Nov 10 2009

Supercilious punctilio of the week


As has been well documented, I have exhibited gallantry and forbearance on this painful subject for years, but dammitjim I can be silent no longer! I Blame the Patriarchy is now officially a “teh menz”-free zone. By which I mean, the bizarre and cringe-u-lational phrase “teh menz” will no longer be admitted into blaming discourse. The only reason I haven’t mentioned it until now — besides the aforementioned gallantry and forbearance — is my reluctance to endure the burning spasms that shoot through my fingers when I type the words.

I am not sure what concatenation of disquieting circumstances originally produced this “teh menz” phenomenon. Neither am I certain what tone the phrase is meant to strike, or why so many otherwise right-thinking people feel compelled to use it. However, I think we can all agree that its day, if it ever really had one, has come and gone, and anyway it really warps my autoharp, so it’s gotta go. Echoing the views of dictatorial and overbearing spinster aunts everywhere, I’d like to ban “teh menz” from the Internet altogether, along with the word “snarky,” horse breeder websites with that scripty font and rainbows on’em, and remarks beginning with “um.” Unfortunately, I am forced to settle for discrediting it here on this lonesome, unpopular blog.

Ditto “wimminz,” “baybeez,” “widdle baybeez,” and any other plural noun that is intentionally misspelled with a “z” within a blaming context. I regret to say that, whatever literary effect the author intends with this stylized illiteracy/baby talk, the result is merely unseemly, and it stinks the joint up.

Come for the pedantry, stay for the snobbery.


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  1. slythwolf

    Damn, for a minute there I thought you were actually kicking out all the men.

  2. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    You remind me most fondly of my English teacher from junior year. Her name was Miss Lucas. She too was a spinster aunt, and an inspiration to all of us.

    She taught me how to read literature with a critical eye and how to write a proper essay. For these things I bless her name forever. Her methods included a hearty soupcon of high expectations and just a wee smidge of intimidation.

  3. sam

    Me too, slythwolf.

  4. Skiramen

    While on a roll, please also ban: “at the end of the day,” and “that said,…”

  5. Fabulous Monster

    Huzzah! Let the discourse heighten!

  6. thebewilderness

    The purpose and origin of this phrase, which is now banned, was to avoid the heart palpitations suffered by women who have a nigel, whenever men are generalized about.

  7. BMS

    Come for the pedantry, stay for the snobbery.

    How refreshing with my morning coffee. I so enjoy pithiness.

  8. delphyne

    That form of slang originally came from 4 c h a n, the people who attacked feminists blogs and forums a couple of years back, so it is odd seeing feminists using it. Guess a lot of people don’t know the connection.

    When I read the first few lines of your post though, I thought you were banning men full stop from commenting this blog. My heart did lift a little at the thought. Nothing like some female separatism to really allow the feminism to flow.

  9. Val

    Great…I’ve never been cool enough to use all the latest slang correctly – I’m primitive enough w/my little winky’s & smiley’s ;-)

  10. Orange

    I’m not a separatist, but I am a pedant so I say yay.

    I suppose “Oh noes!” is verboten too?

    You can have my “ZOMG!” when you pry it from my cold, dead, snarky hands, though. I like the inherent “zounds” I attribute to “ZOMG” in my mind’s ear.

  11. Pulsar


  12. dillene


  13. Aunty Christ

    You’re my hero, Jill. This is, if not a great move forward, at least a preventative measure against several dark steps backward.

  14. PhysioProf

    Come for the pedantry, stay for the snobbery.

    Snobdantry! LOLZ!

  15. magriff

    Um, that’s so snarky, Jill.

  16. ladiesbane

    Orange, I always thought it was “zut”, but “zounds” is a goodie. (Is there a cognate in the house? Probably not, unfort.)

  17. Felicity

    The next natural logical step is surely banning the men? Unless they’re a fixture on the site it’s the same old same old. Only from this site! Men suck at commenting on feminist blogs generally. If I have to direct someone to feminism 101 once more my thingy lobe will blow.

  18. Other Liz

    What is the insect dancing for joy in the photo, amid a tiny little fountain’s spray?

    And how did you get the photo?

    What a delight!

    I paritcularly appreciate its bug-eyed expression.

  19. False Light

    The perennial virulence and mean-spiritedness of this blog’s author and her fevered admirers never ceases to amaze. It’s really quite astounding.

  20. gertrude

    teh menz, zeh blame ze widdle anti-patriarchy. The more I try to write like this, the more I feel polish. um, slavic. lol, I feel bloggish. btw, you’re absolutely right.

  21. Hedgepig

    I assumed it was a supercilious punctilio.

  22. goblinbee

    Praise be. Can we also pitch “just sayin'”?

  23. Citizen Jane

    Jill, do these things like ellipses and intentional misspellings to denote sarcasm and so forth really annoy you so much, or is it just your stylistic hyperbole? There’s one thing in particular that has been eating away at me ever since I discovered this blog ages ago: Isn’t there some classism tied in with the expectation of correct grammar and spelling? Not everyone has the privilege of a good education and it seems like that particular rule will keep such unprivileged folks out of the discussion. Not to mention, English isn’t the mother tongue for all of us commenters.

    It’s scary disagreeing with someone who has so much wit and is not afraid to use it to show people how wrong they are, but here goes.

  24. Kelly

    Can we also pitch “just sayin’”?

    I second this. And how about ‘puleez’ or :eyeroll: or the dreaded combination of the two?

  25. Pulsar

    Citizen Jane: I agree with you that enforcing grammar is classist, but with regards to the Blamer Terms of Use Agreement, I thought it only applied to those whose mother tongue is English.

  26. Pulsar

    (Which is not to say that this makes it non-classist, I just wanted to respond to the foreign speaker bit.)

  27. agasaya

    Citizen Jane,

    Not attempting to speak for Jill here, but this blog appears to hold input from people of all levels of education and expressive styles. The difference seems to be that a lot of us actually work harder to express ourselves accurately on this blog than we might do in other internet spaces. Jill is easy on me and the extra effort it takes for me to write grammatically without an editor – mild aphasia here from chemically induced brain injury. Yet, the extra effort I take also helps me to clarify concepts and positions for myself in place of writing stereotyped or knee-jerk reactions on threads. Often that’s enough for me and I don’t even post what I write after the dreary effort of self-editing ends. It’s still been worthwhile.

    There is an advantage to taking the extra time and effort because feminists must strive to become good communicators. Words are the basic tools of our revolution. Self- directed study is quite possible with the wealth of resources on the internet. When the communication is successful, errors based in educational or dialectal diversity don’t appear as glaring and objections to that doesn’t seem to be forthcoming here.

    Perhaps I haven’t been around very long but I have yet to see Jill cut someone off at the knees for being poorer at relating a concept. Mostly, it seems to occur when cuteness is the goal at the expense of content (cuteness not being on a par with humor). Just a view from a former speech/language pathologist who sees the issue from both ends of the spectrum.

    Yes, this has been rather too anecdotal for a post here!

  28. Kelly

    Sigh. You know, my kids and their friends have to deal with this type of lowered expectations nonsense daily. I think that it’s more classist to assume that underprivileged, non-native speakers cannot write a coherent sentence than Jill’s request and expectation that we do.

  29. Laughingrat

    Wait, didn’t Jill start saying “teh menz” around here? Wasn’t there a “What about teh menz” section of the FAQ?

    On a serious note, being able to communicate skillfully is pretty important. Not everyone’s going to be good at it no matter how hard they try, of course. But it is important. Which leads me to wonder: is adopting netspeak and other silly speech patterns a new kind of upspeaking? Netspeak is certainly prevalent all over the web, not just in feminist blogs, but I can’t help but wonder whether some writers feel that a radical message is easier to put out there if it’s wrapped up in silly language. I don’t have enough data or linguistic chops to come up with an answer, but I’m curious.

  30. Kate Dino

    So what you’re saying is that we can’t haz cheezburger?

  31. simone

    No no, all. Because that might rule out the banner, and that wouldn’t do.

  32. Entomologista

    That is a fine specimen of Ichneumonidae.

  33. Squiggy

    I’m low class and I sure appreciate the chance to learn to write well.

  34. Ayla

    “The purpose and origin of this phrase, which is now banned, was to avoid the heart palpitations suffered by women who have a nigel, whenever men are generalized about.”

    Really? I first saw it used in the context of “What about teh menz?” and I always assumed it was poking fun at the constant “What about men, they suffer from ______, too!” comments which inundate feminist forums/blogs. The silliness of the phrase seemed to be poking fun at these, usually transparently antifeminist and concern trolling, commenters. Taking the “teh menz” part off and applying it to other things seems like a pretty natural progression of that.

