4 of the 5 most recent posts on the front page are about sexism September 30, 2013 7:07 PM   Subscribe

How do we feel about this?
posted by Diablevert to Etiquette/Policy at 7:07 PM (362 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

I hope you will forgive my putting this comment as a comment, and not as the extended description. I know that’s a little contra-metatalk etiquette, but I have done this deliberately because I didn’t want this to feel like a callout. I wanted it to feel more like a question.

For my part, I’ve been feeling for a while like posts which deal with feminism/gender studies/misogyny have been being put up on the blue lot more frequently than when I first started reading a few years ago. I have mixed feelings about this. I usually read the threads. I haven’t posted in them all that often, because reading the topics often makes me feel either mad or depressed and frustrated. Sometimes the resulting threads are interesting. Sometimes they are fighty.

I feel like if metafilter was like, 30 or 40 percent the same sort of stuff I could read on a feminist blog (or Jezebel, whatever one wants to call that) then I wouldn’t read here as much.

The blue is a land of contrasts. There’s a whole shitload of other stuff on there today and everyday. Nobody’s compelling me to read shit I don’t want to read, and sometimes in a hundred flips you get 10 heads in a row; one cluster doesn’t prove anything. I get all that. On the other hand, I feel like, say, if 30 to 40 percent of the post here were about ice hockey, that would change the tenor of the whole site as well. (There’s be lots more posts on Canadian politics, and poutine based in-jokes, and cross-country skiing, and concussions).

To be clear: that “30 or 40 percent” is something I pulled completely out of my ass, and I’m sure any kind of systemic search of key words would come up with something much, much lower. On the other hand, some threads and topics are a lot louder and have more impact on the feel of the site than others. I’m not claiming that’s where were at right now. Just saying that a metafilter that was 30 to 40 percent that would be one I wasn’t as interested in reading.

So, I’m asking: How do people feel about this? Do other people also feel that there’s been a lot more posting on feminism/gender studies/misogyny lately? Do they all think it’s awesome and want to see more of it? Do they think it’s about the same as it ever was and they’re perfectly fine with the level it’s at now?

I’m curious to know, because I think it’s not only possible but likely that I’m out of step with the rest of the community on this. In which case it’s on me to either read or not read as I chose. On the other hand, if other people would also like to see a bit more variety in their daily perusal of the blue, that would be nice to know also.

Personally what I like best about this place is getting to learn about stuff I knew nothing about and chat with a bunch of smart interesting people about that stuff. But what I like ain’t what other people like.
posted by Diablevert at 7:07 PM on September 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


Personally, my feelings about the "number of sexism threads" is that it is an accurate reflection of the opinions of women at this specific point in time - to wit, that there have been an increasing number of sexist events in the world at large as of late, and women are getting fucking pissed off about it.

If you don't like to read so many sexism threads on the blue, you may start discussions on other topics, or work to curtail sexism in the world around you - or, hey, maybe both.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:10 PM on September 30, 2013 [131 favorites]


I would always love to see more variety on the front page, I'm a curious cat, but I don't think there is any right now anywhere on the internet. I've been looking! At least in my little corner, everyone is either talking about pending US federal government shutdown, or avoiding talking about the pending US federal government shutdown. I think everyone's freaking out. Or maybe it's just me, I don't know. I'd be open to looking at some dancing dogs or flash games or whatever, if it's out there. If I see the kind of stuff I like to see on Metafilter, I'll certainly post it. But I'm feeling very distracted, and I sense I'm not alone.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:15 PM on September 30, 2013


Yeah, there have been days and weeks on the Blue with like a million video game related threads. I'm not into video games at all, but I don't see it as an insidious trend or a shifting away of the site from my interests when that happens, so much as a reflection of different interests by Mefites who are not me.

There are many women on Metafilter. I'm with Empress that lately it feels like everything is going to crap for us. I'm sure that's part of it.
posted by daisystomper at 7:15 PM on September 30, 2013 [19 favorites]


Have you looked at MeTa lately?
posted by spitbull at 7:19 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


1) 3/5 -- The feminist dating post really has remarkably little to do with sexism -- for any but an unusefully expansive definition of the term -- if you actually read the linked article.
2) I can't find another on the front page, and that's a lot of posts.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:19 PM on September 30, 2013


Personally, I favor proliferations of postings that seem to belong to an over-arching macro-topic, over what seems to be the preferred "delete and compile" approach. I feel like that dominant approach (that is, "there's already a Syria thread", etc.) favors power-users or whatever you want to call them. ie, if you don't know where to find The One Allowed Thread About Sexism Stuff (Which Was Posted Three Days Ago), or don't even know that it exists, there's no way to join that conversation.

I see how the threads in question here are related in some sense, but on the other hand I think it would also be sort of weird and at cross-purposes to have both a discussion about feminist dating and one about sexism in academia within the same thread. I actually think that sort of thing encourages people away from the topic-specificity that the mods like to see, and towards the sort of "here are my general sexism talking points" thing that causes the community to keep rehashing the same fights.
posted by threeants at 7:21 PM on September 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


I feel colossally relaxed about this, but I couldn't possibly gainsay how the rest of the collective “we” is handling it.
posted by scruss at 7:24 PM on September 30, 2013 [18 favorites]


There are many women on Metafilter. I'm with Empress that lately it feels like everything is going to crap for us.

It occurs to me that for this particular discussion I should probably clarify: I am us. I am a woman.
posted by Diablevert at 7:26 PM on September 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


That is, I think people see these threads and rightfully come away with a sense of significant community grar-having and clashing. But perhaps counter-intuitively, allowing more of them might increase their overall quality of discourse. When everything is routed to one thread, it just becomes this giant flashpoint for everyone to transport their pent-up feelings on the topic to.
posted by threeants at 7:27 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I find those posts tiresome and I ignore them. I don't think the number of such posts is problematic, however.
posted by dfriedman at 7:27 PM on September 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


I am in favor of it beause people are posting things they care about and that is half the reason I come here.

There have definitely been this many threads about general concepts like "politics" and "sports" and "literature" and so on. Gender is just as present as they are. If the post is good, why discourage that?
posted by griphus at 7:27 PM on September 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


(NB: not accusing anyone of discouraging anything.)
posted by griphus at 7:28 PM on September 30, 2013


The feminist dating post really has remarkably little to do with sexism

Does not compute. How does something feminist have very little to do with sexism?
posted by nooneyouknow at 7:31 PM on September 30, 2013


There have definitely been this many threads about general concepts like "politics" and "sports" and "literature" and so on.

No, there are a lot more gender threads than sports or literature threads. As for "politics" threads, people complain about the number of those.
posted by John Cohen at 7:32 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I should add that when I talk about grar and raising the level of discourse, I don't mean to imply some sort of "this is a SUPA-COMPLEX topic, the truth is somewhere in the middle, up is down and left is right and how can we ever really know anything at all" silliness. Those threads mostly just wouldn't be fighty if it weren't for a handful of predictable members who recurrently shit in them.
posted by threeants at 7:32 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I feel like there's a pendulum swing effect and for whatever reason there's a clump of similar threads here right now. I don't personally see it as a trend, at all. I don't see all those threads as being about sexism either. Most of the threads today are going well or okay. One is going a little unwell. If this starts to be a topic that we (as a community) feel are overrepresented, keep an eye on that sort of thing going forward and we can revisit the idea. Please do NOT start flagging hours old posts with active discussions and no real problems because that's not going to give us really useful feedback that we can actually act on.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:33 PM on September 30, 2013


Nothing more than a temporary bunching of a topic.
As important the topic it will not continue to "dominate"
Indeed right now there is about 52 FPPs on, er, the front page.

~4 of them are or related to sexism

There are also about 4 of them having to do with music.
~3 to do with television shows
Sci Fic+ comics gives you ~5



... where you around during elephant day?

That was fun
posted by edgeways at 7:33 PM on September 30, 2013 [16 favorites]


Does not compute. How does something feminist have very little to do with sexism?

Because the headline isn't very representative of the whole blog post. Using a word like "feminist" or "sexism" in a headline is probably an effective way to get more pageviews. So is giving gender-specific advice and juxtaposing opposites — hence, the advice is for "feminist men." It seems to be just an article about how to behave appropriately when it comes to dating, but a blog post called "how to behave appropriately when it comes to dating" wouldn't have gotten as many clicks.
posted by John Cohen at 7:34 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Personally, my feelings about the "number of sexism threads" is that it is an accurate reflection of the opinions of women at this specific point in time - to wit, that there have been an increasing number of sexist events in the world at large as of late, and women are getting fucking pissed off about it.

I actually think there's probably just about the same amount of sexist events in the world at large as of late, but women have been getting fucking pissed off about it, instead of just brushing it all under the rug and smiling pretty like we were taught. The current high levels of outrage over sexist bullshit are probably long overdue, and I hope (perhaps naively) indicative of a positive change -- not necessarily a positive change in sexist bullshit, but in the willingness to draw attention to it and call it out as what it is.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:35 PM on September 30, 2013 [39 favorites]


All in all, I would like to see more posts which reference sexism.
posted by box at 7:36 PM on September 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


And some people would rather see even more posts about politics. And some people would rather see a lot more sports posts. Because some people are really, really interested in those things. And I don't think anyone's complaining about that fact. But the question is how much any single topic that some people are really, really interested in should dominate the website as a whole. Maybe Metafilter should become mainly a feminist website. Maybe it should become mainly a politics site. But it seems worthwhile to have a discussion about whether those things should happen.
posted by John Cohen at 7:39 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


SexismMeta or SexMe.
posted by crossoverman at 7:39 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can i just come right out and say i think this is a shit premise for a MeTa?

Like, i think you should have to try a lot harder than this if you want to post a MeTa at all. Not that i'm the arbiter of what should and shouldn't be on here or anything, but in my personal opinion a nonspecific "i'm noticing this trend and i don't like it in some way what do you think" post has to clear a much higher bar than "there's been a lot of discussion about this".

It would be one thing if your point was something like "there's been a lot of shitty discussion about this" or "Everyone seems to want to fight about this" or something... but that's not it.

It's a bunch of pretty normal threads with normal discussion going on, and you're kinda just going "it makes me vaguely uncomfortable that it's showing up a lot".

Everything ebbs and flows around here with relation to whats active on the front page. Things seem to come in various waves. That's just how it is. If you don't like what's on the front page, come back tomorrow and it'll be something else. And i really really don't think some kind of content police "do we really want this to become some feminist blog?!?!" discussion can go anywhere nice or productive.

Really, i think the only problem facing this site lately(which has gotten at least a couple MeTas and plenty of comments, including a few by me) is that sometimes it feels like people post stuff in all different categories just because they want to see a "debate" about it, or try and hijack threads that are really easy lead-ins as such to that. That's a bit of a problem, arguably.

Pretty much what i'm saying is i don't think you're asking a question that has any real answer here, and have simply provided a venue for what will probably be a shitty tiresome argument since the walls of what the discussion is actually about are basically nonexistent. It's like a gigantic gymnasium with a sign on the door saying "posts about feminism and sexism: Discuss" and a blank program guide. If people were starting these threads seemingly just to get in fights with people who were "wrong" you might have some kind of point, but as it is.... What?
posted by emptythought at 7:42 PM on September 30, 2013 [22 favorites]


I feel fine about the posts, I feel crappy about how many people have to deal with shitty sexist bullshit all day every day, and I think the 4 out of 5 number is probably a coincidence.

While I don't want to see Metafilter turn into a site about one thing, I think people being Fucking Done with shitty sexist bullshit and speaking out loudly and repeatedly against it can't come too early.
posted by amery at 7:43 PM on September 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


Maybe Metafilter should become mainly a feminist website.

I think it's pretty clear from the comportment of the moderators that Metafilter is, or aspires to be, a feminist website. (Please correct me if that's an incorrect read, mods.) As it should be. That really has no particular bearing on the subject matter that shows up on the front page.
posted by threeants at 7:44 PM on September 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


but women have been getting fucking pissed off about it, instead of just brushing it all under the rug and smiling pretty like we were taught.

The madder anyone gets about me not quietly knowing my place, the louder I am going to get about it and I do not think anyone, even myself, is aware just how fucking tenacious I am going to be about it.

It will never be too much. It will never be enough.
posted by elizardbits at 7:44 PM on September 30, 2013 [82 favorites]


My experience of these threads has been greatly improved by talking about them with willing and interested female friends (I am a bi-guy).

There IS a lot of sexist bullshit in the world (and a lot of hate in general) and it IS worth getting outraged over.

Metafilter is a great place to learn about different perspectives on this stuff, even when it is heated.

That said, it is a little too easy to get the impression from these threads that women are collectively in some kind of horrifying hell all the time, and I think that isn't completely true.

Life is difficult for many people, but there is also joy and decency and kindness in even some of the toughest lives. Reading these threads gives me great feelings of powerlessness and frustration that need to be tempered (for me) by the knowledge that there are women in my life who are not just fine, but actually shaking off the misogyny of daily life with aplomb.
posted by poe at 7:46 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think it's great, and this is why I hang out here instead of Reddit.

Also, I think that some topics appearing "louder" than others of similar frequency says more about your own perceptions and filters rather than about anything inherent to the topic.
posted by lollusc at 7:46 PM on September 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


I'd like to see more posts about hats.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:50 PM on September 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


I feel like maybe it's just that there have been interesting things about sexism/feminism that people may have happened upon today. Maybe the MeTa was a part of it, maybe not. They're all pretty different in terms of audience/environment and regardless they'll be off the top of the page soon enough if anyone is bothered by scrolling through them. I'd be just as down if there were a group of posts about abuse centers for men, and I don't know, that top hat site, and masculinity in a newly-coed college.
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:51 PM on September 30, 2013


I think it's a temporary bunching, and pretty fine overall. I posted about Nancy today, though, and given how many great links people had in that thread, I think we could definitely stand to have a higher concentration of Nancy-related posts.
posted by Greg Nog at 7:51 PM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Maybe Metafilter should become mainly a feminist website.

Do you have no fucking idea what you are even on about. What could possibly be wrong with wanting a website where men and women are on EQUAL GROUND.

THAT IS WHAT THIS WORD MEANS. IT DOES NOT MEAN GIRLS RULE BOYS DROOL.

jesus fucking wept

all websites should be feminist websites because the alternative is fucking shitty for 50% of the world
posted by elizardbits at 7:52 PM on September 30, 2013 [166 favorites]


To be clear: that “30 or 40 percent” is something I pulled completely out of my ass, and I’m sure any kind of systemic search of key words would come up with something much, much lower. On the other hand, some threads and topics are a lot louder and have more impact on the feel of the site than others. I’m not claiming that’s where were at right now. Just saying that a metafilter that was 30 to 40 percent that would be one I wasn’t as interested in reading.

I seriously wish the IMG tag still existed because I would like to put a gif of the words "confirmation bias" in sparkly dancing letters 20 feet high right here.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 7:54 PM on September 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


fuck it im making a list
posted by elizardbits at 7:55 PM on September 30, 2013 [19 favorites]


I am in favor of it beause people are posting things they care about and that is half the reason I come here.

I think that "posting things you care about" is generally a bad thing. Put a different way, posting with an agenda is a bad thing.

Generally a good post is "Hey, I thought this was interesting and fun and maybe you would, too." (The one today about miniature car racing was a good example of this.)

If your post is "Hey, this is damned important and you need to know about it whether you want to or not", that generally leads to a crap post, with lots of flaming.

There was a time when I had a posting agenda, but I learned my lesson and these days I don't feel compelled to post about any particular subject. Every once in a while I run into something and a little voice says, "This would make a good Mefi post" and then I post it. Sometimes it's only a day since my previous post; sometimes it's weeks. And I make no effort to try to stick to any particular subject. (Though, because of my reading habits, they do tend to cluster a bit. I read about particular things, so those are the things I run into that make that voice happen.)

A variation on the bad approach is, "Hey, this is important to a group of us, and posting about it will give us an opportunity to bond by making supportive comments." No, thanks, please.

Probably the worst, though, are 2-minute-hate posts: "Hey, this is a despicable person, event, or act and we should all bond by expressing how strongly we despise him/it."

It's a variation on something that some fundamentalist churches do, where during services people will spontaneously stand up and "testify" (I think they call it) about how they believe and how important it is. Supposedly it's voluntary and spontaneous, but if you never do it, the others will start to look at you funny.

Unfortunately, posts about sexism are usually of this type.

It ain't my site, and for the most part the mods don't agree with me, so generally I just ignore posts like that and read something else. These days I think I probably only open and read about 10%.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:56 PM on September 30, 2013 [12 favorites]


I think that "posting things you care about" is generally a bad thing. Put a different way, posting with an agenda is a bad thing.

These are two very separate things and the conflation of posting about sexism and gender issues with having an "agenda" is as much nonsense as talk of a "gay agenda."
posted by griphus at 7:59 PM on September 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


It's a bunch of pretty normal threads with normal discussion going on, and you're kinda just going "it makes me vaguely uncomfortable that it's showing up a lot".

I've had the feeling they've been on the upswing for a while. I didn't know how to bring it up without something to point to. It's an inherently nebulous thing, and I have mixed feelings about it. I consider myself a feminist, I don't want to be like, "I think Meta should never discuss this topic again." At all. But it's something that's been nagging at me for a while. So I thought I'd ask and see what other people thought. I can see why it'd be frustrating since I'm not bringing this up with a definite demand or course of action I want take for people to say yea or nay to. But I don't have that.
posted by Diablevert at 7:59 PM on September 30, 2013


Please correct me if that's an incorrect read, mods.

We-as-mods are mostly (if not all) self-proclaimed feminists. However, I think calling a website "a feminist website" has certain associations that I don't think may be valid. I don't mean this in a negative way, just that as much as we aspire towards feminist ideals of how to treat people and the whole "patriarchy is bad for everyone" ideas, I don't think we moderate towards feminist ideals and we let some fairly crappy things stay up in the name of allowing open and civil discussion even if people are sharing their honest if non-feminist opinions.

So, I'd love to not have to get into a big thing about this, but just to say that while I appreciate where you were coming from threeants and I agree with you in spirit, I don't think of MetaFilter as a feminist website because to me that would mean something different. But I could be wrong about that. I, too, raised an eyebrow at the succession of threads about feminism/gender/sexism topics but as I said above I see it as a random conflation more than a trend on the site.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:59 PM on September 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


griphus and I both said conflation. That's weird.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:00 PM on September 30, 2013 [14 favorites]


Yeah, and whasamatta with a little drive by fedora snark to liven up a stuffy feminist post?
posted by sammyo at 8:04 PM on September 30, 2013


No, there are a lot more gender threads than sports or literature threads.

From today's posts, I count 4 threads that are about "gender", but only if you count the thread about the PLOS linguistics paper, which is about gender (among many other variables) but certainly not about feminism or sexism. There are 8 posts about "art," split among film, music, literature, and visual art. And this is a day notable for having a lot of feminism posts.

MetaFilter is about as likely to "mainly a feminist website," in the sense of "most content is about feminism," as it is to become "mainly a website for discussion of the arts." It might well become -- hell, may already be -- a website where the majority of users identify as feminists. But that's different.

To answer diablevert's actual question: I have not noticed any change in the number of posts related to feminism, and I am fine with the way it is now.
posted by escabeche at 8:04 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, sorry, didn't intend to project. I mean, to me, the way y'all moderate here pretty much exemplifies what it would mean to run a website in a feminist manner-- much, much more so than a clickbait joint like Jezebel-- but I get that the F-bomb is politicized in a way that could make it feel awkward to take up that mantle collectively.
posted by threeants at 8:07 PM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't see a problem with this. If you don't care about FPPs on sexism or feminism, don't read them.

If you think there should be FPPs about other subjects, make some.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:08 PM on September 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


Only 4 out of 5? I see that there is still work to be done. We haven't come a long way, baby.
posted by Tanizaki at 8:08 PM on September 30, 2013


Seriously, though. Post whatever you want. We're not going to run out of internet.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:16 PM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]



Only 4 out of 5? I see that there is still work to be done. We haven't come a long way, baby.


I can see why, often being in opposition to the mores of this site, you might be tempted to tweak noses a bit. Please, sir, I would be grateful if you wouldn't do so in this thread.
posted by Diablevert at 8:17 PM on September 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


But see Tanizaki this is exactly what I'm talking about -- there have been 24 posts today, 3 of which were about feminism, and 1 about correlating personality traits with linguistic behavior, which included in the post a link to a visualization about gender. And that's on a day that stood out for people as a day with an especially large number of feminism posts!

It's like some kind of crazy one-drop rule: any amount of visible reference to the existence of feminism means that the place might as well be a Womyn's Music Festival.

But that's not true! Fight it! Do math! I mean, I've felt all month like this place has gone totally insane with Breaking Bad posts, but that's just because I don't watch Breaking Bad, so I notice when any visible amount of attention is being paid to something I don't care about. But objectively speaking my feelings about this are just wrong.
posted by escabeche at 8:18 PM on September 30, 2013 [61 favorites]


If you don't like to read so many sexism threads on the blue, you may start discussions on other topics, or work to curtail sexism in the world around you - or, hey, maybe both.

This is the problem, insofar as it is one - no one is posting sport or film or gaming or culture FPPs that are explicitly or implicitly aimed at changing people's behaviour. But nearly every sexism post has an air of 'we need to fix this! Be outraged! You NEED to care about this!'.

