Blogging, Rhetoric, and Audiences

I think I have realized why some people–almost all dudes, as far as I can tell–are not enjoying my guest blogging and feel compelled to let me know that I am “doing it wrong” and that I am “not convincing”. Here’s the dealio: you are very confused about who my intended audience is, and what exactly I am trying to communicate to that audience. I will leave it as an exercise for the reader to figure out what I’m talking about here.

Author: has written 16 posts for this blog.

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32 Responses

  1. Renee
    Renee July 17, 2008 at 5:01 pm |

    I’m enjoying your blogging..you keep going!

  2. Toast
    Toast July 17, 2008 at 5:03 pm |

    almost all dudes

    I’m just happy that there are people left out there who recognize “dude” as a male-gendered pronoun.

  3. Ismone
    Ismone July 17, 2008 at 5:17 pm |

    You’re kinda like the Richard Pryor of feminist sciencebloggers.

    I like that.

  4. sophonisba
    sophonisba July 17, 2008 at 5:38 pm |

    almost all dudes, as far as I can tell–

    Ha ha, no.

    Tip: If you’re convinced of your “ally” status, sincerity and cred, maybe you shouldn’t be so quick to run down criticism that comes from people very much like you. You, a dude, decide that their criticism isn’t what counts because they’re dudes. Yeah, well. If you get to be taken seriously here, so do they.

    I know it is very very very tempting to believe that when someone criticizes your writing abilities they are REALLY criticizing the ideas you were trying to express, but no. Not actually.

  5. tps12
    tps12 July 17, 2008 at 5:47 pm |

    Any readers smarter than I want to hazard a guess at the “dealio” regarding message and intended audience? I’m seriously at a loss.

  6. Liz
    Liz July 17, 2008 at 5:50 pm |

    Regardless of who you think it should be, your audience is all of Feministe’s readers, the good and the bad. Simply because you find dissenters in your comments doesn’t mean the regular non-troll readers of Feministe are displeased with you.

    Here’s a tip, people: don’t like a post? Stop reading it.

  7. sophonisba
    sophonisba July 17, 2008 at 5:54 pm |

    #5: He’s probably correctly identified the phenomenon of feminist men getting weirdly possessive about their politics, and wanting to be the best at them, so that they instinctively challenge those they see as interlopers. The more feminist men there are, the less special each individual feminist man becomes, so they try to thin out the herd.

    What he has not correctly identified is a corresponding phenomenon that occurs among feminist women, whereby many of us, against our better judgment, give extra slack and praise to men who appear to ‘get it’, even when those men are not very good writers, are not very clear communicators, or are not very original thinkers. It isn’t nice to say this, but it isn’t nice to brag about how your feminism makes the other dudes resentful, either.

  8. Mandolin
    Mandolin July 17, 2008 at 6:42 pm |

    Erm, okay. Not sure if this pertains to my comments on the other thread, but I’m chickly. Chickish — even chickesque.

    I don’t really understand why PP is more controversial than other guest bloggers, though. Seems mostly inoffensive to me. The people who have really annoyed me are the ones complaining about the tyranny of those powerful meanie atheists who, you know, never have their civil rights questioned, and aren’t hated viscerally by the bulk of Americans.

  9. Ashley
    Ashley July 17, 2008 at 6:43 pm |

    Any readers smarter than I want to hazard a guess at the “dealio” regarding message and intended audience? I’m seriously at a loss.

    tps12, it seems to me that Physioprof is less interested in convincing people of feminist arguments, and more interested in amusing people who already accept certain feminist concepts, and don’t wish to rehash them. So, for example, in the case of his post about discrimination against women in science, he didn’t feel the need to make a point-by-point statistical analysis of the various ways women are discriminated against in science, because the readers he is addressing ALREADY KNOW all that. Instead, he focused on taking the piss out of the article, for our amusement.

    Sometimes you just want to kick back and vent about/laugh at oppression.

    In other words, it’s not all about the menz sometimes.

    Beyond that, sometimes feminist bloggers want to have a feminist discourse that goes beyond training wheels feminist concepts like “rape is bad” and “abortion should be legal.” They want to talk about concepts that assume their readers have read Audre Lorde, instead of having to explain every damn thing.

