As of 12/23/2010: Disabled comments on all regular posts. Comments still allowed on the lists pages, the rape FAQ, and the page where you can leave technical problems. Comments left on those pages must be on-topic or they will be deleted. Leaving a comment you actually wanted to leave on another post, but can’t because its comments are closed, is not on-topic. Do this twice, and I’ll ban you.
This blog is:
- Fat accepting
You do not have to identify as all these things to comment here. You do not have to agree with all of these things to comment here. But if you want your comment to show up, you have to respect these things. Respect requires, as a pre-requisite, more than a passing familiarity with these concepts, and that passing familiarity needs to come from your effort alone. This is not a 101 space, and we are not here to educate you. We may choose to do so, if you appear to be making an effort of your own volition.
Here’s how to do it:
I guess I didn’t see that as racist, so maybe I’m missing something here. I’ve been reading what other blogs are saying about this, and as I understand it, the problem is X. Where I grew up, we always believed Y, so I’m having trouble wrapping my head around this worldview. Would somebody be willing to explain this to me? Does anybody else have this experience?
Here’s how not to do it:
Oh my god, I can’t believe you’re calling that racist! I can’t even see that. Don’t you realize Y? Seriously, people, you need to get a grip. Can even one of you explain this to me in a way that doesn’t even bring up X?
To comment on this site, you need to either have a firm grasp of the concept of privilege, or you need to be willing to graciously accept criticism when it’s pointed out that you are exhibiting privilege.
You only get to talk about yourself here. You don’t get to make generalizations about other people. There are reasons for every generalization creeping around your head, but those reasons can’t be discussed if you assume that your perception is the objective truth. In my opinion, it’s far easier to accept somebody’s beliefs, and connect with them, if you understand where they’re coming from. Speaking from your own experience also keeps opinions from becoming overzealous Laws of Life Forever and Ever. You can go on having new experiences until the day you die; a generalization is closed to new facts and experiences, and cannot ever change.
Here’s how you do this:
Person 1: I guess in my experience the women I know have always said they appreciate getting complimented on the street. The women I compliment always seem to enjoy it. Is there something wrong with wanting to tell a woman she looks pretty? I’ve been burned while trying to be perfectly nice before, and I just don’t get it; just because some other guy is a jerk doesn’t mean I am.
Person 2: How can you tell that they seem to enjoy it? I am often told by men that I obviously love their company when I’m sending off every possible signal that I want them to leave me alone. You say women always seem to enjoy it, and then say you’ve been burned. It sounds like you found some women who didn’t enjoy it, but didn’t include them in your “always”?
Person 3: Have you ever asked a woman you know if she enjoys it? You may have heard a few women volunteer particularly nice experiences they’ve had, but have you ever asked them if they’ve had bad experiences? You might be using the wrong words to phrase your question, and are just getting the answers you want to hear. Maybe instead of asking them about the compliments they’ve received, try asking them about the harassment.
Person 4: Have you ever complimented a woman when any male is standing near her? Probably not. This is an experience women have that men don’t know about. You don’t know how often a woman is “complimented,” or how invasively, because she’ll never be harassed when you’re around. My boyfriend was surprised and horrified to learn about how many men harass me on a daily basis, and the things they say. Because he’s a nice guy who only gives nice “compliments,” he assumed that was what women experienced.
Person 1: Those are all good questions. I asked my sister if she ever gets compliments on the street, and she said yes, sometimes, and that they were pleasant. Then I asked her if she ever gets harassed, and she told me it happens every day. I can’t believe the stories she was telling me. Do that many men really demand that women smile? I’m so upset that my sister has to put up with this.
Here’s how not to do this:
How else am I supposed to meet women, if I’m never allowed to talk to them? I’m a nice guy, and I’m sick of women treating me like I’m a creep. Calm down, ladies! I know there are some jerks out there, but that’s just human nature. Get over it, and accept the compliment. Though I guess if you’ve got trust issues that deep, I don’t really want to be talking to you anyway, because I’m so done with girls with daddy issues. And seriously, why would women put on make-up and dress nicely if they don’t want to be told they look nice?
For those of you familiar with them, I try to run the comment space here like a 12-step meeting. No cross-talk (unsolicited advice), tons of I-statements, no value judgments. Even if you say something I completely agree with, but you break these three rules while doing it, I will delete your comment. An example of this:
Person 1: I just don’t understand how anti-choicers can really think they’re helping women. Can’t they see the damage they’re causing? My mother is anti-choice, and it just breaks my heart. I don’t know how to talk to her, and I know she hates me for having gotten an abortion. I was raped, and it was the right decision… but I really wanted her support.