Which is fine, but it's not very Metafilter.
posted by Sebmojo at 8:26 PM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think the "is MeFi a feminist website" thing is suffering from a bit of ambiguous communication. I think what John Cohen meant to write was more along the lines of "maybe MetaFilter should become a site that is mainly about feminism," rather than "maybe MetaFilter should become mainly a feminist website". There's a fine but real difference there, though it's one that a lot of folks have trouble recognizing.

Being a "feminist website" just means that MeFi is a site that aspires to uphold the ideals of feminism -- that it strives to be a place that respects and empowers all individuals equally, regardless of gender. I think MeFi is this, or at least that it is much more feminist than most general-audience forums. (It's hardly perfect, but nothing is.) I think this is a good thing, and imagine that few people would disagree with me about that. I don't think it's what John Cohen was talking about, though. This is what I think elizardbits was talking about, however. Please correct me if I am wrong in that reading.

Being a "website about feminism" describes a hypothetical scenario in which MeFi turned into a community weblog that primarily discussed feminism and gender equality issues, one where most of the posts and most of the discussion was about feminism and womens' rights. This isn't what John Cohen said, but I think it's what he meant. (Again, please correct me if I'm wrong -- I don't mean to put words in other users' mouths.) I think this is what Diablevert is concerned about, too.

For what it's worth, I personally think that it's a bit silly to worry about that second scenario. Yes, feminist issues are a regular topic of discussion here, but I don't think there's any danger of them becoming the dominant focus of MetaFilter. I don't think anyone was concern-trolling (I think both Diablevert and John Cohen were airing their concerns in good faith) but I do think it's obvious that there's still plenty of room on the site for people to discuss other topics, and that feminism as a topic usually only comes up when it's relevant to the discussion at hand.

There are a bunch of posts about feminist issues on the Blue today, but I think that's really just a coincidence. It's an important topic that is of interest to a great many of our members, so it's going to come up regularly, but I don't think it's in any danger of crowding out other subjects.
posted by Scientist at 8:27 PM on September 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


The funny thing is that I would probably miss 99.9% of the sexism FPPs if it weren't for the MeTas that keep cropping up from folks getting bent out of shape about them.

From my perspective, the blue is basically all puppeh vids all the time because I've reached a point in my life where I basically gloss over anything that doesn't have the word "dog" in it.
posted by phunniemee at 8:27 PM on September 30, 2013 [21 favorites]


Oh, man. I just perused the front page and thought "damn, I bet there's gonna be a MeTa about all these sexism posts in succession." I do think maybe the site as a collective might do well to chill out about many things, though.
posted by planetesimal at 8:28 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


If 30% or more of the posts over a week or more were on the same topic, I would not find that ideal. I like variety.

However, when 4 out of 5 posts in a row share a similar theme, that's not a problem - not even a little bit. A day where 50%+ of all the posts were on the same topic wouldn't be a problem either.

As you acknowledge, this is a cluster; it seems like a useless hypothetical to discuss what would happen IF 30%+ of the FPPs were on the same topic.
posted by insectosaurus at 8:31 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I suspect this is functioning as a positive feedback loop of sorts. The more users here are sensitized to sexism through exposure to feminist ideas, the more they will notice it, and the more sexist or borderline-sexist commentary those people encounter on Metafilter in response to gender or sexism threads, the more they will feel they want to post helpful articles about sexism and gender issues to help educate. Which creates more comments, which creates more posts, and so forth. That's my guess. It's sort of deliciously ironic.
posted by Ouisch at 8:32 PM on September 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


How do we feel about this?

Right now I feel pretty, oh so pretty. I feel pretty and witty and bright. But ask me again tomorrow and I may feel nothing ...
posted by octobersurprise at 8:32 PM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


but it's not very Metafilter

I would argue that raising awareness of how we interact with each other, and trying to remember to treat each other as we'd ourselves like to be treated, that's very, very Metafilter. Having these discussions, discussions about linguistic choices, about how or why a specific action or phrase deeply affects people, that's very Metafilter. Caring enough about another member's feelings about how they are addressed, talked to, interacted with, also, very Metafilter.

That's not a bug. It's a feature, and it's why I'm a member.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:33 PM on September 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


It will be ALARMING how CHARMING you FEEEEEEEL
posted by elizardbits at 8:37 PM on September 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


For what its worth, when the front page gets boring or focuses too much on a topic I don't like, I take that opportunity to do work from 8-5.
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:39 PM on September 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


But nearly every sexism post has an air of 'we need to fix this! Be outraged! You NEED to care about this!'.

To be fair, if the post in question is more complex, say a satirical take on anti-feminist rhetoric, people tend to freak the fuck out. There may be safety in didacticism.
posted by bibliowench at 8:41 PM on September 30, 2013 [14 favorites]


Diablevert: " Personally what I like best about this place is getting to learn about stuff I knew nothing about and chat with a bunch of smart interesting people about that stuff. But what I like ain’t what other people like."

There are still plenty of posts that have nothing to do with sexism. Over 40 of the 50 posts currently on the front page!

The four out of five showed up in a burst. It doesn't mean the site has become "all sexism all the time." Demonstrably, it hasn't.
posted by zarq at 8:42 PM on September 30, 2013


it is a little too easy to get the impression from these threads that women are collectively in some kind of horrifying hell all the time, and I think that isn't completely true.

People certainly continue to live their lives, but that doesn't make the awareness of constant low levels of background sexism any less lousy. I don't "shrug it off," I deplore it, while also trying to live my life. Trying to live my life, then, means talking about it in productive ways from time to time.

the way y'all moderate here pretty much exemplifies what it would mean to run a website in a feminist manner

I think I see this jessamyn's way. The mods generally embrace feminist principles as people, but honestly, the site itself doesn't. It's made great strides in coming down on the side of making it possible for women to participate here as if they are full human beings and curbing some of the most egregious harassment, but yeah, a site moderated by feminist people is different from a site that is feminist in principle and expresses that in both content and policy.

How do I see it? There's something weird about making this callout, as if it were "too much." Gender relations is a thing we live with every day, a thing people write about every day, a thing that new research comes out on every day. It's one topic among many that is repeatedly posted about here, and it belongs here and is fine here. The fact that just a handful of posts specific to concerns that women have would set off the radar is evidence that we probably still need to have a lot more of them. not less.

nearly every sexism post has an air of 'we need to fix this! Be outraged! You NEED to care about this!'.

Not really seeing that. If you participate in the discussion in threads like these, you'll find that most of the commentary is basically reflection/comparing notes/ analysis, unless and until someone decides to take it on themselves to create a controversy about it.

If they bore you, skip down, or post something else.
posted by Miko at 8:45 PM on September 30, 2013 [12 favorites]


I've used my one post today but there are two stories NOT on the front page that a truly Feminist site would be all over...

Both CNN and NBC cancelling plans for shows about Hillary Clinton.

The viral video of one woman's "I Quit" message.

As for my post, a successful and incredibly well-made webcomic by a young lady from Finland named Minna Sundberg. That felt proudly feminist to me, even though both of the protagonists are male... (although one of them is a dog who morphs into other animal forms, none of which have a visable -youknow- and even when morphed into human form, Ville has long hair and no beard and is wearing a thick winter coat... okay, my beans are thoroughly overthought now)
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:45 PM on September 30, 2013


i thought the posts tonight were interesting. a good way to make the front page closer to what you'd like to see is to make posts that interest you. i think we're a long, long, long way off from gender threads making up a significant percentage of posts. you might find that "my mefi" gives you a break from threads you are less interested in seeing .
posted by nadawi at 8:45 PM on September 30, 2013


elizardbits: "fuck it im making a list"

Can I be on the "PEOPLE WHO WILL BE RECEIVING A TIN OF DELICIOUS HOMEMADE COOKIES FROM ELIZARDBITS" list?
posted by zarq at 8:45 PM on September 30, 2013 [25 favorites]


While Metafilter's front page hasn't become Jezebel, I hope it doesn't go in that direction. We need more posts about sharing interesting things on the web and less posts about picking fights. Just one opinion.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:46 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


elizardbits: "fuck it im making a list"

...and in my head I heard singing: "elizardbits is going to town..."
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:48 PM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


we're no where close to jezebel. it's sort if like saying "i hope we don't become television without pity" because there are a few tv show posts.
posted by nadawi at 8:48 PM on September 30, 2013 [13 favorites]


It's possible for something to be both "feminist" and "an interesting thing on the web."
posted by Miko at 8:49 PM on September 30, 2013 [30 favorites]


I had similar thoughts, actually. "Hmm, lotsa feminist stuff tonight on the blue." I read the ones that seemed relevant to my sphere of human experience.
Nothing in that moment changed about how I use Metafilter.
posted by oceanjesse at 8:52 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


It WILL be alarming. You will all be ALARMED at how CHARMED you will be.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:54 PM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't know, I just kinda don't read the FPPs I'm not interested in? I mean having Serious Opinions about the direction of the site is a little more effort than I care to make for a place I enjoy making jokes and the occasional serious discussions but I'm also the person posting "Did I just hear an opinion?" macros to annoy the people posting their Very Serious Thoughts on the impending government shutdown.

In conclusion, Ghostride the Whip is a land of contrasts and shibe macros.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:55 PM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


But really, the best thing to do is make your own FPP about something else you would rather talk about. That seems to be the most timely process oriented method of creating changes as an individual participant on this here website.
posted by oceanjesse at 8:59 PM on September 30, 2013


Metafilter has been shifting over the years to a 'here's a thing I want to talk about or read other people talking about so here's a link or three' kind of model more than a 'here's a neat link I found' model, I reckon, or at least the balance has been tipping somewhat.

I don't really have a big problem with that, although it does kind of run counter to the enshrined and stated 'purpose' of the Blue. But things change, and change is good.

And as long as there are lots of interesting things about a variety of subjects to see every day and smart, amusing commentary to read: all good, I reckon. I'm interested in most stuff, when it comes down to it, and if I'm not, I'm pretty comfortable skipping it.

In terms of any fundamental shift other than that? Well, not so much, I don't think, other than the welcome shift that has been happening in the declining the number of casually sexist (or [whatever]-ist) comments, and that's a win.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:00 PM on September 30, 2013


How do we feel about this?

The userbase has no anthropomorphic qualities. The individuals here have no shared opinion of anything. I'd prefer that we work on avoiding any in-group out-group thinking on what "our" opinion is.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:00 PM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


There's a place for us, somewhere, somewhere.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:01 PM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wait.

I thought this was the part of the Meta where we did West Side Story?
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:01 PM on September 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


I feeeeeeel good
Like I knew that I would
posted by medusa at 9:02 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cool it, Lutoslawski.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:02 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth: "The individuals here have no shared opinion of anything. I'd prefer that we work on avoiding any in-group out-group thinking on what "our" opinion is."

I don't think it read like an ultimatum for consensus. Rather, I read the post as " `our` opinions" rather than " `our` opinion".
posted by boo_radley at 9:03 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Breeze it, buzz it, easy does it, turn off the juice boy.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:05 PM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


"WE HAVE CAMERAS OPINIONS"
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:05 PM on September 30, 2013


Now that the fed is shutting down can we agree that we need at least a dozen America as Zombieland posts? preferably right in a row
posted by edgeways at 9:07 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


But nearly every sexism post has an air of 'we need to fix this! Be outraged! You NEED to care about this!'.

IIRC, that was a criticism made a lot - with varying degrees of accuracy - when Iraq War posts were a thing. That's not to say either issue didn't warrant attention or that the importance of an issue supersedes whatever criteria an FPP is expected to meet, just that things are cyclical. And that's not to say gender/social justice posts are just a fad, but consciousness and awareness of issues ebb and flow, and the front page will reflect that. Post in good faith, discuss in good faith, and everything will sort itself out.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:07 PM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


So I'm not that interested in video games or comic books. I don't hate them, it's just not my thing and I have enough things to care about. I'm indifferent. Sometimes on the front page there are multiple posts related to video games and comic books. And I am slightly bummed, because wouldn't it be great if the world revolved around me and everyone scoured the internet to find links that will fascinate me? Except then I wait a few hours and there is some new post I'm interested in so it's cool, onward with the video games and comic books.
posted by medusa at 9:10 PM on September 30, 2013


I would be really okay if arguments on the blue were no longer settled via increasingly fighty MeTas but via dance battles instead.
posted by elizardbits at 9:14 PM on September 30, 2013 [17 favorites]


Interestingly, the most recent post about the Government Shutdown is 3 1/2 days old (and not shutting down).
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:14 PM on September 30, 2013


Blazecock Pileon: "While Metafilter's front page hasn't become Jezebel, I hope it doesn't go in that direction. We need more posts about sharing interesting things on the web and less posts about picking fights. Just one opinion."

Yeah, well, I will say, as a caucasian male, I have been feeling somewhat uncomfortable lately. Seems all the post are how all white people or male people are breaking Wheaton's Law lately, where I have always thought MeFi was about hanging out and sharing talks.
posted by Samizdata at 9:14 PM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


I like the sexism threads. Posts about sexism on the internet are magnets for crap comments, and it's nice to have metafilter threads around to read instead of pretty much anywhere else when something like pycon is in the news. Additional moderation they might require aside.

Seriously, it'd be heck to find a decent Anita Sarkeesian thread without the blue. RPS sure won't cut it.
posted by postcommunism at 9:15 PM on September 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


I would be really okay if arguments on the blue were no longer settled via increasingly fighty MeTas but via dance battles instead.

Cue the horns:

I like to be on MetaFilter
So much to see on MetaFilter
Cortex and pb on MetaFilter
For a $5 fee on MetaFilter!

Posting on MeTa is so nice
When you want arguments and strife!
Advice for the lovelorn's a click away,
Trouble? Just DTMFA!

Life is all right on MetaFilter
Stay up all night on MetaFilter!
Get in a fight on a MetaFilter,
Wake up contrite on MetaFilter!

*skirt shaking*
posted by Miko at 9:16 PM on September 30, 2013 [60 favorites]


elizardbits: "I would be really okay if arguments on the blue were no longer settled via increasingly fighty MeTas but via dance battles instead."

JOINTIST! I have bad knees! We need equality among gimmicky joke solutions to problems!
posted by Samizdata at 9:16 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Personally, my feelings about the "number of sexism threads" is that it is an accurate reflection of the opinions of women at this specific point in time

I'm not sure if you can quantify the zeitgeist down into threads on the blue, but 2013 seems to have been marked by a heightened awareness -- make that a series of naked lunches -- of how many strands of online culture have, no shit, been awful in their treatment of women, and that it is way past time that those strands of online culture become less awful. And online culture is now a many-stranded thing that is woven into a lot more other things than it was a decade ago.

There's a general mod guideline against 'this specific awful thing is an awful thing' posts, where there's not much to be added other than 'yes, this thing is awful', and I'm more than happy to see that applied if it gets to the point of Sexism Instance Of The Day posts designed more for GRAR than anything else, but I don't see that happening.
posted by holgate at 9:17 PM on September 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm also the person posting "Did I just hear an opinion?" macros to annoy the people posting their Very Serious Thoughts on the impending government shutdown.

I was sort of trying (and failing) to not know who you were on Metafilter but you totally blew it, buddy. (Man, the internet is fucking tiny sometimes.)
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:19 PM on September 30, 2013


There's a general mod guideline against 'this specific awful thing is an awful thing' posts, where there's not much to be added other than 'yes, this thing is awful', and I'm more than happy to see that applied if it gets to the point of Sexism Instance Of The Day posts designed more for GRAR than anything else, but I don't see that happening.

Which of the various sexism/feminism/gender posts today do you think meets this description, if any?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:20 PM on September 30, 2013


JOINTIST! I have bad knees!

man i got labral tears in both hips and bone spurs in my neck, my left hand doesn't even close anymore and i don't even care because god gave us beyonce and we must honor this gift
posted by elizardbits at 9:20 PM on September 30, 2013 [17 favorites]


I'm fine with the number of gender-related threads on the front page. The topic interests me, for one, and for another, it's just a momentary cluster that happens to coincide with a particularly contentious MeTa. Even if it did indicate a trend, I would be fine with that, since, again, the topic interests me, and besides, such posts wouldn't prevent the Nancy and Breaking Bad posts from going up.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:21 PM on September 30, 2013


I would be really okay if arguments on the blue were no longer settled via increasingly fighty MeTas but via dance battles instead.

I'm Undercover Brother and you're Chris Kattan.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:22 PM on September 30, 2013


bone spurs in my neck

I don't know what this means but I think you might be a kaiju.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:22 PM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


As a caucasian male, I have been seeing how so many of the posts are about how white people or male people are breaking Wheaton's Law lately, and I'm thinking "ya just noticed NOW?"
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:23 PM on September 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


if it seems like all the threads are "make straight white men feel bad" then that's an individual perception problem. right this second the front page is filled to the brim with a huge variety of topics and it's like that every day.
posted by nadawi at 9:24 PM on September 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


Sorry --- I apologize for ducking out, but I didn't realize how late it was when I posted this an I'm afraid I have to be up early. Didn't want to post a meta and disappear in puff of smoke. I'll be back in the morning.
posted by Diablevert at 9:27 PM on September 30, 2013


If someone wants to make the next sexism post be an essay revisiting Fredrick Exley in the context of online fan subcultures, well, there's a lot of fertile ground there re: gender narratives and to be honest I've wanted to read that essay for years and I know that everyone would have great comments.
posted by postcommunism at 9:29 PM on September 30, 2013


So will we all, Diablevert.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:29 PM on September 30, 2013


seriously this is such a great dance number though. If you haven't seen it a while, take a break and watch
posted by Miko at 9:29 PM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


oneswellfoop: "As a caucasian male, I have been seeing how so many of the posts are about how white people or male people are breaking Wheaton's Law lately, and I'm thinking "ya just noticed NOW?""

No, I just don't do MeTa much. Hell, I barely make it by AskMe enough to make myself happy.
posted by Samizdata at 9:53 PM on September 30, 2013


Didn't mean that one to you personally, Diablevert. Just making an observation about the recent proliferation of public outrage toward shit we should've been loudly responding to a long time ago.
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:04 PM on September 30, 2013


Yeah, well, I will say, as a caucasian male, I have been feeling somewhat uncomfortable lately.

I would have very much disagreed with you and said that I thought things were fine and generally balanced-ish until I read point 16 on that feminist dating advice link and nearly lost it. Started reading the comments and found people praising it for fuck's sake, and for the first time in months went and watched TV for a couple of hours just to put some distance between myself and the keyboard.

I'm back now, obviously, and I have rarely encountered words in the English language that have made me so angry as being told that I am a bad person for disregarding emotional outbursts - years upon grueling years of training myself to ignore my own and...

"You may have been raised to believe emotion is not rational and is therefore not legitimate. That is for you to unlearn, not for you to impose on others."

As a person with a severe mood disorder who spends the majority of his time in the company of same that is the single most judgmental, hurtful and dehumanizing thing I can remember reading in years, possibly ever. I'm sexist because I disregard things said when people are upset? Fuck that and fuck you forever. I disregard what I say and what others say when mania rolls into town because of a long, terrible history of hurting myself and others physically and emotionally. Fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you just.... GOD. Fuck you. Fuck.

You.

Fuck.

I have made it a point to unlearn the homophobia of the Evangelical movement I was raised in. I have made it a point to unlearn (and revile) the basement-dweller's insensitivity and total disregard for the feelings of others that I developed during my five and a half years as a misanthropic shut-in struggling with mental illness. I continue working towards checking my impulses and considering the emotional needs and catharsis of others who have been discriminated against whenever a thread on racism/sexism/orientation threatens to put my straight white cis-male ass into the siege mentality.

But telling me that I am a horrible sexist person for an utterly necessary reflexive check on my emotional impulses?

No.

Don't retreat into logic when you find emotions coming your way. Build up your capacity to feel and to respond to feelings in a rational, intuitive, self-aware way. You'll be more human for it, and a better feminist, too.

Just absolutely and forever no. I wish now I had stayed active in Metafilter, debating politics on a daily basis solely so that I could find the words to express just how poisonous that paragraph was for me.
posted by Ryvar at 10:09 PM on September 30, 2013 [9 favorites]


Ryvar, if it's any help at all, I thought the dating article was inane and stupid, and I'm a feminist from the age of 12. Take care.
posted by jokeefe at 10:13 PM on September 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


Thanks, jokeefe, I appreciate the sentiment. I try not to let words anger me as much these days but goddamn did that one ever slip through my armor.
posted by Ryvar at 10:16 PM on September 30, 2013


Do other people also feel that there’s been a lot more posting on feminism/gender studies/misogyny lately? Do they all think it’s awesome and want to see more of it?

Yes, I feel like the topic has been more prevalent on the site lately. No, I don't think it's a positive. I feel like it's made people fightier and has created, or at least noticeably deepened, resentments and personality conflicts around the site. I don't think it has been a negative to discuss the issues—to the contrary, several of the threads have been best-of candidates—but I do think it's been a negative to have constantly had one thread or another open on the topic.
posted by cribcage at 10:30 PM on September 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


I feel annoyed when people complain that 50% of the population wants to talk about their experiences of the world somewhat less than 50% of the time, as if women's existence is this GIANT IMPOSITION forcing you to read threads.

