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  1. Angie unduplicated
    Angie unduplicated November 28, 2013 at 8:28 am |

    Sending love to Pheenobarbiedoll and our Native people on one of the most infuriating days of the year.

    1. pheenobarbidoll
      pheenobarbidoll November 28, 2013 at 10:23 am |

      Thank you. Tomorrow is Native heritage day for those who don’t know.

      1. Sharon M
        Sharon M November 29, 2013 at 10:38 pm |

        Sending love to Pheenobarbiedoll and our Native people on one of the most infuriating days of the year.

        Seconded. Pheenobarbidoll: Your comment about people working on thanksgiving and too fucking bad made me go ah ha! It is one of those things I’d never thought about(Privilege in action) even though Thanksgiving is right up there with Christopher Columbus day.

        FWIW: I’m writing this from Cape Cod, Mass: ground zero of what I call the beginning of the end:
        http://www.mashpeewampanoagtribe.com/historyculture

  2. Sharon M
    Sharon M November 30, 2013 at 12:06 am |

    Content Notes: Jonestown, murder. On the link: bullying, abuse

    So, continuing what I started: I used to love Shakesville. It was witty, educational and my support system.
    At some point, it started to change :well meaning readers were dog piled for innocuous comments, and when they tried to apologize it was either ignored, or they were ripped apart again.

    After seeing a reader get ripped apart of a harmless comment about Halloween, I left a comment calling out how toxic and unsafe Shakesville was now and told the OP she’d done nothing wrong.
    (it was rapidly deleted, but I have the screen shot.)

    Melissa and her mods ( a couple who are almost as bad as her) assume bad faith from the readers, while the readers have expected to assume good faith from Melissa and her mods.

    A anon reader confessed to STFU Shakesville Tumblr they’d been badly triggered after being abused there, to the point they were in tears all night and started cutting herself.
    Others have said they’re terrified to comment over there for fear of getting flamed.
    Melissa’s responses are particularly cruel: She doesn’t just correct them: she bombs them with the F word, she drips sarcasm, and talks to them like they are right wing trolls.

    I used to laugh at the mods and Melissa’s over the top, bizarre responses, but it’s not funny anymore. How many people depend on Shakesville for a support system?
    .
    The appropriation of GLBT issues, stereotypes of gay men, and her declaring she’s “queer brained” (a gay man trapped in a straight woman’s body as she calls it, because she is a tomboy is another huge issue. I’m not GLBT so my teasing it apart would be inappropriate.

    TL,DR: one of the best feminist blogs is now a toxic and abusive place, (and is hurting readers in IRL) and it needs to be called out

    This Tumblr has been documenting the most recent outrages.

    My thoughts on the name of this Tumblr
    I do not like the term Drinking the Kool Aid. I hate it.

    900+ people died in Jonestown, not brainwashed robots to be mocked. They were people who tried to create a anti racist, sexist, class free society. (over 70% who died were POC. 30% were children) and contrary to popular belief, the majority of them were murdered by being forced to drink (or injected with) cyanide laced Flavor Aid.

    I don’t like the title of this Tumblr obviously, but it is what it is)
    http://shakesvillekoolaid.tumblr.com/

    1. yazikus
      yazikus November 30, 2013 at 4:12 pm |

      Lots of people don’t seem to have an issue at Shakesville… I’ve been called out there before, thought about it, agreed when I was wrong, and that was that. The website you linked to seems a bit obsessed.

      1. yazikus
        yazikus November 30, 2013 at 4:18 pm |

        Just noticed that this has totally been hashed out. Disregard my comment if you will. Thanks!

    2. JetGirl
      JetGirl December 1, 2013 at 6:49 pm |

      I am with you. I used to really enjoy that space. And I never had any issues with Melissa, per se, though we didn’t always agree. But there is one newer mod there, who is also now a frequent contributor, who sets my teeth on edge. This mod is over-protective of Melissa to the point that even a compliment sets them off. Talk about walking on eggshells — this individual drove me out. Too bad.

      1. Computer Soldier Porygon
        Computer Soldier Porygon December 2, 2013 at 12:19 pm |

        The ‘walking on eggshells’ thing is a big reason I’ve never actively participated at Shakesville. For a ‘safe space,’ it gives me a feeling not dissimilar (although on a very small scale obv) to some abuse experiences I’ve had, and I’m really uncomfortable participating anywhere where I have to be not just mindful but hypercautious of what I say and how I phrase it.

        I also find the repetition of key phrases thing to be really creepy.

        1. JetGirl
          JetGirl December 2, 2013 at 1:33 pm |

          Overall, the content and the repeated phrases are not a problem for me. I usually find Melissa’s and certain other contributors’ posts interesting and thought-provoking. It’s more that the comment section on lighter posts, like open posts and pet and pop culture posts started getting really stringent, where people would get piled on for the most innocuous things. And the mod I’m thinking of would just jump on anyone who interacted with Melissa in even the slightest misunderstanding or disagreement, even if Melissa and the commenter had hashed it out and were cool, and everyone, even other mods, saw they were cool.
          This protective zeal made even the most lighthearted interaction fraught with tension, and made me not want to interact even on a cute cat picture.

        2. Computer Soldier Porygon
          Computer Soldier Porygon December 2, 2013 at 2:58 pm |

          Overall, the content and the repeated phrases are not a problem for me.

          Yeah, I think the repeated phrases thing (especially when the commentariat repeats it back) pings my creepometer because of Very Important Dark Personal Issues haha

          Shakesville has seemed relatively inactive lately though… less than 20 comments a post on most of the recent ones

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 2, 2013 at 3:23 pm |

          Yeah, I think the repeated phrases thing (especially when the commentariat repeats it back) pings my creepometer because of Very Important Dark Personal Issues haha

          You’re not alone, and it’s creepy as fuck. I used to think so even when I was still reading there.

        4. JetGirl
          JetGirl December 2, 2013 at 3:33 pm |

          I can understand that. The piling on and overprotectiveness pings bad memories for me, particularly from college, where what was supposed to be a safe space was more like a piranha-infested lake.

        5. Miranda
          Miranda December 2, 2013 at 3:43 pm |

          Chiming in as another person whose Dark Memories get dredged up by that site. The place has reminded me of another destructive group that was in my life, and to my (admittedly traumatized) eyes, her behavior seems abusive for a whole range of reasons.

        6. Ally S
          Ally S December 2, 2013 at 4:24 pm |

          I admit that I used to be an active Shaker until early this year. I found some of the commentariat very nice and supportive, and at one point I was a fan of Melissa. I even used to defend her for every other thing, although I certainly had problems with her as well. But I always feared being confronted by a mod. I used to post in open threads, hoping that no mod would confront me because they seemed so unforgiving and mean at times.

          And eventually, I had internalized the various mores of Shakesville to the point that it was having a harmful effect on my own emotional health. I felt that, every time I made a comment, I risked being angrily confronted by a mod – even when I was sure that I was following the rules and that I was making completely innocuous comments. These fears made my self-hatred even more difficult to cope with because there were times I posted an innocuous comment and then started worrying about the entire community telling me I’m a horrible person. That didn’t actually happen, but I really couldn’t feel safe in a space in which I’m almost constantly fearful. And so after being there had started to exacerbate my anxiety in addition to my self-hatred, I left. Now I just read some of the articles there from time to time – the ones that aren’t problematic, at least.

        7. ldouglas
          ldouglas December 2, 2013 at 5:04 pm |

          FWIW, I think this blog does it much better than shakesvillekoolaid, and without the annoying title:

          http://shakesville.tumblr.com/

        8. Computer Soldier Porygon
          Computer Soldier Porygon December 2, 2013 at 6:54 pm |

          I felt that, every time I made a comment, I risked being angrily confronted by a mod – even when I was sure that I was following the rules and that I was making completely innocuous comments.

          Oh, that reminds me of something else that bugs me about Shakes, kind of related to the walking-on-eggshells thing – the ‘assume good faith’ rule and the way that’s so unevenly applied. It’s high crimes and treason to assume any bad faith on the part of the contributors, but it’s often used as a cudgel against the commentariat, who don’t get the same courtesy of assumed good faith. Haha, faith faith faith faith faith faith faith. Semantic satiation.

        9. XtinaS
          XtinaS December 3, 2013 at 1:29 am |

          ldouglas:

          Augh, this first bit of someone’s post:

          “I never commented at Shakesville much because I was just too scared. Which is saying something because I cut my feminist teeth at places like Twisty’s old forum, which wasn’t exactly newbie territory.”

          Yes, that. I can’t recall whether I’ve ever commented at SV, but one of my first feminist blogs was IBTP. Hell, I even remember getting on Twisty’s case about some anti-trans commenter in her comments section. But I’ll be damned if I comment at SV, because the only other times I’ve felt that tense about talking was the time I went to dinner with my conservative male boss and his conservative male business associates.

        10. kittehserf
          kittehserf December 3, 2013 at 2:51 am |

          ldouglas, I’m just reading some of the shakesfail examples. Talk about mind boggling, not to mention Melissa seeming to have had a humour bypass at some stage … I mean, going off about the person who said “don’t mention cherry leaves”? Or putting “cat aggression warnings” up ferchrissakes? Flipping from ticking a man off for mentioning polyamorous marriage, to ticking someone else off for not mentioning it?

          Dafuq?

          I’ve never commented there (at least I don’t think I have) and the only post I really know is the one about Schrodinger’s Rapist from a few years back, which followed the original Shapely Prose one.

          Doesn’t look like I’m missing anything, if the place is this toxic.

        11. KP
          KP December 4, 2013 at 6:48 am |

          Why does Melissa get criticized for this, but Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick didn’t? (Or, is it just that I’m too young to remember Kosofsky Sedgwick getting criticized for that?) (Also, not defending Melissa, just curious.)

          Because she’s contributed a lot to what we know as queer theory? I’m not saying she should get a pass for that, but it’s a bit different that Liss calling herself “queer-brained” for being a tomboy or whatever.

          I think Eve Sedgwick called herself “gay-male identified” though she was by all accounts a cis lady. I do wonder, had she been born later (she died about five years ago), if she would have identified as something other than cis. Poppy Z. Brite called himself “gay male identified,” too and eventually transitioned. (Sorry if this was a little clumsily put, it’s early for me.)

        12. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
          The Kittehs' Unpaid Help December 4, 2013 at 9:48 pm |

          Kittehserf, why are you chiming in when you obviously have no idea what Shakesville is like? Why don’t you go read Melissa’s posts and the comment threads for a while and form your own opinion?

          Because I’ve been reading the links provided? Because some of the things quoted here are pretty outrageous as it is? Because I’ve seen these exact same reactions to Shakesville elsewhere, from people I know and trust? Because I’m looking at the site now, to see what this is about?

          When people I like say they’re afraid to comment in a space, and voice after voice speaks about how nasty the place is, yeah, I’ll take a look and see what they’re referring to. Would you have complained if I’d said I thought the place was terrific, from what I’d seen?

        13. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve December 9, 2013 at 2:23 am |

          And BTW to everybody, I always notice when people don’t get my name right e.g. they capitalise my handle, or break it into two words, sometimes hyphenating and sometimes not, sometimes capitalising both words or only the first. I wouldn’t say it bothers me exactly, but I always wonder why they’ve chosen to alter my handle from how I’ve written it, and I definitely notice when they only do that to my handle, or only to me and a few others, yet get everybody’s else’s handle exactly right. Names are important.

          I haven’t mentioned anything either, but my name is not Steve. My handle is ‘Fat Steve.’ However, most will refer to me as Steve rather than Fat Steve and just about everyone addresses me as Steve. Like you, I wouldn’t say it bothers me exactly, but I do wonder why people have such a difficult time with my prefix.

        14. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 9, 2013 at 2:30 am |

          Like you, I wouldn’t say it bothers me exactly, but I do wonder why people have such a difficult time with my prefix.