Person 2: You need to stop talking to your mother right away (cross-talk). She’s fucked-up and evil to do that to her own daughter. (value judgment) You must still carry around a lot of self-hate to expose yourself to that (cross-talk and you-statement). Anti-choicers don’t believe they’re helping women; they’re worthless, hateful people (value judgment). They should all get raped and see how they like it (what is this i don’t even).
If your comment was deleted and you want to know why, I am probably not going to tell you. I’m busy and this is not a 101 space. If your comments keep getting deleted and you keep sending them, you have probably been banned. I usually won’t notify you of this. If I don’t want to talk to you, then I don’t want to talk to you — and that includes explaining why I don’t want to talk to you. You’re not owed an explanation in a space you do not own. Come to your own conclusions — I am not your answer box.
When you are banned, all your comments go to the spam filter. I know some of you continue to write epic letters to the internet, assuming I am reading them, and assuming that you have just not yet uttered the secret words to unlock my heart. In fact, you are lost in a whirling ocean of “PENIS PUMP PILLS REACH HER THROBBING CLIT WITH YOUR ENORMOUS.” When you are banned, I no longer know you exist, so it is time to move on.
I rule the comment threads with an iron fist. I can’t be argued or reasoned with. This is my space, my rules. If you argue with me about this — whining that you are different and special and my rules are stupid and illogical — you are effectively arguing with me about how much you hate my club and how much you want to be a member. These are mutually exclusive. You are going to have to choose one. If you want in my club, it’s because my club is awesome, and it is awesome because of the rules I have made for it. If you hate my club, why the fuck do you want to join it?
Most of the people here only need the rules explained to them once. If you are unable to comprehend the basic nature of “don’t be an asshole” this is probably not the place for you.
Below are various other explanations I’ve made of the comments policy over time.
This is a personal blog. It’s in the public sphere, which means anybody can read it. But since it is my personal blog, and I am Lord God King of it, nobody has the right to publicly comment. But because I am interested in hearing other people’s opinions/stories/ideas, 99% of comments go through.
Every now and again, I write a blog post about rape, with the general theme that rape is bad. These posts sometimes resonate with a lot of people — because a lot of people have been raped, or know somebody who has, or know a rapist — and then my blog gets popular for a week. 99% of the comments are good stuff. 1% are “Counterpoint: Rape good? Subpoint: Rape you!” and/or “Rape fantasy? LET ME SHOW YOU IT.” That shit doesn’t go through.
I don’t have an overarching blog comment policy. I only let through what I feel comfortable letting through, so if you make me personally uncomfortable, you get the boot. I don’t always respond to what I let through, which is nothing personal, I just think some stuff stands on its own without my chiming in.
The 1% of what I don’t let through is usually going to be trolls. But every now and again, I will get a comment that may be a troll, or may be somebody who is at the very very beginning of a long journey of realizing that women are human beings with civil rights, and is just beginning to question concepts like “Rape, good?” I don’t consider it my job to educate or help those people, because adults are capable of (and responsible for) educating themselves.
But because 99% of my blog comments on the popular days are from people who have experienced rape and are trying to make sense of it, I want this to remain a safe space for them. That means a commenter who is honestly beginning the journey of undoing their sexism and racism, but is so early in their journey that they are still pondering things such as: “Is it really rape if she didn’t scream?” or “Does racism really exist anymore?”, isn’t going to get their comment approved. Those aren’t questions to be asking victims — victims have no special hold on the knowledge needed to understand racism and sexism (it’s really out there for the observing/taking), and no special responsibility to dispense it to others. Those are questions to ask yourself, perhaps with the aid of shutting up a lot, and listening.
I don’t want this to be a space where victims have to hear the same old shit they hear everywhere else, and have to defend themselves against, or explain. I do want this to be a space where survivors, if they choose, can share their stories, and sometimes teach me a new thing or two.
But above all, this is a personal blog. So sometimes my posts are just going to be about how much I love the Fensler GI JOE PSAs, and if you hate them, your comment is so getting the boot.
More Self-Referential Blathering, Brought About By a Sudden and Nerve-Wracking Spike in Popularity
Up until about two weeks ago, I was lucky to get thirty hits a day. Oh, you know, sometimes I’d be all, “But aren’t I way, way cooler than 30 hits a day?” But most of the time, my unknown little corner of the internet was just the way I wanted it. I started this blog because I wanted a place to write, and anything else that came with that – readership, comments, emails, trolls – was just bonus bullshit to slog through. Not that positive readership and comments and emails are intolerable things, but I decided early on that if I were to let myself interact with and suck up the good, I would be extra vulnerable to the bad. I wanted my blog to stay as personal as I could make it, as All About Me as I could make it, writing posts that amused me and no one else, interacting with the imaginary people of the internet only when it served my personal whims, and never having to consider an audience.