But then I think there are way too many boring superhero comic threads, even though its clear that in excess of 75% of you guys are superheroes, so what do I know.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:34 PM on September 30, 2013 [51 favorites]


For better or worse they seem to have an outsize impact on the amount of moderator time and attention and number of Metatalk posts, as well as related site anger, people leaving, etc., but the numbers on the blue are actually way low. For example, in September, it seems like there were around 25 posts (out of 826) with tags: feminism/feminist, sexism, misogyny, gender, women, and applicable posts tagged "sex" (not counting dupes). So that may be missing some (and my counting was very offhand), but even if you doubled the number (and that would be super overcompensating for any badly tagged posts, or what I might have just missed), the percentage would still be really, really low.

I think that maybe people tend to mentally cluster them with racism and GLBQT related posts (which probably also have actually low relative numbers)? And, again, for whatever reason, these topics also simply get more attention than anything aside from political and big news stuff, big OS/Google etc. news, and flurries of *some* pop culture stuff, ie Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad.

So, yeah, from my point of view as someone who has to spend a lot of unpleasant time in every contentious, difficult thread, I'm still definitely not seeing this as some alarming trend at all.
posted by taz (staff) at 10:36 PM on September 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm cool with it. I generally learn stuff from them as much as any other thread.
posted by solarion at 11:01 PM on September 30, 2013


How do we feel about this?

This part of we has noticed that Metafilter tends to lurch into topic trends now and again. I suspect there's a feedback loop where people read a post about topic A and so they find or notice other interesting articles about topic A which they post and other people read and so on.

I do feel bad for the mods when topic A is a contentious one, but the trends seem to pass relatively quickly.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:29 PM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


There's a general mod guideline against 'this specific awful thing is an awful thing' posts, where there's not much to be added other than 'yes, this thing is awful', and I'm more than happy to see that applied if it gets to the point of Sexism Instance Of The Day posts designed more for GRAR than anything else, but I don't see that happening.

You know i swear i've gotten this feeling from posts before, but going back through the history trying to find them a little while ago... i can't.

I mean, do you have any actual examples for that? I've seen several instances of things posted in good faith which drift in to grar land when people roll in their wheels and axes and start grinding... and several really thin FPPs that are pretty much just "this shitty thing happened" even if it goes "and here's 3 other links and some discussion about shitty thing, or previous instances of thing being shitty".

The thing is looking back at it the threads that get fucking weird and bad are generally the ones that started off totally fine but hit a weird note for several people. The threads that start off with "oh, for fucks sake" or get there within a few posts usually somehow manage to pull out of the stall and actually fly.

I mean unless you want to go way back in to the history of giant threads that spawned giant MeTas and stuff, i can't really think of a recent FPP about a ~controversial subject~ that really went off the rails hard.

MeTa has been doing that way more tiresomely than the blue as of late. If anything i'd say the blue is trending upwards in how good that kind of thing goes, with the exception of a few recent threads that would actually fall mostly outside of the categories set forth here that were a bit GRAR-y.

oh jeeze i ouroboros'd back on to my previous post on this thread a bit. oops.
posted by emptythought at 11:33 PM on September 30, 2013


""You may have been raised to believe emotion is not rational and is therefore not legitimate. That is for you to unlearn, not for you to impose on others."

As a person with a severe mood disorder who spends the majority of his time in the company of same that is the single most judgmental, hurtful and dehumanizing thing I can remember reading in years, possibly ever. I'm sexist because I disregard things said when people are upset? Fuck that and fuck you forever. I disregard what I say and what others say when mania rolls into town because of a long, terrible history of hurting myself and others physically and emotionally. Fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you just.... GOD. Fuck you. Fuck.
"

Fuck me? Nah man. Your reaction is disproportionate and seems based on a pretty idiosyncratic misreading. Most people are, by definition, in that neurotypical range where emotions often come attached to some pretty legitimate concerns. And you'd be rightly pissed if people didn't treat your legitimate concerns as worth dealing with because other times you were manic.

In fact, in order to have your comment treated like it's not just the written equivalent of dropping pennies in a wood chipper, you have to be able to say that just because Ryvar flipped the fuck out into a maelstrom of fuck you fuck you, doesn't mean he's not coming from a place of real concerns.

So yeah, sometimes people have mental shit that's explicitly not in character for them, but most of the time, emotions are tied to legitimate concerns and dismissing them because they're emotive is a mistake.

That clearer?
posted by klangklangston at 12:02 AM on October 1, 2013 [39 favorites]


And man, that Rape Haikus thread. Jesus.
posted by klangklangston at 12:03 AM on October 1, 2013


The madder anyone gets about me not quietly knowing my place, the louder I am going to get about it and I do not think anyone, even myself, is aware just how fucking tenacious I am going to be about it.

It will never be too much. It will never be enough.
posted by elizardbits at 7:44 PM on September 30 [25 favorites −]


This puzzles me a bit. That is, I agree. These words speak for me, profoundly. But I'm not a woman. In my experience, the vast majority of humanity gets told to know their place one way or another. And I think how we respond to this goes a long way to defining us. Do you just eat the shit they're feeding you, or do you make some noise?

All hail the noisemakers.

Which gets me to the two FPPs that caught my eye (Don't Be That Dude - Handy Tips for the Male Academic + Dating Tips for Feminist Men). Call me bemused, particularly with the dating one. Call it confirmation bias but I couldn't help feel that much of what was being said was really just gender neutral don't-be-an-ignorant-asshole stuff. Little I disagreed with, but something in framing just felt wrong, like walking into a room where I'm a guest and there's a kind of odd smell permeating, but I can't really say anything because I'm a guest. So I didn't, just moved along ...

But I am still thinking about. It is still bugging me. Because it really is quite condescending, almost like mansplaining gone through a strange mirror if that makes any sense.
posted by philip-random at 12:13 AM on October 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


I would be really okay if arguments on the blue were no longer settled via increasingly fighty MeTas but via dance battles instead.

Wasn't there a rap battle in a meta thread relatively recently? I remember a rap battle.
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:20 AM on October 1, 2013


I also wonder if the perceived increase in "feminist" posts on the Blue is actually a reflection of what have been some pretty intense discussions on the Gray in September (attached to intense Blue posts as well, in some cases).

For example, the nearly 1200 comments in "Baa, baa, baa" which resulted in the OP closing their account. Or the tangentially gender related "Mefites and fedoras."

Not gender related, but "Please tell me what I can and can't say about religion on MetaFilter." and "Metafilter Proxy Wars: Good or Bad?" both stand out with 300-400 comments apiece.

Back on September 6th, there were two big ones: over 800 comments on "Can calls for civility be a barrier to civil discourse?" and over 350 on "Gender-Filter".

I've been a member for around 3 years now, but I'm not sure if it's been a particularly fighty Blue or Gray[1] month, or if it's pretty typical. Or if I've just been paying more attention to the Gray side.

[1] Holy crap after I wrote that phrase, I flashed-back hardcore on a 1984 infomercial for the Franklin Mint Civil War Chess Set. Such a ripoff, but man they were cool to a 15-year-old.
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:38 AM on October 1, 2013 [10 favorites]


I will admit that feminist tips on how to date/ be in academia if male appearing very close to each other was a surprising coincidence, but these things happen (I also prefered the latter to the former). It would be a shame if metafilter became obsessed with one subject to the exclusion of all others, but I don't see that happening. There are a lot of people here (myself included) who like reading interesting articles on feminism, so there will probably be quite a few posts on that. As long as each thread isn't descending into graaah, which they mostly haven't, with the exception of the misandry poems maybe, I don't see a huge problem with it.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 1:17 AM on October 1, 2013


I'm not a big participant in Metafilter but I read it a lot. 4, 5, 6 times a day, over all of the sites (I probably need to talk to someone about this).

Yes, I think there is a significant bump in the number of "social justice" topics on Metafilter, and I think there are a lot of comments/commenters that see (what used to be) a typical post on Metafilter/askmetafilter as a place to discuss how those topics relate to feminism and sexism and transphobia. I think this has been rising over the last year or so. A discussion about fedoras takes, no matter the style and sensibility of the hat, a "mysognist" tone as people weigh in on the use of the fedora by PUA types. Is it relevant - who cares? The point is that it happens. Radicals will find a reason to apply a topic to their cause.

Others are noticing. Metafilter has been discussed on /r/tumblrinaction and on SRSSucks and on SJSucks. The opposition is seeing Metafilter as something to talk about. That means they're coming here. The "battle" has just begun. And that doesn't bode well for the existence of Metafilter as it is today. It's going to evolve, purely as a defense mechanism, into something else. Something where moderation is tighter, and more "politically correct" and where users will be shamed for voicing opinions. I think that's really bad.

Let's talk about reddit. Because reddit, as shitty as it is, has relevance here.
SRS (reddit.com/shitredditsays and the associated "fempire" SRS subreddits) are a focal point, a lens, if you will, on social justice topics on the internet. Tumblr, too, since Tumblr succeeds in providing a safe outlet for people that deal, every day, with terrible misogyny sexism, transphobia,, and other oppressive issues. There is a lot of anger on Tumblr. Which makes SRS and Tumblr targets for those anti-feminist/pro-whataboutthemenz types. And it's really painful to see, but it's very real, especially for those that need safe spaces and need some measure of protection around their experiences and their needs.

Has the experience of the typical reddit user improved because of this fighting? Has reddit improved in being less misogynistic, less shitty? No. Instead, it's become fighty, and the typical (dumb) reddit user sees a comment by an SRSer as "fighty" and as fightbait. The site has become worse for this, simply because fights erupt and SRS gets a bad name among the stupid, which just results in more fighting. It's an awful, terrible place, that reddit, and I don't think anyone is teaching anyone anything, anywhere, there.

In either place: Reddit or Tumblr, there is a lot of heat, a lot of pushback from some basically very stupid people. As people notice that MF is becoming more pro-feminist, the presence of anti-feminists will undoubtedly increase. That means more discussions will be more polarized, will gather attention from other sites, will be more fighty. That's the way it's going to go.

I'm not sure if Metafilter, as has been recently discussed on reddit (paraphrasing in a pretty shitty way but that's reddit for you) is "where feminists go when they grow up", but I will say that the discourse here is much more adult, much less "grar" than it is elsewhere. That's a good thing. I like being able to ask a question without being "benned". I like being able to engage with users that are experiencing situations that I don't - I'm a white guy. I need to understand the differences between my life experience and others. I fear I will lose this as MF evolves. That's a big loss to me.

Because I can learn here without being shouted down, or I can see where pushback becomes a conversation which becomes teachable moments. That isn't going to be the case if all Metafilter is doing on these topics is "pushing back".

Feminism, in all its online forms, is a lighting rod for Internet based discussions and it is basically a topic that says "let's fight". That's a crappy way to look at it, but I think it's realistic.

The more of these social justice/pro-feminism/anti-sexist topics there are, the more heated these discussions will be. The more topics there are, the more MRA's and PUAs and other anti-feminist types will be here to defend their positions/privilege/whatever. That's a bad thing, to me.

More heat = more work for mods. If the site is going to be a safe haven for feminists where MRA/PUA/Men's rights are not welcome, then fine. That means more deletions, more Metatalk, more work for the mods. That's the price. If it's going to be neutral, then the site needs to discourage feminist/sexism/trans-based topics simply because that's going to be less work for the mods - and I will say that a lot, a LOT of Metatalk is devoted to making the site less work for the mods.

But if MF is going to be that place, we will all, every user, suffer.

I rage quit the other day. I did that because, as much as I hate to say it, I don't want more feminism here (and not because I decry feminism - it's hugely important to me as a guy with lots of females in my family and in my circle of friends).

I don't want more fights. I don't want to see battles. I want to see people getting along and happily enjoying what MF has to offer: great links and smart conversation about a wide, wide range of topics. I was wrong to rage-quit because I chose to see the focal lens/polarization that results from feminism/anti-feminism sentiments in post topics, post comments, and Metatalk threads.

I'll be ignoring and flagging what I think is fighty or bad for the site. If I think feminist topics are taking over the front page, I'm flagging them. If I see anti-feminist topics, I'll flag those. And I'll flag comments in threads that point out sexism/racism/transphobia/attempts to derail topics into battlezones.

Because I like Metafilter, and I don't want to see a lot of goddamn fighting. I'm fucking tired of it.

And if, as a result, I end up just not reading Metatalk, ever, well, I lose because I learn a lot, but I'd rather be deprived of a learning experience than get all worked up because someone has a "cause", regardless of what that cause is.

So what's to be done? Let's make Metafilter neutral ground. Let's make it a safe space. Call out the MRAs: Flag them, flag their comments, flag them into the ground. Send a modmail for egregious offenses.

Let the mods sort it out. Let the system work.

Don't engage an MRA/sexist asshole/transphobe. Just don't.

Let Metafilter's mod team determine, neutrally and based on flags and modmails, what's to be done.

If someone is spoiling for a fight, and they don't get one, they'll go away. Self-policing. Let's do that.
posted by disclaimer at 1:22 AM on October 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


I don't see a problem with it. These threads can get lively, but I think that's because threads will tend to do that when the topic is important, as this one is. People care about important stuff. I like threads like that. That's why I like threads about atheism, religion, politics etc. Lively threads are far more interesting to me than ones that are essentially "Here look at this cool thing oh wow that's cool".
posted by Decani at 1:24 AM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Feminism... is basically a topic that says "let's fight".

God damn I hope that never changes.

Kinda like when they asked Eugene Debs what workers want, and he said "MORE".
posted by hal_c_on at 1:47 AM on October 1, 2013 [14 favorites]


Hal_c: me neither, it's absolutely worth the fight. To me, it comes down to choosing the right battleground, is all.
posted by disclaimer at 1:51 AM on October 1, 2013


"But I am still thinking about. It is still bugging me. Because it really is quite condescending, almost like mansplaining gone through a strange mirror if that makes any sense."

It's a very, very weird piece. I disliked it for numerous reasons, I detailed it in the thread, but it was mainly how it was supposedly aimed at "feminist men" but was mostly about certain kinds of relationship problems that arise from male gender roles — which for me was like, um, these are "feminist men" and this is news to them?

But after consideration, the deeper problem is that it reads as, and I think was written as, an idiosyncratic, not-that-experienced, relatively young person's inappropriate generalization from his own personal experience and as a conflation into his larger worldview. Which is a fancy way of saying "twenty-year-old offering life wisdom". This guy is probably much older than twenty, more's the pity.

I don't think that MetaFilter itself is really any sort of a locus for an unusually large uptick in feminism/sexism related content. What's mentioned in this post is just chance coincidence.

However, I do think that large portions of the net are lately becoming much more aware of sexism/feminism issues, because in the last couple of years the problems with sexism in gamer culture, the skeptic community, SFF fandom, comics, and in computing have all erupted — these sort of sketch out the territory of nerd culture and nerd culture is very much overrepresented in internet culture. So sexism issues, and feminism implicitly, have greatly risen in visibility on the web. MeFi is no exception. As disclaimer mentions, clearly it's become fairly high profile as manifested as anti-feminism and anti-anti-sexism on places like reddit. It's higher profile here, except tilted toward feminism rather than against it. That's pretty rare for the general web, the mainstream web that isn't explicitly oriented toward feminist content. This is a good thing. But there's a lot of people who would prefer that MeFi be less exceptional in this regard or, better yet, ignore the topic entirely. I'm glad this isn't the case.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:53 AM on October 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


In either place: Reddit or Tumblr, there is a lot of heat, a lot of pushback from some basically very stupid people. As people notice that MF is becoming more pro-feminist, the presence of anti-feminists will undoubtedly increase. That means more discussions will be more polarized, will gather attention from other sites, will be more fighty. That's the way it's going to go.

Nah, that won't happen. Stupid people don't go hang out where smart people congregate, because it forces them to notice how dumb they actually are. They prefer to hang out with people who are even stupider than them, otherwise there just aren't many lulz to be had.

If there is any Influx of The Stupids here, it won't be something that lasts for any length of time. Unless the smart people also leave, in which case: all bets are off.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:00 AM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I should make something a bit clearer: I like seeing positive feminist topics on metafilter. I like sunshine on shitty sexist behavior and and all the rest. I really do. I just think it's going to make the site and these threads more combative, and the site, including the users, needs to learn to deal with people being assholes, because I think assholes are going to come here. If there's a way to deal with them that makes the site less angry, let's do that thing and not the big us/them thing that it's been lately.
posted by disclaimer at 2:03 AM on October 1, 2013


Arguing that metafilter should "stay neutral" between feminism and MRA arguments feels like saying "hey let's just stick with the status quo for now, it's working pretty well for me".
posted by jacalata at 2:09 AM on October 1, 2013 [33 favorites]


I for one welcome our new feminist overlords.

MetaFilter is one of the few sites I frequent because there are (mostly) thoughtful and earnest comments on sexism and gender issues. That said, the blue is far from becoming a site focused solely on gender. It's merely a place where one can find a touch more civility than the jerk-flooded wilds of Reddit and most other comments sections anywhere on the internet.

I would not be bothered at all by more FPPs on gender.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 2:28 AM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I would not be bothered at all by more FPPs on gender.

Me neither, if they have some new angle or something new to add. The feminist dating one was a bit weak, but still prob worthy of consideration I thought.
posted by amorphatist at 2:31 AM on October 1, 2013


How do I feel about these posts? As a non-American member with no interest in American politics I've been told plenty of times to either ignore the posts I don't care about or post things I do care about (including once being told the exact specific things I *have* to post instead in a way which ended up being pretty offensive). And there are way more members here affected by sexism than there are that don't care about American politics. So no sympathy, either ignore the posts you don't like or make more posts you do like, and get over it either way. No one is making anyone read a post that makes them feel sad.

How do I feel about this metatalk post? The drawn out, wishy washy framing made me roll my eyes so hard. Stop with the coy hints dancing around the subject and just come out and say what you mean. There is nothing wrong with saying "I don't like these posts, they make me feel uncomfortable, I don't know what to do about it, what do you all think?". Direct, clear communication is both shorter and more likely to get us somewhere. That's my personal feelings about it all anyway.
posted by shelleycat at 2:35 AM on October 1, 2013 [17 favorites]


If a bunch of anti-feminists come over here to argue in bad faith, I hope that mathowie turns all their $5 signup fees into Susan B. Anthony dollars and constructs a giant money bin so he can swim around in them.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 2:39 AM on October 1, 2013 [10 favorites]


Others are noticing. Metafilter has been discussed on /r/tumblrinaction and on SRSSucks and on SJSucks. The opposition is seeing Metafilter as something to talk about.

Who gives a damn? They're total pillocks. Their opinion is worthless.

That means they're coming here.

This doesn't follow.

Even if 'they' did come here, this is a moderated space. The kinds of people you're talking about are lazy and cowardly. They're going to look at the registration process and $5 signup fee and go elsewhere. Even if they do put their money down, they'll get flagged and banned and they won't come back. If they don't, maybe they'll learn something.

The "battle" has just begun.

Come on, dude. Calm down. The Visigoths are not storming the walls.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:41 AM on October 1, 2013 [26 favorites]


If the site is going to be a safe haven for feminists where MRA/PUA/Men's rights are not welcome, then fine. That means more deletions, more Metatalk, more work for the mods. That's the price.

As far as I can tell, the only thing not welcome on Metafilter is assholes.

If you can build a post on men's issues without being a sexist asshole, I imagine your post will stand.

If it's going to be neutral, then the site needs to discourage feminist/sexism/trans-based topics simply because that's going to be less work for the mods - and I will say that a lot, a LOT of Metatalk is devoted to making the site less work for the mods.


If the site is going to be neutral, we need to silence feminists and trans folk? That's not neutrality.

I can't speak for the mods, but I think that MRA POVs are not welcome here because they are not based in fact, and they are not generally put forward in good faith. In contrast, the various feminist/sexism/trans/gender FPPs here tend to be about real issues that actually exist in the world, and are put forward in good faith. This is one of those 'reality has a liberal bias' things.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:55 AM on October 1, 2013 [33 favorites]


I rage quit the other day. I did that because, as much as I hate to say it, I don't want more feminism here (and not because I decry feminism - it's hugely important to me as a guy with lots of females in my family and in my circle of friends).

I don't want more fights. I don't want to see battles. I want to see people getting along and happily enjoying what MF has to offer: great links and smart conversation about a wide, wide range of topics. I was wrong to rage-quit because I chose to see the focal lens/polarization that results from feminism/anti-feminism sentiments in post topics, post comments, and Metatalk threads.



Some fights are worth having. I think your post is a teeny bit confusing, in that what I think you're saying is that we should just avoid arguing with MRA types and moderate the hell out of them instead?

In internet arguments there are many kinds, but in terms of these arguments there can be the misguided and the wrong. Some users will appear again and again and make terrible arguments which people have already patiently debunked. Those users are rarer on metafilter, but do exist. They can, for the most part, be ignored. There are some users who are, I think misguided. I do think a lot of people (and I would include myself a decade ago on this) don't get feminism, don't understand the arguments. I've followed metafilter for a long time and I have noticed certain prominent users change their minds and get better. Maybe they don't totally agree with others arguments, but they've learnt to respect them as they become a closer part of the community. I do think some of these metas have in fact changed peoples minds. Not all of them do. Some of them are just a big mess, some of them are complaining about D&D quizzes, but the best do really lead to people changing their minds.

