Thanks, MeFi January 22, 2015 10:34 AM   Subscribe

I just wanted to thank MetaFilter for expanding my view of feminism and helping me become more of a feminist myself, inspired by this thread.

I started reading MeFi in 2007 when I was 17 and signed up for an account in 2009. I'm now 25 and MetaFilter has been part of my life for 8 pretty critical years. I post rather sporadically but read every day. I have been immensely grateful for the numerous and passionate debates about feminism (and racism and class issues and a whole host of other topics) that have happened on this site in that time. They have helped me immensely in realizing and redefining my sense of women and feminism and I feel like I'm a much more informed person for it. I know women+metafilter has been a somewhat contentious topic over the years but I appreciate that these debates and conversations have taken place, have done so openly, and have been well-moderated and mostly respectful. Not only the conversations specifically about women and gender, but just having the opportunity to be exposed to the experiences of so many women at so many places in their lives has benefitted me greatly.

The thread I linked really drove this home because I'm entering a male-dominated niche of a male-dominated profession and hearing people talk about the 'background radiation' of their jobs and naming it specifically was so valuable.

So, thanks MetaFilter. You've helped me grow up a little, over the years, and helped me learn a lot along the way.
posted by hepta to MetaFilter-Related at 10:34 AM (103 comments total) 116 users marked this as a favorite

Yeah, even as the person running MeFi, I learn new stuff every day from discussions like that. Most of those examples in the thread are pretty obvious, but a few veer more towards microaggressions, a concept I never heard of before it came up on MeFi years ago, and it really makes me think about my interactions in meetings and business chats and conferences and I try to do my best to minimize any dumb things I might do/say. It also helps me better understand when people object to others' behavior.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:38 AM on January 22, 2015 [24 favorites]


Yes this is totally true! Thank you for posting this! Metafilter has definitely helped me think more about my own actions and behavior AND trust my own feelings in some contexts where I assumed I was the problem. It's made me a more confident and thoughtful feminist and allowed me to reflect upon some of my past behavior (especially being Not Like Other Girls and Only Having Guy Friends) and see how that was problematic and harmful AND ALSO why I behaved that way and some of the internalized misogyny that has unfortunately informed much of my life and social interactions. There are a number of really thoughtful people here many of whom are very patient and it's been enormously enormously wonderful to think about these issues and feel validated in some of my opinions and experiences.

Thanks again for posting this, hepta, it is great!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 10:51 AM on January 22, 2015 [18 favorites]


Thanks from me as well, as you've inspired me to take a second look at the thread and doing that made me realize that I actually did have something to contribute (no one had yet said anything about the "ooh, you must be on the rag" jokes if a woman was complaining about something, and that REALLY is something that always stuck in my craw and nearly made me cuss out a couple actors when it happened to me).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:00 AM on January 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Slight derail but I feel like when Hillary runs for president next year we're going to have to relive lots of the anecdotes from that Ask MeFi thread in public, in newspapers, and on TV as pundits try to tear her down.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:04 AM on January 22, 2015 [27 favorites]


I've been reading since 2007 as well, and have gained a lot from the discussions. Specifically for myself, I've gained a great deal about "not getting a cookie" - how to integrate my desire to do good with my desire to be rewarded for that; and I've definitely toned down my tendencies to play devil's advocate or to do weirdly problematic thought experiments. And in conversations that touch on legal aspects, I've learned the importance of making clear the difference between what is the case and what I think should be the case, because otherwise I can really hurt people.

Completely supporting this post. Thanks, Mefi.

...Thmefi.
posted by Lemurrhea at 11:07 AM on January 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


That really is a great thread. Thanks for calling it out so more folks can take a look.

The phrase "background radiation" really hit home! I'm working on improving the support for women in my organization, and when I got to that comment I actually sent a link to the thread to my boss!
posted by blurker at 11:12 AM on January 22, 2015 [8 favorites]


when i joined in 2001 i would describe my feminism at the time as male focused, maybe bordering on some qualities of mras. mefi and the invaluable friendships i've made with women here have made such a profound difference on my outlook. i was actually thinking about a really awful thing i said 6 or so years ago here and how the (passionate) reaction really made me do some soul searching. without metafilter i would be a worse person, i have no doubt.
posted by nadawi at 11:18 AM on January 22, 2015 [35 favorites]


I can concur with this as well.

I used to often view feminism as some sort of zero sum scenario where it often seemed like feminist were wanting special considerations, and I used to think, "Why not just fight for that for all people regardless of culture, religion, or creed? Why single out women?" A lot of my views on race were like this as well, but at least with racial issues I could better understand the arguments for addressing past transgressions. Often I couldn't look past the idea that somehow men had to lose something for women to gain. My thinking on this has almost 100% flipped (not just because of metafilter). It's easy for me to see now how discriminating against women is likely to hurt men as well. And again, I no longer see it as a zero sum game. We can address all sorts of shit without one group losing for another to win.

I was never in danger of becoming some sort of MRA dude, but I am a lot more aware of these sort of issues than I was 20 years ago.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:20 AM on January 22, 2015 [13 favorites]


Yeah, the background radiation is the worst and yet also the hardest to describe. There's so much going on all the time, like being interrupted, talked over, or ignored-then-have-your-idea-repeated that it's really hard to think of concrete examples unless they are super egregious. I was glad to see some specific examples of that in there.

One of the things I like best about MeFi is that even though I'd call myself a feminist, the discussion (and sometimes the arguments) make me realize how much of that patriarchal pimple I still need to squeeze out.
posted by barchan at 11:23 AM on January 22, 2015 [10 favorites]


that patriarchal pimple

Okay my reaction to that metaphor is a unique mix of "oh excellently put" and "ew".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:25 AM on January 22, 2015 [27 favorites]


ha! Exactly. It always feels yucky when you realize what you've contributed with your own behavior.
posted by barchan at 11:29 AM on January 22, 2015


That thread is kind of depressing, but I'm not letting that get me down in light of the respectful and amazing discussion unfolding there.

