[more than you wanted to know inside] September 10, 2007 12:53 AM   Subscribe

Ladies: it's cool.

Speaking as a guy: I appreciate your consideration but there's no need to apologize. We're mostly adults here, and I hope I speak for most of the guys when I say I'm okay with you talking about flow volume and viscosity when it's relevant to the topic.

And even if there are gentlemen about with fragile sensibilities, it's not like these details were on the front page; if a guy clicks on a fertility-related AskMe he has no right to object to fertility-related discussion.

This isn't a callout, by the way. Honestly, I've just never understood why talking about everyday bodily functions is supposed to be taboo (though I respect that taboo in practice) and I was mildly amused at three different people deferring to some stereotypical gross-out factor.
posted by Riki tiki to Etiquette/Policy at 12:53 AM (101 comments total)

Hmmm, that [more inside] had line breaks when I previewed it...
posted by Riki tiki at 12:54 AM on September 10, 2007


Might be cultural - my Australian gals and I let go with explicit details regardless of the presence of males.

Now Japanese mother-in-laws and discussion of bowel movements is a topic I'm sure quite a few of us can expound upon.....
posted by gomichild at 1:30 AM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


The (sry guys) was charming and polite for acknowledging possible male discomfort while still talking about.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:43 AM on September 10, 2007


And, ironically, it's now quite fortunate that they put all the 'sorry's in there, since you've directed sensitive people without warning to a thread they might otherwise have not clicked on.
posted by chrismear at 2:47 AM on September 10, 2007


/faints
/pukes
/cries
posted by Jofus at 2:57 AM on September 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


Man up Jofus. It's just a bit of blood and discharge petal.
posted by gomichild at 4:05 AM on September 10, 2007


This is an outrage! I demand those posts be removed immediately! Oh, my poor sensibilities!
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:08 AM on September 10, 2007


Y'know, "sticky" was a word I never would have associated with that topic. Interesting, but don't feel the need to elaborate on my account.

I'm not very awake so maybe I'll be terribly grossed out after my coffee kicks in.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 5:25 AM on September 10, 2007


Well I know that men certainly do not log onto the internet to be exposed to vaginas! Keep it to yourselves ladies.
posted by ND¢ at 5:33 AM on September 10, 2007 [12 favorites]


I hope I speak for most of the guys when I say I'm okay with you talking about flow volume and viscosity when it's relevant to the topic.

Not so much.

posted by CunningLinguist at 5:33 AM on September 10, 2007


I'm not quite sure why you put this here. Someone is trying to be polite. Clearly not necessary to your sensibilities but I'm sure seen as a nice gesture by others. The gross-out factor is very real to some people and we've seen it come out in somewhat off-topic and annoying ways in AskMe (though not so much recently which has been nice).

I see it more as a pre-emptive "Please don't come into this thread about a woman stressed out about becoming pregnant and insert your off-topic squick about your feelings about me testing my vaginal secretions, thanks!" but now I've seen that we've created a thread for LOLVAGSQUICK here instead. Excellent! Keep it coming fellas!

You're newish here and may not remember the times when AskMe threads about female topics were -- occasionally but memorably -- derailed by posters wanting to inject their "well I'm not a woman but I have this opinion about how you dress/weigh/menstruate/shotput..." Not that those sorts of comments can't be on-topic, but they sometimes were pretty far afield into "male answer syndrome" land and so I think some people may have gotten a little touchy when female-themed AskMe threads come up enough to be pre-emptive about it.

Or, what BrandonBlatcher said.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:53 AM on September 10, 2007


If ever a thread needed to be closed...

Just go back and read CunningLinguist's link. It contains all the arguing, thoughtfulness, hilarity and moronic insults you'll be needing on this topic.
posted by mediareport at 6:05 AM on September 10, 2007


So when is the img tag coming back?
posted by R. Mutt at 6:14 AM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


It contains all the arguing, thoughtfulness, hilarity and moronic insults you'll be needing on this topic.

Yes, but it doesn't have the exciting tale of how I gatecrashed a midwives' Quiz Night and learned what infantile pseudomenstruation was. I think we all grew a little as people that night, albeit drunken people who later shouted out the lyrics to Dancing Queen to win a free massage.
posted by Sparx at 6:19 AM on September 10, 2007


I'm sure this post was well-intentioned but with very few exceptions a man making more than a passing reference to female bodily functions in a public forum is going to come over as a bit creepy. It's best avoided.
posted by tomcooke at 6:31 AM on September 10, 2007


Now that we've dealt with the topic of the thread:

Hmmm, that [more inside] had line breaks when I previewed it...


