After the dust settles

Okay, so first things first. I should not have pulled the traffic card when responding to Sady about A Game of Thrones. That was, in the words of a wise person I know, “a dick move.” I was feeling a bit like a dick, I admit, and not entirely without reason. I’m not trying to troll anybody, and I felt stung. But still, pettiness is no way to achieve my moment of Zen. I should not have done that, and I apologize to both Sady and anyone who had the misfortune of enduring my pettiness.

I think I understand a little more about this debate now. Sexism is tricky, obviously, but how men and women engage on the subject is even thornier. Good faith is easily mistaken because enough bad faith already poisoned the water.

Misogyny is a very real thing, and people with different perspectives on misogyny are going to have different reactions to a book that displays a violent, patriarchal world in all its gory detail. That’s fine, we’re built to have different reactions. Our programming just differs from one brain to the next depending on how we’re wired, how we’re raised, how we’ve decided to stake our claim. There is a case to be made that it hurts more than helps, though I would disagree with that.

I’m not sure I would write the violence and the sexual violence the way Martin does if I were to write these books. It feels gratuitous at times. I don’t think it’s meant to be sexist. I stick by my theory that Martin is doing his best, with his own limited perspective, to offer up a critique of sexism and feudalism. He has created a violent, sexist world as a mirror to hold up to our own.

I still think Sady is wrong, and I still disagree with the notion that men should take a backseat in the discussion of sexism (if only because I think it’s truly counterproductive) but I do understand that some places online are meant to be safe houses of a sort. They’re not fertile ground for a strongly voiced debate. Sady isn’t interested in engaging with someone like me on the issue of sexism any more than she is interested in reading fantasy. Her readers don’t expect her to so why should I? At some point you just have to call it a day and realize that not only do people not always agree, they don’t always agree on how to disagree. Hell, in some ways we can’t even agree on how to agree.

In any case, I regret lowering the discourse. I should not have done that. It muddies up the rest of the argument, obscures the ideas in favor of a cheap shot. There may be a time and a place for cheap shots, but this wasn’t it. Somehow the shit-talking always rise to the surface, and bogs down whatever you had to say that may have been important.

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131 thoughts on “After the dust settles

  1. I’ve paid only casual attention to this, but … (heh! see how that works?)

    I’m a white guy who’s had many discussions with African Americans about race issues, and one argument that’s consistently used to beat me about the head and shoulders is this. White people have a right to express a view of racial issues, and white people are entitled to engage in discussions of race relations. But the one thing white people cannot do is tell African Americans how to feel about, argue, advocate for, promote, experience, talk about, etc etc, race issues.

    And I agree with that. Maybe something similar is going on here.

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      • Cosign this. There are many nice feminists out there (which is why I got rather ticked that you linked back to Sady, who seems disingenuous enough to get ed by me), who like the books and grapple with what the books actually say, not what Sady-thinks-it-says with magic-pink-glasses-on.

        (note: Sady’s post on My Little Pony is much more balanced. and it manages to reference /b/ and a kid’s show without screaming about CP).

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          • you talkin’ about me? Hell, I’m so much of a dyke that my husband sometimes forgets I’m a girl (not kidding,either). [not saying that being butch or femme is a requirement for being a feminist. But I’m certainly not who you think I am, probably.]

            A nice feminist is not trolling the other side. I posted links to many folks in the last thread, on “people who actually are willing to talk back.”

            Me? I’ma bitch, and I take that as a compliment. But I try to only insult people when they deserve it, and use the insult as a tool towards future development. ‘Cause I know how hardheaded I can be, and what a wakeup call feels like to a charging bull.

            What is “one of those feminists”? Someone hurt enough to need a hug first, and disagreement later?

            I’m a woman. I got opinions. I share them.

            Would you rather talk about the feministic implications of Fertility gods and Paladins, how that interfaces with the term slut-shaming, and how we codify masculine and feminine sexuality? Because, silly, that would be a far more useful argument.

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    • “White people have a right to express a view of racial issues, and white people are entitled to engage in discussions of race relations. But the one thing white people cannot do is tell African Americans how to feel about, argue, advocate for, promote, experience, talk about, etc etc, race issues. ”

      Which is okay, but the problem happens when African Americans (or, more commonly, white people on the internet who claim to be speaking on behalf of African Americans) tell me that they CAN tell me how I should feel about, argue, advocate for, etcetera., race issues.

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  2. > Sady isn’t interested in engaging with someone
    > like me on the issue of sexism any more than
    > she is interested in reading fantasy. Her readers
    > don’t expect her to so why should I?

    Because that’s how she wrote her post.

    I get Maribou’s point about Yes/And vs. No/But dialogue. I get Alice’s point about Martin being lazy. I get a lot of the points made by contributors to Sady’s blog. There was some worthwhile contributions on both sides over the weekend.

