“I Know You’re Smarter Than Me”: Clarisse Thorn’s Feminist Ideology

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196 comments for ““I Know You’re Smarter Than Me”: Clarisse Thorn’s Feminist Ideology

  1. February 8, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Gah, what an annoying date that was!

    And yes, those of us who write a lot about sex and relationships have an obligation to make sure we’re not reducing feminism down to “luxury concerns”. That doesn’t mean we have to take up a radical perspective, or focus solely on broader justice issues, but it does mean doing what you already do, Clarisse, which is connect the personal to the political. Pleasure is political, but we need to make that connection explicit.

  2. Jim
    February 8, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    “It was an amazingly complimentary, amazingly condescending, amazingly effective way of shutting me down.”

    Eh yup, it sure is all of that. I used to get that from my kid when he was a teenager. It shut me down too at the time.

  3. February 8, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    Sorry, what an annoying date **that must have been.** My wording made me sound like I was on it.

  4. February 8, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Thank you so much for doing what you do. I disagree with your conclusions sometimes, but overall I really, really appreciate your reconciliation of BDSM and feminism, as it’s something I’m trying to do myself and “weird and complicated” just about nails what the process is like. Somehow there still don’t seem to be many blogs about this kind of feminism- they’re all either 100% pro-all kink and all sex work simply on principle, no analysis, no criticism. Or they’re 100% anti-kink and anti-sex work, upholding this awesomely pure theory of total radical resistance that doesn’t actually work with the real-life sexual desires of people like us. Or, you know, they stay out of the debate entirely. It’s strange that navigating the space between these extremes and writing and thinking critically about the intersections of kink and feminism is considered the ‘edge’ instead of the uncharted middle territory. As far as I know you’re something of a pioneer in that regard. So, really, thank you. I know I’m not the only one listening to you and talking about the same things, even though the world in and outside the feminist and kink spheres does seem to be overflowing with people like pool-hall guy.

  5. February 8, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Haha, wow! I’m surprised, but I probably shouldn’t be, at how common your date experience was. Rather than try to engage us on an intellectual level, which these prospective beaus are clearly afraid of doing, they would rather ask us (ahem, ask, as though it is a request and not a demand) to politely reaffirm their dominance and superiority by hiding the thing that proves their inferiority.

    Sigh. Well, at least we have each other :P

  6. February 8, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    I don’t undercut my motivations for first being involved in feminist discourse. I just know that they have grown and blossomed beyond my wildest fantasies. I sought to not be something and found myself owning that which I already was.

    I’m sure there will always be a need for someone to proclaim the straight-up Feminist issue to keep us honest. But I, perhaps like you, I find something much more interesting in being an edge feminist. If I can take my own strengths and interests and filter them through a feminist perspective, that only makes my argument that more compelling. Ultimately, it’s a question of finding one’s own voice, to me.

  7. February 8, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    I didn’t read that comment from ‘Pool Hall Dude’ in the same way as you, Clarisse. Maybe he was condescending in other ways too, and you obviously didn’t click.

    But maybe he was genuinely intimidated by the fact you were obviously smarter than him and didn’t want to get into an argument he knew he would lose/and lose badly probably.

    I don’t know. I just think it sounds like you are assuming everyone would agree with your interpretation of that event. Sure, you were there and we weren’t. But so was Pool Hall Dude and we will never hear his side of the story, will we?

    And in a way, that is my allegory for feminism. From a different perspective.

  8. February 8, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    @LoriA, I hope you always feel free to challenge me when you disagree with my conclusions!

    @QRG, I’m not inclined to cut people much slack when they blatantly express an uninformed opinion and then shut down conversation on a feminist topic (or other social justice topic). Being intimidated is not an excuse for choosing not to learn more about social justice. If he hadn’t expressed such an aggressive and ignorant opinion in the first place, I’d have more sympathy for him.

  9. Aaron
    February 8, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Thanks, Quiet Riot Girl. That was what I was going to say. I know that growing up smarter-than-average with underdeveloped social graces and a poor sense of boundaries I got this response all the time, over and over again, in a lot of different forms (anger, resignation, sarcasm, frustration, polite disengagement). There are people who don’t like to have serious discussions, who think “that’s just my opinion” ought to change the subject like a shuffle button, or who are willing to discuss things only in the squishiest and non-confrontational of ways (especially if there’s a chance they might lose the argument). People probably did this to me more often than normal because I’m annoying as hell, but I suspect there’s a large dispositional aspect to it too. To this day, I try as hard as I can not to get into discussions about serious issues, especially on the first date, because I know I have a hard time disengaging, and some people just aren’t comfortable with it.

  10. February 8, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    I don’t agree, Clarisse but if this story has stayed with you since you were 17 as a symbol of your feminist ideology I am not going to change your mind.

    I am just saying I have read your account of an event and have reached different conclusions about it to yours. That’s why life is complicated I guess! There’s different ways of looking at the same thing.

  11. February 8, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    Lori A there are quite a few blogs/writings about kink and feminism.
    I think Clarisse has cited some in her work
    e.g. Let Them Eat/Pro feminist spaces
    The carnival of kinky feminists (I used to help run that blog carnival)
    Lots of queer/feminist writers like
    Sugar Butch Chronicles
    Rabbit Write
    Pandora Blake
    NotAnOdalisque
    Sarah Dopp
    Jizz Lee
    And sex work/feminist/sex positive people like
    Melissa Gira
    Furry Girl
    Violet Blue
    Mistress Matisse

    I will get some urls. But it isn’t as ‘marginal’ as people make out sometimes, I don’t think.

  12. February 8, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    You’re welcome to your different opinion, of course. I thought this particular anecdote might end up being controversial, but I was trying to make an extremely fine-grained point about the little tiny socially graceful ways in which these conversations get shut down by people who refuse to learn more about what they’re spouting opinions about, and if there’s a way to make that point without using anecdotes that SOMEONE will inevitably contest, then I haven’t found it.

    Whether or not you agree with my reading of the anecdote is actually pretty irrelevant, in my book — I think you do agree with me on more fundamental issues like standing one’s ground and speaking up when we can, and you obviously do plenty of that already. But there are lots of women out there with much less well-developed opinions, perhaps less social backup and less institutional privilege than I have, who are used to being ignored and dismissed and questioning themselves. And they would have the exact same conversation I did, and get shut down, and take it as natural without ever thinking about whether sexism and anti-feminism might play a role.

    You’re correct that, among the millions of possible universes in the galaxy, there is at least one possible universe in which PHD is a totally awesome dude who I completely misread. For all I know, PHD is now a stalwart feminist anti-rape activist working in the NOW national headquarters who takes an equal share of the housework and never insults women by calling us “sluts” and checks his privilege daily. Somehow, however? I doubt it.

  13. February 8, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    @ QRG and Aaron

    Motivations are one thing and how they are translated into actions and words are another. The shut-down Clarisse experienced is a classic derailing technique. Yeah, it’s possible he resorted to it out of a sense of discomfort and desire to change the subject, but he didn’t say that. What he did do was make a passive-aggressive swipe at Clarisse’s intelligence, putting the onus on her for being the real problem in the conversation. He blamed a woman for being too smart to talk to, and that is shitty, no matter the reason or the intention.

  14. February 8, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    Also, a great example of a microaggression.

  15. February 8, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Jadey, YES. Co-sign!

  16. February 8, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    I find it really interesting that the pattern on this comment thread plays out a whole lot on this blog when female writers share their stories (although I’ve seen it happen most often to Chally): Someone says, “This thing happened and it was sexist / racist / otherwise bigoted and it really bothered me and I learned X from it,” and the immediate reaction is, “But maybe you’re misinterpreting the situation.” And the commentariat proceeds to make up all kinds of different reasons why the person’s words shouldn’t be interpreted the way that the author — the only one of us who was there — heard them. And then the whole point of the piece gets missed, because we’re all focused on the fact that the poor nameless person who said whatever thing that lead the author to a much bigger and more important conclusion isn’t here to defend themselves.

    I see this happen in “real life” all the time, too, particularly when people point out sexism or racism or homophobia or other biases. There’s always a second-guessing of the person who is relaying the bigoted comments or actions — they must be misinterpreting, or their reading of the subtle cues behind the words themselves must be wrong. And that becomes the focus.

    It’s particularly irritating to see it on a post like this one, where the anecdote is an opening point for a much larger story and meditation on feminism and activism.

  17. Aaron
    February 8, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    @Jill: If the anecdote is presented as evidence of a theory, in this case a theory about the ways in which sexist behavior or behavior which supports patriarchal attitudes can be masked in a very innocuous way, it makes sense to me to examine the evidence critically. If I’m not allowed to criticize the evidence, because the person’s experienced is sacrosanct, then I can’t engage in the theory on anything but the most general of terms.

  18. February 8, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    @Clarisse Ha! That will happen eventually, I’m sure.

    @Quiet Riot
    Maybe my first comment wasn’t clear, but it’s not that there’s a lack of writing about feminism and kink in general. Rather, there’s a lack of writing that isn’t from a very polarized, dogmatic kinky-sex-positive or -negative viewpoint that just assumes the reader is of similar mind. When I first started accepting my kinky sexuality about a year ago, coming from a radical feminist mindset, I spent time reading some of the back-and-forth between ‘Let them eat pro-sm…’ and Nine-Deuce in the hopes I could get some nuanced analysis from both sides that would aide in reconciling my views. What I found, though, was that they were just *tiring* in their rigidity.

    I recognize I’m coming at this from a new and unique place, and eventually I might become quite dogmatic in my pro-kink thinking myself. Right now though I’m very much interested in examining grey areas and middle ground, or at least analyzing the issues within a more complex frame than ‘my body my choice, period’ or ‘you’re supporting the patriarchy, period.’ What I’ve read of Clarisse’s is obviously very much in the ‘my body, my choice’ school, and I disagree with some of her positions but very much appreciate that she writes about them in a more philosophical and less dogmatic way than what I’ve found elsewhere.

    I admit that I’m still pretty new to all of this, though, so I’m probably overlooking some important blogs and writers. There are a few on your list I haven’t heard of and will definitely be checking out.

  19. February 8, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    Jill: I dont think Clarisse is ‘misinterpreting’. Something happened to her which she has interpreted. I accept that.

    But her story doesn’t make me feel more sympathetic to her analysis of gender relations. And people’s reactions on here to it, even less so.

    Luckily, I don’t think you people are smarter than me and I will stick around in the pool hall for the debate.

    I don’t think men – because I think please correct me if I am wrong-that Clarisse is mainly talking about men- I don’t think men do shut down debate with women about social issues that much.

    I think Aaron was right that a first date is a particular kind of event where people can be guarded. Not everyone is. But judging people on a ‘first date’, if they haven’t been a complete wanker, I think is a bit harsh.

  20. February 8, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    @LoriA I know what you mean about Let Them Eat… I found it a bit limiting there too, but I have come to find most discussions of ‘feminism’ and ‘sex’ a bit limiting. I have had more joy/inspiration from reading writers who just happen to write about sexual themes, without a specific agenda, but who touch on gender and power, because you can’t avoid those issues when writing about sex.

  21. Kristen J.
    February 8, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Jadey: The shut-down Clarisse experienced is a classic derailing technique

    Yes, and irrelevantly questioning a persons interpretations of their own experience has its very own derailing category. I think DD should be linked at the top of every discussion as a list of things not to do.

  22. Brian
    February 8, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    QRG – Clarisse, more than anyone else I’ve read who (openly, anyhow) identifies as a feminist, gives real thought and consideration to the binds that gender roles put men in, and takes a more realistic view towards it than anyone. She’s worth giving the benefit of the doubt. At least, I want to give it to her, even though when I imagine myself in PHD’s position, I react more or less the same way.

    I’d much rather try to make a show of recognising Clarisse had the moral high ground and move on quickly, than drag it out. In the latter case, I don’t see how you retain your peer status, which means your date is toast.

    But that doesn’t mean it’s how PHD presented. I doubt it was.

  23. February 8, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    Though i have heard of feminism, I have never actually done any sort of research into what feminism is. Having said that, after reading your article, I am going to guess that feminism is simply a movement that advocates that woman are equal in mostly every way, I like to think woman are stronger then men, at least emotionally for the fact there are more single mothers, which is a difficulty job.
    I know this has nothing to do with your article, which was funny and interesting. But I have to ask you a question. Where do you get the idea that YOU, or anyone else for that matter, be it man or woman, have the RIGHT to be heard. The right to speak, whether through words or verbal speech is a right you have. But to say you have the RIGHT to be heard? Sorry, that is something that is earned through various ways. To say you have the right to heard is like saying I am going to tie you down and you have to listen to me because it is my right. Being heard is a privilege that is earned. Like love. Love is earned, or at least it should be. Clarity is charity and I hope you, or whoever reads this, may try to understand my point and help me understand what you meant by,”your right to be heard”

  24. February 8, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    @Brian I know. I like Clarisse’s work – in the main. I appreciate in particular her forays into ‘masculinity’.

    Kristen J- Basically by challenging Clarisse’s use of this anecdote to illustrate a more general thesis on gender, I am being accused of ‘derailing’. I think that’s ridiculous.

    But I’d rather talk about the contents of clarisse’s feminism than this one incident!

    e.g. I don’t agree with using the concept of ‘rape culture’. I don’t think rape culture exists. I really hate the work of Melissa McEwan on this issue in particular. So if Clarisse wants to talk about rape culture maybe she could clarify what she means by it?

  25. Aaron
    February 8, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Kristen:
    I agree that irrelevantly questioning the interpretation of an event just derails a discussion. If my friend had a really negative experience, and came to me and wanted to talk about it, it would be impolite (and besides the point, and probably hurtful) to question their interpretation. But if they’re trying to use the interpretation as an anecdote to argue for a much broader argument, then it’s not irrelevant; it’s central to their argument!

    • February 8, 2011 at 5:59 pm

      But Aaron, the problem is that there’s no way Clarisse can “prove” that her story happened the way she tells it. She can’t show you a video. she can only relate what happened, and explain what it meant. Communication happens in large part with non-verbal cues; simply transcribing the conversation doesn’t do the job of really conveying what was communicated. So your desire here to pick apart the communicated message of what was said puts a burden on Clarisse that is impossible to meet. She has relayed a story that was formative in shaping (or at least illustrative of) her views on feminism and voice and activism. Instead of engaging her point, you’re saying, basically, “But maybe he didn’t mean that!” Well, ok, but there’s no way for Clarisse to show that he did mean it, and that the condescension was clearly communicated to her; it’s much easier to raise doubts (“maybe he didn’t mean it”) than to affirmatively prove what he meant.

      Also? What he meant or intended isn’t really the point. Maybe Clarisse is totally 100% wrong in her interpretation of this story. Even if that’s true, does that challenge or diminish the point of her piece? Does it challenge or diminish the voices of so many other women who I’m sure will relay similar experiences? Her entire point is that women should keep track of these little injustices (microinequalities, as someone upthread pointed to) because they matter. Part of her point is that these actions are small, and they are subtle — which is why they aren’t always easy to identify, and why they’re so effective. If ever time a woman relies a story about subtle sexism, or someone relays a story about subtle racism, and the response from the peanut gallery is “Oh I’m sure he didn’t mean it like that,” the end result is that the people who are on the butt-end of sexism, racism, etc are made to feel like we don’t understand our own realities. We’re made to question ourselves more often, and to be less confident in our own experiences; we’re more likely to defer to the judgment of others. That in and of itself is really, really dangerous. It’s particularly problematic in a culture that views white male opinion and experience as totally objective, and “other” experiences as more subjective (see, for example, the folks who thought that a gay judge should have to recuse himself from presiding over any of the marriage equality cases, because he couldn’t be impartial — as if straight folks are, by default, impartial). That perception of one’s self (and of others) has very, very real and far-reaching consequences.

      Maybe you should step back and consider why it’s so important to you to prove that Pool Hall Dude really must not have meant it that way.

  26. February 8, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Arturo: Though i have heard of feminism, I have never actually done any sort of research into what feminism is.

    First problem.

    Arturo: aving said that, after reading your article, I am going to guess that feminism is simply a movement that advocates that woman are equal in mostly every way, I like to think woman are stronger then men, at least emotionally for the fact there are more single mothers, which is a difficulty job.

    Second problem.

    Arturo: I know this has nothing to do with your article, which was funny and interesting. But I have to ask you a question. Where do you get the idea that YOU, or anyone else for that matter, be it man or woman, have the RIGHT to be heard.

    Troll.

    Arturo: Being heard is a privilege that is earned. Like love. Love is earned, or at least it should be. Clarity is charity and I hope you, or whoever reads this, may try to understand my point and help me understand what you meant by,”your right to be heard”

    How many times am I allowed to link Derailing For Dummies in a single thread before I get cut off? (Although I want to say that I hate hate hate the ableist name of that page. I know it comes from the book series, but I hate it anyway.)