Boy would I have loved to have you all as a resource when I was in my teens and early twenties!
posted by futureisunwritten at 11:29 AM on January 22, 2015 [7 favorites]


Yeah, I am totally jealous that you got to read mefi as a 17 year old. I'm positive my life would have turned out differently.
posted by desjardins at 11:34 AM on January 22, 2015 [47 favorites]


I have always been someone who believed in feminism and equality, but reading MetaFilter has opened my eyes to ways in which I wasn't always living up to that ideal, and given me a far better understanding of the experiences of women, and the privileges I enjoy. I'm grateful to Matt and the mods (especially the mod emerita) for having made a conscious choice to make MetaFilter a place where that can happen
posted by Horace Rumpole at 11:46 AM on January 22, 2015 [14 favorites]


That thread is great, but I have to take it in small doses as it's all a bit overwhelming and depressing and familiar.
posted by zutalors! at 11:54 AM on January 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


/me raises hand and agrees.

With regards to feminism, and all around a much more compassionate, aware and emotionally mature person in so, so many different ways.

hugs for everyone!
posted by Annika Cicada at 11:54 AM on January 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


One area that MetaFilter has really opened my eyes is in my relationships with other women. In high school I totally bought into the "I'm not like other girls" line, coupled with jealousy and dislike of prettier/smarter/more popular girls. As well I fully internalized the notion that women weren't supposed to care about looking good and flirting with men - just that they were supposed to be effortlessly good at it and that labour should always be invisible. Realizing that this is some pretty intense internalized misogyny has literally changed my friendships and the way I interact with people. And how I take care of myself - if I want to wear makeup I'm not a bad feminist! There's not one way to be a woman! This is rather disjointed but it's so close to my heart and something I want to keep learning and experiencing.
posted by hepta at 11:56 AM on January 22, 2015 [55 favorites]


In high school I totally bought into the "I'm not like other girls" line, coupled with jealousy and dislike of prettier/smarter/more popular girls. As well I fully internalized the notion that women weren't supposed to care about looking good and flirting with men - just that they were supposed to be effortlessly good at it and that labour should always be invisible. Realizing that this is some pretty intense internalized misogyny has literally changed my friendships and the way I interact with people. And how I take care of myself - if I want to wear makeup I'm not a bad feminist!

Yes, this is totally what happened to me! I went to a Sephora for the first time like two years ago and it was GREAT! I was really hesitant to wear makeup because I thought it would make me a bad feminist and also that it would be a huge hassle and it turns out I LOVE wearing makeup! It makes me feel like an awesome undercover spy! Wearing makeup is basically the same as having a bunch of sweet wigs and passports from different countries in different names! Also sometimes I wear green eyeshadow and I look like a mermaid! I am an awesome International Mermaid of Mystery! I can wear crazy nonsense all over my face and it is fun and possibly even looks elegant! It is SO MUCH FUN! No one should HAVE to wear makeup, but now that I've started doing it I'm sometimes astounded that I GET to wear makeup.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:02 PM on January 22, 2015 [45 favorites]


Slight derail but I feel like when Hillary runs for president next year we're going to have to relive lots of the anecdotes from that Ask MeFi thread in public, in newspapers, and on TV as pundits try to tear her down.

I'm expecting the poorly disguised sexism equivalent of the poorly disguised racist radicalism displayed during Obama's presidency.

posted by Celsius1414 at 12:03 PM on January 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


omg yes with the "not like the other girls" bs! i was having a conversation recently, probably with a woman from mefi on twitter, about how the time of my life that i was in the most danger, when most of my victimization at the hands of men happened, was when i was aggressively proud of being one of the guys and said things like, "girls just don't like me - girls are bitchy - i just can't get along with girls." one of the most radical things we can do as women is to stand up for other women, befriend them, keep them closer than we keep men, make them our confidants, wear their love and support like a shield.
posted by nadawi at 12:04 PM on January 22, 2015 [64 favorites]


one of the most radical things we can do as women is to stand up for other women, befriend them, keep them closer than we keep men, make them our confidants, wear their love and support like a shield.

this this this. i wish i had realized this earlier and was better at executing it, but it's a principle i believe in strongly.
posted by hepta at 12:06 PM on January 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


one of the most radical things we can do as women is to stand up for other women, befriend them, keep them closer than we keep men, make them our confidants, wear their love and support like a shield.

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

Everyone who needs an additional reminder of this beautifully-stated truth, please revisit this fantastic FPP, which has a bunch of delightful and enlightening links about female friendship: I am here for other women.

(Women, I am here for you! ♥)
posted by divined by radio at 12:54 PM on January 22, 2015 [14 favorites]


Thank you for this MeTa! Also, divined by radio, thank you for that FPP link. I was wondering how I could have missed it but looking at the date it was posted during a work conference for me, which keeps me from even looking at Mefi.

I too have shed some internalized misogyny, and realized the special and powerful strength and love that comes from female friends, way too late in life.
posted by misskaz at 1:18 PM on January 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yes! I've been feeling really down this week about some work stuff because so many of these things thrown at women (unfairly) are character flaws. And character flaws feel personal. And I'm mad that I see it coming, hear it being said to me, know that it's complete and utter horseshit and still feel bad about myself. So, it's so validating to hear that I'm not crazy and that perhaps, just maybe, that it is in actuality the grade-A, prime, bullshit that I know it to be.

Thanks women of mefi and women of the world who continue to fight the good fight. And thanks to the men who don't do this kind of crap. Sadly, I wish it was confined to the elders but I see it all over the place. It is surely diminishing but always shocking to see a young guy try to lay out some of this crap.
posted by amanda at 1:21 PM on January 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Hey, that was my AskMe! I'm glad other people found it useful as well. To be honest I was planning to use it as ammunition for discussions about this type of behaviour.
Someone suggested making an "Overheard" type blog with that topic but I don't know, surely that already exists?
posted by Omnomnom at 1:25 PM on January 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


Having joined metafilter, after years of lurking, because of the pop culture and presidential politics discussions, I am amazed by how much more valuable than that the discussions on feminism, privilege, and intersectionality have been for me to read.

