Author: has written 5272 posts for this blog.

Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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112 Responses

  1. karak
    karak October 17, 2011 at 5:00 pm |

    Ooooh, I so agree. And if you object to a pile-on, in ANY way, your credentials are demanded, and when produced, if not deemed sufficient, you will be told to shut the fuck up.

    I hate demanding credentials. Either someone’s argument has merit or it does not. About the only time it’s really valid to ask is if you’re trying to explain something, and you want your explanation to tie in to that person’s experience.

  2. saurus
    saurus October 17, 2011 at 5:04 pm |

    On one hand, call-out culture is a problem. I think it’s partially a product and/or symptom of other problems (read: the career-izing of feminism, feminism growing from theory instead of vice versa, academic feminism, feminism growing from identity labels instead of lived experience, feminism as proving one’s self-worth and integrity instead of being rooted in practical action and needs, feminism as a reproduction of achievement/power/value hierarchies) but nevertheless, it does constitute its own problem.

    What worries me is when people use critiques of call-out culture as some kind of exoneration. I’m not saying that’s what Jill or anyone else is doing, but every once in a while a post like this is written and then everyone is all “omigod, being called out is SO traumatic” and then suddenly there’s a confessional-style outburst of people who are still feeling hurt about whatever, with absolutely zero space for the people who may have been validly hurt by their words or actions.

    Again, not to say that there isn’t a lot to critique about call-out culture, but sometimes it ends up as “being called racist hurts more than being a victim of racism” type territory.

    I do think we need to find ways of communicating – both in creating content and in responding to it and in transcending that whole producer/consumer dichotomy altogether – that cause each other less pain. Which means I see improving call-out culture as a goal that must operate in tandem with improving all the shit we say that leads to call-outs in the first place.

    Which means, in a big way, that I think the whole structure of this shit is fucked…that until we start seeing each other as people and lives instead of “issues” and ideas, we will still be cavalier towards each other because our feminism is grounded about six inches above where our lives are.

  3. Shoshie
    Shoshie October 17, 2011 at 5:12 pm |

    I was going to write something, and then saurus said it more eloquently than I ever could.

    I think people who are hurt with words need to be able to express their hurt and, yes, anger. This is really important.

    But sometimes that expression is used to silence voices that are also really, really important.

    The line between the two can be really narrow and needs to be treated with nuance. Unfortunately, the Internet is a craptastic place for nuance. :-/

  4. j.cruel
    j.cruel October 17, 2011 at 5:35 pm |

    I was really surprised to see that this was originally posted at tigerbeatdown. I’ve become totally ambivalent about that site lately. I really love s.e. smith, whose writings on disability are amazing and always open my eyes to my unnoticed privilege. But Flavia, the author of this piece, seems so completely a product of “call out” culture it’s almost hard to take her seriously as a critic of it. She’s often very quick to declare her objects of ire THE WORST PEOPLE EVER and to distance herself from feminism whenever other feminists do or say things she disagrees with. I do see the problem, but the line between a call out and a critique is often very thin and rules of engagement would be nice. I wonder what feministes’ think would be good rules of engagement? I’d like to know.

  5. z
    z October 17, 2011 at 5:42 pm |

    So… we shouldn’t call out people on their BS views? Shouldn’t call out misogyny, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, racism, ableism, anything like that?

    Or is it that we need to do it “nicely”?

  6. Doc Alpert
    Doc Alpert October 17, 2011 at 5:50 pm |

    I want to point out here that the same person that wrote that also wrote this “feminist” “critique” of A Game of Thrones that starts by insulting its fans and continues by making error after error—not just about nerdy things like plot points, but also about the whole point of many of the events of the series.

    For this she came under a lot of fire, some of it admittedly bullying of the type she describes in this post. But a lot of it was also completely reasonable and rational responses showing what she got wrong. In particular, Alyssa Rosenberg—who also considers herself a feminist—disagreed with pretty much everything Sady wrote. Sady responded to it on twitter thusly:

    “Feminist?” Can’t find a way to promote your work? Attack high-trafficked post by other women, play into nerd martyr complex, get $$$!

    So I can’t help but feel that this post is a response to the responses to a previous post she wrote that, in the most generous possible reading, was meant to provoke this kind of reaction. (Generous about her reading comprehension skills, that is.)

  7. Comrade PhysioProf
    Comrade PhysioProf October 17, 2011 at 5:51 pm |

    How could you have linked to gibberish like that approvingly!?!?!? This blog totally sucks and is a complete disgrace!!!11! I bet you even hate puppies!!!!

  8. Jadey
    Jadey October 17, 2011 at 6:00 pm |

    Doc Alpert:
    I want to point out here that the same person that wrote that also wrote this “feminist” “critique” of A Game of Thrones that starts by insulting its fans and continues by making error after error—not just about nerdy things like plot points, but also about the whole point of many of the events of the series.

    For this she came under a lot of fire, some of it admittedly bullying of the type she describes in this post.But a lot of it was also completely reasonable and rational responses showing what she got wrong.In particular, Alyssa Rosenberg—who also considers herself a feminist—disagreed with pretty much everything Sady wrote.Sady responded to it on twitter thusly:

    So I can’t help but feel that this post is a response to the responses to a previous post she wrote that, in the most generous possible reading, was meant to provoke this kind of reaction.(Generous about her reading comprehension skills, that is.)

    Tiger Beatdown is a multi-contributor site. Flavia and Sady are not the same people.

  9. zuzu
    zuzu October 17, 2011 at 6:00 pm |

    I’ll get the popcorn.

  10. Chally
    Chally October 17, 2011 at 6:09 pm |

    So, before munching that popcorn becomes the only response, I just want to pick up on what karak said about credentials. I think it’s really troubling that people can be expected to provide lists of oppressions, not just because those lists inevitably leave things out and construct an internal hierarchy. It’s also a problem because it assumes that everyone knows all those bits of their identity, or is comfortable and safe enough to share them, or that it’s, you know, anyone else’s business. There’s a lot of hostility to refusal to reveal various parts of oneself for public gawking.

  11. Jane
    Jane October 17, 2011 at 6:10 pm |

    @ Doc Alpert . . . this article was written by Flavia, not Sady.

    I think that trying to introduce more nuance into cultural critique is nearly always a desirable goal, particularly in call-outs. And I also think trying to remember that the person you are calling out is a human being of complexity is worthwhile. Sometimes people can afford the effort to be kind, and sometimes they can’t, but if you can, it can mean a lot to the person to whom you are speaking.

    I guess the difficulty with this sort of post is that all of these things have a place — harsh call-outs, language policing, and avoiding/telling others to avoid websites that consistently fuck things up — whereas sometimes they are tools of aggression and abuse. And everyone has a different threshold of what they are willing to deal with (ex. some people can handle the use of oppressive language if the overall message has value, but for some people that is unacceptable/triggering.)

    It makes it hard to definitively point to an example of what not to do.

  12. Lindsay Beyerstein
    Lindsay Beyerstein October 17, 2011 at 6:10 pm |

    Call out culture sucks, but Flavia’s post is unintelligible.

  13. Shoshie
    Shoshie October 17, 2011 at 6:15 pm |

    Chally: I think it’s really troubling that people can be expected to provide lists of oppressions, not just because those lists inevitably leave things out and construct an internal hierarchy.

    QFT

  14. zuzu
    zuzu October 17, 2011 at 6:20 pm |

    Chally:
    So, before munching that popcorn becomes the only response, I just want to pick up on what karak said about credentials. I think it’s really troubling that people can be expected to provide lists of oppressions, not just because those lists inevitably leave things out and construct an internal hierarchy. It’s also a problem because it assumes that everyone knows all those bits of their identity, or is comfortable and safe enough to share them, or that it’s, you know, anyone else’s business. There’s a lot of hostility to refusal to reveal various parts of oneself for public gawking.

    Word. When did the whole litany (Zuzu is a cis, white, TAB blahblahblah) become de rigeur? Wasn’t like that in *my* day (get offa my lawn!).

  15. Jadey
    Jadey October 17, 2011 at 6:22 pm |

    More on point…

    I read this at TB this morning and have been mulling it over. I’m a big fan of Flavia, and much of what she says in this post rings true, but some things gave me pause, including her situation of her analysis in regard to reality TV and blogging – while new media have certainly enhanced our opportunities for direct and indirect connections, I think the “performative” aspects of our behaviour have a much longer history – I’d even go so far as to say that it’s a fundamental aspect of human behaviour. So I don’t think Flavia’s argument makes a clear enough distinction between the idea of “performative behaviour is a problem” vs. “here’s a downside to performative behaviour which is also exacerbated by new media”. That may be a small quibble in the scheme of things, but it didn’t work for me.

    My other problem is in the critique of call-out culture. First of all, these critiques are by no means new – many bloggers have visited this problem before (I think Kinsey Hope’s article from a year ago was the first one that really sunk in for me, though it was by no means the first I read), and while the fact that the problem is on-going means that the critique of it must also be on-going, sometimes I feel like these discussions go ’round in circles. But that’s partly an artefact of me having heard them before, which certainly doesn’t apply to everyone. Still, once again I find a lack of clarity – what kinds of call-outs is she talking about, of whom, and by whom? Because as often as I see people decry call-outs, I see the same people participating in them when they feel it is justified. Personally, I call shit out all the time. I try not to be an asshole about it, but it would be hypocritical of me to say, “Call-out culture is damaging our cause!” when I know that I’m going to keep calling people out on their shit. Hell, what was the Guy Fiere post or the Cat Martell post if not examples of call-outs? (Admittedly these people did not claim to be within the social justice sphere which may be a point of difference from what some people would consider a “call out”, but that’s where Flavia’s lack of clarification is bringing me consternation – what call-outs are we talking about?)

    Sady, in the comments of that piece, sets out four guidelines for call-outs that make a lot of sense to me, but that suggests that call-outs are okay when done right, so the call-outs aren’t the issue so much as the process that happens when we use them. Which leads me to wonder whether call-outs are the root or the symptom.

    It’s clearly a difficult issue, maybe even a definitive one for this generation of activists who must learn to co-operate with more and more people across more and more issues. Overall, I agree with what Flavia says and she remains one of my favourite bloggers, but I’m struggling with what to take from this post and I wonder if how I interpret it is in line with how it was meant to be taken and how others are taking it.

  16. z
    z October 17, 2011 at 6:35 pm |

    zuzu: Word.When did the whole litany (Zuzu is a cis, white, TAB blahblahblah) become de rigeur?Wasn’t like that in *my* day (get offa my lawn!).

    I think it’s useful to know from what perspectives or history one is speaking from; naturally, they shouldn’t become mandatory, expected, nor defining whether someone should be immune from being called out on their shit or not — everyone has the potential to say stupid shit.

  17. EG
    EG October 17, 2011 at 6:40 pm |

    Ugh, I find them tedious beyond belief. If you’re a good writer, you should be able to indicate the relevant information in your piece without a monotonous, formulaic infodump at the beginning. I always skip right over it in order to find out what the person is actually going to be talking about.

  18. piny
    piny October 17, 2011 at 6:43 pm |

    Word. When did the whole litany (Zuzu is a cis, white, TAB blahblahblah) become de rigeur? Wasn’t like that in *my* day (get offa my lawn!).

    Well, this is the part of the argument that it’s hard for various involved people to agree on, in a nutshell: It–”As someone who is not a member of x, y, and z groups”–was something that members of different dominant/privileged groups started doing in an effort to seem aware. It’s not something that anyone demanded, and it’s not the same as actually being or even seeming aware. And now it seems like a lot of people think it’s either burdensome or affected.

    But that’s part of why when done right never comes down to any single standard or set of rules: this group is a bunch of diversely not-privileged people trying to talk about stuff they think is important and a bunch of diversely privileged people trying to do the right thing according to their understanding of right. Which is not the same. Like, the “I as a blah blah blah this that and the other thing person…” wasn’t ever imposed on anyone. It didn’t spring from calling out. It didn’t spring from fear of being called out. It’s much more complicated and dysfunctional than that. All of these people have together created this…culture…but they aren’t all doing the same things in the same way.

    And so then you get this thing where you have calling out, kinda mean calling out, an impassioned defense of mean calling out, an impassioned jeremiad against calling out, an impassioned excoriation of people who complain about the jeremiad against calling out, and a more in sorrow than anger post about how we need to stop all the calling out because it is eating our souls. All on the same site. And yes, that list includes posts by more than one person.

  19. Safiya Outlines
    Safiya Outlines October 17, 2011 at 6:43 pm |

    As long as there is blogging, there will be beef. Some beef will be good, some beef will be bad, but there will always be beef.

    I don’t like the idea that call outs are always a bad thing. On a blog I love, Racialicious, I can recall at least two occasions where two of the main writers were called out (both times deservedly). They took it on board, learned from it and often referred back to it. However, it’s important to note that Racialicious is a heavily modded blog. IMHO, productive conversations on the the Internet and modding go hand in hand.

  20. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 17, 2011 at 6:45 pm |

    Lindsay Beyerstein:
    Call out culture sucks, but Flavia’s post is unintelligible.