Seriously, do something about this shit. Expecting posters to stick <br>'s in is just idiotic.
posted by languagehat at 6:35 AM on September 10, 2007


Seriously, do something about this shit.

It's on the short list. pb has been a little occupied.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:44 AM on September 10, 2007


It's on the short list

Yay!

pb has been a little occupied.


W00t—congrats! Great kid!
posted by languagehat at 6:54 AM on September 10, 2007


OMG cute little baby!!! Congrats pb!!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:19 AM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Riki tiki gets a ribbon for being so sensitive!
posted by brain_drain at 7:27 AM on September 10, 2007


Well, all I know is pb's wife didn't come barging into MeFi blathering on and on about her discharges and whatnot, and she managed to have a baby just fine!

I keed. Congrats to the pb family, and keep the lady business discussion coming, sistas.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:28 AM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hi, my name's turaho, and, uh, something you might not know about me is that .. I have a good attitude towards menstruation. That's right, I'm the guy! The guy with a good attitude towards menstruation!
posted by turaho at 7:44 AM on September 10, 2007 [4 favorites]


Wait, does a baby count as a discharge?

And thank you, turaho. Dave Foley's the first thing that sprang to mind for me, too.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:47 AM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


A nice, big helping of mefite vadge. Just what I needed to start the day.
posted by tehloki at 7:48 AM on September 10, 2007


Have you ever fave'd one, tehloki? I mean, I don't know how you'd do that exactly. But I figure if someone could...
posted by Wolfdog at 7:56 AM on September 10, 2007


We're mostly adults here, and I hope I speak for most of the guys...

Fail.
posted by prostyle at 8:03 AM on September 10, 2007


“Not so much.”

Yeah, but by apologizing to those guys, you're just encouraging them.

“I see it more as a pre-emptive ‘Please don't come into this thread about a woman stressed out about becoming pregnant and insert your off-topic squick about your feelings about me testing my vaginal secretions, thanks!’”

Yes, but by apologizing to those guys, you're just encouraging them.

It's fucking childish for men to get squicked about menstruation unless it's 1,200 BCE and you're some ignorant, tribalistic, and patriarchal dude. I don't think that applies to anyone here.

“I'm sure this post was well-intentioned but with very few exceptions a man making more than a passing reference to female bodily functions in a public forum is going to come over as a bit creepy. It's best avoided.”

Oh, please. Grow the fuck up.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:09 AM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Heh. Yea, prostyle nails it. I know you meant well, Riki tiki, but this thread seems both condescending and completely ignorant of the ugly history we've had surrounding these issues.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:10 AM on September 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


Sharpie, wolfdog. Big honkin' sharpie.
posted by tehloki at 8:15 AM on September 10, 2007


Congrats on the new mini pb! The baby pic is adorable. The rest of the thread, meh.
posted by misha at 8:26 AM on September 10, 2007


Apparently this is a thread about how cool Riki Tiki is, all hip with the discharge and the like.
posted by LarryC at 8:29 AM on September 10, 2007


“...but this thread seems both condescending”

There's nothing condescending about his post except for the “ladies” part. Which, I admit, does hit a bit of the condescension vibe.

But just saying that preemptive apologies aren't necessary? That's not condescending.

I think what I've learned today is that if I ever feel the same sentiment as Riki tiki and want to express it, instead of being nice and saying, “hey, you don't need to apologize for talking about this, it's an acceptable thing to talk about”, I'll say, “hey, fuck off with your apologies as if I'm some female-phobic little boy, bitch” just so no one mistakes it for condescension.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:42 AM on September 10, 2007


Riki tiki, thanks. I get what your saying and the reaction seems a little...misdirected.

Sensitivities: can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em.
posted by dash_slot- at 8:49 AM on September 10, 2007


Apparently this is a thread about how cool Riki Tiki is, all hip with the discharge and the like.

And about how EB's a much better woman than any of the actual women on the site, and how by doing exactly as he tells us to do and feeling exactly how he tells us to feel, we too can become empowered autonomous beings.
posted by occhiblu at 8:53 AM on September 10, 2007 [6 favorites]


There's nothing condescending about his post except for the “ladies” part. Which, I admit, does hit a bit of the condescension vibe.

Right- there's no condescension in his post, except for the condescending part. On that we agree. The part where he assumes, based on 3 offhand comments in a AskMeta thread, that all women assume their bodies are gross, and assures us that all men everywhere are fine with it!! Well, I certainly feel better.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:54 AM on September 10, 2007 [6 favorites]


Pink frightens me.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:02 AM on September 10, 2007


"No, really, I'm not offended. Not squicked out in the least. Carry on Ladies! Ha Ha Ha!"
posted by bonehead at 9:07 AM on September 10, 2007


All of you still taking about vaginal discharge, stop. Now.


