Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Average Joe Thinks Equality Unfair

Although at times frustrating, one benefit I find to engaging with anti- and non-feminist Devil's Advocate types who sometimes comment here is that doing so can really pinpoint a certain entitled mindset that some men have.

Take this post of mine, for instance, where I noted the instance of the accomplished female hockey coach of a successful women's team being fired for a having a salary that was deemed too high, even though her salary was lower than the less accomplished male coach's.

There, I was making a general point:

Wow, it's unfortunate that a female hockey coach who has more wins, championships, and longevity at a college was fired to save the college money, while her higher-paid male counterpart was retained. That sure seems unfair.

Furthermore, as I elaborated in the comments when commenter Joe stopped by, the unfairness seems especially compounded when we consider that the male coach of the men's team, by virtue of his gender and the gender composition of his team, is a beneficiary of the sport's world's historical exclusion, comparative lack of investment in, and marginalization of female athletes.

To my relatively lengthy response to Joe's rather simple argument that the revenue a sport brings in should be the primary determinant of a coach's salary, he simply retorted:
"I get it now. You're one of those who thinks every kid should get a trophy."
He chose not to comment further.

To me, the interaction was revelatory of a mindset that some men have. When feminists say that men benefit from certain privileges based on past mistreatment of women, what some men think is: Anything "more" that men have is actually due to men's superiority, so to suggest that women should have what men have is to give women something (like, say, a participation trophy) that they have not earned and do not deserve. 

They ignore all historical context, all other past and present explanations for unequal outcomes. They deem references to past oppressions to be unnecessary, touchy-feely dorkiness in a politically correct world gone awry.  And, even if, as in this case, the woman in question is objectively more accomplished than the higher-paid man, some men move the goal-posts and set new Objective Standards for what counts as The Best At Something.

Observation: When male sports fans talk about the greatest all time coaches, how often do you hear them talk about the coach in terms of revenue the team brought in? Never. They talk about championships, wins, molding great players and team synergy. Yet, when comparing and justifying higher salaries for male coaches compared to female coaches, team revenue is suddenly the all-consuming, numero uno criterion for coachly competence.

The lesson here is that some men can get really pissy when we stop collectively waving around the "Men Are Number 1" foam finger and start questioning their self-serving assumptions about their place in the world. Level the playing field? Nah - things are exactly as they should be. For them.

Lastly, as a meta-note and as I've said before, after 7 or so years of blogging, I've picked up a pretty good ability for knowing when a commenter is going to be a problem.  I'll try to share these patterns and clues with you all more often, because I think it could be helpful in many online interactions.

In Joe's first comment, he said:
"Why should she make as much or more than the men's coach? Do you think the women's hockey team at UMD generates as much revenue as the men's team? Honest question."
"Honest question."

To me, that qualifier of his purported motives told me that he assumed I would assume bad faith on his part. It's a similar approach to the infamous way some men precede their "un-PC" and "controversial" statements with feminists by saying, "Don't kill me for saying this" and "I'm gonna get clobbered for saying this."

It's an admission on the man's part that he thinks I, and other women, are not capable of interacting with him in a conversation about feminism in a respectful, reasoned, civil manner - and that we will, instead, react aggressively and unfairly toward him.

Nonetheless, I interacted with Joe in good faith, answering his questions, and giving him the opportunity to likewise engage in good faith. Quickly, his behavior, evasions, and immature retorts showed that his questions weren't honestly asked at all. When I engaged his questions with lengthy, reasoned responses he huffed out of the room with his "insult" about me supposedly being someone who thinks all kids should get a trophy.

His actions suggest that his real motive was, most likely, to play Socratic Question Master with me and others, leading the feminists to enlightenment with what he likely assumed to be his superior knowledge. He also likely wanted an aggressive reaction, as that - to him- would be self-fulfilling. When feminists don't engage men like him or "ban" them from our spaces, it cements in their minds that we aren't capable of objectively, reasonably, and civilly engaging their amazing, awesome Honest Questions.

The lesson is this - be wary of contrarian's who enter a conversation with 1 to 2-line retorts and who state their "honest" motives.  I find that the best way people show that they are engaging in good faith and honesty is by actually engaging in good faith and honesty, not by saying they are.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Blog Note

I'm going to be busy with some holiday and family stuff for the next week or so and won't have time to check in on the blog or comments during that time.

So, I'm going to set comments up so that they go to the moderation queue automatically.  I will approve comments when I'm back!

Take care everyone!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Women's Hockey Coach Fired For High Salary, Made Less Than Male Counterpart

"Shannon Miller built the University of Minnesota Duluth's hockey program and turned it into a powerhouse. With five NCAA championships under her belt the last thing she expected was to be let go. 
"I'm heartbroken and I'm so disappointed that they would show me so much disrespect," Miller said. 
UMD Athletic Director Josh Berlo said hard times forced them to make a hard decision. The University of Minnesota Duluth faces a $4.5 million dollar deficit. 
"We're at a point where we are not able to sustain the highest paid coach in Division I hockey's salary," Berlo said 
Miller's base salary this season is $215,000. Miller said she would have taken a pay cut but was never given a choice. 
The Bulldog's men's head hockey coach Scott Sandelin makes $265,000. Berlo wouldn't say if Sandelin will face a pay cut but did say the university reviews all contracts as they reach an end." (emphasis added)
Now, here I want to note that, oftentimes, in stories about women's sports, qualifiers are usually used to distinguish male from female athletes and coaches.

"The winningest coach in (women's) NCAA." "The fastest (female) runner." "The best (female) player."

Here, however, the UMD Athletic Director says that the female coach he fired was the highest paid coach in Division I hockey.  Yet, a mere two sentences later we learn that the woman in question, who has more wins, championships, and longevity at the college, still made significantly less than the men's hockey coach.

This situation is not unusual. It's just, of course, notable that her lower salary was deemed to be too high to allow her to continue on in her position, despite her many accomplishments.

Like I said yesterday, just another day in men being paid more than equally (or more) talented women.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Shows About Men and Their Lady Helpers

My partner regularly watches Law & Order: SVU.  The other day, I noticed that Hulu describes the series like this:
"This hard-hitting and emotional series follows Detective Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) and his partner Olivia Benson (Emmy-winner Mariska Hargitay) of the Special Victims Unit of the New York City Policy Department as they investigate sexually related crimes to bring the perpetrators to justice." (emphasis added)
Now, I've always thought of SVU as having an ensemble cast.  Or, alternately, if it's about any one cast member, it would be about Olivia (obvs). Elliot isn't even a character on the current season.

Yet, note how, by referencing Olivia in relation to Elliot, this description implies that Elliot is the center of the show and she's his sidekick.  The show, we are to believe, doesn't follow two detectives. It follows Elliot and "his partner." Who oh, by the way, happens to be an Emmy-winner.

