Sunday, March 04, 2007

And a Perfect Example of What NOT to Do

In the last post I tried to explain how one goes about not being a dickhead at a feminist blog, thus sparing oneself the painful and humiliating foot-in-ass treatment.

And because I am not just clever, talented, and charming, but full of helpfulness for my fellow man besides, I shared that advice with Margalis, one of the eloquent young men who wandered over to I Blame the Patriarchy from Sadly, No!

Margalis had questions, so many questions, about the reception his fellow SNer mikey had received upon making his patriarchy-blaming debut. Questions like:

Can I point out a few things in as non-antagonistic tone as I can?

Which was immediately followed by this non-antagonistic gem:

First, adding a comment at the top of Mikey’s first post is beyond lame.

I hate beginning sentences with "As a blogger," but let me tell you anyway: As a blogger, the one thing I guaranfuckingtee you is that just as there is no Santa Claus, there is also no such thing as the blogger who wants your worthless opinion about how to blog. That blogger does not exist. That doesn't stop Margalis in his quest to be non-antagonizing, though:

Second, I don’t see anyone addressing his point.

I Blame the Patriarchy, like so many other blogs, exists solely to address the points of first-time commenters who will not or cannot read the FAQ.

I think many of you simply read what you wanted to read and looked for an excuse to attack him.

He is right: There haven't been enough flame wars on feminist blogs lately. We must make more.

What I love here is the form Margalis uses in his comment, because it's classic feminist blog-trolling:

Begin from an all-I-want-is-peace-and-maybe-a-pony posture, then lurch headlong into all the reasons the damn feminists are making this peace IMPOSSIBLE. It would be like conducting negotiations with a foreign power this way*:

Us: May I just say one thing as non-antagonistically as possible?

Them: Why, of course.

Us: Okay. We're going to invade your country, kill all your leaders, and convert you to Christianity.

Them: You asshole!

Us: Huh? What are you getting all bent out of shape about? Don't you want our help? How are we ever going to come to terms if you won't let us help?**

You doubt me? Don't doubt me:

There are plenty of us ‘liberal dudes’ that agree with you - why make it so difficult for us? Why pile on someone who agrees with you?

Because you are being an ass who will not or cannot read the FAQ, Margalis.

That said, why do I feel like I am being attacked? Can someone point out what I, as a liberal dude, have done wrong exactly?

Hmm, it's not getting through for some reason. I'll try putting it in all-caps this time: YOU ARE BEING AN ASS, MARGALIS.

It goes downhill from there. Eventually the perpetually hurt-feelinged Margalis expresses befuddlement at all the hostility:

It just seems silly that it would be so easy to defuse the situation and maybe inform someone and turn them to your point of view, but instead you run them out of town.

That tugged my pity strings, so I explained it to him:

I understand your point, but that goes both ways. For example: It would be so easy for commenters to read the comment instructions atop each comment entry field:

“New to I Blame The Patriarchy? Cast your jaundiced eye upon this before commenting.”

. . .

More importantly, however, it actually would not be “so easy to defuse the situation.” It is actually a lot of work, work I am doing right now, work women do a hugely disproportionate share of in patriarchy, and so maybe you can understand why there must exist some places where we may unburden ourselves of that obligation for a few minutes. This blog is one of those places. It does not exist to persuade or debate. It exists (and again I refer you to the FAQ) “to advance the radical feminist views of Twisty Faster.”

Finally: I don’t think myself that you are a troll, but consider what you’re doing here and see why some blamers might think otherwise. You aren’t discussing the post; you’re defending your pal, and now I’m complicit in thread-drift by responding to you. Mikey, however, is not the topic. I am pretty sure Twisty didn’t write this to generate discussion of how we can all work harder to be nicer to mikey.

Now I will give you two guesses as to what happened next, plus a hint: It's number 2, all right?

1. Margalis read, considered, and replied to what I wrote.

2. Margalis completely ignored what I wrote, replying instead to another commenter in order to repeat the exact same brickheadedly stupid shit he'd tried to lay on me earlier.

Did you guess number 2? If you guessed number 1, can you check something for me?--Are you breathing?

It’s just the age old tale of boy stumbles across website, boy posts without understanding culture, boy gets beat down. Only with added drama.

It seems strange to make an enemy when you can make a friend.