Thats a magical thing, because people don't change their minds that much. I think it helps that metafilter acts as a community, and one way to get people to change their minds is get them to feel that the community they are part of believes that thing to be true.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 3:19 AM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think there's a lot in the "pendulum" effect that Jessamyn mentioned earlier. When a dam breaks, the water will rush for a while before it slows to the river it would naturally be without the dam in place.

I hear a similar thing to the stuff above now and again from the generation above me, who often have traces of residual homophobia that they learned as children, about gay rights. They say they "don't mind it, but wish they wouldn't shove it in our faces, like with pride festivals and being overly camp". Well, not that I think there's anything wrong with that anyway (and sensitivity to it often belies insecurity in some way of their own) but well, it just seems so churlish (and that doesn't feel like a strong enough word either) to deny a group the ability to talk openly about and celebrate the freedom they have which they have been denied for so long.

With that, and with this, it somehow feels like the people saying "too much" don't really want equality - they just want to give a little tiny bit of ground, and not so much that anyone gets "carried away".
posted by greenish at 3:35 AM on October 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


How do I feel about this metatalk post? The drawn out, wishy washy framing made me roll my eyes so hard. Stop with the coy hints dancing around the subject and just come out and say what you mean. There is nothing wrong with saying "I don't like these posts, they make me feel uncomfortable, I don't know what to do about it, what do you all think?". Direct, clear communication is both shorter and more likely to get us somewhere. That's my personal feelings about it all anyway.

I can understand that. All I can really say is that I framed it wishy washy because I feel wishy washy. In particular, I didn't want to come at this all like "I think Metafilter should do X" because I felt it likely that a majority of the community would think the number of posts on these topics was fine, and if I was alone in my perception that this stuff was coming up more than it certainly wasn't my place to demand a change in site policy or culture to suit my idiosyncratic preferences. That's why all I asked was how people felt about it; that's what I wanted to know.
posted by Diablevert at 4:06 AM on October 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


Others are noticing. Metafilter has been discussed on /r/tumblrinaction and on SRSSucks and on SJSucks. The opposition is seeing Metafilter as something to talk about. That means they're coming here. The "battle" has just begun.

Most of them won't be willing to put their money where their mouth and lose five bucks on, what, two? three? comments before they get banned. I can only imagine that the Red Pill Hate Krew or whoever already consider MeFi to be a bastion of over-moderation if they're paying even a little bit of attention to what happens when people spew their brand of hate on this site. Showing up here to explicitly start shit it is a losing strategy from the get-go, and the five dollar fee makes it clear to all but the particularly flush.

The ones who decide to sap the walls? Well, let them try. It's not like we don't already get such people showing up here of their own accord. I've watched this site get genuinely and increasingly better about being inclusive over the last decade and they're not exactly going to stem that tide.
posted by griphus at 4:35 AM on October 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Most of them won't be willing to put their money where their mouth and lose five bucks on, what, two? three? comments before they get banned. I can only imagine that the Red Pill Hate Krew or whoever already consider MeFi to be a bastion of over-moderation if they're paying even a little bit of attention to what happens when people spew their brand of hate on this site. Showing up here to explicitly start shit it is a losing strategy from the get-go, and the five dollar fee makes it clear to all but the particularly flush.

I'm all for them coming over and filling the coffers of the MeFi staff just to get a comment or two's worth of hate on. The comments get deleted, they lose their cash.

Sounds like a win-win for something that, at its height, is all of 3% of FPPs.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:50 AM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Let me get this straight: In order for Metafilter to be a safe space for feminism, it must not discuss, or even mention, feminism? That's a curious idea of a safe space.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:03 AM on October 1, 2013 [32 favorites]


You have to be the Metafilter you want to see
posted by Renoroc at 5:24 AM on October 1, 2013


You have to be the Metafilter you want to see

I am the Metafilter I want to see. Wait, why are you covering your eyes and backing away? Why the shrieking? Is it the professional white background?
posted by Ghidorah at 5:29 AM on October 1, 2013 [10 favorites]


All this talk of invasion by half-wits from reddit reminded me of the survivorcam thread that got dogpiled by campeople. Wow, I'm old.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:30 AM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, dogmatic, Metafilter isn't going to turn into SRS even if a bunch of losers from SRSSucks or whoever start throwing their five bucks in the can. The moderation style of SRS evolved on a forum where bans are almost meaningless because a new account is free and less than ten seconds away. Mefi is not so vulnerable.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:33 AM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am the Metafilter I want to see. Wait, why are you covering your eyes and backing away? Why the shrieking?

WELCOME TO METAVALE
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:35 AM on October 1, 2013 [15 favorites]


Call me bemused, particularly with the dating one. Call it confirmation bias but I couldn't help feel that much of what was being said was really just gender neutral don't-be-an-ignorant-asshole stuff.

To be fair to a mediocre link, don't-be-an-ignorant-asshole stuff is a lot of what flies under the flag of feminism. If you remember that the basic premise of feminism is that women are human beings like other human beings, then it is clearer that yeah, some people don't yet actually fully accept that, and that's why there are repeated attempts to explain. There are people whose anti-feminism is actually the same thing as being an ignorant asshole in a specific way that happens if you don't respect the full human dignity of people around you, based on their gender.

Also, I think the audience for these things is not really their stated audience. I suspect that whenever you encounter a list of "how not to be a jerk," it's going to be posted and shared primarily by people who are simpatico with the concept already and are the ones who often deal with jerks themselves, first and foremost. These pieces exist at least partly to articulate observable patterns and discuss social phenomena among the people they most affect, and only secondarily, I think, to effect change in others, really.

Others are noticing. Metafilter has been discussed on /r/tumblrinaction and on SRSSucks and on SJSucks

I've never been to any of those places, but they really don't sound like the kinds of places we'd find opinions worth considering on what MetaFilter ought to be.

I'm a little confused at your post, because you both credit MetaFilter for being a place where a good discussion can be had, and then you also promote shutting down that discussion. You seem to be saying that because topics can get heated, we should just not discuss them. Sweep the issue under the rug, silence and screen those who object from public view, and if we don't talk about it, it won't be a problem. This strikes me as the family-that-keeps-secrets method; just don't mention the Bad Thing, and if someone brings it up, we just sit frozen in tension around the dinner table waiting for the other shoe to drop, and after it's over just whisper "pass the peas please."

The thing that I think you should remember is that for many of us, this discussion is interesting. Inherently. It is the stuff of our daily lives. It is part of the difference we're trying to make in the world. It is content we read and think about very, very often; some people have professional or scholarly knowledge on it, some work with it every day. It is not a sidebar from the interesting content. For many of us, this is the interesting content. Not every link is great - count me among those unimpressed with the dating link. But just because you start glazing over, or worrying about what happens when we talk about tough things, is not a reason to take away something that often makes for interesting discussion and much shared knowledge.
posted by Miko at 5:39 AM on October 1, 2013 [33 favorites]


I don't want more fights. I don't want to see battles.

I don't want a significant chunk of the population to see me as subhuman. Alack, we don't always get what we want.
posted by winna at 5:40 AM on October 1, 2013 [24 favorites]


Also, dogmatic, Metafilter

Dogmatic? Are you addressing disclaimer?
posted by 0 at 5:47 AM on October 1, 2013


I feel fine about it.
posted by agregoli at 5:52 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I feel fine about it too. In fact, while I think we're most likely talking about a blip/random cluster, I wish we weren't. I would be delighted with a higher percentage of discussion about feminism everywhere, everyday.
posted by Stacey at 5:58 AM on October 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


0: "Dogmatic? Are you addressing disclaimer?"

Oh hairy arseholes, so I am. Apologies to dogmatic, disclaimer, and basic reading skills.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:58 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


While it is certainly true that people can just not read the posts they dislike, it is also true that the feminist posts in both the Blue and Grey seem to often attract hundreds or even thousands of comments, while other topics don't seem to reach that bar very often anymore.

It feels like people who are interested in those topics can spend a majority of their time reading just the posts and arguments about them, to the point where Metafilter basically is their Jezebel, even if the site as a whole isn't "a feminist website". And the people who aren't interested in those threads end up staying entirely out of them, because who wants to read another 1000 post MetaTalk argument? So I see this weird split of Metafilter into factions, and I'm not sure how well that is going to hold up going forward. I don't know that is a stable situation.
posted by smackfu at 6:21 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


> 4 of the 5 most recent posts

Nature is lumpy. When it's 400 out of the last 500 I'll worry that it's a trend.
posted by jfuller at 6:21 AM on October 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


That said, it is a little too easy to get the impression from these threads that women are collectively in some kind of horrifying hell all the time, and I think that isn't completely true.

OK, so I've been thinking about this statement.

No, I personally am not in some kind of horrifying hell all the time. My lady friends are also not in some kind of horrifying hell all the time. But I guarantee you that at any time of any day, some lady somewhere is in some kind of horrifying hell because of some sexist bullshit.

And that is what these threads have helped me realize.

It started with that "whatcha readin'" thread that we had a while back. It was the first time I had read something (not just the FPP but the ensuing discussion) where I realized, "oh man, it's not just me, and some women are getting it so much worse." Realizing that I had so many shared experiences, at least to an extent, with most of half of the population was really good for me. It made me notice sexism more around me, and made me braver to say something about it.

So, whereas before it was just me feeling uncomfortable when some creeperbro on the street tells me to smile, now I hear it and think "not just me, other ladies, too, fuck this asshole," and I tell him off. I tell him off for me and for others.

Seeing the discussion in the sexism threads has made me braver because I know I'm not just getting mad about it for myself; I'm getting mad about it for everyone.


So yeah, that impression you might get--that's a feature, not a bug. Does it really matter all that much if women are actually collectively in "some kind of horrifying hell" all the time vs, like, 40% of the time? 40% of the time is OK? 25% of the time? How about none of the time. A none-of-the-time horrifying hell is the world I prefer to live in, and the sexism threads have given me the tools to decide to make my little corner of the world as hell-free as possible.
posted by phunniemee at 6:21 AM on October 1, 2013 [57 favorites]


There's a general mod guideline against 'this specific awful thing is an awful thing' posts, where there's not much to be added other than 'yes, this thing is awful', and I'm more than happy to see that applied if it gets to the point of Sexism Instance Of The Day posts designed more for GRAR than anything else, but I don't see that happening.

It's happening. There just aren't that many threads to apply it to. There have been a few posts that I can recall just in the past few weeks where our basic reason for deletion was "This just seems like an argument on the internet that you want to talk about here"

However, I think what we are seeing is that other people's "neat stuff on the internet" bar may include things like feminist dating tips or whatever. I thought there was some decent discussion in that thread, even by people who didn't really see it as "feminist" or who questioned some of the premises. While the general vibe seemed to be a positive one, it certainly wasn't unanimous. And at some level if you're talking about the stuff you want to talk about, having a bunch of people who self-selected to even read it saying "Oh huh, that was interesting" is okay with us. People who really enjoy the intense arguments of the internet will not find every thread to their liking. There should be enough of a lot of different sorts of threads to go around. Let us know if there aren't.

My personal read on it (as someone who came up through some of the same sounding anarchofeminist circles a long time ago) was "Ugh not this shit again" but every thread doesn't have to be relevant or interesting to me. Many aren't. That said, I agree with what several people have said: these sorts of threads seem to require an inordinate amount of mod time and attention so they are going to be self-limiting in a way. If, as smackfu says above, MetaFilter is your Jezebel, that's not going to be something that will scale here. We may have a slightly higher-than-average tolerance for a lot of intense discussions along these lines, but it's not infinite.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:23 AM on October 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Radicals will find a reason to apply a topic to their cause.

who are the radicals?


It's an awful, terrible place, that reddit, and I don't think anyone is teaching anyone anything, anywhere, there.

you should pick different subs. there are no srs/anti-srs fights in the places i hang out at reddit. there is lots of learning.
posted by nadawi at 6:44 AM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I feel like if metafilter was like, 30 or 40 percent the same sort of stuff I could read on a feminist blog (or Jezebel, whatever one wants to call that) then I wouldn’t read here as much.


I really don't understand what the problem is here, or what you think the solution is. Are you hoping that people stop talking about gender and sexism on metafilter?

Is there some kind of threshold you feel the site has passed, and that sexism-related posts should be limited to avoid becoming a "feminist blog"?

And, as taz pointed out, the numbers are actually really low. Considering that feminism and sexism and gender are insanely broad topics, that everyone has experiences with, that effects our lives in extremely personal ways, I don't think we talk about it that much.
posted by inertia at 6:48 AM on October 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


The opposition is seeing Metafilter as something to talk about. That means they're coming here. The "battle" has just begun.

Metafilter: Waiting for the Barbarians.

(And Reader, because my funny likes to provide added value, you can dig that poem in the Keeley/Sherrard, Sachperoglou, and Mendelsohn translations, too!)
posted by octobersurprise at 6:51 AM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm fine with the number of feminism-related FPPs; it's the number of MeTa posts resulting from these FPPs that I'd like to see fewer of. That's because MeTas frequently flow from people acting like assholes in these threads. Less assholism=fewer MeTas; the number of FPPs is just fine.
posted by MoonOrb at 6:54 AM on October 1, 2013 [15 favorites]


I feel fine with frequency, clustering, whatever. Like some of the other self-identified feminists, I feel like if we're not talking about gender issues pretty much always, we're not talking about the elephant in the room.

And I don't expect the mods to make it happen. I tend to take the lack of not 24/7 talking about gender issues as an indication that I'm not representative of the majority of people on the site or on the planet. Which is what it is. But I will fight that where I can.

Also, just wanted to mention a thing from cryptography. Humans are by no means accurate assessors of randomness. We actually favor a non-randomness where we only see clusters of one or perhaps 2 of a number. We don't see a cluster of 4 or 5 of a single number as random, even though it very well can be, and if it seems like we are seeing too frequent a thing in a space we know or want to be random, we tend to act subconsciously to try to "randomize" it out to whatever frequency we think is right.

But we're generally wrong and we sabotage the idea of actual random mathematical frequency when we do so, to the point where historically we could weaken a cryptosystem.

So from a mathematical/statistical standpoint, having a small tight cluster of the same sort of topic is potentially totally random (depends on the long-term statistics). Even if it doesn't seem so.
posted by kalessin at 7:08 AM on October 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


I can understand that. All I can really say is that I framed it wishy washy because I feel wishy washy. In particular, I didn't want to come at this all like "I think Metafilter should do X" because I felt it likely that a majority of the community would think the number of posts on these topics was fine, and if I was alone in my perception that this stuff was coming up more than it certainly wasn't my place to demand a change in site policy or culture to suit my idiosyncratic preferences. That's why all I asked was how people felt about it; that's what I wanted to know.

ayo, Diablevert- I just wanted to note that I think some folk have gotten prickly about you posting this MeTa (which I think is a pretty normal thing; because of fighty MeTas that erupt, it's often difficult to read straightforward genuine questions as what they are, rather than having an Agenda to be fleshed out by largely-rhetorical questions).

BUT: I totally think that you posting this MeTa was reasonable and in-good-faith (even though my answer to your implied question of "is this too much feminism?" is a pretty direct "no, mefi's doin' good"), and I wanted to say that your measured resistance to fightiness has been remarkably deft and calm and respectful. So hey, good job, is basically what I'm saying, and I hope your Tuesday is lovely. Okay!
posted by Greg Nog at 7:12 AM on October 1, 2013 [29 favorites]


Metafilter: Post whatever you want. We're not going to run out of internet.
posted by Aizkolari at 7:26 AM on October 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


Feminist posts are awesome and I want to see more of them. There have been kind of a lot clustered together. I've gone "ooh, that looks interesting" at each one.
posted by RainyJay at 7:35 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hadn't actually heard of SJSucks before so went to have a look.

I, uh, don't think Mefi has anything to worry about.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 7:49 AM on October 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


Just as an exercise in curiosity and because I'm avoiding doing some tedious work stuff, I decided to do a rough survey of FPP content over the past week. I counted 193 non-deleted posts, and broke them down into the following categories, ranked here by frequency. I assigned only one category to each article; where judgment calls had to be made, I tried to assign the category that most strongly reflected the motivation for interest in the article. "Human interest" is a bit of a catchall, but some FPPs were hard to categorize. Creating a separate category for sexuality is not a way to try to reduce the no. of posts categorized as gender/feminism: it is mostly posts about LBGT rights, and one about dick pix.

music 22
technology 21
TV & film 20
language, literature, and philosophy 17
science 14
human interest 11
economics 11
animals 11
politics 9
comics & cartoons 9
sexuality 7
history 7
art 7
sports 6
gender 6
games 6
education 4
crime 3
race&ethnicity 1
food 1
posted by drlith at 8:02 AM on October 1, 2013 [13 favorites]


WHEN WILL THIS TYRANNY OF MUSIC COME TO AN END!?
posted by edgeways at 8:04 AM on October 1, 2013 [11 favorites]


oh no! we're becoming allmusic and engadget!! sound the alarms!
posted by nadawi at 8:05 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, I’m asking: How do people feel about this? Do other people also feel that there’s been a lot more posting on feminism/gender studies/misogyny lately?

From the perspective of someone who's been a member since 2004, yep, there's a lot more posts about these subjects than before, heh.

As to the cluster of posts, it happens. It's occurred before with feminism posts and other subjects that have resulted in a MeTa that essentially says "Hey, look at this weird cluster". Hell, I'm tickled the subject of Apollo 12 was mentioned in a two posts within the last month, it's like Apollo nirvana up in here.

Do they all think it’s awesome and want to see more of it?

It's a mixed bag. Sometimes there's a good post about these topics, sometimes there isn't. Naturally, there's question of what is a good post and the only real answer is that it depends. Sometimes a crappy post is redeemed in the comments or vice versa.

Often the threads devolved devolve into arguments with a lot anger and people feeling hurt or misunderstood, resulting in animosity and closed accounts. This isn't a great thing, but it isn't necessarily all bad either.

Do they think it’s about the same as it ever was and they’re perfectly fine with the level it’s at now?

I'm with you, in that the level seems about right these and any sort of substantial ramping of the number of posts about feminism doesn't sound like a delightful time. Same thing goes for another topics, such as the NSA, American politics. After a certain nebulous point, which is dependent upon the individual to decide, multiple postings about a subject just seem like overkill and you don't want to hear about it anymore for a bit.

That may sound harsh or uncaring, but that feeling is based on what Metafilter is and isn't, at least in my mind. It's a website where people post interesting links. It's not a court of law or advocacy group or government agency. There will be no great tragedy because this or that link wasn't posted.

So yes, by all means post what interests you, but try to keep the rest of the community in mind by being aware what's been posted recently and taking that into account when making your own post.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:08 AM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


BUT: I totally think that you posting this MeTa was reasonable and in-good-faith (even though my answer to your implied question of "is this too much feminism?" is a pretty direct "no, mefi's doin' good"), and I wanted to say that your measured resistance to fightiness has been remarkably deft and calm and respectful. So hey, good job, is basically what I'm saying, and I hope your Tuesday is lovely. Okay!

That's a really nice thing to say, man, thank you. My Tuesday's not great but it'd definitely the federal government's fault.
posted by Diablevert at 8:09 AM on October 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


drlith: "one about dick pix."

what
posted by zarq at 8:25 AM on October 1, 2013


"I feel fine with frequency, clustering, whatever. Like some of the other self-identified feminists, I feel like if we're not talking about gender issues pretty much always, we're not talking about the elephant in the room."

But that is a bad way to see MetaFilter. We talk about feminism because it's interesting and because it affects pretty much everyone's lives, but not because it's a moral imperative. Moral imperative posting is pretty boring.

You've brought up seeing yourself as explicitly having an activist perspective toward MeFi before, and I think that's a poor way to interact with MeFi.
posted by klangklangston at 8:26 AM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


what

Dick pix! It's actually not a bad discussion about a strangely cool Tumblr.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:28 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I remember reading somewhere (probably linked from the blue) research that suggested that if a picture of a mixed-sex group included 17% women, viewers of both sexes thought it was gender-balanced. If it had 33% women, viewers thought there were more women than men.

That sums up how I feel about the current cluster of gender/sexism threads. (That and I wish there were fewer fights about them--not that this is one.)
posted by immlass at 8:31 AM on October 1, 2013 [33 favorites]


From my experience with the SRSsucks crowd-- and I have a fair amount; I've been an SRSter for a while now-- they like having a website that's mostly an echo chamber for their horrendous views where they can talk about things from the perspective of awful white men. I doubt they'll come here, and if they do, they'll get banned. The fempire is working on spinning off our* own site and though it's a work in progress at the moment we haven't gotten a lot of pushback from the SRSsucks crowd-- partly because it's not officially announced yet but I think that they really don't want to leave their echo chamber. (This might be wishful thinking, of course.)

There's actually a lot of overlap between stuff on Metafilter and the Fempire, it seems, and it's interesting to see how the discussion plays out in both places. And I'm not just talking about feminism posts, but stuff like What Does The Fox Say seems to really tickle the fancies of both groups. The feminism stuff that I see here is almost always on the front page there too. (It's possible someone is cross-posting but I think it's just community interest similarities.)