I'm in the midst of evaluating my decision making process for when I should comment here and when I should just read...more often than not I don't have anything of value to add to the conversation. But I do want to express my gratitude to the feminist members here for their incredible writing and clarity of argument, and how much of a bummer it is that the years of conflict over making metafilter a healthier environemnt have resulted in some of them deciding to leave.
posted by Ipsifendus at 1:26 PM on January 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


Thanks for linking the thread hepta, I had missed that one, and thank you for posting it Omnomnom.

I started reading MeFi at about the same age you did, hepta. I am a better feminist and a better person today because of the community here. Thank you all.
posted by joedan at 1:35 PM on January 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I used to often view feminism as some sort of zero sum scenario where it often seemed like feminist were wanting special considerations, and I used to think, "Why not just fight for that for all people regardless of culture, religion, or creed? Why single out women?"
Yeah, this was me too. MetaFilter has been, by a long shot, the most significant influence on me turning this around. So, thanks from me too.
posted by dg at 1:35 PM on January 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Thanks for this meTa.
posted by rtha at 1:37 PM on January 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


I love the feminists of MetaFilter. ^.^
posted by Deoridhe at 1:39 PM on January 22, 2015 [13 favorites]


Threads like that triple my resolve to speak back into the face of this stuff when confronted with it. I look like a Doris Day-esque "harmless good girl" and my favorite thing is to use that to try and sow feminism as far as I can. I can see the wheels turning in some people, thinking "Well if she thinks that's offensive, perhaps I was out of line."

Little do they know I'm a radical.
posted by sallybrown at 1:42 PM on January 22, 2015 [14 favorites]


BLurker, I got the "background radiation" verbiage from this comic that was posted in a recent comic book related thread on the blue and, yeah, it *really* stuck with me as being so appropriate.
posted by amanda at 1:45 PM on January 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


One thing I've been making an effort at lately is not commenting on other peoples' appearance at work. It may seem innocuous to mention someone's haircut, cute shoes, weight loss, etc, but it's really not given the cultural context. It puts even more emphasis on the fact that a woman's appearance in the workplace (other than general professionalism) is synonymous (or antonymous) with her ability or worth. Combined with the fact that, as a woman, I'm expected to notice these things as though it's part of my job description.

I don't know if it's made any difference to the people I work with, but it's made a difference in my own workplace satisfaction.

Relevant Slate article from yesterday; It quotes a Pitchfork interview w/ Bjork in which she says: "[I want] to support young girls who are in their 20s now and tell them: You’re not just imagining things."

That is one of the main takeaways I've had from my time here and threads like that Ask Mefi -- the conversion from being a feminist who is annoyed with the way the world treats me to being a feminist appalled with the way the world treats women. To quote Sophie Heawood: "the older I get, the more I see how women are described as having gone mad, when what they’ve actually become is knowledgeable and powerful and fucking furious."
posted by melissasaurus at 1:51 PM on January 22, 2015 [49 favorites]


That's awesome, amanda, thanks!

I feel kind of weird that the Ask has now become a conversation, since we're explicitly told not to do that kind of stuff in AskMe, but it's such a great discussion that I would be happy if the mods let us run with it. (Sort of a ghost pony?)
posted by blurker at 2:09 PM on January 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'd rather it kept on topic. I loved the "calm down Oedipus" comment, but it's not an advice or discussion thread. Not that fussed, though.
posted by Omnomnom at 2:20 PM on January 22, 2015


Is that offshoot discussion group happening yet? Because threads like that make me want to punch people (and myself, a little bit). I can't be walking around wanting to punch people, it's probably not super effective as a mechanism of social change.
posted by cotton dress sock at 2:23 PM on January 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I can't be walking around wanting to punch people, it's probably not super effective as a mechanism of social change.

I wouldn't recommend this as a tool either, but there was about a month when I got so pissed off and irritated that I kept getting interrupted or not listened to during meetings - particularly when I would make a point, have no one respond, and then hear the same point with "great idea!" 5 minutes later - that I made a life-size cutout of Leonardo Dicaprio making this face and put it on a popsicle stick. Then when those things happened during meetings I'd hold it up towards the offending party. It worked awesomely, especially after I explained why I was doing it (50 times).

But do you think I got "snarky and sarcastic" on my year end review? Nooooooooo, I got some bullshit encoding about my appearance.
posted by barchan at 2:54 PM on January 22, 2015 [84 favorites]


You rock so much, barchan.
posted by Omnomnom at 3:00 PM on January 22, 2015 [9 favorites]


i've been reading this site pretty solidly since i was 15 or 16, with some gaps in the middle, and encountered it several times when i was even younger through links. I absolutely credit it with making me a Less Shitty Human.

I'd also like to say that this site is absolutely better at this, and a lot of other things, than it used to be. It's been kind of nice to watch it continue to be a half step or so ahead of me and push me to be better, and just generally to have watched it grow in a sense, along side me towards not tolerating stupid shit and supporting the voices of people saying "hey, this is fucking wrong, this hurts, stop doing this".

Not really sure where i'm going with that, mostly just thankful this site exists. There's so many times i've learned something important, or that i've just been happy to know it's here when something shitty is going on. Whether it's a big public ugh event, or something i contemplate writing a serious ask on(or replying to someone elses serious ask that hits close to home).

I'm expecting the poorly disguised sexism equivalent of the poorly disguised racist radicalism displayed during Obama's presidency.

I realize that yea, this is a bit of a derail, but i think it's a lot more acceptable to openly state and show your sexism currently. Racism has retreated to dogwhistles and could-go-either-way type stuff. Most of what makes the news now is systemic, not outright holy-shit comments people make(which are still around, but not at that level).

You could pretty much go on tv and say "i don't think she's fit to lead this country because she's a woman" and a lot of people would see that as an acceptable statement. You can say basically any gendered insult on TV except for the C word.

I expect that what we'll see will be a lot more overt and nasty, at least from a violence of language perspective.
posted by emptythought at 3:17 PM on January 22, 2015 [9 favorites]


Is that offshoot discussion group happening yet?