    It is a bit long winded, yes but that comment is really unduly harsh. One look at her ‘about’ page tells you Flavia is a native Spanish speaker who lives in the Netherlands. Whoa, she doesn’t communicate effectively in her third language, let’s tar and feather her…

  21. Jadey
    Jadey October 17, 2011 at 6:50 pm |

    Fat Steve: It is a bit long winded, yes but that comment is really unduly harsh. One look at her ‘about’ page tells you Flavia is a native Spanish speaker who lives in the Netherlands. Whoa, she doesn’t communicate effectively in her third language, let’s tar and feather her…

    … Except her English grammar and vocabulary are excellent, although her style is somewhat meandering, which some of us (like me!) enjoy and some of us do not. I don’t think you can read that piece and suggest that she does not have an excellent grasp of English, although you could read it and critique her particular writing style if you find it unintelligible. There is something quite condescending (and inaccurate) about protecting her from criticisms on the basis of her English not being very good.

  22. Ladeeda
    Ladeeda October 17, 2011 at 6:52 pm |

    The problem, as I see it, is that by adopting an aggressive stance in calling someone out, you lose some ability to educate the them as to why their comments were problematic in the first place. If the call-out is largely punitive and a pile-on occurs, the commenter will become defensive rather than receptive to learning. You can say they should just grow thicker skin and take their pile-on with grace and aplomb, but why place additional obstacles in the way of a teachable moment?

  23. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 17, 2011 at 6:57 pm |

    Jadey: … Except her English grammar and vocabulary are excellent, although her style is somewhat meandering, which some of us (like me!) enjoy and some of us do not. I don’t think you can read that piece and suggest that she does not have an excellent grasp of English, although you could read it and critique her particular writing style if you find it unintelligible. There is something quite condescending (and inaccurate) about protecting her from criticisms on the basis of her English not being very good.

    I wasn’t protecting her from all criticism, I agreed she was long winded. But how is calling the post unintelligible anything but a criticism of her English?

  24. andie
    andie October 17, 2011 at 6:58 pm |

    I can get on board with the idea that the call-out culture as described in the article is damaging.. it’s like say you have a group of friends, and one of them says something offensive and instead of saying ‘Hey, that’s not cool’ you wait until later when everyone else is around and go “OMG.. did you hear what XXXX said? What a jackass! we should totally shun hir”

    Meanwhile, nobody learns anything until it’s been blown way out of proportion, and if you had just said ‘Hey, not cool’ right to XXXXX’s face zie may have absorbed the message and learned something new that day.

    And yeah, I’m using a lot of high-school metaphors lately.. I guess the internet reminds me too much of high school.

  25. Jadey
    Jadey October 17, 2011 at 7:07 pm |

    Fat Steve: I wasn’t protecting her from all criticism, I agreed she was long winded. But how is calling the post unintelligible anything but a criticism of her English?

    I refer to the work of many highly trained academic writers whose only language is English as unintelligible because their arguments are muddled and their concepts inadequately defined. It’s not a critique of their linguistic fluency, but their skill at explanation and argumentation. In that sense, “unintelligible” is not a very elaborate or specific criticism, and it’s not enough to assume Lindsey was necessarily referring to Flavia’s English skills.

  26. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 17, 2011 at 7:09 pm |

    Jadey: “unintelligible” is not a very elaborate or specific criticism

    That is precisely why I felt it was a cheap shot.

  27. silentbeep
    silentbeep October 17, 2011 at 7:18 pm |

    One suggestion in telling the difference between doing a “call-out” vs. participating in “call-out culture” (which I have come to believe, are overlapping, but different hings): when critiquing someone consider refraining from calling them things like “douchebag.” When the deeply personal name calling starts, perhaps some reflection on whether this is a “call out” or a venture into “call out culture,” is needed.

  28. Athenia
    Athenia October 17, 2011 at 7:20 pm |

    Well, this is definitely an interesting article compared with the intensely personal piece Sady wrote recently.

    I’m not sure what to say. Yes, call out culture sucks, but also saying stupid things also suck.

  29. Athenia
    Athenia October 17, 2011 at 7:22 pm |

    Lindsay Beyerstein:
    Call out culture sucks, but Flavia’s post is unintelligible.

    Usually I really like her posts, but this one seemed really different and not really her. Seemed much more Sady, than Flavia.

  30. cookies
    cookies October 17, 2011 at 7:39 pm |

    Ahh, call-out culture. The dead end of self-flagellation.

  31. zuzu
    zuzu October 17, 2011 at 7:59 pm |

    piny: But that’s part of why when done right never comes down to any single standard or set of rules: this group is a bunch of diversely not-privileged people trying to talk about stuff they think is important and a bunch of diversely privileged people trying to do the right thing according to their understanding of right. Which is not the same. Like, the “I as a blah blah blah this that and the other thing person…” wasn’t ever imposed on anyone. It didn’t spring from calling out. It didn’t spring from fear of being called out. It’s much more complicated and dysfunctional than that. All of these people have together created this…culture…but they aren’t all doing the same things in the same way.

    Without discounting the complexity and dysfunctionality you outline so well here, there’s something about the whole thing that reads as showing off, or maybe me-too-ism. I guess where I get annoyed is when the people who are trying to legitimately call out shitty behavior or attitudes get drowned out or discounted by a bunch of bandwagon-jumpers who Can’t! Wait! to tell everyone their credentials or to demonstrate that they, too, know the vocabulary of calling out and they’re going to use it, dammit! And the person so called-out better be abject about it.

    It’s a lot like having a conversation with someone who seems engaged, but is really only listening for signal words or waiting for you to take a breath so they can jump in with what they’ve been thinking about saying the whole time you’ve been talking.

    z: I think it’s useful to know from what perspectives or history one is speaking from; naturally, they shouldn’t become mandatory, expected, nor defining whether someone should be immune from being called out on their shit or not — everyone has the potential to say stupid shit.

    Except not everything calls for credentialing, you know? It’s not always relevant. And I say stupid shit all the time.

  32. Matt
    Matt October 17, 2011 at 8:14 pm |

    Safiya Outlines:
    I don’t like the idea that call outs are always a bad thing. On a blog I love, Racialicious, I can recall at least two occasions where two of the main writers were called out (both times deservedly). They took it on board, learned from it and often referred back to it. However, it’s important to note that Racialicious is a heavily modded blog. IMHO, productive conversations on the the Internet and modding go hand in hand.

    @safiya outlines: The reason I think modded sites do so well is that they limit differences extraneous to the argument. So you aren’t going to get a call out from say, an MRA activist who has a lot of other baggage to bring in, which even if they had a good point, would easily obscure it and just generate general rage. Modding also insures more conformity of thought in general, so its less likely that wildly conflicting viewpoints are around at all.
    @fatsteve, writing style is independent from language comprehension, or grammar/syntax, I didn’t see the commentator as attacking her english, and in fact her understanding of english seems excellent to me.

  33. piny
    piny October 17, 2011 at 8:33 pm |

    Zuzu: that definitely happens. But then again…I suspect that my specific memory of it is colored by who’s my friend and who’s not.

    But like:

    One suggestion in telling the difference between doing a “call-out” vs. participating in “call-out culture” (which I have come to believe, are overlapping, but different hings): when critiquing someone consider refraining from calling them things like “douchebag.” When the deeply personal name calling starts, perhaps some reflection on whether this is a “call out” or a venture into “call out culture,” is needed.

    Sady calls people douchebags all the time. She may even have popularized the term, I can’t remember. Not just Sady. We all do that. Because we’re feminists.

    That’s an important part of activism: speaking in strong terms about how some people are doing things that are fucking awful, and (sometimes) about how certain people really are fucking awful all the time, completely, on purpose. That’s not always bad. Sometimes insulting other people is righteous.

    The question is, who deserves critique and who deserves to be told that they’re a gigantic dick, and under what circumstances? And yeah, of course we’re not going to come to a consensus answer to that question. But throwing everything into the “call-out” box, as though there were a standard set of terms of engagement for every social-justice situation, won’t work. There isn’t–you can’t be always rejecting anger any more than you can be always angry.

  34. piny
    piny October 17, 2011 at 8:35 pm |

    Wait, that might have sounded more cliquey than self-critical. I mean, colored by my personal affection/antipathy.

  35. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 17, 2011 at 8:44 pm |

    Matt: @fatsteve, writing style is independent from language comprehension, or grammar/syntax, I didn’t see the commentator as attacking her english, and in fact her understanding of english seems excellent to me.

    Maybe she wasn’t. I have been wrong on many occasions. But when you offer up glib comments devoid of context, you have to expect that people are going to interpret them in different ways.

    Besides, I didn’t find the article unintelligible (i.e. impossible to understand.) It was prosaic, it perhaps used too many Dutch cultural references, but I didn’t see how one could say it was impossible to understand unless they were complaining about the way it was written. I may have misinterpreted, but Lindsay offered no further explanation, and in that sense her comment was far less intelligible.

  36. Jadey
    Jadey October 17, 2011 at 8:49 pm |

    Jill: Criticizing or mocking a random celebrity who is never going to read your blog and is not really affiliated with your political movement isn’t call-out culture. Seeing something fucked up on a blog and going, “Dude that’s fucked up! And here is why!” is not call-out culture. I don’t think anyone is suggesting that people be free from criticism.

    I’m not sure we’re all on the same page about what call-out culture is – I think it encompasses this nasty subculture, but I think the idea of “calling out” is directed related to the idea of “speaking truth to power”, which is a huge cornerstone of social justice culture. For me, all of this is on a continuum, and it’s been hard (and will probably continue to be so) for me to tell where to draw the line. There are some obvious extremes – I’m not worried about Mel Gibson’s feelings, but I do care about many of the commenters and communities on the blogs I frequent – but there’s still a lot of middle ground in there, especially with the weird democratizing effect of the Internet where sometimes we do get to talk directly to people we never expected to. This is part of the challenge I have in figuring out where to go from the “no more call-out culture!” posts. I get the same self-righteous adrenaline shock no matter who I’m calling out, Roman Polanski or a fellow blogger I think has done something ignorant, because my anger doesn’t differentiate itself so neatly, so I’m suspicious of all of it, but not ready to throw it all out.

  37. Lindsay Beyerstein
    Lindsay Beyerstein October 17, 2011 at 8:49 pm |

    Steve, Flavia’s a good English prose stylist. There’s nothing wrong with her writing in this post, or anything of hers that I’ve read. She’s just not making a clear argument in this post.

  38. Safiya Outlines
    Safiya Outlines October 17, 2011 at 8:53 pm |

    To be honest, if we’re on about this blog specifically, by far the worst calling out happens between commenters rather then above and below the line. IMVHO.

    I just feel that this conversation is going to go the same way as all the others:
    It’s not nice to have your work and very person shredded across the blogosphere.
    Critique for critique’s sake is ungood in many ways, critique for self aggrandizement is worse.
    However if fails happen, they should be noticed
    And folks will argue that you don’t necessarily deserve niceness and cookies when you fail, but that brings us back to point one.

    And on and on, that snake munching on its own so very tasty tail.

  39. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 17, 2011 at 8:53 pm |

    Lindsay Beyerstein:
    Steve, Flavia’s a good English prose stylist. There’s nothing wrong with her writing in this post, or anything of hers that I’ve read. She’s just not making a clear argument in this post.

    Thanks for taking the time to explain that and not immediately assuming I was simply having a go at you. I’m sorry for misjudging your intentions.

  40. Lindsay Beyerstein
    Lindsay Beyerstein October 17, 2011 at 8:54 pm |

    “Calling out culture” means trying to score ideological purity points by viciously and publicly excoriating your allies.

    It’s simple to define in principle, but difficult to identify in practice because you have to have to impute bad faith on the part of the critics.

  41. zuzu
    zuzu October 17, 2011 at 8:54 pm |

    piny: The question is, who deserves critique and who deserves to be told that they’re a gigantic dick, and under what circumstances? And yeah, of course we’re not going to come to a consensus answer to that question. But throwing everything into the “call-out” box, as though there were a standard set of terms of engagement for every social-justice situation, won’t work. There isn’t–you can’t be always rejecting anger any more than you can be always angry.

    No, that’s all true. And I’m not sure we’re even referring to the same stuff here; I’m not thinking of anything particularly specific, or any particularly specific post (I’m still working through Flavia’s post (which, while not entirely unintelligible, could really benefit from some editing), and I don’t read Tiger Beatdown all that often unless my attention is drawn to something breathtakingly good (Michael Moore & Me) or breathtakingly idiotic (that whole Game of Thrones WTF-ery)), but it seems you might be?

    All that said, I do feel as if there has been a shift over the past couple of years, which for better or worse has been labeled “call-out culture.” Call-outs can be valuable, and insults can be righteous, but at the same time I feel like there’s been a cheapening or dilution from overuse. And overuse not from people who have legitimate grounds for anger, but from those who see how effective the tools can be?

    As you said, it’s all complicated. But if I were Queen of the World, the fucking litany-as-inoculation-from-criticism would be the first thing to go.

  42. zuzu
    zuzu October 17, 2011 at 8:56 pm |

    Lindsay Beyerstein: “Calling out culture” means trying to score ideological purity points by viciously and publicly excoriating your allies.

    Or, you know, what Lindsay said.

