Wednesday, June 15, 2005

For Those of You Who Like to Keep Score at Home

One of the things that gets especially tedious about reading any feminist thought, especially on blogs, is the comments. I always feel like, especially if there are a number of comments, that I ought to see what people are saying and take into consideration their responses to the post as I shape my response. Unfortunately, for every insightful and thought-provoking comment, there seem to be five that are not. Worse than that, once you read enough of these comments, you can start to guess what people's objections are going to be. Still, I feel compelled to read the comments. How do I get through? I keep score at home. Here, let's try it out with the "controversy" playing itself out in the big blogs here in Nashville. Egalia at Tennessee Guerilla Woman makes a post about how she's grossed out by a characterization of Senator Clinton in a story in the Nashville Scene by Roger Abramson in which the senator is described as "the breasted Clinton." (No, for some reason, she didn't point out that both men and women have breasts, and sometimes even round and supple breast tissue, and so describing Senator Clinton as "the breasted Clinton" wasn't accurate and instead traded on the sloppy shorthand that "breasts" are a female sex characteristic instead of a physical characteristic of everyone with nipples. But anyway, accusing the Scene of being sloppy? Not that inspiring a thing to post on.) You'd think that would have been the end of it. After all Egalia posts on a lot of things and the world keeps on turning. But no, Bruce Barry at the Scene posts about it at the Scene's blog, Pith in the Wind, and Abramson goes over to Egalia's to defend himself and before you know it, Brittney's got to sum things up for people who can't follow who's fighting where. Is it worth it to even try to catch up now? No, not unless you are doing so purely for the humor, because the whole thing has now degenerated into the same mess almost every feminist "controversy" ends up in. Lucky for me, this means you can re-use this post over and over. Okay, see if you can find the following:
  1. Someone seems to be personally hurt by the remarks of a total stranger.
  2. Someone uses the term "hysterical," without being aware of the word's history, to describe the poster.
  3. Someone refers to her own femaleness or the femaleness of someone she knows as being proof that her actions or opinions are unimpeachable.
  4. Someone is being deliberately obtuse.
  5. Someone trots out the treatment of African Americans or homosexuals.
  6. The person personally hurt by the remarks of a stranger tries to find a parallel way to critique the poster.
  7. It falls flat after others point out that the word s/he's chosen to critique is actually less loaded than s/he'd hoped.
  8. Someone steps in thinking he can end the discussion by calling it "liberal silliness."
  9. Someone else tries to shut down the discussion by calling it "politically correct bullshit."
  10. Many posts later, someone else tries to shut down the discussion by again calling out the "hypersensitive liberals."
  11. Things derail while folks belittle the latest attempt to end the discussion.
  12. Someone attempts to ingratiate him/herself to the parties that seem more powerful by suggesting that the initial poster was just looking for a way to bring traffic to her blog.
  13. Someone accuses the poster of "censorship" and/or "fascism."
  14. The post is taken as proof of the ridiculousness of the monolithic feminist position.
  15. The original poster tries to regain control of the discussion, only to be met with hostility.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny, that never happens to me when I write about potty training...

6/15/2005 10:10:00 AM  
Blogger egalia said...

busy mom,

Maybe I'll try that.

6/15/2005 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger egalia said...

Aunt B.,

Thanks for the non-hostile post; not that I would expect a hostile post from you, but I kind of expect to see them everywhere right now. What an experience this has been. Guess this will teach me to open my feminist mouth.

Men have breasts, but women have the sexualized breasts that matter.

6/15/2005 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger bb said...

Aunt B: Nice 15-point essence, although (at PITW anyway) it could serve as a generic set of markers for the comment board on just about any culture-wars sort of issue, not just ones with a feminist tint. The key element for me are the "shut downs" -- the attempts to call the subject and debate pointless by framing it and labeling it with ideological invective. It's a cheap substitute for actual discourse, and consequently a favorite technique of the right (although the left certainly dabbles in it from time to time). I often wonder why outraged cultural conservatives who see an issue as pointless don't just STFU and go do something else rather than expend the time and energy to weigh in with a viewpoint that the issue is pointless.