Which, yes, also notable is that of the two actors, it is Mariska Hargitay who has far more accolades. Here, I counted 28 nominations (including Emmy and Golden Globes) and 8 wins for her. In contrast, Meloni has 4 nominations and 0 wins. But sure, it makes sense to center Elliot, because … um?

In related news:
"The ongoing Sony hacking scandal has brought many of the film studio’s secrets and transgressions to light, including one involving the earnings of the stars of “American Hustle,” the 2013 David O. Russell-directed film with local ties. In the latest leaked Sony e-mails, between Columbia Pictures president of business affairs Andrew Gumpert and Sony co-chair Amy Pascal, it was revealed that Jennifer Lawrenceand Amy Adams were paid less than their male costars despite both earning Academy Award nominations for their roles."
Just another day in men being centered and paid more than equally (or, let's be honest, more) talented female co-workers.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Quote of the Day

Eric Puchner, in his article "Death Becomes Him":
Americans don’t like to talk about the inevitable: Our screens are filled with zombies, and yet speaking frankly about death is seen as “morbid” or “unhealthy.” Surely the recent Ebola panic is a product of this repression, a way of turning our own mortality into a foreign threat, an illegal immigrant landing on our shores. Death is embarrassing to us, even a bit unpatriotic. I’ve discovered this about my own fear of extinction. When I bring it up, people tend to shift in their chairs, as if holding in a fart. A look of impatience crosses their faces. Just as often, too, they can’t understand what the hell I’m talking about.
In addition to the substantive content of the article, in which the author accompanies a mortician on his day-to-day activities, I was drawn to the paradox in this quote.

We do seem to be a nation of contradictions.

Death is glorified and ever-present in our media, even as its inevitability is, in many, psychologically denied. Bullying is widely denounced in the wake of suicides and mass shootings even as any serious measures to address it are then later bemoaned as "political correctness gone awry." Women are pedestalized, and also terrorized and targeted online.  The troops are supported unless something more for them has to be done than stamping yellow ribbons on our cars.

I realize that even talking about these issues in a passive-voice sort of way is simplistic. The same people who do A aren't necessarily the same people who do B.

It seems, mostly, that the dominant, patriotic, (mostly) conservative narratives are not adequately aligned with reality. (I know, NEWSFLASH!)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Who's Playing Dragon Age: Inquisition?

I started it last weekend and am enjoying it.  I prefer playing Dragon Age games as a Social Justice Warrior mage, usually human or elf.  In this case, I'm playing as a human mage.

I'm liking the bigger picture feature of The War Room, as well as encountering the new (and old) cast of characters. Yesterday, while playing, I encountered Krem for the first time, who's been getting positive reviews as a trans character.

For those interested, check out an article by Bioware writer Patrick Weekes, on the creation of Krem.

I know an "argument" against making characters in games more diverse, and not centering straight white cis dudes, is that games would henceforth suck and be ruined for all time. Here, when people say they want to see themselves reflected in games, critics sometimes respond by saying that then games wouldn't about The Game anymore, it would be about Political Correctness.

Yes, it's a silly, self-centered, and privileged view that many entitled dude gamers have.

The truth is, I wouldn't play Bioware games if the company didn't make great role-playing games.  I have quit games that I thought were bad or boring, within 15 minutes, never to look back if they weren't working for me.  For instance, Bayonetta - which, yes, has a central female character, but I don't like games that are just straight-up combat.  I like story, character development, plot, funny dialogue, and yes - fighting.

My gratitude to Bioware for trying and for, once again, getting it.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Reading Update

Okay, it seems it's December already, so I'm putting the final books of the year in my reading queue.

I had originally planned to finish the final book in Kushiel's Legacy next, but it turns out that I just found out Sarah Waters recently published a new book, The Paying Guests.  So, that will be next, likely followed by the Kushiel book!

Any other urgent book recommendations I should know about?  What are you all reading?

Finally, just as note regarding those who have been ScRuTiNiZiNg to find all of those hidden, sinister meaning behind my blog conversations, comment moderating, and moral values, I really don't know what else to tell ya, but, in general:

Oh Internet.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Another Post About Blogging and Civility

My thanks to those who have privately checked in with me regarding recent conversations happening here and, about me, elsewhere.

I've been blogging long enough to know that some people on the Internet seem to forget that they are interacting with actual people, albeit through Internet.  Perhaps it's the medium that eases people's tendency to frame others as caricatures. Narratives can be important to maintain, after all.

Indeed, that's why I created this "self-portrait," many years ago, to give folks a cartoon version of me to direct their projections and ire:


Anyway, I am fine.

I have often been on the receiving end of poor behavior by anti-gay and anti-feminist folks, and even at times, by pro-gay, feminist, and "feminist" folks.  Engaging is not usually a fun endeavor, but I try to participate in good faith, giving people the benefit of the doubt that they're doing more than showing up here with a single-minded, fingers-in-the-ears vendetta. Up to a point.

I have said before and I'll repeat that it's my experience that a blogger and commenting participants can quickly become containers for others to displace their anger, accusations, threats, hobby horses, and hurt. Moderate too much, and people question your motives, start whinging about free speech.  Moderate not enough, and people write novellas on your blog that get amplified to a readership you've built and which are potentially defamatory.

One mis-step, one thing you've said (or not said) that's misunderstood or misrepresented, and Bam! You are a Very Bad Person. A bigot, racist, a sexist, a misandrist, a misogynist, a transphobe, an abuser, a religion-phobe, a cat-hater,  or what-have-you, despite any other long-standing track record you've built up. All of the good things that you are become instantly erased by the bad. (Free tip of the day for not pissing people off while blogging: Don't Blog!)

I have blogged here, at other feminist sites, at LGBT sites, and even at a conservative site.  What is consistently reinforced in me from all of these experiences is that people of all political stripes can be unfair jerks but also decent and kind, even as popular political narratives in the US are extremely binary ("liberals are this, conservatives are that"; "feminist are this; MRAs are that"; "Christians are this; atheists are that").  Political opponents or those with whom we have disagreements on Internet are continually painted as 100% pure evil, with little to no concession that people can hold nuanced positions and that we are all imperfect.

This observation isn't new or super startling, I know.

What does seem to deserve some lengthier conversation is the not uncommon co-opting of social justice, anti-violence, feminist, persecution, and victim buzzwords and lingo in questionable circumstances. Many people are simply far more attuned to slights against themselves than they are attuned to their capacity to harm.

Thus, when people see themselves as victims, which they can do at even the smallest of slights or perceived slights, it seems really hard for them to also seem themselves as capable of inflicting harm and abuse on others. I have seen this pattern time and time again, and I'm not just referring to the group/discussion that spurred this post.

When I guest blogged at a conservative site, a couple of the regular conservative bloggers often said things that were horribly anti-gay. When civilly asked to explain their thoughts further, or when respectfully critiqued, they sometimes claimed they were being "abused" and "harassed" by gay commenters.  Practically every other day, groups like the National Organization for Marriage frame legitimate, peaceful opposition as harassment inflicted upon Christians by "radical homosexual activists."  Liberals, feminists, and progressives, too, can mis-appropriate the language of abuse and victimization when they're being aggressive or when it's not warranted.