    I am very wary of attempts to present the dominant cultural understanding of issues of oppression as “rational” and well argued, and to force those opposing the dominant paradigm to fit their argument into terms that will make sense within that dominant paradigm.

    Fuck that wackaloon shit.

  10. elle
    elle July 17, 2008 at 6:50 pm |

    I lurk here daily–typically because of the way PhysioProf and Renee (just as examples) have been treated.

    I don’t know what else to say besides I enjoy(ed) both of you and I think it’s a shame that Jill keeps having to gently nudge grown ass people on how to treat guests.

    P.S. Hope that “ass” doesn’t upset anyone.

  11. demolitionwoman
    demolitionwoman July 17, 2008 at 6:53 pm |

    i’ll tell you that i haven’t been particularly interested in your blogging due to the tone and my perception of poor writing skills. i haven’t delved into the content, so i can’t comment on that. the aggressive tone is a bit off-putting, as is the swearing (which is funny, because i’ve been known to swear like a sailor myself).

    it’s just something to think about – if you want to reach a broader audience, you might want to modify your tone/language. if you’re not interested (which is fine), then don’t.

  12. DaisyDeadhead
    DaisyDeadhead July 17, 2008 at 7:26 pm |

    Let me add my voice to others here: I enjoy diversity. I like a variety of bloggers on “big blogs”–that’s the MAJOR DRAW of the big blogs, after all; something for everyone, like the multi-screened cinemas.

    I don’t see what everyone is getting so het up about.

  13. TCita
    TCita July 17, 2008 at 7:51 pm |

    I’m thoroughly amused at how many people claim that PP’s writing is “Poor.” Different does not mean poor, ineffective or less valuable.

    Maybe these are the same people that won’t hire me if I don’t switch over to “academic” language when I’m interviewing.

    Please, someone, get these people Yoshino’s _Covering_, ASAP.

  14. Claire
    Claire July 17, 2008 at 8:12 pm |

    Physioprof, the reason you’re getting so much flak, I think, is because you’re stepping on men’s toes left and right. On the one hand, you’re a filthy fucking gender traitor, runnin’ ’round and throwin’ your lot in with the wimminfolk, which pisses off the trolling crowd (lulz be praised.)

    On the other hand, you’re stepping on the toes of feminist men and some radfems by trying to push the “pro-feminist” label, which most of us thought was done for by now. (Not that it’s considered a huge point by most of those of us who accept men as possible feminists…) Though I’ve seen people get seriously shitty with you in comments over it, I think that it’s probably split evenly between trolls looking to sow some divisiveness over a very minor issue, and genuine feminist people who are, for whatever reason, put off from you (probably some confluence of arrogance, profanity, and minor disagreements… not that I’m criticizing. I am, myself, frequently arrogant, profane, and opinionated.)

    Anyway, I wouldn’t fret over it, or even address it. Seriously. If someone has raised their flag above the good ship Internet Tough Guy and is arguing over nothing, there’s no need to engage them. This blog post is the only one of yours that I think would have been better off not posted.

  15. Hugo
    Hugo July 17, 2008 at 8:34 pm |

    Leaving aside the discussion of sacking up from the other thread, I’m really enjoying having PhysioProf here at Feministe.

    And Sophonisba is right, honestly, at least about one aspect of my initial response to PP’s blogging: though I really don’t think I set the gold standard for male feminist bloggers (chas veshalom), I do have a sense of what male feminist bloggers “should” or “shouldn’t” do in their writing. I’m often wrong, of course, and it’s good to be challenged to see another way to do this. Whether sophonisba is right about other male responses, I don’t know.

  16. ClareS
    ClareS July 17, 2008 at 8:39 pm |

    I’m more confused as to why the problematic, repeated use of sexist and ableist language (‘motherfucker’ and ‘wackaloon’)in the other posts is being ignored, even when comments call attention to it. I usually love all the posts here at Feministe, but stuff like this feels really hostile. As opposed to the swearing, which I personally couldn’t give a damn about.
    And surely creating a new post merely to cryptically thumb your nose at critics doesn’t really help anything?

