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Jul 13 2010

Spinster aunt executes close reading of seemingly benign remark, exposes hidden meanings!

Thanks to yesterday’s involuntary contributors, Valerie, Dr Sarah Tonin, and Saphire. You kids are all right. Today I’ll be picking a few more nits on the same theme. If a theme may be said to possess nits.

Queries blamer JenniferRuth on the subject of feminists gettin’ after other feminists for perceived infractions of the Unwritten Feminist Code:

[...] Is the tone of the message more important than the message?

In other words, if you see some patriarchy goin’ down, and it falls upon you to blame it, need you really mince words just to spare the feelings of the alleged perp? Shouldn’t the perp grow a pair, and learn from your expertise?

It can be argued (and is argued, by me, albeit somewhat obliquely, a bit further down) that the tone of the message is the message. Furthermore, when the tone may be construed as hostile or passive-aggressive or supercilious, “learning” cannot reasonably be expected to transpire.

Continues JenniferRuth (echoing the opinion of several other blamers):

I think that often a “gotcha” tone is inferred rather than intended. I see none of it in Dr Sarah Tonin’s comment. [Dr Sarah Tonin's comment is reproduced below -- Jill].

Alas, the intent of a remark is ultimately irrelevant to its audience; the net effect on the balance of the cosmos is what must be considered when assessing the gotchaness of any given remark delivered on a small-time blog. We have seen this intent-vs-effect scenario time and time again. For example:

When some progressive liberal dude drops anchor at Savage Death Island to take field notes on the wild feminist population, he might say something like “You ladies have really educated me, keep up the good work!” The dude imagines that he’s being supportive, but what he’s actually done is reinforce the dude-supremacist hierarchy by placing himself in a lofty position above the fray from which he may passively benefit from the ladies’ work while simultaneously condescending to bestow upon them the high honor of dudely approbation.

Privilege exercised by A is oppression experienced by B. Whether the A “means” it or not.

Back to Dr Sarah Tonin’s remark:

@Valerie, I agree with the basic sentiment of your comment, but druther you’d pick a less classist analogy than “trailer park”. Cheers.

It is well observed that Dr Sarah Tonin is not, in this example, mean. She opens with something conciliatory, briefly administers the correction, attempts to diffuse any potential sting with a breezy “cheers!” and gets the heck out. A case of the surgeon’s knife.

There are other, more extreme, more entertaining examples I might have used, but alas, you get what you pay for here at I Blame the Patriarchy.

However. As for whether, as JenniferRuth wonders, the “gotcha” tone is real or imagined: if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck …

Read it again:

@Valerie, I agree with the basic sentiment of your comment, but druther you’d pick a less classist analogy than “trailer park”. Cheers.

Observe that Dr Sarah Tonin speaks directly to Valerie using the first person “I.” She alludes to Valerie’s infraction as distasteful to Dr Sarah Tonin personally. In so doing, she introduces a “j’accuse” dynamic, establishing a mini-hierarchy wherein she confers upon herself hall monitor status. She’s a pleasant hall monitor, but a hall monitor nonetheless. This dynamic makes the “cheers” feel a bit disingenuous.

It should also be noted that Dr Sarah Tonin’s humorous Internet moniker contains the quasi-honorific “Dr,” which, whether or not Sarah Tonin is an actual doctor, adds to her remarks a subliminal and somewhat presumptuous dollop of authoritative clout. The subtext might be read as “As your superior officer, I deem you in violation of the unwritten code.”

A more enbiggening, albeit more time-consuming, approach would have been for Dr Sarah Tonin to eliminate both her personal preferences and Valerie from her remarks altogether, and to compose her argument from a more universal point of view. Perhaps something like:

“Although trailer parks have enjoyed a colorful history as joke-butts among the upper classes and other denizens of site-built homes, these jokes are considered by many feminists to contain classist slurs that a) unjustly portray low socio-economic status as a character flaw, and b) bolster the jokester’s own status as someone privileged enough to make such pronouncements.”

Such a statement might still have offended the charmingly implacable Saphire (Valerie herself, it should be noted, has, as of this writing, yet to weigh in on the subject), but at least it would have met most of the criteria upon which the Blametariat appears to agree are necessary for successful consciousness-raising: it’s neutral in tone; it’s addressed to a general audience rather than to a specific blamer; it describes a widely-held philosophical position re: trailer parks rather than a statement of personal opinion; it’s an introductory explication of the problem with trailer-park jokes; and possibly it might even serve as a template from which a less-experienced feminist might extrapolate for future instances of self-privilege-awareness.

I Blame the Patriarchy‘s superfatted Guidelines For Commenters already contains a plea for the excision of the first person singular from the Blametarium; it should, at least for purposes of Internecine Nit-Picking, also include a moratorium on the pronoun “you.”

These pronouns, they’re really something!

In closing, let us remember that, although this blog originated as a light entertainment delivery device for the amusement of its author, today its primary function is patriarchy-blaming. So, if you see some patriarchy in progress, and think you can blame it, bring it, girlfriend! The less culture-of-domination shit you throw around while doing it, the better.

Fun fact: I used to work in a manufactured housing factory, where I was the lowliest form of life, the girl who swept out the houses when they rolled off the assembly line. I will always be grateful to that job for hipping me to the existence of the Hokey, an inexpensive, human-powered housekeeping implement I use to this day to remove golden retriever hair from a blue paisley rug.

By the way, as somebody pointed out yesterday, the actual term for the type of dwelling under discussion is “manufactured home.” It may be “PC” (as the commenter suggested), but it’s also the official industry designation, for the simple reason that, once delivered, these houses are affixed to the ground with concrete pylons and don’t go anywhere. I know what I’m talkin’ about when I say that manufactured housing often exceeds, in terms of eco-friendliness, energy efficiency, price, maintenance costs, and general quality, comparable site-built homes. See photo, above.

A “trailer” is something you hitch to your Ford F-250 to transport livestock, hay, landscaping equipment, or an Emergency Mobile Margarita Bar.

___________________
Photo: Adorable “trailer” is (surprisingly?) un-trashy. 475 sq ft “Eco-Cottage” by Nationwide Homes.

122 comments

  1. humanbein

    Many of the comments on this blog are much like the ideal Jill describes, which is pretty amazing. I like the insights around the pronouns “I” and “you”, both of which are better left to real conversation.

    I’ve noticed that you all have found my comments less objectionable since I unconsciously dropped them a long time ago. I don’t want to silence anyone else, but the less about me, the better, as far as I’m concerned!

  2. sonia

    Fresh to death manufactured home, mang.

  3. minervaK

    Noticing the onrushing trains from opposite directions of Blaming Without Personal Bias and Psychology 101 Correct Speech Instructions, I anticipate squeals of “but I can only speak for myself!” and/or “Using ‘I’ statements is healthy self-disclosure which will prevent my audience from feeling attacked!”

    I will need popcorn.

