He came home from the store this afternoon and asked, "So, what's new with the thread that never ends?"
"Oh, that's dead finally," I told him. "Turns out all I hadda do to kill it was talk about the topic in great wonky and laborious detail. I wish I'd realized that 600 comments ago."
"I thought the topic was how mean you all are."
"That's what they say . . . hey, there has been one new development: Pinko Punko dropped a link to I Blame the Patriarchy at Sadly, No!"
"Oh dear God."
"Pretty much, man, pretty much."
So later I had him read the thread at Twisty's, and he said, "I have a question."
"Okay . . . I get that there's a culture on feminist blogs, and you read them all the time, you understand that culture, most of the time I'm even okay with it, but then sometimes . . . do you guys not realize how you sound?"
"I mean, if someone who'd never really read Feministe just went over and all they read was that post of piny's--well, no, not so much that post, or even Feministe necessarily, but like, I can see how some of these guys get the idea that you all hate men. Because you're talking to the regulars, and the regulars know you don't hate men, but some new guy reading some of this stuff, he's going to be all, wait, what did I do? I didn't rape anybody, I never beat up a transsexual--"
"No, I get that," I interrupted him. "That's a lot like--like, I used to have the same reaction reading blogs by people of color. I'd see something like 'white people sure suck sometimes,' and I'd be all, 'Hey! Wait! Not all of us! Not me!' Even though I probably do suck as a white person sometimes--but I mean, I'd take it too personally."
"It's hard not to take it personally."
"It's not as hard if you move yourself out of the center of everything, though. That's what I finally got through my thick skull. It's not ABOUT me, always. And even if it is about me, so what? I'm not perfect. Why shouldn't I have to take some shit once in awhile? Heaven knows I dish enough out in a day. Would it kill me to get an attitude adjustment? Would it kill me to listen to someone unlike me for five minutes?"
"But if you aren't the problem," he argued, "It sucks to be treated like you're the problem. It's like being accused of something you didn't do."
"If I'm not the problem," I explained, "then why should I get invested in identifying with the problem? If the problem is some particular batch of white people, doing or saying shit I'd never in a million years do myself, why should I feel the need to put myself in their shoes? Just because they're white and I'm white? That's stupid. Like all the idiot white dudes who identify with the Duke lacrosse players--they don't even comprehend that unless they're just as wealthy and elite, which you know 95% of them aren't, the fucking lacrosse players would SPIT on them. They're ID-ing with the players, but I guarantee you the players aren't ID-ing with them."
"A lot of the guys written about on feminist blogs do things I would never do."
"Then don't identify with them. It's not about you! You stand to pee, they stand to pee, beyond that, what's the commonality?"
"That's why the argument you guys make that I like the best is that patriarchy screws men too."
"Well, it does," I agreed with him, "but I think why you like that argument so much is because then it's about you again. All's right with the universe. Man the sun, woman the earth."
"No, I've figured out that you guys don't like that, and I'm trying not to do that, I swear, but the way you express things sometimes, isn't it just making it easier for men to get defensive?"
"No," I said firmly, "What we aren't doing is taking care of them. Nurturing them. Putting their feelings first. Looking out for them, making things safe for them. We aren't making them the center. We're talking just the way we'd talk, the way we do talk, when y'all aren't around."
"And you know sometimes that gets ugly," I continued, "but the thing to do then is to remember: Everything else IS centered around y'all. Everything else--you guys got the talk radio to take care of you, the ESPN, the CNN, the New York Times, the advertising industry--you can't bask in all that adoration day in and day out and then pitch a fit because a handful of blogs on the internet don't recognize your awesomeness. Or I mean, you can pitch a fit, go right ahead, but it's not going to end with me bringing you your binky and kissing your forehead. It's going to end with my foot in your ass."
"But for a new guy--"
"For a new guy the best policy is to lurk, read, get a feel for the place, and just keep chanting: 'It's not about me. It's not about me. It is not about me.' Twisty even has an FAQ to help people out, but does anyone ever read it? Not the guys. They figure they already know everything important and no spinster aunt is going to tell THEM."
"I don't think I Blame the Patriarchy is where they should start out."
"Word. It says 'for advanced blamers only' on it for a reason. Twisty has the S.C.U.M. manifesto posted there, for crying out loud. I don't know what Pinko was thinking."
"You should have a beginner's blog."
"Periodically someone says as much, but that's a lot of work and boring to slog through if you already have some idea. I used to think a feminism 101 blog would be great, but anymore I'm like, 'No, you can take your ass to the library. Or take a women's studies class.' But you say that last one, it's like you suggested the dude go castrate himself."
"That's what I think I figured out--I shouldn't expect one of you to walk me through everything."
"Right. You don't get a tour guide. That costs extra."
"So now you know: This is why I mostly read sports blogs. I'm lazy, and I have enough homework as it is."
"To be honest with you," I confessed to him, "There are days I think sports blogs might be the way to go myself."