch the TEA party was that they tried to co-opt a term with prior filthy connotations for their own purposes. And then insist, despite evidence to the contrary that they got there first and the fratboys and videogamers co-opted it from them.

I couldn't get one of them to admit the history, that the videogame/fratboy sense of the term predated the TEA party by 2 or 3 years. (This is a documented timeline.) I was roundly attacked over the whole thing with both tone arguments and with misstated histories and timelines. It also didn't matter that the timeline included cases of contemporary TEA party members still using the "teabag" term in their own fantasy definition (of sending teabags to elected representatives to remind them of the Boston Tea Party and presumably of their constituents' views).

What I was looking for was a "Oh, yeah, I guess we kinda messed that up!" what I got was "Shut up you're being rude!" "Shut up, it's always about sex with you liberals!" "I don't know what you're talking about!" and the classic and ever popular simple "Shut up!" and "Did not!"

This so reminds me of 0's, TFB's, cupcake1337's, zoo's and Justinian's regular rhetorical styles that I may have just reached my breaking point too.

There's such a thing as trying too hard to be right and have the last word, guys. I think I will leave it to you to have the last word because it seems like I've been talking in circles for days and I'm tired of the view.
posted by kalessin at 1:54 PM on September 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Looking at 0's comments on this thread, I don't see anything I would describe as "righteous sexism", so I'm not sure what I'm supposed to "call out". Are there comments on another thread you're referring to?

zombieflanders is doing a lot of obnoxious rhetorical violence---"Holy fuck, are you being this obtuse on purpose?" and "That was a bullshit callout and you know it."---which bugs me a lot more. But it's Metatalk, and demeaning rhetorical nastiness is kinda how it goes.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 1:56 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Silenced all your life.
posted by scody at 1:58 PM on September 9, 2013 [23 favorites]


zombieflanders is doing a lot of obnoxious rhetorical violence---"Holy fuck, are you being this obtuse on purpose?" and "That was a bullshit callout and you know it."---which bugs me a lot more.

The reason I wonder why 0 is being this obtuse and saying his callout is bullshit is that anyone who can do simple sentence diagramming could see that his interpretation was in fact bullshit and simple repetition of his fallacy in the face of that is just digging in his heels.

But it's Metatalk, and demeaning rhetorical nastiness is kinda how it goes.

The problem, imho, isn't being offensive, it's being inaccurate. Incorrect statements are far worse than hurtful ones.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:08 PM on September 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


If someone wants to take the MRA derail elsewhere, that would be great, it's totally turned this thread into an argument with the Same Old Arguers and this thread started out really useful to a large number of people.

For the record, flags in MeTa are really for egregious stuff and when you flag, you move on.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:41 PM on September 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


That same also equates people speaking out against harassment as Nazis, so there's that.

So what you're saying is that I made the right choice not to wade in there?
posted by corb at 3:18 PM on September 9, 2013


Like any thread involving feminism on MeFi, the answer to, "Should I wade in there?" is "How high are your boots?"
posted by klangklangston at 3:21 PM on September 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


this thread started out really useful to a large number of people.

Yeah. I am kind of sad that a bunch of people (heck, maybe most of us) made it all the way to the bottom without reading (or at least taking to heart) any of the good advice....
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:20 PM on September 9, 2013


Actually, is their any way the advice comments could be archived somewhere (and advice section of the wiki?)? There is some good stuff in this thread.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:44 PM on September 9, 2013


Well, I read the whole darned thread, and I think there was some excellent advice.

These are all things I am trying or will try to do more of (really!): Give others the most charitable reading you can, lurk more and commemt less, try not to take lazy generalities personally (and try not to make them in the first place), ask questions without firming them as gotchas or accusations, don't assume people who disagree with you are trolls but don't engage with them if you think they are (flag them instead).

And divined_by_radio, thanks for that little bit of hyperbolic humor. I think we all needed that! I'm sure I'm not the only one who has seen more than enough straw misogynists and straw feminists today, and you managed to take a shot of them both in your comment. Good for you, and thanks for the laugh.
posted by misha at 9:42 PM on September 9, 2013


* But I am not sexist, personally, so you should not be talking about your obviously incorrect notions of sexism in front of me like I'm not even here

oh my god, perfect. i have no idea why i clicked on this thread but, incredibly, i am now glad i did
posted by a birds at 1:01 AM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


And divined_by_radio, thanks for that little bit of hyperbolic humor. I think we all needed that!

Fairly sure they were serious which means your comment comes across as seriously nasty.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:57 AM on September 10, 2013 [19 favorites]


This is probably going to be a controversial suggestion, but it is starting to feel like sexism/harassment threads are turning into a bit of outrage-filter and maybe there needs to be a higher bar for them to stay? We have had rather a lot of them recently. (I know, FIAMO, but just a thought).
posted by empath at 8:22 AM on September 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


There's a reason Libertarianism is huge among MRAs and white supremacists.

Wearing white after labor day is faux pas, so what did Klan members do?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:25 AM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is probably going to be a controversial suggestion, but it is starting to feel like sexism/harassment threads are turning into a bit of outrage-filter and maybe there needs to be a higher bar for them to stay?