  4. Feminist Avatar

    I have two thoughts on the use of I/ you: the first is that removing them from commentary or text gives a sense of ‘objective’ neutrality that is often bullshit. It’s just opinion/ feeling in disguise- something that academics are particularly good at doing. It may even claim authority from its tone of ‘objectivity’, which is not present when using the ‘I’ or ‘we’ and as such can act to shut down discussion. Power hiearchy can be just as built into this sort of writing as any other; and in the right context, the use of ‘I’ would actually act to devalue the authority of the statement, rather than give it power. (Because individual opinion is worthless in the face of objective fact).

    Second, while not necessarily applying in the context of this discussion, the reclamation of ‘I’ was quite an important part of the claiming of women’s experiences in the 1960s and 70s. WOmen were encouraged to talk out about their individual experiences- using I- to enable a dicussion of broader injustice. By talking about their personal oppression, they gave voice to the experiences of women that was missing from broader culture and claimed authority for those experiences. It was all those ‘I’ statements that were then used by academics to create the feminist theory we love so dearly today!

  5. Rachel V

    ““Although trailer parks have enjoyed a colorful history as joke-butts among the upper classes and other denizens of site-built homes, these jokes are considered by many feminists to contain classist slurs that a) unjustly portray low socio-economic status as a character flaw, and b) bolster the jokester’s own status as someone privileged enough to make such pronouncements.””

    Yes! See! This is a good example of explaining what classism is and how the analogy could be classist. I still disagree with everything you say, but I could explain my disagreements without (1) feeling embarrassed and slighted for being caught in the hall without my privilege tucked in, and (2) without dismissing you as an anti-intellectual hall monitor who just wants to fill up her scorecard with all the -ist language that she can identify.

  6. Notorious Ph.D.

    This pretentiously monikered blamer favors the use of the pronouns “I” and “you,” which allow the writer to acknowledge that s/he may not be in possession of a universal truth — a welcome antidote to dealing with a day of pronouncements of universal absolutes from random dudes (a.k.a., just another day in the patriarchy).

  7. Jill

    minervaK
    July 13, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Noticing the onrushing trains from opposite directions of Blaming Without Personal Bias and Psychology 101 Correct Speech Instructions, I anticipate squeals of “but I can only speak for myself!” and/or “Using ‘I’ statements is healthy self-disclosure which will prevent my audience from feeling attacked!”

    I will need popcorn.

    Since the long-established anti-”I” sanctions have been in place, hardly anyone has observed’em. It’s too bad there are so many “i”s in feminist, because that means I can’t use “there’s no ‘I’ in ‘feminist’” as a motto.

    How one longs for the expressers of personal preferences to start the My Personal Preferences blog. Where they can write all the live-long day about themselves and how art, politics, science, and all that crap affects them personally, and nobody would have to read it.

    Like, “I don’t have a problem with lipstick cuz it opens doors for me and it hasn’t given me cancer yet.” As opposed to “lipstick is a cog in the sprocket of the Beauty Industrial Complex’s evil plot to otherize, pornulize, and victimize women,” or something.

  8. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Do you remember being in school and being shamed by the teacher or the other kids for asking a dumb question or saying something stupid? My face still reddens at the memory, and it explains a big part of why I hated school so much. Education shouldn’t be a painful process.

  9. Jill

    Yes, yes, “I” and “you” soften the rhetorical blow, but then again, they soften the rhetorical blow. And yes, “I” can convey agency where there once was none, but that sort of thing is best suited to autobiography, memoir, and anecdote. In discussions on universal theory and shit like that, “I” is too localized.

    Besides, it’s a given that a commenter’s remarks are emitted by the commenter after whose name they appear. There’s frequently no need for first person.

    Obviously a blog-wide ban on the words “I” and “you” is not on the table. But it wouldn’t kill people to use’em a bit more judiciously.

    A lone spinster aunt can’t realistically expect to legislate literary style on a dumb blog.

  10. sargassosea

    It’s too bad there are so many “i”s in feminist, because that means I can’t use “there’s no ‘I’ in ‘feminist’” as a motto.

    Hah! That is truly the funniest thing I’ve encountered all week. And that’s saying a lot.

    Now, back to reading and learning.

  11. Bonnie

    There’s no “I” in “femynyst”.

    No, that’s kinda pretentious as well.

    Desiring to praise exposing things while simultaneously avoiding deploying pronouns – a daunting task. No praise was sought or required, however; off to paint.

  12. Comrade Svilova

    Thanks for the detailed analysis; my apologies for cluttering up the previous post with my confusion about the topic of discussion. Of course the mode of expressing is the message, and in eliminating kyriarchy from our lives we can’t use its strategies.

    It is incumbent on the radical feminist to expunge as much dude-culture from herself as possible.

    This, from the previous thread on this topic.

  13. Jill

    Notorious Ph.D.
    July 13, 2010 at 11:46 am

    This pretentiously monikered blamer favors the use of the pronouns “I” and “you,” which allow the writer to acknowledge that s/he may not be in possession of a universal truth — a welcome antidote to dealing with a day of pronouncements of universal absolutes from random dudes (a.k.a., just another day in the patriarchy).

    “Notorious Ph.D.” is a funny riff on the name of the famous murdered rapper. It’s funny because of the unexpected juxtaposition of two conceptually disparate entities: “dead gangsta icon” and “mild-mannered honky academic.” This does not diminish the psych!powah of the Ph.D., though.

    However, I reiterate that it is — or ought to be — completely obvious to anyone who has ever so much as glanced fleetingly at the Internet that comments appearing on blogs in no way represent universal truths. Thus do I aver that the phrase “I aver that” is redundant in this context.

  14. MPMR

    There are no i’s in radfem, but there’s definitely an i in IBTP.

    The trailer house I was born in (single-wide) had wheels under it and plastic accordion doors to the bedrooms. The one next door had air conditioning and a $30,000 kitchen installed. In school, I never admitted to it being a trailer. I said, “We have a house out by the lake,” as if maybe it was one of the sprawling estates on the other side with jet-skis in the driveway.

    IBTP for my shame then. IBTP for how fast my heart is beating thinking back on it now.

  15. Astraea

    This post sounds like the imposition of just as high and impossible a standard as is being argued against. Substitution of one allegedly impossible standard for another with which one personally feels comfortable does nothing to facilitate discussion. Instead it simply shifts the circle of commenters to those who also feel personally comfortable with the chosen standard.

    If the goal is, as has been stated, putting less pressure on feminists to meet ridiculous standards, this exercise misses the mark.

    On the other hand, if this post is a subtle satire to demonstrate how obnoxious it is when someone plays gotcha and requires exact formulations of written responses, brava!

  16. raven_feathers

    there’s definitely an i in IBTP

    well spotted!

  17. Jill

    Astraea
    July 13, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    This post sounds like the imposition of just as high and impossible a standard as is being argued against.