Thread is now about pb's baby and how adorable he is.

COOO!
WHO'S A BIG GUY?
WHO'S A BIGGEST WIDDLE SLEEPY SOFTY GUY?
posted by Greg Nog at 9:11 AM on September 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


LITTLE BOOCHIE BUBBY BABY
GOO GOO GA GA GEEEEEEEEE
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:14 AM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


“And about how EB's a much better woman than any of the actual women on the site, and how by doing exactly as he tells us to do and feeling exactly how he tells us to feel, we too can become empowered autonomous beings.”

Man, if I ever catch anyone saying crap like that about me, I'm gonna punch them in the face. So who's the person who said that in this thread? I missed it.

“The part where he assumes, based on 3 offhand comments in a AskMeta thread, that all women assume their bodies are gross...”

That might be there, or it might be a misreading. Hard to tell. I thought his “ladies” was addressing the women he quoted, not all women. There's much less ambiguity about the men he's referring to—they're clearly the men around MetaFilter. He's wrong, of course, that all men on MetaFilter don't feel the need to be grossed out by girlie private stuff, but that's certainly not condescending.

The “ladies” is the only thing in the post that gives it any sense of condescension. If the post had been from a woman to men about similar concerns and comments, it wouldn't have sounded condescending at all without the condescending beginning such as, um, “boys”. But “ladies” doesn't have that vibe to everybody and, I recall, jessamyn had used the term to describe herself, unironically.

The post isn't gratuitous because it isn't out of nowhere. The comments he's linked to were addressed to men. The commenters assumed that men, or some men, would be grossed out and that they needed to apologize for it, or, taking a less literal reading of it, felt on the defensive from the outset and needed to forestall a reaction.

Well, okay, he's wrong that all men on MetaFilter aren't going to have that reaction. So the defensiveness has been proven in the past to be warranted. But it's not unreasonable or gratuitous that a man, one of the men to whom the comment was addressed, would take the opportunity to say, no, you don't need to “apologize” for talking about something that certainly shouldn't be apologized for.

I make the point about it not being gratuitous because that's the only other basis I can see for a charge of condescension, as if he were given women permission, or assuring them that it was okay with we men that you discuss this stuff. Well, unprovoked, it might be that. But it's not unprovoked.

Furthermore, he's right. Some men aren't squicked by the discussion. Men shouldn't be squicked by the discussion. And women shouldn't have to apologize to men in for talking about it. That's a worthwhile thing to say and, as occhiblu has brought up the issue of who talks for whom, it's only a man who can say what Riki tiki said, as it's about male reactions and sensibilities and behavior.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:16 AM on September 10, 2007


Man, a lot of you people really have your panties in a bunch over this, don't you?
posted by dersins at 9:18 AM on September 10, 2007


sorry
posted by dersins at 9:18 AM on September 10, 2007


fuck off with your apologies as if I'm some female-phobic little boy, bitch

Jesus, EB, was that hypothetical really necessary? You seem to have a knack for upping the rhetorical fury in threads about women.
posted by mediareport at 9:18 AM on September 10, 2007


(Er, I was supposed to type that and delete it after the typing released the pressure of the thought from my head into the void. But, since it's there, I'll suffer for it.)
posted by mediareport at 9:20 AM on September 10, 2007


Dear Askme: Sorry in advance to be squicky, but ever since I got off the pill, when I menstruate, the flow is comprised of jasmine blossoms, miniature strawberries and mouse song. Is this normal? Corollary question: how do I get a good agent?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:20 AM on September 10, 2007 [8 favorites]


mouse song

Watch out for hantavirus.
posted by dersins at 9:25 AM on September 10, 2007


how do I get a good agent?

Ewwwww!!!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:26 AM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


No one should have to say sorry for anything around here -- except dersins who does so with increasing regularity. It's fine, you're all fine.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:34 AM on September 10, 2007


“Jesus, EB, was that hypothetical really necessary? You seem to have a knack for upping the rhetorical fury in threads about women.”

Well, I was looking for something that most absolutely didn't have that “maybe he's being nice in a condescending way” misinterpretation possible. You must agree, my choice satisfies that requirement.

Riki tiki is (mostly) getting abuse that is better directed toward the men the women in the comments were apologizing to, not him. Could he have worded his post somewhat better? Sure. But, let's face it, there's no way he could have written his post that wouldn't have resulted in him getting it from both those that do think that girlie stuff is gross or shouldn't be talked about by men, and, on the other side, people like occhiblu who find some form of sexism every time a man opens his mouth (if he disagrees with her for some reason). Being nice is being condescending, being forceful is domineering. Just like being nice is being simpering, while being forceful is being bitchy. Sometimes overcoming sexism is reading what people say without seeing it through the lens colored by the sex you think they are.