    I get what you’re saying though, and I think I’m going to start looking for instances of it being used that way.

  35. Heather

    Long time reader, first time commenter, popping out of the woodwork to voice my approval of the phrase “warps my autoharp.”

  36. Vinaigrette Girl

    False Light, as in “generates more heat than light”? What diagnostic tools are used in producing this analysis of virulence or fever?

    If the blog owner prefers to avoid editing out, or even seeing, what some call “Teh Language of teh Intertubez” that’s her decision and like that of any valid referee, it’s final. Nobody forces you to visit the site, but as in visiting someone’s home, if you visit, you respect the rules of the host, and if you can’t, you leave.

  37. PandanCat

    Curses. Must find a new way to mock things in plain text.

  38. DaisyDeadhead

    goblinbee, NOOOO! I was just sayin before ANYONE else.

    Such foofaraw! Such scintillating standards! (And where else could I use my two favorite words in a paragraph?)

  39. yttik

    “The perennial virulence…”

    One could wish nothing better on this blog. Perennial is “lasting or active through the year or through many years.” Virulence is “infectiousness.”

    So may this blog last many years and the concepts expressed here spread like wildfire.

  40. Comrade PhysioProf

    The perennial virulence and mean-spiritedness of this blog’s author and her fevered admirers never ceases to amaze. It’s really quite astounding.


  41. Noble Savage

    While we’re at it, I’d like to see the whole ‘Win/Fail’ phenomenon meet a sudden death as well, particularly when the words “full of” precede them.

  42. Jill

    Pulsar: “Citizen Jane: I agree with you that enforcing grammar is classist, but with regards to the Blamer Terms of Use Agreement, I thought it only applied to those whose mother tongue is English.”

    Banning “teh menz” (ow!) is not “enforcing grammar,” it is rejecting gratuitous insipidity. If I were actually to enforce grammar laws, I would have to delete, for example, your comment.

    Grammar, since you bring it up, is merely a set of conventions that facilitate precision and clarity in written English. It’s a particular hobby of mine, and I see nothing wrong with urging writers of English to tighten their shit up, since you really can’t have too much precision and clarity. There’s enough crappy writing on the Internet. As much as it pains me, though, I overlook errors in comments all the time, whenever the ideas expressed are intelligible and exhibit philosophic value. I certainly don’t look down on people whose lack of expertise prevents them from expressing their ideas clearly, but I see no point in admitting incoherent writing into discussion merely for the sake of democratic principle.

  43. Lucija

    Fuck this. I’ve been in denial about this for way too long, because this blog has been one of the only places in my life where I can find like-minded people, and feel at home. Feministe, and especially Feministing, never cut it for me. But I can’t find it in myself to do it anymore. You’re an obnoxious stickler, a control freak, a classist and an ageist. And a stuck up and pretentious one at that.

    It’s interesting how on this blog ellipses are more of an offense than “cuntalina” is. Goodbye, Twisty. Or Jill, whatever. You can shove your pedantry (a newly acquired word for you, innit?) and your snobbery up your sphincter…

    You can of course not let this comment through, or delete it or whatever because the style is lacking, or the semantics are incorrect, the commas are badly placed or whatever other reason takes your fancy. But fuck does it feel satisfying to finally be able to comment on your blog without feeling the need to double-check everything in Merriam-Webster after all these years. And I simply relish the beauty and joy of the ellipsis!

    But who knows what irks the Great Spinster Aunt…every post is a surprise! I’m just interested in what’s next to go… Contractions? Phrasal verbs? Abbreviations? Acronyms?
    Or maybe legitimate linking words and phrases as some fools here have already been suggesting? (Which, btw…you people would ban “that said…”? Are you fucking serious?!?)

    Just tell me, Jill, who IS allowed into this totalitarian circle of yours? Do you also exclude people from your revolution on the basis of how they dress, which accent they use, what genre of music the listen to? Hey you, in the Hawaiian shirt! No revolution for you! And all you R’n’B fans,too! Scram! (Apologies in advance if “scram” is actually not on your allowed words list!) So, judging, excluding and discriminating aginst those you don’t like, those different than you?
    Now, what totalitarian and anti-feminist regime does this remind me of? Well, numerous, actually. Actually, scratch that, I might settle just on “patriarchy”. Yes, that’s it, it reminds of the Patriarchy.
    I, personally, would love to see all sorts of different stuff like techno music, the recently returned Hammer pants and unnecessary, showy and pretentious use of Latin go. But I’d be absolutely livid if someone tried fucking banning them. Because there should, after all, exist such a thing as liberty. Once, I would’ve been sure that feminists would agree on such a simple statement like this. This post, and all but one of the comments on it, really are great, if somewhat painful eye-openers.

    Val, I’m sure you’ll be delighted to know that Twisty/Jill outlawed smileys too, eons ago.
    Or should it be aeons, Twisty? Or maybe you don’t like my usage of the word in this context, is it not literal enough, or maybe witty enough for you? We poor readers have, after all, had to learn to go about this commenting business with an air of questioning, even, dare I say, paranoia.

    Agasaya, I HAVE been here long enough to see Twisty/Jill cut someone off at the knees for that exact reason. Several times. Just sayin’.(Um, hope the correct usage of the apostrophe makes this transgression at least a bit more bearable, Jill!)
    Many people, me included, will tell you that Jill is brilliant, hilariously funny and delightfully witty. None will ever tell you she is kind. Not that I think she cares.
    Also, excluding people based on grammar and stylistic expression is not exactly an effective way of recruiting, is it now? But, again, I’m sure Jill doesn’t mind. At the end of the day (um, see what I did here?), I’m sure she and her faithful band of grammar pedants can bring on the Revolution all on their own. The patriarchy will simply crumble in defeat faced with such correct usage of commas.

    Oh, and Kelly, I can assure you that while some foreign speakers, like me for example, are fluent enough in the language to be expected to write and speak it to a standard, countless many are not. Among them, there are certainly those who are still perfectly capable of communicating, and thus commenting, in the language, in less than dazzling, but certainly perfectlyunderstandable fashion. But I don’t imagine many such foreign speakers would have enough guts and masochistic tendencies to try to do so on Jill’s blog.

    But, Kelly, I don’t think I should really be telling you this. Surely you’ve seen some foreigners before? In a movie at least? You know, like those mean Mexican immigrants swimming across border, or maybe those nasty, smelly Slavic brutes drinking their days away? The cuntalinas!

    Your non-chalant, smug comment is not only presumptuous, but also a textbook example of the privilege you enjoy as a native speaker of the language of the greatest colonial force of the pre-WW2 era and the only real great world force in the post-WW2 era. The language that everyone speaks anyway, so what’s the point for its speakers to actually make the effort to acquire another one? Apologies if you can show me a juicy, grammatically adept, stylistically satisfactory piece of political and/or sociological commentary by you in, say, Spanish, or French, or German. You know, one of the big languages. I won’t even bother you with trying to imagine how difficult it is for those of us who speak one of the bazillion tiny languages and are expected to acquire several new ones just to be able to function in this world. And now, we’re supposed to have acquired a ridiculously high standard of them too, just so we could comment on an internet blog?!?
    So I don’t know whether Jill applies her high (read: ludicrous and arbitrary) standards to non-native speakers, but what I do know, Kelly, is that, no, the assumption that people might have trouble fulfilling Jill’s expectations when writing in a language completely different than their own is not classist. You, on the other hand, are.

  44. nails

    I kind of missed out on a lot of school (due to having a lot of really awful shit happen in my life when I was in high school) and do find a lot of the grammar lecturing to be depressing. I know I am not as competent with English as a lot of other blamers and I am working on it, but it isn’t very nice to have it rubbed in so often on IBTP.

  45. Kelly

    But, Kelly, I don’t think I should really be telling you this. Surely you’ve seen some foreigners before? In a movie at least? You know, like those mean Mexican immigrants swimming across border…

    Jaja, I have three sitting in my kitchen right now and two of them keep asking for breakfast. I just love when people talk out their asses.

    I frequent blogs in my native language (Spanish) and non-Spanish speakers are expected to write coherently as well. But please don’t let that get in the way of your self righteous rant and melodramatic flounce.