It is a tough dynamic to deal with.  We are sometimes told to believe those claiming abuse and that it's up to the abused, rather than outsiders, to determine whether abuse occurred.

In the case of anti-gay Christians, an entire culture of conservative Christianity is on their side along with powerful institutions, convincing them that they are under attack.  So, even when gently confronted, they often over-react: Stop persecuting us!  When confronted with actual aggression, they generalize the aggression to the entire group "gay people."

It also seems that something is at work that makes people, particularly people who see themselves as victims, incapable of or unwilling to accurately gauge the level of harm that they are capable of inflicting on others.

So, back to the conservative blog I used to participate in -- When I asked one of the anti-gay bloggers to consider that her words were hurtful to gay people, she genuinely seemed to feel so powerless in society that she said something to the effect of, "What does anyone care what little old me thinks, anyway?"

Anecdotally, that comment stuck with me as an indicator of how when some people feel small, they seem to think their harmful actions don't have real consequences to others: I don't feel powerful, so what I do or say doesn't really matter. They dish out rude, aggressive behavior that they would find unacceptable  - possibly atrocious - if directed at themselves. This mindset seems true even if, say, powerful institutions are on their side, or if their blog is a group blog of, say, 50 or more people obsessively picking apart every action of one blogger that they vow to take down.

Anyway, I note all of this while acknowledging that I am not perfect, myself. I have made mistakes and will continue to make mistakes. It is easy, lazy, and oftentimes inaccurate to think of our political opponents as monsters with whom we have little in common - and I have done that myself, particularly with anti-LGBT folks, because I have genuinely, legitimately thought they were monstrous.

In this shared tendency, many people of all political persuasions have more in common with one another than we'd ever care to admit.

The Civility Series
Civility and Understanding
Trolls, Online Civility, and Political Agendas

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Rome Hosts Conference on Complementarity

Last week, several offices of the Roman Catholic church held an event in Rome called The Complementarity of Man and Woman: An International Colloquium.

Many American opponents of marriage equality were thrilled by this conference and some, such as Rick Warren, were even speakers.

I guess, if you're looking to better understand what is meant by "gender complementarity" that is at the root of many people's opposition to marriage equality and, oftentimes, anti/non-feminism, the conference site would be good to check out.

What I'm so often struck by is the almost childish, emotional, romanticized way that complementarists talk about "man and woman." And yes, they often use the singular versions of these terms - which speaks to the belief that little variation exists within each gender category.

Anyway, from the conference's Affirmation about marriage and gender:
"See man and woman together. They are not just two people. He is for her, and she for him; it is inscribed in their bodies. Their union will bring life that binds and mingles families, encourages faith to flourish, and brings humankind and the world’s diverse cultures to flower again."
So, it's fine to be emotional about this stuff - but this Disney version of reality shouldn't be the determining basis for whether same-sex families deserve equality rights, protections, and dignity.  And, people are right to call out this thinking as irrational, unfair, and yes bigoted when it's consistently put forth to erase and marginalize non-heterosexual, non-cisgender, and gender non-conforming individuals.

A final note is that complementarists often talk about how "man and woman" are "different but equal."

7 out 32 speakers at this conference were women. Unlike their male counterparts, it is impossible for any of these women to be at the top of the hierarchy within the Roman Catholic church.

Just like within the US anti-equality movement, which is grounded in complementary thinking (at best), male voices, perspectives, and opinions are amplified and prioritized, even as they simultaneously tell us how important both "man and woman" are to life and marriage.

That is what gender complementarist "equality" looks like.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Patriarchal Christian Family is Patriarchal, Christian

Libby Anne reminds that reality TV family The Duggars are not just homophobic, they're lots of other things too:
"So let’s get this straight. The Duggars support an extreme version of patriarchy that holds that wives must be constantly sexually available for their husbands, and no one bats an eye. The Duggars promote child rearing practices that involve spanking infants and punishing children for frowning, and no one cares. The Duggars don’t allow their adult children to be unchaperoned or to text their beaus without daddy reading over their shoulders, and everyone smiles and calls it quaint. The Duggars support a sexual predator and continue supporting his ministry even after his actions are made public, and everyone yawns. Michelle Duggar records a transphobic robocall and most people just shrug. But the Duggars delete pictures of gay and lesbian couples kissing from their personal facebook page, and that is enough to bring a hundred thousand people out of the woodwork to demand TLC to pull the show."
Homophobia, the subordination of women, and the disrespect of personal boundaries and autonomy so often go together.  The mainstream gay rights movement isn't great about highlighting these intersections.

Duggar Takes Position at Family Research Council

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Commenting Update

It's the weekend, I have a lot of shit to do, and I'm not going to deal with people who want to turn my blog into their own free-for-all forum against another feminist blogger with whom they have a Very Important Vendetta.

I'm placing comments on automatic moderation until things calm down a bit here.

See ya round.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thoughts on Blogging, Moderation

In reference to this conversation from awhile back, it seems that the person who made a hate site targeting a popular feminist has shut it down.

While the site owner and many participants openly mocked the idea that running a blog is work and scoffed at the very notion of moderation as a necessary component to Internet community and communication, it turns out that, newsflash, both running a blog and moderating it in a way that satisfies all readers is…. oftentimes both difficult and thankless.

A significant portion of Internet users expect zero moderation while another significant portion expects moderation that is perfectly crafted to filter out anything that offends their particular sensibilities while allowing the free amplification of their own thoughts/obsessions, with many people falling somewhere in between these two ends.

I'm not sure people fully appreciate what it's like to moderate a forum unless they've done so themselves.

I've seen and been involved with many approaches to comment moderation and have yet to see a system that's perfect or, hell, even great.

In "anything goes" forums, hostile commenters tend to drive many people out, which I see as a loss of many potentially thoughtful commenters. I've seen many people laud certain blogs for being super lax about comments, but I think those people don't fully appreciate what conversations they're missing. Many people won't comment at all if they know or suspect they'll be attacked in response. I, for instance, read many more blogs than I actually comment on, including MRA and anti-LGBT sites.

Yet, creating a forum with commenting rules, requires those rules to be implemented. At best, in any forum (including my own) these rules are usually implemented imperfectly by imperfect humans. People banned or moderated end up feeling, justifiably or not, attacked, scolded, abused, harassed, or otherwise mistreated because the rules are, or supposedly are, implemented in an unfair, unjust, or discriminatory way.

And, of course, if you have a forum with rules, you must also at times implement these rules among even those whose politics and basic core beliefs you might share. Which can be awkward and, even for the person enforcing the rule, shitty.

For me, banning or calling out commenters who are, for instance, overtly misogynistic of the MRA variety is much easier than, say, calling out a commenter who is or appears to be feminist but who nonetheless has said something problematic. Recently, for instance, someone new to commenting at Fannie's Room said something that I mostly agreed with but used the word "lame." So here's my dilemma, just as someone who runs a small-fry blog like mine:

A) I could say nothing about the person's use of the word "lame," even though I'd prefer that the term not be used in that way in my space.