    Well, not that I believe for a second that my anti-pronoun campaign will be taken seriously (it is a bit impractical), but if the suggestion that commenters put a little thought into their posts, for the sake of Universal Harmony, is imposing an impossible standard, the heart bleeds for the future of Internet Feminism!

  18. janna

    In other blogs, failure to lead with “I” is apparently seen as the same thing as saying “This post espouses unchangeable universal truths as to what is feminist and what is not.” I had no idea I had such power.

  19. Kenzie

    As nobody has a real need or right to comment on random (or specific) radfem blogs, it doesn’t violate anybody’s rights for Twisty to have any particular policy in place re: commenting. Those with a great desire and/or need to express themselves and not be “silenced” or corrected can avail themselves of any of the many free blog sites and disable comments.

    The expectation that Jill will be a motherly figure nurturing and guiding all of the blametariat with a kindly twinkle in her eye is quite possibly yet another aspect of the patriarchy’s expectations that a woman’s behavior should be constantly better, kinder, gentler, more communicative, more “I” statement-y than a dude’s behavior.

  20. Bonnie

    A “friend,” commenting on a facebook post/link of mine: “Oh Lord are we talking politics on facebook??”

    My reply: “My page, my topics.”

    I blame IBTP for my decline in politeness and nurturing. Thank you. (Drat. Pronouns.)

  21. nails

    Thats it- an “I” must be inserted into “team” somehow, pronto.

    Anyway, it seems contradictory to say that the tone of the message is the message and that we should concentrate on communicating in ways that are done primarily for effect AND keep the anti-coddling-dudes position. The ridiculousness of the idea that someone would wise up/stop oppressing others if only the person explaining the oppression was just nicer about it has been the target of much blame around here for a long time.

  22. sargassosea

    “…the suggestion that commenters put a little thought into their posts…”

    No shit.

    Sometimes so much thought is put into my ‘comments’ that they never reach Blame lift-off because by the time I’ve fully self-checked for crapisms and clarity, dealt with intruding bits of non-internet fem’nsm, etc. the discussion has moved on to such an extent that my well fashioned (sometimes brilliant!) words would be:

    1. Redundant
    2. OMG! So 37 comments ago!
    3. Drunken blather

    Sometimes I Blame and fuck it up, but at least it wasn’t due to a lack of trying not to fuck it up.

  23. grasshopper

    Yay Jill! A breath of fresh air, blasting out the stuffy, stale air that accumulates with too much PC-ness.

    Would also second this:
    The expectation that Jill will be a motherly figure nurturing and guiding all of the blametariat with a kindly twinkle in her eye is quite possibly yet another aspect of the patriarchy’s expectations that a woman’s behavior should be constantly better, kinder, gentler, more communicative, more “I” statement-y than a dude’s behavior.

    Now, this grasshopper notices that by making these two comments, she appears to be ‘taking sides’ with the blogmistress and another commenter (should referring to people directly by name also be eschewed along with striking ‘I’ and ‘you’?)

    Point being, grasshopper thinks, that the taking of sides might be a whole ‘nother aspect of the power dynamic that needs to go.

    WOman, I think I sprained something in a lobe (which lobe? dunno.)

  24. agasaya

    Actually the laws which classify a workplace statement or or behavior as an act of harassment state that impact over intent is the ruling principle in any court decision. What would a reasonable adult observer conclude from a particular statement observed in an office?

    A reasonable male? Or a reasonable female?

    A female who is happy to settle for having her shoulders massaged instead of her breasts squeezed by a passing co-worker might conclude one thing. A female who knows it is wrong for a boss to base his or her workplace evaluation on the degree to which she contributes to the office ‘decor’ might conclude otherwise.

    Raising the bar in one sphere, raises the bar in others.

    The gift of second thought regarding how a statement will be taken is part of the wisdom which has be earned among those promoting change. The gift of reflection when a statement is questioned (not too snarkily) is also a good thing. All of it entails some risk depending upon the degree to which someone requires validation.

  25. grasshopper

    Oops, used ‘I’ twice in last sentence! Mia culpa, excusi.

  26. Jill

    nails
    July 13, 2010 at 1:54 pm
    [I]t seems contradictory to say that the tone of the message is the message and that we should concentrate on communicating in ways that are done primarily for effect AND keep the anti-coddling-dudes position.

    The degree of civility with which a given commenter is comfortable will, of course, vary from blamer to blamer. But commentarian effectiveness may be increased by matching the rhetorical style to the goal of the communication. For example, as it is specifically not the stated goal of this blog to educate dudes in rudimentary feminist theory, my purpose in communicating with them, when they come around to pee all over everything, is purely to insult them. In other cases, when it’s, say, a budding blamer who shows promise but whose blaming chops may not be quite up to snuff, a somewhat lighter hand on the sarcasm lever might be indicated. Etc.

    It’s not an exact science.

    For my own part, when I’m on the receiving end of these jabs, I’m all like, my Internet Feminist track record is pretty good, so if you’re gonna accuse me of being a misogynist prick you can either demonstrate it in a reasonable fashion or jolly well shut the fuck up.

  27. grasshopper

    Also misspelled ‘mea’. Gack. The pitfalls lurk. Shutting up now.

  28. Mayday

    One Blames the Patriarchy?

  29. Kenzie

    Sorry Jill, I realized just now that I called you Twisty in one paragraph and Jill in the next. Old habits die hard.

  30. grasshopper

    Ok, lied, not shutting up yet – one thing chafing grasshopper’s chitin is that this whole ‘schooling’ business is, once again, an example of the expectation that women should always be taking care of everybody else. This has been said a million times, but it never seems to sink in: Why do we have to worry about all the other -isms on top of our own? Don’t they each have their own clubs? And do you think any of them worry about ‘conforming’ to PC expectations as much as we do? The self-policing is mind-numbing at times. To the point where one fears to speak at all for being pounced on by some random internet stranger.

    This is *one* place where I, grasshopper, like to hear an ‘I’ from the accuser. As in, ‘I, commenter X, find your (grasshopper’s) use of the term blah-blah offensive because I’m a such-and-such myself. I don’t know if you know, but that particular term has historically been used to shame such as myself. You possibly also weren’t aware that a such-and-such person was reading here and might be offended.’ This way I don’t feel that I, grasshopper am being personally attacked; rather, the comment is about the speaker. As the shrinks say, use ‘I’ statements to appearing to convey feelings to the other person, and hence relieve the intended recipien from feeling shamed or attacked or becoming defensive.

    Whew. Exhausting. And the frog is dead. Did we find out what made her jump?

    (Also realize, appear to be contradicting self. Like many [most?] orthopterae, share common propensity to hold apparently mutually-opposing thoughts/ideas in same cranial carapace.)

    This one thinks that it may all come down to the near-impossibility of civilly discussing inflammatory topics in an anonymous format. We are a tribal species with a highly developed need to connect and not be shunned or cast out. Limbic brain appears to primarily serve the function of sorting in group/out group status based on subtle cues such as body language, facial expression and tone of voice, none of which are available to us here.