Then we'd have to do the same with stuff like the Snowden/NSA threads. Like those, these are more about revelations and call-outs to the public eye increasing. And unlike I/P threads, there's obvious shitty behavior pretty much overwhelmingly amongst the powerful (NSA and sexists/harassers/etc, respectively). I think making a special case for sexism/harassment/etc means you have to do it with a bunch of other subjects and really serves to assuage the concerns of a small and loud minority.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:43 AM on September 10, 2013


Everyone knows minorities are supposed to be small and quiet.
posted by 0 at 8:51 AM on September 10, 2013


Maybe knock that "I am making a joke using the voice/words of a real asshole" thing off?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:53 AM on September 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Then we'd have to do the same with stuff like the Snowden/NSA threads.

I don't think I'd have a problem with that.
posted by empath at 9:07 AM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Wearing white after labor day is faux pas, so what did Klan members do?"

They switch to winter robes, generally a nice patterned wool.
posted by klangklangston at 9:15 AM on September 10, 2013


this comment by divined by radio is so fucking awesome. like, i want to give myself worse rsi embroidering it on a series of throw pillows. incredible.
posted by nadawi at 9:27 AM on September 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Then we'd have to do the same with stuff like the Snowden/NSA threads

The mods already do that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:19 AM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is sort of interesting: Confessions Of A Former Misogynist. (It's not new, we may well have seen it before.) It feels a little too carefully-rehearsed to have the emotional impact it maybe should, but perhaps it will resonate with someone.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:27 AM on September 10, 2013


this comment by divined by radio is so fucking awesome. like, i want to give myself worse rsi embroidering it on a series of throw pillows. incredible.

I'm teaching myself Spencerian script calligraphy.

♬ I know what my next practice text will be! ♪ ♫
posted by winna at 11:10 AM on September 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


How do you all have such cool goddamned hobbies?
posted by Corinth at 11:12 AM on September 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


You can get a speedball calligraphy set for ten bucks, some Higgins Eternal ink for five bucks, a ream of regular writing paper to practice and the alphabet off google image search.

Go forth and make calligraphy!

I'm learning it to make a friend a lovecraftian storybook for his birthday, so that part is a bit neat.
posted by winna at 11:25 AM on September 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sidebar divined by radio's comment, please. It should be required reading for anyone commenting in gender threads. I'm surprised a favoriting frenzy has not ensued.
posted by thinkpiece at 11:40 AM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Jesus. I feel like everything just became secondary to the fact that winna is about to wake Cthulhu from his goddamn slumber.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:43 AM on September 10, 2013 [16 favorites]


Don't be silly it's not like I'm transcribing the writings of Abdul Alhazred or anything.

Ha! Ha! That would be foolish in the extreme!
posted by winna at 11:59 AM on September 10, 2013 [15 favorites]


Jesus. I feel like everything just became secondary to the fact that winna is about to wake Cthulhu from his goddamn slumber.

To be fair, many of those tactics are blasphemous horrors of old (they make me blaspheme, at any rate), which show every sign of ousting death at this rate....

I suppose "Do not call out any who you cannot put down" might also be good advice.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:03 PM on September 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sidebar divined by radio's comment, please.

With respect, this is not the sort of thing we sidebar. We can have a longer discussion about this if you want, but this will not be going on the sidebar, as much as I agree it's a useful (to me) comment.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:05 PM on September 10, 2013


Nah, no discussion necessary, I grok it. However, it could forestall much agita on the inevitable, next go 'round. Or not.
posted by thinkpiece at 12:20 PM on September 10, 2013


However, it could forestall much agita on the inevitable, next go 'round.

My feeling is insofar as it could do that, it could do it as well or better by someone mentioning and linking to it in context vs. having been sidebarred that one time, independent of that more general "let's not use the sidebar to add wider visibility to site conflict stuff" issue.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:22 PM on September 10, 2013


Jessamyn, if you are saying the comment that ends with By using the word "women" without qualification here, I mean "women who are experienced with discussing issues related to our gender" but also "100% literally every single woman, in retrospect and perpetuity, on this planet and all others, yes, every last one, I am speaking on behalf of them all, for I am the voice of all women

is utterly sincere rather than hyperbolic, and that descriptions like, to take just a random example

But misandry is real, and I know this because I met a woman in college who called herself a radical feminist and she always talked about how she wanted to exterminate all men, not to mention Valerie Solanas -- game, set, match

are not straw misogynists, or the woman described as such is not a straw feminist, then I think that comes across as seriously nasty.

Can anyone here cite an example of this filth ever having been said on this site? Is that really the view we have of any of our members here? Because to me, I would take it as a given that some woman who wants to exterminate all men is a straw feminist, just as a man who supposedly believes this to be true is a straw misogynist.

And if we do have members saying shit like that, why are those members not banned from the site?

That's why I thought, and hoped, the comment was not serious, and was poking fun at cliches.
posted by misha at 12:36 PM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because to me, I would take it as a given that some woman who wants to exterminate all men is a straw feminist, just as a man who supposedly believes this to be true is a straw misogynist.