Yes, though it's a little quiet as I didn't really get it spun up until Christmas. But I am planning to throw up some questions for discussion this weekend/next week and try to get more talk flowing. Maybe the forum I made isn't the permanent home, but it seems to work in a technology sense for letting people talk and keep up. It's here.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:31 PM on January 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


I realize that yea, this is a bit of a derail, but i think it's a lot more acceptable to openly state and show your sexism currently. Racism has retreated to dogwhistles and could-go-either-way type stuff. Most of what makes the news now is systemic, not outright holy-shit comments people make(which are still around, but not at that level).

I'll jump on that derail! I think it's different. The racist sexist stuff (misogynoir) is also different from just bog standard racism and sexism. I'm not sure comparing is really all that useful as it sets discriminations as "against" each other, where one is "less acceptable" where really it's just that the ways they're acceptable is different, the pains they cause are different, and some people have to deal with the icky combination of both, so comparing them is an added pain for those people.
posted by Deoridhe at 3:33 PM on January 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I was absolutely one of the "not like other girls" girls for a long time. It makes me cringe now. I used to work at a Large Software Company in Washington that, at the time, maintained an extensive internal "public folder" system for discussion both work-related and un-, and one of these spaces was designated for vicious and aggressive arguing about politics and social matters. I made a lot of friends there, as you might expect, but one day I had kind of an epiphany that most of my friends were men, and I reached out to all the other vocal, high-visibility women in that arguing space and said "hey, who wants a separate locked folder just for us?"

It's almost twenty years later now, and I still count some of those women among my very closest friends. Most of them were both older than me and substantially more advanced in their careers than I was, and they were mostly tech-oriented (although you couldn't really work at that company without being a LITTLE tech oriented), and they were all vigorously outspoken women who weren't afraid to take up some space in the room and the discussion. And some of them were. . . you know. . . girly. They wore lipstick! They liked shoes! They baked, they volunteered, they had children, they had passionate interests in the history of Arts and Crafts embroidery! And the ones that weren't as "girly" were still women, with the same experiences of living in the world as women, of having to negotiate double standards and presumptions of incompetence -- there was literally no amount of removing typical female encoding from one's persona that made that stuff go away.

Those women changed my life. I wish every 22 year old at the start of her career had access to such a group of friends. They really helped me unpack and unravel a lot of my internalized misogyny, sometimes indirectly, sometimes EXTREMELY DIRECTLY AND BLUNTLY. It was great.
posted by KathrynT at 3:37 PM on January 22, 2015 [32 favorites]


Also, directly related to that thread, holy shit could i(and probably have in the past, on here) go on about the overt, explicit sexism with relation to this comment and the dj/electronic music/nightlife scene.

Imagine the worst gamergate type basement troll LoL/SC2 type turbonerds you can possible fathom, and then add lots of money, bigger egos, drugged out hyperactive overreacting idiot dudes, etc.

I grew up in the aforementioned gamer nerd scene, and a lot of the people i met djing/doing electronic music stuff and live PA sets or organizing shows or promoting or whatever were more awkward around women. It always turned in to some kind of separate but equal/kid gloves/blatant different treatment thing. Like at an event i was a resident dj at me, the non-totally-an-idiot older organizer, and the one lady resident dj brought up that hey... there's like 5 guys and one woman, or zero women at most events.

The solution was to make an all women night as a special thing once in a while, rather than just shuffle up the lineup. We pulled in a great crowd(that was a way higher men/women ratio than usual!) and yet any discussion of how we should just mix it up in general was met with mehs, redirection, and deflection or just utterly shut down.

I can't remember a single woman who produced in the scene i was in that i didn't at least once overhear "oh, someone else does all the work for her, she's just the face that sells it and maaaaybe sings on some tracks and is doing it all for attention bla bla bla". It didn't even matter if she was an accomplished producer with years of experience who even produced tracks and remixes for other well known people, or was internationally recognized in that scene/subgenre, or whatever.

I'm not as tied in to that whole scene as i used to be, but every time i poke my head back in(almost got residency at a different event at the same club again recently, for example) it's still wall to wall dudefest. And the dudes are still pretty much acting like a bunch of basement gamer nerds freaking out that a feeeemale came to their LAN party.

The only exception i've seen to this, oddly enough, was at goth clubs. Even explicitly gay/LGBT clubs unless it was like "yes, this is a lesbian bar" were fucking terrible at this.

I can also add the anecdote that i had literally zero trouble getting started. I got invited to play at a birthday party of a fairly well known local producer(at least among everyone i knew), and immediately after that i was constantly offered gigs. Inversely, all the women i know(or knew) had to fight to get basically anything, and even when they had a bunch of shows or a repeating event or two under their belts were pretty much always passed over unless one of their close friends was organizing it. And they're often unpaid, or really lowly paid gigs("but you get a couple drink tickets!").

It just gets really hard to overlook that elephant in the room even when you really enjoy that stuff, if you lean feminist at all. ugh.
posted by emptythought at 3:40 PM on January 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


Thank you, Lyn Never, for taking on the job of creating a space for discussion.
posted by cotton dress sock at 4:09 PM on January 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


When I made my comment there, I was shaking inside over things that happened 8-12 years ago. Until today, I never mentioned the copypasting of my ideas to anyone other than my superior at the time.