  43. Sarah J.
    Sarah J. October 17, 2011 at 8:59 pm |

    I particularly appreciated her point about credentialing. I’m relatively new to the social justice movement. I grew up in a sheltered religious environment (and by sheltered, I mean homeschooled for years without a TV) and then attended a Christian college. So although I left the church three years ago, I’m still catching up on life outside its parameters. I’m still learning the lingo. And I am so scared of making a mistake in this movement. I’m afraid that I’ll get labeled a bigot when the reality is that I’m still learning my way around.

    So I react by throwing my credentials around. I’ve felt that’s the only way I’ll be taken seriously, and sometimes it’s still isn’t enough. I got accused of internalizing prejudice against a facet of my own identity simply because I’ve arrived at a different conclusion over using a word that directly concerns that identity. Sometimes I feel like I can’t win. And “credentialing” makes it worse. It’s like I’m fracturing my identity. I am bits of a person, I am experiences only, when the reality is I am something more than that, just like everyone else.

    That’s why I loved this post. I loved Flavia’s last post on TB, too. And I haven’t always agreed with her or with Sady on things in the past.

  44. igglanova
    igglanova October 17, 2011 at 8:59 pm |

    Part of what gets to be so wearying about call-outs is the sheer cumulative nature of them, even when many individuals are being civil or otherwise doing everything right. This is also why the problem does not seem to have an answer. Running a gauntlet of criticism is unfortunately just a part of being on the internet, and we’re not going to be able to change this anytime soon with just the concerted effort of a tiny feminist community.

    However, for our individual parts, we can learn to respect how vulnerable a person makes him/herself when uploading a blog post. It takes a lot more personal investment and guts to create content than it does to engage in flame wars in the comment section. So, maybe try to engage with the content of the post, and then say what you totally hated about it. It’s not like you’re entitled to this person’s work. The least you can do is respect the author’s effort.

  45. piny
    piny October 17, 2011 at 9:01 pm |

    Yeah, but who says we shouldn’t harshly criticize or mock non-celebrities who are clearly reading our blogs? Who says we can’t harshly criticize or mock non-celebrities who also identify as feminists who are clearly reading our blogs? Not Sady. Not, so far as I remember, any of us.

    I understand that it’s not productive to do that on a hair-trigger basis, but I don’t know what it is about not being Perez Hilton that makes that not okay. Especially since one of the most contentions sidebars in this whole call-out-culture debate has been the definition of celebrity. I think each of us, at one time or another, has been surprised to learn that we are celebrities. And shocked by the idea that some people feel therefore entitled to call us douchebags.

    But I’m not sure that it’s really such a good idea to impose this idea of community in the face of all this anger that just seems to keep flaring up all over the place. Some of it is dysfunctional personalities creating drama, but some of it is real and accurate in its degree. And I don’t know if I feel comfortable delegitimating those instruments of anger, especially since we feminists so frequently and unapologetically use those exact same rallying dynamics against the people we have decided are not friendly. It seems oblivious to me. A lot of people believe that “celebrity” and “not affiliated with our movement” are a good description of some of the people who have reaped rage fests. I’m not sure it makes sense to dismiss that. I don’t think “call-out culture” is a tumblr trend so much as the natural consequence of a more diverse set of perspectives.

    I’m not saying that you deserve to be hated because you’re famous, or that there’s no way for us to bridge these conflicts. But this is the conflict: we don’t all agree on who’s us or worthwhile.

  46. silentbeep
    silentbeep October 17, 2011 at 9:03 pm |

    @33

    re: example of douchebag

    I don’t know, wasn’t offering it up as a hard and fast rule. Maybe upon reflection the answer would be “yes, in this case the name-calling is appropriate.” Or maybe it wouldn’t be and it is just a part of a “rage fest” as Jill described above. These things vary. Thus, my added word of “perhaps.”

  47. piny
    piny October 17, 2011 at 9:09 pm |

    That is:

    Lindsay Beyerstein: “Calling out culture” means trying to score ideological purity points by viciously and publicly excoriating your allies.

    Yes, I get this. I do get this! I swear I’m not being intentionally obtuse.

    But “allies.” I don’t think it’s always about trying to create an abusive dynamic within the group. As we all know from the top troll contests and such, the rules are different for people who are not your allies. Those people exist to be excoriated.

  48. piny
    piny October 17, 2011 at 9:19 pm |

    I don’t read Tiger Beatdown all that often unless my attention is drawn to something breathtakingly good (Michael Moore & Me) or breathtakingly idiotic (that whole Game of Thrones WTF-ery)), but it seems you might be?

    No, I’m part of the sharp uptick in traffic she gets whenever one of her posts wins the ragefest sweepstakes.

    (I liked the Game of Thrones post, btw. I mean, I thought she said a lot of not-so-great things about fantasy and nerdery, but I think they were beside her accurate read on Martin: ye olde gods, does he love him some nubile buxom barely-pubescent sex workers!)

    I mostly just remember it because, well, rage and insults are part of her blogger schtick. Like, she’s fun to read because she’s really mean a lot of the time. I appreciate that. I think it makes her a good writer. I think that she’s wrong, sometimes, but I think she’s good at expressing her views.

    And again, I really do get that it’s not a good idea to have exactly one setting on your feminist ray gun, but I feel like we’re kind of throwing the bitchiness out with the bathwater. You know?

  49. zuzu
    zuzu October 17, 2011 at 9:43 pm |

    piny: And again, I really do get that it’s not a good idea to have exactly one setting on your feminist ray gun, but I feel like we’re kind of throwing the bitchiness out with the bathwater. You know?

    I think we definitely aren’t talking about the same thing. Me, advocate giving up bitchery? The horror!

  50. zuzu
    zuzu October 17, 2011 at 9:46 pm |

    zuzu: I think we definitely aren’t talking about the same thing.Me, advocate giving up bitchery?The horror!

    I’m thinking more of the people who get offended by the bitchery because it’s mean, but then turn around and viciously go after people who disagree with them just to show how much they own their privilege, or something.

    I figure if a blogger hasn’t offended at least three commenters with any given post, they’re doin it rong.

  51. Victoria
    Victoria October 17, 2011 at 10:15 pm |

    Call out culture might, at times, dangerously resemble bullying. However, it is not exactly the same. It certainly shares its outcome, however, unlike bullying, call out culture is part of the performative aspect of blogging. Unlike bullying, a call out is intended for an audience.

    And here’s the thing, on the surface, call outs are done “for good”. Of course shitty statements need to be challenged, nobody would deny that. Of course those who are hurt by shitty statements deserve to be recognized in their grief and deserve a sincere apology. But that’s not at the root of “call out culture”. The intent behind it, more often than not, is just to make the one initiating the call out feel good, more righteous, more indignant, a “better person”. In the end, the call out is not done for the benefit of a collective goal, it is done for entertainment and shocking value.

    Sooo, the difference between good callout and bad callout is intent? Intent as perceived by whom?

    My personal experience with this issue is limited to discussions on a private, very-lightly-moderated email list devoted to diversity issues. I can’t speak for other members of the list, but every critique I made was directed primarily at the person who made the statement that was offensive, exclusionary, sexist, or andronormative, and secondarily at other people reading along who might also not have been aware of the problematic implications of the statement. Is that directed at an audience, or not? It’s damned sure not intended for shock and entertainment value.

    And yet I eventually got intimidated into shutting up on that list, because almost every time anyone raised an issue about problematic language, a vocal minority raised holy hell about being bullied. I got intimidated not because I was threatened or harassed, but because I am sincerely concerned about the possibility that my behavior is unjustly bullying rather than justly critical. Rather than risk being — not being perceived as, but really being — a bully, I’ll keep my mouth shut.

    So I’m real interested in reliably discerning the difference between a just callout and bullying behavior.

    Similarly, where’s the distinction between piling on, and backing somebody up? Is it numerical? If one person says “Hey, that’s sexist”, and somebody else seconds the motion, then should everybody else shut up until two people have posted pushbacks? Or what?

    @Jadey: “It’s clearly a difficult issue, maybe even a definitive one for this generation of activists who must learn to co-operate with more and more people across more and more issues. ”

    Word. Part of the problem I had in the circumstance I talked about above was that a non-negligible portion of the community rejected two of what I consider basic tools in the anti-bigotry toolkit: attention to language, and the paradigm of privilege. They rejected them not only as non useful, but as actively harmful. Yet I do believe they were sincere in their support of increasing diversity in the community; they just wanted to focus on concrete actions and outreach. But it made it awfully difficult for us to cooperate, because almost every time someone raised one of these issues, a shitstorm ensued along this fault line, and we often lost people who gave up in disgust.

    So difficult and definitive, yeah.

  52. Tony
    Tony October 17, 2011 at 11:33 pm |

    Ladeeda:
    The problem, as I see it, is that by adopting an aggressive stance in calling someone out, you lose some ability to educate the them as to why their comments were problematic in the first place. If the call-out is largely punitive and a pile-on occurs, the commenter will become defensive rather than receptive to learning. You can say they should just grow thicker skin and take their pile-on with grace and aplomb, but why place additional obstacles in the way of a teachable moment?

    I haven’t been keeping enough to fully parse these meta-discussions anymore, but I wanted to respond to the above because I feel it’s actually quite the opposite. People are hyper-sensitive especially when an aggressive stance is taken against them. Sure, they will act defensive, and that may well set off the dynamics Flavia illustrates/criticizes, but I don’t think they’re actually not learning. The defensiveness is natural, but I’ve seen more than one a person get defensive when being criticized, and then later on when the whole thing is blown over criticize someone else for making the same mistake they once made. More communication is happening than you think.

  53. Sandy
    Sandy October 18, 2011 at 1:59 am |

    I cannot speak for anyone else, but I can say that fear of fucking up and being declared the Most Horrible Person Ever (or even Most Horrible Person Of The Week) has made me very wary of participating in feminism online. To people who are overly sensitive to start out with, it can make it super intimidating to delurk and say something. I’ve seen it said, I think on this very site, that if you can’t take the calling out when it happens (whether that’s legit criticism or civil disagreement or legit criticism + burning hot flaaaames): “go away, we don’t need you.” Go away, we don’t want or need you in our movement. Just saying, some people who want to be allies will really take that sort of thing to heart. (In before “whatever, if you can’t take it we don’t need you.”) I feel at times like feminism is eating itself, or eating its young. I feel like I might get yelled at for saying that. After pretty much every post, I feel like I might go hide.

    Regarding the idea that the calling-out-culture and pile-on are done for entertainment value: I recently got into reading old posts from 2008, and one of the things I came away with was the impression that when a debacle goes down, if you as a well-known blogger remain silent on an issue and do not join in on the call-out-that’s-rapidly-becoming-a-pile-on-clusterfuck, you are thus complicit to some degree in whatever problematic thing went on. That if you don’t join in and say something reprimand-y to the offender, however gently, you’re perpetuating the silence on an issue and not being an ally to the oppressed. So it seemed to me like participating in the pile-on is also done sort of self-defensively, too. An obligatory thing, with real social pressure to either join in on it or else be one of the silent, complicit oppressors yourself.

  54. igglanova
    igglanova October 18, 2011 at 3:10 am |

    Story time.

    I used to be afraid to comment in the feminist blogosphere because I was anxious of being shredded publicly – the chances of this happening to you are much higher when you’re a new face and you haven’t established an online presence yet. So I went about protecting myself from this outcome in the most self-hating and submissive way possible: by trying to make my ideas ideologically perfect before presenting any of them at all. I would become UNASSAILABLE. If someone rebuked me, it was my fault for not assimilating all of internet feminism’s talking points and most sacred cows. (Yeah, yeah, go ahead and laugh. I know how ridiculously impossible this is now, especially given the rate at which the discourse morphs in the internet age.) Any offense people took to my comments, even if it was based on a willful misreading of what I actually said, was due to me not adding enough hedging and / or caveats to everything resembling an individual opinion.

    What finally snapped me out of this mindset was witnessing an appalling amount of groupthink regarding the stupid Dickwolves flame war a while back. I mean seriously excoriating fellow known feminists for not being terribly offended at that comic strip. I figured – look how vicious and nasty all these people are being. Is this what you want to become? Do you want to swallow the feminist party line to this ridiculous micro-managing degree, lest you be kicked out of the club? And then the stack of cards collapsed. I came to a conclusion that should have been glaringly obvious the whole time (though all conclusions sound obvious when you spell them out): there is no feminist Word of God, and you should reach your own conclusions based on the available evidence and logic. Dogma is bullshit. Chuck it.

    People will hate you no matter what you say or do. Argue what you think is true, not what you think is most minimally offensive. Those two sentences were the key that liberated me from self-doubt.

  55. Chelsea
    Chelsea October 18, 2011 at 3:17 am |

    I think that reducing anything to a strict black/white, good/bad reading is never helpful, and that seems to be her main problem with “call out culture.” So I agree with that.

    Drama on the internetz! It’s one of those things we’ve all encountered. It happened to me a couple times in a social justice context, and while it definitely sucked, I learned SO MUCH. I was new to all this, completely ignorant, and I learned to shut up and educate myself before I said anything again.

    I think it’s always a good idea to call people out on their bullshit, because then maybe they’ll take the time to learn. When it gets to the point of filling up someone’s inbox with hate mail and death threats….then it’s gone way too far. I think this is mainly a problem when someone who really wants to learn and participate gets piled on, rather than when it happens to some asshole troll.