I think the disconnect here is that it sounds like you were speaking to some very specific small portions of divined by radio's comment when you said this:

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has seen more than enough straw misogynists and straw feminists today, and you managed to take a shot of them both in your comment. Good for you, and thanks for the laugh.

But you were totally unclear about that. And without you being at all clear about that, it reads as a sort of "ha ha but clearly you jest" dismissal of the comment as a whole, and e.g. "straw feminists" comes across as a reference to the ideas at large rather than to the specific glancing reference to "yeah but Valerie Solanas!" gotchas in one bullet point among many.

The presence of a little bit (and maybe less than you're reading) of hyperbole in some of the items in that roundup doesn't make the roundup hyperbolic. It read like you were writing it off as wacky humor rather than noting that a couple bits of flair in there made you laugh.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:15 PM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Can anyone here cite an example of this filth ever having been said on this site?

Apart from the last several examples being in wide evidence in this thread, yes. "Misandry" almost always get deleted when it's too blatant, but here's a recent comment in a thread about female fashion bloggers being horrified by dudes stealing their pictures for jerk-off material. And here's an example of someone explaining that misandry on dating sites exists so therefore...something.

And as for the rest? Off the top of my head, in just the last couple weeks:

* The thread about the woman whose daughter was harassed out of the programming field has "But everyone has to deal with shitty behavior, not just women" thrown into it.

* The TitShake thread got a nice dose of "But I do not receive this behavior as gendered/sexist, and since it is invisible to me, your idea that it is gendered/sexist is invalid"

* The girlfriend-zone thread has at least one blatant "But how else am I supposed to let a woman know I am attracted to her?" in a thread full of hints about it.

* The "Teach Naked" thread is basically a bunch of people pulling "But females are naturally sensitive and hyperemotional, and this is just another one of your typical overreactions" plus "But you are being shrill/unreasonable/emotional/hysterical, and you will lose me as an ally if you do not start using a more measured/rational/reasonable tone" with a side of "But if you respond to or acknowledge harassment in any way, you are just being whiny and letting the bad guys win."

* The latest PAX thread used "But some of my friends are women, and they say they have never experienced sexual harassment/assault."

* The thread about women afraid of traveling alone had a "But if you don't want to seem paranoid, you should really extend your trust and goodwill to men who are clearly not rapists, like me" and "But rapists are monsters made easily identifiable by the scarlet letters embroidered on their clothing, there is thus no reason for you to be anything less than completely trusting of any/all men who have not specifically proven themselves to be untrustworthy, and if you do not listen to me, you are victimizing yourself and letting fear rule your life" derail.

* The con harassment thread was spoiled with the "But what about false accusations/alimony/"grey rape"/socially awkward men/women who poke holes in condoms because they want to collect child support/women who verbally consent to sex when they are otherwise too intoxicated to function/women who say 'no' when they really mean 'yes'?" and "But if you continue to talk about your experiences with rape/assault/harassment, you will foment an atmosphere of wholly unwarranted suspicion toward all men everywhere, and the fact that I could become an innocent victim of this suspicion is significantly more important than you erring on the side of caution so you don't get raped/assaulted/harassed" front-and-center.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:22 PM on September 10, 2013 [20 favorites]


That's why I thought, and hoped, the comment was not serious, and was poking fun at cliches.

I'm just saying, agree or not with what was written, if you read that passage and thought "What a lark!" then I have real doubts about your ability to read for tone.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:51 PM on September 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yikes! My sincerest thanks, but yes, I'm afraid that a MetaFilter that would even remotely consider putting my last comment on the sidebar would not be a very good MetaFilter at all. New kitten advice, awesome MSG science, adorable cow-tipping debunk? Best of! Righteous feminist anger? Not so much.

And misha, I am definitely a very sincere radical feminist. My comment was not intended as a light-hearted joke, but I know that we definitely do not see eye to eye on these issues, so I wouldn't expect you to take it seriously. I might suggest that it's generally a good idea to confirm that someone's actually joking before you point out how much you laughed at them, though. As you partially observed, the only part that was insincere was the tiny footnote at the bottom. I am only the voice of most women, not all.*

Even if I spent a few hours adding to zombieflanders' list, it would not help anything, because our viewpoints are so different that we might as well be living in different worlds. As such, it's highly unlikely that we will ever share an opinion when it comes to deciding whether MeFites have or have not used any of the derail maneuvers I listed.

If that sounds like a copout and makes you want to take a victory lap, I hope you can understand that it is exhausting, treacherous, and often rather terrifyingly fraught to agree to engage in "pics or it didn't happen!"-type discussions from a feminist perspective. The people who approach you with demands for "evidence" of sexism tend to be the ones who are most often a) coming at you from a position of utter, complete, and total disbelief, and therefore likely to attempt to negate any/all examples you present and/or use them as bludgeoning instruments to show you how wrong you are and b) prone to shifting goalposts, since individuals tend to vary in their specific requirements for what might reasonably constitute "evidence." Or "filth," for that matter.