  46. nails

    “I certainly don’t look down on people whose lack of expertise prevents them from expressing their ideas clearly, but I see no point in admitting incoherent writing into discussion merely on democratic principle.”

    yeah, this vs “there is already too much shitty writing on the internet” is hard for me to deal with. It says “shut up” to me even if that isn’t what you really meant. I feel so incredibly stupid in comparison to other people who actually got an english education and I really have no way to defend myself against the critiques. This is not about ‘teh menz’ thing either, it is stuff like starting sentences with “I” or well, you have a lot of really angry shit to say about different writing styles. Some blamers might have learning disabilities or something as well, we aren’t all so privileged that we can complain about how annoying it is to read something not up to an arbitrary standard that is largely based in the classist/racist/sexist institution of academia. I mean shit, look at old english. That crap is very hard to read and understand, but that was the proper way to speak then.

  47. Jill

    Nails, in case I haven’t made it perfectly clear: despite my jokey fascination with grammar, my actual fascination is with ideas expressed by language, therefore the spirit of a comment is always more important, in the end, than strict adherence to convention. I enjoy your commentary, and I do apologize for depressing you.

  48. yttik

    Perhaps the goal of this post was not classism, ageism, snobbery, or mockery of foreign languages, but simply an expression of personal disgust at some of the popular internet lingo? Slang that often sounds like passive aggressive baby talk?

    It seems like the default position for women is always that of having devious ulterior motives.

    (*Speaking of devious ulterior motives, the use of the word “woman” above is in no way intended to exclude or oppress transgendered people. Nor feminist men, vegans, people who refuse to shop at Whole Foods, or those who enjoy foie gras. It is not intended to be a subversive endorsement of the Republican party, nor any sort of backdoor attempt to slut shame somebody.)

  49. goblinbee

    I’d like to backtrack on my comment (“Praise be. Can we also pitch “just sayin’”?”). It’s true that I don’t like the phrase “just sayin'”, but I don’t think Jill and I are a “we.” My comment has a proprietary, buddy-buddy feel that I regret.

  50. Lucija

    No melodrama here, Kelly. Just responding to your comment as it was written. Your comment was, in my opinion, pretty inane. If you’ve been bilingual since birth, you still cannot judge how difficult writing in a foreign language can be. If you haven’t, and had to learn English later in life, than you should know, and then your first comment surprises me even more. I don’t know what sorts of forums you visit, but I have never frequented any, in neither one of the 4 languages I speak (2 of the foreign ones fluently and 1 still quite ineptly), where non-native speakers and their, somtimes abundant mistakes, were not welcome and where their sometimes less than coherent sentences were not deciphered with patience and humour (except sometimes on forums with teenage boys present in large numbers, but that’s a whole different story).

    I’m sorry, I overreacted in the part of my first comment aimed at you, Kelly. I’d just been outraged at Jill’s newest ban and was feeling really unnerved. I should have phrased that part of my comment with much more restraint. But I still stand by my point, which is that having high expectations when it comes to foreign speakers’ (for aesthetics’ sake, not the sake of comprehension) would be selfish and ridiculous, and, especially coming from an English speaker, would wreak terribly of privilege.

  51. Lucija

    *oops, meant to say blogs instead of forums (though the fact stands for forums too).

    And also I think I should’ve put “either one of the languages”, instead of “neither one of the languages”. It’s sorta neat that I made that mistake cos it’s a good example of stuff that a native speaker can take for granted but that can be very difficult for a non-native speaker to get right. I, for example, am still not 100% sure if I got it right this time or the first time round.

  52. tinfoil hattie

    Lucija has made some on-point observations.

  53. Squiggy

    This is the only blog that I ever read the comments. In fact, I read the comments thoroughly and avidly. The high standards either weed out the inane or encourages the thoughtful and pithy. Either way, it results in the best blog on the internet.

  54. Comrade PhysioProf

    Lucija has made some on-point observations.

    But Lucija has completely missed the overriding point.

    Placing all kidding aside–which is a shame to have to do–it is abundantly clear that Jill is not banning anything from her blog or discriminating against anyone’s difficulties with language. All of her comments concerning the use of language are hortatory jocularity.

    For fuck’s sake, this post is entitled “Supercilious Punctilio Of The Week”.

  55. Citizen Jane

    Kelly, it is a privilege that you enjoy if you can speak and write according to the standards of, as nails put it, “the classist/racist/sexist institution of academia.” Implying that people need to stop calling attention to this privilege because you happen to enjoy it while simultaneously lacking other class privileges is unfair. Just because you are underprivileged in some circumstances doesn’t give you a free pass from checking the privileges you do have.

  56. vinoveritas

    Jesus, I’d like to know the foreign tongue in which “teh menz” is standard usage.

  57. Larkspur

    I acknowledge that I have been, in previous comments, a whey-faced, miscognizant, entirely predictable little sycophant, and that I have often embraced teh slanguage to an embarrassingly perfervid extent.

    So I shall endeavor to lose the increasingly shopworn LOLcats vocabulary I have previously affected, except in those cases in which I don’t feel like it, and long to shout out misspelled and fractured jargon, because I think it is highlarious.

    But I won’t do it here. See? This is why there is more than one blog in the universe.

    Cute wasp, by the way. I kind of want to rub its tummy.

  58. yttik

    Hey, I’m about as far on the bottom of the barrel as it is possible to get and I have never known an uneducated, lower class person to use “teh menz” accidentally because they didn’t grasp the English language. It’s not a phrase attributed to those of us who eat fried bologna and drink wine out of canning jars. In fact, it’s a term created by upper class people who have access to cell phones and the internet. I’m starting to feel a bit insulted that people would attribute stupid phrases like “teh menz” to the uneducated lower classes or those who use English as a second language. Uneducated does not mean insipid and cutsey or prone to speak baby talk. Accusations of privilege and classism are a bit like the pot calling the kettle black.

  59. thebewilderness

    My mistake. I based my comment on a discussion that took place in the comment thread of this blog several years ago.
    I has a sad that I am too ignorant and uneducated to write up to the quality expected here. I will continue to read.

  60. Barbara P

    The question in my mind is whether or not it is more important to prevent verbal diarreah or verbal constipation. Restrictions on bad grammar or over-used turns of phrase can act as metaphorical Immodium to those who are prone to the former tendency. **

    As someone who is quite educationally priviledged, yet still suffer from both conditions at times, I’m not sure how to feel about Jill’s writing snobbery. On one hand, the fact that she apparently applies the rules to herself means that her posts are absolutely stellar. For those who have no good reason to not meet the challenge, the standards are a great way to break out of lazy thinking and writing. Maybe that part of it is patriarchy-free.

    On the other hand, I sometimes decline to comment altogether (time constraints mostly, and I can’t keep up with all the rules). I can only imagine how others may feel who are not up to that kind of challenge.

    The question is, whose voices do you wish to hear?

    ** Please excuse the horrible analogy.

  61. procrastinatrix

    I (yes, breaking a rule), have not interpreted Jill’s/Twisty’s punctuation or style rules as 100% seriously meant, as opposed to her “this blog is for advanced blamers and is not a feminism 101 blog” rule, or her “no MRAs or nice guys” rule.

    I (still breaking it) have read the blog front to back over time, and comments are evaluated, both by Jill/Twisty and by other commenters, based on content much more frequently than style, grammar, spelling, or punctuation. Certainly people take the occasional poke at one another over language use, and Jill/Twisty is not the only person to have done that.

    Yesterday’s punctilio seems to be pretty straightforward and limited in scope. This is gentleman farmer Psmith’s home on the Internet, so it seems fair that g.f. Psmith should be able to lay out some guidelines occasionally.

    It amazes me how commenters seem to assume purposes for this blog, such as “recruiting” for feminism, or “stifling freedom of expression”. For the first one, Jill has said explicitly that “recruiting” is not a reason that she does this blog, hasn’t she? For the second, in what way can a private blog be held responsible for promoting or squashing a civil right, unless it is actively engaging in hate speech against specific minority groups?

    Sorry for the long comment.

  62. Jan

    I’ve been an avid reader for years but a very infrequent commenter, largely due to being intimidated by Jill’s commenting guidelines and frequent admonitions concerning what words/phrases/punctuation are allowed.

    I’m glad some of you are finally saying something about this. Making women feel too intimidated to join the discourse is, well, not a good thing. I’m sorry I can’t express myself better than that. And I’m sorry I feel the need to apologize here.

  63. Chris Clarke

    The notion that illiteracy maps to class is itself infuriatingly classist. I myself rose from rather humble class oranges to my current exalted position as a freelance writer and editor, and in my regrettably abundant experience no one mangles the English language like an Ivy League grad.