Obviously, what sex Riki tiki is was central to his comment. But reading it with a filter that makes certain that, because he's male, his sentiment on this issue must be flawed in some way—perhaps condescending, perhaps insincere, certainly requiring a reactionary response—is screwed-up and, well, sexist. It's not sexism that is as bad as most sexism directed against women, but that's damning with faint praise.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:34 AM on September 10, 2007


What?
posted by prostyle at 9:38 AM on September 10, 2007


Well I, for one, find human bodies disgusting! I expect a full and sincere apology every time a body part or function is mentioned in conversation!
posted by shmegegge at 9:39 AM on September 10, 2007


except dersins who does so with increasing regularity.

I have a lot to be sorry for.

starting with myself. sniff. sniff.< ?small>
posted by dersins at 9:49 AM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


followed by your HTML skills.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:51 AM on September 10, 2007 [3 favorites]


I've often found myself muttering, "That dersins is one sorry sonofabitch."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:53 AM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


followed by your HTML skills.


I was questioning the need for a small tag. Question everything. Subvert conformity. That's how I roll.
posted by dersins at 10:02 AM on September 10, 2007


lol jessamyn and dersins, that cracked me up.
posted by lohmannn at 10:26 AM on September 10, 2007


Ladies have bodies? Weird!
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:35 AM on September 10, 2007


It's fucking childish for men to get squicked about menstruation unless it's 1,200 BCE and you're some ignorant, tribalistic, and patriarchal dude. I don't think that applies to anyone here.

I'm a guy and get squicked out about it (hence my earlier comment) and other intimate body functions.
Why does these things bother me? Since getting really sick one time and having to deal with some open sores and cuts that took forever to heal (due to being diabetic), blood and body fluids tend to remind me of the fragility of my own life and health and, of course, the awfullness that death can be. Hell, we're all just meat and fluid and bone, hanging by a thread and sometimes thats fucking gross.

It's not a big deal, it's my issue and I bring it up only as counterpoint to your view.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:37 AM on September 10, 2007


Never trust anyone over 0.8em.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:37 AM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


?small tag is the new blink tag
posted by tehloki at 10:38 AM on September 10, 2007


"Sorry, guys" doesn't necessarily mean "sorry, men that might read this", it could just as easily mean "sorry, you guys (gender-indeterminate people who are reading this) who might be offended by explicit detail of bodily functions/fluids" (which is how I read it). Because, hey, you're discussing bodily functions/fluids with strangers in public! What's wrong with being polite about other people's sensibilities that may not be yours? The apologies sound more like "I acknowledge any possible discomfort at bringing this up" not "I am talking about something slightly shameful". The poster herself did not get too explicit and the responders are probably trying to keep it at the comfort level established by the poster, as is normal in spoken conversations.

I totally agree men should not find women's bodily processes icky, but I don't really think that's what this was about; just people wanting to be polite to strangers (male and female) and I don't think they need reassurance, I don't think they were even looking for it.
posted by Melinika at 10:40 AM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ladies have bodies? Weird!

Sometimes, yeah.

posted by brain_drain at 10:59 AM on September 10, 2007


Re-derail - congrats, pb & mrs pb! Adorable little guy. Hooray, our 2nd generation of MeFians is filling out nicely!
posted by Lynsey at 11:13 AM on September 10, 2007


“I don't think they need reassurance, I don't think they were even looking for it.”

Reassurance is how Riki tiki's comment reads, explicitly. But I don't think that he really intended it as reassurance, or that he intended to reassure, but that he intended to counter the idea that the assumption about men was true. I suspect that anything other than a blunt denial that the preemptive apology is either required or necessary would come across as a kind of “reassurance” that a preemptive apology isn't required or necessary. In this context, anything with a nice tone will also be in a somewhat “reassuring” tone.

However, reassurance, while having a condescending connotation, is entirely appropriate in a context where someone is countering the presumption that an apology is owed. An apology is, by definition, an unassured thing. Whenever someone says, "no apology necessary", it is a reassurance. So while you are seeing condescension in the form of reassurance that would be there in some other context (where there is assurance and thus no apology), in this context reassurance is pretty much inevitably there, whether intended or not, and is not condescending.