  31. Dr. Sarah Tonin

    Twisty proposes that we “compose [our] argument[s] from a more universal point of view.” Isn’t part of overthrowing patriarchy and kyriarchy to dispense with the ridiculous notion that any individual can set zirself as “universal”?

    The specification of “trailer park” as the opposite of “classy and nuanced” perpetuates the stereotypical notion that trailer parks are class-less and crude, and that so are people who live in them. This sentiment props up patriarchy.

    See, I think framing the issue that way is not useful. It’s clearly in response to a particular comment(er), so why pretend it isn’t? That kind of thing seems to deveolve into the hey-are-you-talking-to-me?! nonsense that went on in the science week and art week conversations. It seemed more straightforward, more *feminist*, to just say, hey, that bothered ME because I found it classist.

    In conclusion: reasonable radfems may differ.

  32. JRoth

    Also misspelled ‘mea’.

    It was a very funny and apt typo.

    FWIW, Jill’s preferred phraseology does seem a bit in the direction of pretentious Truth Proclaiming, even in the context of lowly blog comments. It also skips over consensus-building/conflict-resoving moves along the lines of active listening. Perhaps the solution lies in the direction of (in this kind of situation, where a fellow blamer is being corrected/called out/whatever) two part comments: open with a modest, but honest, acknowledgment of whatever it is that credits the person being corrected/called out/whatevered (e.g., either “There are some good/insightful thoughts/ideas here, but” or “Blamer X certainly knows her shit, so maybe this is just an oversight, but”) and then move on to the pronoun-free explanation of whatever is the basis of the correction/callout/whatever.

    Does it need to be said that, at least sometimes, pronoun-based window-dressing is just pussyfooting around, whether out of passive aggression or patriarchy-ducking obsequiousness? “You don’t need to listen to little old me, but I think that maybe….”

  33. JRoth

    Also: That is one damned awesome manufactured home, assuming that the specifications are in line with the promise of its name. Modern MH are inherently more energy- and resource-efficient than site-built housing; their main flaws are that many manufacturers are still using older technologies that are heavily chemical-based (e.g., high-VOC adhesives) resulting in units that can be problematic for certain occupants (I guess the infamous Katrina trailers – which iirc really are/were trailers, intended for temporary and portable use – are a good example). But a lot of manufacturers have identified the “green” market as a good opportunity, and so have gotten ahead of the curve on these issues.

  34. Orange

    There is (she writes declaratively, presenting a universal truth she is enlightened enough to note) an obvious Third Way: Hedge on the “I, I, I” business by interposing a judicious ellipsis, thereby softening the blow:

    “I hesitate to mention this, but I…sense some classism in ‘trailer park’ aspersions.”

    It’s definitely more ladylike, this approach. And there is no I in “lady.”

  35. grasshopper

    It’s fascinating to try to parse this.

    It seemed more straightforward, more *feminist*, to just say, hey, that bothered ME because I found it classist.

    The above statement does seem quite neutral to these (ears?), and non-schooly, non-hall-monitor-ish. Yet it contains both ‘me’ and ‘I’.

    Yet, what the orginal comment actually said, was:

    I agree with the basic sentiment of your comment, but druther you’d pick a less classist analogy than “trailer park”.

    Somehow ‘druther’ seems more like a – command? even though there’s no reference to self being offended. In fact, this one would contend that, in this case, it’s the absence of the ‘I’ that lends the comment it’s hall-monitor-ish flavor. Two differently-toned comments, two differently perceived messages, or so it seems.

    Is there a way to say ‘I am offended’ without saying ‘I’?

    Possibly the hall-monitor tone comes from appearing to speak for others who are either not present or not speaking for themselves? And thus assigning oneself unelected PC Police status?

    Perhaps the ‘I’, in this case’, is necessary in order to not appear hall-monitor-ish?

  36. grasshopper

    And to clarify (apologies for sudden garrulosity after much silence), the original comment did contain the actual word ‘I’; what it did not contain was a clear statement that it was ‘I’ who was offended.

    The comment sounded (to these ears) as if it was speaking up for others not present. And also, the personal ‘I find it classist’ is different from the declarative ‘less classist analogy’. Would contend that the difference, again, is in who the commenter appears to be speaking for: Self? or other.

  37. Jill

    Perhaps the ‘I’, in this case’, is necessary in order to not appear hall-monitor-ish?

    Whoa. Trippy.

  38. Jill

    Dr. Sarah Tonin
    July 13, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    In conclusion: reasonable radfems may differ.

    Ain’t it the truth!

  39. grasshopper

    (smiley at Jill) Fear that grasshopper becomes schoolmarmish when attempting to speak neutrally, will thus switch to verboten first-person-speak for clarity:

    I, grasshopper, would personally love to see all hall-monitor-like behavior disappear from the universe forever, it being part and parcel (in grasshopper’s view) of the whole lording-it-over thing that goes with power, domination and hierarchical thinking. “I’m here to tell you, you do not conform to the world view I’m currently using as my template for how to Live Right! Demerit, demerit! My universe must have tidy edges! And I will shame you via subtle and not-so-subtle remarks until you conform, d*mnit!”

    As far as learning to speak without ‘I’ or ‘you’? Dunno. Seems like each way of speaking has its uses.

  40. Carpenter

    Maybe it isn’t the use of ‘I’ that is the real problem in comments, it Seems like it is the use of ‘you’ that is the source of friction. There are problems with I, for example saying ‘I think X is a bunch of bullshit’ puts way less on the line than saying ‘X is a bunch of bullshit’. One witnesses this kind of stuff all the time in academic environments where it will somehow be less embarrassing to be called wrong on a downgraded comment that starts with ‘I think’. There is even some kind of technical term about speech between people of unequal social status and how the inferior makes statements with qualifiers in front of them.
    But that is all the opposite of Death-Islandism, which could not exist without the word ‘you’.

  41. Sopho

    What strikes me is that the essence of the post is that the use of “I” and “you” type statements should be replaced by more generalized statements in order to avoid the implication of power relationships and appearance of a “hall monitor” attitude.

    Yet the post is not general, the author picked ONE person and picked everything about their comment, AND their screenname, apart. In doing so they are evoking their position of power and monitoring “appropriate” and “inappropriate” ways of commenting.

    In short, this post underminds its point by becoming the thing that it is rallying against.

    However, what is saddest to me is that in the critique of the way in the way the comment was made the very real point about language and classism was swept to the side.

  42. Gayle

    The manufactured home pic is adorable. I want to see its interior.

  43. eilish

    Not using “I” and “you” can help posters consider the question “how widely understood is my view?”
    The classism inherent in references to ‘trailer parks’ to an American person may not be obvious to those of us whose cultures celebrate caravans as an elite form of holiday residence. The boot of oppression comes in different forms.