In this case, you might want me to find an undeleted comment here on MetaFilter that earnestly and specifically presents Valerie Solanas as an example of widely accepted feminist ideals. If I took some time out of my day to do as you've asked, and I was able to reproduce it here, would it really change anything? You probably wouldn't wave your white flag and cede your position, or even admit that I might be onto something. Instead, you might say "well, that's not really what I meant" or "how about more than one?" or "OK, but what about THIS one?" On and on it would go, conversation successfully derailed. It remains my contention that straw feminists and other similar rhetorical cudgels are definitely alive and well on MetaFilter and elsewhere -- we should probably just agree to disagree on that point.

Ultimately, I just really don't feel like going down the "but you must link it, or it does not exist!" road, especially in a MeTa that was started by a man who (IMO quite bravely) admitted that he was having some potentially problematic objections in threads about gender bias and wanted to know how people who had histories of similar reactions were able to expand their horizons and be a little more generous, thoughtful, and considerate in their contributions. This thread started out really promising and was turned into a parody of itself by the same handful of people who remain perpetually devoted to Absolutely Not Having This Conversation, and my comment was just a dashed-off result of being overwhelmed by the grim humor inherent in that result, in a "whistling past the graveyard" sort of way. It would be nice if we could go back to talking about winna's awesome calligraphy and Cthulhu, though.

To R'lyeh!

* /hamburger! /Boca burger!
posted by divined by radio at 2:03 PM on September 10, 2013 [21 favorites]


misha, in case you want more specifics, this comment by Ipsifendus in the Teaching naked thread calls out a number of people for bad behavior there.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:41 PM on September 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, empath, Blasdelb, and others have been making a collaborative list of cliché sexism-thread derails, arguments most definitely to be avoided, in the high-school-programming class thread.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:53 PM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Incidentally, I was able to find "an undeleted comment here on MetaFilter that earnestly and specifically presents Valerie Solanas as an example of widely accepted feminist ideals" pretty easily, since I ... rather vividly remembered a few of them from a few years back.

> "If a man were to write about killing all women and creating an all-male society today, what do you think the reaction would be? He'd be regarded an utter and total nutcase and thoroughly discredited and maybe tossed into a psych ward on 5150 basis. Yet the radical feminists of the era tried to defend and support [Solanas]!"

http://www.metafilter.com/82659/Domestic-Violence-Women-Abusers-On-The-Rise#2621484

> "People who go around attempting to murder other people who haven't done anything 'worthy' of being killed and then are proclaimed as heroes of their political movement are nothing but a discredit to themselves and their political movement."

http://www.metafilter.com/82659/Domestic-Violence-Women-Abusers-On-The-Rise#2621524

> "Several posters have blasted me for being unreasonable about criticizing radical feminists. How can you NOT criticize people like Dworkin and Solanas ..."

http://www.metafilter.com/82659/Domestic-Violence-Women-Abusers-On-The-Rise#2624206

And so on.
posted by kyrademon at 2:57 PM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


... aaaand having re-read divined by radio's last post, which I did the first time while half-asleep. please ignore my previous post as a derail and let us never speak of it again.
posted by kyrademon at 3:05 PM on September 10, 2013


Unless you're speaking about a government who is criminally punishing someone for something they said or wrote, you are not talking about censorship. So that means saying some yutzes who said something stupid at a conference shouldn't have done so is not censorship, and implying that it is doesn't help the conversation.

I get that this is a thing where not everyone is going to see eye to eye, but please don't make it seem like this is the settled -- or even a regularly agreed-upon -- definition. It's not. "Censorship can be carried out by the government as well as private pressure groups." And that's to say nothing of corporate censorship.

Folks aren't always going to agree on where to draw the line. That's okay. Last time I linked to that, people wanted to talk about how the ACLU was wrong. That's fine, too. I didn't link to the ACLU because they're knowledgeable about the subject (though that's true) -- I linked to them because they have a solid social-justice history, and they still don't agree with the censorship-is-governmental-only premise.

Criticism is free speech, absolutely. So is criticism of the criticism, and so on, down the rabbit hole. But defining terms in such a way as to put well-intentioned and knowledgeable allies "on the other side" is a bad way to deal with what are (at least sometimes) honest concerns about how we exercise our collective power.
posted by Amanojaku at 3:22 PM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


...Which has nothing to do with that comment, the comment it links to, or that thread in general.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:31 PM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


In other words, Chocolate Pickle's comments weren't positioning himself as an ally to anyone but guys that think that promoting harassment is hilarious in the first place, and any statement from "the other side" of the discussion came from him.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:35 PM on September 10, 2013


...Which has nothing to do with that comment, the comment it links to, or that thread in general.

In other words, Chocolate Pickle's comments weren't positioning himself as an ally to anyone but guys that think that promoting harassment is hilarious in the first place, and any statement from "the other side" of the discussion came from him.


Thanks for the clarification. The link just takes me to a thread, not a specific comment, so I'm not defending any comments made there. My point is simply that "It's not censorship because we're not the government" isn't a valid rebuttal to claims of such, because many definitions -- including ones from allies like the ACLU, not just from Libertarian MRAs -- recognize multiple ways to censor.

So. Relevant to that comment, yes?
posted by Amanojaku at 3:49 PM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


So. Relevant to that comment, yes?