As for your contention that “guys” was non-gendered, I think it's possible but unlikely in this case. Only the writer can know for sure. The use of “guys” as gendered or non-gendered can be very subtle, but I think this is a case where it was a pointed gendered usage.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:14 AM on September 10, 2007


I think you're right, EB.
posted by breezeway at 11:35 AM on September 10, 2007


The world still needs more proud people talking about loving vaginas to counter the squicked (and worse - ignorant and misogynist, etc.) ones. FUCK propriety on that one for sure. Victorian inhibiting bullshit. This is a political peace action, this is. Allow me. Best body part ever. Smells good, tastes good, warm and self-cleaning, makes the people, and makes the people come. What more could you want? Peace, love and vaginas. Whenever I see people getting overheated about sexism issues (and I assure you all, though you likely don't need me to, that I'm a pretty dedicated feminist) I really wish they'd just plant their face on or in the opposite gender's junk for a while. Eat a bucket of cocks for feminism!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:40 AM on September 10, 2007 [8 favorites]


I didn't even reference "condescension" when I offered my take on the situation, but you know what, I kinda gave benefit of the doubt to the poster, actually. The condescension I'm really seeing here is all you, EB.
posted by Melinika at 12:00 PM on September 10, 2007


Why is everybody mad about the vaginal condensation?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:03 PM on September 10, 2007


Vaginal condensation weeps for our future.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:05 PM on September 10, 2007


Vaginal condensation is raining florence henderson.
posted by tehloki at 12:10 PM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


“I didn't even reference "condescension" when I offered my take on the situation, but you know what, I kinda gave benefit of the doubt to the poster, actually.”

Meaning you didn't discount condescension, completely. I was responding to the subtext I read in “I don't think they need reassurance, I don't think they were even looking for it” which read to me like it implies an additional “and offering it is unwelcome and condescending”. Apologies if I misinterpreted it; though it appears that your non-denial denial indicates that I did not.

“The condescension I'm really seeing here is all you, EB.”

Rerally? Where and directed at who?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:11 PM on September 10, 2007


Florence Henderson is Raining Vaginal Condescension.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:25 PM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was responding to the subtext I read... your non-denial denial indicates that I did not [misinterpret].

Dude. You're ascribing motivations and intent and then turning around and telling folks that their interpretations are invalid, or that they're being disengenuous.

Only the writer can know for sure.

Pedant, read thyself.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:39 PM on September 10, 2007


Apologies if I misinterpreted it; though it appears that your non-denial denial indicates that I did not.

Yeah. No. If you're reading subtext into Mel's comment, you're the one being condensing, not her.

Take a step back and stop shitting in that fertility ask.me EB or I'm going to post another Lohan post just to annoy you.
posted by Stynxno at 12:46 PM on September 10, 2007


Zoinks, when I posted this this morning I thought to myself "Here's something I think pretty much everyone can agree on." You win again, internets.

To clarify:

"Ladies" referred primarily to the three posters I linked, and subsequently to any women who might be concerned that their gory details would sick guys out. It certainly wasn't intended as condescension, and I'm curious if someone has a word to replace it that wouldn't give that impression.

To an extent I was trying to reassure those posters, because frankly I wanted to serve as a data point that (1) not all guys are actually bothered by it, (2) not all guys feel it's reasonable to be bothered by it, and (3) that particular AskMe offered a clear enough and clean enough FP text that no sensitive guys should've been around anyway. Also note the use of "I hope I speak for most of the guys here."

Some have argued that the apologies were simple niceties and we certainly shouldn't discourage politeness. I'm with you, and in case that was true I chose the FP text I did... what do you say when someone offers you a casual apology?

"Sorry I bumped into you, didn't see you there."
"It's cool." (well, that's what I say)

Jessamyn: I put this here because it would've been an inappropriate derail in the original thread and I didn't have a youtube or wikipedia link to justify posting it to the blue (kidding!). I'm happy to accept the argument that I shouldn't have put it anywhere, but I thought it was worthwhile and (misguided fool that I am) I believed it would make for some lighthearted agreement and then fizzle out at a dozen or so comments.

You're right that my recent entry to the community made me ignorant of my male predecessors' "EWW GIRLBITS" contributions, but much of the point I'm trying to make is that such behavior isn't okay, nor universally accepted among us Y-chromosomal types. All that revelation means is that my aforementioned hope was misplaced.
posted by Riki tiki at 12:51 PM on September 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


"Ladies" referred primarily to the three posters I linked, and subsequently to any women who might be concerned that their gory details would sick guys out. It certainly wasn't intended as condescension...

Well of course not, silly little n00bie!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:56 PM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


...I should've previewed. You can ignore my comment, I agree 100% with what Ambrosia Voyeur said.
posted by Riki tiki at 12:58 PM on September 10, 2007


posted by Ethereal Bligh Rerally? Where and directed at who?