  56. Kate
    Kate October 18, 2011 at 4:51 am |

    Chally:
    So, before munching that popcorn becomes the only response, I just want to pick up on what karak said about credentials. I think it’s really troubling that people can be expected to provide lists of oppressions, not just because those lists inevitably leave things out and construct an internal hierarchy. It’s also a problem because it assumes that everyone knows all those bits of their identity, or is comfortable and safe enough to share them, or that it’s, you know, anyone else’s business. There’s a lot of hostility to refusal to reveal various parts of oneself for public gawking.

    What I find more troubling than asking for a list of oppressions is the assumption that so often occurs in social justice discussions that there is a Correct Oppressed POV and an Incorrect Oppressor POV, and thus you can easily tell the privileged from the disprivileged based on which POV they espouse. Which of course leads to a lot of this:

    Person A: “Well, of course you would say that, you’re blinded by your white privilege.”
    Person B: “What the hell are you talking about? I’m Asian-American.”

    Particularly disturbing when Person A is white. Asking if someone has lived experience of whatever oppression is under discussion is at least more polite than that.

  57. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub October 18, 2011 at 7:46 am |

    Huh. I don’t give my credentials (WTF) because I’m a stickler for privacy and I don’t like giving out much personal info. So any posts you see by me here won’t have that shit.

    I’ve been taken to task for things–the majority was justified, and once it was just a lot of point scoring bullshit. I have also disagreed–quite vociferously–with women of color, disabled commenters/posters, LBGT writers, poor people, and people who are in other marginalized communities. I mean, you stick to their arguments and say why you think it’s fucked up. And you–or I, at least, I’m not giving this up–do it with a certain amount of bitchery if you’ve seen it 1000 times before or the person is being an asshole or they’re saying doing something that you truly feel like is causing harm. (Ironically the most hostility I’ve gotten from people is when I’ve tried to be mild and kind in my objections.)

    I mean, FFS, don’t be a point-scoring asshole. There’s a difference between saying, “Holy shit that is fucked up, did you consider X and Y?” (and maybe going to “Seriously, stop acting like a reactionary douchebag” if they are acting like, well, reactionary douchebags) and “You used a common colloquialism I don’t like in your post about cake YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED” and post ad nauseum.

    Because seriously, it’s the fluffy posts (or serious posts about pop culture) that seem to get the most blowback. “I didn’t like this movie, I thought it was really sexist” will generate a ridiculous fucking Twitter war that would put your average high-school bullying antics to shame. IT’S A MOVIE FOR FUCK’S SAKE IF YOU LIKED IT SAY SO AND MOVE ON WITH YOUR LIFE DUMBASS. Posting about Beatrice’s hat at the royal wedding gave so many people the fucking vapors that I thought I was in the goddamn antebellum south.

  58. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub October 18, 2011 at 7:55 am |

    I’ve been taken to task for things–the majority was justified, and once it was just a lot of point scoring bullshit. I have also disagreed–quite vociferously–with women of color, disabled commenters/posters, LBGT writers, poor people, and people who are in other marginalized communities. I mean, you stick to their arguments and say why you think it’s fucked up. And you–or I, at least, I’m not giving this up–do it with a certain amount of bitchery if you’ve seen it 1000 times before or the person is being an asshole or they’re saying doing something that you truly feel like is causing harm. (Ironically the most hostility I’ve gotten from people is when I’ve tried to be mild and kind in my objections.)

    Lordy. I forgot to add the other part that I was thinking–people seem to think it’s about who you are. It’s not. No one went off on me for being a terrible person for disagreeing with them. And I disagreed with them on the merits of their argument, which had fuck all to do with who they were. You get called out for douchery if you trot out arguments that unquestioningly accept the status quo or basically act like a dickbuscuit. Disagreeing in good faith is a very different thing.*

    *Disagreeing in good faith does NOT mean, however, being technically civil while passive-aggressively pushing people’s buttons to generate and flame war and then put on an injured innocence act.

  59. Florence
    Florence October 18, 2011 at 8:13 am |

    zuzu: I’m thinking more of the people who get offended by the bitchery because it’s mean, but then turn around and viciously go after people who disagree with them just to show how much they own their privilege, or something.

    I’d be very happy if the phrase “check your privilege” was retired permanently.

    1) What does that mean? If you can’t accurately describe what “privilege” it is that needs checking, you’re just using a catchphrase to say “this offends me”.

    2) It always amuses me (in that bitter schadenfreude way) that the people whose privilege it has been decided needs checking are themselves experiencing a litany of overlapping privileges and oppressions, as we all are, so that the demand to “check [one's] privilege” is actually a way to shut another person up for having an undesirable opinion.

    Which is to say, look, people. If you disagree, say so. Be really adamant and invective about it if you wish. Make your arguments clearly, and loudly, and with lots and lots of hand gestures. But have some integrity too. Have the ovaries to have that argument publicly and above-board and to back down when it’s clear that you’re dancing on the lines of others’ personal and professional boundaries.

  60. Florence
    Florence October 18, 2011 at 8:16 am |

    piny: (I liked the Game of Thrones post, btw. I mean, I thought she said a lot of not-so-great things about fantasy and nerdery, but I think they were beside her accurate read on Martin: ye olde gods, does he love him some nubile buxom barely-pubescent sex workers!)

    (I hated the Game of Thrones post. It was the adult version of turning in the paper written off of Cliffsnotes and not understanding why you got an F even though you clearly demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of the themes of the text. Sure you got the bullet points in there, but it’s clear you didn’t really read the book[s] for anything other than completion.)

  61. DoublyLinkedLists
    DoublyLinkedLists October 18, 2011 at 9:09 am |

    Mimi: It’s true you sold your guitar and bought a car?
    Roger: It’s true – I’m leaving now for Santa Fe, It’s true you’re with this yuppie scum.
    Benny: You said you’d never speak to him again
    Mimi: Not now
    Maureen: Who said you that you have any say in who she says things to at all?
    Roger: Yeah!
    Joanne: Who said that you should stick your nose in other people’s…
    Maureen: Who said I was talking to you?

    Rent… Always relevant?

  62. EG
    EG October 18, 2011 at 9:39 am |

    What does that mean? If you can’t accurately describe what “privilege” it is that needs checking, you’re just using a catchphrase to say “this offends me”.

    Look, if you can’t see how Jill’s earthquake privilege blinded her to the plight of those who flipped out about the 2.2 earthquake that harmed nobody in NYC a little while ago, and how she needs to check and own that privilege so that she can honor the personal experiences of those who freaked out for no reason instead of making lighthearted fun of people who were not harmed in any way, then your privileged so-called feminism is not for me! This is why your movement is so marginalized! THIS BLOG IS NOT A SAFE SPACE!

  63. Sady
    Sady October 18, 2011 at 9:43 am |

    Hi, all!

    I know I’m not really relevant to the debate here, except insofar as I H8 GAME OF THRONES 4-EVR, but I did want to say two things:

    1) It seems kind of dismissive and condescending to call a post “more like Sady than like Flavia.” Flavia’s an editor at Tiger Beatdown. She writes her own posts, she writes the posts that she wants to write, and I am not in charge of telling her what to think or write (nor are any of the other editors). I’ve looked over precisely two of her posts prior to publication — her try-out post, which if I recall was spotless and needed no editing whatsoever, and one post that she knew would be controversial, which she asked all of us to look at first, and which we expressed unanimous support for. A few of us did have a long Twitter conversation about pity porn, while she was writing this, but I don’t believe any of us had an editorial role in its creation. Certainly not me. Flavia’s a very good writer, and we all trust her implicitly to do very good work.

    2) On the cruelty tip — well, I think I’ve wrung my hands often enough about this that people have reason to know about it, but yeah. My early voice, as a blogger, was very mean. It was really inspired by the Gawkery/TWOP-y “blog voice” that was popular at that time. Since I didn’t expect any of the people I wrote about to know I existed, I gave myself free reign. (My greatest creative accomplishment from that period, I think, was inventing the phrase “four-person douche canoe.” Unless someone else invented that, in which case I accomplished nothing.) As I’ve matured, and been through some things, I think my voice has gotten a lot more serious, more autobiographical and often less gratuitously cruel, though I know I still have a mean/dark/sarcastic sense of humor, which I am examining. It’s not like we can have this discussion and go, “but Sady’s mean sometimes, too!” Sady knows she’s been mean, knows she is mean sometimes, and has done a lot of public self-examination on why she doesn’t want to be quite so mean any more, and which boundaries are appropriate, when it comes to the meanness.

    3) Ugh, “Game of Thrones.” Not to do a complete derail, but we were hacked twice after that post. That post was linked by 4Chan, SomethingAwful, and some of the worst of the MRA blogs. We got smears, we got comments about raping and comments calling us literal Nazis, we got hate-mail, we got every offensive word you can think of. And then we got Alyssa Rosenberg, explaining how a Real Feminist would LIKE “Game of Thrones,” thus clearing the way for the feminist community not to have our backs. I have serious problems with what Rosenberg wrote, which I won’t go into (the idea that “taste” is irrelevant and “personal” seems like an odd, disingenuous position for a self-described “culture blogger”) except to say that this blog post actually got to them in a calmer way than I ever could, considering the several hundred angry-scary-dude responses we were dealing with at the time. (“I think it was poor feminist strategy and poor cultural analysis for Rosenberg (a pop culture writer with a large, mostly-liberal-but-not-necessarily-feminist audience) to criticize an article written on a small feminist blog because it is not written in a tone of voice acceptable to non-feminists. Judging by the preponderance of feminists-are-unreasonable responses, I’m not wrong.”)

    It’s worth noting that the post we were hacked (twice) and threatened and called Nazis for is apparently “offensive” because I said fans tend to overreact and be hateful when you don’t enjoy their preferred consumer products. Like, maybe I might have been referring to the guys who will straight-up hack you and call you Hitler over not liking a fantasy novel? Maybe I might have been obviously correct (see: hacked, called Hitler)? Or not, whatever, it was clearly the reasonable fans I was referring to there.

    And this links back to what Flavia is saying in the post, about identity and entertainment. She’s made the point that people are more personally identified with their consumer products — including some of the best-selling books in the country — than with their ideas, sometimes, so there’s stuff that pretends to be “political critique” and uses very charged words, but is actually just someone saying “but I LIKE Doctor Who!” And here, we have a post from her — which I don’t find “unintelligible!” By the way! — explaining how our personalities, themselves, are becoming consumer products, and that we have all the reality-TV dynamics that go along with it, including the Touching Backstory Confessional Time (“did you see when Sady told that story about her Dad being poor? So sad!”) and the Highly Edited Drama Time. (“Did you see that fight between Sady and Alyssa? I think Sady’s going to be the villain this season!”)

    Anyway, long comment, so sorry. Just wanted to express my support of Flavia here, and remind folks that she and I are (sadly) not secretly the same person.

  64. Sady
    Sady October 18, 2011 at 9:45 am |

    Haha, all those words and I forgot to give you the link to the blog post I was talking about: http://austencollins.tumblr.com/post/10806890872/feminist-media-criticism-george-r-r-martins-a-song#notes

  65. saurus
    saurus October 18, 2011 at 10:05 am |

    EG: Look, if you can’t see how Jill’s earthquake privilege blinded her to the plight of those who flipped out about the 2.2 earthquake that harmed nobody in NYC a little while ago, and how she needs to check and own that privilege so that she can honor the personal experiences of those who freaked out for no reason instead of making lighthearted fun of people who were not harmed in any way, then your privileged so-called feminism is not for me!This is why your movement is so marginalized!THIS BLOG IS NOT A SAFE SPACE!

    Every time I see a satirical comment like this I think of the time that a swarm of commenters at another large feminist site told me en masse that my sexual assault doesn’t count because having a partner who “rejects your advances” (i.e., me) is considerably more traumatic than forcing yourself to do something you really, really don’t want to do. And that’s me sharing one of the not-so-bad experiences I’ve had in online communities that self-identify as strongly feminist.

    I “flounced”. I said that I didn’t expect a safe space but I do expect one that’s not malicious and hostile. And I didn’t feel entitled to control whatever happens at that site, but I do feel like at a basic human level it is NOT OKAY to treat other people like that, even if you’re talking online.

    Some people flounce for stupid reasons. But some people don’t. After I had that experience I stopped calling myself a feminist and haven’t since. And I hate, hate hate, HATE that someone like me is characterized as a “flouncer” because I used the same words and did the same actions as the “flouncers” that commenters or OPs at Feministe also make fun of.

    We can say, “oh, you aren’t the kind of flouncer I’m making fun of, it’s those people who clearly flounce at something non-serious or are too sensitive” – but that’s what people said, back then, about me too.

    I’m not really asking for anything here, I just want to point out that we do actually have the power to hurt each other here, and being hurt doesn’t necessarily make you weak or over-sensitive.

  66. EG
    EG October 18, 2011 at 10:27 am |

    Except I was, actually, referring to Jill’s recent post about the earthquake in which more than one commenter accused her of having “earthquake privilege.” I wasn’t making up something extreme in order to mock other people’s feelings being hurt–I was referring to something absurd that actually happened. Except the “THIS BLOG IS NOT A SAFE SPACE” part was a reference to Natasha’s recent flounce, in which she declared the blog not a “safe space” because her evidence-less condemnation of psychiatry and psychiatric meds was met with hostility.