          IDK about others but I tend to drop it unconsciously because I’ve had “fat” slung at me as a slur and it feels weirdly douchey saying it to someone else as a name. I’ll start using it re: you, though.

        15. EG
          EG December 9, 2013 at 11:27 am |

          Convenience, mostly, the way I call Ally S “Ally” instead of typing out the space and initial. But since it bugs, I’ll stop it. Sorry about that.

        16. Ally S
          Ally S December 9, 2013 at 11:35 am |

          I don’t know if I’ve ever called you “Steve” (blame my terrible short-term memory) but I’ll make sure to call you by your full username from now on.

          And FTR, I don’t care what people call me here so long as it isn’t an insult or my male name. =P

        17. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve December 9, 2013 at 12:27 pm |

          Convenience, mostly, the way I call Ally S “Ally” instead of typing out the space and initial. But since it bugs, I’ll stop it. Sorry about that.

          Feel free to call me “Fat” or “F.S.” Part of the reason I picked the pseudonym for radio was due to my struggles with weight issues and that was my defiant way of facing up to it (also I have a fairly deep voice and sound ‘fat’). Now that I’m 60 lbs lighter (though not svelte, by any means) I still feel a connection to that fat. I know…it’s silly.

        18. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl December 9, 2013 at 1:53 pm |

          Huh. This is an interesting discussion to me. I suppose because discussion here at Feministe is generally pretty conversational I tend to not really think twice about shortening handles. Especially since typing out some of the longer ones seems kinda tricky when I’m trying to stick to the point and not lose the plot. I apologize if I’ve offended anyone with shortening theirs, I definitely don’t mind at all if people stick with Lola when referring back to me instead of typing out Lolagirl. I mostly use my chosen handle to differentiate myself from all the other Lolas out there on the internets anyway.

          Sorry if I’m me me me’ing. I think we’re cool Steve, you Lola me I Steve you?

        19. shfree
          shfree December 9, 2013 at 6:29 pm |

          Fat Steve, I also apologize. I am terrible when it comes to handle shorteners (which is weird, because IRL, however people introduce them to me is what I call them, a Patricia stays Patricia, never becomes a Pat, for example) and I just defaulted to a name. I will remember to call you by your full handle from now on.

        20. EG
          EG December 9, 2013 at 8:51 pm |

          Thanks for the nickname options, FS!

          And I don’t think it’s silly at all. Names are important. I apologize for having dropped the meaningful part of yours.

        21. XtinaS
          XtinaS December 10, 2013 at 2:21 am |

          (For uh what it’s worth, I wrote something that adds a link next to a name here, that when clicked displays a prompt-alert so’s I can just copy the name. Largely because I can’t always see the letters right to get people’s names right.)

      2. Donna L
        Donna L December 2, 2013 at 7:56 pm |

        I like Melissa. I very much like most of her (and the other moderators’) posts (including the ones on politics, and the ones with links to blogs and news stories), although I read very few her posts about popular culture because I don’t watch any of the TV shows she does (with one exception), and rarely go to movies anymore.

        I especially like Aphra Behn’s posts.

        It also happens to be — despite Melissa’s Mary Daly post a few years ago, which reflected ignorance, not malice — far and away the most trans-friendly and trans-supportive feminist progressive blog I know of.

        Melissa has also been very kind and supportive to me personally.

        Yes, it’s a different kind of space from this one, with a very, very different culture that obviously is not for a lot of people. I can understand some of the criticisms, here and on the anti-Shakesville sites, regarding the strict moderation policies. (I agree that when Melissa posted a selfie and one of the moderators chastised someone for saying something complimentary, it was a bit much. Especially since Melissa herself had already responded positively to people’s complimentary comments, including mine!)

        On the other hand, I’ve seen some criticisms on those sites (when I looked at them, the last time someone linked them here), that I thought were either outrageously petty and personal (like deliberately and repeatedly calling her Liz instead of Liss, knowing that she doesn’t like Liz), or just plain outrageous (including lambasting her for cutting off discussion of certain viewpoints that I happen to find extremely offensive myself).

        I also find the idea that people are sufficiently invested in criticizing Shakesville that they actually set up various anti-Shakesvilles, instead of simply ignoring the place, to be rather astonishing. Are there “anti-Feministe” blogs and tumblrs out there?

        And for whatever reason, I haven’t found the moderation policies there remotely difficult to understand and comply with. If I want to disagree with people, I come here! I don’t comment there nearly as much as here, but I still have probably well over 1,000 comments there in the last couple of years, and I’ve been reprimanded only once, early on, when I suggested to CaitieCat that I didn’t think using an asterisk after “trans” changed its meaning or was otherwise necessary, since “trans” was itself meant to be an inclusive term. But, OK, it’s not my blog. And CaitieCat (who doesn’t blog there anymore, although she still comments) turned out to be one of my favorite people there. (At the time I started posting there, Shakesville had not one but two trans women who blogged there fairly regularly. Now it’s one, but how many feminist blogs have even that many?)

        1. Donna L
          Donna L December 2, 2013 at 8:03 pm |

          I’m by no means suggesting that anyone else’s feelings about the place, as expressed here, are invalid. Everyone’s entitled to their own reaction. All I’m trying to convey is that I’m well aware of the culture there, and take it as it is, and enjoy it as such. Especially the posts themselves — my comments there are generally mostly about the posts, whereas here I’m just as interested in interacting with other commenters.

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 2, 2013 at 8:07 pm |

          If I want to disagree with people, I come here!

          It kind of boggles my mind that you can happily say that you don’t feel you get to disagree with anything a site posts. It really does.

          Also, I’m glad you feel supported there. I really am. I think Shakesville’s coverage of trans issues is good and certainly more extensive than any other “general” site I’ve seen. I don’t even disagree with that much of Liss’ politics. But by the same count, I could say that it is one of the whitest feminist blogs out there (I don’t know aphra-behn’s race but Liss, Paul, Deeky, Scott, CaitieCat and Ana Mardoll are all white, yes?), and one of the most microaggressive blogs on LBQ issues I know that actually manages to do decently on the G and T. So does it balance out?

          I think the reason there are anti-SV blogs out there is that there’s a whole lot of shenanigans happening in comments where people get piled on and yelled at for the slightest disagreement (I mean really, you can’t say “don’t talk about cherry leaves” rhetorically? WTF?) in a way that doesn’t happen here at Feministe. At least not on a mod=>commenter basis. Commenter=> commenter bullshit is rife here, but I think you can agree that there’s a difference between punching down and squabbling with equals. Particularly since SV is so trigger-happy with the banhammer. (I mean, for srs? What was so awful in my last comments there that I got banned for? I was about 10x more polite than I am here, even.)

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 2, 2013 at 8:10 pm |

          And I’m sorry if this comes off as criticising YOUR decision to be there in particular; that is not my intent. Everyone has their own communities and as you pointed out SV has a solid track record on trans issues, some fuckups notwithstanding, so it makes perfect sense to me that you’d stay there and enjoy it – it is the closest thing a trans woman has to a non-judgy internetzplace that isn’t specifically about trans people, after all.

        4. Donna L
          Donna L December 2, 2013 at 8:47 pm |

          No worries; it didn’t come across that way.

          Yes, I believe that Aphra Behn and Misty and SKM and Paul and Deeky are white, and so is Eastside Kate, and so is CaitieCat, although she doesn’t blog there anymore. I don’t know about Ana Mardoll, and the name Scott doesn’t ring a bell. There is one WOC listed on the contributors’ list, but I don’t know how often she posts. I’m not aware that Shakesville has had a POC as a regular blogger, at least in the two or three years I’ve been reading there.

          Disagreement is allowed there to an extent, by the way, so I was being somewhat hyperbolic. For example, Melissa hates The Walking Dead because it’s so stupid in so many ways. I happen to enjoy it, partly for that very reason. So we disagree — no problem!

          And yes, it is the closest thing I’ve found to a safe space for trans people that isn’t a trans-specific space. That’s one way in which the fast ban hammer can be quite beneficial. What has historically taken a dozen or more comments from someone here, takes one there. Although I must say that things have greatly improved here since the giraffe was hired. (I think zie is due for a raise.) It’s been a while since anyone has gotten away for long with being truly loathsomely transphobic here. The days of people saying things to me like “you might have cut off your dick but you still are one,” and having the comment sit there for hours, seem to be over with.

        5. JetGirl
          JetGirl December 2, 2013 at 10:01 pm |

          I also find those tumblrs dedicated to trashing Shakesville (or other sites and their commenters) perplexing and a bit tacky. Fair comment is one thing, but most take it too far.
          And even though the “don’t compliment Melissa on her selfie” thing is finally what sent me out the door permanently, I miss many of the folks there. CaitieCat, SKM, AforAlpha and others were always lovely to me. I may still lurk occasionally, but I won’t read comments any more.

        6. ldouglas
          ldouglas December 2, 2013 at 11:50 pm |

          Melissa often writes racist and homophobic things, then shouts down POC and gay people who point them out. This has happened a dozen times that I can think of at least. That’s enough reason for me to think she’s fairly worthless.

        7. Miranda
          Miranda December 3, 2013 at 2:14 pm |

          I actually do occasionally read Shakesville, mostly for their link round ups, which have exposed me to other blogs that I wouldn’t have otherwise known about. My impression was always that Melissa went way out of her way, in her link round ups, to make sure intersectional issues were getting enough coverage. Although, that said, there have been many times when I got the feeling of, “Okay now I feel like you’re doing this for the brownie points or to cover your own ass.” But it was just an impression.

          To clarify why I and perhaps others find it so intolerable: what I find “triggery” and “creepy” is that way that the blog often revolves around Melissa, Melissa’s feelings, and Melissa’s personality. “Cult of Personality” would work here, except I know that others accuse her of creating a cult, which I think is disrespectful to, you know, actual cult survivors. So I don’t want to call it that. I find especially triggering the way site policies are often framed around “Melissa’s feelings” and when she snarks at people for “making me feel bad on my own blog,” et cetera. I am not going to get into whether or not I think it’s legitimate for a self-defined inclusive, social justice, political space to be run like that. But it definitely brings up really bad feelings and memories for me.

          I’ve seen anti shakesville websites before, and for me, it was affirming that there were people out there who believed that SJ spaces did not have to be run in such ways and that, in fact, recognized that running SJ spaces that way CAN be harmful to people. My guess is that many of these websites can get very personal because Melissa’s herself always frames her blog in a very personal way. I’m not saying that makes it right or wrong, just how I can see how “anti-shakesville” websites one, would get set it up, and two, would then come to focus on Melissa…the site, more than feministe or any other, lends itself to that sort of thing.

          I can always see why people would defiantly call her “Liz” instead of “Liss.” To me, it expresses a kind of frustration with and defiance of being forced to continue to subordinate yourself to her in that space. I guess what I find most triggering is the feeling, whether valid or not, that the rules are enforced randomly and the expectation that the commenters submit and scrape to her arbitrary whims–in ways she herself never has had to. I do that and have had to do that shit enough in the real world.

          I don’t want to take away how you feel about the site, and I definitely think it has its high points. But I guess I just wanted to show how someone like me, with my background, feels about it. I admit that my past definitely colors how I see her–and I would guess that for other people, it is the same.

        8. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 3, 2013 at 2:35 pm |

          I’m not saying that makes it right or wrong, just how I can see how “anti-shakesville” websites one, would get set it up, and two, would then come to focus on Melissa…the site, more than feministe or any other, lends itself to that sort of thing.

          What, you mean Jill and Caperton and tigtog and others aren’t just aaaaaching to tell us whether they wipe their butts standing or sitting, and are only held back from sharing what should really be a matter of collective pride by the horrid, horrid fact that we’re allowed to do more than shut the browser window and feel very uncomfortable?

          You don’t say.