From you, everywhere in this thread, at everyone else.
posted by fandango_matt at 1:29 PM on September 10, 2007


I think that's way off-mark, fandango_matt. It's certainly nice that he's been my main defender in this thread, but even if he was my most outspoken critic I think I'd be able to tell the difference between a few harsh words targeted at specific people, and unrestrained shitting all over everything and everyone.

The vast majority of his discussion here has been calm and rational and it's pretty weak to suggest otherwise just to jump on the EB pile-on.
posted by Riki tiki at 2:30 PM on September 10, 2007


I'm probably a bad bad person for this, but I giggled at languagehat's comment:
Expecting posters to stick [br]'s in is just idiotic.
...because the phrase "stick in" just seems wrong in a thread about female parts.

I also got an inappropriate giggle from cortex's
Never trust anyone over 0.8em.
...which reflects especially poorly on me (but I usually just tell them I have a [small] tag in my pants).
posted by wendell at 2:31 PM on September 10, 2007


“Dude. You're ascribing motivations and intent and then turning around and telling folks that their interpretations are invalid, or that they're being disingenuous.”

Those are not incompatible. If I had said don't have interpretations that'd be different. And I didn't say that anyone was being disingenuous. We all interpret what we read by reading between the lines for tone and subtext. Sometimes we're wrong. Sometimes we're right. I don't have a problem with this. I will argue when I think someone's misinterpreted what I've said or what someone else has said, especially if what I think is a misinterpretation results in a condemnation, implicit or explicit, of the misinterpreted person (and especially if that person is me).

“Yeah. No. If you're reading subtext into Mel's comment, you're the one being condensing, not her.”

Assuming you meant condescending, then, no, that doesn't mean I was being condescending. It means, at most, I misinterpreted what she wrote. I'm tempted to make a condescending comment about the definition of condescending, but I won't. Instead, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and try to figure out how you connect one to the other.

But I can't figure it out. If you don't like what you think is my misreading of Melinika's comment, then I think maybe you need to label it as something negative that's not condescension. Because whatever negative thing it arguably is, it's not that.

“Take a step back and stop shitting in that fertility ask.me EB or I'm going to post another Lohan post just to annoy you.”

That's not shitting in the thread, that's correcting what looks to me like a very simple and easily understood (not misunderstood) assertion that women “can only get pregnant one or two days” a cycle. Although jessamyn calls that a “metafertility” discussion, it's quite indisputably a fertility discussion. The comment to which I'm referring is on-topic, and so is my rebuttal. It really isn't a derail and it really is a dangerously misleading misstatement of what I'm pretty sure the commenter wished to express, giving he/her the benefit of the doubt.

From you, everywhere in this thread, at everyone else.

To tomcooke, certainly. No one else. I think some people are wrong, not inferior. Except perhaps men who get squicked out at discussions, or even references to, the details of female anatomy. They are at least annoyingly childish, in my opinion. A certain kind of reserve in replying to people I think are either wrong, or even offensively wrong, or both, should not be mistaken for condescension.

And finding other people wrong, or offensively wrong, or both, is not an experience that is unique to me or to almost any other mefite, nor to this thread.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:32 PM on September 10, 2007


“It certainly wasn't intended as condescension, and I'm curious if someone has a word to replace it that wouldn't give that impression.”

Are you referring to your use of “ladies”, or something else?

Because ladies is offensive to many women because of the sexist social roles it connotes and, also, how it reifies the idea that “good” women conform to some higher ideal (“ladies” both in the social class sense, but also in the behavioral “act like ladies and gentlemen” sense) while the use of the words “woman” or “woman” is somehow base and disrespectful because, of course, ladies are respectable but women are sluts and whores.

Furthermore, aside from its intrinsic offensiveness (in the opinions of many), it is also commonly and not coincidentally used by men who are addressing women in a condescending manner. Not as condescending as “girls”, but nevertheless invoking a sense of “we gentlemen will move to the smoking room to discuss the events of the day while you ladies will gossip amongst yourselves about the trivial affairs of the home”. “Ladies” very definitely has a sexist and condescending connotation. I, personally, find it only marginally more offensive than “girl”. Not offensive to my person, of course, as I‘m male, but to, um, the persons to whom it is addressed and, by implication, half the human population.