    That said, a political blog is not a support group, and at least this one, as far as I can tell, makes no promises to be a safe space for anybody. People can be assholes; that’s not limited to feminist blogs. If at any point, I don’t want to deal with the assholeness, I shut my computer down and go read a book or have a cup of tea. Once you communicate with people in public, in real life or on the internet, you open yourself up to being hurt, because as we all have experienced, the world is not a safe space.

    I don’t agree with the idea I’ve heard more than once that because an argument is used or a judgment is made incorrectly in one context, that argument or judgment is off-limits in every other context. You got angry and left that site because they were attacking you in an anti-feminist bullshit way. And if they characterize you as an over-sensitive flouncer, that doesn’t mean they’re correct, but them being incorrect doesn’t mean that nobody is an over-sensitive flouncer. Anti-choicers use “babies are dying” as part of their rhetoric and it’s bullshit, but that doesn’t mean that “babies are dying” isn’t a perfectly appropriate point to make when discussing infant mortality stats and much higher they are for African-Americans than for white people in this country, and what the fuck is the matter with us that we can’t have national health care.

    I’m OK with making those kinds of judgment calls.

  67. saurus
    saurus October 18, 2011 at 10:44 am |

    EG:
    Except I was, actually, referring to Jill’s recent post…

    I specifically said that I don’t expect a safe space, and that of course, yes, some people flounce for stupid reasons.

    I am not trying to take you or your comment to task, I am just saying that (and I quote) – “I’m not really asking for anything here, I just want to point out that we do actually have the power to hurt each other here, and being hurt doesn’t necessarily make you weak or over-sensitive.” My intended audience for that sentiment isn’t even you in particular.

    Also: duh, obviously as soon as you disclose anything to anyone there’s the chance they will say or do something stupid. You don’t have to tell me or anyone that. Even support groups are not magically safe spaces.

    But I resent that when I say it’s not cool to treat each other this way, it’s commonly characterized as though I’m demanding that Feministe be “a support group” or “my therapist” or whatever the hell, like it’s unreasonable and unnecessary for us to act better; like the purpose of this space is not to support survivors and therefore expecting or asking feminists to do so is unfair. Like giving a shit about each other is a silly thing to want or ask for. God, it’s like a microcosm of how I feel about the entire feminist movement; that it’s principles over people.

    If I disclose something then yes, I am prepared for the potential consequences. No, that does not make it even remotely okay for those negative consequences to happen, regardless of the website’s mandate or lack thereof. Because it’s never okay to treat someone like that.

    I participate in other online spaces and while I wouldn’t call them (or any space) “safe”, the cardinal difference is that they largely give a shit about whether they’ve hurt you, while some other spaces (like this one) largely does not. No, Feministe will never be a “safe space” but they don’t have to be so cutthroat either. Not unless we’re resigned to them staying that way.

    …which I believe we are.

  68. logoskaieros
    logoskaieros October 18, 2011 at 10:48 am |

    The word “problematic” can also mean I’m-not-assuming-this-was-said-out-of-bigotry-but-if-we-follow-its-logic-it-ends-up-supporting-oppressive-structures/ideas. It’s not just a euphemism for “I don’t like what you said”.

    There’s a huge difference between someone saying a post is problematic, and then going into reasons and details about how and why it is problematic, and someone just saying (or implying) “you suck as an activist blogger.”

    Perhaps I run in different blogging circles, but I often see these two approaches as distinct and distinguishable.

  69. Florence
    Florence October 18, 2011 at 11:18 am |

    Sady: She’s made the point that people are more personally identified with their consumer products — including some of the best-selling books in the country — than with their ideas, sometimes, so there’s stuff that pretends to be “political critique” and uses very charged words, but is actually just someone saying “but I LIKE Doctor Who!”

    I’m not arguing that ASOIAF should be part of the establishment literary canon, but it is a part of the geek canon, so when you categorically denounce it as a big, hairy piece of rape propaganda, you’re going to get some blow-back. Was this fallout a hateful overreaction from the fan base? Absolutely. But it wasn’t the whole fan base?

    I wanted to comment on that thread so bad, but I saw feminist allies getting told they were rape apologists for disagreeing, and having their rhetoric accounted to liking the books rather than disagreeing in good faith with pretty detailed disagreements. A good portion of us folks who are interested in feminist blogging and who are active in this community are the low-rent, low-art geeks that get sniffed at for our cultural kinks offline (from BSDM to LARP), so it’s only kind that you make space for your feminist geeks to weigh in on their own world to give their differing feminist POVs without threats of banning.

    So as much as you want to make this particular post on call-out culture about people being too closely identified with their consumer products — which I agree can be true, especially among geeks of all shades — you made no bones about lumping textual analyses of the books in with the “but I like it!” crew. So… bad example.

    Sady: (“I think it was poor feminist strategy and poor cultural analysis for Rosenberg (a pop culture writer with a large, mostly-liberal-but-not-necessarily-feminist audience) to criticize an article written on a small feminist blog because it is not written in a tone of voice acceptable to non-feminists. Judging by the preponderance of feminists-are-unreasonable responses, I’m not wrong.”)

    I’m not sure what this gets at here or why you’re quoting it approvingly: Are “large” feminist blogs not to talk to or discuss “small” feminist blogs? Is Tiger Beatdown a “small” feminist blog? Are liberal blogs not to point to feminist-specific blogs? Is literary tone off limits for critique?

  70. Angel H.
    Angel H. October 18, 2011 at 11:28 am |

    EG: That said, a political blog is not a support group, and at least this one, as far as I can tell, makes no promises to be a safe space for anybody.

    This just seems a bit hypocritical to me. (And EG, I don’t just mean your comment in particular, but the attitudes that I’m noticing.) On one hand, “call-out culture” is being criticized and being equated with bullying, but on the other hand no one thinks it’s their problem if somebody gets offended by what they said, because hey, I can say whatever I want and fuck you.

  71. Sady
    Sady October 18, 2011 at 11:42 am |

    @Florence: “you want to make this particular post on call-out culture about people being too closely identified with their consumer products ”

    Wha-huh? I’m pointing to something Flavia has actually said, in public forums, in the past. You are now telling me what I “want.” Which might be the problem I’m talking about.

    Yeah, I think derailing a thread about a specific post on a blog to make it about a months-old disagreement about a different post on a blog (while weirdly attributing that post to the wrong writer, then complaining about that other writer’s “reading comprehension”) is exactly what I’m talking about, when I talk about “hateful overreactions.” And that’s why I won’t engage in it further here.

    I’m also not sure which “feminist allies” you’re referring to, in your comment. If it was the mansplainy dude-liberal blogger who claimed there “weren’t that many rapes” in the book (I counted; there were literally thousands alluded to or described), or the other mansplainy dude-liberal blogger, who clearly engaged in the “the fact that this blogger objects to the (LITERALLY THOUSANDS OF) rapes in this novel means that she wants all art never to deal with violence whatsoever” straw-man, well, in my consideration, they were not acting very ally-ish in that moment. And were clearly engaging in attacking someone politically for not liking something they were personally invested in.

    As to the rest of it: Please, don’t be purposefully obtuse. You know very well that it’s poor feminist strategy to write a blog post attacking other feminists on the grounds that “she’s not writing in a way that’s going to win over non-feminists.” What really made me angry about that whole situation was how clear it was that people would disregard their basic political education and ideals, in order to defend a consumer product that at least one white man has gotten very, very rich off of. I don’t agree with many feminist critiques of Joss Whedon, but I don’t go around complaining that they exist, or trying to prove that those writers are Bad Feminists Hurting Feminism.

    And I acknowledge that it’s also the case that one of our bloggers — S.E. Smith — has quite literally gotten death and rape threats for writing critiques of Whedon, because a lot of people in “fandom” are overinvested and scary, which is why it’s brave to even write critiques of pop culture in the first place. The rage we get over those FAR outstrips the rage we get for actually covering the news. Especially when it’s a nerdy thing, like Whedon or Martin, because (as you acknowledge) people who buy those products, and identify with them, constitute a large portion of the people who are active on the Internet. And that’s why I don’t pile on somebody for not liking my toys, nor employ disingenuously political language to do so.

    Nor do I pitch a fit (hi, Doc) every time certain blogs are linked to, because they’ve published posts with which I disagree.

    That’s about all I have to say there, and I think Flavia’s points really deserve to be addressed, rather than me.

  72. zuzu
    zuzu October 18, 2011 at 11:54 am |

    Sady: Yeah, I think derailing a thread about a specific post on a blog to make it about a months-old disagreement about a different post on a blog (while weirdly attributing that post to the wrong writer, then complaining about that other writer’s “reading comprehension”) is exactly what I’m talking about, when I talk about “hateful overreactions.” And that’s why I won’t engage in it further here.

    You don’t get to derail (consciously! by saying “not to derail, but”) and then berate someone for responding to you by calling their response a “hateful overreaction.”

    Because sometimes, the response is just that you’re wrong, and here’s why. Is that hateful? Is that overreacting?

  73. Sady
    Sady October 18, 2011 at 11:58 am |

    @zuzu: Check to see who brought up the Martin post first, and used it to discredit Flavia. Check to see who continued to discuss it rather than Flavia’s post. If it turns out that I actually bent time and space to be the first one to do it, that derail’s totally on me. I apologize. And also, I’m Doctor Who.

  74. EG
    EG October 18, 2011 at 12:01 pm |

    I am not trying to take you or your comment to task….My intended audience for that sentiment isn’t even you in particular.

    Then quoting my entire comment and using it as the basis for the beginning of yours was rather misleading, don’t you think? It’s not like I responded out of thin air.

    As to this vs. other sites–I think it’s a good and appropriate thing to have different attitudes/cultures on different sites, as that provides a variety of options so that commenters can find the site with the atmosphere in which they’re most comfortable. I, for instance, like a sardonic, cynical, bitter atmosphere with a sharp debate tone. I used to find it on feministing, now not so much. Other people won’t, so it’s good that other sites maintain other atmospheres and cultures. No one attitude/culture is going to be comfortable for everyone.

    “I’m not really asking for anything here, I just want to point out that we do actually have the power to hurt each other here, and being hurt doesn’t necessarily make you weak or over-sensitive.”

    I don’t see where anybody has said that we don’t have the power to hurt each other or that being hurt means you’re weak or over-sensitive. But sometimes, being hurt does mean that you should step back and think–”OK, I’m hurt, but does that automatically mean that the person who said the thing that hurt me should not have said it, or does it mean that the hurt is arising from my own issues?” And sometimes the answer is one and sometimes it’s the other.

    This just seems a bit hypocritical to me. (And EG, I don’t just mean your comment in particular, but the attitudes that I’m noticing.) On one hand, “call-out culture” is being criticized and being equated with bullying, but on the other hand no one thinks it’s their problem if somebody gets offended by what they said, because hey, I can say whatever I want and fuck you.

    I don’t find it hypocritical. I don’t particularly like a lot of “call-out culture,” as I find it very reminiscent of the circular firing squad/moral purity purging that has plagued the left in the US for so long and hamstrung so many attempts to get anything done, but there’s a difference between saying “I don’t like X for this and such reasons” and “X is bad and hurtful and I am hurt and how could you say such a thing on an allegedly feminist blog!” I find the first productive and the second not so.

    It would be hypocritical if I were saying some version of “Calling-out culture is bullying and anti-feminist and suppressive and how could you accept such a thing on the feminist blogosphere?” And then people would be within their rights to be like “The internet in general and this corner of it in particular is not your fucking support group, so suck it up, kiddo.” Saying “Meh, I don’t much like calling-out culture, and I think it rarely helps anything” is not the same thing.

    I also really don’t see where anybody has expressed a sentiment even roughly equivalent to “hey, I can say whatever I want and fuck you.” I’ve seen things roughly equivalent to “I don’t actually have to agree with your assessment of what I said,” but that’s a different point.

  75. Sady
    Sady October 18, 2011 at 12:02 pm |

    @zuzu: Check the thread to see who brought up that unrelated post first. Then, check to see who continued to discuss it rather than Flavia’s post. If it turns out that it was me, that derail is totally on me, and I apologize. Also, I apparently bent time and space to do it, so you should all know that I’m Doctor Who.

  76. zuzu
    zuzu October 18, 2011 at 12:11 pm |

    Sady:
    @zuzu: Check to see who brought up the Martin post first, and used it to discredit Flavia. Check to see who continued to discuss it rather than Flavia’s post. If it turns out that I actually bent time and space to be the first one to do it, that derail’s totally on me. I apologize. And also, I’m Doctor Who.

    The incorrect attribution was corrected way upthread, Sady. But your post is being discussed because it happens to fit in with what Flavia wrote in her recent post, and in fact a lot of what happened with that post undercuts what she wrote rather than underlines it, because of the dynamics Florence describes.

    I don’t see that anyone has been discussing your post to the exclusion of Flavia’s. But it does serve as an illustration of call-out culture in ways you may not intend.