  44. Jill

    Yikes! I’m not advocating “learning to speak without ‘I’ and ‘you’!” I’m merely suggesting not using them quite so much when arguing ideological points on my one lousy blog. Perspective, people!

    Also, it is not necessary to apologize for every little typo. The world is divided into 2 groups: those who spellcheck and those who don’t. The ones who don’t all make typos! Nobody cares!

  45. tinfoil hattie

    Tinfoil Hattie now to speak in third person about self, much like Bob Dole and Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer.

    Tinfoil Hattie no like when she read someone say, “Quit hall monitoring me! I am not oppressor!”

    Tinfoil Hattie is oppressor, because Tinfoil Hattie white. This not mean Tinfoil Hattie trying to oppress. Tinfoil simply is oppressor because of privilege. Tinfoil Hattie want to be called on her privilege any time.

    Tinfoil Hattie like new way of speaking. So obvious it is only Tinfoil Hattie expressing her own opinion.

  46. Cactus Sally

    Dang! After reading all the way to the end, this blamer-in-training is exhausted. A handful of grammar granules gets tossed over the wall and the Siafu are going in all directions. Miss Cactus regrets she’s unable to lunch today.

  47. Alexa

    The pronoun usage stuff is way over my head. I just think we should lose this invisible standard so harshly applied to women feminists. It’s a tactic of intimidation.

    If you’d say it to a man, go straight ahead and call it out.

  48. Amber

    I come to this blog for patriarchy blaming. I almost never read the comments. I don’t like seeing two posts in a row answering to nit-picky comments. I want to read about BLAME.

  49. Dr. Sarah Tonin

    Eilish, excellent point, and a helpful reminder about US-centrism. That’s one I’m working on — thank you. I am grateful for these conversations and for our diversity of perspectives.

  50. Sylvie

    A wise man once said: Only silence attains perfection of speech. To which a wise woman replied: Hare krishna, hare krishna, krishna krishna, hare hare. Hare bollocks, hare bollocks, bollocks bollocks, hare hare. (And so on).

    What do you mean, it’s puerile. We can’t all be Oscar Wilde you know.

  51. Cyberwulf

    It’s stunning that commenters are advocating, in earnest, that we not bother to check ourselves on the various bigotries we all carry because the ‘other people’ have their own little groups. It’s as if they’ve never heard of intersectionality.

  52. viniabright

    I like “I”!

  53. Comrade Svilova

    As Cyberwulf points out, there are women of color, women who are disabled, women who suffer class oppression, women who are not cis-gendered etc. etc. If we’re really going to revolutionize in the name of women, we need to revolutionize for all women. Or should I say Twistolutionize?

  54. JenniferRuth

    I’m late to the party!

    The other topic I would bring into this is the use of the “tone argument” as a derailing tactic. This is a topic that comes up a lot on anti-racist blogs. Yes, the tone argument can be abused but there is truth in that it used to dismiss the concerns of those speaking out against misogyny, racism and all other types of oppression. Obviously there is a line somewhere between when blame is valid and when blame is used to shut the other person up via a “gotcha” – this line seems blurry and everyone seems to have a different opinion in where it lies.

  55. speedbudget

    I want to spend an afternoon reading through the _Gregg Reference Manual_ and giggling over the examples with grasshopper. Then we can paint each other’s nails.

  56. littlerobbergirl

    what a lovely cabin!

  57. Jill

    Amber
    July 13, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    I come to this blog for patriarchy blaming. I almost never read the comments. I don’t like seeing two posts in a row answering to nit-picky comments. I want to read about BLAME.

    When you start signing my checks, I’ll start writing for you.
    P.S. I am expensive.

  58. sargassosea

    Do you do commissions? If you do, I’d love a one-of-a-kind Savage Death Island-themed birthday card. I’m (privileged enough dough-wise to be sort of) serious.

  59. verona

    Who manufactures the item in the photo and does it have a make/model/name?

  60. Jezebella

    Verona, check the image credit in the post – I imagine you could google “Eco-cottage” and “Nationwide Homes” and get a satisfactory outcome.

  61. KJB

    Thank goodness for Comrade Svilova, Cyberwulf, JenniferRuth and (on the previous thread) pheenobarbiedoll.

    This post made me incredibly uncomfortable, as it seems to be suggesting that I cannot be a radfem. Why are feminists expecting the sort of treatment that they don’t give to men? Why should it be OK for you to be direct with dudes as you please, but not for non-white, non-middle-class women to be direct with you? Are we not human too?

    Why should those experiencing classism or racism put your feelings first, when culture is white middle-class oriented in the first place, and everything is already all about you? Saphire – who leapt on a remark that wasn’t even being made to her and took offence on behalf of someone else – put her frustrations with feminism down to real-life experience and online experience. In the same way, we non-whites and working-class people have had far too much experience of being treated as second-class and it may spill over into comments. Dr. Sarah’s comment was frankly one of the most restrained I’ve ever read.

    If anyone’s engaging in hall-monitor behaviour, it’s those of you saying ‘Shut up and stop making me feel bad for saying something unpleasant’. I totally agree that there is far too much cock-waving on the Internet, and people get aggressive, but I’m not seeing much here that challenges that. There is a lack of imagination. Perhaps instead of taking offence at marginalised bodies’ remarks, it would be better to think about what has been said and then respond accordingly. We all carry our histories of offence with us; it is best to try not to train the beam of that onto one individual, unless they are actually swearing at you.

    Either the white middle-class women here can segregate themselves and be as unpleasant as they like (and it be stated that the feelings of non-whites and the working-class are secondary on this blog), or everyone accepts that ‘comfort’, being the patriarchy-soaked concept it is, always involves exclusion.

    I, however, am a young, non-white, radical feminist, hall-monitor and proud! If white feminists really don’t want to treat me as a human, I will give up on them, but may of the commenters here are clearly exceptional women and I like to feel part of this little community. The rule of thumb (coming from a dead white dude, unfortunately) is try to do unto others as they do unto you. If you wouldn’t accept a man telling you how it feels to be a woman and take offence at the very thought, don’t think it’s OK to make comments about other classes and races in the same way. Feminism will truly undo itself if it simply repeats the same patterns of domination & submission that patriarchy is so world-renowned for.

    (Cripes, that was long!).

  62. KJB

    That should be *many.

  63. LisaB

    Oen thing that bothered me (I did not take the time to consult feminists in general, so I am speaking for ME) was that some of the commenters in the previous thread who agreed that we should stop calling out feminists who accidentally use classist references or find a nicer way to do so actually used some pretty harsh words and tones themselves. Just sayin’.

  64. ivyleaves

    Tinfoil Hattie is now sounding like Feministhulk:

    http://twitter.com/feministhulk

  65. Jezebella

    Jezebella love Feminist Hulk!

  66. Susan

    Susan has considered jumping in on feminists calling out feminists who call feminists out who call out feminists, but the rope is turning too fast and the metas are too deeply nested. Must re-read “Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid” for clues to strangely loopy self referential systems. IBTP

  67. sonia

    Tinfoil Hattie, that was awesome.