Continuing with the assumption that you are asking what is condescending about “ladies” and what alternatives you could have used, I think that you either did not need to address the commenters and women in general in your post directly, and could have indirectly addressed them, or that a ungendered choice would have been fine. Like, “People: It's cool.” or “Folks: it's cool.” “Women” is perfectly fine, too, in this respect, it's just that it's used so rarely (probably as a result of the sexism I describe in my previous paragraph), that even those, as the hearer/reader, to whom there is no sexist (negative) side, it still scans somewhat awkwardly because of it. But it's still better than "ladies” or “girls”.

Sometimes in similar situations where merely the direct explicit singling out of one gender, especially by the other, has some unfortunate gender politics overtones, people will undermine these by intentionally silly ways of addressing that particular audience. For example, “All those with girlie parts: it's cool.” Which still fails in this respect, somewhat, possibly because of “girlie”. Maybe “From an ‘outie’ to all the ‘innies’: it's cool.”

Of course, a good portion of my complaint in this thread is against how delicately people, especially men, have to step to avoid a vast minefield of subtle missteps in gender politics that are as likely to be guilt-by-association than actual offenses. You really oughtn't need to bend over backward to avoid a subtle potential sexist offense that you certainly don't intend when you are making an anti-sexist comment in earnest. It's the big ones you ought, and have a responsibility, to avoid. Unfortunately, in my opinion, addressing a group of women as “Ladies” is one of the big ones. Feeling the need to disassociate oneself with sexist men by making an antisexist statement itself, though full of potential pitfalls for men, is not one of the big ones.

Again, it goes back to what is gratuitous and what is not. If someone says, apropos of nothing in particular, “I have friends that are gay/black”, that's suspicious and possibly condescending because the gratuity of it gives the impression of being a preemptive denial of a bias that one wishes to hide. On the other hand, when someone, even someone who is gay/black, says something like “straight/white people just don't have gay/black friends”, then replying with “On the contrary, I have gay/black friends” is entirely appropriate and shouldn't be greeted with suspicion. However, in the context of constant bigotry, it often nevertheless is. So you see that your post is the same sort of thing. It could be gratuitous and therefore suspicious and condescending. Or it could be appropriate and non-offensive. Some people responded to it as the former—I've been arguing with them that it is the latter. Which, not coincidentally, also falls into the same arena of potential misinterpretation and offense as the original comment.

Anyway, back to “ladies”. A lot of men and women are either unaware of these connotations of “ladies” or deliberately ignore them without intending or being sexist in its use or the acceptance of its use. So I can believe that you didn't intend it. But I think that's a pretty slim excuse, myself, because it's used with sexist and condescending tones so commonly that it's hard to either be unaware of this or, alternatively, conclude that its use is relatively benign.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:38 PM on September 10, 2007 [2 favorites]


To tomcooke, certainly. No one else. I think some people are wrong, not inferior. Except perhaps men who get squicked out at discussions, or even references to, the details of female anatomy. They are at least annoyingly childish, in my opinion.

Did I give the impression that I'm among the squicked out? All I meant to say is that it's very difficult for men to comment on these matters without appearing boorish or unctuous ("creepy") and it's best avoided unless you're providing strictly factual information (e.g. "this is what happened in my wife's pregnancy). While I can certainly accept that this can be argued with, "grow the fuck up" seemed like a bit of a peculiar response, to be honest.
posted by tomcooke at 2:56 PM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


But I can't figure it out. If you don't like what you think is my misreading of Melinika's comment, then I think maybe you need to label it as something negative that's not condescension. Because whatever negative thing it arguably is, it's not that.

Um. No. If you're too dense to figure out how your actions appear condescending (and thus, are), you need to step back and re-evaluate your contributions to this thread and all threads. Your immediate need to lecture is the problem especially when your lecture is tied to creating issues and problems that don't exist. Read the words you use and move beyond your own dense skull. If you can't, then my practice of skipping everything you read is going to continue and I doubt I'm the only one that does that.

And you know, for a "feminist", you sure are the epitome of male answer syndrome.
posted by Stynxno at 3:06 PM on September 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


“And you know, for a ‘feminist’, you sure are the epitome of male answer syndrome.”

I dunno. My AskMe portion of my comments in the mefiverse is 9.5%. Yours is 22%.

“If you're too dense to figure out how your actions appear condescending (and thus, are)”

You appear to me to be an idiot (and thus, are). That's more ridicule than condescension. And I'm much more surprised than hurt that you skip everything I read. That's quite a feat for someone who appears to me to be an idiot (and thus, is).
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:14 PM on September 10, 2007


"Ladies" isn't on my list, because Gentlemen is it's best fitting counterpart. I think it usually sounds basically respectful, as a marker of presumed class... more of a problem for hardcore Marxists than feminists, perhaps? Counterexamples, anyone?