    I include in my calculations people with native languages other than English, most of whom, in my experience, are rather more concerned with acquiring and using proper grammar than us whose first language is English.

    In any event, not sure how this post stigmatizes anyone who learned English later in life: presumably very few of them grew up speaking LOLCAT.

  64. Valerie M

    I think Jill is kind.

    What people might be forgetting is that she is not a personal friend who owes us a certain amount of acceptance. No one is forcing people to read her scintillating posts, which are so clear because she applies the same standards to herself.

    No one types ‘teh menz’ because English is not their first language. They type it because they think it is still, or ever was, hip and ironical.

    It’s her blog and she wants to be able to read it. Seriously, why would anyone take that personally? I don’t measure up either, so what? When I come here, I try. Maybe I even improve.

    IBTP is what it is – your best grammatical attempts (please) at blaming. If you don’t like it, start your own blog.

  65. Larkspur

    Oh, Chris, tell me you did that on purpose. Please please. My class oranges are also kind of sour, yet strangely free of pith. But a day without classism is like a day without sunshine.

    (If everybody already got the joke, I beg your pardon and will work on my chronic tone-deafness.)*

    *(A vague disclaimer is nobody’s friend.)

  66. Felicity

    I’d prefer to read a string of perfect comments with amazing grammar.

    Plus if you take the grammar rules really seriously you shouldn’t be here in the first place.

  67. Bluish

    I’ve read this blog for years, although I rarely comment. I read it because I love Jill’s writing style and because I find myself challenged by her perspective. I know that use of complicated language and punctilious grammer can bring out the dreaded charge of “elitism”, but this is one person’s blog, not a public-service announcement, feminist recruiting station, coffee house, or even a group blog. Her love of grammer is just like another person’s love of kittens. Don’t love kittens? Don’t visit kittenjoy.blogspot.com! Jill is not forcing you to love grammer.

    As a voracious reader and lover of words, raised by four public school teachers, I have lived all my life with repeated requests to define or simplify my expressions. I don’t care if I’m asked to define a word, but I do mind being asked not to use big words in the first place. This is extra frustrating as a female. I can’t tell you how many men have told me I was intimidating, “too smart” and generally unappealing because they didn’t like having to pretend to understand. Their ginormous egos prevented them from asking what I meant! Now I have to add on the fear of being labeled classist, imperialist, or jingoistic if I get creative with word choice.

    I rejoice in a blog that unfetters its linguistic chops! All Jill is doing is asking that people *think* a moment before posting, and perhaps do an edit or two. Does it have to be perfect? No! But banning LOLspeak on a personal blog is not tantamount to systematic oppression, y’all.

    Does this mean that I’m stuck up and pretentious?

  68. Chris Clarke

    Hi Larkspur! Yeah, that was my usual lumbering ond stilted wordplay there.

  69. Chris Clarke

    I have no idea where “ond” came from, though.

  70. feral

    Yttik and others have referred to the purported goal or objective of the strict stylistic requirements of this blog. I wonder, though, if we could consider instead the effect of these requirements just as we do with laws, which can appear neutral in statutory objective yet have a discriminatory effect. It seems apparent through comments from nails and Lucija that grammatical and stylistic rules have had an exclusionary effect on some blamers. They aren’t overreacting, and they don’t need to just suck it up. While I agree wholeheartedly with blog criteria pertaining to subject matter and theory as such regulations provide space in which radical feminist analyses can flourish, stylistic limitations based on personal preference or aesthetic value seem to do more harm than good. I understand the need for clarity and a general sense of agreement concerning the definition and usage of terms, but we shouldn’t shrug off the exclusionary and divisive potential of language.

    I respect your right to make rules for your own blog. However, some of the arguments against Lucija’s valid and thought-provoking points strike me as a little too familiar. While her tone and comments to Kelly may have been reactionary and presumptive, I don’t interpret any of her comments as whiny or melodramatic (a charge which strikes me as rather sexist), and suggesting that if one doesn’t like something then one should get one’s own blog is a bit too reminiscent of dominant discourse.

    I am thrilled by the high quality of this blog and those commenting. In fact, I don’t see where poor quality is an issue here. But, I’ve also held back comments which could have contributed to a discussion because I didn’t have an hour to post a perfectly reasoned and edited comment between shifts (not that this post is either).

  71. Hedgepig

    My middle class oranges are also quite bitter, even after all these years. Not to mention mouldy and, if truth be known, more pith than flesh.

    My suggestion to those people feeling intimidated by Jill’s language requirements is to wade in, be a bit bolshie and don’t worry too much about getting stuff right. She may beg and plead, but she only seems to actually ban people for being anti-feminist arseholes. For instance, despite Jill’s declaration that the pronunciation of “spinster aunt” must never approximate “spinstah awnt”, I have continued to pronounce it quite like the latter without any repercussions. (If I start saying “spinterrr ant” I’ll feel like I’m taking off someone’s funny accent. And that would be rude.)

  72. ladiesbane

    Has anyone mentioned the “Don’t like it? Go start your own blog” clause? The host can require that all discussion be in Pig Latin, if she wants, or bar the door. Whatever you might have heard from the Beastie Boys, it’s a privilege to party, not a right.

    Telling your host to shove it also seems rude.

  73. Shelby

    Na na na na-na na na. Jill’s gunna start a fight.

  74. Kelly

    As I stated in my first reply the biggest problem I personally have is that those who make assumptions concerning language/class never consider my children for AP classes, are quick to accept less than the highest quality work from them out of misguided white guilt ‘sympathy’ that is based in privilege and stretch their mouths to talk to me in broken Spanglish like I’m their house keeper at parent teacher conferences. My parents put themselves in an early grave trying to change that dynamic.

    Kelly, it is a privilege that you enjoy if you can speak and write according to the standards of, as nails put it, “the classist/racist/sexist institution of academia.” Implying that people need to stop calling attention to this privilege because you happen to enjoy it while simultaneously lacking other class privileges is unfair. Just because you are underprivileged in some circumstances doesn’t give you a free pass from checking the privileges you do have.

    I write according to the standards of people who give jobs with a living wage. The nonsense around academia is your baggage. As far as saying I was ” implying that people need to stop calling attention” to privilege my response was that she should stop implying about me. I was calling out the assumption that people of a ‘certain kind’ cannot be expected to do any better and that is false. It is racism/classism all dressed up in fake empathy and it is pernicious. Outside of the US it is very common to be multilingual and being competent in more than one language is the norm not some “privilege”.

    As far as “melodramatic” being sexist I can understand that charge related to “histrionic” but melodramatic? Don’t buy it.

  75. tinfoil hattie

    But Lucija has completely missed the overriding point.

    Thanks, Physio. Good job, riding in here and patronizingly explaining that Lucija’s experience is invalid because it is not an experience you share. We little women are often confused about what was meant vs. what we clearly hear.

    I invite you to examine your privilege.

  76. Frumious B.

    This brouhaha is a little confusing. Jill can’t stand ironic leet speak, and suddenly she is an elitist? Besides, it doesn’t take a lot of schooling to learn proper grammar. Many thoughts can clearly be expressed by simple sentences and words of two syllables or fewer. In fact, many thoughts would more clearly be expressed if the authors would stick to simple sentences and words of fewer than two syllables. I can see how some folk would be intimidated by Jill’s writing style and be dissuaded from commenting. However, nowhere does Jill insist that everyone be as articulate as she. If you can’t be Faulkner, be Hemmingway*. Short sentences in the active voice get the point across.

    *Can I get some suggestions for female writers who I can use in this comparison instead? I’m tired of the old, white guys.

  77. eb

    Lucija, do you think maybe the reason you have been drawn to this blog over other blogs is because the owner has high standards when it comes to commenting?

    I don’t have a problem with ‘teh menz’ or any of the other suff, but I also know when people are challenged to stop leaning on certain language crutches it forces them to engage in some sort of original thought. It’s difficult to not start a comment with “I”, yet having that rule has challenged me to dig a little deeper when I make a comment. Many times, if I can’t start a comment without “I”, I just don’t comment, which is probably a good thing.

    And, since others are adding to the pile, I’d like to see the end of ‘!!!eleventy!!!’ Physio, maybe you think it’s hip or cool or funny but it’s really just l a m e.

  78. Barbara P

    Since I last posted, I’ve pondered this a while.

    First, I would like to apologize for my misspelling of “privileged”. Very ironic when paired with the word “educationally”. Apparently, education does not necessarily lead to perfect spelling (“Privileged” is a word I screw up constantly.) I’ve heard that good spelling implies intelligence but bad spelling does not imply a lack thereof. Perhaps the same is true with regard to grammar, or even using the term “teh menz”.