I think the biggest difference between reddit and metafilter is in the moderation-- it's consistent from subsite to subsite (the rules are different based on how the subsite is meant to be used, but there are general conduct rules), there's a sort of etiquette that's not super clearly laid out anywhere but that's generally pretty easy to pick up from lurking and that etiquette (and the rules) are based on years of experience and require judgement calls from good moderators instead of a ruleset that covers every conceivable thing the rules will have to handle. Reddit really doesn't have that kind of thing, and that combined with the triviality of account-switching makes it really easy to troll.

Anyway, I don't think reddit is a very useful example of the kind of thing we could potentially turn into, because that's a feminism-hostile zone that gets more feminism-hostile when people point out what humongous shitbeards everyone there is being. Metafilter not only prohibits most forms of shitbeardery but also isn't hostile to feminism as a rule in the first place. We also have a way less monolithic userbase, a better system for actual discussion in comments instead of drive-bys trying for fake internet points, administrators who actually care about the content of the site being good and a shitload more history than sites like reddit.

*I say "our" but I'm not really involved in anything except I'm a moderator on the butts sub
posted by NoraReed at 8:33 AM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


So, I think I definitely feel like there's been more gender posts. I identify as a feminist, so it doesn't ping on me as a bad thing.

At the same time, that breakdown is pretty interesting. So there have only been (taking the numbers as factual for the sake of argument) 6 posts explicitly about gender. But yet I feel like it's been a lot more gender lately. Where does that come from?

I'd wager some of that comes from the length of the existing gender threads, so that it feels like they are never done before the new one starts. My perception - which may be incorrect - is that gender threads tend to last out their month, while music is often a flash in the pan. And add contentious MeTas into that and the feeling is up stronger.

Then add to that the fact that even not-explicitly gender threads wander into genderland, and you have what feels like a constant presence.
posted by corb at 8:34 AM on October 1, 2013


At the same time, that breakdown is pretty interesting. So there have only been (taking the numbers as factual for the sake of argument) 6 posts explicitly about gender. But yet I feel like it's been a lot more gender lately. Where does that come from?

it's coercively assigned when the post is created
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:38 AM on October 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


NoraReed: "*I say "our" but I'm not really involved in anything except I'm a moderator on the butts sub"
I just went to find it and. how did I miss this sub

posted by ArmyOfKittens at 8:38 AM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


it is also true that the feminist posts in both the Blue and Grey seem to often attract hundreds or even thousands of comments, while other topics don't seem to reach that bar very often anymore.

These didn't. I noticed the comment counts on them were pretty low.

people who are interested in those topics can spend a majority of their time reading just the posts and arguments about them, to the point where Metafilter basically is their Jezebe...people who aren't interested in those threads end up staying entirely out of them, because who wants to read another 1000 post MetaTalk argument? So I see this weird split of Metafilter into factions...


This, to me, is no different than ever. I have read maybe 3 games and gaming posts in my almost 10 years (oh God) of participating. Does that split me into the non-gaming faction? I also don't read a ton of pop-culture posts. Should we be worried about all the people for whom MetaFilter is basically their Pitchfork? Or their BuzzFeed?

Since it's really not to the point where it dominates the site, it just seems like "feminism" and "gender relations" and "social justice" are part of the panoply of things that is included in "general interest," and the volume is fine.

food 1

This is a horrible state of affairs and must be addressed immediately. The problem isn't too much feminism; it's too little food.
posted by Miko at 8:39 AM on October 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


We need more feminist food, obviously. Food that doesn't engage in "healthy stuff is marketed toward women" advertising, food that doesn't tell you it's "sinful" to eat it, food that doesn't shame you for eating it.

Also, noodles, because noodles are fucking great, and noodles is also a really fun word.
posted by NoraReed at 8:50 AM on October 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Just as an exercise in curiosity and because I'm avoiding doing some tedious work stuff, I decided to do a rough survey of FPP content over the past week.

[...]

food 1


Suddenly a choir is singing, and I can see a grail-shaped bacon...er, beacon shining in the distance.


"Alack, we don't always get what we want."

Ah yes, the title of one of Ye Olde Rollinge Stones's biggest hits.

posted by Celsius1414 at 8:51 AM on October 1, 2013


I also moderate SRSSucks, the Fempire's place for serious discussion of vacuums.
posted by NoraReed at 9:00 AM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's actually a lot of overlap between stuff on Metafilter and the Fempire

There's a really fundamental difference. SRS and its family of subreddits strictly police all comments and posts for ideological purity. Even though I almost always agree with the ideology, for me this results in an intellectual chilling effect on every conversation (for example, I remember once on SRS I raised animal rights and speciesism only to be deleted (and banned as I recall), together with all others who engaged on the topic, cos it was offensive to principles of social justice). I saw the related LGBT subreddit destroyed by overzealous, unaccountable, pro-social-justice moderators, banning thousands of users for supposed ideological shortcomings while deleting and banning the thousands of other users who protested their moderation style. I'm so thankful that the moderation here gets the balance right, by allowing dissenting views that are courteously stated, and (crucially) providing a forum to review and discuss decisions.
posted by dontjumplarry at 9:27 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Eh, I've had knock-down arguments in SRS-related subs with other people who post to those same subs. Not going to start linking things because loldoxxing but the illusion of absolute orthodoxy is in the eye of the beholder. Lots of room for disagreement; no room for bullshittery; some room for overzealous moderation decisions which can usually be discussed with the sub mods in question.

Even attempting to look at r/lgbt and the mod decisions within in isolation is mistaken, imo.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 9:33 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Diablevert, I think this post is good. I like the neutral framing and it feels like you are making a sincere effort to poll the community rather than promote a particular agenda.

I also think the feminism posts on the front page are fine.

We have a huge, GRARY Meta going on right now. It originally called out the FPP about satiric nursery rhymes. I bring it up because during the course of that thread some of us were talking about whether raising the bar on feminist posts is a thing that should happen or not. I think the reaction was divided on that.

What's cool about the posts you mention, Diablevert, is that given the frustrations in that GRARY Meta, what could have followed was a bunch of stunt posts on the front page from people upset by one argument or the other.

But that doesn't seem to have happened. i'm breathing a sigh of relief and I'm sure I am not alone here. From what I have read of those posts so far, the level of discourse in them is basically positive. People are sharing a variety of reactions and being respectful about listening to each other, which is ideal IMHO.

I agree with you that there are more posts lately on sexism, gender, feminism and the like than in the past. I think it has been a gradual thing and understandable given the upheaval we are seeing in the atheist and geek communities, where sexism is pretty entrenched and women are getting pissed off about how entrenched it is. I am one of the people arguing that we need to keep the bar high so we don't have a lot of outrage filter and/or LOLMENZ posts (and lengthy Metas about them).

Which is NOT synonymous with "don't be outraged" or "don't call out specific instances of misogyny", because of course a lot of it is maddening, and sexist crap gets said and done and should be called out when it does. I am just advocating being especially mindful when framing FPPs on any potentially contentious topic.

For example, when posting about entrenched sexism in the atheist community, an FPP with some history and a timeline of events giving some context is going to go much better, IMHO, than a single link to Gawker's "Richard Dawkins Torn Limb from Limb--by atheists" linkbait.
posted by misha at 9:34 AM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've been a member for around 3 years now, but I'm not sure if it's been a particularly fighty Blue or Gray[1] month, or if it's pretty typical. Or if I've just been paying more attention to the Gray side.

It's been a bit busy on the grey, I'd say. Not like crazy unprecedented or anything, but it feels like a bit more contention and epic-thread argumentation and such than average. But then there were a some weeks in the summer that felt really weirdly quiet. Again with the uneven, clustering distribution of stuff around here, I figure.

The opposition is seeing Metafilter as something to talk about. That means they're coming here. The "battle" has just begun. And that doesn't bode well for the existence of Metafilter as it is today.

People have covered bits of this upthread, but just to give my take on it from a moderation perspective:

Honestly, I understand what you're laying out here but I think you're overestimating the likely effect really significantly by assuming that signing up to Metafilter would be an (a) attractive and (b) effective way to get in fights on the internet with feminists or whatever.

I'm not a mind-reader, so I can't speak definitively on that first point, but I do watch signups (and referrer traffic, so I'm aware that Mefi comes up sometimes on various parts of reddit for a variety of reasons positive and not-so-positive, oh boy) and haven't seen any evidence of this being a thing.

But more concretely, on the second point: signing up as a raw newbie to start picking fights is one of the few reliable ways to get your ass banned for something other than spamming. We don't do much of it (and so see a reiteration of my thoughts on the previous point), but we'll do it without flinching if it's an issue. Some angry anti-feminist crusader signing up for Metafilter just to bring the fight to those darned Mefeminists or whatever is, in the parlance of South Park, going to have a bad time. Not a good-bad epic shitshow trollfest time, just a quick cut it out or we'll cut it out for you time and a hammer on the head.

Basically, preventing the chucklehead apocalypse is one of the easier parts of our jobs, mechanically. Far more heat and tricky moderator effort goes into dealing with the results of people who actually want to be here for the sake of being here experiencing friction with each other than from drivebys, thanks to the way the site works.

I remember the Cam Girls invasion back in the old old days of the site, that was a silly clusterfuck when the site was tiny and signups were free and even that was a blip, not a serious impediment to site culture. Metafilter's got an immune system and it's based on a collective, slow-rolling site culture and general collective ethos. I am not dismissing the notion of being concerned about the site shifting to some more-polarized battleground state, I get where you're coming from with the concern, but in practice, having worked here for several years and watched it closely for years before that, I do not think the scenario you are sketching out is one that will play out.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:35 AM on October 1, 2013 [16 favorites]


cortex: "I remember the Cam Girls invasion back in the old old days of the site, that was a silly clusterfuck when the site was tiny and signups were free and even that was a blip, not a serious impediment to site culture."

Out of curiosity I was clicking on some names in that old thread, and very few of them have any contributions outside the borders of the clusterfuck. I was kind of hoping to see some names there with thousands of comments under their belt, bestriding MetaFilter like powerful colossi, and who I'd just plain forgotten had first come to MeFi to make bad taste jokes, but no.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 9:42 AM on October 1, 2013


I think there's a useful distinction to be drawn between "gender discussions" and "gender outrage discussions". Gender discussions are good, useful, lively, and typically happen in good faith. "Gender outrage discussions" are rarely any of these.

I think the number of "gender outrage discussions" has been peaking recently on the blue because the purveyors of internet culture - writers for blog networks and web publications and weird tweeters and what not - are increasingly aware that gender outrage is a really great way to get those sweet, sweet followers, favorites, and pageviews, and it's also a pretty good way to tear down competitors aiming for the same urban, professional, and socially-liberal audience. (Do you think it's an accident that Gawkerites started the conversations about Pax Dickinson and Bryan Goldberg?)

That's not to say the targets of this outrage are somehow right, or good. But I don't understand why "bad man has bad opinion" is "the best of the web", given the plethora of bad men with bad opinions on the internet.
posted by downing street memo at 9:42 AM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Others are noticing. Metafilter has been discussed on /r/tumblrinaction and on SRSSucks and on SJSucks. The opposition is seeing Metafilter as something to talk about. That means they're coming here.

I am a very active reader of the Something Awful forums. SA was where a lot of the SRSSucks folks started out, it was hugely active in the fight to shut down jailbait subreddits, and it's generally seen as an enemy of "Reddit culture" by people who would care about such things. What I'm saying is that SA would be target numero uno for these agents of discord you're talking about.

But I can say as a fact that this fighty madness you fear doesn't happen. Occasionally some person shows up and starts spouting angry MRA or whatever nonsense, and they're probated/banned. Moderation and paid accounts are excellent defences against forum anarchy.

If SA has managed to not be permanently derailed by a torrent of feminism vs. MRA madness, I feel quite confident that Metafilter will be fine.
posted by jess at 9:46 AM on October 1, 2013


cortex: " (and referrer traffic, so I'm aware that Mefi comes up sometimes on various parts of reddit for a variety of reasons positive and not-so-positive, oh boy)"

♪ ♫
I read referer logs today, oh boy
that a redditor made the gray
Thought the callout was rather sad
Well I just had to laugh
self posting about PUAs, what a gaffe
deleted and warned, probably not gonna get far
♪ ♫
He didn't notice that the times had changed
A crowd of mefites stood and stared
They'd seen his nick before
Nobody was really sure
If he was from the subreddit MRA
what a day
♪ ♫
posted by boo_radley at 9:47 AM on October 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


My gut reaction is that on a macro 'community' level (and on a broader 'intelligent internet community' level as well, not just MetaFilter), we've gotten a hold of feminist issues and how to talk about them in a way that we never have before. For a savvy regular MeFi reader/poster, it's become a familiar topic that's actually not too hard to engage in. And when people say ignorant/sexist things, it's become that much easier to spot and call out. This is great! It means the tide may be changing, if not in the world at large then at least in this community (many of us remember the one or two epically contentious feminism threads that kicked this off in 2007/8. Times have certainly changed since, for the better. I'm still grateful to those who fought the battles back then for waking me up in a major way.)

For me, a side effect of this willingness to engage in feminist social issues is that it inadvertently contrasts the social issues we're still very much not great at - race is sort of the elephant in the room there. Still something we largely haven't grasped how to talk about comfortably. Just my observation. This doesn't mean less feminism threads is desirable, but it may mean more consciously productive and high-quality race threads couldn't hurt. Seems like something to work towards, at least for me personally as a poster/commenter. This isn't just MetaFilter, it's many internet forums with people of similar tastes and backgrounds. I know in video game journalism, for example, there's a groundswell of much-needed feminist discourse happening, but people largely still don't know how to talk about race. It's worth considering as we continue engaging in serious and worthwhile issues.
posted by naju at 9:53 AM on October 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


Metafilter: Preventing the chucklehead apocalypse is one of the easier parts of our jobs.
(sorry, too good!)

Also, I appreciated that this MeTa seemed created in good faith and the lack of fightiness. I've also noticed lots of clustering on the site and don't think it's a big deal. Overall, metafilter has had good conversations about gender and made me a far more thoughtful feminist.
posted by ldthomps at 9:57 AM on October 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh, and on the topic of sexism threads on Metafilter I like them, although reading and thinking about social justice is something I enjoy doing occasionally anyway in my spare time. (Although not directly relating to sexism, I've gained a huge understanding of trans* issues and how to be a better ally to the trans* community from the folks who post here.)

Believe it or not, I've found the feminists and social justice folks on Mefi to be generally the most patient group around on any site. While some people have expressed frustration at having to go over Feminism 101 *again* (totally understandable!) generally people here seem really open to conversation and engaging good faith efforts to understand the issues.

I also like cat videos, Eurovision threads, and posts about grammar.
posted by jess at 10:00 AM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Eurovision threads? YOU MONSTER.

It's interesting to take a periodic trip back through time via the sidebar's "1, 2, 3, 4, 5 10 years ago" links.
posted by rtha at 10:14 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder if the "Popular Comments Across Metafilter" RSS feed is also skewing people's views: while taz points out that about 3% of posts have recently been about feminism in some way, I'm counting somewhere between 20-30% of recent popular comments being related. Most of that is the "baa baa bah" stuff. But the feed may be causing a distortion in understanding any change of interest on the site because it tends to highlight generally hyperbolic comments that a lot of people favorite. So if people try to avoid certain threads because it makes them feel angry/defensive/whatever, they may still be confronted with the "loudest" parts of those through that RSS feed. Not saying it's a good/bad thing, just saying it might be a contributing factor.
posted by one_bean at 10:17 AM on October 1, 2013


WHEN WILL THIS TYRANNY OF MUSIC COME TO AN END!?

Never if this bunch a mandolin-hating flautinazis have their way.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:29 AM on October 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


I am a flautinazi who loves mandolins.

I am confuse.
posted by winna at 10:41 AM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Do other people also feel that there’s been a lot more posting on feminism/gender studies/misogyny lately? Do they all think it’s awesome and want to see more of it? Do they think it’s about the same as it ever was and they’re perfectly fine with the level it’s at now?

I don't feel as though there's been a great (i.e. disproportionate) increase, though I'd want some concrete empirical numbers before stating my judgment one way or the other. I think there's a good variety of topics.

I like seeing posts that engage my interests and I like seeing posts that engage the interests of others if it the topic isn't one that engages me. So, for your second question, I'd say I'd like to see posts continue in the same vein as what I've been seeing.
posted by audi alteram partem at 10:44 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


while taz points out that about 3% of posts have recently been about feminism in some way, I'm counting somewhere between 20-30% of recent popular comments being related.

My current-most-favorited comment, bucking hard for the top ten, is where I confess to having insufficient experience with dicks to moderate a dick pic thread. So while I think you have a point, I also think that people should be careful of calibrating their perception of Metafilter by favorites.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:44 AM on October 1, 2013 [12 favorites]


For serious. For a long while my most-favourited comment was a joke about Human Centipedes.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:47 AM on October 1, 2013


I don't have an opinion specific to feminist/sexism topic, but I do think that we have lost the concept of the filter part of Metafilter. There are entirely too many posts of inadequate quality daily. The signal to noise ratio is out of whack. People make posts on a topic for the mere predicate to have a discussion or make a point they want to make, as if the post itself was just checking a box. I think this is probably the natural consequence of the invasive idea that this is now a place to talk about The Ideas That Are Important to You, Special Snowflake User.

There is an excellent post on the front page right now about phages. It is new, interesting and highly informative (thanks in large part to some wonderful contributions from blasdelb). There are some other really good posts today. In fact, today may not be the best representative day to be making this point, but it is when I read this Metatalk post. In long division, we have things called "remainders". I think a lot of posts barely qualify as remainders. There are still a lot of quality posts, but you have to filter it further. And the good ones almost get drowned out.

Without making any comment about the topic of sexism, I don't think there is any topic in this world that is new, evolving or interesting enough to warrant more than one legitimate post a day. Hell, I'd say the ability to find something new and interesting on any given topic sufficient to warrant more than one post a week is highly unlikely. Multiple ones a day? Then there is no filtering going on there. And the good posts suffer for it.
posted by dios at 10:47 AM on October 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Man, my top-favorited comments are me banning someone, me saying people not starving is good, me rambling about harmonic theory, and me posting a comment for someone else. I would be really curious to see an anthropologist's struggle to reconstruct Metafilter through that narrow, refractive lens.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:51 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


where I confess to having insufficient experience with dicks to moderate a dick pic thread.

Kind of surprising for a moderator on a members-only website.


My apologies. I blame sleep deprivation and a bad sunburn from the Dodgers game on Sunday.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:51 AM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am having thinky thoughts about trying to bring quality back to the filter. (Hubris, considering I've never posted an undeleted post before, but I think perhaps I have a better handle on what's wanted these days.)
posted by kalessin at 10:52 AM on October 1, 2013


if nothing else, it beats the hell out of 5 lady gaga posts on the front page.
posted by k5.user at 10:55 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Without making any comment about the topic of sexism, I don't think there is any topic in this world that is new, evolving or interesting enough to warrant more than one legitimate post a day.

well, the posts were about music, academia, dating, and word usage. if it were 4 posts about musicians who are women discussing sexism in the industry or 4 posts about word usage across different sites it'd be easy to agree with you. but if you're suggesting that 4 posts on 4 different topics that mention women or are seen from the viewpoint of women is just too much then i disagree.
posted by nadawi at 10:59 AM on October 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


The pile of text that disclaimer posted is one of the least coherent things I've seen on this site, and I have the quidnunc kid on speed dial.

In case anyone finds what I think relevant, I would be glad to have more feminist FPPs that showcase one of the things that MetaFilter is best at: fascinating, detailed, knowledgeable posts.

For example, would somebody please make a detailed FPP about all the cool stuff surrounding the annual Grace Hopper Celebration that's starting tomorrow? Please?

Because from where I'm reading, a sizable fraction of potentially interesting FPPs are listicles, screeds, jeremiads, polemics, and midnight cries of the heart: things I find uninteresting in any context. Reading these things, I am encouraged to think of women as victims and sufferers of unpleasant men in the street, bad dates, violent spouses, people who rub up against them on public transport, transwomen going into bathrooms and upsetting them, nerds who entrap them on elevators… the list goes on.

We came to terms with this tendency on the subject of gay people. I think a lot of people agreed that wall-to-wall victimhood is not necessarily a very good thing. And I would be weirded out if the front page of MeFi started getting posts like "20 ways to talk to your gay friends" or gay equivalents of that awful, smarmy, but incredibly popular "taking care of your introvert" comic.

I'm reminded of a terrible piece-of-glurge FPP about a blogger whose posts purportedly got assigned as classroom reading and caused a closeted gay teen to run away from his evangelical mother, leading to dramatic texting and a tearful midnight reunion, and then the mother purportedly made a 180° change and learned acceptance and wrote a gushing letter to the blogger to tell him this tale. And that FPP was an unpleasant, boring pile of shit, and that kind of thing has not repeated since. Or, as another example, the intermittent high-profile suicides of gay adolescents: terrible, unpleasant news, but we don't need more of that on the MeFi front page.
posted by Nomyte at 10:59 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of my most favorited comments is about biting people.
posted by Nomyte at 11:00 AM on October 1, 2013


For example, would somebody please make a detailed FPP about all the cool stuff surrounding the annual Grace Hopper Celebration that's starting tomorrow? Please?