          Personally, I’m very sorry that my hostility and lack of empathy is contributing to the disappearing and invisibilising of butt-wipe status. :(

        9. kittehserf
          kittehserf December 3, 2013 at 5:39 pm |

          Miranda:

          “Cult of Personality” would work here, except I know that others accuse her of creating a cult, which I think is disrespectful to, you know, actual cult survivors.

          Perhaps she could be described as trying to? A wannabe personality cult leader? She certainly wouldn’t be the first person to try doing that online. What people have described upthread about the “Internet’s Only Safe Space!!!1eleventy!!!” and the hair-trigger banhammering sounds like an online version of cult tactics.

        10. Miranda
          Miranda December 3, 2013 at 6:26 pm |

          Melissa often writes racist and homophobic things, then shouts down POC and gay people who point them out.

          A point that bears repeating.

          Perhaps she could be described as trying to? A wannabe personality cult leader

          I mean, sure. I was in something that resembles a cult far more than Shakesville does, so I feel weird using the same term. For example, imagine the language-echoing stuff you find on Shakesville multiplied ten times, plus people trying to control your income, your time, and your dating habits. (And I don’t even describe what I was in as a full blown cult.) But I also don’t want to negate people’s experiences, so if they feel like it’s a term that helps them re: shakesville, then sure. Now that I think about it more, I guess would I agree that it has “cult-like tendencies” or “aspirations.” Having the rules revolve around the capricious whims of a single personality, for example.

        11. Computer Soldier Porygon
          Computer Soldier Porygon December 3, 2013 at 6:50 pm |

          Having the rules revolve around the capricious whims of a single personality, for example.

          I was also raised in, hmm. Not a cult, and I don’t want to explain it all here because it would be long and zzzzzzzzZZZzzz. Wildly abusive charismatic homechurch? Revolving around the capricious whims of a single personality.

          A lot of these complaints about Shakesville (feeling anxiety about commenting, etc) seem very common and are a main theme of the anti-Shakesville blogs but I wonder if some of this stuff pings the creepometer harder for people from tetchy religious backgrounds.

          Definitely not trying to say Melissa is a cult leader, much less that she wants to be, but it’s a… hmmm. not totally dissimilar vibe, although on a very small scale.

        12. Donna L
          Donna L December 3, 2013 at 7:05 pm |

          homophobic things

          Such as?

        13. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 3, 2013 at 7:42 pm |

          Such as?

          “gay man trapped in a woman’s body” (offensive as fuck imo unless she’s actually a trans man?)

          “queer-brained” because she’s a tomboy (just wat)

          that one time she published the guest article about lesbians being Just Like Straight Menz in “preying” upon women

          this thread: http://thebluedream.tumblr.com/post/23091384479/gritty-mermaid-reboot-palilicium-so-shakesville-just

          I could go on. And on. And on.

        14. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 3, 2013 at 7:45 pm |

          And re: racist things, though you didn’t ask for a citation (I’m not sure if it’s because you already know), I found the whole “Brave is racist because ginger oppression” pretty fucking offensive.

        15. ldouglas
          ldouglas December 3, 2013 at 7:47 pm |

          It’s never “I hate gay people,” obviously. But, for example, shit like this abounds:

          http://kankurette.tumblr.com/post/23156969576/palilicium-so-shakesville-just-banned-me-for1

          http://desliz.tumblr.com/post/23113452915

          Melissa appropriates constantly (she also has a long history of plagiarizing, especially from WOC bloggers). She’s one of those people who wants to find a way to have a claim to every oppression, and to that end she’s said that being Scottish means you experience racial oppression (and since she’s married to a Scottish guy, well). She uses homophobic slurs and says its OK because ‘context’ or ‘gay friends.’ She described herself as ‘queer brained’ and an ‘honorary queer.’

          And any time she’s called out, she reacts with vicious defensive anger.

          She also called rape survivors ‘rape trolls’ when they criticized her, which is off topic for this post, but sums up Melissa McKewan pretty well,

        16. ldouglas
          ldouglas December 3, 2013 at 7:49 pm |

          Everything Macavity said, but also note that whenever people (politely, carefully!) point out that she’s doing these things, she attacks them in brutal, personal terms, then bans them and deletes their comments.

        17. ldouglas
          ldouglas December 3, 2013 at 7:52 pm |

          Or to really sum it up.

          Yes, I am a straight married person. I am also a professional social justice advocate.

        18. Miranda
          Miranda December 3, 2013 at 8:17 pm |

          I found the whole “Brave is racist because ginger oppression” pretty fucking offensive.

          That’s what I had in mind when I heard “Shakesville racism.”

          t I wonder if some of this stuff pings the creepometer harder for people from tetchy religious backgrounds.

          Yeah, I mean, I was made so screwed up from my wildly bizarre story (really insane sports team) that I always find myself questioning whether my suspicion of something is warranted or not. But I do think that people with abusive culty backgrounds are reasonably well represented in SJ circles, and I do wonder if it’s a legitimate to say, “Hey, this is a group with special needs whom we should consider alongside, you know, rape survivors etc.”

          Not to threadjack, but that has always been a really hard question for me in SJ circles. A lot of SJ spaces are way too combative and personal for me, and so I don’t engage out of fear of stuff like what happens at Shakesville. And a couple of my good, SJ-aware friends with child abuse experiences similar to mine express the same concern with internet SJ spaces and don’t engage at all. However, I am also well aware of the “white women’s tears” trope of someone crying about past trauma when said person is called out for a legitimate reason. And I don’t know how to balance those two concerns.

        19. Hermione Stranger
          Hermione Stranger December 3, 2013 at 9:23 pm |

          “gay man trapped in a woman’s body” (offensive as fuck imo unless she’s actually a trans man?)

          Why does Melissa get criticized for this, but Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick didn’t? (Or, is it just that I’m too young to remember Kosofsky Sedgwick getting criticized for that?) (Also, not defending Melissa, just curious.)

        20. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 3, 2013 at 9:28 pm |

          Maybe I”m just too young or too not-alive on the internetz, but I don’t know Eve Kosofsky-Sedgwick from a dandelion head. Though I’d happily tell her she was being a dick too.

        21. kittehserf
          kittehserf December 3, 2013 at 10:02 pm |

          Miranda, Computer Soldier Porygon – ugh, all the hugs (if you want them) for that sort of upbringing. :(

          Whether Shakesville is cult-like or not (and you guys are far better able to judge than I am), it sounds like Melissa’s an abusive/controlling sort, who’d fit right in that setting.

          ::hurk::

          Mac – gah, even if that homophobic stuff you cited hadn’t been homophobic, it’d still be pretentious as fuck. Talk about How To Look Like A Prat On The Internet 101.

        22. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan December 4, 2013 at 3:15 am |

          I think that people who try to tease stuff out the first time around (like Sedgwick) tend to get more of a pass than people who awkwardly rehash and appropriate it.

        23. XtinaS
          XtinaS December 4, 2013 at 11:15 am |

          Hermione Stranger:

          Because this thread is about Melissa/Shakesville, not about Eve Kosofsky-Sedgewick. We’re allowed to discuss one person’s racism/cissexism without first discussing everyone else who may or may not have fucked up in those areas.

        24. Sharon M
          Sharon M December 4, 2013 at 4:18 pm |

          On the other hand, I’ve seen some criticisms on those sites (when I looked at them, the last time someone linked them here), that I thought were either outrageously petty and personal (like deliberately and repeatedly calling her Liz instead of Liss, knowing that she doesn’t like Liz), or just plain outrageous (including lambasting her for cutting off discussion of certain viewpoints that I happen to find extremely offensive myself).

          On calling her Liz: on the royal baby post, someone accidently called her either Liz or Elizabeth.
          commenter:
          Purple_Dot:as Liz has pointed out
          My name is Liss. Or Melissa. It is not Liz.

          Purple_Dot I’m sorry. I did not mean to insult you in any way, it was a careless mistake (in a sentence about Queen Elizabeth, so I mistakingly added a “z” instead of the “ss”. I know your name is Melissa :).

          http://www.shakesville.com/2013/07/today-in-royal-misogyny.html#comment-973462082

          Nice! How bloody rude. Hands down she is rude, abusive, and a bully.

        25. tigtog
          tigtog December 4, 2013 at 4:35 pm | *

          Sharon, that particular example is drawing a very long bow for the “rude, abusive, and a bully” conclusion. Are people not allowed to assert their own name now? Melissa wrote a short declarative post about what her name is. She didn’t accuse Purple_Dot of anything, she just didn’t get apologetic for asserting her own name. Do you expect people to apologise for pointing out that somebody else has got their name wrong?

          I’m becoming quite disturbed with the trend this subthread is taking. I don’t want to shut down people venting about negative experiences, but I’m extremely uncomfortable to be hosting what’s becoming a hatefest.

          And BTW to everybody, I always notice when people don’t get my name right e.g. they capitalise my handle, or break it into two words, sometimes hyphenating and sometimes not, sometimes capitalising both words or only the first. I wouldn’t say it bothers me exactly, but I always wonder why they’ve chosen to alter my handle from how I’ve written it, and I definitely notice when they only do that to my handle, or only to me and a few others, yet get everybody’s else’s handle exactly right. Names are important.

        26. EG
          EG December 4, 2013 at 4:37 pm |

          I thought Sharon M was being sarcastic, there.

        27. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 4, 2013 at 4:43 pm |

          Eh, Sharon, that’s pretty mean IMO. People have a right to be called what they want to be called, even when they’re assholes. Particularly when you’re talking to them directly. I don’t think Romney cares if I call him Mittens in a post on my blog that four people occasionally read, but if I did that to his face it’d be rude and annoying no matter how hateful a slimeball I think he is.

          tigtog, I capitalise your handle when it’s at the beginning of sentences. Should I not be doing that? (Also, I’ll back off the thread now; I agree it’s getting a bit too heated.)

        28. tigtog
          tigtog December 4, 2013 at 4:51 pm | *

          tigtog, I capitalise your handle when it’s at the beginning of sentences. Should I not be doing that?

          That’s the case that bothers me least, because I understand the grammatic convention, but I do still find it jarring on the page, because my lowercase is an aesthetic orthographic choice. I find the capitalised form of my namehandle visually unappealing.

          From one non-capitalised handle to another, I presume that you too have a reason for not capitalising, which may be different from mine, but I make a point of respecting your orthographic choice.

        29. Donna L
          Donna L December 4, 2013 at 5:41 pm |

          Sharon, unless you really were being sarcastic, this is BS. Whether calling Melissa Liz was accidental or not, there was nothing wrong with her correcting the person who did it. If the way she did it is what you consider “bloody rude,” you’ve led a sheltered life. And the point I was trying to make is that on at least one of those anti-Shakesville sites, people continued after this was mentioned to purposely and repeatedly call her Liz. When they’re not engaging in psychiatric diagnostics, over the Internet, of what a sick person she supposedly is, complete with concern trolling about the help she supposedly needs.

          Kittehserf, why are you chiming in when you obviously have no idea what Shakesville is like? Why don’t you go read Melissa’s posts and the comment threads for a while and form your own opinion?

          I think a lot of you are way off base in your character judgments. And even though it’s hardly my job to defend Melissa just because I happen to like her, it does leave a bad taste in my mouth that so many people are coming out of the woodwork her to lambaste and defame someone (whose political, social, and feminist views are probably shared by 99.9% of the people here) as some sort of Svengali-like cult leader who portrays herself as being perfect. Really? I concede that maybe I just don’t see it because I was raised to be suspicious and rather contemptuous of charismatic leaders (for obvious reasons), but I’ve been exposed to enough of them, and I don’t think so. .