    But I don’t think it’s quite cricket to claim that you’re trying to create a space where Yes/And dialogue can be the dominant construct… while throwing out posts that are written in both a voice and a style to demand No/But responses.

    Yes, sometimes it’s important for men in particular to listen. That’s important because a lot of our subsumed context is patriarchal, and it’s true that you can’t always notice that bias if you’re busy talking. That’s not what was happening, here.

    I think that’s pretty much all I have to say about these whole imbroglio.

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    • But I don’t think it’s quite cricket to claim that you’re trying to create a space where Yes/And dialogue can be the dominant construct… while throwing out posts that are written in both a voice and a style to demand No/But responses.

      First, I’ve never seen “cricket” used in that way. Is that British or Aussie or something?

      Second, from whom does her voice and style, which is quite common in the feminist blogosphere (so common that I found it completely uninteresting in her less skillful use of it), “demand” a NO/But response? Is this something that you’re bringing to the table, or something inherent in her writing? I’m inclined to believe it’s the former.

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      • Her entire first couple paragraphs are pure incendiary vitrol where she scorns fantasy as a genre, fantasy authors and fantasy fans entirely. In fact she literally prances about slapping her crimson rump cheeks like a shrieking baboon inviting her readers to be offended.

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      • > Second, from whom does her voice and style,
        > which is quite common in the feminist
        > blogosphere (so common that I found it
        > completely uninteresting in her less skillful
        > use of it), “demand” a NO/But response?

        I don’t read a lot of -ist blogosphere in general, so perhaps I’m not as used to the voice as a default and therefore unremarkable context in feminist blogging.

        But, if one is seeking Yes/And conversations, one typically sets the table by using positive constructs. If you are seeking affirmation in general conversation, beginning with the unremarkable and moving to the point of contention is usually the way you do it.

        If you’re seeking No/But conversations, one typically sets the table with neutral or mixed constructs. If you’re seeking open debate, you flesh out your structure where you think it is in need of the most structure (bad No/But constructions typically shore up the stuff that’s strongest and handwave away the weak parts, but this isn’t really a conversation about bad No/But so that’s an aside). You then stick it out there and see what happens when people start to poke holes in it.

        If you’re seeking flamewars, you write something like this.

        Here’s how I see Sady’s piece.

        She starts with a summary value judgement – “Martin is creepy”

        She then offers an implied persecution complex – “…led by those black-hearted, dishonorable brigands known as the Knights of Rowling, joined later by those who would overthrow the land of Tiger Beatdown itself (emphasis mine) in the name of the Nameless King”

        And then she poisons the well of potential dissent – “Because here’s how it goes, when you criticize beloved nerd entertainments: You can try to be nuanced. You can try to be thoughtful. You can lay out your arguments in careful, extravagant, obsessive detail. And at the end of the day, here is what the people in the “fandom” are going to take away: You don’t like my toys? I hate you!”

        This is the first 600+ words of the piece, which is only 4600 words long.

        Now, maybe on the Internet there’s an established tradition (of which I’m not aware) wherein you dump 15% of your post into setting a table specifically designed for combat while not expecting any combat whatsoever, but in real world conversation, nobody does this.

        In the old Usenet world, nobody did this.

        On gaming boards, nobody does this. On old BBS boards, nobody did this.

        If I write this post, I’m writing it specifically to create a flamewar. It’s practically a poster-child textbook example of, “Here’s how you generate foaming mad dissent on a topic.”

        > Is this something that you’re bringing to
        > the table, or something inherent in her
        > writing? I’m inclined to believe it’s the former.

        Everybody carries their context with them, it’s entirely possible that I’m bringing this to the table. It’s also entirely possible that generating a flamewar without flames is the point of the piece, and TigerBeatdown is a place where this is common. I don’t know, I’m not carrying their context around with me, either.

        I’m just sayin’, my presence in the world of digital group communication is runnin’ on 20 years, and from my first perusal of a message board until now, posts written like this generate something other than Yes/And conversations. So when I see one like this, it is hard for me not to suspect that that was part of the point.

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  3. I don’t think it was a “dick move”. She deleted your response over at her blog because she accused you of fishing for traffic, and you pointed out that since your blog gets more traffic than hers, you don’t need to fish for traffic over there. That’s an honest and not unkind response.

    In any case, I think explicit descriptions of sexual abuse and violence are always going to piss off a number of people, regardless of their purpose or intent. It just hits too close to home for many people, especially those who think that depicting something is the same as advocating for it.

    Bakker’s even more tricky in that area (there were some huge debate threads over it at the Westeros.org forums, in which Bakker himself participated). I think he has a good point he’s making, but the actual description can be so repellant than people run away from it without getting the point he’s making.