  77. Sady
    Sady October 18, 2011 at 12:19 pm |

    @zuzu: Right. Like someone expressing anger, in a joking tone, about the fact that pop-culture critique is often met with hugely disproportionate personal attacks. And that resulting in a discussion about how she’s an “idiot” and awful and bad and meeeeeeeeeannnnnn. And then that person pointing out that she was actually threatened and hacked for doing that, which was the sort of thing she was complaining about, along with “feminist geeks” sometimes failing to respond with anything but further pile-ons and attacks toward the person who’s being abused and hacked.
    And then for The Real Progressive Response to be telling that person that she shouldn’t be angry, and that she’s just an awful wrong person who was asking for it and by the way let’s not link to the blog any more because she was angry that one time, when literally hundreds of people were screaming curse words into her face and quite literally trying to shut down her blog? Because the thing is, we should be able to call that girl names, but we don’t have to have empathy for the actual threats and silencing she received, because she doesn’t like our stuff and thinks we overreact sometimes?

    I can see how that might be an illustration of “call-out culture” in action, yeah.

  78. wriggles
    wriggles October 18, 2011 at 12:24 pm |

    Call out culture sucks, but Flavia’s post is unintelligible.

    “Specifics”.

  79. zuzu
    zuzu October 18, 2011 at 12:25 pm |

    Sady:
    @zuzu: Right. Like someone expressing anger, in a joking tone, about the fact that pop-culture critique is often met with hugely disproportionate personal attacks. And that resulting in a discussion about how she’s an “idiot” and awful and bad and meeeeeeeeeannnnnn. And then that person pointing out that she was actually threatened and hacked for doing that, which was the sort of thing she was complaining about, along with “feminist geeks” sometimes failing to respond with anything but further pile-ons and attacks toward the person who’s being abused and hacked.
    And then for The Real Progressive Response to be telling that person that she shouldn’t be angry, and that she’s just an awful wrong person who was asking for it and by the way let’s not link to the blog any more because she was angry that one time, when literally hundreds of people were screaming curse words into her face and quite literally trying to shut down her blog? Because the thing is, we should be able to call that girl names, but we don’t have to have empathy for the actual threats and silencing she received, because she doesn’t like our stuff and thinks we overreact sometimes?

    I can see how that might be an illustration of “call-out culture” in action, yeah.

    Or, you know, labeling anyone who didn’t agree with your argument a rape apologist? Because that totally is justified by the shitty treatment by the fanbois.

    Hey! Complexity in action here.

  80. Sady
    Sady October 18, 2011 at 12:27 pm |

    @zuzu: Again: Find for me the post where I literally said “everyone who disagrees with me is a rape apologist” and I’ll apologize for that. I will tell you that I got called a “rape apologist” for writing that post. Several times.

  81. Sady
    Sady October 18, 2011 at 12:28 pm |

    And, ugh, I’m doing exactly what I objected to, which is perpetuating the discussion about me rather than about Flavia. So I apologize for that, and should bow out.

  82. Florence
    Florence October 18, 2011 at 12:31 pm |

    @Sady — The one thing I see that’s really destructive about call-out culture is that we end up attributing bad faith to everyone who disagrees with us including our allies. Not everyone who disagreed with you on the GoT post was a mansplaining rape apologist or a self-hating feminist who just lacked the self-awareness to agree with you. It’s arrogant and disingenuous to argue this, especially since it’s all there to read if one is compelled to do so. Also, Rosenberg’s analysis was more than a tone argument, not that tone is or should be beyond feminist analysis. It was a pretty solid feminist critique of your argument, and a meta-analysis of how feminists talk about writing and writers, IN ADDITION to being about the content of the books. But that’s beside the point. Sort of.

    Feminists need to be able to be gutsy and bold in our critiques of one another without “scor[ing] ideological purity points by viciously and publicly excoriating our allies” and always assuming bad faith of our critics. I don’t think anyone is arguing that we need to hug it out and sing Kum Ba Yah on feminist blogs every time shit gets heated, but this is a question about whether we collectively trust women to know their own minds and honor their anger, wisdom, experience, and hope. Even when they disagree with us. And to not let our commitment to ending sexism also silence the voices of fellow feminists because one of us has an opinion and the other has a megaphone and a soapbox.

    Anyway, I don’t know whether it’s “brave” to write about pop culture online, but it’s more than fair to say that it’s brave to be writing online as a woman at all. And it’s not my argument that we should be more kind to people because they “constitute a large portion of the people who are active on the internet” but because we are all, for the most part, women participating as minorities in cultures that actively hate us, be that blogging or fantasy lit. Your scorched earth rhetoric is reenacting the abuse that we deal with offline every day, and it’s bullshit to recreate it online and call it feminist activism.

  83. Miss S
    Miss S October 18, 2011 at 1:18 pm |

    People will hate you no matter what you say or do. Argue what you think is true, not what you think is most minimally offensive.

    Perfectly said. I started out with comments that would be considered ‘minimally offensive’ instead of really giving my perspective. I stopped doing that because why participate if I can’t speak my truth? The reality is, we can all face the same oppressions and come to different conclusions because we’re all living different lives. The problem starts when someone decides that there is only one feminist way of looking at something and everyone else needs to hand over their feminist card.

    In all the women studies classes I took as an undergrad, there were people who disagreed. Not one of my professors made an attempt to silence anyone. Not one of my professors told us what the “feminist truth” was and asked to adopt it as our own. Everything was open to discussion and multiple perspectives.

    Of course, we didn’t have trolls in those classes since you actually had to pay for them, butI think trolls are kinda obvious. Like that poster Dawn who made it a point to trash 5 different groups in two days. Obvious.

  84. Sandy
    Sandy October 18, 2011 at 5:13 pm |

    EG: That said, a political blog is not a support group, and at least this one, as far as I can tell, makes no promises to be a safe space for anybody.

    It doesn’t, but I’d say there’s a sense that safe-spaceness is somewhat aspired to here as much as it can be in any community online. Obvious trolls and whataboutthemenz people and “NiceGuys” are moderated out or hit with the banhammer as needed. When hurtful comments are made, they can be called out and discussed. There’s safe which, as you said there’s no way to come by safe unless you disconnect the interwebz and never leave your home, assuming that you’re privileged enough to have a home that’s a safe space AND privileged enough not to have to go outside and work for money, and then there’s safe-ish where people know that they are in a moderated community of people where 1) assholes spouting bigoted hate are going to be either moderated out or roundly mocked and 2) if readers are hurt by something they read, they can offer that legit criticism and probably be supported in their stance by a lot of people.

    The real world out there and most of the internet is totally fair game for 100% free speech–you can be as denigrating as you want and degrade other humans for being fat or gay or black and use slurs and what have you. But politically incorrect speech is not tolerated here. I’d say that makes this space pretty damn safe, as spaces go. Except for the pile-on thing.

  85. Sandy
    Sandy October 18, 2011 at 5:17 pm |

    PS. Maybe I should have put politically incorrect in quotes. I was specifically thinking of “politically incorrect” “humor.”

  86. evil fizz
    evil fizz October 18, 2011 at 11:28 pm | *

    I don’t think anyone is arguing that we need to hug it out and sing Kum Ba Yah on feminist blogs every time shit gets heated, but this is a question about whether we collectively trust women to know their own minds and honor their anger, wisdom, experience, and hope. Even when they disagree with us. And to not let our commitment to ending sexism also silence the voices of fellow feminists because one of us has an opinion and the other has a megaphone and a soapbox.

    I don’t know that I have confidence in that line of thinking. I think that some people (women obviously included as a subset of people) are willful and malicious assholes because the feel they can be. There’s anger that isn’t righteous. There are experiences which are bigoted, cruel, and unethical. And to say nothing of the fact that there are people who will leap on an opportunity to be mean because they can, even if they’re lovely a lot of the time.

    I, somewhat surprisingly, would like to expect the best of people. I operate with the assumption that most people are doing the best they can with what they have (it’s too depressing to contemplate otherwise), but sometimes their best isn’t much. Sometimes what they have is very little. It’s close to impossible for me to parse those things in blog comments, so the options are limited.

    All of which is to say: sometimes people are just assholes.

  87. EG
    EG October 18, 2011 at 11:48 pm |

    Obvious trolls and whataboutthemenz people and “NiceGuys” are moderated out or hit with the banhammer as needed.

    I’ve never understood that as an attempt to make the space safer. I’ve always thought that such people were banned after they’d provided us with enough entertainment so that we didn’t go in the same conversational circles over and over.

    I think, though, you are operating with a different definition of “safe space” than the one that “THIS IS NOT SAFE SPACE” commenters are. Your definition seems to be a space in which most people agree on a few basic concepts regarding feminism and justice, and in which people who are unhappy with somebody’s point of view or argument or turn of phrase can express that unhappiness and have it taken into consideration by at least some of the other people. Natasha, for instance, she of “THIS IS NOT A SAFE SPACE” seemed to think that it meant that people to whom she was condescending would treat her opinions with respect. There is a difference between a space in which you can make it clear that your feelings have been hurt and you did not like it and a space in which nobody’s feelings ever get hurt at all.

  88. EG
    EG October 18, 2011 at 11:52 pm |

    this is a question about whether we collectively trust women to know their own minds and honor their anger, wisdom, experience, and hope.

    Yeah, I’ve got to agree with evil fizz, here. I don’t trust “women” as a group. I trust some women, I respect some women’s opinions, I am impressed by some women’s arguments. “Women” as a group? No. Women as a group are just a bunch of people who got the short end of the stick when it comes to gender hierarchy. Not all anger, experience, and hope deserves honor. I can think of several women for whose anger, experience, and hope I wouldn’t give a quarter. And wisdom is far rarer, in my experience, than I would like it to be.

  89. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 19, 2011 at 12:52 am |

    zuzu: The incorrect attribution was corrected way upthread, Sady.But your post is being discussed because it happens to fit in with what Flavia wrote in her recent post, and in fact a lot of what happened with that post undercuts what she wrote rather than underlines it, because of the dynamics Florence describes.

    Zuzu,
    I think you are being disingenuous. You didn’t bring up the whole Game of Thrones thing to relate it to Flavia’s post. You brought it up in the context of how often you read TigerBeatdown, and used it to contrast your example of something ‘breathtakingly good’ with an example of something ‘breathtakingly idiotic.’ Which caused piny to respond that she liked the piece, followed by Florence saying how much she hated it.
    So Sady comments, originally saying she had 2 points but making 3 (rather conveniently labeled 1, 2 and 3.) #1 comments solely on the article by Flavia. #2 addresses the comments complaining of insulting language on blogs like Tiger Beatdown. #3 addressed the comments made by piny, Florence, and yourself. Sady apologized for de-railing (the original topic) but she obviously wanted to defend herself against being called an idiot and being told she can’t read properly. She then proceeds to tie it in to Flavia’s post, something you claimed to have done but of which I can’t find a single example.

  90. Florence
    Florence October 19, 2011 at 5:57 am |

    Fat Steve: Zuzu,
    I think you are being disingenuous. You didn’t bring up the whole Game of Thrones thing to relate it to Flavia’s post. You brought it up in the context of how often you read TigerBeatdown, and used it to contrast your example of something ‘breathtakingly good’ with an example of something ‘breathtakingly idiotic.’ Which caused piny to respond that she liked the piece, followed by Florence saying how much she hated it.
    So Sady comments, originally saying she had 2 points but making 3 (rather conveniently labeled 1, 2 and 3.) #1 comments solely on the article by Flavia. #2 addresses the comments complaining of insulting language on blogs like Tiger Beatdown. #3 addressed the comments made by piny, Florence, and yourself. Sady apologized for de-railing (the original topic) but she obviously wanted to defend herself against being called an idiot and being told she can’t read properly. She then proceeds to tie it in to Flavia’s post, something you claimed to have done but of which I can’t find a single example.

    It’s what I’m attempting to do retroactively, and I actually think it’s Sady that’s being disingenuous here… Look, after some months it’s clear that the GoT thing is still fresh in her memory, and all the nasty fallout that happened, and we’re not at a point where an honest conversation about what happened in that kerfluffle can happen. Granted, at the time she was getting personally attacked — not to say that she didn’t throw the first punch with that weirdly aggressive post — but she proceeded (and still does, apparently) to write off any person who disagrees with her as a blowhard geek mansplainer or a feminist in sheep’s clothing, going so far to say that feminists who disagree with her (categorically incorrect) factual assessment of the novels are doing the boys’ work for them. So we’re having a game of No True Scotsman on the topic of some fantasy novels? It’s silly. And nevertheless the rhetoric getting thrown around was so nasty that it was no big deal if feminists got shot down and excluded as part of the collateral damage of fighting with some other group.

    It’s just incredibly ironic to me that we’re talking about blogging and performativity and a call to honesty in the same breath as we’re talking about a kerfluffle where real insults and injustices were done to feminists and other feminists cheered because it was so cool and mean and yeah! woo! It’s not about the novels, IT IS NOT ABOUT THE NOVELS, it’s about getting roundly dismissed and called a poseur and a traitor if you didn’t tow whatever feminist line was getting plugged on that blog on that day. It’s a tempest in a teapot, but it is what it is, and it’s fucked up.

  91. tinfoil hattie
    tinfoil hattie October 19, 2011 at 8:48 am |

    Yeah, but Sady was right about Game of Thrones. I cheered that post. Calling out rape culture is one thing that deserves to be called out, over and over, no matter how “fun” certain aspects of the culture are.