Some readers would interpret my silence as implicitly approving of the term. Indeed, some readers have, in the past, overtly said that I am responsible for every single thing people post in my space - as though every comment I see and do not delete I must, therefore, agree with even if I'm too busy in any given week to pay much attention to comments. (Anyone remember "Neckbeard"-gate of 2012? HA HA HA. Fun times.)

B) I could request that the commenter not use the term "lame" at my blog, thus setting a clear boundary in this space.

In the ideal world, the commenter would respond with something like, "Okay, I understand - I respect your rules in your space" (which, to her credit, this particular person pretty much did!). Yet, moderating a comment, even if gently done, also runs the risk of the person being offended, feeling harassed, feeling embarrassed, getting angry, escalating the conversation, stopping participating at the blog, and/or going to another blog to publicly talk about how over-sensitive/mean I am.

Over the years, I have lost readers and Internet friends for, even gently, trying to moderate comments. I'm not writing this in a "woe is me" mentality, I'm just explaining a thought process that I sometimes engage when it comes to moderation. And, hell, if I'm busy, it's a thought process I refuse to engage. After more than 7 years of blogging, I see patterns in commenting and can pick up pretty quickly when a person is going to become A Problem.  When I see it, I don't tolerate it, it's just, Bam.  You're out, douche. (Are we still saying d-bag?)

Anyway, for larger sites, I'm sure these considerations are greatly magnified.

My point here is that about a month or so ago, I had actually drafted some long-winded (if you can believe it!) thoughts about the particular hate site that I'm vaguely referencing and don't want to give publicity to. I decided against posting it.

Sometimes, running a blog is enough of its own punishment*.  People learn that eventually.

(*But, of course, I love you all. For being perfect. Did you get a hair cut? It's lovely!)

Friday, November 14, 2014

Quote of the Day

I've been catching up on news, and finally got around to reading the much-lauded dissent in the 6th Circuit's same-sex marriage case (PDF), authored by Judge Martha Daughtrey.  The 6th Circuit upheld (2-1) the bans on same-sex marriage in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

In addressing the "responsible procreation" argument that marriage defenders often deem to be a "civil," "rational" reason for banning same-sex marriage, Daughtrey observes:
"How ironic that irresponsible, unmarried, opposite-sex couples in the Sixth Circuit who produce unwanted offspring must be 'channeled' into marriage and thus rewarded with its many psychological and financial benefits, while same-sex couples who become model parents are punished for their responsible behavior by being denied the right to marry."

The 6th Circuit's upholding of same-sex marriage bans represents a departure from the four federal appellate court decisions in favor of same-sex marriage, potentially leading to Supreme Court review that could lead to a ruling with nation-wide implications.

I'm glad appellate court judges are addressing and countering the "responsible procreation" argument, because it's, perhaps, the best argument marriage defenders have to assert any semblance of a rational basis for marriage bans. And, of course, this "best" argument isn't even good.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Checking In

Hello readers!

Just to check in, I'm doing fine, just quite busy with the work that pays the bills.  That is, I haven't had the mental reserves to devote to blogging at the moment.  I hope to get back to it very soon, however, because an end to current projects is in sight.

The Reading Experiment continues, as the end of 2014 approaches.  I just finished Nalo Hopkinson's Brown Girl in the Ring, and thought it was fantastic.  I'm so grateful for the many book recommendations I've received from readers this past year, as I've read many authors I would likely not have encountered.

As I've been away from Internet, I've been contemplating GamerGate, and particularly its so very meta- quality.  Namely, I'm convinced that many of the purveyors of harassment, whether consciously or not, kind of see the Internet as a massive online role-playing game.  They seem to see the harassment they inflict on those who annoy them or who they deem to be ruining "their" as both real and yet also not inflicted on real human beings.

Like the violence within games, their harassment is something they can undertake, strategize about with like-minded "players," and obsess over with little real-world consequence to themselves.

Their treatment of women mirrors both the way many female characters are designed/treated in games and the way that many men treat/disparage/harass female players within gameplay itself.  That is, GamerGate and the harassment many women are experiencing demonstrates that the real and virtual treatment of women within male-dominated gaming cultures is near-fully merged.

In many ways, the legal system needs to catch up.  "Virtual" behavior that has "real" world consequences should have "real" world penalties.

Civility and the "Real"/"Virtual" Dichotomy

Friday, October 17, 2014

Now Will Sommers Listen?

[Content note: Terrorist threats, misogyny, anti-feminism]

I wonder what (anti)feminist video game culture expert Christina Hoff Sommers has to say about the recent misogynistic, anti-feminist terrorist threat made via email toward Anita Sarkeesian, who was scheduled to speak at Utah State University earlier this week (at an appearance that was later cancelled when authorities would not disallow firearms to be present during the event).

You know, since Sommers spent several weeks looking at video game culture, and all.  In addition to alluding that Sarkeesian is a "hipster with a cultural study degree," Sommers waived away all critique of video game culture, saying:
"I spent several weeks looking at gamer culture, talking to gamers, looking at the data, and I don't see pathology or imminent death.  What I see is a lively, smart, creative subculture consisting mostly of tech-savvy guys from all over the world, but also including a small, but distinct, group of very cool women.  Now, if you love games, they don't really care about your age, your race, your ethnicity, your gender, or your sexual preference, they just. want. to. game. My suggestion to their [feminist] critics: Stand down!"
Now that's a fun reversal, yeah? Because, you see, it's feminist critics of video game culture who are violent, not the misogynists. Just to recap, the person who threatened Sarkeesian, wrote:
"If you do not cancel [Sarkeesian's] talk, a Montreal Massacre attack will be carried out against the attendees, as well as the students and staff at the nearby Women's Center. I have at my disposal a semi-automatic rifle, multiple pistols, and a collection of pipe bombs. This will be the deadliest school shooting in American history and I'm giving you the change to stop it….. 
…. Feminists have ruined my life and I will have my revenge, for my sake and the sake of all the others they've wronged."
Anti-feminists have threatened Sarkeesian's life multiple times for merely speaking.

I really wish I better understood what motivates anti-feminist women to excuse, dismiss, and enable male violence toward, and hatred of, other women - particularly feminist women.  I think Dworkin was on to some of these motivations when she wrote Right Wing Women, but with women's expanded opportunities since the 1980s, surely the patriarchal head-pats and protection for being a Good Anti-Feminist Lady are becoming less valuable, right?

Or, do professional ideologues, personalities, and blowhards really even believe half of what they say?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Cross-Gender Convos About Feminist Interactions

Over at Shakesville, Liss has written some helpful tips for how men can communicate more effectively in good faith conversations with women about feminist issues.