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    • Yeah, Bakker’s stuff is super dark. I still really enjoyed the books, and I get what he’s doing, but there were moments where I think he went too far – a number of moments. In fact, this would be a much more complicated discussion, I think, if we were talking about those books instead of Martin’s.

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      • I think the main issue with Bakker is that he sexualized all of his female characters, with Istriya being a perverse queen, Esmenet a whore, and Serwe a concubine. I think he captures their humanity quite well, but he probably should have given at least one of them a different profession (I think Esmenet should have been a fallen priestess of Yatwer instead).

        He also avoided doing some relatively minor stuff that might have deflected the sexism charges, like having at least one female sorcerers’ School before the Holy War (the absence of them honestly never made sense to me, considering how rare the Few are and how powerful they can be when trained).

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    • …Ever read Deerskin? That’s by Robin McKinley, whose best known book is The Blue Sword, a very young adult book.

      I think a question on whether it’s whitewashing to “hide” rape that occurs would be good… I also think a question on whether it’s “rape porn” to emphatically display/PCize(personal character, from roleplaying) rape is also a good one to ask.

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    • I don’t think it was a “dick move”. She deleted your response over at her blog because she accused you of fishing for traffic, and you pointed out that since your blog gets more traffic than hers, you don’t need to fish for traffic over there. That’s an honest and not unkind response.

      This was my thought. It provided context to explain that no, you weren’t spamming for traffic. Now, while I don’t think it was a dick move, I do think it was pretty transparently non-productive given what the person you were talking to had already revealed about her blogging temperament. But hey, sometimes energy trumps productivity.

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  4. One of the great things about the Freedom of Speech includes the Freedom to say “I ain’t gonna talk about this on your terms.”

    Maybe that’s one of the crappy things about it.

    Anyway, it’s certainly one of the things about it. There ain’t much to be done about someone embracing that particular thing. All you can do is put your meme out there and know that, if it’s good, it will survive.

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  5. Meh. What people like Sady have constructed isn’t a safe house, it’s a club house. She wants a space where she can take shots at people and then retreat and slam the door when anyone bothers to point out that she’s wrong. It’s juvenile.

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    • I disagree, at least in principle. I haven’t read much of Doyle’s blog, and have no intention to, but as I said in the previous thread, this is a common blogging philosophy among feminists because, for many, the alternative is much worse. And I agree in many cases. It is easy to abuse, of course, and there are feminist bloggers who hide behind the “safe place” philosophy in order to snipe at people or ideas, but again, this to me is a necessary evil in order to avoid the much greater evil of an almost constant stream of abusive comments.

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      • Chris – true on some level. It’s fine to want to keep the discussion limited. But sometimes, when you go out there and start taking potshots at people the way Sady does especially in the intro of that post, it sure can come across as itching for a fight.

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        • Eh, I’d have to read more of Doyle’s blog to make any real decision about what she was doing there, and that post just didn’t leave me with any desire to do so. I will say, as I’ve suggested in several comments now, she comes off like an imitation of a feminist blogger to me. I’d much rather read a good one.

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              • Hard to say. My best friend in college was heavily involved in the sexual assault group there, so I had a lot of exposure to a lot of kinds of feminists. Obviously, painting with too broad a brush is useless, but there is clearly a strain within the “movement” (and especially among the group of people who would be inclined to call it a “movement”) of exactly this kind of hyper-militant thing we’ve seen with Sady (and that I claim is common at Feministing), where the approach seems to be shutting out dissenting voices with insults and overt displays of power.

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            • My favorite feminist blog is IBlameThePatriarchy, and Jill has a very strict, up front deletion/banning policy the point of which is very clear: she wants to encourage debate and discussion among like minded peopleabout a topic that is, from their pov, a pretty settled issue. That isn’t to say she and her readers adhere to an evidence-free view of society. It’s more that for them the evidence is already in and they want to discuss what comes next rather than rehashing how they got there. So they don’t take very kindly to negative critiques of their views. Especially from men. I see nothing wrong with that.

              And also (not that it matters) Jill is one of the best writers on the internets.

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              • I very much enjoy that blog as well, because it offers me a window into a mindset that I do not share and would never occur to me otherwise.

                The other day (well, a few months back), there was a post about whether having pets violated some principle.

                The discussion of how keeping pets fed in exchange for physical displays of affection was similar to marriage was one that never would have occurred to me.

                It confused me and I talked to Maribou about it and she read the post and she merely said “normally when you talk about this stuff to me it’s a lot less weird in reality than how you described it.”

                Maybe that’s how libertarianism looks like to folks from outside.