  92. Florence
    Florence October 19, 2011 at 9:13 am |

    Ignore the content of the post for a minute. The author’s response to inter-feminist criticism was “fuck you, you’re a troll” (i.e. accusing Alyssa Rosenberg of not being a real feminist and sucking up to men and doing the boys’ work for them) or to cherry-pick words and phrases to slam the feminists who did not like the author’s rhetoric (like here, with the “Zuzu called me an idiot!” ludicrousness).

    We either respect our peers, or we don’t. We don’t have to agree with them, and we don’t have to condone or promote their ideas. We don’t have to link them or like them or acknowledge them or be polite and Victorian when we answer their assertions with critique. Like I said uptread, be really adamant and invective about it if you wish. Make your arguments clearly, and loudly, and with lots and lots of hand gestures. But have some integrity.

    Outright dishonesty about your critics motives and actions is exactly contrary to this message of justice in the feminist blogosphere. Even when you’re right, or “right”, or the loudest, or the most stylish, or have the most clever tweets and tumbls, or have the most people cheering you on.

    (And at this point, I’m just talking about feminists and feminists. Even our asshole enemies deserve that modicum of respect, too, and arguing to the contrary takes the justice out of “social justice”.)

    I wouldn’t have brought up the GoT post if someone else hadn’t, but now that it’s on the table, it’s a great example of how not to act. We’ve got a problem when we’re willing to sacrifice our own supporters to see blood in the ring, not to mention the problem where it’s totally cool to completely misrepresent others in the name of FeminismFTW.

  93. zuzu
    zuzu October 19, 2011 at 12:23 pm |

    Fat Steve: Zuzu,
    I think you are being disingenuous. You didn’t bring up the whole Game of Thrones thing to relate it to Flavia’s post.

    Well, no kidding. Did I say I did? I said “it was brought up,” by others, to do what I said. I wasn’t the one who introduced it; it was already under discussion by then.

    Who’s being disingenuous?

  94. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 19, 2011 at 12:44 pm |

    zuzu: Well, no kidding.Did I say I did?I said “it was brought up,” by others, to do what I said.I wasn’t the one who introduced it; it was already under discussion by then.

    Who’s being disingenuous?

    I checked a few times and I can’t see anything apart from the original misattribution and correction before your comment @42 calling the post idiotic. I may have missed something but I looked pretty closely. So please, point out where I was mistaken and I’ll be happy to apologize, but don’t accuse me of being disingenuous, because I honestly can’t find it.

  95. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 19, 2011 at 12:49 pm |

    Actually Zuzu, this is a stupid argument because I haven’t read any of the posts, seen Game of Thrones or know anything apart from what was written here. So, I’ll just keep out of it. Sorry for wasting your time by stepping into a disagreement I have no knowledge of.

  96. You know why “call-out culture” sucks? « Natalia Antonova

    [...] It sucks because it’s largely derivative. [...]

  97. piny
    piny October 19, 2011 at 3:23 pm |

    Yeah, but Sady was right about Game of Thrones. I cheered that post. Calling out rape culture is one thing that deserves to be called out, over and over, no matter how “fun” certain aspects of the culture are.

    It can be both. People and literature can be both. They can even be more than two things at once.

    I thought the post was hildarious. I also cheered. But the problem was not really that Sady pointed out that there was a shit-ton of creepy fan-boying some rape scenes are clearly more equal than others bullshit in those books. That is at least arguable, isn’t it? Even if we love Sansa and Arya and blah blah blah deeper themes?

    The problem was that she insisted that there was nothing else in those books at all, certainly nothing remotely feminist, it was just one big sexual violence festival, and that everyone who liked the books was not only stupid but irresponsible.

    And THAT’S JUST FINE. But if you make that argument, be prepared to piss off a bunch of feminists who like those books, and be prepared to piss off a bunch of lit geeks and compulsive readers of fantasy novels who liked those books. Like, I’m not saying that one inflammatory post sucks all the air out of the room forever, but, “I see your point about the pervasive sexual violence, but I enjoyed these books as a feminist, and I believe that they contain some very powerful and interesting responses to the idea that the feudal era was romantic,” was not a valid answer to the argument as phrased. “I’m not a stupid jerk who can’t read, you’re a stupid jerk who can’t read,” was actually a lot more responsive. So, for that matter, was, “No, you’re the misogynist.” I know that some people would totally have been all HOW DARE YOU TAKE MY LENA HEADEY AWAY FROM ME, but they would at least have had the option.

    And Sady has every right to write blog posts about how everyone who likes x is a stupid jerk who can’t read. She has my wholehearted support. But then other people are going to be flashy in their anger right back, and then, well, that’s the discussion we’ll have about GoT. Honestly, I’m cool with that. I mean, it’s a fantasy novel.

  98. Sady
    Sady October 19, 2011 at 6:22 pm |

    “Everyone who liked the books was not only stupid but irresponsible.”

    I really, really fail to see the point where I argued this.

    That’s what bothers me about this situation. People are saying things that aren’t true. Look at my comments in this thread; you’ll see that I’m pointing to specific posts and specific people and, most importantly, specific ARGUMENTS. I have a problem with saying there aren’t that many rapes in the book, or claiming there are only “a few” rapes in the book, when I literally counted, and there are at least a thousand rapes depicted or alluded to (it’s hard to count when the sentence basically ends with “and then everybody in that town got raped,” but after the first two or three towns, I’d say we’ve probably hit a thousand). That’s a problem with an argument. I have a problem with saying “this person objects to the thousands of rapes in this book, so they clearly can’t handle any sexual violence, or any violence, in any media.” That’s a problem that I have with an argument. I have a problem with saying “this person never explains her opinions on when and how rape is inappropriately used in media, and when it’s appropriately depicted,” when I’ve written dozens of posts on that subject over the past three years. That’s a problem with an argument.

    I also think it’s hard to argue that when you’ve written a scene in which a six-year-old girl (trigger warning) is raped by an adult man, wearing armor, which armor rips her flesh up, and another gang-rape scene led by the same guy in which a girl’s breasts are eaten off, you haven’t engaged in sensationalizing the act of rape. And I don’t think your lavish depiction of the rape is negated by having the other characters stand around and say, “gosh, that’s bad! What a mean guy that was! Rape is certainly wrong!” Like, yeah. Wow. What a subtle way in which to make your point. I definitely needed the description of someone being gang-raped, mutilated, and partially eaten in order for you to make your big stand there.

    But that’s a problem with an argument. A big problem, but an argument-based problem. It’s not calling everybody Satan’s Hitler baby, and going back in time to torment them when they were in high school, which is what I’m basically alleged to have done by writing a post about my own opinions on my own blog.

    And yes, I do have actual problems with the argument made “by a feminist.” (Among the many distortions of reality, the idea that it is Bad Feminism to Attack Other Feminists — at least, insofar as it comes to responding to a feminist who has already attacked you in print.) Not least, she writes this: “I’d be curious to know what Sady thinks of the gender dynamics in The Mists of Avalon, a much more explicitly feminist work about the decline of a matriarchal society that also has depictions of rape that are much more graphic than those in A Song of Ice and Fire.”

    Well, if she had done her research there, she’d know that Marion Zimmer Bradley, the author of the book she mentions, was reportedly involved with actually raping people, specifically the molestation of several young children, and that she was accused, by her own daughter, of sexual abuse. (Also, I’d disagree that her rape scenes are “more graphic.” Nobody ever gets eaten during the rapes. If she’s actually read both books, and is being honest, her opinions are kind of puzzling to me there.) Bradley’s husband, Walter Breen, was a convicted pedophile, died in prison, wrote NAMBLA materials; Marion Zimmer Bradley knew this, and had even been involved with the creation of some of those materials, and when she died, she was involved in a court case to determine exactly how active she had been in procuring children for her husband to rape. This is mentioned on her Wikipedia page. If you Google “Marion Zimmer Bradley child molestation,” you can find records of what went on, including depositions, set up by the family of one of the victims. Her own work — including Mists of Avalon, which thanks Walter Breen in the acknowledgments for all these great ideas he’s taught her — includes a lot of sexualized content about adults “having sex” with kids, about incest, and about young people being forced into sexual situations by their elders, for the holy feminist Goddess. It’s not a comforting thought, that the founders of the Society of Creative Anachronism (MZB was involved with that, as I believe her husband was too) were also involved in the “creative anachronism” of sex with pubescent children (they even justified it by pointing to how popular it had been in older societies), or that somebody who wrote what was once considered a landmark feminist work actually was involved in ongoing sexual abuse. But that is what went on.

    Which is why, if you’ve done five seconds of research, if you’ve ever done something as simple as looking at Bradley’s Wikipedia page, you don’t cite MZB as your “feminist” example of a rape scene, and you don’t use her work to disprove the idea that adult/child sex scenes in fantasy literature are harmless, uneroticized or unconnected to real life.

    Coincidentally? How I found this out? Was writing a post about the gender dynamics in “The Mists of Avalon.” For a well-known publication. Which, again, five seconds’ worth of research would have uncovered.

    That says something to me, about the extent to which the writer of that post was actually willing to engage my arguments. Missing that much relevant data in a post says to me that some data is being ignored — or just not looked for in the first place. And that says to me that an article was, yes, disingenuous.

    Of course, I don’t think GRRM is actually involved in hurting people the way MZB was. That would be outrageous. But if my critics are going to claim “geek culture” for themselves, and cast me as The Outsider despite how much time I’ve actually spent engaging with and writing about it, I wish they would do at least as much research into the geek culture they cite as I have. When I’m talking about “disingenuous,” I’m talking about that. Presenting me as somebody who is Not One Of Us, in order to create the whole “she thinks she’s cool and she thinks we’re nerds! Get her” dynamic that’s just a blatant misrepresentation of the facts, yet has characterized this entire exchange.

    But I’m writing “some,” “some folks,” “some feminists,” “sometimes.” I’m hearing “everybody,” “everyone,” “anybody,” “anyone” as a truthful representation of what I said. Which isn’t the case. An actual look at what went on — the fact that I published so many comments disagreeing with me, gave point-by-point rebuttals, engaged with readers, did not ever say that “everyone who disagreed with me was a rape apologist” — would reveal that this is untrue. But it keeps getting said, because call-out culture isn’t about reality. Even something as simple as Zuzu’s move — it’s a derail for me to talk about what’s being said about me, but when Zuzu talks about it, it’s relevant to the post — or Florence’s overt victim-blaming (oh, sure, it’s not like we DESERVED to be attacked and hacked, but I “threw the first punch,” by writing a post on my own blog — do we tell that to people who get trolled by MRAs too, now? Do we tell them they shouldn’t have been so “aggressively” feminist, that they “threw the first punch” by existing?) are excused, once the pile-on starts.

    I don’t expect to change minds or hearts, and I don’t think anyone here is a bad person. I only have a problem with how these dynamics — writing “political” critiques of your enemies and “political” defenses of your friends, without disclosing those dynamics, to manipulate and rile up your readers; quoting people out of context or literally saying things that are not true about them; creating an atmosphere in which facts don’t matter, and feelings matter only when some people have them — create a culture that’s ultimately toxic, and how pointing it out usually leads to a resurgence of it. Which is what Flavia wrote about, in her post.

    Because this doesn’t just hurt me. People can hate me; honestly, I’m not invested in it any more, emotionally. I stopped expecting the Internet to be a friendly place long ago. I have a problem with it when it hurts people like Flavia and S.E. and Emily, who were triggered by the hate-comments too, who worked overtime removing the threats from that thread, who requested to have the comments turned off for the first time in Tiger Beatdown history, and who continue to receive splash damage, who now have threads dedicated to amazing posts of theirs hijacked to revive someone’s grudge about something I wrote.

    All of this seems like a whole lot of effort to go to, to avoid discussing the points that Flavia made in her excellent post, or to discredit her without engaging with her arguments. And it’s proved a lot of what she wrote true.

  99. EG
    EG October 20, 2011 at 9:48 am |

    Sady:
    Well, if she had done her research there, she’d know that Marion Zimmer Bradley, the author of the book she mentions, was reportedly involved with actually raping people, specifically the molestation of several young children, and that she was accused, by her own daughter, of sexual abuse. (Also, I’d disagree that her rape scenes are “more graphic.” Nobody ever gets eaten during the rapes. If she’s actually read both books, and is being honest, her opinions are kind of puzzling to me there.) Bradley’s husband, Walter Breen, was a convicted pedophile, died in prison, wrote NAMBLA materials; Marion Zimmer Bradley knew this, and had even been involved with the creation of some of those materials, and when she died, she was involved in a court caseto determine exactly how active she had been in procuring children for her husband to rape. This is mentioned on her Wikipedia page. If you Google “Marion Zimmer Bradley child molestation,” you can find records of what went on, including depositions, set up by the family of one of the victims. Her own work — including Mists of Avalon, which thanks Walter Breen in the acknowledgments for all these great ideas he’s taught her — includes a lot of sexualized content about adults “having sex” with kids, about incest, and about young people being forced into sexual situations by their elders, for the holy feminist Goddess. It’s not a comforting thought, that the founders of the Society of Creative Anachronism (MZB was involved with that, as I believe her husband was too) were also involved in the “creative anachronism” of sex with pubescent children (they even justified it by pointing to how popular it had been in older societies), or that somebody who wrote what was once considered a landmark feminist work actually was involved in ongoing sexual abuse. But that is what went on.