I thought I'd share both because it may be helpful to some male readers who may be seeking such advice, and because I think it can also be helpful for many women to see these suggestions articulated.  I know that when I have engaged with men on feminist issues, even if all parties are engaging in good faith and with good intentions, the interactions have still felt hostile.

Yet, like men, many women have internalized the stereotype that men are more objective and rational than women and so sometimes when men are engaging in sexist behavior it can be hard to immediately recognize and name what's going on.

I agree with all of the suggestions Liss makes, and in the comments I added one of my own:
When discussing feminist issues, "joking" about how scared you are "as a man" to be in the conversation is not helpful (eg, "I'm just going to say this and *duck* outta the way!"). These kinds of statements usually precede statements that are hostile to women while simultaneously putting the onus on women to center the man's feelings and ensure that he feels safe and not-too-challenged at all times in the conversation.
Even guys who are generally open to feminist arguments will trot this jokey-joke out. I've gotten, for instance, "Don't kill me for saying this, but Title IX should have never happened." The "joke" has always felt so unfair to me, and it wasn't until relatively recently that I really began to consider and articulate why.  Through the "joke," the man gives himself permission to say something offensive while pre-emptively framing any response that's not 100% appeasing as unduly hostile.

Now, when I see men make this "joke," I recognize them as men who are not adult enough to stand by their positions.  It's the equivalent of if feminists preceded gender conversations with men with, "Don't get pissed about this, but all men should be kicked in the nuts twice a week. Whoa, whoa down boy! You mad?"

On Humor and Civility

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Anti-Equality Spokesman Warns of Civil War, Because of Course

Welp, the Family Research Council is publishing reliably reasonable statements about the recent marriage equality victories in the US.  Via the agency's blog, authored by Rob Schwarzwalder:
"I’m haunted by the memory of William Seward’s comment, immediately before the Civil War, that strife between North and South over slavery constituted 'an irrepressible conflict.'
Millions of Americans simmer with resentment at the coerced redefinition of marriage the courts are imposing on them, despite referenda in dozens of states where they have affirmed the traditional definition of marriage quite explicitly. 
The Dred Scott decision did not decide the issue of human bondage. The Roe v. Wade decision has not decided the issue of abortion on demand. And the continued federal court confusion over same-sex unions only postpones a day of legal reckoning that could create a measure of civic sundering unwitnessed in our nation for decades.
Even if the Supreme Court has valid reasons for postponing their decision on this issue, postponement is not resolution. I fear that whatever decision the Supremes finally reach will not resolve it, either."
Three observations.

One, from the blogs of the conservative advocacy groups that I read, the "simmering resentment" primarily seems to be that of the dozen or so well-off white Christian heterosexual anti-LGBT men who lead these agencies and who are therefore big-time pissed off that they are publicly losing on the marriage equality front in the US and might have to come up with new strategies to maintain their relevancy and livelihoods.

Two, it's neat how white Christian heterosexual anti-LGBT men so often co-opt historical slavery, which so many of them insist, in other contexts, has had no lingering impact on African-Americans today. If this man were a person of color threatening war and civil uprising, especially a non-Christian, he'd be widely lambasted as an un-American terrorist.

Three, I'm somewhat intrigued by the rightwing "bunker survivalist" mentality.  Like, I watch those shows on Netflix of people who stockpile food rations and, oh yes, guns. Lots of guns and ammo and traps and such. And, it seems like they're almost always featuring white hetero families with a strong patriarchal figure leading the charge, at least when all the guns and militaristic planning is involved.

I don't doubt that some of what many of these people do is genuine concern about civil unrest and survival.  I mean, I have a plan - do you?  If you see something, say something!

But,  and perhaps it's due to that way they talk about their armaments, I always get this inkling that, like, maybe some of these people want the civil unrest to happen? I don't know because maybe they're unhappy with the current societal structure and set of rules, but if something BIG happened, they would finally get to be like, BA-BAM and shoot shit up without consequence. Like, all the planning, all the warning maybe is a bit of a hopeful fantasy for some people?

Anyway, my point is that of all the harms to society that bigots tell us will result from same-sex marriage, the suggestion that it will cause civil war is just so fucking absurd that I start questioning what else is going on behind such a suggestion.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

When Some Men Say Sexist Things

It can be oddly validating.

Via Bloomberg Businessweek:
"At a Sydney technology startup conference, Evan Thornley, an Australian multimillionaire and co-founder of online advertising company LookSmart(LOOK), gave a talk about why he likes to hire women. 'The Australian labor market and world labor market just consistently and amazingly undervalues women in so many roles, particularly in our industry,' he said. When LookSmartwent public on Nasdaq in 1999, he said, it was one of the few tech companies that had more women than men on its senior management team. 'Call me opportunistic; I thought I could get better people with less competition because we were willing to understand the skills and capabilities that many of these woman had,' Thornley said…. 
Thornley went on to say that by hiring women, he got better-qualified employees to whom he was able to give more responsibility. 'And [they were] still often relatively cheap compared to what we would’ve had to pay someone less good of a different gender,' he concluded. To illustrate his point he showed a slide that said: 'Women: Like Men, Only Cheaper.'”
Yes.  Women being paid less than less-competent, less-qualified men.  Hmmm, kind of like what feminists have been saying since forever.  

Monday, October 6, 2014

Further Thoughts on Defiance

As a follow-up to this post, where I mention that I've been enjoying the TV show Defiance, I am now far enough along in the series to where virtually everything about the Nolan character is irritating to me.

I don't like that he, the white human guy, gets to be the city's Lawkeeper practically his first day upon arriving in Defiance and run about with virtually no checks and balances just because....um? There aren't any other qualified candidates around? However did the city survive before his arrival?

I don't like that he's always there to Save The Day, just because of course he is.

I don't like that the Season 1 DVD image literally centers Nolan, just because of course it does, even though dozens of more interesting characters than the "angsty white badass dude who plays by his own set of rules" exist on the show. At least 4 alien races, so far, exist in Defiance, along with a female mayor, and New Guy Nolan is the centered star of things?


And then, when you put the DVD in your DVD player, the home screen image is Nolan's face taking up half the screen, with the Gateway Arch taking up the other half.  Because of course.

Nolan is basically every male character in every video game ever.  Yes, I realize that's an exaggeration on my part.  I mean, I recognize that it's progress for science fiction to have multiple female characters, I'm just expressing my frustration with this constant catering to, and centering of, white men within the genre even if they are surrounded by characters who are, by far, more interesting than them.

That is to say, Nolan is not my avatar.

Yet, I think it would be a startling news revelation to some creators of science fiction games and media that fans would maybe identify with, and find interesting, characters other than him (and the zillions other like him).

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Blankenhorn Concerned About Donor Influence

"It’s also worth remembering that there’s no such thing as a donation without expectations. As long as we have think tanks, we’re going to have donors with motives."  
- David Blankenhorn, in a blog post at the Institute for American Values (IAV) website, entitled, "Think Tanks, Fundraising, and What Money Shouldn't Buy"

Blankenhorn made this statement in the context of discussing what he recognized as an inherent conflict of interest when foreign nations seeking to influence US policy give money to US think tanks.  