    Sonia digs it. Sonia will now implement secret wish to rule the world via ostentatious narcissistic use of third person in accordance with Jill’s new not-rules posting rules.

  68. grasshopper

    I want to spend an afternoon reading through the _Gregg Reference Manual_ and giggling over the examples with grasshopper. Then we can paint each other’s nails.

    Sigh. I can never tell what’s snark and what’s not on these threads. I think I’m not smart enough (or perhaps educated enough, or both) to comment here.

    We spend all this time picking at practically invisible social nits, and then are simulataneously expected to have the skin of a rhino and not be bothered by casually expressed, thinly-disguised venom from other commenters, such as

    ostentatious narcissistic use of third person in accordance with Jill’s new not-rules posting rules.

    The feeling is very reminiscent of high school cliques, in-groups and out-groups, who’s popular and who’s not, who’s managed to win the favor (or disfavor) of the blogmistress. Constant vying for status, in other words.

    How is this any different from the other kinds of oppression we claim to be fighting so diligently?

  69. tinfoil hattie

    Tinfoil Hattie jealous that Feminist Hulk thought of this first. Therefore Tinfoil Hattie will proclaim Feminist Hulk a Bad Feminist, so TH can steal FH shtick with clean conscience.

  70. Ayla

    Tinfoil hattie make Ayla squirt Sweet Leaf tea out of Ayla’s nose and onto Ayla’s keyboard.

    Tinfoil hattie owe Ayla new keyboard.

  71. Carpenter

    “Yikes! I’m not advocating “learning to speak without ‘I’ and ‘you’!” I’m merely suggesting not using them quite so much when arguing ideological points on my one lousy blog. Perspective, people!”

    Yeah, total elimination isn’t useful/possible, just that thinking thrice when directly addressing others is preferable. One thing that makes the internet hard is that it is hard to be tactful in print. When you talk to people in person and disagree, or want to call them out a little it is possible through tone and body language to not make remarks come off like torpedo attacks. Things that might sound just fine in conversation sound worse in print, so that civil responses require more time and thought.

  72. Carpenter

    Also not just feminist blogs but on the entire internet flame-wars seems inevitable. My theory is that there is so much communication so fast and so narrowly that in groups are created very quickly. The feminist blogosphere hasn’t existed so long on geological time scales, but I can already refer to ‘d00ds’ or ‘teh menz’ or ‘Nice Guys TM’ or ‘my Nigel’- which constitutes its own language – and all y’all know what I mean. Those in an in group are really far in, so that small mismatches in perspective splinter groups fast and hard in a way that would not happen in person. I’m not excusing classist language or whatever a young blamers damage may be, but the nature of the net makes everything particularly explosive.

  73. joy

    Perhaps an unfortunate type-before-thinking phenomenon occurs sometimes. It happens to the best of us, in fact. The blaming brain occasionally, it seems, goes onto autopilot and comes out with something that appears — and thus is — totally different from the author’s intention.

    For example, I (yep, totally using it just for a minute) made a huge slipup during Art Week re, art school. The intention was not to say that Art School is a Bad Thing, but rather to suggest that it seems fairly plain that Art School is not immune from the capitopatriarchy (ie, a goodly number of talented, “serious” — whatever that means — artists simply do not have the means to attend an Art School, which suggests that it is money-based and perhaps sometimes unnecessary; also, it is run by dudes, because in a patriarchy everything is).
    However, due to hasty brain activity and lack of editing, it came out looking, and thus for all intents and purposes meaning, that I advocated everyone making art that looks like Grandma Moses’ (her popularity, of course, being an entirely sexist and classist phenomenon — “oh, look at what these strange lower-class people get themselves up to! how quaint. I’ll hang it in my dining parlour”).

    Consider this a sincere apology and the renewal of a conviction not to say anything unless it’s heavily edited for clarity.

  74. sonia

    On the subject of commissions, Sonia has been tempted to create t-shirts out of some of the stuff on the site but would never rip Jill off and wonders if a t-shirt series is ever to appear on the scene. Sonia realizes this would entail a deal of effort in between tacos and margs, but would pay handsomely for some IBTP-blamage across her chest, since if they’re going to look they may as well get blamed in the process.

    Just sayin.

  75. veganrampage

    http://www.historywiz.com/images/frenchrevolution/womensmarch1.jpg

    First, Happy Day de le Bastlle! (48 minutes late) May the revolution come sooner rather than later.

    Comment-gate, Jill? “You” and “I” gate? Pronoun-gate?

    @Tinfoil Hattie- I am sorry I upset you. My last unclear comment was to take the piss, but first and foremost out of myself. I was once described as “holding a knife when I walk into a room, but on closer inspection holding it to my own throat.”
    I was mostly putting myself up for public ridicule for having taken almost a lifetime to figure out that “being right” stuff.
    In that self same comment I brag about being a mental patient.
    Tone; so hard to get across, it can’t be my writing skills,not with my prowess.
    You certainly did not cross my mind when I was thinking of that group of commenters, and on this thread I have choked from laughing at your toothsome remarks.

    Also please, whoever wrote that I am a dude-now I take that personally! Tack on another year of therapy.

    In closing, when men scream horrible names at women, that can be projection too. Man project their own fear of not being male enough, manly enough, in this fucked up sick insane violent patriarchy,so they take it out on you know who.
    ————————————
    Hi Hedgepig! I’m hitch-hiking to NZ. Can the cats and I stay with you? Meowps.

  76. Jill

    I totally deserve the funny hulk-talk, haha, for daring to suggest that people try to write pithier shit. What was I thinking? If I didn’t want to read a bunch of comments that read “Hulk think Twisty full of shit!” I shouldn’t have started a blog. Haha.

    Once again, and for the last time: I seek not to silence the outraged blamer, or to make anyone be “nice” if doing so is repellent to them, but merely to suggest that blamers put a little thought into what they type. The vehemence with which the Internetian demands the privilege of “snark” is pretty intriguing. Also curious is the resistance to purging one’s arguments of the incessant me-me-me. I add this data to the graph with great interest.

  77. Akubalady

    What’s wrong with being PC anyway? People seem to refer to it pejoratively. Doesn’t it just mean society deems it appropriate to to talk about other groups of people nicely and that there should be no name calling?

  78. Akubalady

    Clarification in that ‘other groups’ refers to those groups of people that have been and still are oppressed and marginalized.

  79. KH

    The existence of the Nice Girl in my own psyche and the times and circumstances she pops out unbidden lead me to conclude that Niceness (including tone-moderation) is oppressive toward women. All here are welcome to both challenge and call me out for anything (though I am primarily a lurker, so the chance may not be forthcoming), and I may get offended, but that’s a-okay. In other words: “so what!”. The patriarchy says I am made of glass, but it lies like a dog.