  27. February 8, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Perhaps one way to focus the conversation more productively would be to ask feminists on the thread about times they’ve felt shut down, what happened in those situations, how they reacted, and why they remember those incidents. If I were as smart as PHD claimed, I would have asked that question at the end of the post ;)

  28. February 8, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Jill- I dont think Aaron is asking Clarisse to ‘prove’ her story.

    He is questioning the use of a single anecdote to ‘prove’ a theory about feminism.

    I can give an example of a date I went on where it turned out the guy held and expressed some racist beliefs. I ‘shut down’ debate and changed the subject, got drunk, fucked him and let him drive me home the next day. And never saw him again.

    I don’t know what that says about me, racism or gender relations. I can’t hang a theory on that event.

  29. February 8, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Haha…is that an attack on someone who wishes to understand or are you just trying to educate someone like me ,” the dummy”?
    Surely those are not the methods and mentality of feminism, “I want to be understood, but to understand others in the context which they meant…pshhh, I will leave that quality to be embraced by submissive woman.”
    I am going to look at the fact you redirected my question to another topic instead of answering a question that was truly intended to understand someone else’s point of view, as a personal issue that lies directly with you and not the feminism as whole.
    If I were an advocate for feminism I would be eager to help someone to understand my point of view in hopes of showing them that what I am saying may in fact be true, the statement is not be interpreted as me saying,” woman do not deserve the every right man have.”
    Thank you though, you have showed me that I have no place in your discussion because you I am not a feminist. Sounds like a bunch of Christians ,“if you don’t know about god, then your just dumb.”

  30. February 8, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Arturo: Thank you though, you have showed me that I have no place in your discussion because you I am not a feminist. Sounds like a bunch of Christians ,“if you don’t know about god, then your just dumb.”

    Arturo, feminism can be very much like a Church.
    I have been ‘ex-communicated’ pretty well!

  31. Lucy Montrose
    February 8, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Thanks, Clarisse! The little things are, if anything, the most important things to deal with, because we are more likely to see them every day and because they HAVE been so thoroughly integrated into what we see as social grace.

    “Quit harshing the vibe” has become the most important unspoken social rule, and I think it’s the biggest reason why we don’t protest toxic cultural values as much as we should.

    We’ve had almost 20 years of psychology, medical, and other media telling us constantly that the most important thing we can do for ourselves is build and maintain social support systems. We continually hear how we’re social animals, how we’re happier and healthier in relationships, how social connectedness is one of the cornerstones of well-being. And liberals in particular buy right into this, because it fits neatly into our values.

    But never does it say how we build and maintain them. In practice, it involves a lot of “not harshing the vibe”, at all costs. Making other people comfortable, by any means necessary, has become the beginning and end of what social adeptness means. Too often, how we make others comfortable involves a lot of adhering to privilege-protecting and patriarchal values. Any discussion as to how to fight for social justice without alienating your friends and networks… is conspiucously absent. (And from personal experience, not doing everything you can to uphold “comfortability” will quickly get you labeled “disruptive”, “socially awkward”, and worse.)

    And so, because we’re social animals, we will sell out our consciences for pennies if it means keeping our social support networks intact. We have no moral courage anymore because exercising it increasingly will get us labeled mot merely “weird”, but unemployable and even psychologically dysfunctional; because this stifling definition of sociable has permeated the workplace and our therapy culture. AND too often the most visible examples of “moral courage” are inflexible, unrealistic and quixotic, like Tea Partiers. Talk about incentives to sit down and shut up!

    Our society needs to talk a LOT more about how to keep our sociability from turning into a straitjacket. Clarisse, thanks for opening this up!

  32. Azalea
    February 8, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    I certainly knwo how you feel but its the opposite. Someone makes the assumption that they are snmarter than I am. Just an example: The person can say “the Sky is and always will be blue for all of eternity!” I say “the sky is actually indigo over here right now, the sun has just set and while it was setting the sky was a myriad of colors…” and from there I would immediately get shut down with how the sky IS blue most of the time and therefore they were right because I need to check the science, I don’t know what I’m talking about etc. etc. etc. The shut-down method in my opinion ranges from “Oh yeah, you’re smarter than me so I wont waste time argueing with you :)”, or “I’m smarter than you so I wont waste time teaching you :)”, they both are equally condescending and serve the same purpose, to shut the other person down.

    I hope that you eventually got the chance to have that conversation with someone brave and open minded enough to hear and take in everything you had to say on the matter and that a friendly discourse where you both learned something from each other transpired. A first date is a getting to knwo you type of thing, so I agree that he shut you down because he should have taken that opportunity to introduce you to his personal thoughts on amatter that was very personal and political to you.

  33. February 8, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Quiet Riot Girl: He is questioning the use of a single anecdote to ‘prove’ a theory about feminism.

    Which nobody tried to do. Clarisse used an anecdote *as an anecdote*. To illustrate her point, not provide absolute proof. Aaron is exaggerating the claims that Clarisse made in order to contradict an argument that nobody made, otherwise known as the strawman fallacy. You are both also failing to distinguish between a general theory and a personal theory – Clarisse titled this post “Clarisse Thorn’s Feminist Ideology” and proceeded to describe, using personal examples, how she came to have the beliefs she does. While Clarisse clearly believes her own perspective and no doubt sees merit in sharing it with others who might agree or disagree with it to varying degrees in terms of their own personal theories of feminism, this is still a far-cry from postulating a general theory of feminism.

    Misrepresenting Clarisse and her level of analysis does not count as engaging with her points.

    @ Arturo

    You showed your lack of respect and lack of interest by introducing yourself as someone who knew nothing about feminism, demonstrating clearly that you really do have no idea what feminists think about feminism (hint: your offered definition is laughably incorrect), and requesting an education at a totally inappropriate time and in an inappropriate way. Rude and derailing. Educate your own damn self.

  34. February 8, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    Blah, I am too angry to keep engaging in this thread today and I keep making the derail worse, so I’m taking a break now, but INTERNET HIGH FIVE, Clarisse. I will come back when I am less stressed out and try to contribute more productively.

  35. Aaron
    February 8, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    But Aaron, the problem is that there’s no way Clarisse can “prove” that her story happened the way she tells it.

    That’s fair. Maybe I am demanding too much; telling stories about other peoples’ behavior will probably be necessarily incomplete. But I think that’s more a reason not to use them as evidence than not to criticise them. To the extent Clarisse is just using the anecdote to illustrate rather than prove I guess it’s immune to my line of criticism. That probably raises questions about how her argument about subtle marginalization is or should be proved, however. It’s a fairly complex argument, human behavior is already complex, and I’m not sure how you could come up with a meaningfully well-organized body of evidence that wasn’t just a series of examples. But then, I’m not a communications student, so I don’t know a lot about that type of investigation.

    Also? What he meant or intended isn’t really the point. Maybe Clarisse is totally 100% wrong in her interpretation of this story. Even if that’s true, does that challenge or diminish the point of her piece?

    To clarify: Maybe, if she’s relying on it as evidence. Probably not, if not.

    Does it challenge or diminish the voices of so many other women who I’m sure will relay similar experiences?

    Probably not, because they’re just relaying experiences that hurt them and were emotionally unpleasant, not trying to establish an argument about how social marginalization works. Everyone has a right to their experiences, but I will continue to criticize if I feel someone is overgeneralizing and making unwarranted arguments.

    We’re made to question ourselves more often, and to be less confident in our own experiences; we’re more likely to defer to the judgment of others. That in and of itself is really, really dangerous. It’s particularly problematic in a culture that views white male opinion and experience as totally objective, and “other” experiences as more subjective

    This is a whole self-encapsulated debate that is relevant but I don’t want to make this a giant monster thread, just to explain myself thoroughly. I guess I’d just say that your point is well-taken, but I don’t think that means that 1. treating personal experiences as subjective implies you’ll only do that for non-white men or 2. we should all be more certain in our experiences and refuse to concede that they admit of different interpretations. I think it’s terrible if we’re building a double standard, but I’d like it better if everyone was more willing to question themselves, their motivations, and give others the benefit of the doubt.

    Maybe you should step back and consider why it’s so important to you to prove that Pool Hall Dude really must not have meant it that way.

    Both of your comments in this thread have been abstracting away the content of what people who disagree with you are saying and implying it must be because of our own shortcomings. First, it’s just as subtly marginalizing as what Clarisse is criticizing here (although on a purely personal level rather than having all kinds of social baggage). Second, it’s not a productive strategy for proving your point. Mostly it just makes it non-falsifiable. If I disagree with you, it must be because I have a vested interest in doing so! Notice this pattern in past conversations I have observed – by describing it, I’ve proved that you’re just like everyone else, and therefore boring (and probably sexist)! You can imply ignoble motivations all you want, and it may persuade others or distract from the actual substance of the argument, but it’s never going to persuade me. And that’s fine; maybe that doesn’t concern you because you’ve already come to a conclusion about what type of person I am and why I’m disagreeing with you. But we’re never going to have a robust and productive discussion if you’re constantly assuming bad faith.

  36. February 8, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    I apologize Jadey. Since I have obviously created some rough emotions within you; it was never my intentions to offended anyone through my ignorant question or statement, for that I am truly sorry. I will take your advice and continue to educate myself, which is exactly what I am doing today in college working to get a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology right now.
    I hope you can smile though. You fight find if you take a more positive approach , you might learn something too. What do I know though? “Nothing“, most likely.
    So you see, you did educate me. Thank you.

  37. February 8, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    See Jadey, Arturo’s not a troll… he just wants you to smile more!

  38. Aaron
    February 8, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    Just to clarify: I was responding to Jill. Apparently I couldn’t get the hyperlink thing to work.

  39. February 8, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Cross-posting part of a comment that was just left by Quinnae Moongazer on the version of this post that’s over on my personal blog:

    you’ve made me think quite a lot about the many times in my own life where that’s happened to me, both before and after transition. It never occurred to me to regard it as condescension and putting someone down with the backhand but it does make sense. My father, more than anyone else in my life, bar none, called me ‘stupid.’ But in arguments about feminism, gender, LGBTQ issues, and sex (arguments I’ve had with him since I was at least 15), I’d often get the same “you’re smarter than me” shtick. Except unlike Pool Hall Dude, he’d make it rather explicit that he disapproved of the decidedly un-patriarchal uses to which I was putting my knowledge.

    “I know you’re smarter than me, so why aren’t you out making a million dollars instead of running your mouth about faggots?”

    My favourite was where he would interrupt me angrily in the old days and ask (when I was deflating one of his rape apologist or pro-objectification arguments) “ARE YOU A WOMAN!? Then use your brain for something else!”

    Naturally, not being out at the time, a part of me wanted to scream “I AM a woman!” at him. But it demonstrates that people like him wanted to have a say over what my learning was used for. He never understood education as a process of inquiry, merely a retention of facts; when I used it to criticise what he was doing to my mother, or how he was raising my brother, it made him rather angry.

    I’ve been out as a trans woman for sometime now, and to my father’s everlasting credit he has come to accept me as a daughter. He’s even begun to finally consider my ideas and change, a little bit at a time. A wee bit! But it’s something! There’s always hope, I like to think.

  40. Tony
    February 8, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    Regardless of the guy’s intention, or Clarisse’s subjective interpretation of it, it’s pretty clear that expressing a controversial opinion and then abruptly shutting down the conversation with something like “I know you’re smarter than me” is an aggressive tactic that was at once condescending and silencing.

    So whatever he was thinking led him ultimately to a condescending and silencing response. Frankly the unknowable intentions don’t matter here. There is something pretty insidious in that response, something sarcastic, like mocking her intelligence, and insulting, accusing her of being an elitist. The suggestion is that Clarisse could win a war of words but it wouldn’t matter because he’d still be right. Therefore he wouldn’t discuss it. All said in a way that didn’t allow a response.

    And whereas, Clarisse could have responded to his assertion that “prostitution is immoral” with “No it’s not!”, she chose a question instead. So the guy gets his assertion but doesn’t have to defend it, and all she gets is a question that doesn’t get answered.

    So, I do think we can draw some conclusions about how this brief vignette played out.

  41. Aaron
    February 8, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    I read this article via Matt Yglesias and it really struck a chord. I realize that in this particular discussion, I’m probably being interpreted as the contrarian who’s missing the point. I guess all I can do is assure you that that’s not the case, I have honest disagreements with someone else’s argument and methodology.

  42. February 8, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    I just recently read post by groggette, on her website, and the link offered to us by this incredible Author.
    I must say, this is a realm I have never even thought to consider learning about, feminism. “The ethical slut”,I am now going to read that book.
    Thank you Clarisse, for doing what you do. By blogging, you have opened my eyes to whole new field of issues to concern myself with.
    Which is kind of weird because I typed in Google” electronic communication“, looking for information to write a paper, and ended up here.

  43. saurus
    February 8, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    Uh, this is about the OP, not the subsequent thread.

    It seems like in addition to a “derailing” shit-list, we could also use a “deflecting” shit-list. For things like, as Aaron mentioned, “people who think ‘that’s just my opinion’ ought to change the subject like a shuffle button.” It might have things like:

    My Opinions Exist In A Perfect Morally Neutral Vaccuum:

    – I dunno, that’s just how I feel / my opinion.
    – It’s my personal preference.
    – Sometimes it’s not about logic or politics, it’s about your gut feeling / what you feel in your heart.

    It’s Sexy How You Want To Discuss This, But No:

    – Oh, I’m not smart enough / you’re too smart for us to discuss this.
    – You’re so cute when you’re angry.
    – Oh, I can’t argue with someone so pretty, you’re going to win no matter what you say!

    You’re The Bad Cop, Guess Which One I Am:

    – Let’s talk about something more fun / lighter.
    – Let’s just agree to disagree. Moving on…
    – Oh, am I in big trouble now!

    I actually find it irritating when guys tell me that I’m intelligent. Rarely does it come off in a genuine compliment, more often it comes off in as:

    a) “as the smarter person here, I’d like to inform you, using my superior judgment of intelligence, that you qualify”

    b) “I think you’re smart, but not smart enough to see through this highly strategic compliment of your intelligence”

    c) “I have no idea or interest in whether you’re smart or not, but I’m going to strategically tell you that you are”

    Ironically I find it more appealing when someone notes one of my flaws, because then I know they’re actually interacting with me, not their ideas of me or their goals with me. (Note: I don’t mean negging, which is just as contrived, and comes off as such – regardless of how stealthy PUAs think they’re being.)

  44. nathan
    February 8, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    Clarisse’s analysis of these issues is pretty spot on. I do think that this kind of behavior is common enough amongst men to take a deeper look at, and to call it out when it occurs.

    The anecdote that is causing so much wrangling, to me, isn’t the most useful example. A first date. Between strangers. Between two teenagers, (I’m assuming he was a teen or close to it.). And a date that wasn’t going anywhere in terms of connection or chemistry. Pool Hall Dude’s comment was a shut down, but given the context, it seems too messy to parse out specific motives.

    I have no interest in defending him, nor to dismiss Clarisse’s essay following, since her larger points I agree with.

    But I can see why others got hung up on the anecdote, and think it’s fair to at least entertain some of those questions, and not leap to the assumption that disagreements about the anecdote are just efforts to derail.

  45. Kyra
    February 8, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    Someone says, “This thing happened and it was sexist / racist / otherwise bigoted and it really bothered me and I learned X from it,” and the immediate reaction is, “But maybe you’re misinterpreting the situation.” And the commentariat proceeds to make up all kinds of different reasons why the person’s words shouldn’t be interpreted the way that the author — the only one of us who was there — heard them.

    I note that inherent in the accusations of misinterpretation is the assumption that it’s your responsibility to a) correctly identify the reasoning behind their problematic words/actions, and b) continue to interact kindly with the person and take whatever previously-indicated-hurtful words/actions they’re dishing out, as though you owe them a fair trial and presumptions of innocence until you prove their intent is malicious. Also present is the assumption that intent means everything.

    And we’ve all been through this plenty of times—good intentions are not magical sexism-erasing pixie dust, sexism is not imaginary or harmless when it comes from bias rather than bigotry, and nobody owes anyone their company or their attention just because they have yet to do anything malicious.

    So, yeah. Add a few flawed premises to the derailments posted above.

  46. Pidgey
    February 8, 2011 at 9:15 pm

    Great post, and your blog sounds real interesting I’ll make sure to start reading it! I have a couple friends who have some relatively dark fantasies but either feel guilty for having such fantasies or have anxiety sharing those fantasies with others. I think your blog will be a help.

  47. Spay Your Sea Kitten
    February 8, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    I dated someone who would get angry when I disagreed with him or even merely failed to agree enthusiastically, accusing me of disagreeing for the sake of it. I’m not an argumentative or belligerent person at all, and in fact am known for being passive (perhaps why we dated a few months rather than a few weeks). He just could not accept that I had my own opinions.