Although IAV no longer seems super involved, at least explicitly, in the same-sex marriage debate in the US, I have kept their Family Scholars Blog in my blog reader even though they now call it a "magazine" and no longer allow comments.  I've been curious about what would be next for such an agency, beyond same-sex marriage, and have to admit I'm a bit perplexed by its current focus on "thrift."  

However, overall I do agree with Blankenhorn's overall message in his latest post. More than anything, I was surprised to see him articulate a position acknowledging that money donated often comes with implicit or explicit strings attached to produce certain outcomes or opinions.

The relevant conversations have since been deleted from their site, but when I was a guest blogger at Family Scholars Blog, I remember Blankenhorn defending Mark Regnerus, who was being widely critiqued for (a) his substantively bad study, and (b) not disclosing his funders' possible influence on his infamous study that anti-gay organizations now use as "proof" that same-sex parents are bad (even though the study doesn't actually prove that).

Specifically, back in 2012, Blankenhorn wrote a post hyperbolically entitled, "Corrective Labor Camps, Perhaps?" (post and comments preserved here) taking issue with a journalist filing an open records request to investigate the ties between Regnerus and the conservative-leaning Witherspoon Institute, the funder that many suspected influenced the study to impact public opinion and court cases about same-sex marriage and parenting.

The American Independent eventually provided evidence that the Regnerus study was influenced in part by its funder, and that W. Bradford Wilcox was both a paid consultant on the study and a director at Witherspoon.  Wilcox was also previously a blogger at IAV's Family Scholars Blog.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Well Played, Rebecca Watson

Well played, indeed.

Critics of feminism so abundantly and often make clear that while they see the issues women bring up as being of little consequence to the world order, when their own freedoms, ideas, and reputations are on the line, watch the fuck out, because only then is persecution real.

Richard Dawkins Bemoans Loss of "Little Jar of Honey" At Airport

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Sommers Critiques Critics of Video Game Misogyny

I think probably the best things about professional anti-feminist Christina Hoff Sommers' recent video mocking the hoards of "hipsters with degrees in cultural studies" who take issue with misogyny in video game culture are (a) the part at the beginning where she says the last time she played a video game was in the 1980s, when she played Pac-Man in a bar, and (b) the part at the end where she just knows critics of misogyny are making a big deal out of nothing because she herself spent several weeks looking at this issue.

Both of which obviously render her qualified to discuss current video game culture because reasons.

Frustratingly, Sommers throws around a lot of [citation needed] claims, which is pretty easy for one to do when one's arguments are already playing into what's thought of as common sense truths about differences between "males" and "females."  These sorts of ignorant reactionary pieces take hours for thoughtful people to transcribe and then to rebut each and every claim she asserts.

And the worst of it is that, in many ways, it's as though she isn't even speaking to prominent critics of video game culture, let alone about them in ways that accurately represent them or their arguments. That's evident from the way she ridicule and caricatures her "hipster" ideological opponents to the way she deigns, fucking deigns, to speak authoritatively about video game culture from her measly several weeks experience thinking about it.

Basically, the entire video is just one more bit of evidence misogynistic dudebro gamers need to hear to further justify their entitlement to have all things within video game culture centered around their needs, desires, attractions, biases, and prejudices.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Quote of the Day

Ha ha, classic.  "As a Father of Daughters, I Think We Should Treat All Women Like My Daughters," via The Toast:

"Listen, as a father of daughters, I’m really against this kind of behavior, this kind of treatment of women. The kind where they get hurt or they can’t vote or we don’t give any money to them. You know the kind I’m talking about. The kind I don’t want my daughters to experience, and then I just sort of extrapolate out from there. 
It didn’t always used to be this way. I used to only have sons. Things sure were different then. How merrily I used to drive down country lanes in my old Ford, periodically dodging off-road to mow down female pedestrians (you must remember I had no daughters then). Was what I did wrong? How was I to know? I had no daughters to think of."
And, the title of the captures this mentality perfectly.  The real people men like this refer to are other men - the "we" in the title who have to be instructed on how to treat women-people.  Meanwhile, the man making the utterance remains self-absorbed, thinking that what's best for the women-people he cares about is surely best for all women everywhere.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Fun

Well, I've been quite pleased with the selection of science fiction and supernatural shows these days featuring female characters.  Lately, I've been watching Continuum and Defiance, and look forward to American Horror Story, Orphan Black, and Lost Girl starting back up.

Here are my random thoughts about them:

  • Continuum: Kiera and Garza should have more scenes together, and subtext please. Also, I'm much more interested in (*spoiler alert*) Kiera as a character now that she's somewhat joining forces with Liber8.
  • Lost Girl: I used to ship Doccubus, but now I'm fully on board with Team Valkubus. Dr. Lewis remains adorkable, I'm just more compelled by Tamsin as a character and love interest for Bo.
  • Defiance:  I'm a rare breed of lesbian who (usually) loved Mia Kirshner's portrayal of Jenny Schecter in The L Word, so it's great seeing Kirshner in another series.
  • 3 of these shows are Canadian.  I'm not necessarily surprised by that, but pleased that I have access to shows by studios, producers, and writers who seem interested in appealing to a wider audience than the stereotypical American "white dude geek" who is so often assumed to be the default science fiction fan.

What are other people watching, reading, and playing?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Toxicity, Hostility, and the Limits of Online Civility

In a way, I agree with Freddie deBoer about what he calls "online liberalism":
"It seems to me now that the public face of social liberalism has ceased to seem positive, joyful, human, and freeing. I now mostly associate that public face with danger, with an endless list of things that you can’t do or say or think, and with the constant threat of being called an existentially bad person if you say the wrong thing, or if someone decides to misrepresent what you said as saying the wrong thing. There are so many ways to step on a landmine now, so many terms that have become forbidden, so many attitudes that will get you cast out if you even appear to hold them. I’m far from alone in feeling that it’s typically not worth it to engage, given the risks."
deBoer continues by suggesting that liberals ought to gently educate people, rather than calling them out so vehemently.  The first order of business is that this phenomenon is not just a liberal one, but we'll get to that.

For those not already liberal or progressive, I imagine it's confusing and frustrating to be seemingly told, "Check your privilege! Educate yourself! I'm not here to educate you!"

As a progressive blogger, I enjoy learning for the sake of learning, even if it entails re-examining my current opinions. I've also learned to be quite picky about from who and what sources I do the learning, as well as what their motives are: is someone looking to play "gotcha" with me? Are they outright assuming the worst about my motives and everything about me?  Is it someone playing "Devil's Advocate" assuming he (often it's a he) has lots to teach myself and everyone at my blog?