        30. Donna L
          Donna L December 4, 2013 at 5:49 pm |

          Also: I (personally) think those supposed examples of homophobia were unimpressive. Heterocentric? Sure.
          Were her obvious attempts at humor annoying and appropriative? Sure. And you all have the right to see things as you wish. But I don’t generally use homophobia to describe such things, any more than I use transphobia to describe ciscentrism. I do think there’s a difference

          I understand that you can’t express these criticisms on Shakesville because they’ll be deleted. (As most people would delete that kind of thing from their own personal blogs.) But I’m curious as to whether any of you have ever emailed her (her email address is right there on the website, which is more than a lot of people provide on their blogs) to express your views. And, if so, what she’s said in response.

        31. ldouglas
          ldouglas December 4, 2013 at 6:01 pm |

          As most people would delete that kind of thing from their own personal blogs.

          Oh, please. Melissa routinely asks for donations to keep the blog going, and she explicitly made the switch from Shakespear’s Sister to Shakesville because it isn’t her personal blog. You can’t honestly believe what you just wrote.

          And frankly if she was willing to admit it was her personal blog and stopped positioning it as the One True Social Justice Safe Space Community, my guess is a lot of people would have fewer problems with her.

          You really don’t see what’s problematic about, when a gay person writes “what you wrote feels homophobic/heterosexist to me” attacking their moral character, deleting their comment, and then banning them, all while positioning yourself as a Professional Social Justice Advocate who can do no wrong?

        32. Hermione Stranger
          Hermione Stranger December 4, 2013 at 6:20 pm |

          XtinaS:

          Because this thread is about Melissa/Shakesville, not about Eve Kosofsky-Sedgewick. We’re allowed to discuss one person’s racism/cissexism without first discussing everyone else who may or may not have fucked up in those areas.

          Yes, I wasn’t saying otherwise. I wasn’t criticizing anyone, or saying that Melissa hadn’t screwed up. It was just something I’d been wondering for awhile, and I hadn’t been able to find the answer elsewhere on the internets. It was a genuine question, not a rhetorical point. If this were a normal thread, I’d ask in spillover, but since this *is* spillover, this seemed like the appropriate place to ask.

        33. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 4, 2013 at 6:48 pm |

          All the critiques I made were issues raised (and shut down) in the comments threads of those same posts, Donna. And if someone shuts down all discussion in public, I’ve no reason to assume that they’d be any more willing to discuss it in private, and I certainly wouldn’t want them to have my email address, when other people have been harassed by mods for calling Liss out.

        34. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 4, 2013 at 6:49 pm |

          Or so they say, anyway. That’s probably unfair of me to say as a Definite Statement when I don’t know those bloggers from a dandelion head either, and they could be making it up.

        35. Computer Soldier Porygon
          Computer Soldier Porygon December 4, 2013 at 7:14 pm |

          I think a lot of you are way off base in your character judgments.

          Completely possible. I don’t know Melissa, won’t pretend to, and I have no sense of what she’d be like IRL. And it irritates me when people pretend to have deep insight into the psychology of public figures/bloggers/whatever that they’ve never met. But I think there’s something to the fact that so many people (who share most or all of Melissa’s political views) have similar complaints about the feel of the site. Of course, if I find the site trigger-ish (not actually triggering, but definitely engendering weird bad feelings), maybe that’s all my head shit, I don’t know. It’s certainly possible. I have a lot of head shit. But I don’t think ALL these people are delusional and I think if similar complaints crop up time and again from many different people, it’s worth looking at.

        36. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 4, 2013 at 7:17 pm |

          @tigtog yeah, that makes sense. I won’t capitalise it from now on. And ftr I don’t actually care if my handle’s capitalised or not; I’m basically just lazy, lol. Though I really do appreciate you trying to stick with my handle as-is.

        37. Miranda
          Miranda December 4, 2013 at 7:27 pm |

          Of course, if I find the site trigger-ish (not actually triggering, but definitely engendering weird bad feelings), maybe that’s all my head shit, I don’t know. It’s certainly possible. I have a lot of head shit. But I don’t think ALL these people are delusional and I think if similar complaints crop up time and again from many different people, it’s worth looking at.

          That’s about my feeling as well.

        38. Donna L
          Donna L December 4, 2013 at 7:42 pm |

          I’m not remotely suggesting that anyone is being delusional. If the way in which Shakesville is operated triggers people, it triggers them. What bothers me most is the way that the anti-Shakesville sites seem so often to go well beyond that kind of criticism, and engage in personal attacks and long-distance psychoanalysis.

        39. Ally S
          Ally S December 4, 2013 at 8:23 pm |

          But I’m curious as to whether any of you have ever emailed her (her email address is right there on the website, which is more than a lot of people provide on their blogs) to express your views.

          It’s nice that she allows people to email her (although personally I’ve noticed a decent number of feminist bloggers who also allow emails), but I should note that she is unwilling to respond to emails that concern blog-related issues, blog policies, and reasons for being banned/other commentators being banned.

          As she says in that post, those are her boundaries, and that’s fine. But it also means that there is a host of issues that people can’t email her about, and so the alternative is to either talk about it in the comments (which is obviously a no-no according to the rules there) or talk about it outside of SV entirely.

        40. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan December 4, 2013 at 9:09 pm |

          DonnaL, it seems like the point at which you start calling offensive homophobia “unimpressive” to the people offended, in an effort to defend an asshole, is maybe the point at which to excuse yourself from the thread? :/

        41. Donna L
          Donna L December 5, 2013 at 2:32 am |

          So, no disagreement or diversity of opinion wanted on this thread, I guess!

          Leaving aside the fact that you’re not a moderator (here or at Shakesville), and it isn’t your place to suggest that I leave a thread, I think you need to read what I wrote more carefully. I said everyone’s entitled to think whatever they want, and in fact agreed that the examples given were heterocentric, appropriative, etc. But I’m also entitled to my own opinion that that’s not what homophobia means. And, no, if those are supposed to be the most egregious examples of homophobic comments, I’m not impressed with them — which means, simply, that I’m not convinced. In fact, I find blanket statements that Melissa repeatedly says homophobic things — phrased not as opinion, but as fact — rather insulting on a personal level, because it sort of suggests that I must have lousy judgment or be oblivious to homophobia to hang around at a place like that. Neither of which is true, given that I’m personally affected by homophobia both directly and through my son, and am not in the habit of ignoring it. The fact is that I don’t think Melissa is homophobic. She’s a sometimes-imperfect ally, and I think there’s a big difference. If people want to think differently, fine.

          As far as “defending an asshole” goes, that’s a rather glaring example of a priori reasoning, don’t you think? In my opinion, she’s not an asshole. I wouldn’t be defending her if I thought she is. Yes, I like her, but it’s not as if she’s a personal friend of mine or have ever even met her.

        42. XtinaS
          XtinaS December 5, 2013 at 8:28 am |

          So, no disagreement or diversity of opinion wanted on this thread, I guess!

          FREEZE PEACH

          Yall we are in the middle of having this discussion right now and no one has banned you, where is this sarcasm even coming from. Is it coming from a first-amendment thing? Because that would be super-annoying if that were the case.

          If you like the site, you like the site, goat for it. But sitting here saying “that’s really unconvincing” and “you arguing against SV implies that I’m dumb for liking it” is you taking this thread super-personally. And also, when you say “you arguing against SV implies that I’m dumb for liking it” is a fairly blatant attempt to shut down discussion by making it about your feelings. By changing things from “we’re discussing SV” to “yall’re insulting me and that’s bad”.

          In my opinion, she’s not an asshole.

          Yeah, well, in some folk’s opinions, HS isn’t an asshole, either. Alas, life is pain.

        43. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll December 5, 2013 at 10:52 am |

          Don’t know her, rarely read her blog but the Brave is ginger oppression remark is an asshole remark. I’ve heard too many wp people try to claim its the same as racism or compare it in some way to brush that off as just a stupid remark. It’s offensive and if she does shout down poc who call her out on wp, then she’s just another racist asshole and I’m not missing out on anything by not reading her. Supporting her if she does that is bad ally behavior IMO.

        44. Vista
          Vista December 5, 2013 at 11:20 am |

          DonnaL, as one of the people who participates regularly on an anti-SV blog, I thought maybe my story might be of interest to you, given your comments about how “astonishing” it is to see anti-SV blogs.

          Several years ago I was a regular on quite a few feminist blogs, Feministe and SV included, but the now infamous “all in” post at SV along with some Amanda Marcotte issues put me off blogs for quite some time. When I returned to commenting on SV about a year ago, I quickly felt I had to walk on eggshells, I was feeling tentative and unsure of my own opinions. Without going into TMI, my parents were abusive and taught me that they and other authority figures were always right, I was always wrong, and it’s exceptionally easy for me, even nowadays, to fall into the same childhood patterns.

          When I realized that was happening regarding my reaction to SV, I started watching more closely. What I saw mirrored what others here have already discussed, and I won’t waste space repeating it. I do want to add that, to me, the SV mods said things to female commenters that sounded far too much like “behave yourself” than I felt a feminist blog should really indulge in. And I find Liss to often do things that feel like deliberately “grooming” a commentariat designed to defend her at all times, which she then relies on when she goes to use the banhammer on someone she dislikes. (I see this quite a bit with other bloggers, too, especially in the sci-fi/fantasy fandom which I frequent. I’m not saying she’s unique on this, not at all.)

          Having an anti-SV blog to read and react to has helped me tremendously, because it lets me know I’m not alone, that others see the same things I do. For some people, I’m sure it seems like nitpicking, but for me I see it very similarly to how one moderator recently explained: It’s uncovering patterns of behavior.

          Now, there are indeed members of the anti-SV blogs who pulled some ridiculous crap on SV and got rightly banned, but so far they seem to have been eventually caught and called out. Also, there are some snarky habits that I find troubling, though I’ve seen at least one mod of an anti-SV blog directly apologize when the issue has been brought up. (Not on the “Liz” thing but other issues.)

          I’m a feminist, and personally I agree with about 80% of what Liss writes. My concerns are made in good faith and without some anti-feminist, hate-based bias. I’ve publicly discussed probably two dozen big name blogs over the years which had moderation I found troubling, or transphobic/racist/sexist/homophobic/etc. issues, and I admit to being a bit puzzled why saying the same about Shakesville causes such a backlash.

        45. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 5, 2013 at 11:49 am |

          In fact, I find blanket statements that Melissa repeatedly says homophobic things — phrased not as opinion, but as fact — rather insulting on a personal level, because it sort of suggests that I must have lousy judgment or be oblivious to homophobia to hang around at a place like that.

          That’s kind of hogwash, don’t you think? You hang around here despite the transphobia and classism; it’s sure not because you’re oblivious to transphobia or classism! We’re all allowed to make our own choices re: what we’re willing to deal with for the good that comes with it. Would you be defending Jill on the same grounds that you do Liss, that you wouldn’t comment at Feministe if it was transphobic or classist?

        46. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 5, 2013 at 11:50 am |

          Shit. Sorry. I said I’d back off, and I will.

        47. Donna L
          Donna L December 5, 2013 at 1:43 pm |

          If I believed that Jill herself was saying homophobic or transphobic things all the time, no, I wouldn’t be defending her, or commenting here.

          And I’ll say this about the Mary Daly incident, which several people have mentioned. She died in January 2010, at which time I was just beginning to read Shakesville. I was surprised myself that in her post noting Daly’s death, Melissa made no mention of her transphobia. When people pointed it out in the comment thread, she promptly apologized for her ignorance. Certain people (particularly the notorious Voz, if I recall correctly) continued to berate and insult her for not having known in the first place. The thread was shut down by (I think) one of the gay male moderators, who, I agree, handled it very badly by making it more about Melissa’s feelings than the real issue of Daly’s transphobia. And that was that.

          That was nearly four years ago, and I do not believe there has been a single example since then of anyone even suggesting that Melissa or any of the other moderators has said or done anything transphobic. I think she has been consistently trans-supportive, and a good trans ally, and willing to learn. She has been receptive whenever I have pointed out that I disagree with something she has said — usually when there are implications for trans people that she hadn’t thought about.