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                • The more basic agreement there is in a conversation, the easier it is to discuss the intricacies. If you have a discussion about some specific points of evolution, having a creationist in the room and speaking up will turn any and every discussion about evolution into a discussion of whether evolution is occurring at all. But that’s not the point of the conversation. It’s not the conversation being had. It is a distraction to the intended conversation.

                  There comes a point where you’re attending a Bible Study class asking them to justify the existence of God. They’re not there to justify the existence of God, or to debate the existence of God, if part of the baseline is that everybody at the table assumes that God exists, at least some variation of the Christian God, and that the Bible is the word of said God. Keeping those who are not on the same page out allows them to have the conversation that those participating in the conversation want to have.

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                  • I feel like we’re having a discussion about principle that is doing its level best to ignore the reality of this exact situation. What ground rules were ignored by E.D. this particular instance? Was it his duty to simply agree that fantasy lit is terrible and GRRM is anti-feminist? As far as I know, he didn’t actually attack anyone’s axioms here. He wasn’t the creationist; he was the guy suggesting a different evolutionary model for the mollusk.

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                    • There are good arguments to be made that in the specifics of this conversation, Sady was just being a jerk. I don’t really know the site well enough to have a really strong opinion. As I said in the previous thread, I have a hard time justifying deleting what was simply a link to an alternative viewpoint elsewhere, as opposed to simply adding a comment saying “Please direct commentary regarding this link to the blog in question”.

                      This comment was meant more abstractly, however. There are absolutely times when, in order for a discussion to go forward, alternative viewpoints are best stifled if they are outside the baseline of the discussion. If IBlameThePatriarchy is a relatively narrow discussion, I don’t really see a problem with that. It might be too narrow for my tastes, I might decide to listen but not contribute, or (if I were likeminded, though in this case that’s doubtful) I might appreciate the avenue where there is less noise distracting from the topic at hand.

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                • Look, stifling debate is good for discourse, anywhere, if the debate always or even almost always devolves into “You’re just ugly bitches who couldn’t get a date,” or some variant thereof. If you think that’s hyperbole, I highly recommend checking out a feminist blog that doesn’t police its comments very thoroughly.

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              • I have to agree with Ryan B. “Debate and discussion” from “like-minded people on a settled topic” is a contradiction. That’s not a debate – it’s an amen chorus.

                If the blogger is honest about wanting that, fine. But don’t pretend it’s anything other than that.

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                • I think both these last two comments support what I wrote at comment 1: that while men have a right to engage in discussions about feminism, but they don’t get to tell women how they ought to discuss feminism.

                  Isn’t this the type of patriarchal thinking feminists reflexively reject?

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                    • While Jaybird is correct about your last sentence, I will gladly respond to the first. I avoid engaging all kinds of different ideas all the time. There are a lot of ideas, and I don’t have the time to deal with all of them. Given my experiences with Feministing and this recent brouhaha with Sady Doyle, I have concluded that this class of blogs is unlikely to provide enough enlightenment to be worth my time.

                      If you disagree, you are free to suggest feminist blogs that you think I might enjoy reading.

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                    • Jay (and Ryan), I didn’t mean that not showing up is stifling debate. I meant that, like stifling debate, not showing up is a good way to avoid engaging different ideas. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here, as they both do just that.

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                    • Now we get to discuss whether you have an obligation to engage different ideas.

                      That’s a good point. (Really good point.) But I don’t think that’s what Chris is getting at. The critique of feminist blog is that they delete/ban comments deemed inconsistent with the blog’s purpose. Hypothetical person A then takes that form of censorship as a justification to not learn what the writers/commenters on that blog are saying.

                      It isn’t so much stifling debate as a circular justification to close the boundaries of personal inquiry.

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                    • I disagree. If you run a blog where you stifle opposing viewpoints, you’re being specifically unwelcoming to outsiders with different perspectives. There’s nothing wrong with that, inherently, but it’s a lot to expect those people to listen to what you have to say. You’re deliberately disengaging from their perspectives. You’ve set up a conversation by and for people with viewpoints within whatever parameters (narrow or broad) you have set up for the discussion.

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                    • Right. My comment wasn’t directed at the blog proprietor, but at the person who refrains from reading that blog on the grounds that it’s exclusionary as opposed to that person merely not finding the subject matter interesting.

                      I find the censorship justification to be self-serving and circular. Being an open forum isn’t a necessary condition for that forum to have merit.

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                    • > Being an open forum isn’t a
                      > necessary condition for that
                      > forum to have merit.

                      Oh, sure.

                      On the other hand, a non-open forum will by its very nature limit the community’s makeup.

                      I mean, I’m not going to read a lot of closed forum anything. Not because it might not have something to say, but because if I’m going to read closed-forum stuff, I’m going to be reading a newspaper.

                      Blogs are for the comment threads, at least as far as I’m concerned… not primarily for the top posts.