Yes, that's all it is: The age-old tale of boy stumbles (innocently!) across website, boy posts without understanding culture (or reading a single fucking word by anyone eager to explain the culture to him), boy gets beat down (but not nearly enough). It certainly can't be that boy is being a dissembling, arrogant, passive-aggressive jackass, because you just know the real problem is feminist hostility. It seems so strange to make an enemy when you can make a friend.

Anyway, the feminists: What do you suppose could have happened to make them all so bitchy like that? Please tell me, so I can ignore your response and repeat my question another fifty fucking times, like a flambéed Tickle Me Elmo whose circuits aren't melting quite fast enough.




*More or less as we have been, in other words.
**I was tempted to add here, "How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?" I got over it.

34 comments:

Twisty said...

Ha! You're a real peach, you are.

I am in the process of re-writing my FAQ, not because I think twits like Margalis will read it or anything, but to make it easier for me to trot out specific rules prohibiting the various sexist infractions, thus usefully demonstrating to the readers the astonishing dudely predictability with which so many men who comment on feminist blogs react to the revolution.

Anyway, thanks for writing this. I was going to do it myself, but yours, which has the advantage of not being written by me, is actually intelligible.

gennimcmahon said...

The ethers are on today; I was crafting this comment just as Twisty posted hers, so I'll move it here.

I've read TFs FAQs several times. What it took a long time to understand, for myself, was that Twisty is removing a veil from the world and saying, "Look, look at what is happening here. Take a moment and examine this reality and then, seeing it, do you not find explanations for phenomenon previously taken for granted?" Reading the Spinster Aunt is like going on a "Where's Waldo" adventure, where Waldo=Patriarchy and damned if that little fellow ain't EVERYWHERE.

What I believe she isn't doing here is saying, "If you don't see this, agree with it, and join a hairy-legged army of shrill, man-hating storm troopers, you are a tool of the system and unfit to draw breath." Despite the fact that some of her closest followers get a little too zealous in the man-hating while missing the point (Apostle Peter, anyone?), she's simply shining a light into the basement we all avoid and saying, "This is what's down here, friends. You should at least know what the whole shebang is built on." I read her with constant amazement as yet another layer is peeled back and things begin to make sense. That's tied to that concept below that readers don't all need to take it so personally, which would free us from all the sputtering, defensive commentary that dilutes the post and hijacks the thread.

Hoping this makes even a lick of sense as the coffee isn't quite in the veins yet.

Yankee, Transferred said...

Excellent post!

B. Dagger Lee said...

Totally great posts! Intelligent and witty.

And the burning Elmo is the greatest piece of art I've seen in a long while. It's so wonderfully disturbing.

yrs, B. Dagger Lee

Pinko Punko said...

No, disturbing is bashing Elmo with a baseball bat.

Who am I kidding, barbecuing Elmo is also disturbing. It's what one thinks of quite a bit, but to see it in practice, gives one pause at the dark side within.

Anyway, my bad. I wrote TF a song to apologize.

Twisty said...

"I wrote TF a song"

Oh yeah? Does it rawk?

inspiredbycoffee said...

Excellent. Really excellent. Kudos.

ilyka said...

Oh, my! No problem, Twisty, and thank you muchas. If I were more confident that Las Cruces has tacos to compete with Austin's, I would FedEx you some in gratitude.

Lesley said...

I confess I haven't read Twisty's FAQs, but it's obvious to me from the title of the blog what the blog's about. And I have a vagina so maybe that helps.

Some people (women included) see the word "feminist" and instantly think "SHRILL! HYSTERICS!" and no amount of FAQs will change their minds.

Having lived as a young activist feminist in the 70s I can tell you that what we got then: "lighten up!" is the same message we're getting now.

Pinko Punko said...

The song most definitely does not rock. It's in the TF in box.

BubbasNightmare said...

While I might excuse some of the hypersensitivity experienced at IBTP (I have experienced twinges of it myself at times), and even if you neglect to read a blog's FAQ (shame on you!), there is a universally valid rule of culture:

When you're in someone else's backyard, you play by their rules. If you don't like the rules, you can go play somewhere else.

bbrugger said...

The whole 'don't offend your allies' thing gets me.

It's more like "Mighty nice rights movement you got there. Be a shame if anything (insert signifigant pause here, knuckle cracking optional) happened to it, yannow?"

If you're only for my rights as long as I don't make you mad, then you aren't really for my rights, dude.