I used to think that maybe I was exaggerating or paranoid (gaslighting myself, I guess) but when I see others' so very similar experiences I feel so much better.
posted by kimberussell at 4:11 PM on January 22, 2015 [11 favorites]


Yep, i've personally learned a lot from reading and participating in feminism related threads, so cheers y'all.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:52 PM on January 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ach, my mum was a union rep who always kept the social workers in their job, even the ones that thought they were in mi5 and would tape meetings.
She used have to wear pink heels and wiggle them so the incompetent Union men would listen to her.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:23 PM on January 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


How nice to see such a positive callout. I agree, this has been a place of learning, excellent thought, and support, and I feel lucky to have the people of MetaFilter as peers and fellow-discussants on these important issues, too.
posted by Miko at 5:26 PM on January 22, 2015 [4 favorites]


Sarge, Dame Rimington salutes.
posted by clavdivs at 5:35 PM on January 22, 2015


I, too, owe so much to the women and feminists of Metafilter. When I have trouble expressing why something makes me uncomfortable or frustrated, there is always someone here to say in two sentences what I could only manage to convey in seven. I was extremely lucky to have this site as a resource through most of my twenties. You all are great.
posted by almostmanda at 6:09 PM on January 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


I love the high level of discourse on this site, and the excellent moderation. I've learned a lot and the reasonbleness and compassion of the community as a whole is a welcome antidote to other areas of the Internet.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 6:23 PM on January 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't generally participate in much of anything on mefi because I'm usually too busy quietly absorbing what people have to say, but I wanted to add to the "thanks!" pile-on. I'm really thankful that the voices of Mefi's feminists have been part of what I've learned about the world, and I think I'm a better person for having read many of the discussions here. My awareness, consciousness, and thoughtfulness on these issues has been raised as a result, and I too think I am a better human being for it. Cheers. :)
posted by Alterscape at 7:04 PM on January 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'd like to add a me too, too. I have been reading all these threads, not really particpiating, but definitely paying attention. Normally, I wouldnt even have said anyting, except put in a few favourites, but today I was reading this article about gender bias in science. Basically the researchers followed up on that experiment by seeing the bias in the comments. Not surprisingly, the comments were highly skewed towards disbelief, dismissal of findings etc by men. And then it occured to me that I'd read that original article and came away with the message that I need to be aware of such biases, but since I would never bother to comment about it, my reaction wouldn't show up in such analysis. So, long winded way of saying, yes I'm listening, and thanks for the diverse perspectives.
posted by dhruva at 7:57 PM on January 22, 2015 [3 favorites]


I had what amounts to a unicorn in social interaction a few weeks ago. A friend I made around 15 years ago, when I was solidly in my awful I'm Not Like the Other Girls phase, came to me and asked me to explain feminism in the context of an exchange he'd had with someone else that day.

He's a wonderful guy and very good-hearted, but in the 'never really given any of this much thought because I didn't have to' sort of vein. Our friendship has always been pretty dudebro-y itself because that's how it began - I was 16 or so then and very invested in being One of The Guys, so while we've both grown up a lot, we do tend to still default to talking about video games, attractive women, tech stuff, comics, etc.

Combine that with the way I get very rapidly emotionally wrung out by feminism discussions these days and it all had the potential to go very badly.

But almost entirely thanks to Metafilter, a solid 80% at least, I realised to my surprise that I knew how to have that conversation, and how to have it in a productive way that let him hear me, rather than shut down. It all ended pretty well, with him genuinely understanding and asking if he could maybe talk to me in the future about other stuff that has confused him, feminism-wise.

It was kind of a revelation to realise just how much training Metafilter has given me, in that respect. It's a genuinely priceless gift.
posted by pseudonymph at 8:10 PM on January 22, 2015 [28 favorites]


I agree, MeFi conversations have helped me understand these things in a way I can't even quantify. I spent 20 years in a male-only (not male-dominant, explicity no women allowed) work community. Moving into a mixed-gender (that is, normal) environment wasn't without its embarrassing moments and awkwardness, but it could have been much worse. I still get to work on the boats from time to time, and the conversations I overhear, especially when they know I'm "one of them" and don't think they have to "be all PC"... cringe.

Something interesting I noticed about that thread - there's a noticeable lack of "Well, I'm a dude, but let me tell you MY experience." Which the question didn't even disallow. There may be some of that, I didn't click every username to check, but it didn't stand out like it often does.
posted by ctmf at 11:17 PM on January 22, 2015


Another thankyou to MeFi and the women who've spoken about feminism here. I was full of inarticulate rage and confusion about the way that individual women, including me, were treated. Now I'm full of articulate rage and have plenty of resources to turn to when I have questions about the way society treats all women! And this is a much better situation :)
posted by harriet vane at 4:09 AM on January 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


Hooray! And thanks.
posted by ocherdraco at 4:54 AM on January 23, 2015


The answers should be compiled and made into a book.
posted by Renoroc at 4:57 AM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Another thanks and here's one of the good things I have. Next time the nice funny guy at work makes an "ironic" misogynist joke because 80% of the staff are female (even though the leadership team is more balanced gender wise (giving him automatically better promotion options) in front of 8 or 10 appalled female staff who can't think of anything to say, I'm going to say "Kevin? I feel really uncomfortable when you make jokes about women like that." To which he'll probably joke a bit more to save face, but it might make him rethink his humour. Like another colleague who proudly described moving a button from his pocket to his waistband on his shorts as Man-Sewing 101. I asked why, it was what I would have done? And he, father of two adult girls, had the capacity and grace to realise what he'd done and say so.

But that swearing thing? I've often told men, when they apologised for it that I don't mind and swear like a fucking sailor myself, and they take the wind out of my sails by saying things like, "sorry - didnt see you there" and "it's just how I was raised" and fuck, do I continue making a deal out of being othered by them when they haven't got a clue? And dear old bus drivers (or a colleague that I'm very fond of in another department at work) who calls all women "love" and all men "mate", it's not my job to educate them AND become the strident feminist, is it? But then my son's lovely friends, who have helped me out with a bunch of things AND engaged in technical conversations with me, turns out they didn't like Julia Gillard as Prime Minister ONLY because she is female. (This info told to me by 24 yo son, who called out his friends on their casual sexism, so that's something).

I love the feminist conversation here. Over and over, I've learned that what I thought was my failure as a human (x social anxiety & depression) was a common experience, and something I had every right to feel angry about, instead of trying to manage situations so that sexist people would have fewer excuses to bully me because of my gender. Stuff that happened 35 years ago, I'm now going, "oooh! So that's what was going on there! Fuckers!"

Something Amanda said in that thread
Women must not cause inconvenience or discord at any time.
is how I've lived my life. It's a killer. Even when you're justifiably angry (work or social life), you train yourself to bottle it up, to internalise it, to blame yourself. Metafilter's feminist conversation has had, I think, as much a positive impact on my mental and emotional well being as all of the (anonymous) questions I've asked about dealing with depression and anxiety. And it's made me a better mother and female role model to my daughter who I have watched make similar painful decisions to carry the entire burden of a relationship, or to tolerate unreasonable behaviour in grad school - she's changing, she's strong, she's choosing not to give into this pervasive, destructive background radiation.