If you wanted to quibble about the meaning of the word "censorship," sure, I guess. I still have no idea what that has to do with putting allies "on the other side," though. It just seems like a random thing to drop into an already contentious thread, since AFAIK no one was or is talking about accusing potential allies with either censorship or the lack thereof.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:00 PM on September 10, 2013


Amanojaku, I'm not clear why it's relevant to this thread. It seems like a hard left turn at the end of a long and fairly specific thread.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:01 PM on September 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Criticism is free speech, absolutely. So is criticism of the criticism, and so on, down the rabbit hole. But defining terms in such a way as to put well-intentioned and knowledgeable allies "on the other side" is a bad way to deal with what are (at least sometimes) honest concerns about how we exercise our collective power.

Okay, but do you at least agree with my larger point that people who are whining things like "saying that we can't crack titty jokes in the middle of a tech conference is censorship" are definitely wrong on THAT definition?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:42 PM on September 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Considering the vast love that list of "arguments so wrong they should never be uttered" is getting, pointing out that at least some items on that list are problematic seems pretty thread-appropriate.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 4:50 PM on September 10, 2013


Go on.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:56 PM on September 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


Or feel free not to!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:59 PM on September 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


ThatFuzzyBastard, it's not a goddamn list of arguments so wrong they should never be uttered. It's a list of arguments that have been uttered, hundreds if not thousands of times, in every discussion of feminism-related topics that didn't happen to be held where no man had every heard it.

So, honestly, tell me...if you feel that you can spot something you may potentially want to say on that list, doesn't it communicate anything to you at all that it's on the list? Doesn't that give you a bit of fucking pause, motivation to engage in a little self-examination? Because I for one feel that you made your feelings clear a long, long fucking time ago, and continuing to insist that we attend your concerns and your feelings about this subject seems fucking arrogant.
posted by Ipsifendus at 6:04 PM on September 10, 2013 [11 favorites]


If you wanted to quibble about the meaning of the word "censorship," sure, I guess. I still have no idea what that has to do with putting allies "on the other side," though. It just seems like a random thing to drop into an already contentious thread, since AFAIK no one was or is talking about accusing potential allies with either censorship or the lack thereof.

I'm really struggling to rephrase my point to make it any clearer, so I guess if all I managed to convey was "the quibble," then that will have to do. Feel free to just disregard my last two paragraphs.

Amanojaku, I'm not clear why it's relevant to this thread. It seems like a hard left turn at the end of a long and fairly specific thread.

Why ... trying to have a better grasp of what censorship entails is relevant? I didn't just start talking about it out of nowhere: I was addressing a specific comment that used a specific definition.

Okay, but do you at least agree with my larger point that people who are whining things like "saying that we can't crack titty jokes in the middle of a tech conference is censorship" are definitely wrong on THAT definition?

Absolutely.
posted by Amanojaku at 6:29 PM on September 10, 2013


if you feel that you can spot something you may potentially want to say on that list, doesn't it communicate anything to you at all that it's on the list

Absolutely! That people like to declare things they don't want to talk about as off-topic, or trolling, or otherwise designate them as inarguable. This impulse is pretty common---try bringing up the Mulford Act on an NRA board, and you'll see the same eye-rolling.

continuing to insist that we attend your concerns and your feelings about this subject seems fucking arrogant.

You don't *have* to do anything, dude.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 6:58 PM on September 10, 2013


You don't *have* to do anything, dude.

This is advice that you might consider as well.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:04 PM on September 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


Absolutely! That people like to declare things they don't want to talk about as off-topic, or trolling, or otherwise designate them as inarguable.

Nobody actually said anything was "inarguable." After your repeated accusations of arguing in bad faith, people lying about what you said, and double standards this strikes me not just as the utmost in arrogance, but hypocrisy as well.

You don't *have* to do anything, dude.

Then I am curious as to why, for instance, women who are relating stories about their harassment need to be told repeatedly about the need for witnesses, or that being afraid of rapists while traveling alone is a fear they are instilling in themselves, or being told they should be naked is just them being all hysterical because boys will be boys.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:11 PM on September 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


"Considering the vast love that list of "arguments so wrong they should never be uttered" is getting, pointing out that at least some items on that list are problematic seems pretty thread-appropriate."

What list? Can I see it? Or did you just make it up for rhetorical effect? Because that's not a list of things that can't be said; it's a list of things said so often as to be tropes. But really, which are problematic?

"Absolutely! That people like to declare things they don't want to talk about as off-topic, or trolling, or otherwise designate them as inarguable. This impulse is pretty common---try bringing up the Mulford Act on an NRA board, and you'll see the same eye-rolling."

Hmm. No one has actually said those are inarguable positions, rather that they've been argued so often that they're cliche. But you really took nothing else than thinking it's a list of things that are inarguable?

Which ones, specifically, would you like to argue? Or are you just making finger noises and don't actually want to have a conversation?
posted by klangklangston at 7:20 PM on September 10, 2013


Sorry, actually, that last comment was an excellent example of letting frustration over bullshit prod me into responding to something that would already be addressed without me adding more heat.