E.L. Walsh said...

Glad to hear Twisty's re-writing the FAQ, because I can't understand a damn word of it. When I first read it, the only salient point I took was, "I probably shouldn't post there." So I never have.

I liked your explanation to the boyfriend in your last post, Ilyka.

Erin said...

Beautifully done. I've been trying to comment for days, since the Thread That Would Not Die, but only now has Blogger determined that I should be able to actually SEE the visual verification thingy.

Helen said...

It seems so strange to make an enemy when you can make a friend.

Yeah, because I need lazy illiterate jackasses for friends like I need a hole in the head.

Note the narcissistic assumption that his friendship would be of value, as opposed to something sane people would strenuously avoid.

Pinko Punko said...

There are lots of people out there that have some value even if they say some stuff on a certain variety of topics that doesn't fly. ID's heroically relatively even keel flipped some people who at first glance from a particular angle would have led some to believe it was of no use. Not so. It is just too easy to toss people on the bonfire, because it is easier to be angry. I look at it this way- in my online life I have the time and flexibility to try with some people, and even if I bat .150, that's higher than zero. This is why I appreciate ID a lot this last week. She might go to the "fuck you" but she comes back with the "let me try this angle."

ilyka said...

It is just too easy to toss people on the bonfire, because it is easier to be angry. I look at it this way- in my online life I have the time and flexibility to try with some people, and even if I bat .150, that's higher than zero.

Shit hell fire, quit making me love you!

I'd have BEEN one of those people on the bonfire. I probably still oughtta be. That's why I have never liked the "but he/she's a wingnut" argument as justification for being sexist, racist, whatever, because that could have been me in that hot seat. I never felt like a wingnut, never advocated creationism, never got my hate on regarding the same-sex marriage issue, never quit being pro-choice--but I certainly was a wingnut by the popular standards. And I don't want my humanity stripped because I hauled home a truckload of shit thinking it was perfume. That's too frivolous (and ideally, transient) a reason to dehumanize somebody.

Simon said...

I stumbled here by accident, I've not read the FAQ.

Off to now though.

Helen said...

I think I lost the thread of conversation somewhere.

Choosing not to actively make friends with someone, hold their hand, emotionally caretake them, is tossing them on the bonfire?

In that case, each and every one of us has tossed at least six billion people on the bonefire.

I thought we were discussing the rather massive distinction between rejecting an entire person and choosing not to caretake them; perhaps I misunderstood.

Andrew said...

This is my first time delighting in your blog - I just came from I Blame the Patriarchy. Being able to nail down US foreign policy AND annoying liberal dudes in one fell swoop - impressive.

I am sure when I first entered the realm of the Feminist blogosphere that I made plenty of mistakes. But I quickly learned to differentiate between safe spaces and public ones, between places where my input was valid and perhaps necessary and those where it was not. It was an incredibly moving experience learning to shut up and begin really listening.

Now if only more men would follow suit, maybe we could get somewhere.

blondie said...

Aaaahhh! Burning tickle-me-elmo always freaks me out!

Kate said...

I heart you and Twisty. I've tried to address idiots in comment threads nicely, I've tried explaining things I shouldn't have to explain, and often, I've been ignored (most notably at a lot of the male-centric scienceblogs). I like that there's somewhere I don't have to be nice, and I hate the moments when I'm nice anyway.

Anonymous said...

"Margalis completely ignored what I wrote, replying instead to another commenter in order to repeat the exact same brickheadedly stupid shit he'd tried to lay on me earlier."

I did respond to what you wrote in relatively benign fashion - my response was moderated out. That is hardly a fair criticism. Of course you may not be aware of that.

I may not agree with you (although honestly I don't disagree all that much) but I am honest enough to try to respond to direct questions and comments thrown my way.

Unfortunately that was impossible. I didn't ignore what you wrote, I was prevented from responding - hardly the same thing.

Also if I may respond to:

"It's more like "Mighty nice rights movement you got there. Be a shame if anything (insert signifigant pause here, knuckle cracking optional) happened to it, yannow?""

I didn't say this or mean to imply it in any way. (Although the other poster perhaps did) I'm not making some childish threat to withdraw support for a cause - if I believe in something I'll support it. People calling Ann Coulter 'Mann Coulter" or whatever is not "your cause", it's my cause. (Or ours) I'll say it's wrong because it *is* wrong, not because I'm trying to lend patronizing support to the poor gals who need all the help they can get.