  17. dananddanica
    dananddanica July 17, 2008 at 9:30 pm |

    I’m a dude and have no idea what label I would put on myself. I don’t enjoy your posts all that much but I do read them as you never know where the next good idea or insight will come from. That and there are tons of lurkers here, I was one for quite a while, and while I might not fully appreciate your style there very well may be a ton of people who do in addition to the people who make a post and state explicitly that they do. You were invited here and I really appreciate that you speak your mind though I don’t always agree with the manner in which you do so, thats on me though and I will explore why I react to your posts the way I do.

    I’m not sure about sophonisba’s response either. I think its definitely true up to a point, in much the same way people only like small bands when they are the only ones that know about them but I have no idea how far that goes into the feminist, feminist-ally, pro-feminist (any other labels?) men set.

  18. grapeshot
    grapeshot July 17, 2008 at 10:29 pm |

    sophonisba and Ashley, thanks for your comments. Interesting perspectives on reactions to PP. :)

  19. sophonisba
    sophonisba July 17, 2008 at 10:59 pm |

    I’m not sure about sophonisba’s response either. I think its definitely true up to a point, in much the same way people only like small bands when they are the only ones that know about them but I have no idea how far that goes into the feminist, feminist-ally, pro-feminist (any other labels?) men set.

    Well, it’s not like it’s all feminist men who start huffing and puffing, any more than it’s all feminist women who bend over backwards with praise and compliments. It’s a definite tendency in feminist groups in that it always happens to a certain extent, not that everybody does it.

  20. DrugMonkey
    DrugMonkey July 18, 2008 at 12:56 am |

    dandd, I totally get that! I can’t stand PP’s writing either but am strangely propelled to read every word too. Like you, I’m only in it in case a nugget of insight is accidently expressed.

    (hey, do you find yourself inexplicably laughing your fucking ass off? I get that happening sometimes while I’m reading PP…WTF is up with that?)

  21. J.
    J. July 18, 2008 at 3:06 am |

    You’re funny. I like it.

  22. etching ray
    etching ray July 18, 2008 at 4:26 am |

    i’m not a dude and i find your tone scary. anger from men is different than anger from women. many men feel entitled to sarcasm & hostility, and are dismissive when called on it — and it doesn’t look like you’re any different.

  23. tps12
    tps12 July 18, 2008 at 8:32 am |

    Ashley, that’s an interesting perspective. I think it’s weird because I actually usually really like the “preaching to the choir” type posting; a lot of Amanda Marcotte’s most entertaining blogging, for example, involves that kind of mocking derision that assumes the reader is coming from a similar point of view and is up to speed on the underlying arguments.

    My reaction to PP is that the “hostility” and profanity seem affected and forced, hence insincere; and then his defensiveness in the face of criticism doesn’t jibe with the brusque persona he’s trying to present, which only increases the sense of insincerity. But to each his or her own, obviously!

  24. Posted At Feministe: Blogging, Rhetoric, And Audiences « PhysioProf

    [...] 18, 2008 Snippet (actually the whole text) of post: I think I have realized why some people–almost all dudes, as far as I can tell–are not [...]

  25. Samia
    Samia July 18, 2008 at 10:43 am |

    At the end of the day, ladies and gentlemen, this is the internet. I don’t understand the point of telling PP over and over again that you don’t like his writing, especially when it involves repeating yourself at least three times in the same comment. He’s a guest blogger. I fully understand that some people don’t like the cursing, and I think at least one person brought up a good point about the specific profanity being used. But I still think at least a few people here don’t understand how repetitive their criticisms are. If you don’t like his style, don’t read him. He’s not a regular writer anyway.

    As for “NOE SITASHUNZ!” Look, it’s not like there’s some dearth of statistics on how shoddily some women in science are treated– Tierney is lying through his teeth and a cursory Google demolishes his every last “insight.” I don’t get why feminist writers are held to some impossible standard of always writing perfectly rational, scientific serious articles about something as inherently illogical as sexism. Sometimes, while you’re fighting the good fight and conducting those studies and collecting that data and volunteering in your community and speaking truth to power, you have to sit back and “GRAHHHHH!!!!” at the stupidity of it all. This is how I took PP’s post.