    Second, I would like to propose that all writing snobbery should not apply to anyone who posts a comment fewer than 5 times a month. (Admittedly, I have a personal stake in this, as someone who reads a lot but doesn’t necessarily say much.) Or perhaps it should be made abundantly clear that the blaming aspect of a comment far outweighs its writing style. Like, 90% of the score is for the blaming and 10% for the grammar, spelling, etc. If you have terrible spelling and punctuation, and you use every cliche phrase and its little brother, but your blaming is sound and true, you still get an “A”. But if you contribute some sexist crap, no matter how well written or how many big fancy words you use, you will only get a 10% – a horrible “F” from which you may never recover.

  79. wiggles

    It sure is surprising to learn that “teh menz” is a common grammatical error due to lack of education or being a non-native english speaker. Learn something new every day. I suppose I’m a classist xenophobe for finding kitty pidgin annoying. What does it say about me that if I never read the term “me thinks” again it would be too soon? Since that’s straight outta Shakespeare, I’m pressed to find the implications of colonialism or academic snobbery in disliking the term.

  80. Ayla

    thebewilderness, I’m not 100% certain of the tone of your most recent comment here, but I just wanted to clarify that in my original comment, I didn’t mean to disagree with your explanation of the phrase or imply that you shouldn’t be posting. Your explanation makes sense and may be the more correct one.

  81. Cathy

    It seems like the default position for women is always that of having devious ulterior motives.

    YES, yttik, this is becoming increasingly clear. I am so sick of people presuming this about me, I hate going to work even though I love my field. I busted my ass helping a guy, and when things didn’t work out right (it wasn’t even my fault), the snake accused me of trying to make him look bad. As if he needed my help for that. Sorry about the personal anecdote.

    Speaking of breaking the rules: Lucija, you write much better than many native English speakers. Maybe your reading comprehension could use some work, but on the internet it’s easy for anyone to misinterpret comments. Did you notice that your comments were not deleted, in spite of several instances of breaking the rules? They are guidelines to prevent misunderstandings, not absolute rules. A commenter gets banned for misogynist comments, not for errors. Your comment reminds me of the male “feminist allies” who cannot win their argument with Jill, so they resort to posting, “You’ll never get help from men with that attitude,” and going off in a huff. Do try to get a lot more fiber into your diet.

    Since you, Lucija, are among the XX-chromosome accursed, you certainly deserve the benefit of the doubt, and recently Jill wrote that often, when someone who is oppressed feels marginalized, it is often because she was indeed marginalized. But your writing is well above any minimal standard for posting. My original comments stayed in moderator purgatory, because I had been using the AOL browser. That policy didn’t keep me away.

    I’ve been married for many years to a control freak, and believe me, Jill comes nowhere close.

  82. Shopstewardess

    As someone who came to this blog this year, and only slowly made her way through the archives, one of the difficulties I had (as a privileged and educated native English speaker) was learning the language of the blog. By “learning the language of the blog” I mean learning the acceptable local usages and in-jokes which inevitably build up in any close-knit community over a period of time. It was greatly helpful to have the main rules of commenting set out so clearly, in the Guidelines for Commenters. Too frequently I forget myself and start commenting with “I”, or descend into anecdote. I haven’t been banned for it yet. Thanks to Jill for listening, and allowing me to comment, despite my failures.

    I don’t regard banning “teh menz” as anything but helpful. Whatever the degree of seriousness involved in the ban, it’s a bit of unnecessary insider usage which confuses rather than clarifies unless it comes with an accompanying explanation.

    Lucija’s post was in many respects splendid, but I would have thought that banning usages such as “teh menz” would be an aid to making this blog more accessible to non-native speakers, rather than less.

  83. Medbh

    Guilty as charged.
    My use of “the menz” was a way to render the MRA set in LOL speak in a nod to what little sense they make. Although they could never be as cute as the cats on the site.
    Point taken, Jill.
    The trend has been played out.

  84. Other Liz

    In relation to “elitism” – this blog is elite.

    I read it like someone who loves sports watches the olympics.

    I hesitate to comment, but that’s not a bad thing. Why does this blog need my comments? (That was not said to be modest – I write professionally but I recognise and enjoy writers who are out of my league.)

    What I love the most is the interplay of classically correct sentences with the sudden vernacular or made up words and phrases.

    It’s elite like a virtuoso.

  85. Jill

    “I’ve also held back comments which could have contributed to a discussion because I didn’t have an hour to post a perfectly reasoned and edited comment between shifts”

    Don’t think I don’t appreciate it!

  86. Lucija

    Yttik, I know that that wasn’t the purpose of this post. But sometimes things end up being one way or another, without us ever being conscious of it. You seem to think I’m implying that Jill’s an evil, scheming classist, ageist snob with an agenda. You’re exaggerating – all I’m saying is that she’s a classist, ageist snob. No evil, no secret agenda.

    Kelly, I think you are misunderstanding what I am trying to say. I’m not saying that non-native speakers “cannot be expected to do as well as everyone else”. It’s that they shouldn’t. I’m a non-native speaker with a high level of English, acquired in such quality purely because of my own privilege – I am a middle class only child who had the luxury of paid English classes since early childhood and the luxury to be able to watch TV for hours and hours throughout that childhood. Make no mistake, without the money and free time that I had at my disposal, I never would have been able to acquire such a high level of English.

    Later, again because of my privilege, I had the opportunity to live, work and study among native speakers, and let me tell you, it was most definitely not the same for me as it was for them. Of course I appreciated that my teahers expected my work to be of high standard, but I also appreciated it when they had the patience to explain things to me that I was struggling to understand, and that to my colleagues came naturally. And I appreciated the fact that my friends talked as naturally in front of me as they would have among themselves, but I also appreciated that they repeated things for me when I couldn’t grasp what they were saying and didn’t ridicule me for making (sometimes quite huge) mistakes.

    And I am talking here from a privileged position. Most non-native speakers are not in as easy a situation as I was.
    I am very sorry for your experiences and those of your parents, but I think you should take into account the experience of people, like for example, the family of my grandmother’s sister, who, unlike me were poor war refugees who lost everything and came to the USA some 20 years ago with a very basic command of English and, even though they tried hard to learn the language and “fit in”, were basically treated like shit by both official persons and ordinary people in daily communication, and were almost cheated out of the apartment they bought with the small remainings of money that they had what they were lent and given by those friends and family who were not in need of aid themselves. It would probably be pushing it to say that that’s what fucked up the childhood of my cousins, especially since they already had the trauma of war to live with, but growing up treated like that certainly didn’t help. They “fit in” now, but their parents never will, no matter how hard they try (which they really, really do). People should respect that.

    For those telling me to lighten up, there’s no need to worry about me. I was never convinced that Jill was actually going to block all the comments that suffer from bad grammar/netspeak/a style too plebeian for this blog/neutral words and phrases that just irritate her, and banish all blamers responsible for them from the blog. I knew that she’d just ridicule them/us in that witty, eccentric, sharp, brilliant and ultimately unforgiving trademark style of hers. And being ridiculed so non-chalantly when you are trying your hardest to contribute to a discussion you care about, in a community which holds such an important place in the lives of so many of us, can be pretty damn hurtful.

    Being ridiculed by Twisty/Jill out of the blue when they are earnestly trying to convey their thoughts and feelings in their comments has the potential to make people feel quite humiliated and miserable. I have seen Jill strike down people with one brilliant quip over misogynistic bullshit countless times. but so many times I’ve witnessed her doing the same to people for much more trivial reasons, if you can even call them that. You say that it’s funny – Jill’s comments most often are. But just because it’s humourous doesn’t make it right, or any less painful for those on the receiving end. I honestly find it really off-putting that Jill and some other commenters find so much entertainment in this particular hobby of hers.

    And for those who are telling those of us who dislike this to start a blog of our own and stop criticising Jill…well, Jill has made her writings open to criticism when she decided to put them online. Writing made public by the author has readers in mind and is, at least partly, intended for readers, not just personal enjoyment/venting/contemplation. If Jill’s blog entries were not, at least partly, intended for readers, she’d be writing all this stuff into a notebook. And readers, as an audience, have the right to comment. That is just how it works. That is why we have these nice, handy comment boxes on blogs.