Couldn't you make the FPP?
posted by palomar at 11:01 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


, I am encouraged to think of women as victims and sufferers

This is why I found this article so interesting (and was subsequently so cranky when people seemed not to actually read it.) I would love to see people think more about showcasing positive stuff in general.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:03 AM on October 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Couldn't you make the FPP?

No, because I've never gone and have no idea what's going on, its significance, or its history. I'm jealous of my colleagues who do get to go, and I was hoping someone could share their expertise.
posted by Nomyte at 11:03 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


who are the radicals?

Funny you should ask!
Clearly obligatory.
Sigh... obligatory.
Less obligatory.
This is probably no longer obligatory.
This is definitely not obligatory.
posted by Nanukthedog at 11:28 AM on October 1, 2013


This is why I found this article so interesting...

You know, whenever I post about something that has the potential to start a MeFiasco™, I always try to frame it with as much history and back-up source material, and just really try for a 360-degree approach to the subject. I'm starting to suspect that that strategy might not be the objectively optimal one, though. In fact, I'm going to actively avoid the "reaction to [THING] has been unpleasant" link that I have a tendency to throw in, just because I'm no longer seeing a point to providing such information. Hopefully not linking to shitty people with shitty opinions for whatever reason will make for better FPPs.
posted by griphus at 11:29 AM on October 1, 2013


> Nothing more than a temporary bunching of a topic.

Yup. This MeTa is like saying "This coin just came up heads several times in a row... is it loaded??" But accepting the idea (which is probably true for other reasons) that there's more interest in and attention paid to feminist/gender issues lately:

> How do people feel about this?

I feel good!
posted by languagehat at 11:56 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


, I am encouraged to think of women as victims and sufferers

This is why I found this article so interesting (and was subsequently so cranky when people seemed not to actually read it.) I would love to see people think more about showcasing positive stuff in general.


That was a good article, and a difficult one, I thought, which left me with mixed feelings about the ahistoricity of the world following the program it laid out might lead to, where experiences such as Jesse Jackson recounted having in a program I listened to recently, where after a talk he gave to students in a predominately black high school about progress toward ending racial discrimination, one of the first questions he got was 'when did white players first integrate the NBA?' could be expected to become commonplace.
posted by jamjam at 12:21 PM on October 1, 2013


A very vocal minority of users here would love if MetaFilter were Jezebel II. East to spot, they typically post 8, 9, 10 comments in one thread ensuring a feminist vigilantism leaves no viewpoint decontextualized.

Fortunately there are enough reasonable, rational users on this site to keep things from capsizing, and for over 10 years the site has been engaging and balanced. Despite the waves, I think it'll remain a site for everyone.
posted by four panels at 12:25 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


disclaimer: "I'm not a big participant in Metafilter but I read it a lot. 4, 5, 6 times a day, over all of the sites (I probably need to talk to someone about this).

Yes, I think there is a significant bump in the number of "social justice" topics on Metafilter, and I think there are a lot of comments/commenters that see (what used to be) a typical post on Metafilter/askmetafilter as a place to discuss how those topics relate to feminism and sexism and transphobia. I think this has been rising over the last year or so. A discussion about fedoras takes, no matter the style and sensibility of the hat, a "mysognist" tone as people weigh in on the use of the fedora by PUA types. Is it relevant - who cares? The point is that it happens. Radicals will find a reason to apply a topic to their cause.

Others are noticing. Metafilter has been discussed on /r/tumblrinaction and on SRSSucks and on SJSucks. The opposition is seeing Metafilter as something to talk about. That means they're coming here. The "battle" has just begun. And that doesn't bode well for the existence of Metafilter as it is today. It's going to evolve, purely as a defense mechanism, into something else. Something where moderation is tighter, and more "politically correct" and where users will be shamed for voicing opinions. I think that's really bad.

Let's talk about reddit. Because reddit, as shitty as it is, has relevance here.
SRS (reddit.com/shitredditsays and the associated "fempire" SRS subreddits) are a focal point, a lens, if you will, on social justice topics on the internet. Tumblr, too, since Tumblr succeeds in providing a safe outlet for people that deal, every day, with terrible misogyny sexism, transphobia,, and other oppressive issues. There is a lot of anger on Tumblr. Which makes SRS and Tumblr targets for those anti-feminist/pro-whataboutthemenz types. And it's really painful to see, but it's very real, especially for those that need safe spaces and need some measure of protection around their experiences and their needs.

Has the experience of the typical reddit user improved because of this fighting? Has reddit improved in being less misogynistic, less shitty? No. Instead, it's become fighty, and the typical (dumb) reddit user sees a comment by an SRSer as "fighty" and as fightbait. The site has become worse for this, simply because fights erupt and SRS gets a bad name among the stupid, which just results in more fighting. It's an awful, terrible place, that reddit, and I don't think anyone is teaching anyone anything, anywhere, there.

In either place: Reddit or Tumblr, there is a lot of heat, a lot of pushback from some basically very stupid people. As people notice that MF is becoming more pro-feminist, the presence of anti-feminists will undoubtedly increase. That means more discussions will be more polarized, will gather attention from other sites, will be more fighty. That's the way it's going to go.

I'm not sure if Metafilter, as has been recently discussed on reddit (paraphrasing in a pretty shitty way but that's reddit for you) is "where feminists go when they grow up", but I will say that the discourse here is much more adult, much less "grar" than it is elsewhere. That's a good thing. I like being able to ask a question without being "benned". I like being able to engage with users that are experiencing situations that I don't - I'm a white guy. I need to understand the differences between my life experience and others. I fear I will lose this as MF evolves. That's a big loss to me.

Because I can learn here without being shouted down, or I can see where pushback becomes a conversation which becomes teachable moments. That isn't going to be the case if all Metafilter is doing on these topics is "pushing back".

Feminism, in all its online forms, is a lighting rod for Internet based discussions and it is basically a topic that says "let's fight". That's a crappy way to look at it, but I think it's realistic.

The more of these social justice/pro-feminism/anti-sexist topics there are, the more heated these discussions will be. The more topics there are, the more MRA's and PUAs and other anti-feminist types will be here to defend their positions/privilege/whatever. That's a bad thing, to me.

More heat = more work for mods. If the site is going to be a safe haven for feminists where MRA/PUA/Men's rights are not welcome, then fine. That means more deletions, more Metatalk, more work for the mods. That's the price. If it's going to be neutral, then the site needs to discourage feminist/sexism/trans-based topics simply because that's going to be less work for the mods - and I will say that a lot, a LOT of Metatalk is devoted to making the site less work for the mods.

But if MF is going to be that place, we will all, every user, suffer.

I rage quit the other day. I did that because, as much as I hate to say it, I don't want more feminism here (and not because I decry feminism - it's hugely important to me as a guy with lots of females in my family and in my circle of friends).

I don't want more fights. I don't want to see battles. I want to see people getting along and happily enjoying what MF has to offer: great links and smart conversation about a wide, wide range of topics. I was wrong to rage-quit because I chose to see the focal lens/polarization that results from feminism/anti-feminism sentiments in post topics, post comments, and Metatalk threads.

I'll be ignoring and flagging what I think is fighty or bad for the site. If I think feminist topics are taking over the front page, I'm flagging them. If I see anti-feminist topics, I'll flag those. And I'll flag comments in threads that point out sexism/racism/transphobia/attempts to derail topics into battlezones.

Because I like Metafilter, and I don't want to see a lot of goddamn fighting. I'm fucking tired of it.

And if, as a result, I end up just not reading Metatalk, ever, well, I lose because I learn a lot, but I'd rather be deprived of a learning experience than get all worked up because someone has a "cause", regardless of what that cause is.

So what's to be done? Let's make Metafilter neutral ground. Let's make it a safe space. Call out the MRAs: Flag them, flag their comments, flag them into the ground. Send a modmail for egregious offenses.

Let the mods sort it out. Let the system work.

Don't engage an MRA/sexist asshole/transphobe. Just don't.

Let Metafilter's mod team determine, neutrally and based on flags and modmails, what's to be done.

If someone is spoiling for a fight, and they don't get one, they'll go away. Self-policing. Let's do that.
"

Ghidorah: "You have to be the Metafilter you want to see

I am the Metafilter I want to see. Wait, why are you covering your eyes and backing away? Why the shrieking? Is it the professional white background?
"

Oh, great. I forgot my pants again, didn't I?

Seriously, my big issue was not that I dislike feminism (I don't and I spend a good bit of time offline learning about it from female friends), but that I don't like going to MeFi to get told, to coin a phrase, that I am "WRONG!" I am not a fan of MRA stuff or anything like that. But, to be told on numerous occasions that the effort I put in to being a good person is futile gets a little frustrating (and note I did say "good person" and NOT "nice guy").
posted by Samizdata at 12:31 PM on October 1, 2013


jessamyn: I feel like there's a pendulum swing effect and for whatever reason there's a clump of similar threads here right now. I don't personally see it as a trend, at all.

taz: So, yeah, from my point of view as someone who has to spend a lot of unpleasant time in every contentious, difficult thread, I'm still definitely not seeing this as some alarming trend at all.

From the tags it looks like there are more feminism threads than there used to be. For example, 148 out of 374 posts tagged with "feminism" were made in 2012-2013. That's about 40% in the last two years, compared to 60% made in the first ten years of the site. By comparison (to pick a tag at random), only 103/435 posts about "baseball" were made in 2012-2013 -- about 24%.

That's not a very complete analysis, but until there's a better one, I'm leaning toward the idea that there's been a meaningful increase in feminism posts across the scale of years, not just as an isolated cluster. Which I think is great, for reasons naju brought up:

naju: My gut reaction is that on a macro 'community' level (and on a broader 'intelligent internet community' level as well, not just MetaFilter), we've gotten a hold of feminist issues and how to talk about them in a way that we never have before.

I completely agree, and was trying to think how to put this. The last few feminism threads I've seen described as fights or as terrible-as-usual or whatever, looked to me like one or two people bringing up feminism-101-type junk, and then like ten or twenty people who were able to respond effectively, thoughtfully share their ideas about the underlying story, add their own experiences and stories, etc. It's by no means a safe space, but it's a 90%-supportive space, and as a result the threads are full of really interesting stuff from a wide range of people.

(And if you send me $3 and a SASE I'll send you a pair of rose-tinted glasses of your very own! Anyway ...)

I tend to think that having more feminism threads contributes to the positive change here. A lot of the work of feminism is developing and getting comfortable with new tools for thinking and listening and talking about the world, and I've been assuming that the uptick in posts was helping us do that on some sort of herd-immunity level.

If so, I think that's great. Sexism isn't just a take-it-or-leave-it topic like sports or politics or technology or music, because it pervades conversations about all those other things. Getting better at this lets us have conversations I'm more interested in about everything else. So (to the extent this is a real shift at all, and I'm not just making it up) I hope it continues.
posted by jhc at 12:32 PM on October 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


We'll make sure we only post one comment in a discussion so you can relax more. Sounds so very reasonable.
posted by agregoli at 12:34 PM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


four panels: "Fortunately there are enough reasonable, rational users on this site to keep things from capsizing, and for over 10 years the site has been engaging and balanced. Despite the waves, I think it'll remain a site for everyone."

I admire your dedication to that boat metaphor.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:34 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


For example, 148 out of 374 posts tagged with "feminism" were made in 2012-2013. That's about 40% in the last two years, compared to 60% made in the first ten years of the sire.

I think the tagging isn't rationalized enough to calculate anything much that way. You'd have to do a manual count to get closer.
posted by Miko at 12:35 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


*tries quietly but furiously to work out an extended mefi-as-combine-harvester metaphor*
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:38 PM on October 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


A very vocal minority of users here would love if MetaFilter were Jezebel II.

Huh. I think we are listening to different voices. I don't think I have ever heard anyone in a gender-related thread suggest that MetaFilter should have more gender-related threads, much less be all gender-related threads. Mostly, the commenters in those threads are there to talk about the FPP and what it means to them. There are, on the other hand, some fairly vocal people who seem determined to object to any gender-related threads at all and to do their best to derail them. That is where a lot of the contention comes from, not some group of angry feminists intent on angrily feminizing MetaFilter.

So I am happy with the number of gender threads and would be OK with more, but that's me. I would be just as happy if there was never another Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, or Mad Men FPP, but I am capable of not reading and/or engaging with threads that don't interest me. I certainly don't think the people who like those threads should be prevented from posting them.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:38 PM on October 1, 2013 [11 favorites]


I also feel like some of the increase in tags could be attributed to the higher level of acceptance in feminism discussions in Metafilter-- so a post that might not have been labeled feminist because no one thought of it/didn't want that as a label in the past might be more likely to be so labeled now. But I'm still a relatively new user, so I don't know.
posted by jetlagaddict at 12:38 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


That said, I agree with what several people have said: these sorts of threads seem to require an inordinate amount of mod time and attention so they are going to be self-limiting in a way.

From my own experiences, it seems it's not so much the threads themselves as the small group of assholes who keep coming to these threads to stir up shit. Less of them and these threads go a lot better, generate fewer metas and descend less often into grahfests.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:39 PM on October 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


kalessin: "I am having thinky thoughts about trying to bring quality back to the filter. (Hubris, considering I've never posted an undeleted post before, but I think perhaps I have a better handle on what's wanted these days.)"

That's okay. I just had my first deleted post the other day. It was about a class action suit against Google for scanning Gmail for ads. I was a sad panda.
posted by Samizdata at 12:40 PM on October 1, 2013


ArmyOfKittens: "four panels: "Fortunately there are enough reasonable, rational users on this site to keep things from capsizing, and for over 10 years the site has been engaging and balanced. Despite the waves, I think it'll remain a site for everyone."

I admire your dedication to that boat metaphor.
"

Can I get a bigger cabin?
posted by Samizdata at 12:42 PM on October 1, 2013


Yes, and then when I sail the mighty Jezebel II up the inland waterway of Polite Discourse, and into Status Quo Harbor on Lake Genteel, all shall tremble beneath my Sword of Reverse Discrimination!


Yarr!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:42 PM on October 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think that's exactly right, jetlagaddict. There was a time when I would have had heart palpitations about posting something specifically promoting a feminist perspective here. That time is clearly gone enough that it's perfectly fine to tag something "feminism," overtly.

To support my point, I just jumped to the "10 years ago" link and found two threads on gender-related topics that are not tagged "feminism" but might get that tag today, just on that one day. The first was about two British women arguing to be able to use frozen embryos without the consent of the conceiving partner. The second is about an Iranian woman's sentence to execution for killing a rapist. If posted today, both of those would probably lead to discussions involving ideas in feminism and would merit the tag.

There are very few women at all (at least based on my memory and what's left in user profiles) in these threads. And at least the embryo one contains comments that, if made today, would be zapped pronto - or at least be highly inflammatory.
posted by Miko at 12:45 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can I get a bigger cabin?

Well, we're going to need a bigger boat.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:48 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


A very vocal minority of users here would love if MetaFilter were Jezebel II.

As a feminist, let me say, I really don't want this place to turn into Jezebel II. I'm inherently suspicious of Gawker media sites; I'm innately suspicious of any posts from Gawker sites being outragefilter clickbait on their topic of choice. Which is not to say I'm in favor of people never linking to them or whatever, just that Gawker links come with that baggage for me, and I really don't want Metafilter to go that way.
posted by immlass at 12:51 PM on October 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


That fear of losing the staus quo is powerful, ain't it?
posted by agregoli at 12:53 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


As a feminist, let me say, I really don't want this place to turn into Jezebel II.

I really dislike Jezebel and never read it unless someone links to something from here, so the assumption fails on me too. Don't be scared!

Fortunately there are enough reasonable, rational users on this site to keep things from capsizing

Yep, and your favorite resident feminists are among them. You're welcome!
posted by Miko at 12:55 PM on October 1, 2013 [19 favorites]


If it bothers you, post more and different things! "Problem" solved.

If it doesn't bother you, then I got nothin'.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:56 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


To be honest, I don't think there are too many feminist posts at all on the site, heck I haven't made my monthly quota in ages.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:58 PM on October 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


From my own experiences, it seems it's not so much the threads themselves as the small group of assholes who keep coming to these threads to stir up shit.

So you brought a blender to this one?
posted by 0 at 1:22 PM on October 1, 2013


Jezebel is a ghastly site and I dislike them enormously. I can't remember the last time I clicked on one of their links without very great regret for time wasted and sensibilities offended.
posted by elizardbits at 1:23 PM on October 1, 2013 [10 favorites]


Yeah, it's kind of telling that someone would think that Jezebel is a model for feminism on the web.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:29 PM on October 1, 2013 [18 favorites]


Count me as another feminist who seriously dislikes Jezebel. I read it only when it's linked from somewhere I actually do respect, and I always avoid the comments. The site is a huge part of the commodification of certain (mainstream, white, young, educated, generally already benefiting from and therefore not hugely critical of capitalism) feminist voices at the expense of other, generally more interesting and insightful feminist voices. I find Jezebel extremely distasteful.
posted by jaguar at 1:31 PM on October 1, 2013 [11 favorites]


*tries quietly but furiously to work out an extended mefi-as-combine-harvester metaphor*

I will give you the key!
posted by J0 at 1:37 PM on October 1, 2013


Feminist vigilante is my new band name.
posted by nooneyouknow at 1:51 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I will buy all songs and two t-shirts of the band Feminist Vigilante.
posted by RainyJay at 1:57 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]



Yeah, it's kind of telling that someone would think that Jezebel is a model for feminism on the web.


I'm not sure if you're referring to my opening comment or not; I tried to make clear that I wouldn't consider them a model.


I think that's exactly right, jetlagaddict. There was a time when I would have had heart palpitations about posting something specifically promoting a feminist perspective here. That time is clearly gone enough that it's perfectly fine to tag something "feminism," overtly.


That's awesome. You've been around the site a lot longer than I have, so I'm glad to hear there has been this positive change.

But I was also struck by the metaphor jhc used:

A lot of the work of feminism is developing and getting comfortable with new tools for thinking and listening and talking about the world, and I've been assuming that the uptick in posts was helping us do that on some sort of herd-immunity level.

If a post, and the supportive comments it attracts, are an inoculate, what does that make a comment that criticises the post?
posted by Diablevert at 2:03 PM on October 1, 2013


Yes, and then when I sail the mighty Jezebel II up the inland waterway of Polite Discourse, and into Status Quo Harbor on Lake Genteel, all shall tremble before my Sword of Reverse Discrimination!

Man I want a house on Lake Genteel in the far-famed Fainting Couch District, known for the magnificent rococo architecture and monthly harp recital barbecues.
posted by winna at 2:04 PM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I read that as 'known for the magnificent robocop architecture'.

I want to go to there.
posted by emmtee at 2:09 PM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


monthly harp recital barbecues.

That is certainly the best thing to do with a harp recital.
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:12 PM on October 1, 2013


East Fainting-Couch, or South Fainting-Couch?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:16 PM on October 1, 2013


If a post, and the supportive comments it attracts, are an inoculate, what does that make a comment that criticises the post?

A comment that criticizes the post.

I mean, I think it strains the metaphor to ask this question as if both it, and the answer, were a real thing, and sort of begs for our condemnation of the idea that it could be a virus.

People are free to disagree with or criticize posts. They're doing it right now in the very posts you called out. The only things they're less free to do are launch attacks, use hostile language, and generally violate the "don't be an asshole" policy. Let's be clear that disagreeing and being an asshole are different things, and not make the two seem equivalent. They aren't necessary partners, and refusing to allow asshole shenanigans does not mean shutting down discourse.
posted by Miko at 2:16 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Count me in as someone who's regularly labeled a SJW and doesn't care for Jezebel. I like some of Lindy West's stuff, but their propping up that Hugo guy when he was attacking feminist WOC is shitty as hell.

Also, labeling feminists as not rational sends up all kinds of red flags.
posted by NoraReed at 2:18 PM on October 1, 2013 [17 favorites]


I'm not sure if you're referring to my opening comment or not; I tried to make clear that I wouldn't consider them a model.

I think it is in response to four panel's comment here? That is what I personally was responding to.
posted by elizardbits at 2:23 PM on October 1, 2013


Also, labeling feminists as not rational sends up all kinds of red flags.

I can't agree more.

A very vocal minority of users here would love if MetaFilter were Jezebel II. East to spot, they typically post 8, 9, 10 comments in one thread ensuring a feminist vigilantism leaves no viewpoint decontextualized.

Further, this kind of criticism is... slightly better I guess than my use of the term "The Usual Suspects" when referring to MRA-esque thread shitters who come in and derail gender threads. I mean, at least it has some specific feedback?

It really rubs me the wrong way, though, because the criteria described here are so vague that it sets up the situation for me essentially volunteering to be spotted if I comment too frequently? It seems like maybe tone and apparent agenda should count for more than comment frequency? Or am I just being too fascinated by the whole thing?
posted by kalessin at 2:29 PM on October 1, 2013


I mean, I think it strains the metaphor to ask this question as if both it, and the answer, were a real thing, and sort of begs for our condemnation of the idea that it could be a virus.

People are free to disagree with or criticize posts. They're doing it right now in the very posts you called out. The only things they're less free to do are launch attacks, use hostile language, and generally violate the "don't be an asshole" policy. Let's be clear that disagreeing and being an asshole are different things, and not make the two seem equivalent. They aren't necessary partners, and refusing to allow asshole shenanigans does not mean shutting down discourse.