    One memorable conversation we had was when I voiced my objection to someone else’s rape myths. He disagreed with me and I stood my ground, but we couldn’t even have an argument. Seeing I would not drop my opinion to match his, he immediately and sulkily shut down the conversation, saying, “I’m not talking about this anymore. This is ridiculous”. That was toward the end of the relationship.

  48. nathan
    February 8, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    SYS Kitten’s example would be the purrfect anecdote for this article. That dude fits the bill completely!

  49. Nahida
    February 8, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!

    I’ve gotten this. I’ve also gotten the “but you’re cute, though” line that’s said after something really offensive has been disclosed and I’ve spoken out against it. Like my distraction can be bought with a “compliment.”

  50. Spay Your Sea Kitten
    February 8, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    Oh, and he also would regularly compliment my intelligence. Actions speak louder than words.

  51. Yuki
    February 8, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    Quiet Riot Girl: I don’t agree with using the concept of ‘rape culture’. I don’t think rape culture exists. I really hate the work of Melissa McEwan on this issue in particular. So if Clarisse wants to talk about rape culture maybe she could clarify what she means by it?

    Having read a book about ‘Rape Culture’, I think what she’s talking about is the easy way men get out of being indicted for rape by claiming that the person was mentally retarded (double-edged answer), that she ‘wanted it’, or by painting the victim as dubious, then they get off easy and scot-free. Also the way many men treat rape as an ambiguous definition, I suppose. Perhaps that’s a start?

    Either way, I don’t think this is the way she intended the discussion to end up. Personally, I think she made a very valid point with this blog post, and that’s what should be focused on– particularly since none of us were there and cannot re-interpret Pool Dude– rather than arguing semantics that are probably fairly irrelevant to the issue that was being brought up by Clarissy in the first place.

  52. ch
    February 8, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Clarisse, thank you so much for this– I can’t even count how many times as a teen (and in more recent years, as well, though less often) I’ve gotten the condescending “oh, you’re so smart” shutdown. And, at least in my younger years, I got this mostly from other women rather than from men– women who were more gender-conforming/ridiculous-teenage-social-norm-conforming than me, and who wanted to police my conformity to these norms.

  53. PrettyAmiable
    February 8, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    Jill: Someone says, “This thing happened and it was sexist / racist / otherwise bigoted and it really bothered me and I learned X from it,” and the immediate reaction is, “But maybe you’re misinterpreting the situation.”

    But maybe you’re misinterpreting their skepticism! I like it, because taken unto infinity, we can’t have any conversations about anything. And you’re right – it does happen disproportionately to Chally and other WOC.

    Clarisse, thanks for the post. I’ve had that happen to me before, and I didn’t really recognize it for what it was – a method to shut down conversation. Mostly, I’m so fucking full of myself that I’m like, “HELL YEAH. AND IF WE DID HAVE THIS CONVERSATION, I WOULD BLOW YOUR GODDAMNED MIND.”

  54. Vicki
    February 8, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    A long time ago (long enough that we didn’t have blogs, we were talking in paper form in a thing called an amateur press association) I was dealing with someone who would regularly dismiss disagreements with “I’m not as smart as you, so I don’t understand your point” rather than either ask specific questions or explain his position. In between times, he was posting about Finnegans Wake, psychology, and a variety of other things: this wasn’t a man who gave any signs of actually thinking the other people in the conversation were smarter than he was. It was just a convenient way of not answering other people’s point.

  55. February 8, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    My personal favorite definition of rape culture comes from Ampersand:
    a culture in which rape is prevalent and is maintained through fundamental attitudes and beliefs about gender, sexuality, and violence.

    I love this post from Jaclyn Friedman on rape culture:
    http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2009/07/23/this-is-what-rape-culture-looks-like/

  56. Kristen J.'s Husband
    February 9, 2011 at 1:27 am

    Clarisse Thorn: Perhaps one way to focus the conversation more productively would be to ask feminists on the thread about times they’ve felt shut down, what happened in those situations, how they reacted, and why they remember those incidents.

    I see this constantly in my classes. Particularly at the upper division level I try to organize my courses as discussion groups with everyone sitting in a circle talking about the reading and related ideas. There aren’t very many female philosophy majors in my classes, but they are very often shut down or interrupted by the men in the class. Its more insidious because it appears to be unconscious. A week or so ago we were discussing compatibilism and one women was relating the concept to gender norms. She was interrupted three separate times. I specifically had to tell people to shut up which I try never to do. As far as what I’ve seen, shut downs are very prevalent. They may not always be as blatant as the one you received from PHD, but I think the simple ones are just as damaging.

  57. Kristen J.'s Husband
    February 9, 2011 at 1:29 am

    Clarisse Thorn: Perhaps one way to focus the conversation more productively would be to ask feminists on the thread about times they’ve felt shut down, what happened in those situations, how they reacted, and why they remember those incidents.

    I see this constantly in my classes. Particularly at the upper division level I try to organize my courses as discussion groups with everyone sitting in a circle talking about the reading and related ideas. There aren’t very many female philosophy majors in my classes, but they are very often shut down or interrupted by the men in the class. Its more insidious because it appears to be unconscious. A week or so ago we were discussing compatibilism and one of the women was relating the concept to gender norms. She was interrupted three separate times. I specifically had to tell people to shut up which I try never to do. As far as what I’ve seen, shut downs are very prevalent. They may not always be as blatant as the one you received from PHD, but I think the simple ones are just as damaging.

  58. February 9, 2011 at 3:19 am

    Thanks clarisse. I don’t believe we live in a ‘rape culture’. also I am not a man but a previous commenter says it is men who deny we do.

    I appreciate that you are an empathetic writer and so it is good that e.g. the person on your blog felt able to post about dealing with transition, and reactions from family members.

    But that commenter makes a link with a long-standing relationship (e.g. a parent) and a single comment by Pool Hall Dude as if it is the same kind of thing!

    I am starting to feel a bit protective of Pool Hall Dude here.

    Also-Jill-this whole subject of ‘derailment’ is ridiculous. we are trying to have a conversation and some people are going on about ‘derailment’ rather than having the conversation!

  59. L
    February 9, 2011 at 3:22 am

    Kristen J.’s Husband: I specifically had to tell people to shut up which I try never to do. As far as what I’ve seen, shut downs are very prevalent. They may not always be as blatant as the one you received from PHD, but I think the simple ones are just as damaging.  

    This is so true. Sometimes it’s even as tiny as a hint that the person you’re talking to is just no longer listening. It just serves as a reminder that what you’re saying is not important. I see it happen a lot in my classes too.

  60. February 9, 2011 at 3:27 am

    @Nathan Thanks! That is what I think too. The example used to set off the discussion about men shutting down women, stands out as problematic as it was a first date between teenagers.

  61. February 9, 2011 at 3:49 am

    Jill: It’s particularly irritating to see it on a post like this one, where the anecdote is an opening point for a much larger story and meditation on feminism and activism. 

    I keep making this mistake when commenting on blogs, where I’m so interested in arguing semantics of one part of a much larger point, that had I not just had this same very frustrating thing happen to me, I may have tried to defend the person defending Clarisse’s date.

    But, on to the point of the post,

    America’s got plenty of anti-feminists who try to deny us the big stuff, but let’s not forget how those folks derive power from even the smallest ways girls are told to shut up and sit down:

    This is exactly why it’s important to keep talking about the “little” things, because they’re what keep women down, ultimately. If we are continually belittled in ways that fly regularly under the radar, raised to believe you can only do certain things, or that your opinion or input about certain things don’t matter, etc., even the larger battles that we win, like abortion being legal, remain constantly under attack. The “little things” that many of us are so willing to shrug off as unimportant can be a lot more harmful than they seem.

  62. L
    February 9, 2011 at 4:00 am

    Can we please stop insisting that Clarisse merely misunderstood PHD, and just take her word for it? This post isn’t about, “hey guys, so this one time this one guy said a shitty thing to me, what do you think he meant by it? let’s please talk about all the different ways I could have interpreted it.” This post is about Clarisse being shut down in a conversation, about a feminist/social issue that has to do with women that she knew a lot about, and the silencing that happens ALL THE TIME to women, and how this relates to her personal ideas about feminism. It’s not that hard.

    She’s not trying to create an all-encompassing theory to apply to ALL women, based on her one personal experience. She’s telling us about her experience (which is pretty fucking rude to question, by the way), and telling us how that experience led her to her ideas about feminism.

    Long standing relationships in which people are shut down and off-hand comments in which people are shut down come from the SAME sexism. They both come from the patriarchy, in which women’s opinions are devalued and their intelligence devalued simply because they’re women, and they’re both worthy of our attention and discussion. It IS “the same kind of thing”, just to varying degrees.

  63. February 9, 2011 at 4:20 am

    L: This post is about Clarisse being shut down in a conversation, about a feminist/social issue that has to do with women that she knew a lot about, and the silencing that happens ALL THE TIME to women, and how this relates to her personal ideas about feminism. It’s not that hard.

    I hope I didn’t give the impression that I had a reason to doubt Clarisse’s experience. I was trying to talk about how this recent experience of mine helped me realize that whether or not I felt the description of the event was believable, that was neither the point, nor provable in any way at all. So it’s utterly useless to bother focusing on it. It’s just a derail, whether intentional or not.

    But if you were just saying that to other people, just disregard…

  64. February 9, 2011 at 4:28 am

    L: Long standing relationships in which people are shut down and off-hand comments in which people are shut down come from the SAME sexism. They both come from the patriarchy, in which women’s opinions are devalued and their intelligence devalued simply because they’re women, and they’re both worthy of our attention and discussion. It IS “the same kind of thing”, just to varying degrees

    @L I don’t agree. But I don’t think Patriarchy exists.

  65. February 9, 2011 at 4:48 am

    This is a link to a post by Mark Simpson who writes on men and masculinities, about how ‘misandry’ is rampant within feminist ideologies.

    I am not saying Clarisse is misandrist but this discussion has drawn on the idea that men are inherently more likely to be ‘sexist’ than women. And that challenging that causes people to get derided and accused of things like ‘trolling’ and ‘derailing’:

    http://wp.me/p5Hrd-W4

  66. February 9, 2011 at 4:49 am

    @QRG:

    So you don’t think the patriarchy exists, you don’t think there’s rape culture, you don’t think men tend to shut women down…

    Are you here as a representative of the Fair and Balanced Media Act of 1995, wherein all sides must be represented at all times everywhere, regardless of how prevalent or deeply incorrect the view is?  If so, please disregard.  If not, I dunno from others, but I can get people telling me that the patriarchy/rape culture doesn’t exist and that I’m not giving men the benefit of the doubt bloody anywhere, which leads me to wonder why on earth you’re here.  My vote’s on “I like to argue”, but who knows.

  67. February 9, 2011 at 5:04 am

    XtinaS I like to argue with feminism because I was brought up a feminist but I came to reject its ideologies and yet as a woman, and a socially aware person I think feminism is still very powerful and very relevant to my interests in gendered power.

    If I don’t argue with feminism I am giving up on the subject altogether which I don’t want to do.

    I respect Clarisse’s work and her attempts to engage with the harder subjects around gender and power. I do the same.

    If we don’t talk to each other nothing will ever change.

  68. February 9, 2011 at 7:04 am

    Yesterday I had a fight with my husband, which would explain this tendency to understand PHD (my husband and I enjoy a good fight).

    We were watching an episode of Bones, where a “No means yes” situation propped up. I saw it coming from a mile away, my husband disagreed that it even happened. I considered the man’s behaviour pushy, my husband thought the man wasn’t pushy at all.

    My husband vigorously defended the man, because, as he said a long way into the fight, he knows he acts like this too. Without meaning to pressure me (or another woman) to conform to his wishes. Therefore the man on the TV-show couldn’t possibly be pressuring the woman.

    In the end he conceded that he could be pressuring without knowing so, enjoying the privilege of automatically being thought to be more important.

    The good news: in another setting he suddenly said that the way a certain scene was acted in a movie would be okay if it existed in a vacuum, and not in today’s culture where girls are taught to use their bodies in specific ways.

    I will turn him into a feminist yet. :-)

    PS. I’ve been reading Feministe for a while now, but this is the first time I delurked. Love the blog!

  69. Gembird
    February 9, 2011 at 7:35 am

    Great post Clarisse, I often think I’m just being paranoid if someone tries to shut me down like that (which they often do, since I’m usually in a male-dominated environment). As much as it makes me angry to find that my suspicions were correct and it happens all the time, it’s comforting to know that whatever these people are saying, it’s not my problem for daring to argue.

    PrettyAmiable:
    I’ve had that happen to me before, and I didn’t really recognize it for what it was – a method to shut down conversation. Mostly, I’m so fucking full of myself that I’m like, “HELL YEAH. AND IF WE DID HAVE THIS CONVERSATION, I WOULD BLOW YOUR GODDAMNED MIND.”  

    THIS. I always felt really patronised by people who did that, and I could never figure out why it bothered me so much. My reaction is pretty similar too, haha.

  70. February 9, 2011 at 10:41 am

    @christalijntje welcome!

    I don’t think your husband and your arguments have anything in common with PHD and Clarisse’s date, because you are married and know each other. They were virtual strangers. And so if your husband shuts down conversations with you, which you don’t say he does by the way, its in the context of a long-term-relationship and the dynamic that entails.

    The problem is Clarisse has used an example which others are identifying with but they are using totally different examples and making it sound the ‘same’ when it isn’t at all, in my view.

  71. Ramón Arias Pérez
    February 9, 2011 at 10:42 am

    You are not smarter than me.

  72. Ramón Arias Pérez
    February 9, 2011 at 10:44 am

    Ramón Arias Pérez: You are not smarter than me.  

    I forgot, great story.

  73. PrettyAmiable
    February 9, 2011 at 10:46 am

    Kristen J.’s Husband: I see this constantly in my classes. Particularly at the upper division level I try to organize my courses as discussion groups with everyone sitting in a circle talking about the reading and related ideas. There aren’t very many female philosophy majors in my classes, but they are very often shut down or interrupted by the men in the class. Its more insidious because it appears to be unconscious.

    I’m an MBA. This x 300,000,000.

    Quiet Riot Girl: Thanks clarisse. I don’t believe we live in a ‘rape culture’.

    I don’t know your history, but every time this has come up on this thread, rage is building inside of me. If we don’t live in a rape culture, then why the fuck do half the people I know think I’m lying about getting assaulted? Or, if they do believe me, why do they think I overreacted to having my bodily autonomy violated? Why do most people I know NOT SHUN known rapists? Maybe you were raped and the vast majority of people you’ve come across treated you like the trauma victim you were. But you’re in the minority, so seriously? Stop fucking minimizing how hard it is to operate in public for most of us.

    Why are we allowing this troll to post? She’s not engaging the OP in any meaningful way and is clearly just being an asshole.

  74. February 9, 2011 at 11:37 am

    QRG, like you said, my husband doesn’t shut me up. He wouldn’t dare!

    All I wanted to say with my anecdote is that sometimes people try to explain something like PHD’s behaviour because it hits too close to home. Acknowledging that PHD did indeed shut Clarisse up (and I think he did), would mean acknowledging that the defender has sometimes shut someone else up, perhaps even without realizing it.

    I didn’t like acceptng that I too can be sexist or racist, because I like to think of myself as a good person. But I can only demand that people respect my lived experience as a PWD (for example) when I respect other people’s lived experience.

    And that means believing something happened the way they say it did. Their feelings are real and the other person’s intentions aren’s always relevant.

  75. February 9, 2011 at 11:48 am

    @christalijntje I see what you mean. I agree with you.

    I think one issue here is that we are talking about women and men, and not women with specific disadvantages and ‘privileged’ white middle class men for example.

    The question is, are women as a group as a whole, in a disadvantaged position to men?

    I don’t think we are.

  76. February 9, 2011 at 11:50 am

    PrettyAmiable: Why are we allowing this troll to post? She’s not engaging the OP in any meaningful way and is clearly just being an asshole.

    This ‘troll’ is a human being. It is up to the moderators if I am allowed to take part in the discussion or not.

    I am engaging with Clarisse’s OP about her ‘feminist ideology’. I just am not supporting it wholesale.

  77. February 9, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Just dropping in with this little tidbit:

    Arguing with someone about their own experience, or trying to make someone doubt the interpretation of their own experience–especially when said experience was traumatic–can be used as a form of abuse, called “Gaslighting.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslighting

    I know this because I grew up with it–my mom was an abuser! But, I do think that in the macro sense this happens a lot to women and women of colour in particular.

  78. PrettyAmiable
    February 9, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Cool. I’m glad that you understand you’re a troll.

    PS, you’re not engaging with her feminist ideology when you hone in on one phrase of a post and go on a tangent about how you don’t buy into it. Whether rape culture exists? NOT THE FUCKING POINT OF THIS POST. So stop being such an asshole, especially when you have nothing to back it up with.