          Beyond that, I think I’m pretty far out on a limb here by myself, which is not a comfortable place to be. It isn’t my job to defend Melissa. So I’ll back off too.

        48. Donna L
          Donna L December 5, 2013 at 1:51 pm |

          One more comment about Mary Daly’s death: at the time, I contrasted Melissa’s handling of the situation favorably with the way Feministing handled it. Feministing also failed to mention Daly’s transphobia in commemorating her death, but, unlike Shakesville, completely ignored people’s comments pointing that out, and never, ever, revised their original post. That was one of the many things, around that time, that led to my decision not to read Feministing anymore.

          On the other hand, Feministe, without having to be prompted, posted something that very specifically talked about Daly’s horribly transphobic views. And that really impressed me — despite the still very problematic nature of the comments here on trans issues — and was one of the reasons I started visiting here more regularly, although I didn’t start commenting here until the fall of 2011.

        49. Sharon M
          Sharon M December 17, 2013 at 10:22 pm |

          I don’t generally see long-time commenters get badly treated

          .12/16

          But, “deeply” hostile and dismissive? Me? After all my time and contributions here, there’s no benefit of the doubt or assumption of good faith?

          12/17

          DonnaL: You said absolutely nothing wrong, and H.H little smack down was incredibly nasty, uncalled for, and abusive. She’s a bully.
          And even if someone *hasn’t* been there a long time, they deserve to be treated with respect too. (assuming they’re posting in good faith of course)

          http://www.shakesville.com/2013/12/the-advocate-s-person-of-year.html#comment-1167672810

      3. friday jones
        friday jones December 12, 2013 at 6:55 pm |

        I got trashed by Melissa today because she compared some sexist guy on Twitter to a squirrel and I posted that that was an insult to squirrels, so of course she posted that I was trivializing the heartfelt post she’d just made about fat acceptance. And sure enough, Ana Mardoll jumped in within a minute or two to pile on. My reason for posting was not taken in good faith, because apparently I was trying to erase her fee-fees or some new theory of oppression she invented for that specific occasion.

        1. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl December 13, 2013 at 9:21 am |

          Yikes, Friday Jones, I saw that. Fwiw, I didn’t think you were at all out of line for your comment. Ffs. What also gets me about that whole exchange is that I really don’t think it would not have gone over like that at all here at Feministe. I get that for some people it is a safe space over there, but I break out into nervous hives just reading the comments section.

          Please tell me you weren’t banninated for that exchange.

        2. trees
          trees December 13, 2013 at 12:07 pm |

          Have your comments been deleted because I’m not seeing them; in which post should they be found?

          I’m a sometimes reader of Shakesville and I often enjoy MM’s posts, but I don’t tend to read the comment section because of the reasons already outlined in this thread. I’ve been following and really appreciating the commentary here, but I really, really didn’t want to comment…But here I am…

          A few days ago, I read the post “My Big Fat Romantic Rebellion”, along with the comment section, and I’m still troubled by it. It’s a critique of a book review of a recent publication that examines the (in)effectiveness of programs aimed at the prevention and treatment of anorexia nervosa. The Shakes blogger AB interpreted the reviewer at one point as saying that fat-shaming leads to kids embracing fatness as an act of rebellion. This is pretty much the exact opposite of what I believe the author was hoping to convey. When someone pointed this out, AB returned with a nasty comment. The blogger wrote a post about fat acceptance and shaming on the back of what I believe to be a gross misinterpretation of an article on eating disorder prevention. That’s fucked up.

        3. friday jones
          friday jones December 13, 2013 at 12:56 pm |

          My posts in that topic now show as from “Guest,” my handle there used to be Friday Jones. Here are the two posts I made in that topic:
          http://www.shakesville.com/2013/12/worthy.html#comment-1160692559
          http://www.shakesville.com/2013/12/worthy.html#comment-1160713844

          Ms. McEwan’s ultimate response was that my post:
          1. was “picking at” her writing
          2. made her “feel silenced.”
          3. “elides the reality” of her life.

          And for the life of me I cannot see how it does any of those things. I myself feel silenced right now in that space. I am baffled at how they can call Shakesville “a safe space” when you can get accused of theoretical harm by the site’s owner and dogpiled by a moderator for being too cheerful. I was just going along with Ms. McEwan’s own comparison of the sexist Twitter user to a squirrel, which seemed like she was joking a bit herself, but apparently all she wanted to see from the comments was a wall of po-faced acclamation.

        4. trees
          trees December 13, 2013 at 1:14 pm |

          @friday jones

          Oh my, that’s just bizarre. But you weren’t banned right?

        5. Donna L
          Donna L December 13, 2013 at 1:24 pm |

          Friday, I saw your comments and the reaction. I do understand, from my experiences moderating elsewhere, that people can get really, really offended when someone makes a jokey, light-hearted comment — even if its intent is supportive — in a serious thread. However, I agree that in this case, the reaction was the equivalent of using an elephant gun to kill a mouse. Or a squirrel. Especially where she used a squirrel analogy that didn’t sound very serious in the first place. What I would do instead as a moderator (because that’s what we do in the place where I am one) would be to acknowledge someone’s good intentions, while reminding them (and everyone else) of the “no joking in serious threads where people are pouring their hearts out” policy. Rather than reacting as if the person had made a hateful comment or otherwise committed mortal sin.

          But I’m not a moderator there.

          On the other hand, I’ve disagreed with MM a couple of times recently, and/or corrected what I viewed as factual errors, and haven’t gotten any pushback at all. It’s possible, though, that if MM and the moderators didn’t know me, they wouldn’t have given me the benefit of the doubt. I don’t generally see long-time commenters get badly treated.

        6. Sharon M
          Sharon M December 14, 2013 at 8:30 pm |

          You didn’t do anything wrong.
          It’s a hellhole over there. You’re lucky you didn’t draw the wrath of Hallelujah_Hippo: http://shakesvillekoolaid.tumblr.com/post/69920877534/today-in-hh-being-a-total-nasty-asshole-for-no
          Does she talk to people irl like this? Something tells me no.

        7. Vista
          Vista December 16, 2013 at 6:53 am |

          DonnaL, regarding your last sentence, it sounds a bit as though you’re suggesting that someone who is not a “long-term commenter” should expect to be treated poorly because bad faith should be assumed.

          And I hate to tell you this, but just a few days ago, a long-term commenter who didn’t use the “right” content notes on a lengthy plea for help was told by a mod that they weren’t putting in enough effort to keep the space safe and if they couldn’t bother with appropriate CNs, they shouldn’t even post there anymore. That’s pretty cold.

          These things may be SV’s moderation policy and they’re welcome to them, I have no desire to tell them how to run their blog, but I do genuinely feel these sorts of things are entirely contrary to their advertised “safe space” claim.

        8. Donna L
          Donna L December 16, 2013 at 10:51 am |

          it sounds a bit as though you’re suggesting that someone who is not a “long-term commenter” should expect to be treated poorly because bad faith should be assumed.

          Nope. I’m talking about the way things seem actually to work, not how they should work.

        9. camas
          camas December 16, 2013 at 11:41 pm |

          Friday Jones, sorry that happened to you. It seems like a lot of behavior I wd label as outright bullying has been going on with the mods in threads over at SV – I’ve been shocked by the mods’ behavior – piling on, reading things into a person’s comment that weren’t there.

          Seems like they’ve been banning and/or scaring off commenters quite a bit recently – at this rate, SV is going to turn into a ‘ghost blog’, avoided by all but a small handful of the faithful.

    3. Bagelsan
      Bagelsan December 4, 2013 at 3:09 am |

      Ugh, I’ve always found Shakesville unreadable. The times when Feministe gets a bit like that from some of the commenters (that walking on eggshells can’t say anything right feeling?) is what makes me take breaks from here, too.

    4. Quix
      Quix December 5, 2013 at 2:40 am |

      I think the most obvious reason for all the blogs about Shakesville is that if you say something critical at the blog, you usually wind up banned. You can’t criticize Shakesville at Shakesville…but there are a lot of people out there who want to talk about the bizarre and upsetting things that go on there. I was an avid reader and faithful commenter for years. People talk about it being cult-y (or having cult tendencies, I like that way of saying it.) With Questions of the Day and comment threads where people talked about deeply personal details of their lives (like the rape survivor thread), we were encouraged to become personally invested in the community. So we did. (At one point, Melissa agreed to be listed as a character reference on my resume.) But things changed. Why? That’s what people want to talk about.

      I started to mentally check out when I realized that when I visited the website and saw a long comment thread, I knew it was probably another drama with Melissa at the centerpiece and she was going to threaten to shut down the blog. It’s exhausting and bewildering. You don’t know what’s going to set her off next, and you’re constantly told that Melissa is permanently at the end of her rope because of how very thoughtless all the commenters are toward her feelings all the time. She selflessly, to the detriment of her health, continues writing and modding the community that doesn’t appreciate her.

      I remember “vintage” Shakesville dramas like the Mary Daly thread (which was handled very, very poorly) and the Christmas/Hanukkah “Open Thread Host” images.

      I don’t necessarily like everything about the Shakesville critical/hate blogs, but of course they exist–people want to talk about Shakesville, and they can’t do it honestly at the blog.

  3. Donna L
    Donna L December 2, 2013 at 7:58 pm |

    I felt that, every time I made a comment, I risked being angrily confronted by a mod – even when I was sure that I was following the rules and that I was making completely innocuous comments. These fears made my self-hatred even more difficult to cope with because there were times I posted an innocuous comment and then started worrying about the entire community telling me I’m a horrible person.

    Ally, I’m very sorry you felt that way, and there’s no reason you should stay someplace that does that to you. I do remember when you commented there occasionally, and I know that I — and others — did our best to be supportive.

    1. Ally S
      Ally S December 4, 2013 at 8:29 pm |

      Yeah, I really appreciated your support at SV. Folks like you made me feel safer when I commented there, although the overall environment ended being too much for me to bear.

    2. Athenia
      Athenia December 10, 2013 at 4:33 pm |

      I no longer comment at Shakesville after one of the mods became very upset with me and wrote a long, angry response. I understand why she was upset, but her long, angry response was a red flag to me that it didn’t matter how supportive and positive my comments were, if I even just fucked up once, I would be met with hostility. Walking on egg-shells, indeed.

      I hate to get all “woe is me” about this because I’m a very privileged person, I don’t have to deal with a lot of internet hate. However, it made me realize that for as much as Shakesville prides itself on its community, its moderation, its safe space–it’s really not. It’s just marketing so you keep coming back. You think you are a valued reader/commenter! Well, not really. You are only valuable for the pageviews and I’m sure they would all love it if you didn’t post cuz who really cares anyway? You are just being annoying and pissing someone off. Shakesville makes you think it’s all *for you* when it isn’t–which is probably why the anti websites are so personally invested in the takedown.

  4. KP
    KP December 4, 2013 at 10:13 am |

    Sorry, my comment was supposed to be in response to Hermione Stranger’s.

    1. Hermione Stranger
      Hermione Stranger December 6, 2013 at 1:23 am |

      Thanks – that helped a lot.

  5. Sharon M
    Sharon M December 4, 2013 at 6:47 pm |

    Sharon, that particular example is drawing a very long bow for the “rude, abusive, and a bully” conclusion. Are people not allowed to assert their own name now? Melissa wrote a short declarative post about what her name is. She didn’t accuse Purple_Dot of anything, she just didn’t get apologetic for asserting her own name. Do you expect people to apologize for pointing out that somebody else has got their name wrong?

    No, I don’t, but why be so abrupt? I’m not talking about how women are expected to be nicey nice and accommodating or expecting McEwen to act that what.