    Oh, and P-Money, I’m not afraid of your sarcasm or hostility towards sexists. And I’m not afraid of you as a person, either. Holy crap, what are you going to do, burst out of my monitor in a rage and throttle me? Actually, that would be kinda awesome.

  26. Natalia
    Natalia July 18, 2008 at 11:25 am |

    I’m not a dude, but I do love ya, PP.

  27. Cedar
    Cedar July 18, 2008 at 4:28 pm |

    someone voicing a feminist critique being told to modify their tone? colour me totally not shocked.

    “But we’d listen to you PP, if you didn’t sound so ANGRY!” ;-)

    (i do get the people taking issue with the word “motherfucker” and such, though.)

  28. Margalis
    Margalis July 18, 2008 at 5:49 pm |

    Jerkyness and defensiveness are not a good combination. “Sack up.” The constant “you didn’t get what I meant” is downright Mcardle-esque and is an indicator of poor communication skills by definition.


    What he has not correctly identified is a corresponding phenomenon that occurs among feminist women, whereby many of us, against our better judgment, give extra slack and praise to men who appear to ‘get it’, even when those men are not very good writers, are not very clear communicators, or are not very original thinkers.

    Boom headshot.

    In addition, despite all the demonstrative surface-level stuff, PP doesn’t read very feminist. Uses sexist language, has a schtick based on macho posturing and seems to mentally slot his posts on sexist stuff into a separate “for the ladies” category with a distinct “here is a man to inform you” vibe to them. This is the first time I’ve read Feminsite and thought a poster was less of a feminist than I am.

  29. Jahi
    Jahi July 19, 2008 at 12:09 am |

    Margalis and others — I don’t know that it’s macho posturing. I read PP now and again because I identify with the anger and aggression. I see so much bone-headed dismissiveness and poorly reasoned “arguments” against even bare-bones feminism in the popular culture and the academy, that I often feel like I’m just going to explode. And I also feel alone in this — even though I’m surrounded by like-minded folks, it’s sort of like being upset over, say, Darfur. People may understand your concern, but when you get to the yelling, swearing, screaming, “What in the 5th sphincter hell is going on here?” they maybe nod consolingly, or question why you’re so bent of shape about something so abstract or far away. I read PP and realize I’m not alone; it’s great to here someone SCREAMING what you’ve wanted to scream. It’s faintly parallel to how I feel about the Daily Show; it’s been critiqued by the “real” media as being too unserious, too over-the-top, yet when Jon Stewart curses and actually goes so far as to perhaps say someone is lying, I don’t worry that he’s gone off the de rigeur impartiality, but yell out “Fuck yeah!” PP does that, and even may teach me something or open my mind to something. There’s a certain place for this — and just because anger is more socially acceptable for men, doesn’t mean by default that a pro-feminist man can’t use it; I would think the more feminist angle would be to accept that more women can/should (but obviously don’t have) to use it.

  30. Maggie
    Maggie July 19, 2008 at 6:19 am |

    …who IS your intended audience? I was unaware you had one beyond “feministe readers.”

    I sort of get your style, but to be honest I personally feel this is a case of style over substance with your little ranty vocabulary inflating your actual point until it looks like you’re saying a lot more than you really are. I tend to mentally strip out meaningless words like fuck and wackaloon from serious discourse unless their frequency is low enough that each use obviously has a point, and since barely a sentence goes by without one in most of yours, what I end up with is a bunch of sentences with no subject, object or, frequently, verbs of any kind. It gets confusing :P

  31. mikeb302000
    mikeb302000 July 19, 2008 at 11:17 am |

    I consider myself a big fan of yours, PP. Yet I can understand what a few commenters have said about anger coming from a man being difficult for them. I’ve noticed it in my own family: when my wife gets upset, the kids seem largely unaffected. When I raise my voice in anger, they get frightened. I’m doing pretty well in not repeating these dysfunctional family dynamics that a lot of us grew up with, but in those occasional situations, I’m impressed with their reactions and based on that I resolve to avoid them as much as possible.

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