You know, in case Debaser is still reading.
posted by klangklangston at 7:22 PM on September 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


ThatFuzzyBastard, at this point your participation in this thread is indistinguishable from trolling, and it is time for you to leave it alone. If you can't manage to do that, you will get some time off.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:24 PM on September 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


That people like to declare things they don't want to talk about as off-topic, or trolling, or otherwise designate them as inarguable.

It's more basic than this. Let's say, for the sake of argument, that these things you want to say are factually indisputable, and furthermore the most important things pertaining the the subject of some thread in progress.

Even if that's so, the people that you're addressing your comments to have heard these things already. They can write up a list of the things most commonly heard from the other side of the ideological divide, a list that, even when expressed with a healthy does of scathing sarcasm, still retains enough of the actual content of your opinions that you can recognize them as things that you might want to say. And holy shit, if people are dismissing these things before you've even said them, THEN WHAT WILL YOU DO?

But that reaction? The pre-emptive concern that you in particular will somehow be silenced if these things are treated like idiocy? That's nobody else's problem. It's tedious to listen to, and by it's very nature a derail, because we've heard it before. You can take it as fucking read that we're aware of these concerns. People have been expressing them for fucking ever. You are not saying anything new, or noteworthy. You're not representing a minority viewpoint, you're reciting shit so trite we can mimic it in our sleep.
posted by Ipsifendus at 7:26 PM on September 10, 2013 [19 favorites]


This list stuff struck me as doomsaying the thread very early which isn't very productive for discussion. It's hard to get too mad because the predictions of how these discussions can go are pretty spot on but it was a bit much to see so many posts complaining about the discussion before it really had a chance to ferment for a bit. Sometimes these threads don't turn out awful.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:55 AM on September 11, 2013


Sometimes these threads don't turn out awful.

That list was created because every single thread in here has gone into the awful. Find me one that didn't and we'll talk.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:15 AM on September 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


Drinky Die: "This list stuff struck me as doomsaying the thread very early which isn't very productive for discussion. It's hard to get too mad because the predictions of how these discussions can go are pretty spot on but it was a bit much to see so many posts complaining about the discussion before it really had a chance to ferment for a bit. Sometimes these threads don't turn out awful."

In other words, we were too defensive, and should let the apologists have their turn before speaking up? Because how women feel is not nearly as important as waiting to see which over-inflated ego is going to start in with those arguments?

We should wait until we're hurt to speak up, instead of at the warning signs?

Like it or not, how our complaints about sexism and misogyny are treated are actually a significant part of the complain process. It is impossible to have a discussion about something like the computer science teacher without also discussing how the complaint is received in the wider community, because that's where the complaint is.
posted by geek anachronism at 4:26 AM on September 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I have to agree that that list is a great resource of stuff that is always being said, has been thoroughly and endlessly refuted, and, if anyone feels that denying themselves those arguments is somehow hobbling their communication, they need some new rhetoric. And maybe to think about why they are so fixated on them.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:29 AM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Perhaps a page on the wiki explaining why the opinions of men about 'how women ought to appropriately respond to sexual harassment/assault' are generally not welcome would be better than a sarcastic list that I wrote off-the-cuff in the future.
posted by empath at 4:37 AM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


In other words, we were too defensive, and should let the apologists have their turn before speaking up? Because how women feel is not nearly as important as waiting to see which over-inflated ego is going to start in with those arguments?

We should wait until we're hurt to speak up, instead of at the warning signs?


No, that would not be an accurate paraphrase.

Perhaps a page on the wiki explaining why the opinions of men about 'how women ought to appropriately respond to sexual harassment/assault' are generally not welcome would be better than a sarcastic list that I wrote off-the-cuff in the future.

Yeah, I think so. In general I'm a fan of snark but sometimes early snark on the potential course of the thread can harm discussion.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:56 AM on September 11, 2013


Wait, are we talking about divined by radio's list, here, which was posted three days into the life of this thread? Or is there a different list that was posted too early?
posted by rtha at 5:29 AM on September 11, 2013


the list came to the thread after most of the original 6 list items had already happened in the thread. it wasn't forecasting doom, it was responding to comments already made.
posted by nadawi at 5:33 AM on September 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


rtha - this list (which continues through the thread).
posted by nadawi at 5:34 AM on September 11, 2013


I think they're talking about empath's list in the thread about harassment of female students of programming classes.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:35 AM on September 11, 2013


Ah, okay. Got my lists confused.
posted by rtha at 5:42 AM on September 11, 2013


the list came to the thread after most of the original 6 list items had already happened in the thread. it wasn't forecasting doom, it was responding to comments already made.

I'm not really seeing that.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:45 AM on September 11, 2013


Drinky Die - not the teacher's fault, this happens to everyone/isn't gendered, the mom sounds arrogant, and we just need a little more information, all happened above the list.
posted by nadawi at 5:53 AM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


A comment that places the responsibility on toxic programing culture influencing the boys rather than the teacher is which item on the list? Boys will be boys? I don't think so. That phrase not only means that the negative activity is part of boy culture, but that it should be excused on that basis. That is not what the comment appears to be suggesting to me. It is pointing to a very real toxic problem in the tech community. The comment may give the teacher more of a pass than is deserved, but it's not excusing what happened to point more strongly at a different villain.