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                    • Well, we’re sorta deep in the weeds here, but (eg) IBTP is an open forum, just so long as you abide by a commenting policy which is actively enforced and very publicly stated. Again, I don’t see anything wrong with that, even if it entails banning people.

                      That happens here as well.

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                    • Jay, he didn’t say he avoided a particular blog, or two, but an entire type of blog, expressing things from a particular perspective. I don’t think he needs to comment there, but it makes little sense to complain about not letting certain ideas in when you’re perfectly willing to ignore certain ideas entirely yourself.

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                    • > IBTP is an open forum, just
                      > so long as you abide by a
                      > commenting policy which
                      > is actively enforced and
                      > very publicly stated.

                      > That happens here as well.

                      There’s “open” and then there is “open”. I don’t think the League is comparable to many other blogs’ versions of “open”.

                      The number of sacred cows that you have in your pasture sort of matter.

                      Not that it’s *unethical* to have sacred cows. Not that people aren’t allowed to have sacred cows.

                      Just that I find lots of sacred cows in the pasture a pretty uninteresting place for *me* to hang out. In fact, it’s a turnoff to a point where I’m probably not interested in consuming anything that’s produced there.

                      That’s no knock on anybody. Unless they’re actually wondering why people like me don’t hang out there with them, in their pasture, and I have no reason to believe that this is the case.

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                    • That’s just nonsense. I think I am plenty willing to engage with feminist ideas, and I would submit that I do so regularly. That I do not do so under the banner of an explicitly-declared feminist blog is neither here nor there.

                      I also don’t read conservative blogs, generally speaking, but I’m more than happy to read about conservative ideas in forums where I trust that no one is policing the content of my opinions. Like, say, this blog.

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                    • Put differently, both excluding comments from a particular view, and never actually reading that view (for whatever reason), mean not engaging a view. Again, this doesn’t seem like a particularly controversial thing to say.

                      I don’t mean to imply that anyone has to read feminist blogs. Hell, I don’t read Duke sports blogs. This is probably why I think Duke basketball is the root of all evil.

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                    • Ryan, then would you say that not allowing comments from certain perspectives is not to avoid engaging a certain perspective, or even stifling debate, for the same reason? I mean, you can have the debate elsewhere, right? Like, say, here.

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                    • I’m not sure why you’re fixated on the notion that stifling debate by explicitly using your power to tell people what they’re allowed to say is the same thing as someone else not showing up to say anything. This is sort of like saying theft and charity are the same thing.

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                    • Patrick, I’m not disagreeing with you here, but you’re taking a of blogs which, from my pov, is overly narrow. I think both JB and Will have expressed this earlier, but sometimes the mere act of reading a blog can lead to better understanding of what people are thinking or getting on about. It’s not that you’re necessarily agreeing with them, of course. Or even disagree. It’s that you’re learning where they come from. And there’s utility in that, as well as a sense of satisfaction that comes from arriving at a better understanding of people, and how they think the world works from their pov.

                      Whether the forum is open or merely ‘open’ seems to me to be irrelevant here. For me, it depends on what each of us wants to get out of any particular blog experience.

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                    • > And there’s utility in that, as
                      > well as a sense of satisfaction
                      > that comes from arriving at
                      > a better understanding of
                      > people, and how they think
                      > the world works from their pov.

                      Oh, sure.

                      Here’s my issue: I used to do that a lot more often. Inevitably, if you stick around a community long enough, it would come to the point where someone would take their POV and run off the goddamn earth with it.

                      At which point I want to engage. I want to know why it is that the POV has suddenly gone off the rails. Because you can’t, actually, *get* where that POV is coming from at that point without asking questions.

                      There comes a point where simple observation is no longer going to tell you more about the people you’re observing. You have to kick it up a layer of abstraction or engage in order to learn anything more.

                      And it’s a definite pattern that when I go there, I find that attempt frustrated.

                      It is an engineered block that prevents anyone from learning more than precisely what that person wants to offer, and nothing else. There comes a point where I find people that use these strategies less interesting than other people.

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  6. I noticed the fooferaw in passing and read her article E.D. but I gotta say, I think this was a field that wasn’t worth plowing in the first place. After she closed down discourse with her petty little comment deleting you may well have been better off cutting your losses and ignoring her. She writes and admins her blog like a caricature of a petty shallow angry feminist rather than a real person.

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      • Yes, but when do I ever cut my losses and walk away in time?

        This in sum is why we love you Mr. Kain :)

        BTW if you can’t read the text in my new avatar, it’s from an old Tipalet ad straight out of the real world Mad Men that says, “Blow in her face and she’ll follow you anywhere”

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    • I do agree that the snarky “these are teh menz I deleted” comment was a pretty shitty move. Like the safe place concept, this is a familiar behavior to readers of feminist bloggers, often used to shame assholes who come in and spew sexism left and right, but as with the other tropes, Doyle appears not to understand how to use it. Or worse, she uses it to shame people simply for disagreeing with her.