Now that people are reading (hi, people, you are making me nervous, no offense, it’s me, not you), I’m constantly fighting the urge to set down Rules and Structure to Let Everybody Know my internal thoughts about how this blog should work. I feel like that’s the death knell of a personal blog, and that’s really all I want this blog to be.
I’ve been trying to think of a non-geek-related way to explain this, but I’m failing, so okay, let’s do this. I like to role-play. Like, D&D. And there is this whole esoteric world of role-playing game theory out there (yes, really). I’d say about 80% of RPG game theory is based not in the structure needed to create an interesting, innovative, and flexible experience (because that is not actually what role-playing is about, dontchaknow), but instead in the intensely constrictive structure needed to keep assholes from being assholes. Because there is an assumption (not unrealistic) that you are going to be playing with a bunch of slobbering stinkfreaks, and will therefore need an impartial and authoritative third party to refer to when shutting down the stinkfest (TEH RULE BOOK SEZ TO WASH YER BUTT GUYS ALSO PLEASE STOP ROLLING UP SEXUAL ENCOUNTERS WITH MY TABLE). Because, naturally, slobbering stinkfreaks got that way because they don’t respond appropriately to social boundaries and conversation, so simply and assertively telling them that you, personally, would like it if they washed their butt and stopped humping your table has no effect. If they could respond to that sort of direct behavior modification, they wouldn’t be slobbering stinkbutts tablefucks in the first place.
So there’s this whole body of work that is all based entirely upon the premise that you will be surrounded by people who are intolerable and offensive and need to create a way to have fun with them anyway. Basically, game theory is a resource-intensive middleman that assumes you will never have the tenacity or brilliant idea to refuse to play with stinkfreaks in the first place.
This applies to a lot more than RPG game theory, obviously. I know, in the past, I have come up with elaborate theories on what my moral understanding of certain issues are, and things you “just don’t do,” and ways that are and aren’t appropriate to react, and a whole distinct body of Ms. Mannerisms that are all based on the assumption that I can’t just tell shitbuckets to get out of my sphere, and enact a sphere-removal policy when they don’t. In fact, I can do this, at least to some extent, in every situation in my life. And that also applies to my blog.
So, this is my problem with Rules and Structure. I have a commenting policy that is enormously vague right now, and even within that vague policy, I have frequently run up against weirdness that makes me want to enact policy subpoints. Such as: Don’t post shit that creeps me out, subpoint A: also don’t post shit that isn’t exactly creepy but is kind of patently dumb even if it’s not really offensive in any given way and subpoint B: I don’t appreciate your spelling or paragraph breaks, fucknugget. It could go on forever, until my blog just becomes a self-referential navel upon which I demand you imperiously gaze.
What all this means is, well, I’m not sure what I meant to say originally, to be honest, because I got more interested in new swear words halfway through. Which is, actually, kind of the point. This is still my personal blog, which means it exists primarily for my own amusement at the word shitbucket. Despite all the new readership, I still plan to pretend all of you are imaginary. Because anything else will require me considering a multitude of factors when doing my thang, and that is odious to me. A lot of you imaginary people seem good-natured and fun, but I probably still won’t be chatting with you much, not because you have failed to capture my attention, but because I like it best when comments stand on their own, even and especially when they are comments that are asking a question. I love it when a direct statement, like “I’d like your opinion on this issue,” turns into an echoing statement of self-doubt when it hangs unanswered in the ether, the unstated response becoming an introspective “Why do I want other people’s opinions?”
So if I don’t approve your comment, and you email me to ask why, I’m going to leave that email sitting there, repeating its question rhetorically in the darkness, until you supply your own answer, because I am not the answer bucket, dude.
And if I refrain from posting for weeks because I am really really into re-reading The Vampire Diaries right now, and I don’t respond to your email asking when I might post again, it’s because you have not engaged my interests (could Elena ever really love Damon?), so I’ve got no need to engage yours (what can we diagnose about rape culture and masculinism based in the aggressive violence of Damon and the seemingly benign possessiveness of Stefan, both of which inevitably lead to the death of women?)
And if I write something like this, which is trying way too hard to be clever, it means I’m disappointing myself and might disappear for another while until I feel less fucking pretentious on my blog that is supposed to be fun.