  79. February 9, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    I am going to leave you all to it then.

    The terms that have been thrown around to describe how I and others have communicated here are quite serious accusations.

    I hope Clarisse comes back and comments on this discussion as I’d be interested to see what she thinks about the way it has gone!

  80. February 9, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    But before I go I will quote Clarisse from the OP:
    ‘when I pull back and re-examine my perspective, those feminist concepts — examples include various types of gendered “privilege” and “rape culture” — are clearly the backbone behind everything I write.’

    That is what I was addressing. That is on-topic to the max!

  81. Esti
    February 9, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    I’ve had people shut down conversations with me by saying things like this. Sometimes in a condescending “aw, you have a girl opinion!” way, sometimes because I’m being a bit of a jerk by arguing too agressively or dismissing their views, and sometimes because they really do seem unsure of their opinions or knowledge and are hesitant about appearing stupid or uninformed.

    And I’ve used similar conversation stoppers on other people. Sometimes because I thought the person was pigheadedly wrong or ignorant and I didn’t really want to participate in a frustrating conversation. More often because the subject was upsetting to me or was related to painful personal issues, or I knew that that particular person was only going to upset me by the way they would discuss it. Occasionally I’ve done it because I really did feel like I didn’t know enough about the topic to have a productive conversation about it; generally, that only causes me to shut down a discussion when I suspect the other person is not going to be a particularly fun conversation partner unless I already know about, and agree with them on, the subject.

    Which is to say — I agree with Clarisse that the condescending kind of shut down she attributed to PHD exists, and is used far too often. I don’t really have any opinion, nor do I care, whether PHD (consciously or unconsciously) was using “you’re smarter than me” in that negative way. I’m certainly not going to tell Clarisse that I have insight on that subject, since I wasn’t there. But I do think it’s worth acknowledging that shutting down conversations with polite platitudes can serve other purposes as well. One of which is the way I sometimes use it, to protect myself from upsetting topics without drawing attention to the real reason that I don’t want to have the discussion — that the topic is personally upsetting to me, or that I think my conversation partner is likely to be a big jerk about the subject.

  82. PrettyAmiable
    February 9, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    Quiet Riot Girl: The terms that have been thrown around to describe how I and others have communicated here are quite serious accusations.

    Quick! Someone call the police! Someone was an asshole on the internet and got called out!

    And no, as she was not writing about rape culture but rather mentioning offhand that this influences her writing, it doesn’t make your nonsense on-topic.

    Clarisse, if you do come back, can you please throw up a trigger warning on this post for comments in the thread that are grossly insensitive to assault victims? I’m pretty sure after reading your post, no one would be expecting to hear from people who feel it is Very Important that we know rape culture might not exist, and no one else should have to pop a Xanax over it.

  83. February 9, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Ah god, how irritated this stuff makes me…

    Its so annoying to try to have a conversation about sexuality with a male and have them immediately get snarky, sexist, and threatening in an attempt to shut you up. I’ve had guys threaten sexual violence and rape simply because I, a lowly female, dared to have an opinion which differed from their cliche patriarchal nonsense.

    Great article.

  84. nathan
    February 9, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    Enough more effective examples have been brought up by those commenting to illustrate Clarisse’s major points. I had forgotten the college classroom setting, in which I remember those dynamics clearly now that it’s been raised for me again.

    Quiet Riot, as a man who has spent years paying attention to cultural structures, systemic oppression, and the rest, I’d say it’s pretty difficult to argue that women as a group are on the same footing as men. Certainly, things have improved over the past 30 or 40 years, but in so many arenas, from big business to politics to religion, women hit a glass ceiling in multiple places in terms of leadership opportunities. And that’s just one easy example.

    Why is it that anyone who appears with comments that disagree with a given post are so often automatically labeled a “troll” or a “derailer” on here?

    Some of QRG’s comments are very focused on the post, and others have broadened out in response to comments that included broader issues. I don’t agree with some of her conclusions, but I don’t see her just trying to cause trouble.
    Why not engage the comments she’s made about the post, and skip the rest? It’s a lot more interesting when people have different views to discuss.

    From what I have seen on Clarisse’s blog, she seems genuinely interested in sparking discussion, and not just collecting a string of affirmations for what she wrote. I appreciate that and it’s one reason I often comment on her posts here.

  85. PrettyAmiable
    February 9, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    PrettyAmiable: Whether rape culture exists? NOT THE FUCKING POINT OF THIS POST. So stop being such an asshole, especially when you have nothing to back it up with.  

    While my other comment is in moderation, apparently you didn’t read this. Reiterated, so that perhaps you can try again for reading comprehension.

  86. PrettyAmiable
    February 9, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    nathan: Why not engage the comments she’s made about the post, and skip the rest?

    Because in a space that’s supposed to be safe for assault victims, it’s a dick move to claim that rape culture doesn’t exist.

    I didn’t call her a troll or call out any of her comments that were on topic, did I? But she’s wasting a lot of time trying to rile up people who are here in good faith.

  87. L
    February 9, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Oh no April, I was definitely not replying to you! I didn’t even see yours before I wrote my comment. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

  88. nathan
    February 9, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    How do you know she’s here in “bad faith” trying to cause trouble?

    Look, I think she’s wrong about the rape culture point. I’ve been assaulted. I spent years studying writings about rape from male, female, and trans victims. And I say that, because I want to understand as much as possible the complexities behind what happened to me, friends and family members, and so many others. And in order to do that, it’s helpful to study all of this through many different views, even one’s I totally don’t agree with.

    So, I don’t instantly feel threatened by her questioning of the term because I don’t know what her actual views on the issues are. Maybe she sees a different pattern, attributes rape to different factors?

    I took a look at her blog. I probably agree and disagree with what she writes equally, but she doesn’t strike me as simply a troublemaker. She has a different point of view on a lot of issues and does provide “backup” for what she writes.

    If the moderators think she’s stepped over the line, I’ll support them.

  89. PrettyAmiable
    February 9, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    What she’s posting is bullshit, has absolutely no support and she can’t offer any, and it is completely tangential to the post. And it’s triggering to people who deal with this kind of bullshit on a day to day basis. If she wants to be an asshole in life, GREAT. She’s got plenty of company. But claiming rape culture doesn’t exist is damaging to people who live through it and this is supposed to be a safe space for us. Want to know how I know she’s acting in bad faith? Because she’s making horrifically damaging statements and can’t back them up.

    And frankly? I don’t care if you don’t get it or if you disagree. If you’re committed to being obtuse about why claiming rape culture doesn’t exist on a feminist blog is damaging and wrong, then I genuinely have no respect for anything you have to say.

  90. Q Grrl
    February 9, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    I dunno, IMHO, throwing around charged opinions like “I don’t believe in rape culture” or “prostitution is immoral” without backing up your personal opinion is virtually equivalent. It’s a way of shutting down a larger conversation that needs to happen, but one in which one party doesn’t want to bear the heavy lifting of holding up their own end.

    You can either say “I know you’re smarter than me…” or “But I’d rather talk about the contents of clarisse’s feminism than this one incident!” Either option is disingenuous, the first because the man is lacking in backbone and wants to shut down debate, the second because the poster is lacking in discursive content and is looking for a fraught situation, rather than an intelligent and mutual debate.

    A poster’s personal choice to not believe in feminism (as a theory? as a political movement? as social justice? she doesn’t say) is just that – a personal choice. That really can’t be debated, now can it? Similarly with rape culture. Arguing with feminists about whether a rape culture exists (or patriarchy! LOL) shows a stunning lack of paying attention during high school history. Feminists can’t help you if you haven’t even bothered to ground yourself in historical background.

  91. February 9, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    I have done my homework, Q Grrl.

    If you go to my blog and read the posts on feminism you will see that.

    I was born into a family of feminists in the 1970s. I studied gender studies and got a phD in gender studies, as a feminist.

    I have since rejected the dogma of feminism.

    This is not due to lack of information, or the inability to grasp a concept.

    I have read the books. I changed my mind.

    Is that a crime these days too?

  92. Q Grrl
    February 9, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    No, but hyperbole is. ;)

  93. Sheelzebub
    February 9, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Is that a crime these days too? Quiet Riot Girl

    Who knew that people disagreeing with you meant they are criminalizing you? Sheesh.

  94. Q Grrl
    February 9, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    I didn’t see any posts “on feminism” on your site – although I only did a quick look. Mostly you just want to beat up on individual feminists because you seem to grasp reality better than them. Or something.

    …and your support of the Georgia bill because feminists are opposed to it? [http://quietgirlriot.wordpress.com/2011/02/04/rapevictim/] You aren’t interested in debate. You want blood and you don’t care who gets hurt, just so long as those damn uppity feminists shut the fuck up!

    LOL. It’s hard to make a statement like “I don’t believe in the rape culture” when what you really mean is “I need to desperately rebel against feminism because I don’t get any special snowflake status when I identify as one”.

  95. nathan
    February 9, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    PrettyAmiable – You and I have been at it before. The way I see it, you’re pretty good at shutting people down in your own way, by raising the emotional tone and flipping out on them. There are many ways to shut down discussions.

    QGrrl said “Either option is disingenuous, the first because the man is lacking in backbone and wants to shut down debate, the second because the poster is lacking in discursive content and is looking for a fraught situation, rather than an intelligent and mutual debate.”

    The thing is, how many teenagers have their shit together enough to actually debate something like the complexities of prostitution with a stranger? Pool Hall Dude was probably like most boys his age, parroting some view he got from his parents, or friends, and then when Clarisse called him on it, he probably thought “Shit. Now what do I do?” Shutting the conversation down with that comment was wrong, but it’s just not a great example in the way that several other commenter’s examples, from the professor in the classroom to Sea Kitten’s old boyfriend, are.

    That’s where all this started, with a few people questioning the example. It’s unfortunate that the bulk of the post, which again I agree with, couldn’t have stayed the focus. There’s been a lot of effort to defend the anecdote, just as there has been effort to question it. And then, when even the author seems to offer some sense of questioning her view of the events in her post:

    “Now maybe I’m taking PHD’s little jest “much too seriously”, or worse, “being bitchy”. I mean, I am a humorless feminist and all! But I’ve gotta say, despite my feminist parents and my privileged upbringing and teachers who respected me and feminist friends to back me up and, let’s not leave them out, lots of amazing feminist guys who have influenced my thinking — I’ve had plenty of moments like that, and they suck. “I know you’re smarter than me” moments. Moments where a gender issue and my feminist perspective are both acknowledged just long enough to dismiss them, un-dramatically, maybe even gently. So gently, I might just miss the fact that I’m being patronized, perhaps even feel anxious about how awkward things could have gotten — perhaps even feel relieved that he saved me from that awkwardness! Seriously, shouldn’t I know better than to take gender politics seriously on a date? (And shouldn’t I know better than to bring up racism at a company meeting? And shouldn’t I know better than to talk about disability and accessibility at an event planning session? Dude, Clarisse, quit harshing the vibe.)”

    What about that larger context of raising issues people don’t want to deal with and being shut down for it? I’ve been there. I have seen how a man raising such issues is often given more of a benefit of the doubt, even if people end up rejecting them as well. I’ve been that man who has been rejected, and as much as that sucks, I’m rarely told “I’m harshing the vibe” or “being a nag” or whatever. So, ultimately pointing out the weakness of the opening example is, for me, done out of a desire to make sure that this piece as a whole doesn’t get dismissed. Because it’s so easy for people to dismiss important writing and views on technicalities.

  96. February 9, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    http://quietgirlriot.wordpress.com/2010/06/12/further-adventures-in-rape-culture/

    http://quietgirlriot.wordpress.com/2010/05/23/the-opposite-of-rape/

    here are two of my essays on rape culture. I’d sure love to read what you people have written on the subject as well. Then we can learn from each other.

  97. Q Grrl
    February 9, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Nathan: I think what you are missing because it is understated (understood) is that Clarisse’s example is not singular. Maybe this was the first time it stood out to her, but there are enough women who have similar stories that this behavior by men towards women is not an anomaly. It is easily recognizable (and in fact is part of the whole pick-up artist repertoire with their use of the “neg”).

    QRG: You can go to Alas! a blog and do a search for “rape” (or even separatism) and see for yourself what I have written. Might have to dust off the archives though.

  98. February 9, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    Please leave a link here, Q Grrl then we can all share the information easily. I’d not want to read the wrong pieces.

    Thanks.

  99. Tony
    February 9, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    While I disagree with name calling (as a previous thread should have made clear), I’m not sure what coming onto a feminist blog and making unsupported statements challenging basic feminist tenets in a highly tangential way to the topic at hand is supposed to accomplish. What do you expect? Try going on Daily Kos and making random unsupported statements in favor of Reaganomics and Milton Friedman. Soon enough people will “raise an emotional tone” with you and then you’ll be called a troll.

  100. PrettyAmiable
    February 9, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    Nice tone argument, nathan. Nothing sexist there.

    Seriously, no respect for you whatsoever.

  101. February 9, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    @Tony I have supported my points with links to essays by me and others. I can’t do much else.

  102. Tony
    February 9, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    nathan: So, ultimately pointing out the weakness of the opening example is, for me, done out of a desire to make sure that this piece as a whole doesn’t get dismissed. Because it’s so easy for people to dismiss important writing and views on technicalities. nathan

    Oh yes, those who helped to derail this entire topic and conversation were really just looking out for the rest of us, making sure our discussion was *really* airtight. Thanks a lot… that conclusion reminded me of this.

  103. February 9, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    @tony there is a name for every form of interaction online it seems!

    It’s getting kind of funny.
    What about the subject of Clarisse’s essay? what are your opinions on that though?

  104. Bagelsan
    February 9, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    The question is, are women as a group as a whole, in a disadvantaged position to men?

    I don’t think we are. Quiet Riot Girl

    Lol. Have to second the “trolling” opinion. This is a place to discuss feminism, not debate basic reality. When you comment on a post about a very specific feminist topic just to start flinging around stuff like “But I don’t think Patriarchy exists” it’s the equivalent of going to a discussion of a particular disease’s genetic mechanisms and saying “But I don’t think evolution exists.” It just sounds ignorant and attention-seeking as hell. There are places to discuss the basic building blocks of feminism (and biology.) This particular post isn’t one of them.

    Maybe you even genuinely have these opinions, who knows, but you sure have a lousy sense of how to dialogue without whining and making it all about what a rebel you are (“excommunicated”? Oh, the drama…) It’s derailing, and other trolls have done it waaay more vividly/descriptively before, so it’s boring too.

  105. RD
    February 9, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    Also from QRG’s blog: MOAR SYMPATHY FOR MEN “ACCUSED” OF RAPE PLZ. Yeah no.

  106. David
    February 9, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    I have to agree: This isn’t a place to discuss basic feminist assumptions or issues.

    because, like someone else has already said – it’s going to lead to lashing out and a flame war.

    I think some people have tried to change that fact but I don’t think it is going to change. I think it would probably be in those people’s best interest to realize that if they want to have a certain type of discussion, that this isn’t the place to do it.

    This aside I don’t really support anyone in this discussion other than Clarisse for making her original post. Her post was interesting. Too bad the comments turned out to be a pile of shit.

  107. willa
    February 9, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Oh my, the intelligence thing! It can be so fraught!

    Sometimes I will be told I am smart to distract me, a misdirection. I fall for it often enough.

    Sometimes I am told I am smarter than the person speaking to me in a very self-pitying way, which also distracts me from the actual point of the conversation.

    Sometimes it’s said to me condescendingly, with hostility–this one from a girl. I was in Junior High and this girl terrified me. “Ohhhh, you raise your hand evry day in class! You are SO SMART… do you always wear that same sweater every day?” A one-two punch in that one.

    Sometimes I get the amused, condescending smile from a guy: “How cute! She’s trying to debate me!” I’m clearly not as smart as this guy is, in his mind.

    I have had guys abruptly stop paying attention to me when I was in the middle of a conversation, if I spoke for more than two sentences in a row. “Gosh, aren’t you smart?” they’d say, not meaning a word. They didn’t mean it.

    Intelligence and the lack of it can be a mine field. It can make people feel very threatened, and it can make people very arrogant. It’s a weapon, often.

    Clarisse, thank you for your ruminations on your own personal relationship with feminism! It was great to read.

  108. So...
    February 9, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Ok, here’s my opinion for what it is worth. I’m currently at very good law school, a 1L, and I hate it. I’m a WOC and I hate it desperately. I wish I’d never come (don’t go to law school, people). I mainly hate it because it is IMPOSSIBLE to say anything or do anything without a war of words from some trigger argument happy a-hole who wants to ARGUE ALL THE TIME. Every comment requires clarification. Every statement can be qualified further. I DISAGREE. I DISAGREE. Every bar event, every outing, no matter what turns into this horribly competitive game called I’M SMART, VALIDATE ME. Wanna watch a movie? Wanna grab a drink? Wanna play pool? Tough shit. I want to tell you my OPINIONS. At my friend’s law school – someone has just killed themselves. Seriously. This atmosphere is pervasive and depressing.