If you try talking to me instead of mocking and belittling me you may find I'm a pretty reasonable individual. (Or you may not)

"Note the narcissistic assumption that his friendship would be of value, as opposed to something sane people would strenuously avoid."

Thanks for the kind words. My inclination is to try to be friendly and give people the benefit of the doubt. Friends are generally better than enemies, yes. (No, that isn't a silly threat, just a statement) If you can divine from a selective set of quotations and one-sided analysis that I should be strenuously avoided then more power to you.

All the people here have so quickly made up their minds that I'm a troll, flamer or anti-feminist, at least allow me to *attempt* to change your minds. (As in, don't delete my comments then continue to call me a dumbass)

By the way I'm a big boy, I never asked to be coddled or cared for. Whatever you have I can take without flinching. All I would ask is that if you are going to mercilessly rag on me at least allow me to defend myself politely and maybe convince one or two people that I'm not the devil incarnate.

It was incredibly stupid of me to start with "Can I point out a few things in as non-antagonistic tone as I can?" That was utterly moronic and I fully admit that. Obviously that is an antagonistic tone to take although that wasn't my intent.

Adding a comment to the top of Mikey's post did greatly annoy me. I think the words (dumb as they may be) of a person can stand on their own. If you are going to read this post and decide I'm the dumbest person on earth I'd rather it be because I write like a moron, not because a moderator added a disclaimer saying exactly that to the top of my comments. I've had bad experiences in the past with moderators actually changing the text of people's comments so I'm a bit touchy about that.

When I first read Mikey's post it didn't look to me like he was making some sort of threat. I simply took it as "I generally agree but feel slighted."

Let me point out that I was not slighted by the original post, I did not take any offense to the 'liberal dudes' stuff.

I didn't come in huffing and puffing because I thought all liberal males had been besmirched.

What I saw was a liberal male who *was* huffing and puffing at that. I was hoping the response would be a nice quick "we aren't talking about *all* liberal males", something I already understood.

In retrospect I should have just posted that myself rather than try to cajole someone else into saying it.

So there you have it. The idiot man-child talks back. Feel free to continue your gleeful bashing, or if you want to actually say something to me I'll reply politely.

Anonymous said...

After doing a little homework, allow me to add a bit more to the post above. (Which you should read first)

First, I did not come from S,N, which I had never read until 2 hours ago.

I did not realize that S,N and the feminist bloggosphere have some sort ongoing death-match turning every thread into a discussion of fat people and who is more right when they each make stupid generalizations about others.

I had the bad luck to wander in in the middle of this epic clusterfuck. (That is not to say my grand entrance was not moronic)

I think I came here (or Twistys rather) through a link on Salon and followed it because I agreed with the general sentiment. (And still do)

Had I known the Hatfields and McCoys were locked in the mortal combat of manufactured internet drama fucktardary I would have stayed the hell away.

Jesus Christ it makes me feel a little silly that I've taken this so seriously, tried to explain myself, worried if I had alienated anyone I fundamentally agreed with - in the midst of a moronic brawl between sanctimonious hypocrites on all sides. "Oh no what have I done? What do all these upstanding thoughtful people think of me now??"

LOL. Fuck "TEH DRAMA!!11" and fuck me for stupidly thinking this shit is serious. (Hey, who would win in a fight, Superman or the Death Star?????)

I meant everything I said in my previous post, but I no longer care if I am excoriated or not. Please excoriate me further if you so wish, I'll find it amusing. You can think whatever you want of me, I'll fight for what I believe is right just like I always have.

I no doubt conducted myself like a drooling idiot, but now I see I am in good company. So rather than heap blame on myself for being the dumbest man in America I'll just consider myself par for the course.

This trivial bullshit is a waste of time. I thought that by trying to communicate with you we could reach some agreement and fight for the rights of the oppressed together like rational caring people, or some silly shit like that - not put on our clown shoes and trudge into a prolonged pie fight. You know, working together to affect positive change?

For fuck's sake I've barely slept in two nights, being eaten by guilt, thinking about how to make this right.

Rather than fight with you and waste time thinking up reasons to hate you, or alternately further attempt rational communication, I'll just go on my merry way. You'll always have an 'ally' in me whether either of us likes it or not.

Crabs in a bucket. Christ almighty.

Margalis

ilyka said...