So yes, a big thank you from me.
posted by b33j at 5:25 AM on January 23, 2015 [14 favorites]


Ps I thought I got the smile crap because my name is Joy. It's somewhat comforting to know I've not been singled out.
posted by b33j at 5:28 AM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Just echoing the thanks. I love that ASK ME thread. As many have said it's depressing but at the same time empowering. So many times I've made myself crazy trying to figure out what I've been doing wrong. How to communicate better, am I just not explaining my opinions well?, maybe I am more aggressive then I should be. It's good to know at least that as frustrating as the reason is, it's not necessarily something due to something I can actually change.

The comical side of me laughs at the picture I have in my head of all these awesome 'intimidating' women running around using the super power of just using their MINDS to boggle others.

'Watch out!' *stands and stares down*, "I am intimidation woman!"

The whole 'intimidating' thing which I have gotten variations of for years has always conflubbled me.
posted by Jalliah at 6:19 AM on January 23, 2015 [9 favorites]



You know I'm teaching myself to draw which the goal of doing some comics. I think 'Intimidation Woman" is going to be my first superheroine.
posted by Jalliah at 6:21 AM on January 23, 2015 [14 favorites]


I would read that comic.
posted by rtha at 6:35 AM on January 23, 2015 [9 favorites]


The answers should be compiled and made into a book.

Wasn't there a MeTa about how to turn a thread into a book?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:48 AM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's not being updated anymore, but Academic Men Explain Things to Me is a wonderful resource for seeing more of this sort of stuff. (A fair number of non-academics have also submitted anecdotes.)
posted by jaguar at 6:54 AM on January 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


Aw Jesus, the stories my fellow female Mefites are sharing in the other thread make me so angry on their behalf. I'm lucky enough to have worked for (kickass, powerful, and awe-inspiring) women for most of my career. I am deeply thankful for that but probably don't reflect on it nearly often enough.

Thanks for posting this thread, hepta; and thanks, melissasaurus, for sharing that Sophie Heawood quotation, which really encapsulates how MeFi has shaped my thinking about feminism for the better.
posted by ferret branca at 7:12 AM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]




Meanwhile, on Wikipedia...

I have just drafted an email, which I am sending to the "donate@wikipedia.org" address, informing them that I will NOT be giving them any donations now (and I was JUST finally at a point at which I could after using them for ten years, darn it....)

I encourage others to do the same.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:36 AM on January 23, 2015 [8 favorites]


that sophie heawood quote is so good that I tracked down the article it came from, which is also great.
posted by nadawi at 7:40 AM on January 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm another person who has learned so much from being here, and another who is wildly jealous that I didn't get to read it from age 17. I genuinely wonder how certain parts of my life would have turned out if I'd found this place and all the wise people who live here sooner. Thanks for posting this thread hepta, and thanks to all the kick-ass women and men who make this community what it is.
posted by billiebee at 7:49 AM on January 23, 2015


Yep, I remember having my first bridle of hilariously privileged anger at the Schroedinger's Rapist thread, and my, how I've come on since then. Metafilter, you've been invaluable.
posted by ominous_paws at 8:14 AM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


...agree. Learning, mostly learning. Some threads on some topics, I just read and don't comment. I'm also learning from (and about) the people who don't handle certain topics well (in my view). All this is very valuable.
posted by Namlit at 8:33 AM on January 23, 2015


Hee, not getting much work done this morning.

I now have some sketches of Passionate, Strident and Feisty to add to the superheroine group.

This is fun.
posted by Jalliah at 8:33 AM on January 23, 2015 [8 favorites]


Don't forget The Frowner, who's always getting told to smile by the other villains.

No Frowners were harmed in the making of this comment
posted by scrump at 9:25 AM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


You had better put this up on projects as soon as it's done. I'm dying to read it. Of course it also has to come with a quiz, "which super gal is your alter ego?" Now personally I'd probably break the quiz as I have been called all of those and more.
posted by sardonyx at 9:52 AM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


... the "I'm not like other girls" line...

So, lately, I've been grappling with a part about my childhood. There's something I've been trying to make sense of. All through my childhood, and even into my adulthood, I had the distinct impression that I was a very boring person. I didn't have hobbies, I wasn't passionate about anything, I just didn't do anything that was cool or impressive or fun or distinctive. I felt just like a blob. A boring blob. And this is what I've been grappling with: why did I grow up feeling like a boring blob? Why was I left with that?

This has always been distinctly puzzling because my mom and my brother have always been incredibly active people. My mom always has something she's deeply passionate about, and my brother always had plenty of awesome projects while growing up. She pushed him towards them: things like designing lego machines, and building RC cars--exciting, interesting things. They both always had so much stuff going on, and as an adult I can distinctly see that a lot of it was my mom's prodding. She was always prodding my brother into his hobbies, teaching him how to be interested in a subject, learn about it, experiment, and do. She just never did this with me. I was the odd one out. She had hobbies that interested her, she taught my brother how to have hobbies that interested him, and I was just a boring blob who didn't do much except watch crap on TV. Why? Why was it like that? Why didn't my mom push me towards cool and interesting hobbies, like she did my brother?

This thread has given me the tools I need to make sense of it: ...the "I'm not like other girls" line...

That's my mom. She's the "I'm not like other girls!" woman. I remember her saying those exact words, in my childhood. I remember the physical discomfort she displayed, at the idea of make-up, of hair styling, of anything girly. It's ironic because she identified herself as a vigilant feminist, but she understood herself in contrast to what it meant to be a woman. To my mom, I think, "I am a feminist" meant "I, personally, get to break free of all that feminine crap other women waste their time on." She loved those things she interpreted as masculine... Like building machines out of Legos and RC cars. You know, the things she pushed my brother to do, because she enjoyed them so much. That's who raised me: someone who rebelled against femininity, who judged womanliness to be worth less than manliness and thus abandoned it. That's the attitude that guided who I was as a child.