    Notice how I’m not badgering Jill to change her ways to accommodate my opinions or spamming her with hatemail. I, as a reader, and a longtime commenter (though I did not comment nearly as often as I wanted to, in significant part because of the very reasons we’re discussing)am simply voicing my critical opinion. Yes, this is Jill’s blog and she has the right to decide how to run it. But that doesn’t mean I cannot have an opinion about it, or that I cannot make that opinion known.

    Cathy, since many (though certainly not all) Jill’s rules in my previous comments in this thread I broke on purpose, obviously I was expecting Jill not to delete them. That Jill does not actually go around deleting every comment she deems stylistically/grammatically/whatever unworthy of her blog does not invalidate the fact that, after years of an expression being commonly and freely used in the comments, writing up an entire blog entry dedicated just to ridiculing it and those who use it (i.e. a very large portion of Jill’s readership) seems unnecessarily malicious. Or if you don’t wanna go that far, fine, let’s just stick with “unnecessary”. And I say that as someone who has, at least as far as I can remember, never used that particular expression.

    I wonder if that’s how Jill acts in real life discourse. Stopping people mid-sentence to correct their inflection, laughing at them while pointing her finger because they suck at semantics…

    I see some people also have a problem with my mention of recruiting, and keep pointing out that Jill is not on a recruitment mission. That’s funny – as a feminist, I consider it very important (a sort of a mission, if you want) to “recruit” women. The word has negative connotations, but I think we all know what I mean. I find it important and rewarding to open somebody’s eyes, even if it’s just to a small fraction of all the patriarcy’s bullsit. And I find it my responsibility not to actively drive women away from feminist discussion or a feminist community once they’ve approached it or shown interest in it. No, I do not dedicate or subordinate my life to recruitment, and I will just sit by quietly and take anything, or not stand up for my beliefs, just for the sake of not driving a “recruit” away. But driving women away because of fucking ellipsis usage and the like… um, yeah, I would call that quite a bit overboard, really. And recruiting is the “mission” of all of us feminists, in the sense that it is our aim to liberate women women from the patriarchy. Tell me how do you intend to do that without us feminists having to do this dirty “recruiting” thing you seem to think so little about -an “unrecruited” woman cannot be a liberated one. And from what I can see, Jill bills this site as a feminist blog.

    Also, we are a minority. A tiny one. Without recruitment, we’re lost. And besides, it is Twisty/Jill herself who keeps talking about a revolution. Fancy that, a revolution that doesn’t involve recruiting as one of its goals and means… first time for everything, I guess!

    Anyway, I’d just like to thank those of you who understand what I am saying and also those of you who do not agree and have expressed that disagreement in a mature non-patronising way. Despite evrything, commenting here, whenever I’d pluck up the courage and feel up to the challenge, has been a joy, because of people like you. I’m sorry, I know it sounds trite, but Jill’s blog and this community have really meant a lot to me and have been a important part of my life. And despite everything, I will miss reading and commenting, and being part of the community (as much as I’ve always been such a small part of it), I’ll miss it terribly.

  87. Valerie M

    Yes, the suggestion that we have all been irrevocably deprived of vital information because people have been made to feel uncomfortable about publishing every single one of their passing thoughts is pretty funny.

  88. Jezebella

    Frumious, one might substitute thus: “If you can’t be Willa Cather, be Margaret Atwood.” The former is all purple-prosey and verbose, the latter a wordsmith who fashions shortish pointy sentences with lethal cutting edges. In the context of blog commentary, 3-screen comments make me want to yell “GET YOUR OWN BLOG” at the verbose.

  89. rubysecret

    It’s a pleasure to read this blog and its comments precisely because there is a high standard applied. Jill does her readers a favor by carefully screening the comments section, and that’s undoubtedly not a fun job for her, yet the result is a comments section rich with ideas rather than the pointless drivel that’s found in the comments section on many a blog, feminist or otherwise. It’s obvious that Jill is not simply deleting everyone who disagrees with her, or who expresses relevant ideas but uses poor grammar. The comments above that assert there’s something racist, classist, or anythingist about imploring readers to use a higher standard of discourse and self-editing are pure malarkey.

  90. Hattie

    Oh, Twisty. I thought I was the übersnob, but you’ve get me beat!

  91. Cathy

    …well, Jill has made her writings open to criticism when she decided to put them online…And readers, as an audience, have the right to comment. That is just how it works.

    Lucija, if you apply this same logic to your own comments, you’ll see that Jill has the right to criticize anyone who comments on her blog. I’m accustomed to receiving ridicule from men who are unforgiving, but not at all brilliant. Maybe it’s easier to shrug off insults from idiots.

    Most likely, Jill is fed up with the laziness of most Americans, and wants us to try harder to communicate well. We are an incredibly lazy lot; and clearly, you are not. I don’t think you should be so upset with her over something petty, if feminism is really important to you. She gets enough shit from misogynists all the time, and doesn’t need self-proclaimed feminists dumping on her, too.

  92. procrastinatrix

    Hi, Lucija,

    I’m one of those who “have a problem” with your mention of recruiting.

    Please note: reminding people that Jill/Twisty has stated that IBTP is not intended to recruit new feminists is not the same as saying that recruiting isn’t an important part of feminism. It is essential to movement feminism, as you say. And there are multiple ways to recruit, without trying to drag Jill/Twisty into it at all.

    Setting up straw-women to knock them down is not an effective way to recruit people to your cause either. Unless you only want the ditto-head types, who seem to eat that stuff up with a spoon.

  93. EMG

    And to think, there could have been a really good discussion of why self-trivializing cutie-talk has become de rigeur in many feminist spaces.

  94. Jezebella

    Oh, for heavens’ sakes, Lucija, no one has the “right” to comment on anybody’s personal internet weblog.

  95. ivyleaves

    Jill’s kindness is ofen manifest here, and has helped me a lot. I know I have used “teh menz” many times, and every time I meant MRAs, so I guess it won’t be much of a stretch to switch to that term. As far as having intimidating standards, maybe, but I’ve never regretted not commenting because I gave it a second or third thought. I have regretted it when I did not. So far as I know, I’ve never been moderated anyway, but I don’t always come back to check.

    November 12, 2009 at 8:44 am
    “I’ve also held back comments which could have contributed to a discussion because I didn’t have an hour to post a perfectly reasoned and edited comment between shifts”

    Don’t think I don’t appreciate it!

    The above statement is seconded.

    Nothing is more predictable than internet commenters complaining about their right to free speech, is there? The sense of entitlement boggles the mind.

  96. Larkspur

    The gamut from inane to insipid? I run it. Regularly. But I am not sure exactly how this particular discussion got so serious so fast. Who on earth really believes that LOL/leet-speak like “teh menz” reveals the user to be poorly educated? You have to try to LOLspeak. Of course, “teh” arose originally because it is such a common typo. Everything else is just some peoples’ idea of fun.

    If you were to go to the “I Can Has Cheezburger” site and lecture people for silly spelling…well, you wouldn’t do that, because that’s why the place exists. It has spilled over into other discourse because, I think, it’s a way of enhancing one’s typed communication, since we cannot hear inflection or watch facial expressions. For one example, it can take a really serious, heartfelt statement and put a silly spin on it, sometimes to let folks know that although what you wrote is serious, it isn’t dire, and you don’t need some kind of intervention.

    Emoticons serve the same function. It’s all a combination of trendiness, indolence, and a very clumsy way to elucidate your original thought. Neither leet-speak nor emoticons are evil, but both can be mightily annoying, and both can end up making someone peevish, and if the peevish person is our host, then I’m going to restrain myself.

  97. katrina

    Worse than “um”, “just saying”, “lolz” and “on point” to mean “pertinent” is the vociferous use of “privilege” as a putdown. Instead of being used to deconstruct and combat bigotry, it has become an ordinary insult in the hands of the thoughtless and self-righteous. See its use here to attack a blogger who dares suggest that native English speakers use English rather than LOLspeak on her blog.

  98. feral

    “The above statement is seconded.

    Nothing is more predictable than internet commenters complaining about their right to free speech, is there? The sense of entitlement boggles the mind.”

    Pointing out that strict stylistic guidelines can have an exclusionary effect is not equivalent to bemoaning my loss of the freedom to speak. I grew up and still live in an extremely poor and rural area: this has always been a big issue for me. I get the impression that I’m far younger than most blamers here, and I hope for a productive environment for discussion and growth. Between my working class life, activism, and school, maybe I don’t have time to write publishable material on a blog.