Margalis, are you the anonymous person who asked me specifically to respond to this but, like, from another thread? Because I would say then that you really ARE an ass, but on the other hand, I promised to get to it and after all, you did put so much work into it.

SO MUCH work into it.

Which is the problem I am having with it just now: It is 7:49 in the ay-em and I would like to sleep, you know, the way I haven't done all night. Lemme look at it when my eyes are rested, okay?

I do see, just glancing at it, that where I thought you hadn't replied you were actually stuck in the spamulator (which was probably not an accident). So I apologize for insinuating you were just ignoring me.

Anonymous said...

Yes that would be me. Take your time, I'm in no hurry.

I do feel like a bit of an ass posting off-topic in another thread to get your attention but what is my alternative?

ilyka said...

Adding a comment to the top of Mikey's post did greatly annoy me. I think the words (dumb as they may be) of a person can stand on their own. If you are going to read this post and decide I'm the dumbest person on earth I'd rather it be because I write like a moron, not because a moderator added a disclaimer saying exactly that to the top of my comments.

I sympathize. Here's the thing: Every blog has its shtick, its routine, its culture. At IBTP, the whole comenters-should-strive-for-excellence part of the FAQ is a huge part of the culture.

You might notice here I abuse the ellipsis all the TIME, but I ain't gonna do that at Twisty's.

Or to flip that around: At Sadly, No! it's perfectly okay to alter your username to goof on somebody like Althouse, and the culture there is that no comments get modded or deleted, no matter how stupid, which is how you get guys like Mario and Shoelimpy hanging out. But I wouldn't complain about any of that because that's the culture. If I don't like it, I don't have to post there.

I hesitate to even type this because I don't want to get him flagellating himself again (or writing more songs that don't rawk), but this really all goes back to PP trying to get some dialogue going between blogs that don't share much culturally, socially, or even really politically: It was kinda doomed from the start. But that isn't your fault, obviously.

I didn't come in huffing and puffing because I thought all liberal males had been besmirched.

What I saw was a liberal male who *was* huffing and puffing at that. I was hoping the response would be a nice quick "we aren't talking about *all* liberal males", something I already understood.

In retrospect I should have just posted that myself rather than try to cajole someone else into saying it.


Right. I tend to stick up for friends myself, especially if I think they are being piled on over a simple misunderstanding.

Well, as I said, the culture clash was inevitable. And, in hindsight, kind of hilarious.

No hard feelings.

Anonymous said...

Fair enough. Although I would appreciate at least a slight retraction of the parts of your post flogging me that are simply not true.

You can continue to call me an idiot etc (although I would obviously prefer otherwise) but a small "I excoriated this guy for not responding when his comments were moderated out" would be nice.

I certainly will admit publically that much of this is my fault for being a dumbass.

the bewilderness said...

Rather than fight with you and waste time thinking up reasons to hate you, or alternately further attempt rational communication, I'll just go on my merry way. You'll always have an 'ally' in me whether either of us likes it or not.
So you say, but then...suddenly... it's all about taking back that one thing you said about me... oh, and maybe that other thing...
Listen, please, we all make these kinds of mistakes on the intertoobz when we forget there are real people with ideas and experiences very different from ours perfectly capable of pointing out our foolishness for all to see. These intertubes comments are very like blurting thoughtless remarks. Once or twice is usually enough to teach us better manners.

E.L. Walsh said...

the bewilderness, Margolis isn't asking too much if he wants Ilyka to retract the part about him not responding. That's a question of fact, not of perception.

I would guess Ilyka's willing to do it, too, if she only has the time.

the bewilderness said...

e.l.
My remark was in reference to the distress he is suffering from an inability to put it behind him and go on his merry way. It had to do with what he said he was suffering in another thread.

E.L. Walsh said...

My apologies, tb. I've come late to this whole froofrah.

Alarming Female said...

It was incredibly stupid of me to start with "Can I point out a few things in as non-antagonistic tone as I can?" That was utterly moronic and I fully admit that. Obviously that is an antagonistic tone to take although that wasn't my intent.

Okay, you gotta admit, that admission was a little bit endearing.

Margalis said...

Ha ha look I can admit when I'm being a complete moron.

Anytime someone starts off with a phrase like that it means they are going to be antagonistic. I know that.

My tone online is really abrasive in general, even when I don't mean it to be. Too much debate club in HS or something.