I take the point, and agree that in attempting to invert the metaphor I strained it too hard. I agree that the mods do a good job of encouraging civility more broadly, and that people can post a whole hell of a lot of different opinions so long as they're civil.
posted by Diablevert at 2:34 PM on October 1, 2013


East Fainting-Couch, or South Fainting-Couch?

South, of course, my dear. Only parvenus live in East Fainting-Couch!
posted by winna at 2:39 PM on October 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


Be the change you want to see and post the posts you'd want to read.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:58 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


People are free to disagree with or criticize posts. They're doing it right now in the very posts you called out.

One of my favotite things about the feminist dating tips thread was that there were actually quite a few people who didn't really like the post. That is they had issues with certain aspects of it or didn't feel like it told a full story, or had things to add. And these people all managed to talk to each other about it without basically making anyone a proxy for the post, if that makes sense. So they could say "I wasn't that psyched about how the author of the post did this..." as opposed to "People who think this is good advice are idiots!" There are even people who challenge the premises of the post or are having a discussion about it.

To me that is what a good post about a potentially tricky topic looks like. People don't come to the topic pre-outraged, there are some early supportive comments that can set a decent tone (after I deleted some early grabassery) and the thread sort of went back and forth across a few issues with no one demanding everyone be hostage to their own viewpoint of the thread's topic or the larger topics embodied in the thread. Put another way, there are a lot of things that can go wrong with threads like that one, that didn't go wrong with that particular thread which was good news for me personally both because it wasn't a lot more work but also because my early instincts were "Ugh this again, this will be a mess!" and I was wrong and I was sort of happy to be wrong.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:07 PM on October 1, 2013 [13 favorites]


My current-most-favorited comment, bucking hard for the top ten, is where I confess to having insufficient experience with dicks to moderate a dick pic thread. So while I think you have a point, I also think that people should be careful of calibrating their perception of Metafilter by favorites.

I'm just suggesting that people who primarily interact with the site through that feed might have a distorted view of how prevalent the "sexism" threads are, because they are disproportionately represented on the feed (hence the 'skewing' and 'distortion' in my original comment). And that might be driving people's opinions (incorrectly) about trends.
posted by one_bean at 3:10 PM on October 1, 2013


"I read that as 'known for the magnificent robocop architecture'.

I want to go to there.
"

There are cheap flights to Detroit from pretty much everywhere. If you want the full Robocop, go Detroit City. Romulus is depressing, but it's still a half-hour drive into Detroit proper.
posted by klangklangston at 3:48 PM on October 1, 2013


> I read that as 'known for the magnificent robocop architecture'.

Try one of Aunt Jane's lovely tea cakes, dear. You have twenty seconds to comply.
posted by jfuller at 3:49 PM on October 1, 2013 [8 favorites]


Howard Roarkbocop laughed. He stood naked at the edge of a cliff. The corpse of Clarence Boddicker lay far below him.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:52 PM on October 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think the tagging isn't rationalized enough to calculate anything much that way. You'd have to do a manual count to get closer.

This is a good point.

Mods, everyone, maybe we should have a back tagging project again?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:02 PM on October 1, 2013


Mods, everyone, maybe we should have a back tagging project again?

Everything is tagged. This wouldn't be a backtagging project, it would be a bettertagging project. Which folks can do any time they want to to anyone they are a mutual contact with.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:06 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


jessamyn: "it would be a bettertagging project."

would that make us protagonists?
posted by boo_radley at 4:17 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Will there be freezebackbettertagging?
posted by Ghidorah at 4:36 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Two questions: What's "SJW"? And what's the difference between "feminism" and "humanism"?
posted by five fresh fish at 4:46 PM on October 1, 2013


SJW means Social Justice Warrior. Someone more qualified can answer your second question, which is sometimes asked rhetorically in bad faith.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:48 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


what's the difference between "feminism" and "humanism"?

As used contextually I am used to feminism meaning the basic push to try to establish and secure equal opportunities for women. Rights for women. Equality for women. The premise that is unstated is that women have historically had drastically reduced opportunities and rights just by benefit of being women and that this should be rectified. There's much more to it but that's a quick response. When I hear people talking about humanists it's often in the context of religious humanism, a way to have a religion and a spirituality that is focused on humans and not deities. I am not used to it referring to (as I think you may be implying) a sort of "equal rights for everyone" sort of approach addressing people of all sexes and genders.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:56 PM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


SJW meaning "Social Justice Warrior" is also often used in bad faith by folks not down with or approving of the feminist agenda. Most but not all folks who are into social justice-related activism do not call themselves "warriors" in conjunction with the term "social justice".

Here's an interesting treatment of how the question of the difference between feminism and humanism can be used in bad faith and the arguments against the approach.

One issue with "humanism" is apparently there are a number of different meanings.

I'm not going to assume you mean "secular humanism" but my impression is that's what you mean?
posted by kalessin at 4:58 PM on October 1, 2013


Yeah, I meant to write that Social Justice Warrior is almost always a pejorative, and is almost never used to describe oneself. I didn't want to add it through the edit window, because it would have added too much to a short comment.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:08 PM on October 1, 2013


"SJW" or its full form of "Social Justice Warrior" seems to be the modern and/or trendy equivalent of the term "PC Police."
posted by jaguar at 5:21 PM on October 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


I am pretty sure the uses of SJW I've seen this past few days in MeTa have been self-descriptive. I'm surprised it's a perjorative.

As for humanism, I should have just googled. Not at all the same domain as feminism/general equality.

We need a term for anti-ism. IMO, MeFi tends to be anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-phobia, pro-equality, pro-opportunity, etceteras. Human-ist, except that term is taken.

I'm dizzy and aching, so I might not be all that lucid.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:26 PM on October 1, 2013


We need a term for anti-ism. IMO, MeFi tends to be anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-phobia, pro-equality, pro-opportunity, etceteras

Progressive?
posted by jacalata at 5:33 PM on October 1, 2013


Egalitarian?
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 5:34 PM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just clicked over to suggest egalitarian.
posted by klangklangston at 5:34 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Egalitarian thirded!
posted by jaguar at 5:38 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Decent-human-being?
posted by Ghidorah at 5:49 PM on October 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm a Social Justice Pirate.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:36 PM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


social justice shibe

so wow

such equality
posted by elizardbits at 6:46 PM on October 1, 2013 [13 favorites]


I'm a Social Justice Mage. Anyone want to tank?
posted by divined by radio at 6:53 PM on October 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Super Social Justice Friends assemble!
posted by griphus at 6:56 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Note that both "humanism" and "egalitarianism" are used by MRAs to pretend that their anti-feminism isn't rooted in toxic misogyny. The humanism one in particular pisses me off.
posted by NoraReed at 7:15 PM on October 1, 2013 [9 favorites]


SJW LF SJ HEAL 4 ASSAULT ON REDDIT QUICK RUN NO NOOBS OR NINJAS /W EAGLELIBRARIAN 4 INV
posted by emmtee at 7:16 PM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Seconding NoraReed. One of the rougher disillusionments I've had was realizing that r/egalitarianism was hardly egalitarian.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:17 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


the survivorcam thread that got dogpiled by campeople.
I would like to know what this means.
And where the links are.
posted by glasseyes at 7:27 PM on October 1, 2013


I've changed my mind. The GWAR thread should absolutely be the future direction of the site and I have a very strong opinion about it.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:52 PM on October 1, 2013 [7 favorites]


I could not imagine what a GWAR thread would have to offer besides, you know, GWAR. I am glad I clicked that link.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:06 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:07 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I didn't want to sound fighty but yeah, I knew that humanists weren't great for feminists and I knew that egalitarians weren't awesome either, but I also didn't think five fresh fish was approaching the topic in poor faith, so I wanted to keep the discussion less shitty.

But maybe I should have said something?

But yes, I've had my feminism run over by many "friendly" buses including the humanists, the equalists, the egalitarians and, I think most hurtfully to me, the marxists, who had a lot of overlap with the second wave feminists who raised me. I really didn't expect the assaults I got from those directions, and they were all stingy in not a good way at all.

Which is why, after all this time I still identify myself as feminist, because even though I am fighting for equal treatment for men and women all the other terms that would fit are taken already. By assholes.
posted by kalessin at 8:24 PM on October 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Maybe there's a set of particular people who have applied those terms to themselves in a jerk way, but I feel like secular humanism and egalitarianism are pretty great and highly compatible with feminism and I would hate to see those terms unilaterally corrupted.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:28 PM on October 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Secular humanism totally is compatible with feminism. I identify with humanism instead of atheism because of movement atheism's toxic attitudes towards women. But it is not an activist movement.
posted by NoraReed at 8:30 PM on October 1, 2013


The GWAR thread is worth it for the Mrs. Pterodactyl, Bulgaroktonos, and hangers-on stories.

It's a shame that the term "egalitarianism" has been co-opted by people who aren't. I think there's a need for an all-inclusive term for human rights and equality.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:48 PM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is just speculation, but I believe the reason that there is no such term is that almost all SJ related groups and organizations fuck someone over/ignore someone's rights. Mainstream feminism ignores women of color, many radical feminists are transphobic, mainstream gay organizations are happy to throw trans* people, POC, and/or bisexuals under the bus. The reason that there are titles for each individual SJ cause but not for SJ in general is because people who try to use titles like that inevitably ignore certain issues; the only way to really involve yourself involves being thoughtful and careful about every activist label you choose to adopt.
posted by NoraReed at 12:57 AM on October 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Lovely to see dios here. Hello.

This is going to be like that wedding i was at where the family member got on stage with the band and insisted on singing depressing billie holiday numbers for an hour or so until they could be coaxed from the microphone.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:18 AM on October 2, 2013


There's unfortunately a fairly established recent history of people (notably including MRAs but also people who are just suspicious of and somewhat hostile to women's press for equality) who use "egalitarian" in opposition to the perceived need for "feminism" - ie, "we don't need anything special for women, that's actually sexist, we just need egalitarianism."

Like kalessin, I've encountered this directly myself on a few different occasions, and it is surprising, but it happens. For me, unfortunately, because of all this the term "egalitarian" is now deprecated, even though I certainly endorse its basic philosophy of the equality of all people.

These days, if I have to lump the philosophy against all oppressive 'isms' together, I just call it "human rights" and "equality."

I feel there is a distinction,though, between "rights" and "equality." It's possible to have full legal equality in the sense of having enforceable legal rights. But "rights" language, to me,is only part of full equality. We won't have full equality until we have understandings and interpersonal behaviors that also respect people as fully human regardless of what demographic categories they are classed in, and that goes beyond simply assuring legal rights of equality.
posted by Miko at 6:17 AM on October 2, 2013 [12 favorites]


Yay, so much agreeing going around. I will give "egalitarian" and "secular humanism" second and third and so on chances given that people of such esteemed pedigrees have spoken for them. But my shields will be up!

Also wanted to mention, on the automated news in my personal gmail that Will Shetterly has followed me on Quora (a backhanded blessing to be sure) that the other thing I deeply dislike which is close to the sort of betrayal I received at the hands of the marxists. I have a number of friends/acquaintances (not because of their politics) who unceasingly argue that all inequality is due, at root, to class disparity and therefore no other political agenda is worth talking about. Some of these folks actively come to my discussions about feminism with that shit, intentionally (they've said so) to shut it down.

We've had talks about it. Largely they don't do it anymore. But it still sucks and I hope that doesn't come here too.
posted by kalessin at 7:32 AM on October 2, 2013


have a number of friends/acquaintances (not because of their politics) who unceasingly argue that all inequality is due, at root, to class disparity and therefore no other political agenda is worth talking about

I don't believe in shutting it down and wouldn't use this argument to shout anyone down, but a few years ago, here on MeFi, I started to understand things in this way, too. I don't think any other agenda is therefore not worth talking about, because I don't see the great people's revolution coming any time soon to fix all that, but I can accept the historical analysis that differences between people only started to become important enough to cause oppression when some realized they could get more resources by shorting others based on classes they created.

The bigger point is that there are many feminisms, even though most feminisms can agree on the basic goal of full equality for women. Shouting each other down for the sake of ideological purity - on any of those complicating issues - is definitely the enemy of making common cause.
posted by Miko at 7:47 AM on October 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


To clarify, yeah, my take on the shittiness of the class argument is that it is often presented to me as uber alles and in an attempt to shut down all other arguments. I'm cool with it coming to the discussion as an option to follow, as long as there is or it is possible to have mutual respect.

I'm really good with and happy to discuss, because I think it's in discussion that we discover new solutions, collaborations, allies and other wonderfulness.

I'm not happy with threadshiitting and shutting/shouting down.

There's also the ethic I've encountered in my class-dynamics friends/acquaintances' politics that is very MRA-esque in that a lot of these folks seem to believe that good arguments are forged in fire, so they'll come at you with all guns blazing and won't respect you or your argument unless you reply in kind.

Not only is it fighty and not well suited for MeFi discussions, but it is also a sort of rhetoric/dynamic that does not play well with one of the feminist principles that emotions are not perforce a bad thing and that in fact emotions can sometimes be as important and respectable as reason - that an individual's experience and emotional response can and should sometimes be as compelling as a reasoned, rational argument.

This principle is one of the reasons I'm proud to call myself a feminist. And it's not a widely shared one, even among other social justice activists and political groups.
posted by kalessin at 9:17 AM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have a number of friends/acquaintances (not because of their politics) who unceasingly argue that all inequality is due, at root, to class disparity and therefore no other political agenda is worth talking about.

There's an epithet for those folks, but it's probably not worth repeating.

It's also silly to think that sexism, homophobia, racism, etc. will automatically disappear once we all have a guaranteed minimum income in the post-scarcity society (or whichever vision of economic equality you want to go for), as though one cannot possibly imagine hate crimes in a socialist world. It's really convenient that the discrimination they don't face directly will get magically handled by taking care of the one they do! (And then it's extra curious why they spend such an inordinate amount of breath arguing that addressing any other sort of discrimination is a dangerous distraction. And then doubly so if they're simultaneously butting into discussions to complain that social justice rhetoric is Othering them.)
posted by nobody at 10:46 AM on October 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, if people really want to argue that socialism is the magical cure to all bigotry I invite them to present their findings to pretty much any ethnic minority soviet refugee at their leisure. Presumably they should then duck rather quickly.
posted by elizardbits at 10:51 AM on October 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


To clarify, yeah, my take on the shittiness of the class argument is that it is often presented to me as uber alles and in an attempt to shut down all other arguments. I'm cool with it coming to the discussion as an option to follow, as long as there is or it is possible to have mutual respect.

How would you place economic justice in relation to equal treatment for women? (Not saying that they're entirely separate issues, but you're clearly distinguishing between them.)
posted by Nomyte at 10:57 AM on October 2, 2013


Somebody to read on egalitarianism - or, what I understand by the term - is Elizabeth Anderson.

These terms are used in so many different ways by people with different assumptions, and in discussions anyway I think it's not so useful to think about which "side" a person is on - because it tends to make us focus on the person's character or the implications within the immediate social context of "siding" with or against that person... rather than thinking about the ideas/facts/whatever the subject of the discussion is.

With all of these terms, more and more I think a useful approach is just to to skip the "ism" and ask people what more specifically they believe about the question at hand. Eg in abortion debate, just ask if/when/how they think abortion should be legally restricted, rather than getting into whether the label 'pro-life' can apply to people who think abortion should be legal. In the case of egalitarianism, do they think that equal treatment requires same treatment even when two classes of people are in different positions/have different needs/etc, or do they think that equal treatment sometimes requires different treatment that takes into account the people's circumstances (eg, do they think maternity leave policies are a good thing or discriminatory?)

(This is just me speaking for myself, not as a mod)
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:04 AM on October 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


How would you place economic justice in relation to equal treatment for women?

I think economic justice has always been a strong and vital part of the feminist agenda. It's definitely a concrete goal and one that demonstrably still needs working on. But money is only part of the larger equation of cultural and socioeconomic bias that women face. There are lots of other systems of bias that need intervention to achieve an egalitarian world, I feel.
posted by kalessin at 11:45 AM on October 2, 2013


Thanks. Just wanted to check in whether we have that fundamental assumption in common.
posted by Nomyte at 11:50 AM on October 2, 2013


Yeah, if people really want to argue that socialism is the magical cure to all bigotry I invite them to present their findings to pretty much any ethnic minority soviet refugee at their leisure. Presumably they should then duck rather quickly.

Whoa there, Joe McCarthy. The USSR was about as "Socialist" as the DPRK is "Democratic."
posted by Sys Rq at 1:00 PM on October 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


I guess we know who lacks sufficient juche here.
posted by klangklangston at 4:15 PM on October 2, 2013


Yeah, if people really want to argue that socialism is the magical cure to all bigotry I invite them to present their findings to pretty much any ethnic minority soviet refugee at their leisure.

Don't you know that the world has never seen true communism or socialism? Not even in Scotland.
posted by Tanizaki at 4:41 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


i literally do not care about a single argument or issue in this thread because allie brosh has updated and that is all that matters
posted by elizardbits at 4:43 PM on October 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Don't you know that the world has never seen true communism or socialism? Not even in Scotland.

Scotland has, however, seen the pinnacle of feminism.
posted by Nomyte at 5:34 PM on October 2, 2013


I absolutely believe classism is a thing, and a major problem, but there's a common thing where people use classism to deny racism -- in a "The US isn't racist! It's just classist!" sort of way -- and so I can easily see that same tactic being used to deny other oppressive systems.

I think anyone who argues that one -ism negates all others is either waaaaay blinkered or else arguing in bad faith. But I'm very happy when classism gets brought up intersectionally with other -isms.
posted by jaguar at 7:02 PM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, if you can't imagine how society after the proletarian revolution might yet be intensely patriarchal, you don't have a clear imagination.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:04 PM on October 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Posts from Allie relieve my tendencies toward depression for a few days. I like hearing that she's making it through her experience. If she can pull her shit together for a post and drawings, I feel that I can pull mine together about the things I need to do.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:24 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


if you can't imagine how society after the proletarian revolution might yet be intensely patriarchal, you don't have a clear imagination

At least the argument I'm referring to doesn't really deal with questions about what might go down in future, but how we got oppressed classes, in the first place, in the past. In other words, if you start by imagining an ancient, human-origin past in which everyone was not treated equally and had equal access to resources, what was that disparity based on? Was that always and ever the case, or is the idea that it is the natural default of humanity to oppress others and take a disproportionate share a product of capitalist reasoning?

It's at least interesting to hear about current questions in fields like forensic anthropology that do challenge those ideas about social organization that we tend to think are fundamental, and asks if our understandings of history, and how things like patriarchy evolved, are highly colored by the rationales of modernity for its oppressions - despite our best intentions at objective inquiry.
posted by Miko at 8:46 PM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


if you can't imagine how society after the proletarian revolution might yet be intensely patriarchal, you don't have a clear imagination

You know, there are other, better ways to Socialism than revolution.

*reaches for pamphlet*
posted by Sys Rq at 10:26 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


(My sincere apologies to people with strong feeling about this topic for contributing another post to the pile, but the article was honestly too good to pass up.)
posted by RedOrGreen at 9:28 AM on October 3, 2013


It's a great article and well worth reading. Thanks for posting it.
posted by zarq at 9:45 AM on October 3, 2013


There were three posts today (two survived) about insects/global warming. Things just cluster. Like the giant fat flies around my windows.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:20 AM on October 3, 2013


Or cats around a source of heat.
posted by rtha at 11:25 AM on October 3, 2013


I suspect jessamyn's position as mod is assured because she can divine the goings-on by looking at piles of things in and around her house.

"Hmm, toothpicks spilled into the kitchen sink. The bottom ones are soggy. I should probably warn taz about the contentious fracking FPP someone will post later today."
posted by griphus at 11:29 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


rtha: "Or cats around a source of heat."

What's that you say? Make a shitload of cat FPPs?

brb
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:45 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


What's that you say? Make a shitload of cat FPPs? brb
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:45 PM


....Nah, joke's too obvious.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:48 AM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Hmm, toothpicks spilled into the kitchen sink. The bottom ones are soggy. I should probably warn taz about the contentious fracking FPP someone will post later today."

Is there even an English word for "приметы"?
posted by Nomyte at 12:41 PM on October 3, 2013


I can't for the life of me think of one. "Superstition," "prognostication," "omen" and "divination" are all either describing the wrong aspect of the situation, or have cultural connotation/subtext that doesn't apply.
posted by griphus at 1:02 PM on October 3, 2013


GUYS I JUST SOMETHING WEIRD IN A BOWL OF PHO

IS EVERYTHING OKAY
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:04 PM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just caught and released four yellow jackets. I am not so sure everything is okay.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:05 PM on October 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was just eating lunch and a bunch of wasps flew out of my soup.

What the hell are you people doing.
posted by griphus at 1:08 PM on October 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Nothing you want to know about.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 1:37 PM on October 3, 2013


oh dear god what does that russian word mean

I demand exegeses
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:17 PM on October 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


*sits down with anticipatory glee for the paragraphs of explanation that will be necessary to explain the meaning of a word that does not exist in English*

*contemplates the awesomeness of "anticipatory glee" as a sockpuppet name*
posted by rtha at 2:47 PM on October 3, 2013


Ok, I've been thinking about this on the bus ride home so let me try my best. I'm not claiming authority or even total accuracy here. And because these are folk traditions, they're mutated across different Russian/Eastern European cultures, and even families. Like things my family does or did because of a specific primeta isn't necessarily identical to any other family.