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  7. E.D.-

    I just want to say that I greatly appreciate your willingness to reflect on your handling of situations. Regardless of how often I agree with you (which I think tends to be more often than not), I am more interested in reading your pieces because I know I’m going to get something thoughtful and nuanced. And, if it is not thoughtful or nuanced, it is not long before you right a follow-up explaining why the deviation from the norm and owning your role in whatever the outcome was. We all make mistakes. Some, like yourself, have mistakes out there on the interweb for all to see. It takes a certain amount of courage to risk that, but even greater courage to handle them as you have. Bravo, sir. I look forward to more good readings from you going forward.

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  8. I’ll copy n’ paste a comment from a thread in which I participated a while back:

    This is not the first time I’ve gotten engaged in this sort of brouhaha, and I’m finding myself now stuck in the same scenario I’ve been stuck in before:

    If I don’t engage in the conversation, I’m part of the problem.

    If I agree with you wholeheartedly, I’m being condescending.

    If I disagree with you wholeheartedly, I’m sexist.

    If I agree with you partially, but find the remainder of your position to be fuzzy, or in need of serious introspection, or not compelling, or not generalizable to your conclusion, I’m a “mansplainer” (whatever the hell that is), or I’m stupid, or disingenuous… or I can’t relate, because I’m not a woman and thus don’t have the same level of exposure to these issues as a woman does (the second half of this last bit, I’ll absolutely grant is probably the case, but if the implication is I have to be a woman to have any sort of understanding, why the heck does anyone want me to be involved in the conversation in the first place?)

    Perhaps more men don’t participate in these sorts of discussions because they feel like they’re going to walk into this sort proverbial goal-shifting minefield?

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  9. That was, in the words of a wise person I know, “a dick move.”

    Oh for Gods’ sake, E.D. — enough with the sackcloth and ashes already. If that was a dick move, what was her move that deleted your post with such prejudice — “a cunt move”? Maybe it’s time to throw out attempts at anatomical insults generally.

    Look — misogyny is a real thing, yes, but so is misandry. The difference is that, while misogyny is not just highly visible and quickly denounced whenever it rears its ugly head, misandry is as little noticed and as quickly dismissed as misogyny used to be, often enough accompanied with similar mockery. In fact, these days it’s not unusual for misandry, or a general despising of men, to hide behind hostility to imaginary misogyny, and a good example of that might be the arrogance and general nastiness of Sady’s post and comment responses that started all this.

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    • I am not familiar with the phrase “sackcloth and ashes”.

      Even if she was wrong, that doesn’t mean I was right entirely in every thing I did in response. Two wrongs and all that.

      I didn’t come up with the phrase “dick move” either. It’s actually a very common phrase used to describe lots of actions unrelated to discussions of gender.

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    • See, while I find Sady Doyle frequently over the top and a number of similar bloggers too eager to shut out criticisms, it is posts like this that make me glad I decided to get over my defensiveness and read more feminist blogs. If you really, truly believe that misandry is a much more widespread and tolerated viewpoint than misogyny, and that all misogyny ever is called out, I really suggest you read some more of these blogs. It may seem like they are hitting one note, but that’s because nobody else is hitting it.

      Now I think that the segregation of feminist blogging from other type of social/political blogging is harmful both to the feminist conversations, and the non-feminist ones. Nonetheless, discussions about the best response to climate change are more fruitful if you don’t have to constantly reargue for its very existence. There is a time to engage the world at large, and there is a time to talk things over with people you are on the same page as.

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      • Now I think that the segregation of feminist blogging from other type of social/political blogging is harmful both to the feminist conversations, and the non-feminist ones. Nonetheless, discussions about the best response to climate change are more fruitful if you don’t have to constantly reargue for its very existence.

        Well, sure, and I suppose discussions about the best response to threats to white racial purity are more fruitful if you don’t have to constantly re-argue that such threats are not just repugnant fantasies. This is not to say that specialty blogs and forums shouldn’t exist, but it is to say that you don’t need to immerse yourself in some such blogs in order to see that they’re largely havens for prejudice or craziness or both. It may be there’s a reason no one else is hitting that note.

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        • Well yeah. Sheltered discussions can shelter both good and bad ideas. I’m just saying that there is a time to explain to 18 year old Marxists that the labor theory of value is fucked, and there is a time to discuss with other libertarians the applicability of a property rights framework to the environment, and trying to limit the discussion, especially when feminist blogs bring out the absolute worst and most disgusting trolls on the internet, is not by definition tyrannical.