From 7 years of blogging, I also know that a blogger can quickly become a container for those involved to displace their anger, accusations, threats, hobby horses, and hurt.  One mis-step, one thing you've said (or not said) that's misunderstood or misrepresented, and Bam! You as a blogger are a Very Bad Person. A bigot, racist, a sexist, a misandrist, a misogynist, a religion-phobe, a cat-hater, or what-have-you, despite any other long-standing track record you've built up.  (Free tip of the day for not pissing people off while blogging: Don't Blog!)

If one's goal is to convince someone else to change their opinions, what motivation does one have, really, to immediately go out and research their privilege or problematic thinking and then change?   From a practical standpoint, I know I'm highly resistant to "learning" from someone who assumes from the outset that I'm an awful person. I mean, when they have that basic factoid wrong, I'm going to find the rest of what they say highly suspect.

Although, I also acknowledge that blogging and interaction doesn't always need to have the goal of changing people's opinions - I certainly don't write this blog with the number one goal of convincing anti-feminists to become feminists!  I write this blog more for those who are already feminists, as enough people have written to me over the years, expressing gratitude for validating their life experiences.

But (and I hope you knew there'd be a but, here), deBoer's piece also seems like the usual complaining that many privileged people engage in when others call out, in an insufficiently nice manner, the problematic things they do.  So:

26 Perfect Jessica Lange "American Horror Story" GIFs For Every Situation

I think people can be genuinely jerky about call-outs, but oftentimes, there is no way to gently educate, as deBoer suggests, other people (especially those with various privileges) about something problematic they said or did without that person perceiving it as an attack on themselves.  When I was a resident lesbian, feminist guest blogger at the conservative-leaning Family Scholars Blog, we seemed to have these conversations on practically a weekly basis for at least a year!

No matter how tepidly we tip-toed around the dreaded b-word (bigot, that is), no matter how many assurances I and other pro-LGBT folks gave that we believed equality opponents could still be generally kind people, if we admitted that we thought their opposition to equality was "anti-gay," they perceived that label to be an abhorrent attack meant to silence them. The term bigot and anti-gay were, to many of them, hostile. Abusive. Harassment.

Like, I had actual conversations in which I assured Maggie Gallagher, one of the largest opponents of LGBT equality, that I thought she was an okay person.  I'm agnostic on that point (I don't personally know her well enough to say!), but at the time I recognized that showing her that I didn't outright assume her to be an irredeemable Awful Person was a necessary first step in (a) letting the conversation progress and (b) having her somewhat hear the other things I was saying.

And gawd!

What queer person wants to continually have such conversations with folks who think we are irredeemably flawed and sinful?  What feminist wants to continually, oh-so-gently educate (assuming they're even here to genuinely be educated by us) every man who pops in at our blogs with a, "Now, let me just play Devil's Advocate here" just so we can possibly get more people being feminists?  Those interactions, I have found, take a toll and I find it disturbing whenever I grow numb and complacent to arguing with people who treat my basic rights and human dignity as an intellectual, abstract debating exercise.

Yet, it does seem to be a practical reality that, in any conversation with political opponents, we have to be civil to those we find hostile to us (or "problematic") if our goal is to try to get them to understand us, let alone change their minds or behavior in the ways we want.

And, of course, all of this gets complicated and jumbled in actual conversations when people co-opt and appropriate the language of privilege, abuse, harassment in these really polarizing ways such that if one is (or believes themselves) to be a victim in one context, they believe they are justified in inflicting harassment in another context (while calling it self-defense or justifiable).

Lastly, I'd note that it's certainly not just a liberal phenomenon to think people are existentially bad for liking certain things or being a certain way.  Social conservatives certainly have their own orthodox lists of things that shouldn't be said, done, read, watched, drank, eaten, or smoked by people who are Good.  And, for all their whinging about political correctness and oversensitive liberals/feminists, they have their own silly things they are gravely offended by, such as swearing, sex in general, and having to bake cakes for lesbian weddings.

I'm still trying to better articulate my thoughts on these topics as I continue further teasing out the nuances.  Before I get accused of saying otherwise, I think it is absolutely necessary to render critique within social movements (and at political opponents).  It also often seems that a key issue here is people being extremely quick to mistakenly treat people as though making one, or several, mis-steps means they're 100% evil.  Even though, in reality, even - like - Fred Phelps wasn't 100% evil.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Reddit Very Concerned With Privacy of Person Who Breached Privacy of Women

"Reddit has become a particular hub for the photos [that hackers illegal obtained of female celebrities]. While Reddit hosts none of the photos itself, its users are linking to them off-site and discussing them with impunity—and now the moderators of the new community (called a subreddit) r/thefappening claim that the site’s admins are aware of the photos and happy to see them shared on Reddit, despite the threat of legal action
Reddit’s site-wide rules forbid the posting of “person information,” which these photos certainly seem to constitute. Posting “publicly available” information on celebrities is acceptable—but “it is not okay” to post links to “screenshots of Facebook profiles,” or anything potentially “inviting harassment.” If a users’ Facebook photos are a no-go, then it seems implausible in the extreme to suggest that stolen intimate photos could not also be considered “personal information.” Despite this, links to previous leaked photos shared on the site—including of Demi Lovato and Jennette McCurdy—remain live, several months later."
Via a screenshot at The Daily Dot, a Reddit moderator also posted a note threatening that anyone who posted the private information about the person who leaked the photos would be banned.  Because of course.

I've engaged with many people on Internet who take a certain pride in their participation in "anything goes" forums on Internet, such as Reddit.  They think it makes them seem tough, while those who prefer to participate in forums with rules about commenting are "over-sensitive" and weak.  

I've written before and I'll repeat that for all their libertarian blustering about free speech, oftentimes the real agenda of many Internet abusers is the re-affirmation of a status quo that privileges people like themselves and aims to threaten, demean, and silence everyone else, particularly women. For, even white men likely feel very differently about their precious free speech rights when they, as a group, are maybe on the receiving end of loads of harassment, threats, and invasions of privacy (see also, on Privilege and Fear). 

Anyway, from now on, whenever I think of Reddit, I'll think of groups of loser men who whinge about government invasions of their privacy even as they huddle around their computers jacking off to illegally-obtained nude photos of women, masturbating less to the photos themselves and more to the fact that their Internet lair protects their ability to be creepy assholes in private most of all.

Friday, September 5, 2014

7th Circuit: Same-Sex Marriage Bans Unconstitutional


As expected due to Judge Richard Posner's blistering, and quite wonderful, questioning of "marriage defense" attorneys during oral arguments, the 7th Circuit has found that Indiana and Wisconsin do not have a reasonable basis for denying same-sex couples the right to marry (PDF of opinion).

I've read the entire opinion, of which no doubt NOM and company are already issuing their reactionary cries of judicial activism gone awry.  But, it's a paragraph at the very beginning that I want to highlight today:
"The argument that the states press hardest in defense of their prohibition of same-sex marriage is that the only reason government encourages marriage is to induce heterosexuals to marry so that there will be fewer 'accidental births,' which when they occur outside of marriage often lead to abandonment of the child to the mother (unaided by the father) or to foster care. Overlooked by this argument is that many of those abandoned children are adopted by homosexual couples, and those children would be better off both emotionally and economically if their adoptive parents were married."
This observation is, for me, what has always made "marriage defenders" seem particularly cruel and oblivious to the reality.