It is like my mom, when I was born, decreed: "This child is a girl, and I shall raise her as such." She interpreted me through a peculiarly misogynistic concept of femininity. She raised me to be the sort of being she understood a girl to be. And she did push me towards hobbies and projects--just ones she assumed to be appropriate for a girl-child. Like ballet. She signed me up for ballet lessons, and even thought about installing one of those wall-length ballet mirrors in my bedroom. Because that's the sort of thing girls like. That's how she pictured a girl's room is supposed to look. But she, personally, found no interest in ballet. She, personally, couldn't care less about dance. So I only ended up going to two or three ballet lessons: they were early on Saturday mornings, and taking me to ballet lessons was just such a total waste of a Saturday morning, so she stopped taking me. And I didn't keep up with dance as a hobby.

The really ironic thing is... I'm not interested in ballet, and I never was. I didn't care much for the hobbies and interests she pushed me towards, either. Had she really focused my attention on legos or models or what-have-you, as she did my brother, I probably would have found them really fun, too. But she didn't. Because I was a girl, and legos and RC cars and the like were boy things. So that was for her--for her, who was not like other girls--and my brother. Not me.

So, I grew up. Without being invited into the Land of 'Masculine' Pursuits, like RC cars, but not being taught how to engage in Feminine Pursuits, like ballet. Whenever something feminine interested me, I was confronted with awkward, vaguely hostile disinterest: I remember being desperate to learn how to put my hair up in a bun, and my mother responding with a purse-lipped, "That's not the sort of thing I know how to do." And whenever something masculine interested me... Well, I wasn't even really given much of the opportunity to be interested in masculine things. It was just taken as granted, as given, that those sorts of things weren't for me. I was left with nothing. Encouraged towards nothing that could stick. Left with no hobbies or interests to call my own.

It all sounds rather depressing, the way that I've worded it. And, really, it makes me rather angry. I actually am a person capable of interests and hobbies--but it took me years of therapy to realize this. I actually am a very interesting person, capable of being active and having fun--but, again, this was discovered through therapy. I was raised to understand myself in this depressing, sad, way, as a shapeless, boring blob... And I was raised that way, because that's what happens when you have a girl-child born to a woman who's "not like other girls". I grew up to be a person with a misshapen agency, because I was raised to be a girl by someone who disliked and disdained girls.

This is a bit of a breakthrough for me. It's rather significant to be able to put words to it, to be able to pick out the specific aspect of my mother's attitude towards me that led to this weird mismanagement of my childhood, especially in comparison to my brother's.

This is the sort of thing I regularly get, out of the threads here regarding feminism. I get the language, the concepts, that help me make sense of my own life. There are tidbits in every discussion of feminism in Mefi that fills in some additional gap--someone else's personal anecdote with which I can relate, or a bit of wording that strikes a cord, or a line of reasoning I hadn't thought through on my own yet. I get ways of contextualizing and understanding bits and pieces of my life, from meager things like why I only went to ballet lessons for a few weeks, to the major things, the life-changing things, like why exactly my relationship with my mother is so strained. It builds into a picture of who I am and the things I have experienced. It is a picture which, independent of these Mefi threads, likely would have remained hazy, disjointed--like a jigsaw puzzle. These threads provide the key, for me, to see how to fit the distinct pieces together, to form a coherent whole.

That's a very, very valuable thing.
posted by meese at 9:56 AM on January 23, 2015 [49 favorites]


Right, I'm just saying something to say it - not because I've seen anything like this happen in here, but more because I'm kind of in fear that eventually someone COULD say it.

I actually am someone who couldn't give a rat's ass about makeup, but nevertheless, I don't have a problem with people who do. I have felt subtle social pressure about not being all that interested in makeup and fashion - my mother confessed, a few years ago, that she'd kind of been spending my younger childhood looking forward to mother-daughter bonding over shopping expeditions when I got to my teens; and then when I did get there, my utter lack of interest was disappointing to her. The thing is, I'd subtly picked up on that disappointment back when I WAS a teenager, but didn't know what was causing it, and that kind of messed with me.

But by the same token, I have no problem with people who are into traditional feminine things (shit, I do uber-traditional things like canning and knitting). I believe that everyone has the right to decide what they do and don't want to do with their own selves, and the problem is more one of people trying to decide for someone else, or people trying to slag other people's choices - no matter what those choices may be.

Again, I haven't seen anyone in here do that as such. But I've seen people use the term "not that kind of girl" as a sort of general descriptor, and attaching other weight TO that descriptor - so I guess I'm just sort of saying that I fit that general description, but that doesn't mean I also claim that other weight, is all.

In short: women are people, and people are complex, yay.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:36 AM on January 23, 2015 [8 favorites]


I ... appreciate that thread so muchly, but to tell the truth it has bothered me more deeply than most others in the gender vein. Probably because even though I only wrote about the things that happened THIS WEEK, it did make me reflect on the word 'intimidating' over the course of my life. That reflection didn't stop when I hit Post Comment, of course, and it's been bothersome ever since ...

background radiation. Such a good term.
posted by Dashy at 10:57 AM on January 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Reading these threads actually reminded me of something that happened recently that was kind of awesome. I sing in a couple of elite ensembles, choirs where we aren't paid (because arts economy ugh what) but where we do very fine work with very high expectations, very high standards, and are really expected to bring it -- it's a professional environment even though there aren't wages, in other words. In one of them, it's a culture thing that we have snacks at break time, and those are provided by member signup.

Two rehearsals ago, the (male, kind of alpha-y) choir director said "I have an announcement to make about snack signup. This ensemble has been in place for twenty-three years. During that time, the snack signup has traditionally been coordinated by someone from the alto section, and virtually everyone who has signed up to bring snacks has been female. I've encouraged men to sign up, but apparently that encouragement has not been taken seriously; I looked at the signup sheets for the past four years, and in that time three men have brought snacks. So beginning today, I have assigned the job of snack signup management to Glenn {the baritone section leader -- ed}, and I have instructed him not to pass the signup sheet to the soprano or alto sections until men's names fill up two thirds of the spaces. If we don't have two thirds of the spaces filled with men's names in the next three weeks, we will discontinue the practice of having members supply snacks during rehearsals. Expecting the women to bear these costs, in both time and money, while the men just eat up and enjoy, is not something that is OK, and it's not going to continue."