    It read to me like Melissa took it as a deliberate insult, when it was a minor and understandable slip of the tongue.
    Purple_Dot had the name “Liz” in her head, because she was commenting about Queen Elizabeth:

    Purple Dot: And that happens despite the fact, as Liz Liss has pointed out, that Elizabeth has ruled for freaking 61 years (and the world has not crumbled, I think)

    Purple_Dot apologizes, and.. nothing. Wouldn’t it be good manners for Melissa say to her/him “Hey, no biggie! I know it was a slip up! Just wanted to let you know my proper name”

    Isn’t that what most people would say irl?

    1. number9
      number9 December 6, 2013 at 1:29 pm |

      Yeah, no. People pronounce my name wrong IRL all the time, I correct them, the end. I don’t need to acknowledge their apology, or tell them that it’s cool. Maybe it was bad manners on her part, or maybe she did not feel the need to type up another reply, or maybe she thinks that it’s not on her to make someone feel better about getting her name wrong. There’s a lot to pick on at SV, but you’re really grasping for straws.

      Look, I think SV as a forum is kind of fucked, and I would never comment there. As evidenced by this thread, plenty of people aren’t comfortable with SV. But Melissa doesn’t owe anyone anything, she’s just running her space the way she sees fit. And it is her space no matter how many other co-bloggers she has or whether she asks for donations. There are plenty of other forums. Don’t like it, don’t read it. Don’t donate. If you don’t feel it’s a safe space for you anymore, then absolutely walk away and by all means, state why if you need to process. But these anti-SV tumblrs picking on every thing she says, engaging in armchair diagnosis – it’s just gross, and I get really ableist and misogynistic vibes off that.

      1. Miranda
        Miranda December 6, 2013 at 4:23 pm |

        I agree with most of what you write, but I am uncomfortable with statements like

        . And it is her space no matter how many other co-bloggers she has or whether she asks for donations.

        This sort of statement is used to justify all sorts of bad -ist behavior from other bloggers, including our very own Feministe, and is usually widely called out of the BS it is. There needs to be some awareness that certain blogs, even if personally run, politically begin to take on a kind of institutional power and prestige. I mean, institutional in the sense that a blog can have that kind of power and prestige, which kind of sounds silly but also seems kind of true.

        But yeah, as much as I can see why these tumblrs crop it, whoever are running them is not doing a good job filtering legitimate criticism from -ist-flavored or out right -ist stuff.

        1. number9
          number9 December 6, 2013 at 4:49 pm |

          Miranda,

          That’s a good point, I’ll need to think about this more. I’m wondering, though, does it make a difference that so much of this is about moderation policies and not necessarily about content?

          I agree that SJ blogs do have institutional power and responsibility for their content, and should absolutely be called out if they fuck up, but it seems to me that moderation is more of a take it or leave it situation? Like, if I find the comments section too hostile, or over-moderated, should I complain, or just accept that’s how they run their space and stay out of the comments? It’s hard for me to tease this out, but again, you’re making a good point.

        2. ldouglas
          ldouglas December 6, 2013 at 5:11 pm |

          Like, if I find the comments section too hostile, or over-moderated, should I complain, or just accept that’s how they run their space and stay out of the comments?

          OK, but (one of) the problem(s) with SV moderation is that it specifically targets (often in a viciously personal way) people who criticize Melissa, often for the -ist stuff she writes. So in that sense the moderation policy is -ist.

      2. Sharon M
        Sharon M December 6, 2013 at 5:19 pm |

        Maybe it was bad manners on her part, or maybe she did not feel the need to type up another reply, or maybe she thinks that it’s not on her to make someone feel better about getting her name wrong. There’s a lot to pick on at SV, but you’re really grasping for straws.

        Fair enough. FWIW, I’m trying to avoid being a petty jerk regarding Shakesville. It did strike me the wrong way, but you’ve a point.

        But these anti-SV tumblrs picking on every thing she says, engaging in armchair diagnosis – it’s just gross, and I get really ableist and misogynistic vibes off that.

        I haven’t seen that, but maybe I haven’t looked for it? That is absolutely unacceptable.

        1. ldouglas
          ldouglas December 6, 2013 at 5:35 pm |

          I get really ableist and misogynistic vibes off that.

          The anti-SV tumblrs I’m familiar with are explicitly feminist. I’m sure there are some misogynistic/ableist haters of SV just like there are of any feminist site, but no more so.

      3. Donna L
        Donna L December 6, 2013 at 5:53 pm |

        it specifically targets (often in a viciously personal way) people who criticize Melissa, often for the -ist stuff she writes.

        I said I would back off, but I really do think this is a bit hyperbolic. Including the use of the word “often.” 99% of the people who get banned there get banned for making openly misogynist, transphobic, racist, etc. comments. I only see the stuff that people are complaining about — which they have the right to do — once in a great while. It shouldn’t ever happen, but to read this thread, one would think it happens every day. Which it doesn’t.

        1. XtinaS
          XtinaS December 6, 2013 at 10:05 pm |

          Given that Liss/SV has a known track record of deleting comments, how on earth would you know what happens there every day and what happens once in a great while?

        2. Donna L
          Donna L December 6, 2013 at 11:17 pm |

          Because I read just about everything she posts, every day, and have seen plenty of comments get deleted and commenters get banned. Obviously I don’t see all of them, but it would be a remarkable coincidence if the ones I didn’t see were that different from the ones I did.

        3. ldouglas
          ldouglas December 7, 2013 at 12:41 am |

          I’m sorry, the point at which a white lady deletes a comment and then attacks the person who left it, because that comment pointed out she said something racist, and then sobs great blubby tears about how mean everyone is to her, while positioning herself as the One Perfect Feminist/ Professional Social Justice Advocate is the point at which defending her is problematic too.

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 7, 2013 at 12:49 am |

          It shouldn’t ever happen, but to read this thread, one would think it happens every day. Which it doesn’t.

          My eternal question on this and all threads: How much dogshit in your coffee is too much dogshit in your coffee?

        5. XtinaS
          XtinaS December 7, 2013 at 1:15 am |

          …I don’t even have time to monitor these comments that closely. Hell, Liss probably doesn’t have that kind of time, and she’s the show-runner. Didn’t realise you were a mod, to monitor all of the comments there.

          But, on the other hand, if you’re that far entrenched in the SV brand, then pointing out the various rotten ways she (and those who work for her) have behaved will likely do nothing but push you further in. I’ve tried these sorts of convos, starting with my sister back when I was 17 and she was 13; it hasn’t started working yet, more’s the pity.

          I hope one day SV becomes a place that doesn’t trigger people because it is an abusive space. In the meantime, I got no qualms being judgy about folk who defend her and hers.

        6. Donna L
          Donna L December 7, 2013 at 1:21 am |

          I’m not a mod there, I promise! (And have no desire to be, there or anywhere else that’s remotely public.) It’s just one of the places I check in on when I make my procrastination rounds at regular intervals during the work day! So I certainly don’t see everything, but I see quite a bit.

        7. Donna L
          Donna L December 7, 2013 at 1:24 am |

          My eternal question on this and all threads: How much dogshit in your coffee is too much dogshit in your coffee?

          And it’s a good question. We all have different points when it becomes too much. Obviously, some reached it a long time ago there (just like many have here). Clearly, I haven’t.

        8. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll December 9, 2013 at 2:07 pm |

          But when woc are telling you that the issue is racism and being shut down upon pointing out that racism, it’s not up to you to decide how much is enough. Once is enough. It doesn’t have to be daily to be too much racism. So please dont dismiss that by saying it doesn’t happen daily.

        9. Donna L
          Donna L December 9, 2013 at 3:40 pm |

          Sorry, I was deliberately trying to limit myself to the homophobia issue, so as not to appear to be doing what you’re describing as to racism. Since I obviously didn’t make that clear, I apologize. (I do remember the incident about Scottish people.)

        10. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve December 15, 2013 at 1:25 am |

          I said I would back off, but I really do think this is a bit hyperbolic. Including the use of the word “often.” 99% of the people who get banned there get banned for making openly misogynist, transphobic, racist, etc. comments. I only see the stuff that people are complaining about — which they have the right to do — once in a great while. It shouldn’t ever happen, but to read this thread, one would think it happens every day. Which it doesn’t.

          I only took a look at Shakesville because this thread got me interested, but from an outsider’s perusal of the site, I’d have to say that both Donna and ldouglas are right in that most of the people who seem to have been banned are guilty of racism, homophobia, etc (as Donna said,) whilst many people are shut down and bullied a bit just for basically disagree with the author (though I didn’t see that I’s agree she did that mostly with people who thought she was being racist, homophobic or whatever.)

        11. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve December 15, 2013 at 1:27 am |

          If I’m being honest, I must admit I found Shakesville uninspiring and somewhat tedious. I just don’t see the attraction.

        12. ldouglas
          ldouglas December 15, 2013 at 2:12 am |

          I’d have to say that both Donna and ldouglas are right in that most of the people who seem to have been banned are guilty of racism, homophobia, etc (as Donna said,)

          No, that’s not what I said- what I said is that the people who are banned are frequently banned for criticizing Melissa over the racist, homophobic, appropriative trite worthless shit she spews.

        13. trees
          trees December 15, 2013 at 9:28 am |

          I’d have to say that both Donna and ldouglas are right in that most of the people who seem to have been banned are guilty of racism, homophobia, etc

          The occasional reader (like me) is only seeing a small part of the picture since “…Liss/SV has a known track record of deleting comments…” — clipped from XtinaS upthread

        14. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve December 15, 2013 at 11:03 am |

          No, that’s not what I said- what I said is that the people who are banned are frequently banned for criticizing Melissa over the racist, homophobic, appropriative trite worthless shit she spews.

          I wasn’t saying that you said that most of the people who seem to have been banned are guilty of racism, homophobia, etc, Donna said that. And I saw quite a few examples of that, thus my saying I agree with her.

          I also saw plenty of examples of people being “shut down and bullied a bit just for basically disagreeing with the author”: thus my saying I also agree with you.

          I admit it was based on a cursory look at SV but I was listening to your criticism.

        15. ldouglas
          ldouglas December 16, 2013 at 12:11 am |

          Gotcha. I can’t tell if it’s a genuinely odd sentence or my brain is just refusing to process correctly (it happens), but for whatever reason I didn’t understand what you meant– on the same page now. Thanks!

        16. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve December 16, 2013 at 4:01 pm |

          Gotcha. I can’t tell if it’s a genuinely odd sentence or my brain is just refusing to process correctly (it happens), but for whatever reason I didn’t understand what you meant– on the same page now. Thanks!

          Rereading it, I definitely worded it oddly.

  6. STFU
    STFU December 5, 2013 at 10:22 am |

    (tw csa, pornography)

    re: Shakesville, I’m surprised no one has brought up the huge fail of a post where a woman found out her son had racked up cell phone charges on pornography. She had written in for advice, but advice was deemed too critical of her parenting skills for Shakesville.

    That is, except for the advice that she watch porn with her young son so they could talk about it. Criticism of that advice was also censored and berated.

    I’ve been disillusioned with Shakesville for a long time for many reasons, but lately it’s especially for her inability to accept that anyone but a bigot could disagree with her or comment in a way that displeases her. People who aren’t comfortable with the same lingo she uses are deemed to be trouble makers – even if they are affected by the issue and she is not.

    1. Athenia
      Athenia December 10, 2013 at 4:14 pm |

      Hi, actually, it was me who made the “advice” at which at that point, others pointed out that that was not a good idea. True that. I did not argue with that.

      What I found very disappointing about that post was that the advice of “hey why don’t you take away his cellphone” was met with “DON’T YOU THINK THE PARENT ALREADY THOUGHT OF THAT?! OMG. SHUTTING THIS THREAD DOWN.”

      Well, no, because that was not outlined in the post. So, um, sorry? Not a mind reader. To Shakesville’s credit, they’ve never done an “advice” post again probably because people just don’t answer in a way that Liss wants.