          Just to be clear also, the “one note” I’m talking about is that as a society we have weird ideas about gender roles, and that there are a lot of ways that “femininity” is still degraded while “masculinity” is promoted that are bad for both women and men. Reading feminist blogs has really opened my eyes to a lot of things I didn’t think about before. Sady Doyle isn’t the best example, but I at least have a slightly better idea where she’s coming from now than I used to.

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          • Okay. Always good to have one’s eyes opened. If feminism is something new for you, then I don’t doubt you’ll come across some useful ideas.

            But a warning: feminism in general is not new — it’s been around, in one “wave” or another, for a few generations now, and it hasn’t aged well. In its earlier stages, it was largely characterized by the simple and basic idea of gender equality, and many people (including myself) were happy to call themselves feminists in that sense. In its later stages, much of it can be characterized by an equally simple and basic tone (“idea” gives it more coherence than it deserves) of superiority to the male or the masculine, in whatever form. I think this is a big reason why many young women shy away from the term, in the same way reasonable men would tend to stay clear of a movement calling itself “masculism”. Feminism as a movement has long since jumped the shark.

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            • In its later stages, much of it can be characterized by an equally simple and basic tone (“idea” gives it more coherence than it deserves) of superiority to the male or the masculine, in whatever form.

              This is the sort of thing you expect from someone who hasn’t read any contemporary feminism, but feels threatened by it nonetheless.

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              • Feminism has been around for a few centuries anyway. Mary Wollstonecraft’s treatise was written in 1792. In 1790, the Marquis de Condorcet wrote a case for women to be given full citizenship in a French republic. Feminism seems to me a fairly clear implication of the ideas of the Enlightenment.

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                  • I haven’t much bothered with them, Chris, in much the same way I haven’t gotten much into Critical Race Theory, say, or Gaia worship on the left, or White Supremacy groups or Creationists on the right — life’s too short to waste on hateful nonsense. As for contemporary feminist bloggers, of course, see the logorrhoeic poster that started this latest foofarah.

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                    • Larry, in other words, when I said, “This is the sort of thing you expect from someone who hasn’t read any contemporary feminism, but feels threatened by it nonetheless,” I was spot on, and your response was merely dissembling. OK, got it.

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                    • Chris, when you imagine that anyone with a distaste and contempt for hate-filled rhetoric is just feeling “threatened” by it, you’re anything but “spot on”. You may well be projecting fears of your own, but I doubt very much that you’ve “got it”.

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                    • Dude, hate-filled rhetoric? You really, really are threatened. I’m sure there are some hate-filled feminists, just as you are clearly a hate-filled anti-feminist, but I don’t know of any contemporary feminist writings that are hate-filled. I’d ask if you could point to some, but you’ve already indicated you haven’t read any, which makes your assertion that it’s hate-filled all the more transparent.

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                    • Larry,

                      You’ve brought up “hate filled rhetoric” a few times, and twice now included the comparison with white supremacists. You’ve also mentioned your belief that misandry is much more widespread than misogyny, and that modern feminism is about privileging the feminine over the masculine (and women over men). Can I ask you to maybe say where you’re getting this from? Cause that’s not my experience at all.

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                    • You really, really are threatened.

                      Heh. Now there’s a powerful argument — if your imaginary characterization of your opponent doesn’t work the first time, repeat it and add “really, really”. Maybe try four “really”s next time, Chris. As for “hate-filled rhetoric” (and/or contempt-filled, etc.), as I said, refer to the blogger that started this, or to a number of other contemporary feminist blogs.

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                    • BJN, that’s a fair-enough question, but I think you’re over-interpreting my comments — my allusions to White Supremacists was simply as an example of a group in which one needn’t become expert in order to find them contemptible. Based upon some reading of blogs that are currently considered to be “feminist”, that’s been my sense of latter-day feminism. There are also longer and more general critiques of this version of feminism from people like Wendy McElroy and Christina Hoff Summers. Unlike white supremacy, of course, feminism has roots in an entirely praiseworthy project for gender equality. It’s just sad that it wouldn’t be the first instance of a movement that, as it grows long in the tooth, overshoots its mark and becomes a haven for those who simply dislike males.

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                    • Let me try that again, Larry.

                      You’ve asserted a few times that feminism has evolved into something destructive, something promoting hating men. Can you point to examples of that at all? Or to the misandry that you think is so prevalent? The Tiger Beatdown post in question wasn’t very good, but if a minor blog bitching about a series of fantasy books. If that’s the worst thing out there, then I guess we really have solved all the big issues.

                      As far as feminist blogs go, what do you think of Alyssa Rosenberg’s response to the original slam on GRRM? Rosenberg is considered a pretty mainstream feminist I would think, and talks about it (though it is hardly the only thing she writes about). Is she equally valueless to the discourse?