    Also, I see neither Jill nor any other blamers as authoritarian or even necessarily elitist; but the tendency of some to group together and mock others is disturbing. Some of y’all act like the kids in the back of the bus. Since infantile motivations are already being attributed to me, I will state the obvious for clarity: yes, people should be able to debate reasonably. I am more than grateful for Jill’s work here, and I have expressed those sentiments several times before attempting to argue with anyone. Reading Jill’s blog is both comforting and challenging. In my original post, I wasn’t referring to the removal of “teh menz” (whatever that means anyways) from the IBTP vernacular. I was making a general reflection on stylistic enforcement: some people do feel excluded by that. Everyone has a different way of thinking and writing. I am not fluent in so-called lolspeak. I couldn’t care less. I’m not advocating the right to post without thinking or to post irrelevant, distracting comments. Very rarely will I call upon any notion of inherent rights.

    You may call asking for recognition of differences “entitlement” if you desire, ivyleaves. I tend to think of it as, you know, respect and honesty.

  99. Josquin

    Long live your snobbery! It’s a fresh bracing draught. Teh internets (sic) enable such a fierce upwelling of memes, clever at first, which practically instantaneously combust into an eye-rolling predictable wallow of same-ness. I can’t stand most blogs because of the rampant “cute” memes which infect them. If I come here, I know I won’t read “FAIL”, “The. Best. Evar.”, “Just sayin”, “I just threw up in my mouth” “Rock star”, “Dude” (as an affirmative), or any other manner of tired, tired memes. Reading your prose leaves a clean taste in one’s mouth.

  100. Kelly

    Make no mistake, without the money and free time that I had at my disposal, I never would have been able to acquire such a high level of English.

    Well, make no mistake if Guadalupe Hidalgo hadn’t turned my ancestral home from Mexico one day to America the next I wouldn’t be forced to learn English and my kids wouldn’t be treated like second class citizens in their own home. We have neither money nor time but we still somehow manage to be competent in two languages.

  101. Susan


    Actually, that wasn’t a “seconded” but instead my nomination for the passe cliche box. Jill, you’ve got one steep hill to climb, countermanding the insidiously slangish seductions of teh interwebz. Oops.

    If you think the rules are strict here, though, don’t even try commenting over at Shakesville. eb, you would have been raked over some coals practically before you hit “Post.” They have some righteous manly enforcers there, and no kind of privilege ever sneaks by without remark.

  102. Kelsey B.

    Wow. I’m pretty late to the party here, but I just wanted to interject to say that anyone that thinks the usage of proper grammar is “classist” needs to broaden their fucking horizons, pronto. It’s GREAT to know that I and every other kid from a modest background making an attempt to better themselves through collegiate and personal study will be accused of being elitist snobs for our efforts. How patronizing. How teeth-grindingly irritating.

  103. niki

    As an ESL/EFL teacher, I take great joy in linguistic truancy of any type, on purpose or otherwise. By ‘joy’, I do not mean ‘ha ha you are so funny you uneducated subhuman’, I mean that I love every linguistic mishap and invention as long as it manages to convey the speaker’s intent, and sometimes even more if it doesn’t but sounds awesome (like Twisty’s frequently made-up words). I know that despite my training I don’t do it all perfectly myself, and I’d never kick someone in the metaphoric ass for making mistakes. Mang, did I ever have to invent some horrible French to communicate with some discourteous hostel mates earlier tonight! Très dégueulasse!

  104. tinfoil hattie

    Damn, this thread had jumped the shark!


  105. ivyleaves

    You may call asking for recognition of differences “entitlement” if you desire, ivyleaves. I tend to think of it as, you know, respect and honesty.

    If the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t wear it. My comment about entitlement was in a different paragraph for a reason, it had nothing to do with your comment.

  106. thebeardedlady

    People can be really sensitive about their perceived ability to use language correctly. I’ve always thought it was a class thing. It has historically been a way in which the ruling class would denigrate all other classes. Also, it’s quite common to hear of schoolteachers who don’t know the difference between ‘not great at spelling’ and ‘thick’. So I have sympathy with those who feel excluded by the commenting standards, even though there are clearly many positive aspects of said standards – not least the overwhelmingly excellence of many of the comments, which often develop an argument in elegant and nuanced ways.

    There are, however, commenters like physio who clearly has no doubt that he is included, and yet never seems to make substantive comments. I sometimes wish we could hear a little more from some of the people who feel a bit excluded, and a little less from those who feel entitled.

  107. Lucija

    Kelly, you say:

    ” “Make no mistake, without the money and free time that I had at my disposal, I never would have been able to acquire such a high level of English.”

    Well, make no mistake if Guadalupe Hidalgo hadn’t turned my ancestral home from Mexico one day to America the next I wouldn’t be forced to learn English and my kids wouldn’t be treated like second class citizens in their own home. We have neither money nor time but we still somehow manage to be competent in two languages ”

    From what I understand you live in (what is now) the USA. I’m sorry for the treatment you’ve received and the hardship you’ve been through. But being bilingual while living in the country of your non-native language is not the same, or as difficult, as trying to be proficient in the language while living in a foreign country, with little to no opportunity to speak it. I’m just talking about language here – I’m not saying your position hasn’t been worse than mine, just that when it comes to language, living in the country is a huge advantage to becoming bilingual in one.

    Some of you are complaining about accusing Jill of discriminating against non-native speakers. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’d like to make it clear that that’s not what I am doing at all. Twisty has a disclaimer above the comment box exempting non-native speakers from some of the rigorous rules of commenting here. I wrote about non-native speakers in response to Kelly’s first comment saying that it would be rude NOT to hold non-native speakers to the same high standards as native ones, which I disagreed with. Not as a reaction to anything Jill has said.

    And a lot of you are making the occasional usage of “teh menz” sound like rabid lolspeak. It’s NOT the same. I’ve never encountered fully-fledged lolspeak on this blog, and I honestly doubt that’s because of Jill moderating hundreds and hundreds of lolspeak-infested comments. My point is that I really don’t think the average reader of this blog would actually try to use lolspeak when commenting. Hating on the expression “teh menz” so much is just such an overreaction.

    And the “classist” and “ageist” comments are not about lolspeak, but rather about some of Jill’s myriad other rules.

    Kelsey B., I think you’re misunderstanding what people have been saying about “classism”. It’s not that we should expect those from a certain background to be worse at grammar/style. Both my parents came from relatively poor, uneducated families and they both successfully finished university.
    It’s that everyone should be understanding IF they ARE. Acquiring, for example, proper grammar is not the same for a middle-class kid than, say, for someone whose parents more often than not cannot afford to pay the electricity bill. I don’t have any personal experience and can only talk about what I’ve seen in some of my poorer relatives and some of the people from elementary school who were in that situation. But it’s a fact that it’s more difficult that way. Plenty of middle class people at my elementary school struggled with schoolwork, and plenty of poor people exceled at it. But the percentages were definitely not proportional. And I mention my elementary school, because we have many different types of high school here, the main division being between schools for those intending to go to university and vocational schools for those intending to work straight after high school. And in my entire high school class, only two girls came from a poor background. Everyone else was middle class, with fewer, but still very much present, upper class people. It’s sad, but it’s a fact.

    One girl from my elementary from a poor family, who always struggled with work (in part also because she and her sisters had to basically raise their younger siblings) had her first kid at 15. Now she has 3 and we’re not even in our mid-20s. I think she has more pressing issues than grammar. Let’s say she somehow (despite the odds) gets interested in feminism (or, well, anything else) and has computer access (which, unfortunately, I doubt…I mean, there are free public internet-connected computers in our town, but I doubt she has the time for that, not to mention that she’s probably never worked on a computer before.) It would be very, very sad if she had to endure mocking and exclusion based on her poor grammar and lacking writing style (and, again, by that I don’t mean “lolspeak”, but some of Jill’s other rules). I’m not saying that everybody (or even most people) coming from a poorer background are in a situation resembling hers. But many are. The playing ground is just not level. People have to be understanding when it comes to that.

    Jezebella: “Oh, for heavens’ sakes, Lucija, no one has the “right” to comment on anybody’s personal internet weblog.”

    Um, I guess it escaped my attention that all the commenters here are personal friends of Jill’s. I guess I really am an intruder.

    C’mon, I think it’s pretty obvious that someone who’s not prepared or is expressly against receiving comments should just disable comments or write their thoughts in a notebook. The comment box is for commenting. And since most of the people commenting here are strangers to Jill, I think I’m qualified to leave a comment, even if I do have a negative opinion on something she’s written.