I don't read saying that teachers have a general issue with properly handling bullying and harassment as a comment suggesting a specific case of gendered harassment should be ignored or is invalid. Bullying is endemic in our schools, and it seems a valid point of discussion to look at the general failure of educators on that in a thread about a victim. I don't think "It's just as bad for boys." is a fair paraphrase in this instance. I did not read it as a "WATM!?!" comment, but a comment offering an explanation for why the teacher failed to act to protect this girl.

(...in about 85 percent of bullying cases, no intervention or effort is made by a teacher or administration member of the school to stop the bullying from taking place.)

the mom sounds arrogant,

Someone who works with VB said she sounded a touch arrogant for repeatedly mocking the idea that it's worthwhile to teach something they use every day. It's a pretty understandable reaction. They go on to blame the teachers for harassment happening in the classroom instead of suggesting the complaint is invalid or should be ignored.

The information post is trying too hard to defend the teacher by proposing reasons they may not have been aware of what occurred without even suggesting alternative primary causes of the bullying and is definitely not helpful. There aren't any good excuses for a teacher not knowing what is happening in their classrooms. That one is definitely a problem, but I think it's a stretch to point to those other comments.

That said, if empath wrote his comment because he was interpreting these comments differently than me then I agree it was not really doomsaying and I misread what he was trying to do there.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:52 AM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


yeah, there are always excuses as to why people use arguments that sound like items on the list - but that's sort of the point - no matter what the specifics, those items always show up in one way or another - it can be explained away every single time, but that doesn't keep it from being really frustrating.

i don't think it's a stretch at all to read the comments as i did (and as apparently other people did as well).
posted by nadawi at 6:59 AM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Drinky Die: may I ask a question about the point you're trying to make?

Your objection to the list was that it "poisoned the well" towards future productive conversation in that thread, as I understand it. However, when others have pointed out to you that there are examples of people naysaying the complaint before that list was posted, you then took great pains to ascertain whether those examples were truly examples of "what was on the list" or not.

My question is: why did you do that?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:03 AM on September 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Since this is supposed to be the advice thread, and I am pretty sure this particular piece was already posted above (although a quick look didn't turn up anything). If you enter a thread already underway, you pretty much need to read the whole thread before commenting. Even if it's just to do a joke. Because seeing what has already been said and what the general tone of the the thread is makes a big difference in how comments are received. And, yeah, reading 300 comments with another 50 waiting when you get to the bottom of the thread is kind of a chore, but it's your homework so you will be up to speed. Otherwise, you can't complain when you get "mean" comments from a bunch of bruised and tired people who have addressed this issue three times already in this thread. It's not so much "Topic 101" at that point; it's "This Thread 101."
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:04 AM on September 11, 2013 [6 favorites]


Maybe we can add " this actually isn't a case of misogynists making the tired old arguments, because the woman is actually arrogant/didn't have witnesses/is hysterical" to the list of sexist things people say.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:06 AM on September 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


also: between the first and second list we add, her focus/tone/VB stuff makes me question the account, the gender disparity detail doesn't ring true to me (although i do this this was well intentioned, it wasn't the best wording), and another this is just what happens in school. all of this is in the first 30 comments. the well starts out poisoned. reacting to that isn't jumping the gun.
posted by nadawi at 7:21 AM on September 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


when others have pointed out to you that there are examples of people naysaying the complaint before that list was posted, you then took great pains to ascertain whether those examples were truly examples of "what was on the list" or not.

I took pains to look at the examples because empath is a good dude and I wanted to double check if I still felt he was out of line, it's looks like I was wrong to think he was.

Maybe we can add " this actually isn't a case of misogynists making the tired old arguments, because the woman is actually arrogant/didn't have witnesses/is hysterical" to the list of sexist things people say.


VB mockery was discussed because it was mentioned over and over in the link and was even the title of the FPP. It was not a throwaway line. If you mock the worthiness of teaching something someone does for a living, they are likely to take issue. It's not fair to twistedonion to characterize that as an attempt to ignore or invalidate the harassment issue.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:26 AM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you mock the worthiness of teaching something someone does for a living, they are likely to take issue.

The comments were not limited to taking issue with mocking what the teacher taught, and, in fact, quite a few people who felt the mother was otherwise justified in her complaints felt that this was a bit off base. Your focus on this feels a bit like cherry picking something that reasonable people can disagree on and making it the highlight of the discussion, when it was, at best, a sidebar, even in the original text of the OP's link. I'm not clear on the value of this.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:40 AM on September 11, 2013


I was discussing twistedonion's comment because it was offered as an example of what empath was responding to in the comment I previously took issue with. I am only looking at a small slice of the thread because of the nature of my previous complaint.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:52 AM on September 11, 2013


This list stuff struck me as doomsaying the thread very early which isn't very productive for discussion.