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                    • Okay, I’ll try again too. As you say, the post in question “wasn’t very good” (putting it mildly) — the question is whether it’s representative of feminist blogging or some kind of weird outlier. Here’s what another commenter had to say re: that question: “Eh, as I’ve said a few times, this is her version of the fairly typical snark of feminist pop culture critics in the blogosphere.” And since I suspect you know this yourself, I think you’re being at least a bit disingenuous in feigning ignorance of it. This sort of “fairly typical snark” of the “feminist pop culture critics”, by the way, comes across as just the female equivalent of arrogant, macho, and usually misogynist swagger you can still find among male twits here and there, and is no more attractive. If a term like “mansplaining” doesn’t come across as misandrist at least to some degree, you can only be deep in denial.

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                    • The post was stupid, obnoxious, and not well argued. Other feminists, such as Rosenberg, identified it as such. The question is who gives a fuck? You’re attempting to discredit the entirety of modern feminism as “hateful,” not just in form but in substance. Some feminist bloggers adopt this aggressive stance (with stronger arguments) and some don’t. So far your list of examples of the misandry that plagues our culture sums out at “mansplaining,” a word a marginal blogger used to describe perceived condescension in a post. If the absolute worst thing in gender relations in this country is Sady Doyle being oversensitive about being condescended to, then I guess we are doing pretty damn well.

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                    • PS: I thought Alyssa Rosenberg’s response was well done — but maybe it’s she, not Sady Doyle, who’s the outlier.

                      (And off-topic, but, ironic though it be, I actually agree with Sady’s reaction to (most) fantasy lit — she could have been shorter and less nasty is all.)

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                    • The question is who gives a fuck?

                      Not you, obviously. And, finally, neither do I — the “feminist pop culture critics” are typically ranters on the fringe who don’t have much influence on anyone any longer other than their dwindling band of fans. That was part of the point of my original comment above.

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                    • Still not seeing a defense of your claims about misandry being more widespread than misogyny, or that modern feminism is dead. There are still many obstacles blocking women from true equality of opportunity, many of them socially ingrained. I’d say it’s something worth talking about, or at the very least not accusing women of being “the real sexists” for wanting to talk about it.

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                    • Still not seeing a defense of your claims about misandry being more widespread than misogyny, or that modern feminism is dead.

                      Well, it’s a big topic, BJN, and it would take more than an old comment thread on a blog to deal with it. For now, I’ll just say good luck with your feminist reading, and, yes, keep your eyes open. We’ll have to agree to disagree.

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      • You know who is a man in the non feminist blogosphere and who does a great job discussing and advocating for feminism? PZ Meyers.

        And I think he gets some crap for it too, the gender politics threads always blow up. But being male he probably gets to skip the rape threats that the female bloggers are often delighted with.

        Feminism is still a hot button issue, and that’s why a lot of feminist blogs monitor their comments heavily and don’t participate a lot with the rest of the blogosphere. And that’s also why they rage a bit when male bloggers come around to tell them about how they are wrong. Though, I tend to agree that Sady’s piece wasn’t a fair critique, I think his female characters are at least a bit real.

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  10. From my comments on the “Can Men Discuss Sexism?” post –

    “E.D., I imagine what you submitted was slotted into the general category of “mansplaining” and then sent to the memory hole. If she skimmed this website she probably didn’t bother to read your submission.”

    and

    “Sady couldn’t care less about fantasy, and the tone is to amuse her followers who just love it and to elicit outraged push back that she can avoid engaging and then mock, also to the delight of her followers.”

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  11. Not sure if I should even bring this up, but the only blog I’ve ever been banned from was a football board in the SB Nation family. It was run as a “yes, and” like you wouldn’t believe and contrary opinions about the player/coach/team in question were met with some brief ferocity before the outright banning. Guess my point is, if “yes, and” is a feature of feminist blogs it is also a feature of at least one manly football blog I’ve been involved with. Weird.

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    • I’ve all but stopped posting on the message boards of my alma mater’s sports site. I’m a poor member of the pack because my world doesn’t fall apart when something goes wrong and I remember everything isn’t perfect when things are going well.

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    • I’m hardly surprised at the suppression of dissenting opinion on a sports site; the presumption is, “why would a Yankees fan want to make a post in a Red Sox site other than to troll?” When the Yankees fan makes a point, particularly a critical one, it’s easy to interpret it as trolling.

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      • In this case it was a team that I follow and I wasn’t trolling. In addition to not liking any opinions that dissented from the blog CW they also had a rule that every post had to have new content in the title field, every single time, and if you did this correctly a dozen times in a row but forgot once you’d immediately get two or three reminders from the community in the most churlish tone you can imagine.

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