  7. suckerpunch
    suckerpunch December 7, 2013 at 3:42 am |

    Lis made me SUPER uncomfortable and telling others they’re honest and many discomfort with SV isn’t a fluke. I never fit in. Unusually I fit in and can find my place 7/10 places online. Sometimes I just dont’ fit in, but this case I felt freaking weary about posting a list of 5 “important” experiences in my life. I got banned for NO reason. SV is disturbing to go to and helped me figure out what I don’t want in my life. Lis has such good writings too.

  8. EG
    EG December 10, 2013 at 3:45 pm |

    Message for Timmy Tinkles:

    Hi Timmy. In the open thread on Mandela, you wrote that you don’t think the USSR was evil at the time of its inception. I kind of find the word “evil” a bit too loaded and totalizing to work with here, so I’ll probably say “corrupt” or “oppressive,” if that works for you (if it doesn’t, please let me know what does, OK?).

    So, I used to agree, and think that the early years of the USSR did more good than harm (and when compared to, say, Czarist rule, I could still entertain the argument)–particularly when it came to the status of Jews in the land (it helped that I was brought up to think so). But after reading Emma Goldman’s autobiography and the account she gave there of her time in the USSR and what she observed in those early years, I could not but come to the conclusion that the project had been rotten from the beginning, despite what it done for the Jews. Have you read Goldman’s account? If you have, how do you reconcile what she reports with a positive view of the early years of the USSR? (I realize it would help if I could mention some specific things she reports, but I can’t call any to mind right now; I read the book some years back.)

    I suppose, that said, the question remains whether it was any worse than the capitalism to which it was opposed–after all, the US at that time was and is engaged as a matter of policity in ongoing genocide of Native Americans, and the racist oppression of black people and other PoC, and the deep disenfranchisement of working people, and numerous other atrocities. But still, as Alexander Berkman said upon being told that there were no more child beggars in Moscow than he might have found in London, “But comrade, in Moscow the revolution has already come.”

    I’d be interested to read your thoughts.

    1. ldouglas
      ldouglas December 10, 2013 at 4:34 pm |

      But still, as Alexander Berkman said upon being told that there were no more child beggars in Moscow than he might have found in London, “But comrade, in Moscow the revolution has already come.”

      It also almost certainly wasn’t a true statement (except perhaps in the most literal sense, since Moscow was somewhat better off than most of the USSR). Starvation set in pretty much as soon as Soviet authorities began to take over the means of agricultural production.

      Also, in terms of USSR v. capitalist societies, I think one of the common mistakes of modern academic analysis is to look at things solely through the prism of oppression/social justice. That matters, of course, but it’s not all that matters; if (for example) your political system creates perfect equality and also leads to the utter destruction of your economic capacity to the point that people starve in the streets, I don’t think you’re ahead.

      1. EG
        EG December 10, 2013 at 7:32 pm |

        (Posted in the wrong place the first time)

        The conversation was indeed literal, your response has nothing to do with the years under discussion (I’m assuming you mean the 1932-33 famine), and ignores the 1921 famine.

        if (for example) your political system creates perfect equality and also leads to the utter destruction of your economic capacity to the point that people starve in the streets

        I don’t consider your system significantly better if it maintains economic capacity through exploitative hierarchy and people are still starving in the streets (late nineteenth-century UK might be an example).

        1. Miranda
          Miranda December 10, 2013 at 7:51 pm |

          I don’t consider your system significantly better if it maintains economic capacity through exploitative hierarchy and people are still starving in the streets (late nineteenth-century UK might be an example).

          I don’t really understand what we’re comparing here. Are we comparing all of capitalism in all of its instantiations to the very first years of the USSR? That hardly seems far, to either capitalism or the nascent USSR.

          @EG, I don’t follow you. Are the choices here “inequality, some starvation” vs. “equality, we all starve”? Not that I think that’s what the comparison between “19thC Britain” and “early USSR” amounts to, but that’s what you and ldouglas seem to be comparing? Or is your position that “levels of starvation are all bad and I am not going to base my judgment on a political system on % of population starving”?

          Last time I checked–which admittedly was a while ago–aren’t the numbers so iffy on the early years of Soviet agriculture that it’s hard to tell what was going on? I could be wrong.

        2. EG
          EG December 10, 2013 at 8:10 pm |

          My positions on communism and the first years of the Soviet Union are very mixed, and with respect to the former, enmeshed with personal emotional baggage. With respect to the latter, in large part because…what is the standard of measurement being used when we talk about the first years of the Soviet Union? Is it “societies coming out of several years of war within their borders,” or “societies of 1921ish,” or “societies immediately post-revolution,” or what.

          Which is why, as I wrote, I probably wouldn’t consider one significantly better than another.

        3. Miranda
          Miranda December 10, 2013 at 8:43 pm |

          With respect to the latter, in large part because…what is the standard of measurement being used when we talk about the first years of the Soviet Union?

          Yeah I mean…that’s largely my problem as well. Even once you move into Stalinist periods, I don’t know if it makes sense to say “Stalinist Russia was better/worse than capitalist countries.” Which capitalist countries? When? Better or worse for whom?

    2. TimmyTwinkles
      TimmyTwinkles December 13, 2013 at 12:58 pm |

      EG, just saw your comment. I have not read Goldman’s account but that sounds fascinating. I’m seriously going to pick that up this weekend; ill get back to you when Ive read it, and I’m definitely open to the fact that my perception may be off regarding the early USSR.
      I’ll flesh out what i was thinking when I made the comment regarding inception. In my mind I was contrasting the Nazi ideology of National Socialism with early Soviet communism (i dont see the need to get into Leninism vs trotzkyism etc). Oppressive works for me. Obviously national socialism was oppressive (and evil works for Nazism i think) from inception; specifically one of its tenants being virulent anti-semitism. On the other hand, the bolsheviks were reacting to a horribly oppressive regime and as you mentioned it did empower Russian Jews and of course many leading Bolsheviks were Jewish. Stalinism was in my mind without a doubt oppressive, and resulted in horrible acts of oppression and violence. Nazism was oppressive/evil from start to finish. But its very hard for me to say that the early Bolshevik/Soviet movement started out as a bad thing. But Im definitely going to read Goldman. Actually reading The Great Terror right now, about Stalin’s purges and accumulation of power.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L December 13, 2013 at 1:48 pm |

        I also strongly, strongly recommend the writings of the great Russian-Jewish novelist (and journalist) Vasily Grossman — obviously his monumental novel Life and Fate (about life in the Soviet Union during World War II and thereafter, including the battle of Stalingrad and much else),* but also, more to the point, his last, unfinished, work, Everything Flows, which includes — also among much else — a lengthy chapter about what he saw as the direct path from Lenin to Stalin.

        See http://compost-hedgie.blogspot.com/2010/01/brief-review-everything-flows-by-vasily.html

        and http://compost-hedgie.blogspot.com/2010/01/brief-review-everything-flows-by-vasily.html

        * As a journalist, Grossman covered everything from the Battle of Stalingrad and the Battle of Kursk to the fall of Berlin (reporting from Hitler’s office), and was also probably the first person to report in detail both on the gas chambers — as early as 1943, in his articles about Treblinka — and on the “Holocaust by bullets,” the term for the much lesser-known slaughter of probably a couple of million Jews in the fields and forests of the Ukraine, Lithuania, etc., including Grossman’s own mother, who lived in the famous town of Berdichev. There’s an entire chapter in Life and Fate, called “The Last Letter,” which is a barely-fictionalized version of what happened to his mother.

        1. Donna L
          Donna L December 13, 2013 at 1:56 pm |

          A quotation from Everything Flows at p. 197:

          Lenin’s intolerance, his forcefulness, his intransigence in the face of disagreement, his contempt for freedom, the fanaticism of his faith, his cruelty towards his enemies – all the qualities that brought victory to his cause were born and forged in the thousand-year-old depths of Russian slavery. That is why his victory served the cause of non-freedom. And in the meantime other aspects of Lenin, the traits that have charmed millions, the traits of a kind, modest Russian working intellectual did not cease to exist – but they existed immaterially, without significance.

          Everything Flows also includes chapters — which are as difficult to read as his Holocaust writings — about the Holodomar.

        2. Donna L
          Donna L December 13, 2013 at 2:04 pm |

          A few more worthwhile links about Grossman, if anyone’s interested. Because I have yet to actually run into anyone else who’s ever even heard of him:

          http://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n20/john-lanchester/good-day-comrade-shtrum

          https://vulpeslibris.wordpress.com/2010/05
          /14/everything-flows-robert-chandler-on-vasily-grossman/

          http://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/aug/31/life-fate-vasily-grossman

        3. Willemina
          Willemina December 13, 2013 at 2:54 pm |

          was also probably the first person to report in detail both on the gas chambers — as early as 1943, in his articles about Treblinka

          Sadly that wasn’t the case. The Allies had detailed intelligence of the inner workings of Auschwitz as early as fall 1940 via the Polish Resistance. It obviously wasn’t for general consumptions as Grossman’s article was, and while the prose is stilted by the military nature of its intended audience it’s exhaustive in scope and exhausting to read.

        4. TimmyTwinkles
          TimmyTwinkles December 13, 2013 at 2:57 pm |

          Thanks Donna, I will definitely check that out as well. I found this part of the quote particularly profound:

          but they existed immaterially, without significance.

          I think that perfectly encapsulates my own shortsightedness here. Definitely need to read up some, starting with you and EG’s recommendations. And this is why i come here, because people in the commentariat actually know stuff :)

        5. TimmyTwinkles
          TimmyTwinkles December 13, 2013 at 3:12 pm |

          and jill is cool and tigtog is actually a first-class moderator, i dont think she gets enough street-cred for that honestly

        6. Miranda
          Miranda December 13, 2013 at 4:16 pm |

          I assume you mean Robert Conquest’s book? You’re going to want to tread carefully through scholarship on the Purges; it’s all contentious, and everyone claims that everyone else has an agenda. And the research is really difficult to do; Russian archives are still horrible places to research, at least according to my friends that have done archival research in Moscow on ballet and Bulgakov. I can’t even imagine what it would be like trying to do research on the purges there.

        7. Donna L
          Donna L December 13, 2013 at 5:10 pm |

          Willemina, I meant the first, or one of the first, persons to report on the gas chambers in a published article based on eyewitness accounts rather than rumor (specifically concerning Treblinka), although of course it was in Russian and I’m not sure when it appeared in the Western press. It was in 1944, not 1943, by the way; I was mistaken.*

          I’m familiar with the reports of the Polish Resistance about Auschwitz and other death camps, although it certainly wasn’t as early as the fall of 1940; the mass deportations of Jews to Auschwitz didn’t begin until a year or so after that, and the gas chambers were installed early in 1942, which is around the time members of my family were first murdered there, including various of my mother’s uncles and aunts and two first cousins. My ex’s great-great-grandparents, on the other hand, were murdered at Treblinka, in their 80′s, a fact my ex didn’t know until I only discovered it last year, since nobody in my ex’s family ever had spoken of it. Ironically, they had immigrated to New York in 1900, decided they didn’t like it, and went back to Poland.

          * The report is at http://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/47875651/TheHellOfTreblinka.html, and it’s one of the more harrowing things I’ve ever read, including the description of the “Road to Heaven.”

        8. Donna L
          Donna L December 13, 2013 at 7:05 pm |

          I should add: harrowing, but incredibly important, I think, in conveying the reality of what people — actual human beings — experienced. Perhaps it’s just me, as a person who doesn’t necessarily believe that a picture is worth a thousand words, but I often find this kind of narrative more immediate, and less distancing, than the photographic evidence (including the piles of emaciated corpses, to be blunt), as horrifying as that is. Especially now, all these years later, when the initial impact of such visual images has long since faded.