This complaint? It's already been pointed out that there were more comments than just the one you're highlighting.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:01 AM on September 11, 2013


I am not discussing any more comments because nadawi already convinced me I was wrong. I'm not sure what else there would be to say now.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:08 AM on September 11, 2013


Excellent. Then I shall retire to the cloisters for my mid-morning of steamed clams.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:14 AM on September 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


I just thought of another piece of advice:

Think of these threads as places where people are discussing, not solving. That is to say, don't go into a thread expecting that you, or anyone, is going to find a way of fixing the problem presented, or that anyone's even expecting you to try. I'm female, and in discussions about women's rights issues, my absolute ideal-world outcome is for the male participants in the discussion to:

* Acknowledge that what I'm saying happens to me actually does happen to me, and
* Think about whether it applies to their own behavior, and adjust their behavior accordingly if so.

And that's my "La la la, life is wonderful!" Ideal World outcome for a Metafilter thread. I expect many people may do one but not the other, or not do either, and I accept that as reality. But it occurred to me that part of men's frustration may be coming from an unspoken expectation that they're somehow responsible for fixing problems outside their control. You're not. It's ok to just say, "Yeah, that sucks."
posted by jaguar at 12:41 PM on September 11, 2013 [11 favorites]


Excellent. Then I shall retire to the cloisters for my mid-morning of steamed clams.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:14 AM on September 11 [3 favorites +] [!]


Gosh, this seemed like such a natural, nice place to stop.
posted by thinkpiece at 12:54 PM on September 11, 2013


Gosh, this seemed like such a natural, nice place to stop.

I know. It was almost painful to type beneath such a perfect phrase, but I figured that since I was sticking to the question asked in the post, I'd soldier on anyway. I very much hope I did not disturb any clam consumption.
posted by jaguar at 1:29 PM on September 11, 2013


He can have more clams tomorrow, anyway.
posted by MoonOrb at 1:47 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I always do.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:34 PM on September 11, 2013


Central to the human condition is the juxtaposed understanding and denial of the inevitability of a day on which you will will have no more clams tomorrow.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:41 PM on September 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


Overlooked here is that if Bunny Ultramod were in Albany, he'd likely be retiring to a repast of steamed hams.
posted by MoonOrb at 3:06 PM on September 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Central to the human condition is the juxtaposed understanding and denial of the inevitability of a day on which you will will have no more clams tomorrow.

I, for one, try to live each thread as if it were my last. They say you really only comment twice; your first comment and when you face the banhammer. Everything else is tl;dr.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:15 PM on September 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


too life; didn't regret

(works best superimposed in comic sans over a picture of a shiba inu)
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:17 PM on September 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


"don't go into a thread expecting that you, or anyone, is going to find a way of fixing the problem presented, or that anyone's even expecting you to try"

I'm pretty sure Mechagodzilla could solve sexism.
posted by klangklangston at 3:44 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have imgurred it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:54 PM on September 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


I've tried to read every post in this thread and give all of them appropriate consideration. Some posts have been very enlightening and instructive and to the point of the OP's query. Most all have been remarkable, for one reason or another, good or bad. At this point, I do feel like I can in good faith reiterate that I think this thread should be mandatory reading for all current or potential participants in this forum.

I'll also add, however, that only maybe 10% or so of all posts in this thread actually have provided constructive advice relevant to the OP's question/request for information. Well, I'm not a mod here, so I can only express opinions and not enforce them. But I do wonder whether the impersonal nature of this forum, which allows direct and personal attacks without requiring or assuming direct personal "IRL" interaction, results in a lot of wind blowing out of empty caves, and heat with little light, because the stakes are so low (i.e., just sign off).

In a current thread regarding the alleged and remarkable discovery of an enormous aquifer in Kenya, the first posts out the gate were all sophomoric and cynical suppositions about how international corporations would rape that water resource, none with any factual support or logical argumentation; but those posts garnered lots of "Likes," because they played the system so well and appealed to certain knee-jerk prejudices of a significant subset of posters, and so I guess they were worth the effort of typing them out. Maybe removing the "Like" functionality would up the ante in the discourse here? That's just a suggestion. I actually like the "Like" function because it helps me feel embraced here, but it's a tool that can be used in many ways.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 8:18 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


You can still get all of the functionality of favoriting, yet free yourself from the irritation of seeing which comments garner favorites, by enabling the option that hides them in-thread. This has made my experience here more enjoyable and maybe you'd like it too. It may make little difference to you if you believe that people shape their comments in a way to encourage favoriting, because the comments don't go away. But for what it's worth, it's a nice feature.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:34 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks, MoonOrb. I might not turn off that functionality just yet, because the ability to observe which comments made by other posters will garner "favorites" can be educational, but eventually I will probably do as you do.
posted by JimInLoganSquare at 8:52 PM on September 11, 2013


There are some greasemonkey scripts, if you like that sort of thing, that can change the way favorites are presented into a "one, some, most" presentation. I use one called fuzzy hearts and I like it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:54 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I have imgurred it."

I was actually hoping this would be Mechagodzilla solving sexism.
posted by klangklangston at 12:23 AM on September 12, 2013 [15 favorites]


BE THE IMGUR CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD, KLANGKLANGSTON.

No, really, because I totally want to se that too.
posted by corb at 7:11 AM on September 12, 2013


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