    I uphold the rights of women to take umbrage and express the same. Further, “I” and “you” are merely pronouns, not full identities–they are more of an indiciative stand-in for the real thing and though it is hard to sometimes treat them accordingly, it could be better.

    Perhaps we could think of personal pronouns more like zipcodes.

    Tangent: I (white blamer at this theoretical internetian zipcode) would like to give a hearty embrace to non-white blamers; I try to live as kin with you (all of you in your own theoretical internetian zipcodes) in my daily real world.

    [The lobe-power necessary to reduce the "I" and "me" remarks from these statements was not in this blamer's energy repositories.]

  80. Q Grrl

    “Also curious is the resistance to purging one’s arguments of the incessant me-me-me.”

    Maybe. It’s part of the learning curve towards a new paradigm. It isn’t so much that we wish to change the language we use; rather we are reshaping our conceptual approaches to life. Blamer A doesn’t use careless language because of laziness or ill-will. Blamer A doesn’t realize the language is careless because this language has always served as a useful tool in communication. So, what happens when we try to use language that approaches the boundaries of Patriarchy? Well, we don’t really know, do we? All we know is that there’s sure to be some build up and then a ferocious charge!

    Likewise, Blamer B doesn’t assume the role of Hall Monitor so much as they are observing and witnessing to language that drifts closer to the core of Patriarchy, rather than its boundaries. It could be suggested that they are the build up and charge present in the fomentation of the new paradigm.

    Me-me-me makes a lot of sense when shooting into the dark – especially when you are the shooter, the gun, and the shot. Blamer B, perhaps, is a reminder to Blamer A that the blamer need not also be the darkness.

    However, the ability to think outside the box, if you will, should be acknowledged as a privilege of sorts. That ability is packed with access to the internet, access to boundary-pushing discourse, the time to drift casually or purposefully between discursive platforms, even the ability to challenge oneself intellectually. In a nutshell, it is dependent upon a certain level of exposure.

    The question then becomes one of how we wield this privilege: do we use it to shame/coerce others into compliance, or do we use it to show others that our very thinking/conceptualizations can change and expand? It is a very truncated approach if we simply stop at “you can’t say that!”, even if we explain why you can’t say that.

  81. Q Grrl

    @KH:

    “The existence of the Nice Girl in my own psyche and the times and circumstances she pops out unbidden lead me to conclude that Niceness (including tone-moderation) is oppressive toward women”

    Oh, but it is. Long ago (2005) we had the great Civility Wars on Alas!, where the women were being berated for their lack of civility and the crassness of their anger. I suggested that:

    “Civility has a long history of objectifying women. There was chivalry, there was the Victorian age, there was the 50’s. There was the honor and civility of the Judeo-Christain foundation. Embedded deeply within all of this is the physical rape and the emotional/spiritual disembodiment of women throughout recorded history. The entire system of civility is predicated on men having outlets lying at the parameters of civility: the brothel, the whore, the woman kidnapped and raped during war. The woman he can come home to who has cooked the meal, washed his laundry, and otherwise provided him with the psychic energy to *be* civil when he is out in public because his base needs are taken care of by someone else. He can easily be civil when he has a servant at home. Civility is a public discourse between men, allowable because they have the time and personal resources to engage in it. ”

    The counterpoint to this is the use of calls to “niceness” and “civility” any time a woman veers outside of her appropriate role as platform to men’s Civility ™.

    What needs to be parsed is the gut reaction we have via our Patriarchy indoctrination to be “nice girls” and our desire to not create or foster further harm. Yes, we all hate being told to be nice! But sometimes we get our wires crossed and don’t realize what we are being told is “do no further harm”.

  82. Ayla

    Having been mostly absent on some recent comment threads, I may not have fully understood the backdrop of what’s going on with the Hulk comments. In recognition of the fact that intent =/ affect, I’d like to clarify that my own Hulk-esqe comment was meant solely as an expression of my amusement at tinfoil hattie’s Hulk-esque comment. “Twisty full of shit” is a sentiment that gets about as much credence around these parts as the notion that the sky is made of marshmallows.

  83. agasaya

    This is a good subject since revolution has to use clear communicative styles and objective content.

    Women are trained to use many words, bowing to pressure from males that we not sound authoritative or (gasp) self-confident. Statements are modified by “I think”; “It appears”; “Some people believe” and so forth because, you know, females are allowed mistakes in our frequently illogical thinking so reasonable men can’t come down on us. Every tentative term in every language is associated with gender differences in communication – just like minorities of both genders have been forced to use with both genders among privileged strata.

    Use of “I” is often a way to say, “This is just me, so don’t take it personally in case the REAL point I’m making to your Royal Obtuseness gets you mad enough to hit me or fire me”. The things we all experience are not unique to us despite the individual variations in context. Perhaps (heh) this is the point Jill is making? Inductive versus deductive logic in use of ‘I’ stories changes their meaning and relevance.

    It is possible to emerge from habits ingrained by patriarchy regarding styles in communication and owning the text. Wrong is okay because sometimes the premise of an argument is just erroneous. However, that refers to facts offered in good faith.

    When referring to sentiments and other people, the law requires that some forethought be applied to anticipate impact. Doesn’t human compassion also require that? The line between speech and harassment/abuse lies in how a reasonable adult would interpret a comment or action. So when another reasonable adult on the net cues us to rethink our words based in perceived insult, it’s a cheap way to learn about communication.

    That said, nothing guarantees a critique is coming from a ‘reasonable’ source. However, unless we adopt silence as our style of communication, it is a good idea to make the very difficult effort to emerge from fear of criticism. It’s part of the process.

    More and more groups on the net employ moderation to ensure flame wars don’t emerge or end quickly. Abuse is abuse and entire freedom of speech is overused. It makes it seem as if ears are open receptacles to be used at will by any passing individual who is inclined to use them, however roughly.

    Sound familiar?

  84. tinfoil hattie

    I totally deserve the funny hulk-talk, haha, for daring to suggest that people try to write pithier shit. What was I thinking? If I didn’t want to read a bunch of comments that read “Hulk think Twisty full of shit!” I shouldn’t have started a blog. Haha.

    Twisty no have sense of humor. Twisty not laughing. Must be some kind of feminist.

    Seriously: I WAS kidding, and I am sorry if I offended you. Truly. I was trying to make things lighter. I apologize sincerely. I love your blog and I love the discussions, and I don’t even mind disagreeing with my fella feminists.

    veganrampage, I don’t remember getting upset by you. Was I? If so, I am 99% sure it was my own shit getting in the way. And so, thanks for the apology, for whatever it was, because if you are apologizing I appreciate your kindness. Even if I am too addle-brained (I almost wrote brain-addled – see what I mean?) to remember what you’re apologizing for.

  85. Jill

    tinfoil hattie
    July 15, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Twisty no have sense of humor. Twisty not laughing. Must be some kind of feminist.

    Now that’s funny!

    [Twisty not offended.]

  86. Jill

    Civility Wars

    Jumbo shrimp!