I don't mind using "Girls" either in most cases, but I'm known to refer to men as "Boys" and people of all ages as "Kids" as well. And that reflects my personality as well as my beliefs about ageism. These kinds of performances are a pretty personal thing, after all, and my hard-fought arrival at a place where I am empowered over reclamation of certain pieces of femininity and cutesiness leaves me in a position which requires I interpret the use of these charged words and gestures by other people, like Riki Tiki, with no assumption of malfeasance on their part. Which is, I think, a good way to approach language and other symbolic behavior, which can be used so carefully and so carelessly, so meaningfully and meaninglessly, at once.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:47 PM on September 10, 2007


The girls/ladies objection seems to be more from feminists of my generation. Younger feminists seem to feel, perhaps rightly, that actions are more important than quibbling over words. (These are generalizations, exceptions abound.) I'd like to think that they only have the luxury of being relatively unconcerned about these because the widespread egregious sexist usages of the words has greatly diminished. Today, it really does seem anachronistic for a manager to address female subordinates as “girls”. Twenty five years ago, it was much more common.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:04 PM on September 10, 2007


And this is why I call everyone "kids", young and old alike!

Nice comment, by the way, EB. Pretty much summed up my views on the topic although I'd never full explored that whole issue of ladies/women/girls coherently.
posted by liquorice at 4:22 PM on September 10, 2007


Stynxno, forget Lohan. Post about the Britney fiasco at the VMAs.
posted by deborah at 4:59 PM on September 10, 2007


At least people don't use 'Miss' so much anymore.

EB, you really don't have to be The guy with a good attitude towards menstruation! in every goddamn thread. I normally enjoy your lengthy detailed comments, but it gets old when you keep prattling on loudly about what a tireless feminist you are, always fighting for your sisters.

At some point you'll be left holding just the axe handle…
posted by blasdelf at 5:18 PM on September 10, 2007


I'm just as outspoken on these issues as I am on others I feel strongly about, no more and no less. I am well aware of the increased scrutiny given to a man who does so, by both men and women, and especially the tendency of many to declare that I'm presenting myself as a “tireless feminist” or that I'm “fighting for my sisters”. A man with strong and outspoken opinions supporting feminism makes both men and women uncomfortable. I can live with that. But don't imagine that my behavior on this topic is any different than any others about which I feel strongly. It's not. It's your perception which is different.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:27 PM on September 10, 2007


I actually thought the "ladies" was kinda funny. Not, particularly, condescending.

And "women: it's cool" sounds much stranger to me. "Girls: it's cool"---not ok at all.
posted by leahwrenn at 5:27 PM on September 10, 2007


Back in the day, using “ladies” would so hugely piss off so many women I knew. It really does seem like there's much less sensitivity on this. Again, I can't help but think that it's partly because the really blatant and constant sexist usages of these terms is much less frequent now than then. Maybe they just don't have the same connotations they once did. I dunno.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:31 PM on September 10, 2007


posted by Ethereal Bligh It's your perception which is different.

No, it's pretty much your overweening condescension.
posted by fandango_matt at 5:48 PM on September 10, 2007


Back in the day, saying "I'm a feminist" was a good way to get laid, too.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:50 PM on September 10, 2007


“Back in the day, saying ‘I'm a feminist’ was a good way to get laid, too.”

Honestly? That was never, ever, not once, my experience. I'm not saying it's not or wasn't true somewhere, but nowhere I've ever lived. Because of that, I'm inclined to see that claim in its various guises as a snide, no-knowthing bit of fuckwittery. But I'll concede that perhaps it's true, somewhere and somewhen, and my own experience is exceptional. Lord knows, though, that I wish that being a feminist got a man laid. But I think it's more a hindrance than not.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:02 PM on September 10, 2007


Yer readin' way too much into that, EB. It was more off-hand, anything for a punchline douchebaggery than snide, no-knowthing fuckwittery. But YMMV. Not intended personally, at any rate.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:08 PM on September 10, 2007


I thought it might be, given your personality and history, but hitting that point on the apparently widely-distributed ridicule-male-feminists list is like, third, so it's hard to know.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:08 PM on September 10, 2007


Yeah - That's why I didn't give it enough thought before posting. Figured I was being pretty obvious. Tone isn't always easy to pick up here, though, and I'm not feeling my best, so it shouldn't be any surprise to me if I fail at the internet, today. Actually, that would fit in pretty well with the rest of my day, so there you go. Anyway - sorry for the misunderstanding. It was just totally random tomfoolery.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:46 PM on September 10, 2007


Thanks. And sorry for my swipe.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:03 PM on September 10, 2007


Totally understandable.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:54 AM on September 11, 2007


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