6/15/2005 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

Look at all this liberal politically-correct feminist silliness! Don't you know potty-training is just one more way for all-powerful, ever-complaining women to control what men do with their dicks? When, oh when, Busy Mom, are you going to stop oppressing your children?

Egalia, I hope you know that I'm not trying to make fun of your particular situation, but that I find the whole thing both funny ha-ha and funny peculiar, especially how quickly the discussion devolved into "Egalia's just a hateful humorless bitch, like every other feminist on the planet, who needs to lighten up."

For the record, I think you're right. Describing one Clinton as "breasted" totally works because we, as a society, define women first by gender.

Another thing I find funny is that, when I read you, I experience your authorial voice as being one of "in addition." Maybe I'm misreading you, but I always feel like you're not saying "I have the definative answer, but here are some things I've seen and experienced and thought, in addition to the usual."

I'm sorry you're having to go through this, but I'm happy to have the chance to point out how monotonous these arguments get:

"Here's a good point." "You hurt my feelings." "You have no sense of humor." "This is the problem with you feminists." "I'm going to try to hurt your feelings in return." "PC bullshit." etc.

My god, can't they just succintly call you a bitch or are they aware someplace in the back of their minds that calling you a bitch clarifies the gendered nature of their objection to you?

6/15/2005 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

BB, good point. Why do they bother? Do they think that, if they try hard enough, someone's going to be all "Oh, you're right. This is just liberal silliness (god, I want that on a t-shirt). We'll be quiet now."

6/15/2005 11:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh just shut-up, and take your top off.


6/15/2005 12:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In open forums, just be sure that when addressing women, don't make any reference to them being women.

For some reason, they just don't like being reminded.

6/15/2005 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger egalia said...

"Egalia's just a hateful humorless bitch, like every other feminist on the planet, who needs to lighten up."

Thanks again Aunt B. You made me laugh. At least I'm in good company, I mean with all the other humorless bitches.

It feels safe here, I'm traveling around, it doesn't feel very good at my blog right now.

6/15/2005 12:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Argh, I have had this experience so many times. The last one was where I was told that we feminists were the problem because we were angry and no-one likes dealing with angry people. I mean, angry women. The point I was making is that we should all be angry about rape. Then the other blog-commentator said "you'd get further if you just started co-operating and stopped being so shrill". At which point I gave up.
It's at once frustrating and funny, that we cannot discuss anything to do with women without being accused of being either off the mark, or trivial, or shrill, or defensive. I do try to laugh but sometimes, you have to wonder...

6/15/2005 11:35:00 PM  
Blogger Rana said...

I'd laugh, if it weren't so true. Or maybe because it is.

6/16/2005 01:48:00 AM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

Wait, wait, wait, Kate, was the other person really--in a discussion about rape--really suggestion that you should just stop being so shrill and start cooperating?! Well, fuck me, why don't we actually just take that philosophy about rape? Look here, girls, it is our faults. If we'd just settle back and enjoy it, rape wouldn't be a problem.

It's the kind of funny that makes you want to stomp on someone.

6/16/2005 08:48:00 AM  
Blogger egalia said...

".. we cannot discuss anything to do with women without being accused of being either off the mark, or trivial, or shrill, or defensive."

Well said, Kate. Something that's been bugging me lately is how anytime women don't speak in a timid voice, we are always angry or shrill bitches. I'm sure this is part of Abramson's problem with me.

The timid voice is pretty well a defensive or survival tactic, in my view, but it annoys the hell out of me. For the last few days, I've been paying attention to it in women around me.

When I was under attack, I had a huge instinctive urge to go timid, or deferential.

6/16/2005 12:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aunt B, in a word, yes. I got so angry I had to go for a walk and leave my computer alone.
Yes, egalia, we are supposed to be timid and nice and sweet. All the more reason to raise one's voice and be loud and angry and all that stuff. In a thoughtful way, of course!

6/16/2005 11:48:00 PM  
Blogger egalia said...

Well then, here's to loud, angry, and thoughtful bitches.

6/17/2005 11:36:00 PM  

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