    Holy shit. Sady, I realize that my comment will be tangential at best, but I had no fucking idea of any of this. I grew up reading MZB, but hadn’t really thought about her since I was 15, and I had never heard of any of this. And I run in SF/F circles. Feminist F/SF circles.

    This kind of start to the day does not bode well for the rest of it.

  100. Florence
    Florence October 20, 2011 at 11:34 am |

    (oh, sure, it’s not like we DESERVED to be attacked and hacked, but I “threw the first punch,” by writing a post on my own blog — do we tell that to people who get trolled by MRAs too, now? Do we tell them they shouldn’t have been so “aggressively” feminist, that they “threw the first punch” by existing?)

    “She asked for it,” yes, that’s exactly what I was saying. I totes endorse that sentiment.

    Sady: I don’t expect to change minds or hearts, and I don’t think anyone here is a bad person. I only have a problem with how these dynamics — writing “political” critiques of your enemies and “political” defenses of your friends, without disclosing those dynamics, to manipulate and rile up your readers; quoting people out of context or literally saying things that are not true about them; creating an atmosphere in which facts don’t matter, and feelings matter only when some people have them — create a culture that’s ultimately toxic, and how pointing it out usually leads to a resurgence of it. Which is what Flavia wrote about, in her post.

    Sady, I get it. But it’s clear that you’re going to sidetrack this thing and minimize your contribution to whatever toxicity is happening in the feminist blogosphere. This blockquote here is exactly what I’ve been emphasizing in your behavior here and elsewhere, your GoT post and the fallout of being one example, CONTENT IRRELEVANT.

    I think you’re a great writer, I’ve been reading your blog for years. But man, your thinking is distorted here, and it’s painful because it’s laid out so bare. You see how you picked up one line off of piny’s last comment and riffed off it for a few hundred words? It bears little resemblance to what anyone is trying to communicate to you. You’ve done this over and over again. I mean, what you say is interesting, sure, but it doesn’t address most anything that someone has said to or about you in this particular conversation. I don’t need or want any concessions and I really wasn’t looking to pick a fight, but this ongoing avoidance of the actual topic while courting conflict is weird. “If you don’t like the conversation, change it,” is great advice for PR, but not if you believe what you’re purporting when you point back over and over again to Flavia’s post.

  101. piny
    piny October 20, 2011 at 2:43 pm |

    I don’t really care that she took one line out of my post and riffed on it for a few hundred words. It’s an argument. I’m not offended by her aggressive dismantling of stuff I wrote in a comments thread about a post she wrote about a fantasy novel we read. It’s okay with me.

    I’m talking about the I’ll set fire to all your toys post. In isolation, because that’s how most people read that post, and how most people read things, period.

    I saw these reactions:

    1) Well, I see your point, but I still really like the books!
    2) You are a BAD Feminist and I am OFFENDED on behalf of FEMINISM.
    3) You deserve to obscenity obscenity violent threat, stupid feminist slut, how dare you insult my fandom?

    It´s not that any of those people are right, okay? I’m not saying that they are right when they toss the post around on tumblr like BAD pop-culture feminist, BAD! SHAME on you. I’m not saying that they are saying smart things. I don’t agree with them. I agree with you that the books are creepy, and I also found the post entertaining and funny.

    My problem is with the idea that there really is a controllable or complicit group internet dynamic–that all these people are aware of and responsible for each other, or even that they should be. They’re just a bunch of people fapping on the internet. They’re not a community. They’re not a camp or a side or a collective. They’re not usually trying to incite each other or get support from each other. They’re not ever going to agree that they are, because they don’t see themselves as one group and mostly dislike each other. And it is wrong to pretend otherwise. Flavia is wrong. Blogging is not usually performative, not on that level, not most of the time. That kind of self-awareness is unusual, and I don’t think it’s realistic. Descriptive or prescriptive.

    You are complaining that people read that post, didn’t bother to read the comments thread, didn’t bother to read any of your other posts, and then made mean comments on tumblr and elsewhere on the internet about how you were a bad feminist and stupid and a stupid jerk who knew nothing about literature.

    That’s annoying. That is super annoying. But it is what happens. It is how media works. It is how a large group of people discuss an issue. The end.

    It is not fucking call-out culture. It’s culture.

    And you know something else? It’s only since blogging that it’s suddenly lazy and inadequate for someone to only read one article you have written. When did we decide that you also have to read three hundred comments and all the linked posts and all the other posts by the same author or at least all the posts on that subject, even if it’s on tumblr and even if several of them have already been deleted?

    If that’s necessary to participate in those discussions, fine, I love disappearing up my own asshole with all friends too, look what I’m doing now, but we can’t expect that from most people. It won’t happen. We need to expect a lot of lazy fapping, and we need to stop pretending that it’s an important part of this or any discussion.

    And so…well, that’s my problem. You don’t distinguish between 1) feminist critics making stupid arguments who deserve to be excoriated by other feminist critics including yourself, 2) feminist commenters making lazy insulting comments who deserve to be ignored, and 3) misogynist trolls making violent threats, who deserve to be banned and hated. (And maybe (4) feminists trying to make themselves famous by hating on other feminists, who are energy creatures with this whither responsible blogging shit, dear lord). It’s all just one big cyclone of negativity that must STOP. And that too is a normal human reaction. But it’s a fallacy.

  102. piny
    piny October 20, 2011 at 2:48 pm |

    Also, I thought the MZB stuff was interesting. I don’t know if it’s strictly germane to, “When is a graphic rape scene meant to titillate and when is it meant to break our hearts,” because that book is potentially sensationalist and/or heartbreaking apart from the author’s crimes, but it’s interesting. So thank you.

  103. Florence
    Florence October 20, 2011 at 3:10 pm |

    Piny @ 101: You win. That’s about the most honest thing I’ve read on blogging ever. Seriously.

    I still think integrity is important if you’re going to engage in this to the degree that we “disappear up our own assholes with friends” (har), in that if you’re going to spend this much time and energy on it you might as well give the people who share your interest a fair shake. If a writer doesn’t give people a fair shake, fine. (Or if I as a reader think a writer doesn’t give her audience a fair shake, fine.) But she should be prepared to accept that the people who have access to the same publishing tools as she does can voice their equally adamant and colorful disagreement.

    I mean, it’s the internet after all.

  104. piny
    piny October 21, 2011 at 9:24 am |

    This is a good point, and I don’t want to sound like I personally am annoyed by people talking about their circumstances when they’re relevant. And I don’t want to sound like I’m saying that the circumstances aren’t relevant.

    I wasn’t talking about, “Well, I actually belong to this group and I have been personally involved in this conflict over this issue….” but the automatic categorization. Like introducing yourself as cisgender during a comment on a thread about clean-water access or Jersey Shore. “I’m a cis, white, heterosexual, class-privileged, TAB, female-presenting young blogger, and I thought that Amy Pond’s character arc was super disappointing this season.” Maybe this is more of a tumblr cliche?

    It seems like a reflex at this point, maybe more so among privileged people, and I think it’s an interesting one. Because it’s not the same as, “Well, as a lesbian, I have experienced thus and such myself,” or even, “Well, I’m straight, but I have noticed this and consider it to be related to this other thing.” And it doesn’t seem to indicate or communicate self-awareness.

    Then, too, it seems like some other people are talking about credentialing as burdensome on the supply side: that it’s painful to have to constantly go, “No, really, that happened to me,” during a discussion about sexual violence or intimate abuse.

  105. llama
    llama October 21, 2011 at 9:32 am |

    Jadey: There is something quite condescending (and inaccurate) about protecting her from criticisms on the basis of her English not being very good.

    There is definitely a difference between the style of writing in Spanish and that in English. It is common for Spanish to sort of circle around to the point. Whereas, we like English to get straight to the point. I think you have to give her some leeway.

  106. Natalia
    Natalia October 21, 2011 at 2:09 pm |

    To object to “credentialling” is to expect people to shut up about the fact that people who represent the Other are part of the conversation.

    Yes, to a degree – but that’s not how “credentialing” always plays out. Piny touched on an important point – about how it can sometimes become redundant and kind of… weird. But what’s even worse, in my opinion, is when “credentialing” devolves into a kind of “show me your creds” thing, which can downright border on harassment.

    I’ve experienced this personally online: People demand my “creds” all of the time, for example, ignoring the fact that there’s painful shit I explicitly don’t want to talk about – or else they demand my “creds” because they want to see if I’m an “authentic” Eastern European, if I actually “represent” a certain culture, if I have the “right” to identify as this or that, or even the right to speak on an issue.

    It can be invasive and patronizing. I’m not going to detail my life experiences to some stupid fuck so that said stupid fuck can then decide as to whether or not I can have a place in a certain conversation. Screw that. More often than not, it’s pearls before swine.

  107. gen
    gen October 21, 2011 at 4:08 pm |

    I second what Natalia said. The problem is not credentialing itself, it’s the insistence that one MUST do it before their opinions are worthy of consideration. I’ve seen some on Tumblr insist that those who are not willing to do so must simply just be privileged people afraid of being called out on it, which is so much crap.

  108. igglanova
    igglanova October 21, 2011 at 7:11 pm |

    I wrote all this before realizing that I should narrow down what I mean by ‘credentialing,’ so I’ll do that now. I’m talking about the way people voluntarily and pre-emptively introduce themselves with their -ism credentials, or when they preface an argument with said credentials when they are not actually important.

    When credentialing becomes as pervasive as it is right now, it gives off the creepy impression that all people who come from marginalized groups have nothing more to their identities than what social categories they fit into. We end up looking like an army of boring clones when so many of us summarize ourselves with the same boilerplate introduction.

    I have a problem with this phenomenon because it seems to exactly replicate how anti-feminist, racist, homophobic, etc. people conceive of us – no personality or humanity beyond our Otherness, with all members of our groups being interchangeable. Of course I don’t actually believe that the people who credential do not see themselves as individuals, but the way we present ourselves to others reveals a great deal about how we see ourselves. If you see the foremost part of yourself as that which is subject to -isms, what does that say about how kyriarchy has dominated your sense of self? If you feel compelled to vomit up a laundry list of social categories before you give yourself permission to voice your opinion, doesn’t that point to a disturbing colonization of the mind?

  109. piny
    piny October 22, 2011 at 8:22 am |

    Maybe. I agree that your example is a bit ridiculous, but is it necessarily worse than said blogger just presuming she’ll be read as white, cis, hetero and TAB? Which she will?

    Arguably? IME? Yes: it allows her to put a pin in her identity and going forward ignore the fact that saying that she is cis doesn’t remove the fact that she is cis. It becomes a marker, just as circumstantial as, “As a trans woman….”

    And I don’t really agree that status is relevant to everything, not equally. I think that someone’s cis status is a whole lot more directly relevant to a discussion about anti-trans violence or cissexist documentation or AFA fearmongering about trans people in public than a discussion about Kim Kardashian. I think that the recitation ignores that important difference in degree, and renders the actual disparity less meaningful.

    But that was not the dichotomy I was talking about, between acknowledging and presuming. I mean that some commenters seem to use that single acknowledgement as a substitute for actually engaging with any of this stuff. I think they don’t seem to understand why it’s important that they keep their circumstances in mind when they speak.

    And it’s also very interesting to me because it seems to be something that privileged people both developed and now seem to find burdensome and ridiculous. There are other ways of acknowledging privilege, and other ways of participating in a discussion without dominating it. So that’s fascinating from the angle of “call-out culture:” an obligation nobody imposed.

  110. Fat Steve
    Fat Steve October 22, 2011 at 9:08 am |

    I think the problem is when people use their credentials to excuse shitty behavior that they ‘don’t mind.’ I”m thinking of someone in a recent post who said something like ‘As a multiple rape victim, I think people should have more of a sense of humor about rape jokes because I find them funny.’

  111. DaisyDeadhead
    DaisyDeadhead October 24, 2011 at 5:04 pm |

    Ladeeda:
    The problem, as I see it, is that by adopting an aggressive stance in calling someone out, you lose some ability to educate the them as to why their comments were problematic in the first place. If the call-out is largely punitive and a pile-on occurs, the commenter will become defensive rather than receptive to learning. You can say they should just grow thicker skin and take their pile-on with grace and aplomb, but why place additional obstacles in the way of a teachable moment?

    I used to try the AA thing in calling out: “When I made that mistake, here is what I was thinking/why I did it/what I changed.” That puts you and the person you are calling out on equal footing and makes it clear that you once did this too. In short, it’s NOT MEAN.

    But what I learned instead, is that such a comment makes YOU instantly vulnerable to the calling-outers, and you’ll be next. Admitting mistakes leaves you wide open, which is why so few people readily do it. Not being aggressive means you aren’t outraged enough, and the very-outraged thread-participants will be sure to tell you that they are offended by your tepid acceptance of this person’s sins, when fire and brimstone is required.

    (PS: I do think the puritan roots of the USA have a lot to do with this whole pattern: sin, altar call (call out), confession, get saved. And once enough emotional trauma has been wrought, on to the next revival meeting!)

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