So many "pro-family" conservatives wring their hands about the hoards of purportedly irresponsible heterosexuals, particularly men, who have children out of wedlock and yet their top policy solution is, "I know, let's make life more difficult for a subset of the parents who adopt the resulting children!"

If these people were sincere in their desire to actually help the families that exist in the real world, they would be grateful to same-sex couples and looking for ways to work with us to provide the best environments for all families, not just those families they deem to be the bestest most supreme families of all.

In their zeal to prevent same-sex couples from marriage, they also present one of the worst PR campaigns for marriage ever:
Marriage: It's for pressuring straight men into sticking around and raising the unintended children that they don't even want!
Brilliant strategy, folks!  Put these people in charge of all the things!  /sarcastic thumbs up sign

But seriously, combined with their correlative opposition to abortion, same-sex adoption and parenting, no fault divorce, and sex ed, it's almost like some social conservatives are intentionally trying to create the world's most unhappy, miserable people. Or, at least, more babies in orphanages.

Yet, their policies they refer to as "good old-fashioned common sense."  And, policies that acknowledge the other families that exist in the real world, they dismiss as political correctness gone awry, as though we exist primarily to annoy them and not because we have life aspirations of our own.  This kind of self-centeredness of privileged folks is the worst.

Also, one of the plaintiffs in the above-cited case is named Virginia Wolf.  Which is awesome and why is no one talking about that?!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Blog Update

You may have noticed that the blog has a new color scheme.  Just because, well, everyone's a fuckin' critic, yeah?

Well, that, and I've been wanting to change the color layout for some time now, but have been too busy to get in the back-end of the blog and do it.    

I'm not 100% happy with this layout, even though I call it The Menses Extravaganza, so I also can't promise that it won't change again soon.  Or, you know, it could be another 3 years or so before I get around to changing it.  

In other news, I have read some of the critique, "critique," and concerns at a certain site about myself and my purported opinions, and well, it's super shitty that so many feminists seem to think that I (and other intelligent women) are bamboozled, hoodwinked, and otherwise brainwashed by who they assume is our Ultimate Feminist Leader.

How do they know what I've read and seen for myself?  Why assume I only know what's going on from second- and third-hand information?

Just a note that if people are trying to convince other people that we should listen to them, maybe start by assuming we are capable of thinking for ourselves, forming our own opinions, and coming to our own conclusions about things instead of being pre-emptively "disappointed" in our behavior.

And, for everyone else who has no idea what I'm talking about, this is for you:

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No Surprise Here

Via Kieran Snyder at Fortune:
"The question I wanted to answer was: Did review tone or content differed based on the employee’s gender? I also wanted to know whether the manager’s gender was a factor in how they reviewed their employees. I was especially interested in employees who shared reviews given by both male and female managers. 
In all, I collected 248 reviews from 180 people, 105 men and 75 women. The reviews come from 28 different companies and include large technology corporations, mid-size companies, and smaller environments.... 
....This kind of negative personality criticism—watch your tone! step back! stop being so judgmental!—shows up twice in the 83 critical reviews received by men. It shows up in 71 of the 94 critical reviews received by women." (emphasis added)
That's quite a discrepancy, yeah?

The author also found that men more often had critique framed as constructive suggestions for additional skills to develop, rather than as personality failings.

These findings suggest that men and women are often judged differently for engaging in similar or the same behavior - men are "go-getters" when they're assertive or conversation-dominating in the workplace, while women are "bitchy" and "too talkative."

Yet, I also wonder if perhaps women are critiqued more frequently and in a more personal way because  supervisors know, think, or instinctively pick up on, men on average being highly sensitive to critique.  Women, of course, are often portrayed as overly sensitive, but anyone who's spent about 2 seconds on Internet has experienced how hell hath no fury like (many) male egos being taken down a notch or three.

My suggestion here is just that, a suggestion.  Yet, it seems no coincidence that these findings were in the tech industry, specifically - although I also wouldn't be surprised if they're replicable in other industries.

It is, after all, highly demonstrable that, just on Internet - where many tech guys and self-proclaimed geek guys- hang out, many men can't even handle "their" games, TV shows, movies, and other shit being substantively critiqued without groups of them banding together to derail all mature conversations into rape threats, temper tantrums, and other varied expressions of violent misogyny.

See, for just recent incidents, this link roundup at Geek Feminism Blog (which, by the way, consistently has some of the best link roundups out there, in my opinion!).

Maybe one reason women endure more criticism is because people know women probably won't go apeshit after hearing it.  Not that that makes the super-personal criticism okay in the workplace.  It's just something to consider as another contributing factor both to this criticism discrepancy and to male overconfidence.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Feminist Addresses Misogynist's Questions

Ha ha *snort*

Amanda Marcotte has taken the time to answer a video entitled, "Questions For So-Called 'Real' Feminists."

So, right away, you can imagine what those questions are like.  Sample: Who is the current leader of the feminist movement? Where can I go to find an official detailed list of the goals of feminism?

Her answers are pretty good and funny.  Anti-feminists, MRAs, and other misogynistic types seem to be really uncomfortable with feminism not being a monolithic movement, and I've received questions like these before, too, in my years of feminist blogging.

When we answer these asinine questions and respond, truthfully, that feminism doesn't have a current leader or one single definition or platform because it's not a monolithic movement, these guys (and it's almost always guys) treat feminism as though it's irredeemably flawed. Or, as though they've caught us up in some big "gotcha" that proves feminism is wrong about everything. Or, as though we're lying and  secretly withholding from them The Feminist Hivemind Manifesto.

I suspect they really want to pin down feminism because then it would be much easier for them to hone in on and destroy if feminism were just 1 thing, led by 1 person.

I'll also note that Marcotte is one of the widely-known Internet feminists who anti-feminists, misogynists, and MRAs seem to particularly loathe. Most probably because she speaks publicly, and has a relatively large platform, while being a feminist woman.

I've been thinking a lot lately about feminist infighting and even attacks that feminists engage in against other feminists.  I don't expect other feminists to be 100% perfect at all times. I don't expect (and nor do I) agree with other feminists 100% of the time about all things.  I still believe it's possible, and even desirable, for me to quote other feminists' work even if they're not 100% perfect and even if they sometimes, in fact, say or do "problematic" things.

Given the pervasive attacks that feminists experience from those who are not feminists, it's frustrating to me when we, within feminism, seek to marginalize other feminist voices because we deem them insufficiently perfect at feminism. I believe in the value of internal criticism and dialogue, but some of what goes on on Internet under the guise of "critique" is super shitty.

I know that's vague, and I hope to write more about that topic in the near future, when I have time to firm up my thoughts.