          And don’t be put off by the fact that back in 1944 Grossman overestimated the numbers of Jews actually gassed at Treblinka. He overestimated the frequency of the arriving transports in doing his multiplication, so that he inaccurately estimated that more than two million were gassed there during the relevant 15-month period, rather than the actual number of “only” about 900,000 in that period — 50,000 per month. And don’t be put off by the fact that the Internet is choked with Holocaust deniers who seize on any inaccuracy to claim that it “proves” that nothing else Grossman described (all based on eyewitness accounts of events that had basically just happened) was true. Just remember: 70 years later, the ground at Treblinka still moves and bubbles, and bone fragments and ash still come to the surface from the mass graves, especially after it rains. For those who need proof, that is.

        9. TimmyTwinkles
          TimmyTwinkles December 13, 2013 at 10:59 pm |

          One of the things that really confuses me about the Holocaust deniers is that so many of the leading Nazis admitted their complicity. The commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Hoess, by his own admission estimated that during his time there around 1 million Jews were killed. The list goes on. I just dont get the deniers, they dont have one leg to stand on.

        10. Sharon M
          Sharon M December 17, 2013 at 10:29 pm |

          Just remember: 70 years later, the ground at Treblinka still moves and bubbles, and bone fragments and ash still come to the surface from the mass graves, especially after it rains. For those who need proof, that is.

          My god….

    3. TimmyTwinkles
      TimmyTwinkles December 13, 2013 at 3:19 pm |

      But still, as Alexander Berkman said upon being told that there were no more child beggars in Moscow than he might have found in London, “But comrade, in Moscow the revolution has already come.”

      EG, very cool quote. This reminds me of several defectors from the west (including 2 of of the Cambridge Spy Ring) who, when they finally ended up living in the society they had fought for so long from afar, ended up quite disillusioned with life in the USSR.

  9. anna_k
    anna_k December 11, 2013 at 12:30 am |

    So…for anyone following Indian news, this just happened: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Homosexuality-is-an-offence-Supreme-Court-rules/articleshow/27208873.cms?

    Yeah. (was going to open thread this but thought maybe it was more appropriate for general spillover-type discussion? happy to move it over if not)

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune December 11, 2013 at 12:47 am |

      Fuck. Thanks for letting me know. Time to get drunk.

      1. anna_k
        anna_k December 11, 2013 at 1:00 am |

        No problem. Wish I could join you in that.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 11, 2013 at 1:08 am |

          Online Indian Drunk Party FTW.

          (Sorry, I’m pretty much numb right now.)

        2. anna_k
          anna_k December 11, 2013 at 1:16 am |

          Ha, no, I feel you. All I have in me right now are 100% inappropriate angry-flippant responses like “BACK TO YOUR CLOSETS, EVERYONE, THAT’S HOW IT WORKS, RIGHT!?!?!?!?!?!?” because…yeah. What is there to say about the decision itself? Yeah.

          Online Indian Drunk Party yay :) makes up for my irl late night revision and tea (but at least nice loose leaf chai blend, v. Indian authentic, ha!) which I have to keep doing despite this news.

        3. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 11, 2013 at 1:36 am |

          Narnia visas now available for free at every Indian consulate!

        4. anna_k
          anna_k December 11, 2013 at 1:49 am |

          For making me actual lol (or at least, smile) after I just lost it telling the news to the housemate (specifically couldn’t keep the tears down about the fact that the LGBT activists fighting the case broke down in the court room, because DAMN IT), you get all the freshly-baked internet snark cookies your heart may desire from me.

        5. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 11, 2013 at 1:19 pm |

          Cookies, yay!

          Oh, and I definitely think you should post this on the Open Thread. Sorry, totally forgot to say that.

        6. anna_k
          anna_k December 11, 2013 at 1:21 pm |

          No probs, will cross-post it now :)

  10. someGuy
    someGuy December 16, 2013 at 9:53 pm |

    Today marks the one year anniversary of the gang rape and assault of the physiotherapy student–known as Nirbhaya (Fearless)–that galvanized the women’s movement in India. There’s a lot of media coverage of the issue. Here’s a long article in the Washington Post about what the past year has been like for women. A chilling snippet:

    After the two Hyderabad men were arrested, they admitted to having sex[?!] with the woman but showed little remorse, police said.

    “I said, ‘Are you not scared?’ ” recalled C.V. Anand, the police chief of the Cyberabad region, a large district that rings the central city. “They said, ‘We never felt we would get caught. She would not say anything. Indian women can’t come out about such things.’ ”

    And the NYTimes runs a blog with a pair of posts on the anniversary. The first article is about the family of the victim. Also, here is a second article about the overall status of women.

    Another snippet:

    One year later after the gang rape in Delhi, the question being raised is whether women are any safer in the nation’s capital. India Ink posed it to human rights lawyers, activists and residents of Delhi, who all say it’s an impossible question or too early to say. But they agree that key milestones were reached this year, which include expanding the definitions of sexual crimes, increasing jail time for offenders, punishing police officials who fail to register complainants.

    The most important development, they said, was the unprecedented wave of concern and public conversations over how to combat sexual violence.

    “We are in a moment of a huge change and deep shift in conciseness in our thinking of violence against women,” said Farah Naqvi, a prominent women’s rights activist. “There has never been public discourse before, and more women are being empowered to come and register complaints.”

  11. trees
    trees December 20, 2013 at 7:07 pm |

    @Donna L

    Is NDN now considered a preferred term to use — should I be using it instead of NA?

    I don’t know if there’s really a single preferred term, and tribal identification is probably a much bigger deal to most people. I doubt the shorthand “NDN” is very widely understood.

    1. pheenobarbidoll
      pheenobarbidoll December 20, 2013 at 7:23 pm |

      I like it better than skins. I see that all the time on Indian Country and it bugs the snot out of me. I’ve heard it said on rez too and it makes me grit my teeth. NDN is faster to type out, which is why I use it. But I always say, when in doubt, just say Indigenous.

      1. trees
        trees December 20, 2013 at 7:49 pm |

        I like it better than skins. I see that all the time on Indian Country and it bugs the snot out of me.

        Isn’t there a regular column in Indian Country that uses that term?

        1. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll December 20, 2013 at 8:26 pm |

          Yes. And we hates it, precious.

        2. trees
          trees December 20, 2013 at 8:30 pm |

          If I remember correctly, it’s also paired with a “cute” graphic.

    2. Donna L
      Donna L December 20, 2013 at 7:40 pm |

      Thanks to both of you! (Even using google, it took me a while to figure out NDN. I kept thinking it was an acronym.)

      1. pheenobarbidoll
        pheenobarbidoll December 20, 2013 at 8:26 pm |

        Hahaha!

        1. Donna L
          Donna L December 20, 2013 at 10:14 pm |

          Yes, I figured that the first N stood for “native,” but couldn’t decide what “DN” meant!

        2. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 20, 2013 at 10:33 pm |

          My first thought the first time I saw it was “Non-Denominational Natives? Wat?”

          But the answer turns up high on results if you google “NDN term”, ftr.

        3. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll December 20, 2013 at 10:54 pm |

          :: snorks::

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune December 20, 2013 at 11:06 pm |

          LOL yeah definitely not my finest hour.

        5. Andie
          Andie December 21, 2013 at 11:48 am |

          Well, thanks to all three of you, I’ve just figured it out now.

        6. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll December 21, 2013 at 12:25 pm |

          Ok lol for those who don’t know- NDN is the abbreviation for Indian. N. D. N.

        7. Fat Steve
          Fat Steve December 23, 2013 at 9:32 pm |

          I immediately got it….I must have seen too many vanity license plates.

  12. Andie
    Andie December 21, 2013 at 11:50 am |

    From the Jane Austen thread. Did I hear correctly that Austen will be the first woman featured on UK currency? Does that mean QE2 isn’t on any bills?

    1. tigtog
      tigtog December 21, 2013 at 5:25 pm | *

      Andie, Austen will be the only woman other than a monarch featured on the currency. There are various arsehats who have argued that since there’s a woman on one side of every note/coin then it’s just fine that all the notable historic figures on the other side are men, because that’s pure parity. When one asks then whether upon the succession of Charles or William they’ll be happy for all the notable historic figures to switch to women, they seem to feel that this is an unfair question.

      1. Andie
        Andie December 21, 2013 at 5:44 pm |

        Ah, okay. That clarifies a lot. I also didn’t realize that there were notable figures on both sides of the bills. Our paper (sorry, polymer) money tends to be notable person on one side, some kind of historically or geographically significant scene on the other.

        1. tigtog
          tigtog December 21, 2013 at 5:58 pm | *

          Ah. OK, for the sake of absolute precision then: UK money has a portrait of the current monarch on one side of all notes and coins. The other side of the coins have various symbols mostly, the other sides of the notes have notable historic figures.

          Our Aussie money tends to have notable people on either side situated within a historically/geographically significant scene. Ours is very colourful, too.

      2. Willemina
        Willemina December 22, 2013 at 2:30 am |

        Austen will have been preceeded by Elizabeth Fry (in circulation, to be replaced by Winston Churchill) and Florence Nightingale (withdrawn). More info, pictures, ‘n-such are available at the Bank of England website

        1. tigtog
          tigtog December 22, 2013 at 5:43 am | *

          Thanks for the extra detail, Willemina. I should have remembered that it wasn’t first ever, just the only one right now.

  13. Hugh
    Hugh December 23, 2013 at 3:42 pm |

    OK, so apparently this is the place for it. How was my “One Of Those Atheists” comment out of line? I’m ready to learn.

    1. tigtog
      tigtog December 23, 2013 at 4:06 pm | *

      When are gratuitous references to “Elevatorgate” ever *not* out of line?

      1. EG
        EG December 23, 2013 at 5:07 pm |

        I’m confused too, I must admit. I understood Hugh’s point to be that explaining one’s atheism does not make one an atheist asshole, but being one of the atheists involved in Elevatorgate does. Why isn’t it OK to reference it?

        1. Ally S
          Ally S December 23, 2013 at 5:33 pm |

          I understood Hugh’s point to be that explaining one’s atheism does not make one an atheist asshole, but being one of the atheists involved in Elevatorgate does

          Perhaps tigtog and co. don’t want anything to spiral out of control as a result of bringing up something like Elevatorgate. I doubt anyone disagrees with Hugh’s point as you state it, at least. I may be way off the mark, though.

        2. tigtog
          tigtog December 23, 2013 at 6:06 pm | *

          Yep, mentioning E-gate out of the blue is an open invitation to arsehats to suddenly make the thread, any thread, all about E-gate. Moderators then have to wade in and stamp on it, which is work nobody wants at the best of times, let alone this time of year. I’m amazed anybody who knows what E-gate is doesn’t already know that, and that is why I called it an arsehole move.

          It was also a real non-sequitur to the comment to which it was responding: “Those Atheists” being the strident villains who spoil lovely faith traditions for everybody else (as part of the War on Christmas myth). That outgroup stereotype of atheists has got absolutely zero to do with the ingroup stereotypes of E-guy, and E-gate has zero to do with the War on Christmas mythmaking.

        3. EG
          EG December 23, 2013 at 6:24 pm |

          Ah, I hadn’t realized that.

          I’m amazed anybody who knows what E-gate is doesn’t already know that

          Okay. But I don’t generally moderate threads, so I don’t automatically look at things with a mod’s-eye-view, so no, it’s not obvious to me, and judging from the thread, it wasn’t obvious to mac, either.

        4. tigtog
          tigtog December 23, 2013 at 6:34 pm | *

          Sounds like I came off as overly peremptory. I’ve been part of too many threads that have gone nuclear over ElevatorGate, so I admit to having a hair trigger on this. I believe it to be a necessary one, however.

      2. Hugh
        Hugh December 23, 2013 at 6:20 pm |

        OK, well that explains it.

        1. Hugh
          Hugh December 23, 2013 at 6:31 pm |

          Thanks for taking the time to clarify, I should have said.

        2. tigtog
          tigtog December 23, 2013 at 6:38 pm | *

          Thanks for taking the time to ask, Hugh. I’m sorry you were startled by the initial response.

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