    *deep breaths*

    The point is that these are not just men, these are women as well. There are plenty of white well educated cutesy feminist women in my class getting plenty of validation for interrupting, dismissing and generally being assholes for me to dismiss the gender element here. And it becomes really tiresome. I am not debate averse. But I am sick of being screamed at, interrupted, being forced to listen to absurd and offensive hypotheticals all because someone is “nerdy and intellectual and likes to argue”. Well, guess what? Not everyone wants to argue with you. I don’t want to be you. And part of being a fully formed human being is putting your side of the rope down in the intellectual tug of war you force on everyone else. Maybe this guy *shock first date shock* didn’t want to have a long argument about prostitution. What a misogynist!! You didn’t know anything about his life, his experiences, maybe he just didn’t want to talk about it. I’m sorry if I’m misreading but you sound exactly like the kind of person who makes law school awful. A person who gets so much of their worth from their intellectual capacity that they lose sight of how aggressive it is to people who don’t want to dance. You said you were bored. Can you just be honest and admit that you wanted to argue with him, you were up for a fight. You actually thought you were smarter than him. You wanted him to prove you wrong but that is how you felt. Fine, date people who like every conversation to be a referendum on their intelligence – law school is full of them. Personally, I wouldn’t cry if someone doused the whole place in gasoline and lit a match with everyone inside but each to their own. But don’t judge the rest of us because we don’t want to play.

  109. PrettyAmiable
    February 9, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    So…: There are plenty of white well educated cutesy feminist women in my class getting plenty of validation for interrupting, dismissing and generally being assholes for me to dismiss the gender element here.

    I definitely think it’s more a privilege issue than any specific set of affected persons, based on what I’ve seen. I’ve only personally experienced it in the gender dynamic, but I’ve been irritated in class when people have talked over POC, for instance. This is a very interesting (and needed) perspective.

    PS, thanks to everyone who understood what I was saying.

  110. February 9, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    I think a key thing that is getting overlooked here is that when this shut-down gets used (and oh boy has it been used on me), the point is that the person who is being shut down never claimed to be smarter than anyone in the first place. All the supposed intellectual elitism is being projected by someone in a position of relative power (which, contrary to what QRG thinks, I do believe currently exists between men and women in mainstream society). Which is not to say that intellectual elitism isn’t used as a way of shutting people down! Hence the combined “you’re not being intellectual enough/you’re being too intellectual” double-bind described in the DfD link.

    But using your education or intellectual status of some kind (a lot of which is actually bogus and meaningless) to bully other people (which is shitty behaviour, and I have been guilty of this because, yeah, I am also a person of privilege on a lot of axes, even if not on all of them) is different than the sly insinuation that you have done this when you haven’t in order to gag you. Especially when the social context is that a person “like you” shouldn’t to be that smart in the first place (e.g., being a woman, being a person of colour, or both). I have also experienced that, and it is very, very different than being an intellectual elitist. It is someone passively-aggressively claiming that you think something that you don’t, forcing you into an illusory position of supposed authority which you can’t really exercise because you will just validate the illusion and further lose the moral high ground which has now been unjustly claimed by the person who shut you down.

    I think Tony said it really well @ 41:

    Tony: There is something pretty insidious in that response, something sarcastic, like mocking her intelligence, and insulting, accusing her of being an elitist. The suggestion is that Clarisse could win a war of words but it wouldn’t matter because he’d still be right. Therefore he wouldn’t discuss it. All said in a way that didn’t allow a response.

    And whereas, Clarisse could have responded to his assertion that “prostitution is immoral” with “No it’s not!”, she chose a question instead. So the guy gets his assertion but doesn’t have to defend it, and all she gets is a question that doesn’t get answered.

  111. February 9, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    And I really, really, really want to be clear that I do not at all condone any sort of intellectual bullying (or any kind of bullying) at all, and lacking in one kind of privilege definitely doesn’t negate having another.

  112. Kristin
    February 9, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    Aaron: I read this article via Matt Yglesiasand it really struck a chord. I realize that in this particular discussion, I’m probably being interpreted as the contrarian who’s missing the point. I guess all I can do is assure you that that’s not the case, I have honest disagreements with someone else’s argument and methodology.  

    Methodology? Srsly, which part of “This is not going to be published in a peer-reviewed academic journal” are you missing?

  113. Kristin
    February 9, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    Kristen J.’s Husband:
    I see this constantly in my classes.Particularly at the upper division level I try to organize my courses as discussion groups with everyone sitting in a circle talking about the reading and related ideas.There aren’t very many female philosophy majors in my classes, but they are very often shut down or interrupted by the men in the class.Its more insidious because it appears to be unconscious.A week or so ago we were discussing compatibilism and one of the women was relating the concept to gender norms.She was interrupted three separate times.I specifically had to tell people to shut up which I try never to do.As far as what I’ve seen, shut downs are very prevalent.They may not always be as blatant as the one you received from PHD, but I think the simple ones are just as damaging.  

    Tell me about it. I was bullied into leaving PhD program in philosophy. I had an MA in another field when I started, and started at the top of my class. I always loved school. Now I never want to see the inside of a classroom again.

  114. Kristen J.'s Husband
    February 9, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    Kristin: Tell me about it. I was bullied into leaving PhD program in philosophy. I had an MA in another field when I started, and started at the top of my class. I always loved school. Now I never want to see the inside of a classroom again.

    I had similar experiences in graduate school. Graduate programs have such enormous privilege built in to begin with anyone who doesn’t fit is painfully ostracized. There weren’t any people of color in my philosophy program. Back then I had the unfortunate tendency to mock people who tried to shut me down, which in retrospect wasn’t polite or productive.

    Funny yes, productive no.

    Kristen says law school had a lot of the same dynamic, but at her school it seemed to be aimed more at women of color specifically. She thinks it may be due to the gender parity at her school. When it happened in law school in the first year she’d clam up with embarrassment. As time went on she realized that her professors and classmates were on the whole too lazy to engage in critical thinking and she was too lazy to care about trying to make them better people. When it happened in Big Law since there was an obligation to a client her response was to quadruple check to make sure she was right and then press her point doggedly.

    Her further comments on this thread are: (1) “Mmmm…..troll….Nam…nam…nam…”; (2) she wonders why people can’t understand an anecdote as illustrative rather than an anecdote as evidence, and (3) yes to everything the troll fighters said.

  115. Miss S
    February 9, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    I’m going to second So here. I’m not in law school, but we all have met those people that want to debate EVERY. SINGLE. THING. These people aren’t interested in hearing different points of view, they are interested in proving how smart they are, how many huge vocabulary words they know, how many philosophy text books they’ve read. I see it on feminist websites occasionally. I have seen comments like “obviously, you haven’t read your Judith Butler” as though everyone who dares to have a discussion needs to have taken several gender theory and philosophy courses. I’ve seen snarky comments about language “perhaps you need to find a dictionary to express what you’re trying to say” and it’s so incredibly condescending and annoying.

    If someone like that attempts to engage me in a debate (read: prove how much smarter and well read they are) I shut it down . I’m not up for it. I don’t get anything out of it, since it’s not really a discussion about different viewpoints and cultural differences. It’s not about learning, it’s about someone telling me that everything I think is wrong. Maybe the guy thought Clarisse was one of those people. Maybe he just didn’t want to argue and enjoy the evening.

    Also, so: Maybe you want to rethink the law school thing. You don’t sound happy. I’m a WOC myself who took the LSAT’s and has not yet applied to one school. I’m not sure if it’s the right direction for me, and the more people I talk to, the more certain I become that it’s not.

  116. Jes
    February 10, 2011 at 1:24 am

    I had a weird experience the other day that made me uncomfortable and resentful in the same kind of way. I met a guy at a Superbowl party, who introduced himself more or less like this: “I’m M. Don’t mind me–I’m just *opinionated*.” Cue M making intermittent coded insinuations throughout the game that made me squirm, but I felt that I couldn’t challenge him because he was ‘opinionated’ and that was his schtick. Like, he pre-empted any reasonable objections I could possibly make, because now if I challenged him on (among other things) his anti-immigrant racism it was obviously because I didn’t know any better. He was ‘opinionated’ and that’s just the way it is. Like a force of nature, you know?

    Later, after an entire football game worth of mental contortions to try and keep my conversation acceptable, I made a statement of my experience about something I thought was completely uncontroversial (about how they don’t have 7-11s in the UK, where I grew up), and he said, “You don’t even want to *know* what I think about that.” I can’t imagine what it was, so I’ve been wondering about it ever since.

    So basically this one guy managed to completely shut down any possible dissenting opinions because he’d already identified himself as the only person allowed to have any. He didn’t have to go through the trouble of explaining or justifying his arguments, but he got to say whatever he felt like saying, no matter how uncomfortable it made others.

  117. QLH
    February 10, 2011 at 2:19 am

    Someone says, “This thing happened and it was sexist / racist / otherwise bigoted and it really bothered me and I learned X from it,” and the immediate reaction is, “But maybe you’re misinterpreting the situation.”

    It’s strange to see feminists refuse to accept a woman’s own account of her personal life experiences and leap to give the man the benefit of the doubt. But a lot of people here don’t seem to be feminists, they’re just here so that we can all learn from each other. How lovely and noble. I’ve already learned a lot from non-feminists, though, and I don’t want to have further dialogues with them in feminist spaces. I get enough of that in the rest of life.

    Do I need back-up sources and photographic evidence, though, to back up that claim? You wouldn’t want to take my word on my own life experiences, would you?

  118. Stoner with a Boner
    February 10, 2011 at 3:26 am

    Hiya Clarisse,

    I wasn’t an onlooker to what happened so I can only go by your experience. You didn’t feel chemistry with they guy and no more dates….

    Hard to say if it was a “tactic” to putt you down. You know how they say it is improper to talk about religion or politics in polite company. Maybe he threw something out there then wished he hadn’t as he didn’t want to “argue.” Maybe it was a tactic. You know the phrase-“it’s not what you say but how you say it.” The non-verbal cues would be more telling. I think it would take a few interactions to see a pattern….

    Now onto “is prostitution wrong?”

    (Stepping onto landmine….)

    My gut feeling is that if we live in a free market economy where if you don’t have money, you can’t get food or health insurance. Capitalism creates an environment where everything is available at a price so why shouldn’t sex be. So I might say if prostitution is wrong, isn’t capitalism also? And, yes, I wouldn’t say that giving access to ones privates to a stranger is the same as working in a hazardous factory or navigating crummy office politics…

    Did I mansplain my trollness away good ;-)

  119. The Flash
    February 10, 2011 at 3:28 am

    “If PHD knew I was so much smarter than him, then why didn’t he want to learn from me?”

    I can’t tell what the sarcasm level in this comment is, but either way… this is an awful attitude. Even if it’s sarcastic, it says that there’s no way to escape having to get into a conversation you don’t want to be in because of a tossaway comment. So… @ 109 got it exactly right: who wants to go through life having every conversation be a pain in the ass? Oh, I have a chance to learn from you? Lucky me! This is a great opportunity.

    The phrase “live your sermon”, which is another version of the writer’s “show, dont tell” or “put your money where your mouth is”, doesn’t mean that life becomes an endless delivery of a sermon. It means do the right thing instead of telling everyone else to do the right thing… and when someone doesn’t want to debate you, and you’re in a not-definitively-political context, it’s not trolling to try and shut down debate when you’re trying to play a game of pool.

    And sure, it’s important for racism and sexism to be unacceptable in social settings, but it’s long-term exclusion that makes this stick, not being a pain in the ass and painting an easy target for exclusion on yourself. If nobody wants to be around feminists, then feminists can’t affect the zeitgeist.

  120. L
    February 10, 2011 at 4:17 am

    what a clusterfuck of a comments thread.

  121. Bagelsan
    February 10, 2011 at 4:17 am

    not being a pain in the ass and painting an easy target for exclusion on yourself. If nobody wants to be around feminists, then feminists can’t affect the zeitgeist. The Flash

    How in the world is casually throwing out “X group of people is immoral” not being a pain in the ass, but following that up with a “why?” is? (Hmm, it’s just like how it’s worse to be called “racist” than to actually be racist innit? Calling someone on their words or actions is just too cruel after they foolishly open their mouths…) Why have you decided that saying something inflammatory and then slinking away is more socially acceptable than responding to said inflammatory remark is?

    and when someone doesn’t want to debate you, and you’re in a not-definitively-political context, it’s not trolling to try and shut down debate when you’re trying to play a game of pool.

    There are words for this kind of situation. For starters, he could have said “sorry, I shouldn’t have brought it up” or “uh, please forget I said that” or “let’s talk about it later” or any number of things that didn’t (consciously or — more likely — unconsciously but conveniently) position her to be unable to respond appropriately. Or hell, he could have just not brought it up; if you don’t want to have a political discussion in a pool hall, don’t say political things in a pool hall. You can’t bring something up and then shut the other person down in a passive aggressive way and expect everything to be awesome. It’s very sneaky, and dishonest. There are ways to not act like that and still avoid conversations you don’t want to have.

  122. Bagelsan
    February 10, 2011 at 4:39 am

    I’ve certainly gotten the “you’re so/too smart” response before, as well. It’s very effective against someone who has been called a nerd, or who has been accused of being stuck up or know it all (and what reasonably intelligent girl hasn’t?) because it carries all that baggage subtly and reminds you that there is definitely such a thing as “too” smart in women (hint: you have a chance of winning) and dammit you are crossing that line.

    And actually, this reminds me of a similar-but-slightly-different tactic that a guy friend of mine used one time: ending a discussion with an out-of-the-blue compliment. We were talking about feminist stuff — as I do — and I started getting a little worked up about the topic and he said something to the effect of “but you’re reasonable; you’re not like some of those other feminists!” So I blushed, and shushed, and was sort of stuck saying “well, um, well they have good reasons” and generally my arguments were rendered useless as all my social training instantly kicked in and I automatically tried to make myself agreeable and acceptable.

    And it’s not like he meant it as a tactic, I believe; I think he genuinely meant it to be a compliment. He’s a really nice, decent guy. But he’s not a stupid guy either, and I’ll bet he had at least an inkling that emphasizing oh-so-tactfully how nice I was would be a clever way to make me act nice. And a “nice” woman doesn’t say challenging things in mixed company, or spend a lot of time laying out an argument, because oh fuck this guy went so far as to listen a little bit and now that he’s said something kind to me, pushing the issue would seem so bitchy… Guys might not fully understand the pressure that many girls and women are under to make themselves patriarchy-acceptable but they certainly can exert that pressure even without any intent to manipulate.

    So I would consider that a relative of the “you’re so smart!” line, although it has a different flavor — less of the “don’t be elitist” vibe, less of the rolling over and showing his belly to make you look like a jerk vibe, but a little bit of that “I said something kind to you, what more could you possibly want? Why are you still talking?” implication. ‘Cause c’mon, we bitches have the vote now and guys are willing to call us “smart”? Why won’t our greedy asses shut up already! :p

  123. February 10, 2011 at 5:15 am

    I wonder if Pool Hall Dude even remembers meeting Clarisse.

  124. February 10, 2011 at 7:16 am

    I wonder if Pool Hall Dude even remembers meeting Clarisse.

    Who gives a crap?

    Rhetorical question.

  125. PrettyAmiable
    February 10, 2011 at 8:04 am

    QLH: Do I need back-up sources and photographic evidence, though, to back up that claim? You wouldn’t want to take my word on my own life experiences, would you? 

    That shit better be notarized. Otherwise, it didn’t happen.

    Natalia: Who gives a crap?

    The irrelevant detail police.

    Natalia: Rhetorical question.  

    Oops.

  126. saurus
    February 10, 2011 at 8:55 am

    For anyone who wants to read this thread, minus all derail-related content, here it is.

    Hugo: Gah, what an annoying date that was!And yes, those of us who write a lot about sex and relationships have an obligation to make sure we’re not reducing feminism down to “luxury concerns”.That doesn’t mean we have to take up a radical perspective, or focus solely on broader justice issues, but it does mean doing what you already do, Clarisse, which is connect the personal to the political.Pleasure is political, but we need to make that connection explicit.  

    Jim: “It was an amazingly complimentary, amazingly condescending, amazingly effective way of shutting me down.”Eh yup, it sure is all of that. I used to get that from my kid when he was a teenager. It shut me down too at the time.  