    Cathy, Jill indeed has the right to comment on people’s comments here. I’ve never said otherwise. I’m talking about kindness and understanding here, which I think Jill often lacks. And before someone gets on my case for “expecting women to be kind and understanding”, my opinion on something like this would be exactly the same if I were complaining about a man enforcing such standards.

    procrastinatrix, could you please explain this a bit more:

    “Setting up straw-women to knock them down is not an effective way to recruit people to your cause either. Unless you only want the ditto-head types, who seem to eat that stuff up with a spoon.”

    Please, don’t take my question the wrong way. I’m not trying to be flippant or anything, I’m just really not sure what you’re referring to here. And I’m really not trying to force any sort of role on Jill, it’s just my personal opinion that for a feminist blog like this, alienating people for reasons as trivial (in the larger scheme of things) as ellipsis usage should be a no-no. Again, that’s just my personal opinion.

    I feel like I should clarify my position on high standards a bit.
    I should probably mention that I love grammar. I do struggle with English grammar sometimes, but, in my mother tongue, grammar and orthography come to me naturally. I have a talent for it. I have a feeling that, in my language (and numerous others, but I only know the situation in my own to talk about it here), the divide between the talented and untalented for language is, in most cases, much bigger and much more obvious than in English, because the grammar itself is more complicated and there is a lot of stuff that almost everyone has to learn by heart to use the language properly, and only those with a natural ear for language are able to acquire it naturally through childhood. I’m probably not making much sense, it’s hard to explain this. The thing is, one of my best friends, a really intelligent novice scientist, is completely devoid of talent when it comes to language. She will NEVER be able to use proper grammar or orthography in our language, although she has tried hard to learn how to, and even though she’s a privileged middle-class girl who went to the same university-preparatory school I attended, although she’s university-educated now. Despite all these things, she struggles with grammar and orthography terribly, out of sheer lack of natural ability for it. Of course,she doesn’t expect her scientific writing to be allowed to reflected – that gets lectored and corrected. But who should lector her internet comments? Should she be ridiculed for her natural inability, or excluded from online discourse for it? I, myself, will never be able to master the orthoepy of my mother tongue. We have a hellishly difficult accent system with a thousand regional variations. It’s basically impossible for people from some regions to master the standard. Of course, anchorpeople, TV/radio presenters and the like are trained extremely rigorously so they could achieve it and they dedicate years of their life to doing so. But should people who cannot master it be forbidden to appear as guests in serious TV/radio programmes, or comment as specialists on a given topic on the TV/radio news?

    Also, I’d like to agree with what Feral said about stylistic enforcement and everybody having a different way of thinking. I’m no lolspeak enthusiast, but bits and pieces of some memes have stuck with me because I found them catchy or amusing or for whatever other reason. I use slang words occasionally. I also start sentences with words not to recommended for that purpose, and I definitely don’t obsess over using “on point” vs. “pertinent”, even when I know that the form I’m using is not the correct/recommended one (which in English, in cases like these, I most often don’t). I’m quite young and my way of thinking and expression are not identical to those of my mom’s, and I’m aware of the fact that some things in the way I speak probebly irritate them a bit. But the same is true for her and her mother, and probably was similar for my grandma and her mother too. I use those expressions because that is the way I think, the way they are naturally formed in my brain, the way they naturally come to me. I certainly don’t use them to be “cool” or “fit in with the other kids” or whatever other reason proposed when people generalise about my generation. That’s not to say I’ll use the same style and expressions in my comments here that I would use in my facebook conversations or text messages with my friends. But I will also not use the same expressions/style here that I would use in an academic essay. That would be incredibly stilted and artificial.

    Also, I like emoticons and use them regularly in my private online correspondence. I think they (like real-life facial expressions, gestures and body language) can help clarify the meaning and tone of what is being said, which is incredibly useful on the internet, where it’s difficult to convey tone and intention (it would have made things infinitely easier so many times when commenting on this blog). I’ve always respected Jill’s decision not to allow them on her site, but I don’t think the fact that I, and probably quite a few others, use them in other areas of our life makes us quite the plebeians that Jill believes it does.
    Oh, and I adore using ellipses. Granted, I definitely overuse them, and I get where Jill is coming from when it comes to people abusing them way too often. But not using them ever seems a bit too much. They are a valid form of punctuation and/or stylistic expression, and often add to the meaning and/or mood of what is being said.

    I’m also extremely long-winded, which I recognise as a flaw, and am working on improving. Apologies to everyone for my mammoth comments.

  108. Kay

    Tired of the men crap. Hear it enough every day. I come here to get away from it. Be gone I say!

  109. Jill

    Lucija, I can’t imagine that you would have the strength, after so dogged and exhaustive an effort as you have put in thus far, to scratch out even one more word about yourself on this thread, but in case I’m wrong: put a fucking tubesock in it already. Firstly, your position on whether or not I am an elitist shitbag was made amply clear in your original epic comment. Secondly, gripping though your autobiography is, I find that I require no further installments. You might translate it into the four other languages you speak and publish an e-memoir, Lucija: A Life in Emoticons. You could write it entirely in emoticons! Do let us know when it comes out; if your commentary is any indication, it could turn out to be quite the efficacious antidote to insomnia.

  110. Squiggy

    Laughing loud and hard here at Squiggyville’s local patriarchy-approved coffee chain outlet. Thank you, Twisty.

    If I can be of help on Lucija’s possible publishing project: Really, there’s quite ample material in this thread alone for a sizable handbook. All that’s left is some quick translations to the other languages. Done.

  111. maribelle1963

    This comment thread is epic. Truly amazing.

    The blog-owner asks people not to use a intentionally misspelled, pointlessly cutesy phrase of non-words.

    This inspires calls of elitism, classism, ageism (?) and a string of other “isms”.

    A thought: If one posts the equivalent length of “War and Peace” on the topic of what internet shorthand is appreciated on someone else’s blog they might want to look to their own issues.

    Perhaps there are OTHER THINGS in life that are really bothering you, Lucija, that are being projected onto Jill, Kelly and other posters here?

    You might reconsider if, in a discussion of internet lingo, you expressed an anger at complete strangers that most would reserve for someone who had just run over their dog.

  112. Jodie

    Frumious, maybe “If you can’t be Bronte, be Austen” will work for you, though I like the other combination suggested above as well.

    I have to admit that I have not read the commenting guidelines (probably because 1) my commenting here predates said guidelines, and 2) I comment rarely, as there are already so many eloquent commenters here).

  113. ivyleaves

    Perhaps Lucija can be persuaded that her (nonexistent) right to comment on this blog has been satisfied by the fact that the word count of her comments on this thread to date probably surpasses the word count of the total comments made by me over several years? This is probably true for many other regular commenters as well.

  114. Kelly

    From what I understand you live in (what is now) the USA. I’m sorry for the treatment you’ve received and the hardship you’ve been through. But being bilingual while living in the country of your non-native language is not the same, or as difficult, as trying to be proficient in the language while living in a foreign country, with little to no opportunity to speak it.

    Wait, how do you say it? Ah yes, fuck you. Is there a fuck you emoticon?

  115. goldengirl

    This conversation has been really fun to read, and a lot of really good points were brought up, but they have next to nothing to do with the original post! All she said was that she hates LOLspeak. And this is her blog. If you went to someone’s house and they said “Please don’t make a mess,” would you respond with “How dare you take away my right to spill mayonnaise on your wall”? “Use good grammar” just means “don’t intentionally use bad grammar.”

    Besides, as has oft been said, you get what you pay for here at I Blame The Patriarchy. Jill maintains this blog out of the goodness of her own heart. How much time do you all really think she has or wants to spend sitting around and banning people, anyway?

  116. Lucija

    “From what I understand you live in (what is now) the USA. I’m sorry for the treatment you’ve received and the hardship you’ve been through. But being bilingual while living in the country of your non-native language is not the same, or as difficult, as trying to be proficient in the language while living in a foreign country, with little to no opportunity to speak it.

    Wait, how do you say it? Ah yes, fuck you. Is there a fuck you emoticon?”

    I was only talking about the language, and I made that amply clear. Not the societal position, or anything other than the language. I honestly have no idea why you would be so enraged at the fact that ACQUIRING A SECOND LANGUAGE to a native or near-native level is easier while living in the country. I’m not saying that LIVING in the country is easier, just acquiring the language.

    Anyway, just wanted to tell you I really did not mean any offense in any way.

  1. Another Hilarious Angry Commenter At Twisty’s « Get Your Own Motherfucking Blog Asshole!

    […] by Comrade PhysioProf on November 11, 2009 The commenter Lucija is vewy, vewy angwy that Twisty encourages high standards of literacy for commenters at her blog: Fuck this. I’ve […]

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