You can't really define the concept against superstition (i.e. "it's like a superstition but...") because things that are primetiy are usually superstitious. So, it's more like a combination of expected results to observation (the observation and results not necessarily related by rational thinking, but not necessarily divorced from it), as well as rituals/behaviors (both to be done and to not be done) that are either meant to help circumstances, or keep them from going bad or getting worse.

So, uh, for instance there's really simple ones. Like, don't whistle in the house because you are whistling away money. That's pretty much the same sort of superstitious proscription as "don't open umbrellas inside because it is bad luck," just more specific in its ill effect. Then there's ritualized behavior either directly in response to an action or to circumstances. So before you go on a trip, everyone needs to shut up and sit down for a certain amount of time that is long enough to be a ritual, but short enough to not get in the way. Ostensibly it's for good luck on the voyage, but effectively it's a good way to realize you're about to leave without your wallet or whatever. An outdated one involves not naming a newborn until some period of time has passed that you can be sure the baby will live. Again, there's superstition involved, but if you're living in some Belarussian village with a high infant mortality rate, you probably don't want to get too attached to the kid until you're sure it'll live. Sort of an inverse "don't name it or you won't want to eat it."

In that vein, there's primetiy revolving around predicting the future. In the same way you'd say "God forbid" or knock on wood if you mention some grief befalling a person, you spit three times. Or, in these civilized times, you make an exaggerated spitting sound three times. Don't celebrate (or congratulate) birthdays early, because you might not make it to the birthday being celebrated. Another involves good fortune: if you have reason to suspect a good thing will befall you (i.e. you're holding a winning lottery ticket) don't tell anyone until you've got the good thing in hand. Otherwise you risk incurring the evil eye from someone who does not want you to have said nice thing, or wants it for themselves. It's part superstition, but part sound advice: if you blab too much about a big payout you're expecting, don't be surprised when someone tries to take it from you. Roughly the same logic as telling people visiting NYC to not openly count money on the street or subway.

Then there's stuff I can't really categorize. If you know someone is taking an exam (I'm sure it applies to other sorts of tasks as well), you say "Ни пу́ха ни пера́!" and they reply "К чёрту." Literally it translates to "neither feather nor quill" and the reply means "to hell with it" or more literally "to the devil." But any translation of the phrase you'll find is usually "break a leg." I haven't the faintest idea what it actually means -- even to the extent that I'm not sure the translation is getting across the correct subtext -- but it's the thing you do. Another one involves knives: don't accept knives as gifts. If you have to, give the person some token amount of money so that it's at least a transaction and not a gift.

Hopefully that explains things at least a little.
posted by griphus at 4:13 PM on October 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


So they're specifically the performative part of what, in English, would be "superstitions"? (Thank you for the explanation, this is fascinating.)
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:19 PM on October 3, 2013


They're not necessarily performative. A lot of them are weather-related, for example. If you notice X, Y will likely happen. The only one I can think of in US culture off the top of my head has to do with the groundhog's shadow, but there are a number that are common knowledge among Russians and other Slavs. There's a page listing quite a few on the Russian-language Wikipedia, and the English equivalent it links to is called "weather lore." But that's both a more specific and less colloquial phrase than the Russian word приметы. Like, you can't just strike up a conversation with someone about "weather lore" and expect them to understand exactly what sort of thing you mean. When I stick it into Google Translate, I get back "signs," which sort of gets the point across, but sounds really portentous and misses the whole intersection of banal daily ritual, traditional household culture, superstition, and weather observation that the word carries. There are also some other words like "presage" and "harbinger" that also sound kind of bad.
posted by Nomyte at 4:30 PM on October 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


приметы

This really should get an edit before seeing light of day... but eh, be the third way change you wish to see, and all that.

Could it be considered as sort of a basis for the origins of "agriculture", or sedentism/semi-sedentism; seeing signs in nature, no, not just "seeing" them, but attributing to them a meaning, to plan actions into the future from them (a solstice, the signs of a planting/growing/harvesting season soon to come, reading the skies, but more-so reading the animals and plants, reading the states of water), from this, planning, and calendrics, and from calendrics, writing (which Innis, and Clastres among others have presented as the prime force for generating and sustaining the systemic/endemic inequality witnessed after agriculture- the building of monolithic societies and the implementation of 'difference' to justify inequality [aka-Empire, and ultimately, nationalism]).

But the base is taking "planning" from observing signs, and connecting it to the ideas of saving/planting seeds. The 'omens' of nature, and the ability of clerical cults to record this, guide agriculture (rather, proto and early agriculture). One of the biggest adaptations seen in the rise of agriculture after sedentism/semi-sedentism was to extend the communities 'predictive' powers.

Societies went from being able to move to the next bend in the river when fish weren't plentiful, to planning for the making of long-term wattle and daub homes up to a year in advance of sometimes a half year process -- gathering of sticks, mud, water, fibres, posts, antler-tools, etc.,

When you have a low level of investment (time/labour/energy/spiritual connections) in a singular piece of land (i.e., you are nomadic, or semi-nomadic [not to say that such cultures lack these concepts, rather, to stress that they are varied, not so intimately bound in a singular space, allowed to vary with movement through spaces, rather than being bound up with movement through time as are sedentary societies; see the increasingly obsessive marking of temporal passage in sedentary societies, and the rise of "ancestor worship", reburials in archaeological sites, as well as the rise of a wide practice of burying skulls of ancestors under the floors in a broad range of archaeological contexts, from West-Asian spaces like Abu Hureyra to Early Mediterranean Villages] the past, and future come to be obsessions of sedentism), by being less bound to one space, one is then not so tied to that one space. When you have invested in one place, the perspectives change, become more defensive against outsiders, even if only symbolically.
Skeptical Graduate Student:
"The Olmec arose in an area with nothing no jade, no obsidian, no granitic rock for mutates, no serpentine, no magnetite or ilmenite, no decent chert, no rock crystal or chalcedony. They had to trade for it right? And how did they trade for it? By setting up an incredible trade network that had to be tied into their chiefly lineage, or it never would have worked.”

“If their area had nothing, what were they doing there?” asked the Real Mesoamerican Archaeologist.

“Growing three metric tons of maize per hectare,” muttered Gomez, who had worked on the levees of the Coatzacoalcos River.

“And what were they trading for all this jade, and serpentine, and obsidian, and magnetite?” R.M.A. demanded.

“Ideas,” said S.G.S.

…”the Olmec were in the process of working out the greatest intellectual and artistic tradition in early Mesoamerica, weren’t they? Isn’t that what you and Michael Coe keep telling me? The ‘great tradition’ in the sense that Rover Redfield used the term, calendrics, writing, monumental art, the concept of social rank, cosmology, the cult of the were-jaguar. Wasn’t that worth selling? You once told me that list of items ‘constituted Olmec culture’.”
Then it is asked of the SGS, “how do you know it wasn’t simply trading of girls from elite lineages”? (Early Mesoamerican Village, Flannery 2009)

Which, (to look at the other question of the origins of inequality, raised here near the end) is a pivot point in the way that 'power' appears to have been disbursed in ancient settlements. Before sites with agriculture (whether Mesoamerican, Anatolian, or sites like Tell Abu Hureyra in modern Syria) , it is virtually non-existant to see burials of people with 'ascribed status' (children with ornate burials, representing investment of time/resources/thousands of labour hours [this is given, or inherited, or connective status]), and what was seen was 'earned status', ornate burials come from those with old bones, with animal inflicted injuries etc., but also burials with special artefacts, implying craft skills, educational skills, societally beneficial skills.

Wow, this discussion is awesome, it has come to the problems long brewing in TWO wings of "Marxianism" - both the "sticks in the gears of society", and the "it is coming, for it is destiny" marxists frustrate the third way marxists who look at both of the first two as either doing nothing (amour fati [love of fate/waiting for some ‘promised’ destiny], which is the idea that works for people who see individual actors as inconsequential to “destiny”, and those who seek destruction, with no sense of the weakness of the poor and the weak in the presence of deprivation (in the modern world; perhaps in a parallel world, where the modern structures, which give inequality the name "equality".

This comes up in questions of (and wars over) “salvation by deeds” and ‘salvation by devotion’ in years worth of disputes inside Christianity too (looking at both together is very interesting).

Marxists (not Marx [and particularly many of those “Atheist Proselytizers who are fine with sexism”, and happen to be sort of left-ish, on some small issues, that were mentioned by others]) just replaced the figure that would drive the salvation (and made salvation into a “the world of tomorrow”, rather than an “afterlife”).

It is hard to see virtue in either those who would seek to destroy completely what exists (who are they, and what guarantee that when they have burned the world that what rises will not be fuelled by the same structures with a different guise; nor in those who sit by smugly saying “it will come –wait- be faithful”.

I am biased towards the (largely) Canadian Third Way (this term has been co-opted in the google rankings by some recent American folks, so googling will not describe what this means).

Miko, I personally like the framing that is being used in some teacher training methodologies "equality" and "Equity" (seen in drives towards differentiated instruction, varied assessment, and assessment for learning).

People claiming that equality is "fair" raise my (admittedly easily raised) suspicions. And Egalitarianism, or "equalism" is something that people who haven't considered structural inequalities and injustices, or the immanence of history within the present, seem to rally for.

Yes, “equal” would be good in a world that had some “clean slate”; this is not that world. Equal means perpetuation of inequality that is derived directly from the structures of our organizational hierarchies.

heh, errrr, opps were we looking for one english word to mean приметы?
posted by infinite intimation at 4:34 PM on October 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


heh, errrr, opps were we looking for one english word to mean приметы?

Oh, no, I just can't read Cyrillic script, so I couldn't sound out a Latin-script equivalent to the word griphus and Nomyte used. Copying and pasting the word into Google gave me a lot of sites in Russian, so I asked what the word meant. Trying to catch word-for-word translations usually doesn't work.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:47 PM on October 3, 2013


Well, I didn't ask for a meaning so much as I demanded exegeses, but I hope the hyperbole came through.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:48 PM on October 3, 2013


That was awesome.
posted by NoraReed at 4:50 PM on October 3, 2013


I was attempting a challenging joke to pull off (the 'huh' payoff in case shoulds't someone have read the whole comment and seen symmetry); the cultural embeddedness of the context of a given word is so interesting in how it can run afoul of 1-1 translation efforts, this is part of the 'something' that makes "a" language so mystifying to outsiders, and so natural to insiders (and I love this about language, it makes me want to learn more, and realize some of the challenges in the way of this, which is just another natch on the list of "why're I so weird").

That is to say, inherent to written culture is the need to "recreate" in our own "writing", to make "official", or 'good', the word itself, when it takes one particular form, to reshape it from the tool it is, into another, can be viewed as a social/political/religious pattern of action, it is creation, it is poesis. But, then, if we cannot evaluate outside ideas without (howsoever small) an act of creation (the philosopher's 'bed intruder' of reason and philosophy) how then can we use philosophy across languages, or multi-lingually, or when there has been a loss of meaning through time (curse you, Alysdair MacIntyre, in After Virtue [for asking such an interesting question with so many challenging implications])

I mean only that the 'idea' behind that word, like all of our written out words, with prescribed and preserved/policed spellings and structures precedes "russian", precedes cyrillic, precedes the writing of such an idea, precedes the idea of writing, and by all measures precedes the enforcing of that conception of that idea...

I guess it doesn't matter 'who had an idea first' (in fact such an exercise is seeking out (after Rumsfeld et al. 'unknown-unknowns'), as there are not 'novel' ideas, just ideas less concisely enunciated, to be reshaped or reformed into a more convincing or charismatic pastichmanteau, The Historians will recall only the few most poetic, creative/generative presentations of an idea.
But also, we just cannot actually time travel or interrogate the minds of those in the archaeological record.

Justin Case: I use writing, I am not saying writers are ruining our otherwise pristine world, and consider writing as any other tool (not inherently good or bad); but a tool that is pretty interesting to examine the psychological and socio-cultural effects of (there are volumes to be thought and considered on the "time-space" continuum of 'biases' within forms of writing [like, one can say that stone chiselling on a monument is is 'space-time biased', it lasts long, but is challenging to move -- paper, or knotted ropes are more easily moved through space, but vastly impermanent; bits and bytes of data are a far extreme of bias towards short longevity, but fast and vast transmission]). Beepbloopbop (/modemnoises).
posted by infinite intimation at 5:19 PM on October 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


While griphus's comment is excellent and gives a good idea of the kind of things Russians do or avoid for superstitious reasons, I don't really think приметы [primety] is any more "untranslatable" than any other culture-driven word. It can be translated "omens" or "superstition," depending on context. It's from the verb метить [metit'] 'to mark' (and примета can also mean 'mark; sign'), which is related to Latin metior 'I measure' and Greek μῆτις [mêtis] 'advice; wisdom.' Hands down the best literary examination of the subject is Nabokov's brilliant short story "Signs and Symbols," originally published by the New Yorker as "Symbols and Signs." If you haven't read it, you're in for a treat.
posted by languagehat at 5:49 PM on October 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Any wisdom on "Ни пу́ха ни пера́!"/ "К чёрту"? The phrase and reply are both basically gibberish to me.
posted by griphus at 6:44 PM on October 3, 2013


I still don't understand why the New Yorker reversed the title and wrecked the play on "signs and symptoms." But now I have a new way of reading that story, which pleases me.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:17 PM on October 3, 2013


Any wisdom on "Ни пу́ха ни пера́!"/ "К чёрту"?

Well, the first one is "neither down nor feather [for you]," except that "пух" is not limited to birds, as "down" is in English. You can have a "пушистый кролик" or "downy rabbit." So I suspect the phrase refers to hunting wild game and fowl. Субботина's Карманный фразеологический словарь русского языка and Петрова's Словарь крылатых выражений suggest that it's part of a pattern where wishing good luck to a hunter directly could be considered a jinx.
posted by Nomyte at 7:50 PM on October 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Here, from a 1914 Russian translation of Edmund Rostand's Chantecler: "Мы всѣ желаемъ вамъ „ни пуха ни пера“, Какъ принято желать удачи на охотѣ!" Amusingly, the corresponding line in the original is just "Bonne chance, Hiboux!" or "Success to you, Owls,—success!" in the Gertrude Hall translation.

Even more amusingly, Chantecler is actually the source material for Don Bluth's amasingly morose Rock-a-Doodle.
posted by Nomyte at 8:17 PM on October 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


infinite intimation, according to Google you seem to have just coined "pastichmanteau"? Neat!

And I'm not sure I see why any/all of griphus' examples don't fall under English's "superstitions" -- unless some of those examples (like maybe the weather ones?) refer to the signs themselves and not to the belief in those signs' consequences?
posted by nobody at 8:22 PM on October 3, 2013


(Also, as far as threads petering out go, this probably safely beats Mr. T jokes.)
posted by nobody at 8:25 PM on October 3, 2013


And I'm not sure I see why any/all of griphus' examples don't fall under English's "superstitions" -- unless some of those examples (like maybe the weather ones?) refer to the signs themselves and not to the belief in those signs' consequences?

A primeta is not exactly a superstition because primeta is a value-neutral word, while a superstition is by definition believed to be false. The word has apparently meant a false or unreasonable belief from its first appearance in Latin. For example, you can teach someone a primeta the way you can tell them about a good rule of thumb, but it's pragmatically incongruous to tell someone about a good superstition you should know. I mean, the semantic extension of primeta and superstition is the same, but, you know, the morning star is the evening star.
posted by Nomyte at 8:34 PM on October 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


If you're willing to accept usages that aren't that common anymore, we have in English "charms and omens," where the former can be just behaviors that bring good luck / ward off bad luck and the latter can be good, bad, or neither.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 9:12 PM on October 3, 2013


It occurred to me that an ngram graph of this stuff might be interesting: it looks like "charms and omens" was a minor 19th C. phrase, and lucky charm / good luck charm took off in the 1920s. I'd guess that's when usage 2 overtook usage 1b.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 11:43 PM on October 3, 2013


Like, don't whistle in the house because you are whistling away money.

In Hawaiian families, you don't whistle after dark because that can attract the Night Marchers. And traditionally, the baby is not named until it's a year old (and then you throw a multi-day luau).

The baby-naming thing I bet is quite common across many cultures, even if it hasn't been practiced in the more first-worldy ones for generations. But I wonder about whistling - does everybody have rules about when it's okay or not to whistle?
posted by rtha at 9:00 AM on October 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes, taboos against whistling actually are very widespread. In Beng villages in Africa (and perhaps other places?) it's thought to attract snakes. In China whistling is thought to attract ghosts. In Russia you're not supposed to whistle indoors because it "blows money outside."
posted by zarq at 10:37 AM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm convinced all those legends were started because whistling is fucking annoying and idiots who do it need the fear of hell in them to cut it out.
posted by planetesimal at 10:47 AM on October 4, 2013


rtha: " But I wonder about whistling - does everybody have rules about when it's okay or not to whistle?"

Yes because whistling in the house is the #1 cause of family homicide and no jury will convict. It's important to have strong taboos against this sort of extremely provocative behavior which always leads to extensive violence and causes major community damage.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:33 AM on October 4, 2013


taboos against whistling actually are very widespread

1. It's taboo to whistle aboard a sailing ship. You might "whistle up a wind" which could end up being a damaging storm. On the other hand, every now and then if totally becalmed, people will whistle a little bit in hopes of conjuring a breeze.

2. Girls aren't supposed to whistle in Anglo and Anglo-American culture (at least I heard this one from oldsters growing up): "A whistling girl and a crowing hen soon will come to no good end."
posted by Miko at 11:52 AM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I guess I've never lived with an annoying whistler but I can see how the taboo would come about.
posted by rtha at 11:53 AM on October 4, 2013


Especially on a sailing ship. If you worked with a constant whistler you'd probably want to throw them overboard before long. After all, you can't just take a walk to the store for a break.
posted by Miko at 11:53 AM on October 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does anyone know how to whistle with their fingers? I never asked my grandmother to teach it to me because I have an aversion to putting my fingers in my mouth and now I regret it.
posted by griphus at 12:01 PM on October 4, 2013


> Does anyone know how to whistle with their fingers?

It's pretty easy, and there are tons of tutorials on YouTube. You just have to practice and be awkward for awhile.

It should be noted that that kind of whistle, when used sparingly, is not in the same category as the doofus that whistles a tune while he walks down the corridor at my office. It's a safety feature to be able to make that shrill, room silencing whistle with your fingers.
posted by planetesimal at 12:40 PM on October 4, 2013


And to think, there I am outside or in my workshop, wearing in-ear headphones and whistling away to old Leonard Cohen songs.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:55 PM on October 4, 2013


Whistling or playing a flute at night in Japan will bring snakes or robbers.
posted by Tanizaki at 1:00 PM on October 4, 2013


Heh. I'm the whistling doofus in my apartment building. Can't help it; absent-minded habit.
posted by klangklangston at 1:05 PM on October 4, 2013


Bishop Robert Ferrar was burned at the stake in Wales in 1555; among his listed offenses were whistling to his young son from an early age, and standing on the shore entrancing a seal for an hour by whistling at it .
posted by jamjam at 1:46 PM on October 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


rtha: "Like, don't whistle in the house because you are whistling away money.

In Hawaiian families, you don't whistle after dark because that can attract the Night Marchers. And traditionally, the baby is not named until it's a year old (and then you throw a multi-day luau).

The baby-naming thing I bet is quite common across many cultures, even if it hasn't been practiced in the more first-worldy ones for generations. But I wonder about whistling - does everybody have rules about when it's okay or not to whistle?
"

HI RTHA I came back just because of this comment

ANYWAY

I can report that the Diné culture (Navajo) bans whistling after dark because it will summon "the dead". It's not entirely clear whether that means the spirits of the dead (chindi) or the actual dead themselves: some translate it as "spirits", others as "the dead".
posted by scrump at 3:53 PM on October 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


SCRUMP!!
posted by rtha at 5:10 PM on October 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, in thinking about the Russian upthread (and watching baseball) — might a translation be "jinx"? That's, like, the active superstition thing you guys seem to be talking about.
posted by klangklangston at 10:03 PM on October 4, 2013


Two interesting pieces in today's NY Times relevant to the discussion of superstitions, Russian and otherwise:

Sense and Superstition, by Jane L. Risen and A. David Nussbaum:
But it’s worth asking: why do people who do not believe that knocking on wood has an effect on the world often do it anyway? Because it works.

No, knocking on wood won’t change what happens. The cancer is no more likely to stay in remission one way or the other. But knocking on wood does affect our beliefs, and that’s almost as important.
‘If You Are Normal, You Search for Mushrooms’, by Akhil Sharma
In the absence of other bounty, we did collect, through our guide’s chatter, strange superstitions: Among the reasons people prefer to come from Moscow to sleep in wooden dachas is that sleep in a wooden building is much more restful than in an ordinary house; five hours of sleep in a wooden house is worth eight in an ordinary one; if one has a country home, one should not leave furniture out at night, because moonlight ruins furniture.
posted by languagehat at 12:52 PM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


Those were both great pieces! The Risen/Nussbaum one particularly fascinated me because of the link to physicality.
posted by Miko at 8:13 PM on October 6, 2013


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