    LoriA: Thank you so much for doing what you do.I disagree with your conclusions sometimes, but overall I really, really appreciate your reconciliation of BDSM and feminism, as it’s something I’m trying to do myself and “weird and complicated” just about nails what the process is like. Somehow there still don’t seem to be many blogs about this kind of feminism- they’re all either 100% pro-all kink and all sex work simply on principle, no analysis, no criticism. Or they’re 100% anti-kink and anti-sex work, upholding this awesomely pure theory of total radical resistance that doesn’t actually work with the real-life sexual desires of people like us.Or, you know, they stay out of the debate entirely. It’s strange that navigating the space between these extremes and writing and thinking critically about the intersections of kink and feminism is considered the ‘edge’ instead of the uncharted middle territory. As far as I know you’re something of a pioneer in that regard. So, really, thank you.I know I’m not the only one listening to you and talking about the same things, even though the world in and outside the feminist and kink spheres does seem to be overflowing with people like pool-hall guy.  

    Jessica Isabel: Haha, wow! I’m surprised, but I probably shouldn’t be, at how common your date experience was. Rather than try to engage us on an intellectual level, which these prospective beaus are clearly afraid of doing, they would rather ask us (ahem, ask, as though it is a request and not a demand) to politely reaffirm their dominance and superiority by hiding the thing that proves their inferiority.
    Sigh. Well, at least we have each other :P  

    Comrade Kevin: I don’t undercut my motivations for first being involved in feminist discourse.I just know that they have grown and blossomed beyond my wildest fantasies.I sought to not be something and found myself owning that which I already was.I’m sure there will always be a need for someone to proclaim the straight-up Feminist issue to keep us honest.But I, perhaps like you, I find something much more interesting in being an edge feminist.If I can take my own strengths and interests and filter them through a feminist perspective, that only makes my argument that more compelling.Ultimately, it’s a question of finding one’s own voice, to me.  

    Quiet Riot Girl: Lori A there are quite a few blogs/writings about kink and feminism.
    I think Clarisse has cited some in her work
    e.g. Let Them Eat/Pro feminist spaces The carnival of kinky feminists (I used to help run that blog carnival)Lots of queer/feminist writers like
    Sugar Butch Chronicles
    Rabbit Write
    Pandora Blake
    NotAnOdalisque
    Sarah Dopp
    Jizz Lee
    And sex work/feminist/sex positive people like
    Melissa Gira
    Furry Girl
    Violet Blue
    Mistress MatisseI will get some urls. But it isn’t as ‘marginal’ as people make out sometimes, I don’t think.  

    LoriA: @Clarisse Ha! That will happen eventually, I’m sure.
    @Quiet Riot
    Maybe my first comment wasn’t clear, but it’s not that there’s a lack of writing about feminism and kink in general. Rather, there’s a lack of writing that isn’t from a very polarized, dogmatic kinky-sex-positive or -negative viewpoint that just assumes the reader is of similar mind. When I first started accepting my kinky sexuality about a year ago, coming from a radical feminist mindset, I spent time reading some of the back-and-forth between ‘Let them eat pro-sm…’ and Nine-Deuce in the hopes I could get some nuanced analysis from both sides that would aide in reconciling my views.What I found, though, was that they were just *tiring* in their rigidity.
    I recognize I’m coming at this from a new and unique place, and eventually I might become quite dogmatic in my pro-kink thinking myself. Right now though I’m very much interested in examining grey areas and middle ground, or at least analyzing the issues within a more complex frame than ‘my body my choice, period’ or ‘you’re supporting the patriarchy, period.’ What I’ve read of Clarisse’s is obviously very much in the ‘my body, my choice’ school, and I disagree with some of her positions but very much appreciate that she writes about them in a more philosophical and less dogmatic way than what I’ve found elsewhere.I admit that I’m still pretty new to all of this, though, so I’m probably overlooking some important blogs and writers. There are a few on your list I haven’t heard of and will definitely be checking out.  

    Lucy Montrose: Thanks, Clarisse! The little things are, if anything, the most important things to deal with, because we are more likely to see them every day and because they HAVE been so thoroughly integrated into what we see as social grace.“Quit harshing the vibe” has become the most important unspoken social rule, and I think it’s the biggest reason why we don’t protest toxic cultural values as much as we should.
    We’ve had almost 20 years of psychology, medical, and other media telling us constantly that the most important thing we can do for ourselves is build and maintain social support systems. We continually hear how we’re social animals, how we’re happier and healthier in relationships, how social connectedness is one of the cornerstones of well-being. And liberals in particular buy right into this, because it fits neatly into our values.But never does it say how we build and maintain them. In practice, it involves a lot of “not harshing the vibe”, at all costs. Making other people comfortable, by any means necessary, has become the beginning and end of what social adeptness means. Too often, how we make others comfortable involves a lot of adhering to privilege-protecting and patriarchal values. Any discussion as to how to fight for social justice without alienating your friends and networks… is conspiucously absent. (And from personal experience, not doing everything you can to uphold “comfortability” will quickly get you labeled “disruptive”, “socially awkward”, and worse.)And so, because we’re social animals, we will sell out our consciences for pennies if it means keeping our social support networks intact. We have no moral courage anymore because exercising it increasingly will get us labeled mot merely “weird”, but unemployable and even psychologically dysfunctional; because this stifling definition of sociable has permeated the workplace and our therapy culture. AND too often the most visible examples of “moral courage” are inflexible, unrealistic and quixotic, like Tea Partiers. Talk about incentives to sit down and shut up!Our society needs to talk a LOT more about how to keep our sociability from turning into a straitjacket. Clarisse, thanks for opening this up!  

    Azalea: I certainly knwo how you feel but its the opposite. Someone makes the assumption that they are snmarter than I am. Just an example: The person can say “the Sky is and always will be blue for all of eternity!” I say “the sky is actually indigo over here right now, the sun has just set and while it was setting the sky was a myriad of colors…” and from there I would immediately get shut down with how the sky IS blue most of the time and therefore they were right because I need to check the science, I don’t know what I’m talking about etc. etc. etc. The shut-down method in my opinion ranges from “Oh yeah, you’re smarter than me so I wont waste time argueing with you :)”, or “I’m smarter than you so I wont waste time teaching you :)”, they both are equally condescending and serve the same purpose, to shut the other person down.I hope that you eventually got the chance to have that conversation with someone brave and open minded enough to hear and take in everything you had to say on the matter and that a friendly discourse where you both learned something from each other transpired. A first date is a getting to knwo you type of thing, so I agree that he shut you down because he should have taken that opportunity to introduce you to his personal thoughts on amatter that was very personal and political to you.  

    saurus: Uh, this is about the OP, not the subsequent thread.It seems like in addition to a “derailing” shit-list, we could also use a “deflecting” shit-list. For things like, as Aaron mentioned, “people who think ‘that’s just my opinion’ ought to change the subject like a shuffle button.” It might have things like:My Opinions Exist In A Perfect Morally Neutral Vaccuum:- I dunno, that’s just how I feel / my opinion.
    – It’s my personal preference.
    – Sometimes it’s not about logic or politics, it’s about your gut feeling / what you feel in your heart.It’s Sexy How You Want To Discuss This, But No:- Oh, I’m not smart enough / you’re too smart for us to discuss this.
    – You’re so cute when you’re angry.
    – Oh, I can’t argue with someone so pretty, you’re going to win no matter what you say!You’re The Bad Cop, Guess Which One I Am:- Let’s talk about something more fun / lighter.
    – Let’s just agree to disagree. Moving on…
    – Oh, am I in big trouble now!I actually find it irritating when guys tell me that I’m intelligent. Rarely does it come off in a genuine compliment, more often it comes off in as:a) “as the smarter person here, I’d like to inform you, using my superior judgment of intelligence, that you qualify”
    b) “I think you’re smart, but not smart enough to see through this highly strategic compliment of your intelligence”c) “I have no idea or interest in whether you’re smart or not, but I’m going to strategically tell you that you are”
    Ironically I find it more appealing when someone notes one of my flaws, because then I know they’re actually interacting with me, not their ideas of me or their goals with me. (Note: I don’t mean negging, which is just as contrived, and comes off as such – regardless of how stealthy PUAs think they’re being.)  

    Pidgey: Great post, and your blog sounds real interesting I’ll make sure to start reading it! I have a couple friends who have some relatively dark fantasies but either feel guilty for having such fantasies or have anxiety sharing those fantasies with others. I think your blog will be a help.  

    Spay Your Sea Kitten: I dated someone who would get angry when I disagreed with him or even merely failed to agree enthusiastically, accusing me of disagreeing for the sake of it.I’m not an argumentative or belligerent person at all, and in fact am known for being passive (perhaps why we dated a few months rather than a few weeks). He just could not accept that I had my own opinions.
    One memorable conversation we had was when I voiced my objection to someone else’s rape myths. He disagreed with me and I stood my ground, but we couldn’t even have an argument. Seeing I would not drop my opinion to match his, he immediately and sulkily shut down the conversation, saying, “I’m not talking about this anymore. This is ridiculous”.That was toward the end of the relationship.  

    nathan: SYS Kitten’s example would be the purrfect anecdote for this article. That dude fits the bill completely!  

    Nahida: THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!I’ve gotten this. I’ve also gotten the “but you’re cute, though” line that’s said after something really offensive has been disclosed and I’ve spoken out against it. Like my distraction can be bought with a “compliment.”  

    Spay Your Sea Kitten: Oh, and he also would regularly compliment my intelligence.Actions speak louder than words.  

    ch: Clarisse, thank you so much for this– I can’t even count how many times as a teen (and in more recent years, as well, though less often) I’ve gotten the condescending “oh, you’re so smart” shutdown. And, at least in my younger years, I got this mostly from other women rather than from men– women who were more gender-conforming/ridiculous-teenage-social-norm-conforming than me, and who wanted to police my conformity to these norms.  

    Vicki: A long time ago (long enough that we didn’t have blogs, we were talking in paper form in a thing called an amateur press association) I was dealing with someone who would regularly dismiss disagreements with “I’m not as smart as you, so I don’t understand your point” rather than either ask specific questions or explain his position. In between times, he was posting about Finnegans Wake, psychology, and a variety of other things: this wasn’t a man who gave any signs of actually thinking the other people in the conversation were smarter than he was. It was just a convenient way of not answering other people’s point.  

    Kristen J.’s Husband:
    I see this constantly in my classes.Particularly at the upper division level I try to organize my courses as discussion groups with everyone sitting in a circle talking about the reading and related ideas.There aren’t very many female philosophy majors in my classes, but they are very often shut down or interrupted by the men in the class.Its more insidious because it appears to be unconscious.A week or so ago we were discussing compatibilism and one women was relating the concept to gender norms.She was interrupted three separate times.I specifically had to tell people to shut up which I try never to do.As far as what I’ve seen, shut downs are very prevalent.They may not always be as blatant as the one you received from PHD, but I think the simple ones are just as damaging.  

    L:
    This is so true. Sometimes it’s even as tiny as a hint that the person you’re talking to is just no longer listening. It just serves as a reminder that what you’re saying is not important. I see it happen a lot in my classes too.  

    April:
    I keep making this mistake when commenting on blogs, where I’m so interested in arguing semantics of one part of a much larger point, that had I not just had this same very frustrating thing happen to me, I may have tried to defend the person defending Clarisse’s date.But, on to the point of the post,This is exactly why it’s important to keep talking about the “little” things, because they’re what keep women down, ultimately.If we are continually belittled in ways that fly regularly under the radar, raised to believe you can only do certain things, or that your opinion or input about certain things don’t matter, etc., even the larger battles that we win, like abortion being legal, remain constantly under attack.The “little things” that many of us are so willing to shrug off as unimportant can be a lot more harmful than they seem.  

    christalijntje: Yesterday I had a fight with my husband, which would explain this tendency to understand PHD (my husband and I enjoy a good fight).We were watching an episode of Bones, where a “No means yes” situation propped up. I saw it coming from a mile away, my husband disagreed that it even happened. I considered the man’s behaviour pushy, my husband thought the man wasn’t pushy at all.My husband vigorously defended the man, because, as he said a long way into the fight, he knows he acts like this too. Without meaning to pressure me (or another woman) to conform to his wishes. Therefore the man on the TV-show couldn’t possibly be pressuring the woman.In the end he conceded that he could be pressuring without knowing so, enjoying the privilege of automatically being thought to be more important.The good news: in another setting he suddenly said that the way a certain scene was acted in a movie would be okay if it existed in a vacuum, and not in today’s culture where girls are taught to use their bodies in specific ways.I will turn him into a feminist yet. :-)PS. I’ve been reading Feministe for a while now, but this is the first time I delurked. Love the blog!  

    Gembird: Great post Clarisse, I often think I’m just being paranoid if someone tries to shut me down like that (which they often do, since I’m usually in a male-dominated environment). As much as it makes me angry to find that my suspicions were correct and it happens all the time, it’s comforting to know that whatever these people are saying, it’s not my problem for daring to argue.
    THIS. I always felt really patronised by people who did that, and I could never figure out why it bothered me so much. My reaction is pretty similar too, haha.  

    Esti: I’ve had people shut down conversations with me by saying things like this.Sometimes in a condescending “aw, you have a girl opinion!” way, sometimes because I’m being a bit of a jerk by arguing too agressively or dismissing their views, and sometimes because they really do seem unsure of their opinions or knowledge and are hesitant about appearing stupid or uninformed.And I’ve used similar conversation stoppers on other people.Sometimes because I thought the person was pigheadedly wrong or ignorant and I didn’t really want to participate in a frustrating conversation.More often because the subject was upsetting to me or was related to painful personal issues, or I knew that that particular person was only going to upset me by the way they would discuss it.Occasionally I’ve done it because I really did feel like I didn’t know enough about the topic to have a productive conversation about it; generally, that only causes me to shut down a discussion when I suspect the other person is not going to be a particularly fun conversation partner unless I already know about, and agree with them on, the subject.Which is to say — I agree with Clarisse that the condescending kind of shut down she attributed to PHD exists, and is used far too often.I don’t really have any opinion, nor do I care, whether PHD (consciously or unconsciously) was using “you’re smarter than me” in that negative way.I’m certainly not going to tell Clarisse that I have insight on that subject, since I wasn’t there.But I do think it’s worth acknowledging that shutting down conversations with polite platitudes can serve other purposes as well.One of which is the way I sometimes use it, to protect myself from upsetting topics without drawing attention to the real reason that I don’t want to have the discussion — that the topic is personally upsetting to me, or that I think my conversation partner is likely to be a big jerk about the subject.  

    BradMillersHero: Ah god, how irritated this stuff makes me…Its so annoying to try to have a conversation about sexuality with a male and have them immediately get snarky, sexist, and threatening in an attempt to shut you up. I’ve had guys threaten sexual violence and rape simply because I, a lowly female, dared to have an opinion which differed from their cliche patriarchal nonsense.
    Great article.  

    willa: Oh my, the intelligence thing! It can be so fraught!
    Sometimes I will be told I am smart to distract me, a misdirection. I fall for it often enough.
    Sometimes I am told I am smarter than the person speaking to me in a very self-pitying way, which also distracts me from the actual point of the conversation.
    Sometimes it’s said to me condescendingly, with hostility–this one from a girl. I was in Junior High and this girl terrified me. “Ohhhh, you raise your hand evry day in class! You are SO SMART… do you always wear that same sweater every day?” A one-two punch in that one.
    Sometimes I get the amused, condescending smile from a guy: “How cute! She’s trying to debate me!” I’m clearly not as smart as this guy is, in his mind.
    I have had guys abruptly stop paying attention to me when I was in the middle of a conversation, if I spoke for more than two sentences in a row. “Gosh, aren’t you smart?” they’d say, not meaning a word. They didn’t mean it.
    Intelligence and the lack of it can be a mine field. It can make people feel very threatened, and it can make people very arrogant. It’s a weapon, often.
    Clarisse, thank you for your ruminations on your own personal relationship with feminism! It was great to read.  

    Bagelsan: I’ve certainly gotten the “you’re so/too smart” response before, as well. It’s very effective against someone who has been called a nerd, or who has been accused of being stuck up or know it all (and what reasonably intelligent girl hasn’t?) because it carries all that baggage subtly and reminds you that there is definitely such a thing as “too” smart in women (hint: you have a chance of winning) and dammit you are crossing that line.And actually, this reminds me of a similar-but-slightly-different tactic that a guy friend of mine used one time: ending a discussion with an out-of-the-blue compliment. We were talking about feminist stuff — as I do — and I started getting a little worked up about the topic and he said something to the effect of “but you’re reasonable; you’re not like some of those other feminists!” So I blushed, and shushed, and was sort of stuck saying “well, um, well they have good reasons” and generally my arguments were rendered useless as all my social training instantly kicked in and I automatically tried to make myself agreeable and acceptable.And it’s not like he meant it as a tactic, I believe; I think he genuinely meant it to be a compliment. He’s a really nice, decent guy. But he’s not a stupid guy either, and I’ll bet he had at least an inkling that emphasizing oh-so-tactfully how nice I was would be a clever way to make me act nice. And a “nice” woman doesn’t say challenging things in mixed company, or spend a lot of time laying out an argument, because oh fuck this guy went so far as to listen a little bit and now that he’s said something kind to me, pushing the issue would seem so bitchy… Guys might not fully understand the pressure that many girls and women are under to make themselves patriarchy-acceptable but they certainly can exert that pressure even without any intent to manipulate.So I would consider that a relative of the “you’re so smart!” line, although it has a different flavor — less of the “don’t be elitist” vibe, less of the rolling over and showing his belly to make you look like a jerk vibe, but a little bit of that “I said something kind to you, what more could you possibly want? Why are you still talking?” implication. ‘Cause c’mon, we bitches have the vote now and guys are willing to call us “smart”? Why won’t our greedy asses shut up already! :p  

  127. Miss S
    February 10, 2011 at 9:36 am

    I made a statement of my experience about something I thought was completely uncontroversial (about how they don’t have 7-11s in the UK, where I grew up), and he said, “You don’t even want to *know* what I think about that.” I can’t imagine what it was, so I’ve been wondering about it ever since.