Guess what: we finally have men bringing snacks. While it's disappointing that it took that kind of fiat statement to make it happen, I am really pleased and surprised that the fiat statement got made!
posted by KathrynT at 11:00 AM on January 23, 2015 [204 favorites]


oh jeez what is wrong with me these days, i'm pretty sure i'm crying over snacks.
posted by nadawi at 11:09 AM on January 23, 2015 [39 favorites]


are you crying over snacks or are you crying over the shattering relief of having a small but bitteringly entrenched injustice overcome

i mean it might be snacks, one of the dudes brought homemade peanut butter cookies that were pretty effing delicious
posted by KathrynT at 11:29 AM on January 23, 2015 [43 favorites]


Reminds me of one of my favorite memey/ecardy things of recent memory:

Women belong in the kitchen.
Men belong in the kitchen.
Everyone belongs in the kitchen:
Kitchen has food!

posted by Celsius1414 at 11:46 AM on January 23, 2015 [18 favorites]


When I first joined Metafilter it was not so welcoming or particularly pleasant to the ladies. At one point I made the Metafilter anti-sexism bingo card and played it regularly. But I'm glad to say it's been a couple years since I've played.

Remember Jessamyn's Cooter clock?

There's still some room for growth here, but the site has been amazing in its change towards inclusion, and I'm so glad members feel better for it.
posted by FunkyHelix at 12:21 PM on January 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


If anyone wants to post that Wikipedia debacle to the blue, help yourself. I didn't have enough background information to create a great post, but I think it's an important story.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 1:44 PM on January 23, 2015


this thread, these people, this site! <3 thank you amazing everyone.

urbanwhaleshark: I was going to mention this on the wikipedia post before it was deleted- I've been following the case and the arbs are actually still voting, so nothing is final yet (although if you ask me, much of the current proposed decision is screwing over most of the editors who have been doing the most to stave off gamergate trolls).
posted by ghostbikes at 1:56 PM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Remember Jessamyn's Cooter clock?

What???

Story time!
posted by Jacqueline at 2:01 PM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


jessamyn dared the site to go a month without some variation on the phrase "I'd hit that"; if it did, she would change her username to Cooter. Every time someone said it, the Cooter clock reset. I believe she retired it after a year, the point having been proved.

Cooter Countdown Resets
posted by Errant at 2:07 PM on January 23, 2015 [10 favorites]


Look at all those well-known names on the Reset List! CTRL-F Justinian.... whew.
posted by Justinian at 2:08 PM on January 23, 2015


Omnomnom, thank you so much for your ask. Today I actually felt. . . lighter just for getting the chance to talk about those kind of things and seeing such a universal experience (as depressing as that is).

Also I e-mailed the thread to a former boss with a sweet note about how it could be educational for him, laughing merrily as I did so. *high five!*
posted by barchan at 2:54 PM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yes! all management must read that post!

*high five*
posted by blurker at 3:05 PM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, barchan, I sent your "offended Leonardo face" comment to a female coworker who will absolutely do this. She cackled so loudly I could hear it six states away. So, thanks!
posted by blurker at 3:08 PM on January 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


yes, this is why i love metafilter. Reading things like this helps me remember to think before i talk, because the last thing I'm going to be is a speed bump in somebody else's day.
posted by rebent at 7:33 PM on January 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I haven't read the AskMe yet, but I wanted to come in and share the love with my fellow feminists. ♥
posted by immlass at 10:25 PM on January 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


I read the Cooter clock and am (not really) shocked at how many times it was reset in a "aren't I a naughty boy" jokey way. Ugh.
posted by kimberussell at 4:26 PM on January 24, 2015


ok, im just going to say

damn, being a white man really is playing on easy mode.

if i had to tell the same stories as what im reading, i would ragequit.
posted by rebent at 6:29 PM on January 24, 2015


if i had to tell the same stories as what im reading, i would ragequit.

And then you'd be unemployed and unemployable.

Well, *you* presumably wouldn't, but I think it's important to read the stories with the realization that most of the people to whom they happened really couldn't ragequit.

Which makes me want to ragequit something, and I mostly work for myself.
posted by jaguar at 8:17 PM on January 24, 2015 [10 favorites]


Celsius1414's comment as a haiku:
Women belong in /
The kitchen. The men do too. /
The food’s all in there!
posted by Pronoiac at 9:04 PM on January 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Just thought I'd mention it here - some of the comments (dhruva's in particular) were so thought provoking that I sent some links and commentary to our Women's Leadership organization. They have asked me to write an article for the International Women's Day edition of their newsletter. *gulp*
posted by blurker at 11:06 AM on January 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


Sort of off-topic, but related: This McSweeney's post Reasons You Were Not Promoted That are Totally Unrelated to Gender seems like it was inspired (at the very least) by the thread mentioned above.
posted by barnone at 1:39 PM on January 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


Something interesting I noticed about that thread - there's a noticeable lack of "Well, I'm a dude, but let me tell you MY experience." Which the question didn't even disallow. There may be some of that, I didn't click every username to check, but it didn't stand out like it often does.

You know, i was going to relay the experiences of a friend who doesn't have an account here and additionally what i'd seen her run in to at her job, but i didn't because i felt like i'd just be that guy.

I don't know whether that was spot on or not, but just the general feeling of it put me off of posting. It was kinda just like "does my voice actually need to be here?".

I kinda credit mefi for even making me think about that, also.
posted by emptythought at 1:38 PM on January 29, 2015 [11 favorites]


Another really timely piece for this discussion: The One Word Men Never See in Their Performance Reviews
posted by Miko at 2:36 PM on January 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


...the comments on that....
posted by amanda at 7:34 PM on January 30, 2015


For once I did not read them and now that you've said that, probably won't.
posted by Miko at 8:17 PM on January 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


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