    This cracked me up. This is exactly the kind of person I’m talking about. Seriously, what could you possibly think about 7-11s in the UK?

    Also, I’m not saying that Clarisse is that this kind of person, just that she may have been perceived that way. Maybe he knew she ran in feminist circles. At my previous campus, the white women who ran in feminist circles were….an interesting group. Lots of attention was paid to queer issues, but if you were a woc and not queer, or lgbt, you were for the most part invisible. A few of the women were really nice, but the main group (the leaders, I presume) weren’t. I probably wouldn’t have attempted to engage any of them in debate.

  128. Jess
    February 10, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    For the record, I was comparing M’s behaviour to PHD’s, not to Clarisse’s. He made me uncomfortable by throwing around his ill-formed opinions and not allowing me the right of reply, which is exactly what PHD did to Clarisse.

    I don’t think asking, “Why do you think that?” is akin to “debating every little thing.” Why are you going to the lengths of making up what PHD *might* have thought of Clarisse before the date, or some reputation she *might* have had? Even if it were true, if someone doesn’t want to be on date with someone they know might “debate every little thing”… why go on a date with them? I’m truly baffled here.

    (My comment above appeared as “Jes”–apparently the comment software didn’t think I need that other “s”–but it was me.)

  129. nathan
    February 10, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Saurus, Thank you. That was fun, and needed!

    Also, I’ll just say something I said on another thread, and then let it go.

    If people wonder why right wing conservatives keeps getting more powerful by the day in most of the nations represented here, a conversation like this should tell you why. So much defensiveness on display (myself included in a few comments) and a willingness to label and toss anyone whose ideas feel too threatening. While we are hating on each other, the powers that be are fucking us all, over and over again.

  130. PrettyAmiable
    February 10, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    nathan: So much defensiveness on display (myself included in a few comments) and a willingness to label and toss anyone whose ideas feel too threatening.

    You. Don’t. Get. It.

    You, a person of privilege, are shitting your privilege all over this blog. I explain why it is wholly inappropriate to comment (on a feminist website, on a minimally-related thread) about something that is likely to be severely triggering when this blog is frequented by women and trans* folks who live in a world where they are disproportionately likely to be assaulted (and repeatedly assaulted) when they hear all Goddamned day that they’re exaggerating about their experiences, that it’s not that bad, that it’s not a systemic issue.

    You know why I came to a feminist blog? Because sexual assault is a feminist issue. If I wanted to hear uneducated drivel like “rape culture is something to be discussed because maybe it doesn’t exist” and “let’s debate it and make ANOTHER SPACE INACCESSIBLE TO PEOPLE WHO MIGHT GET TRIGGERED” – I wouldn’t be on the fucking internet at a feminist website. I would be any other place.

    And then you ignore what I’m saying, have the goddamned sexist audacity to pull an emotional tone argument on me, and still think that you, as a man, get a say on what happens in a space that’s not fucking intended for you? What, is having the rest of the goddamned world as your space not good enough?

    Learn when to bow out. Learn when your opinion DOESN’T MATTER and that debate doesn’t have to be held just because you think it’s important (especially when it’s NOT important and it’s HURTING people). Learn to fucking listen when you have absolutely nothing constructive to add. And if you don’t like being called sexist? Either stop being sexist or start your own blog where you can do stupid shit like debate rape culture.

  131. February 10, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    I agree Nathan.

    This thread is not an advert for progressive thinkers, feminists or even people really.

  132. nathan
    February 10, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Thanks for the dress down Pretty Amiable. I hope someday enough of us can figure out how to get along long enough to actually address some of these issues collectively, in the social sphere we live in, instead of sitting online, and in meetings, lashing out at each other over every last word of every last comment that isn’t up to snuff.

    If the editors of this blog wish to restrict men from commenting here, I will abide by that. I stay quiet on probably 5/6ths of the pots here because I either have nothing to say, or just don’t know enough about the issues to say anything. So, you can accuse me of not listening, but the only reason I can say anything about the issues discussed on this blog is from years of listening, and mostly not talking. I’m well aware you probably don’t give a damn about that, but if you want things like the rape culture to actually change, you gotta have men around who actually are trying to “get it.” (Even saying this I can imagine has a negative label that can slapped on it.)

    My point though is that unlike a lot of men, I’m trying. I educate myself the best I can. I don’t expect others to spoon feed me. I’m aware that my life is totally privileged. And I don’t take up nearly as much space as you think I do.

    At the same time, I’m nothing special. I can handle a good debate and admit when I’m wrong.

    I shouldn’t have pulled the tone argument on you. I apologize.

    But I still go back to the point that we’re all screwed if what happened in this thread, and what often happens when groups on the “left” try to organize, continues to be the case. If everyone is split off into tiny fractions, suspicious and hateful towards those who could be allies with some work and shared compromise, then things will only get worse.

    This entire dialogue is privileged. My former ESL students, especially the women amongst them, don’t have access to the time or resources to even have a discussion like this about “safe space.” They are surrounded by patriarchy. Surrounded by bills and children and parents who need support, and a culture that’s hostile to them because they can’t speak “perfect” English, don’t understand the ins and outs every last system, and who have husbands, fathers, and community members telling them every day that they are secondary, and could never, ever be on equal footing.

    So, you and others can continue to dogpile on me. Eventually, I’ll probably go away. There’s a hell of a lot of turnover amongst commenters here. Why not drive a few more away.

  133. Miss S
    February 10, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Jes- If that comment was directed at me, I didn’t say that’s what the guy was thinking. I was speculating reasons as to why he may have reacted like that.

    I made it pretty clear that I wasn’t suggesting that Clarisse is that kind of person.

  134. Emeryn
    February 10, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    As far the ‘shut down’ techniques used on me goes?

    On a first date while I was in college, my date brought up abortion and started talking about how it was evil. When I started to reply, he cut in with this gem:

    You’re too smart for your own good. Let’s talk about something else. (My pro-choice views are obviously harmful things generated by my awesome intelligence. I should shut up before something bad happens.)

    When I replied “No, you thought it appropriate conversation fodder or you wouldn’t have brought it up. Let’s discuss this,” he sighed and said “But you’re so pretty! It’d be a waste of an evening with a beauty like you” (Here, have another compliment and shut up!).

    He was incredibly offended when there was no second date and took to stalking me around my college campus.

    That’s the shutdown that sticks in my memories, years later. I’ve talked about it to people before, and have heard responses similar to things spouted in these comments.

    “Well, [Emeryn], maybe he didn’t want to have a political/ethical/philosophical/etc conversation on a first date.” Then he shouldn’t have brought it up on a first date to begin with. He was perfectly comfortable spouting off his views, but once I began to reply with my opposing viewpoint, the subject was suddenly deemed off limits. Nevermind the shutdown techniques at hand, which were incredibly condescending, but the entire notion that his opinion is worthy of vocalizing and mine is not is damaging in its own way.

    “Have you thought that maybe he didn’t mean it like you took it? You’re doing him a disservice to judge him on that.” No, actually. When I started to actually respond to a debate that he started, he immediately shut down the conversation, in an incredibly patronizing fashion. How else was I supposed to take it? That he was uncomfortable with the conversation on a first date? See previous paragraph.

    As far as the derailing “privilege doesn’t exist, men and women are equal” garbage posted above… I offer this link:

    http://whatprivilege.com/what-its-like-to-be-a-woman/

    It discusses . I did not write the article on What Privilege. I am, however, the woman it discusses. When I originally wrote into Feministe, I didn’t use my usual screen name in the replies, as a few of my (then) co-workers knew I usually went online as Emeryn and I was paranoid.

  135. Emeryn
    February 10, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Oops. Messed up the HTML tag.

  136. Jenny R
    February 10, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Ugh. Some members of my family uses this shut down technique on me ALL THE TIME. We’ll be at a family (for reference, middle-to-working/debt-class WASPs) gathering, and some issue of race or sexism or politics will come up, and as soon as pipe up, I get, “Oh we all know Jenny’s so smart, so I guess I can’t win this argument,” in an attempt to either head me off, or discount anything I say that makes sense or undercuts their shitty arguments with, you know, FACTS and logic, and finishing with ye olde, “Well, that’s just my opinion.” Third time they pulled the whole ‘You’re too smart to participate in this argument,’ I exploded with, “Well, I’m a grown ass women, and if you’re going to discuss this in front of me, I’m going to participate. Deal, or don’t bring it up while I’m here.”

    Funny how back slapping ‘discussions’ of how annoying it is that minority groups get to decided when they’re offended quieted down after that.

    Ugh. Just, no. If you can’t handle hearing my opinion, don’t foist yours on me as if it’s fact.

  137. Jess
    February 10, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    Miss S: Jes- If that comment was directed at me, I didn’t say that’s what the guy was thinking. I was speculating reasons as to why he may have reacted like that.
    I made it pretty clear that I wasn’t suggesting that Clarisse is that kind of person.  

    I know you were just speculating. I just wanted to make it clear that my anecdote was offered in support of Clarisse and not in support of the inappropriate and irrelevant speculation that she has some kind of hysterical feminist reputation. I was very uncomfortable with you quoting me as if I was in support of that argument.

    Also, it’s “Jess”. “Jes” was the comment-software mangling.

  138. PrettyAmiable
    February 10, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    nathan: If the editors of this blog wish to restrict men from commenting here, I will abide by that.

    Why? You can’t conduct yourself like a grown up in a feminist space, so we need to block male commenters who can? William, a long-time Feministe commenter, unintentionally offended (triggered?) someone in a recent thread. You know what he did? He didn’t whine like a petulant child. He took his leave of that particular conversation with an apology.

    nathan: but if you want things like the rape culture to actually change, you gotta have men around who actually are trying to “get it.”

    You know where I’m probably not going to get raped? At an online feminist blog on a thread that has nothing to do with rape. If you want to pat yourself on the back for debating rape culture with people like QRG, maybe you should do it in their space where people actually contribute to rape culture. Also, rethink suggesting that feminists need men to get our aims accomplished. Seriously, sexism is funny when it comes from an “ally.”

    nathan: My former ESL students, especially the women amongst them, don’t have access to the time or resources to even have a discussion like this about “safe space.” They are surrounded by patriarchy. Surrounded by bills and children and parents who need support, and a culture that’s hostile to them because they can’t speak “perfect” English, don’t understand the ins and outs every last system, and who have husbands, fathers, and community members telling them every day that they are secondary, and could never, ever be on equal footing.

    lol. Lucky I don’t go into their homes, communities (including any online communities), and ESL classrooms and make them feel like shit by discussing topics that should be obvious but cause them anxiety – then get mad at them because they won’t accommodate me and the discussion I want to have. Because then this might be relevant. Also, my parents are non-English speaking immigrants, one of whom is a maid at a hospital and one who is currently unemployed and terminally ill, both of whom just today exited bankruptcy and feel awful about owing their children money for their lawyer, but nice try on the guilt trip. Want to try again? I’m white, cis, and het, though I also don’t go into safe spaces for POC or LGBTQ folks either and make them have conversations that I get to have by virtue of my privilege.

    nathan: So, you and others can continue to dogpile on me. Eventually, I’ll probably go away. There’s a hell of a lot of turnover amongst commenters here. Why not drive a few more away.  

    You know what’s funny? And the most ridiculous marker of privilege you’ve displayed? There are two ways to avoid conflict. Either I sit down, get triggered, and let you have your bullshit “Does rape culture exist” conversation in a space where I thought I was welcome without voicing how disgusting the entire conversation is — or you back the fuck off, admit you were wrong to push a line of conversation that doesn’t belong here, and listen when marginalized people talk. Why are you insisting on the former? With all your nonsense about how we’re driving away sexist douchebags and assholes like QRG, if we pursue the former course of action, you’re going to drive away the women that the movement is designed to help. GET OVER YOURSELF. YOU. DON’T. GET. IT.

  139. PrettyAmiable
    February 10, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    PrettyAmiable: you’re going to drive away the women that the movement is designed to help.

    NOT to Nathan:

    I realize the way I said this sounds as if I mean what I’ll call “traditional” feminism — i.e. white women — but I came to feminism late in the game and have only ever understood this movement to be about the rights of all people, but *especially* those who are worse off due to kyriarchy than I am (e.g. trans* people, WOC and other POC, nonbinary folks). I know you aren’t all in my head, however, and I hope you didn’t feel erased. I apologize for my shoddy wording.

  140. February 10, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    @PrettyAmiable,
    I apprieciate you taking on Nathan & QRG and I’m sorry that this “conversation” is triggering you. Hopefully we can get back to the usual high quality discourse here soon.

  141. February 10, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Nathan- you are welcome on my blog anytime!

  142. Kristen J.
    February 10, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    @Nathan

    Oh no, don’t blame this clusterfuck of a comment thread on “men.” Men are perfectly capable of discussing the ways in which privilege silences people (which was the topic Clarisse brought up) without making the conversation about how they are oppressed by feminism.

    Men are even capable of caring about ending a set of cultural norms that condone rape without being bribed or coddled into it…because some men, strangely enough, think women (all women) are valuable.

  143. February 10, 2011 at 6:20 pm

    Pretty Amiable:
    ‘Also, rethink suggesting that feminists need men to get our aims accomplished. Seriously, sexism is funny when it comes from an “ally.”’

    Feminists do need men to get their aims accomplished. What are they going to do without men’s goodwill?

  144. nathan
    February 10, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    This is impossible. In ten years, twenty years, fifty years, when we’re still discussing the same set of horror-show problems, and maybe even seeing it all get worse, perhaps these walls will break down.

    As for now, you’ve done what you needed to do. I’m bowing out. Peace to you all.

  145. February 10, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    any men here feeling a little bit…er…demonised…here is a discussion about how feminism can make men into the enemy.

    http://www.marksimpson.com/blog/2011/02/09/misandry-the-acceptable-prejudice/

  146. PrettyAmiable
    February 10, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Thanks groggette.

    QRG for FNTT? I pointed out one guy is being a douche, so clearly I’m a misandrist. lol. Maybe we can have a round for trolls who use big words without knowing what they mean.

    Peace out nathan! Good luck with with that “confronting your privilege” thing. Maybe in 10, 20, or 50 years, you can come back after reflecting on how deeply you’ve internalized that everyone needs to have the conversations you want to have when you want to have them. It doesn’t look like it’s happened yet, since you STILL manage to blame me in your swan song without reflecting on your words and actions at all.

  147. PrettyAmiable
    February 10, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    Quiet Riot Girl: Feminists do need men to get their aims accomplished. What are they going to do without men’s goodwill?  

    BTDubs, you were just annoying before. This makes me sad for you. I don’t know what happened to you and think it’s fine if any woman chooses not to consider herself a feminist – there’s tons of good reasons not to do so. But deciding you don’t have enough agency to get your aims accomplished without someone’s goodwill? That’s genuinely rough. I’m still hoping you’re just trolling for a reaction, but this doesn’t make me angry – it just makes me sad for you if you really believe it.

  148. Niveau
    February 10, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    I second PrettyAmiable’s FNNT nomination. Obvious troll is obvious.

    RE: law school: there is a hugey-huge-huge difference between one person saying “Prostitution is immoral” and the person he said it to responding with, “Why?” and one person saying “Prostitution is immoral” only to be answered with “No it’s not, you’re so ignorant, let me tell you how you’re wrong, you fool.” The latter is argumentative, the former is not. If he didn’t want to talk about prostitution, he shouldn’t have brought it up. If someone chooses to bring up a topic, it is completely logical and, indeed, normal to assume that they want to talk about it. That’s how conversations work.

    I’m not saying that Clarisse is that this kind of person, just that she may have been perceived that way. Maybe he knew she ran in feminist circles.

    Well, if that was his perception, why the hell would he bring up prostitution in the first place? If he knew it was something she’d be interested in talking about and didn’t want to discuss it, he shouldn’t have said anything about it. Again, how conversations work: a) someone who wants to talk about something brings it up b) other people respond. If you don’t want part b to happen, you don’t do part a.

  149. Kristen J.'s Husband
    February 10, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Quiet Riot Girl: any men here feeling a little bit…er…demonised…here is a discussion about how feminism can make men into the enemy.

    Why? Because after triggering someone and repeatedly insisting that he be centered in any conversation about feminism, someone finally told him that women do not require male validation of their civil rights? That doesn’t suggest that I am the enemy, merely that my concerns do not predominate in this particular conversation.

  150. Bagelsan
    February 10, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    Quiet Riot Girl: any men here feeling a little bit…er…demonised…here is a discussion about how feminism can make men into the enemy.

    Whatev, I can do you one better:

    Men! Your penises are super amazing right now! You can’t tell, ’cause we’re on the innertubes, but I am literally orbiting your gigantic lovely balls. Your dicks = my world. It’s totally hot and stuff. When you whine about whatever you’re whining about at the mo’ I get so turned on. Please say more things about stuff; manly opinions are sexy with a capital SEXY and also, I need to be told what to do all the time (particularly how not to be a feminist bitch? I need advice! Should I keep my mouth shut always or only open it for blowjobs?)

    I know that, without the massive heft –the firm swing of your turgid political influence — I can’t get anything done. So if you promise to give my silly girly causes and rights your dudely goodwill, I promise to eat a banana real slow. ‘K? Kisses!

    (Y’see, QRG, that’s how you pander to the lowest common denominator!)

  151. Lyn
    February 10, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    In my opinion, feminist spaces like these are all about trying to legitimise people’s lived experience of all sorts of things, which include sexism and racism etc.

    Basically, I don’t think PHD’s intentions matter: if he spouted an opinion and then, when asked to back it up by someone he may have found intimidating, tried to shut down that conversation so he didn’t look stupid – that doesn’t change Clarisse’s experience of being shut down by someone (who is accorded priviledge via patriarchy) with what looks like a compliment. Women (and trans people, and people who aren’t white etc.) and their experiences of disempowerment MATTER, regardless of the intentions of those who disempowered them. Think about all the rapists who confuse acquiescence with consent! Even if they didn’t mean to sexually violate anyone, it doesn’t change the fact that the victim/survivor feels violated…and hence was violated (this is something that courtrooms, the media and others have yet to grasp). Then there are those people who think that being complimentary about a race (e.g. asian people are so hard-working) means that they aren’t being racist, or people who say nice things about women as a group (e.g. they are all such sweet nurturing types) who think they aren’t being sexist. They are. I experience those comments as sexist/racist. Even if I myself don’t mean to hurt anyone by something I say, if I say something that hurts them then that is on me – it’s not their fault for being offended, it’s my fault for saying something offensive/for being insensitive.

    Oh – and I have totally had that ‘you’re so smart’ line used on me. My ex used it aaaaall the time (thank god he’s my ex). My other personal favourite is ‘can’t you just enjoy the movie/book/cultural product without getting upset about the sexism etc.’? I walked out of the movie Crank and when asked about my response to it (I didn’t just volunteer the opinion – it was asked for!), I said “I enjoyed it – apart from the misogyny.” (It has a scene where a non-consensual sexual encounter is transformed into a consensual one). My (now ex) partner went off on how I was ruining the experience for him and his friends. It’s soooo difficult to counter without looking like a crazy bitch.

  152. RD
    February 10, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    Bagelsan: not being a pain in the ass and painting an easy target for exclusion on yourself. If nobody wants to be around feminists, then feminists can’t affect the zeitgeist. The FlashHow in the world is casually throwing out “X group of people is immoral” not being a pain in the ass, but following that up with a “why?” is? (Hmm, it’s just like how it’s worse to be called “racist” than to actually be racist innit? Calling someone on their words or actions is just too cruel after they foolishly open their mouths…) Why have you decided that saying something inflammatory and then slinking away is more socially acceptable than responding to said inflammatory remark is?.  (Quote this comment?)

    Yes. Thank you.

  153. February 10, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    In case anyone missed Emeryn’s comment at #135, I wanted to highlight it. There have been a lot of comments backing up how I experienced my shutdown from PHD and talking about similar experiences, but I’m especially struck by Emeryn’s experience because it almost seems like a carbon copy of what happened with PHD.

  154. February 10, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    nathan: Saurus, Thank you. That was fun, and needed!
    Also, I’ll just say something I said on another thread, and then let it go.
    If people wonder why right wing conservatives keeps getting more powerful by the day in most of the nations represented here, a conversation like this should tell you why. So much defensiveness on display (myself included in a few comments) and a willingness to label and toss anyone whose ideas feel too threatening. While we are hating on each other, the powers that be are fucking us all, over and over again.  

    Right, nathan. So when someone like Quiet Riot Girl comes onto a thread and makes a claim that “rape culture doesn’t exist” (and doesn’t even bother to back that up) in a space where many, if not most, of the commenters and readers are survivors of rape and/or domestic violence, you think we should just roll over and take it? Calling out oppressive behavior isn’t “defensiveness”, dude; it’s how social justice happens. On the other hand, comments like yours *are* defensive.

    I think you need to get a fucking clue (there I go, being a MEEN HARPY) about cis male privilege, which you have in spades, before you come in here and lecture us about “ideas we find too threatening”, because there’s a big difference between making life for you a bit less convenient (ZOMG NATHAN HASTA LISTEN TO US MEEN HARPIES!!!111!!!) and contributing to an environment of oppression against women.

  155. February 11, 2011 at 12:07 am

    Quiet Riot Girl: any men here feeling a little bit…er…demonised…here is a discussion about how feminism can make men into the enemy.http://www.marksimpson.com/blog/2011/02/09/misandry-the-acceptable-prejudice/  

    Can we get a ban-hammer already?

  156. Li
    February 11, 2011 at 12:17 am

    Not only would my ex use the precise shut-down technique that Clarisse outlines (albeit over ableism, the axis of oppression we did not share, instead of sexism), he would also turn around and use “but you know more about this than me and the resource of your direct experience of ableism means you must continue to discuss my objections to deaf people wanting their children to share that aspect of their lived experience despite the fact that you have repeatedly and just-the-fuck-then outlined how you don’t have the emotional energy at the moment to deal with explaining how deafness is not objectively terrible”.

    Which, you know, was a hilariously fun double-bind. Too smart to have discussions when I wanted them, too smart to stop having discussions when I wasn’t up to having them at the precise moment he wanted us to.

  157. February 11, 2011 at 8:42 am

    This is a great article, I think his response is very interesting and telling. Guys are sometimes scared of women with intelligence because it means they may not be playing the role of “the big man” who is smarter, makes more money and can protect women.

    Interesting article, really loved it!

    I am adding it to the “Links We LOVE” section of our site this week!

  158. Emeryn
    February 11, 2011 at 10:11 am

    Clarisse Thorn: In case anyone missed Emeryn’s comment at #135, I wanted to highlight it. There have been a lot of comments backing up how I experienced my shutdown from PHD and talking about similar experiences, but I’m especially struck by Emeryn’s experience because it almost seems like a carbon copy of what happened with PHD.  (Quote this comment?)

    When I was reading the original article, it was surreal with how much it reminded me of my own experience.

    But then, I’ve had first dates with all kinds of ‘winners.’ Another guy in one of my college classes kept asking me out until finally I accepted. Over dinner that night, he thought it appropriate to tell me that the reason he asked me out was “I know you’re eighteen, but it’s kind of hot that you look like you’re twelve.”

  159. rare vos
    February 11, 2011 at 11:18 am

    “I don’t think rape culture exists” “But I don’t think Patriarchy exists.”

    I want to live on your planet! What a comfy, privileged, pretty place totally devoid of reality!

    Keep tapdancing. I’m sure that honorary penis will arrive any day now!

  160. rare vos
    February 11, 2011 at 11:33 am

    This has happened to me more times than I care to count.

    My personal favorite, though, was this on line debate in a Christians v. Atheists debate forum where Dude 1 was arguing that the use of bigotted language is not a big deal because “everyone know what those words really mean” (and apparently, what he meant was that the words don’t mean what they mean, they mean something else, i.e. “Gay” doesn’t mean “homosexual person”, it means “stupid” and everyone knows that. See! No homophobia there!) Dude 2 disagreed and was trying to explain how incredibly dumb that position is. Dude 1 was chiding Dude 2 for “providing no backup” for his position.

    (Want to guess which was the white cisgendered straight dude?)

    When I responded with various links, sources, articles, etc. proving Dude 2’s point, Dude 1 responded with, “You’re way too smart to be on HIS side” and “What, you can’t back up your own argument?”

    And then, finally, “You’re making this too intellectual!”

    Still makes me LOL.

  161. PrettyAmiable
    February 11, 2011 at 11:45 am

    rare vos: And then, finally, “You’re making this too intellectual!”

    Ahh! I was at a recruiting dinner last week. I was sitting with a firm I would LOVE to join (I interviewed with a WOC, I was greeted by another woman, they have awesome diversity programs, and it’s a field I adore). I’m sitting next to a friend and we’re conducting a conversation on behavioral finance and how fascinating we find it with one of the recruiters – and another person at the table (a dude – though it’s worth noting I was the only female at the table), chided us for making the dinner conversation too academic.

    He shut down the conversation, but I’m pretty sure the three of us thought he looked ridiculous.

  162. Kristen J.
    February 11, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    @PA – Good luck! Also, I had almost that exact same exchange with a partner during a “Friday drinks” years ago. I said something sarcastic and mocking which absolutely horrified my fellow associates but made the other partners laugh. I think it may have also cemented my status as a hardcore bitch, but unfortunately in Big Law at least that is likely to help you overcome the entrenched misogyny.

  163. February 11, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Emeryn: “I know you’re eighteen, but it’s kind of hot that you look like you’re twelve.”

    Ugh, I’m already feeling sick this morning and this might just push me over into vomit territory.

  164. PrettyAmiable
    February 11, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    Kristen J.: Good luck!

    Thanks!

  165. Sheelzebub
    February 11, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    This is impossible. In ten years, twenty years, fifty years, when we’re still discussing the same set of horror-show problems, and maybe even seeing it all get worse, perhaps these walls will break down.

    Nathan, lecturing people less privileged than you is not going to help those walls come down. You are very quick to judge and lecture those who aren’t as privileged as you. I’ve never seen you back up anyone who’s gotten triggered or slammed by a troll, though. I’ve seen you go after folks who stand up for themselves.

  166. February 11, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    I think Nathan’s gone Sheelzebub. he didn’t want to stick around to be insulted anymore.

    • February 11, 2011 at 4:19 pm

      Awww poor Nathan :-( :-( :-( :-( :-(

  167. Sheelzebub
    February 11, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    So it’s terrible that Nathan feels insulted, but it’s A-OK to dismiss and demonize rape survivors by denying their experience, QRG?

  168. exholt
    February 11, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Regarding Clarisse’s account, the best thing for PHD to do is to either stand down by saying “I shouldn’t have brought it up” or stand his ground by elaborating/backing up his points for better or ill. To try saying “You’re smarter than me” or using some other shutdown tactic to suppress potential pushback after one has provoked it is cowardly as he did by taking a position on the immorality of prostitution.

    If you’re going to have discussions touching on politics or other controversial issues, you’d better be prepared for the possibility your conversation partner may disagree….sometimes vehemently. There was some old saying like “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen”. If the disagreement/vehemence is too much, the date wasn’t meant to be.

    This propensity for potential conflict is probably one reason why many parents and etiquette books advise not discussing controversial topics….especially ones dealing with religion and politics with acquaintances, newly introduced friends, and first dates.

  169. Cara
    February 12, 2011 at 12:53 am

    any men here feeling a little bit…er…demonised…here is a discussion about how feminism can make men into the enemy.

    Better break suction before their heads cave in, QRG, or they won’t be able to award you the Order of the Honorary Peen.

  170. February 12, 2011 at 9:08 am

    They already did. I am a fully loaded dick-waving cock sucker now.

  171. PrettyAmiable
    February 12, 2011 at 10:25 am

    @Cara, don’t confuse the troll. She saw that we called her sad and an asshole and desperate for attention [to be honest, I don’t really know if that one made it to thread, but since it’s true, I’m sure no one will quibble] and interpreted that as us saying she’s man-like. Because we hate men. Despite the fact that we don’t think men as a whole are sad and assholes and desperate for attention. It’s just her.

  172. February 12, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Keep tapdancing. I’m sure that honorary penis will arrive any day now!  

    that suggested I was ‘man-like’…

  173. February 12, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Is there any way we can step off the essentialist “penis = bad” stuff now? I’m as frustrated as anyone with QRG’s ridiculous anti-feminist vendetta and willful obtuseness, but I don’t think that has anything to do with whether she has or does not have or wants or does not want to possess a penis, and it really only seems to be encouraging her BS.

  174. kung fu lola
    February 12, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    QRG reminds me of those born-again Christians who claim to have been “black witches” who performed human baby sacrifices, or have had sixteen abortions before they were “saved”…. I love how their fake conversion stories are never run-of-the-mill. QRG wasn’t just some regular lady who changed her mind, she was raised by feminists! And has a PhD! In Gender studies!

    Lol.

  175. PrettyAmiable
    February 12, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    I

    Quiet Riot Girl:
    that suggested I was ‘man-like’… &

    Yes. And I understand your utter lack of reading comprehension, which is why I told Cara you confuse easy. I’m sure that everyone here wasn’t making fun of you trying to be the cool girl in the boy’s club. They actually meant that you’re like a man, right?!

    Reading comprehension is for all people. Try it sometime.

  176. February 12, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    I am fine with trying to be the cool girl in the boys’ club. In fact I am delighted to be in that position. And if I don’t need a cock to be in that position that’s all the better for me.

  177. Tony
    February 12, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    The thing with trolls is that once they’re identified, you’re supposed to stop feeding them.

  178. RD
    February 12, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    Quiet Riot Girl:
    that suggested I was ‘man-like’…  

    LOL no. That one was suggesting you’re the white female equivalent of an UNCLE TOM.

  179. February 12, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    very true, Tony, very true.

  180. PrettyAmiable
    February 12, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Tony, when people tell me things like “rape culture doesn’t exist” in life – what do you think I do? Well, it turns out that I have to live in this world, so I have to let it go.

    Thanks for taking away any control I felt by trying to make me take responsibility for QRG’s douchebaggery. Luckily, you got to feel all good about yourself.

  181. Tony
    February 12, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    PA.

  182. Tony
    February 12, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    I dont think anyone here thinks your responsible for QRGS comments. Im sorry that my suggestion caused that. I really should have considered your reasons for responding.

  183. Roxie
    February 12, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Quiet Riot Girl: I am fine with trying to be the cool girl in the boys’ club. In fact I am delighted to be in that position. And if I don’t need a cock to be in that position that’s all the better for me.  

    I nominate you for colluder of the week

  184. Tony
    February 12, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    Quiet Riot Girl: very true, Tony, very true.  

    Fuck you, get out of here asshole.

  185. February 13, 2011 at 12:38 am

    “You’re really intelligent”= you “get” my jokes so I don’t have to explain them. But don’t expect me to expend any of my intelligence trying to understand *you*.

  186. February 13, 2011 at 4:45 am

    calling me ‘uncle tom’ and a ‘colluder’ suggests there is an ‘enemy’, an ‘oppressor’. Who is that enemy? and does it have a big cock?

  187. RD
    February 13, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Holy fucking hell.

  188. February 13, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Christ, everybody knows already that you don’t believe in sexism or gender-based oppression! You’ve made that abundantly clear! From the mirror post on Clarisse’s blog:

    I liked that meme Privilege denying dude because I often agreed with his statements. It wasn’t ironic for me!

    I don’t deny privilege I just don’t think it exists along men/women binaries.

    So you are here to taunt people, derail threads, and be a destructive toxic force because you oppose the existence of feminism. GREAT. We get it. Now fuck the hell off.

  189. February 13, 2011 at 9:41 am

    But feminism opposes patriarchy from within. I oppose feminism from within. That’s how change is achieved innit.

  190. kung fu lola
    February 13, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Quiet Riot Girl: But feminism opposes patriarchy from within. I oppose feminism from within. That’s how change is achieved innit.  

    It is, indeed. In your case, for the worst.

    • February 13, 2011 at 11:16 am

      Well, what could have been a really interesting thread on a great post has been totally de-railed and is now entirely out of control. I’m shutting down comments. Sorry that I didn’t have more time this week/weekend to moderate.

  191. The Flash
    February 13, 2011 at 11:17 am

    You all don’t think there’s a little bit of pathetic cliche in the way you’re attacking QRG? Like saying that she wants to have a penis and that she’s in a boys’ club and she’s an uncle Tom is kind of a bad charicature of how feminists hate men and view relations between the sexes as a war?

    A little more discipline is called for, perhaps…

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