  87. Solniger

    I really appreciate Twisty trying to bring some sense into the madness but the matter is entirely concerning manners and I don’t think there is a chapter about that in the Feminist handbook. Neither is there a chapter titled ‘What to wear to the revolution.’ so we should do away with both of those discussions.

  88. Emily H.

    “The quasi-honorific ‘Dr[.]‘… whether or not Sarah Tonin is an actual doctor, adds to her remarks a subliminal and somewhat presumptuous dollop of authoritative clout.” Does it, though? If it’s not presumptuous for a blogger to lay claim to the “superior patriarchy-blaming skills” and “philosophic value” of her writing, surely it isn’t presumptuous for a commenter to lay claim to an official credential she has earned. In fact, maybe she added it to her internet moniker because she was proud of having put in the heavy brain-work to earn a doctorate. It hardly seems like the ideal feminist outcome for a woman to avoid publicising her achievements, on the chance that someone might think she’s trying to be authoritative. (That’s if she is a real doctor, which I dunno for sure. But if so, then it’s hardly a “quasi”-honorific.) Women in patriarchy have to worry about being scolded or ridiculed if they try to claim their fair share of authority and gravitas; ideally, a feminist space should be free from those worries.

  89. Siren

    Baby blamer here. Not enough formal education or political savvy or cultural competence to make generalized statements about much of anything, never mind mainstream vs feminist ideology. Not for lack of trying, but for inadequate exposure plus totally weird indoctrination plus sheer lack of years on the planet. (Seriously. Anybody here eyeballing 50? You could be my grandmother.) There’s NO WAY I’d ever frame the blame like Jill’s version number two. I just don’t have a big enough knowledge base, or a big enough self-confidence. Yet.

    That doesn’t mean I should just sit here and only be quiet and learn. Not like people here try to say that, at least not to people like me. (Pardon the wussy conciliatory comment, as well as this apology for the conciliatory comment.) Just, I know for a fact I’ve got stuff other people haven’t got, haven’t imagined, and that my contributions can be as valuable as anyone else’s. Even if I can’t shape them to fit the guidelines.

    Sometimes, all you’ve got is your own personalized “I think,” and the unladylike conviction that it still totally matters.

    Still, I guess the point is I do think, and HARD, before saying anything here. That is the point, right?

    Also: I love this post, for the unapologetic attention to subtext.

    Also: I kind of want to be some combination of myself, Twisty, grasshopper, tinfoil hattie, and yttik when I grow up. (And no I’m not being facetious.)

    Also: I already explained my username, so don’t even go there.

    Also: The Hoky sweeper is one of the most awesome inventions of all time.

    Also: I just didn’t think there were enough “also”‘s.

  90. Katharina

    I like what Twisty had to say on the matter and I agree with her.

    I also agree with what has been said in some comments, that being a “nice person”, being polite, trying not to hurt others and trying not to cause harm are things that are expected of a woman in the patriarchal ideology. But while the patriarchal ideology is a horrible thing, those four aspects mentioned above are not automatically bad things. Trying not to hurt someone and not to cause harm are simply signs of a basic respect for the feelings of fellow human beings which is a good thing and one that should not be completely done away with.

    However, there are certainly instances were what has been said by the other person is so wrong (for example racist insults) that it is absolutely understandable for people to react with anger and in that case no one can reasonably expect the people being in the oppressed group that is targeted to be “nice”. This expectation would then lack respect for the oppressed group.

    This is not an either/or question. It’s not that you have to either be a “nice girl” who accepts everything, is a tool of the patriarchy and does never defend herself or speak her mind or be someone who always speaks her mind however she pleases without any regard for the other person. There are degrees in between and what to choose depends on the concrete situation. It’s possible to go a way in the middle, which is harder than simply following one of the two extremes because it requires more consideration each time you say something, but in the end it’s more productive. This is how I understood Twisty’s suggestion that everyone should put some thought into their posts and as I said I completely agree with that.

  91. eb

    Gosh, baby blamer, you’re as humble as Boss Hog. Thanks for pointing out how those of us pushing 50 could be your grandmother. Made my day. I’ll pull a chin hair in your honor (oh, and one for Daisy Duke too).

    In other news, did you know that wonderfully toasted focaccia bread accompanied with baby belletoile brie, a toasted garlic clove and hazelnuts is the path to world peace and the end of snarky comments by internetians? True! I would not lie.

  92. Earnest O'Nest

    Seriously, drop the ‘radfem’ abbreviation. It sounds like so many things on the internet entirely blameworthy. I’ve chosen not to speak for myself on this one ;-)

  93. Jill

    Siren
    July 15, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    Baby blamer here. [...] Seriously. Anybody here eyeballing 50? You could be my grandmother.

    The Zero Human Reproduction Campaign here at Spinster HQ reports 100% success; I could be nobody’s grandmother.

    [...] Just, I know for a fact I’ve got stuff other people haven’t got, haven’t imagined [...]

    Those were the days.

  94. MPMR

    Did a dude just tell all of us how to describe feminism? On a blog that didn’t belong to him?

    I should have known I couldn’t do feminism right without Earnest’s earnest input. How did the blametariat even last this long without his advice?

  95. yttik

    It is a good thing Jill is doing to encourage women to not use “I” statements. Many of us have been taught that we are not allowed to speak universal truths, that we may only speak for ourselves. The problem is, “I” statements from women imply a submissive tone because women’s opinions are not held in high regard. We might as well be qualifying everything we have to say with a term like, “In my most humble opinion, Sir,” which is practically an apology for speaking at all.

  96. Siren

    Hm, okay … the grandmother thing? I guess that was insulting? Judging from the Boss Hog retort, which of course I had to go look up, I’m figuring it was pretty bad. Yikes. I apologize. I didn’t understand it was such a mean thing to say. If it helps at all, my mother was only fifteen when she had me, so I was kind of working off that. It seemed like a quick, shorthand way to explain I just haven’t had time to get educated yet, without having to come out and say exactly how old I am. Because when I do that people tend to dismiss or ignore the content of my comments by saying stuff like:

    Those were the days.

    Other older-than-me feminists have said that to me, too. Then they hear the particulars and agree it’s freaking weird. So that’s why I said the thing about having stuff people haven’t imagined, because that’s what people keep telling me. It sounded braggy and knowitallish, huh. I actually kind of hate that it’s true, if indeed it is. It leads to lots of foot-in-mouth situations. Like this one.

    Even if it’s not true, though, my point is still valid. Or at least it hasn’t been effectively challenged, anyhow.

    Damn, this sounds totally fucking combative, ugh. How do you stand up for what you think without pissing people off? Ha, well, yeah. That’s kind of what this is all about, isn’t it.

  97. yttik

    Don’t ever worry about not being humble enough, Siren. Just keep being who you are.

    I’m laughing here, did you really have to go look up the Boss Hog retort? It doesn’t matter, not knowing the cultural references is completely unimportant. You really do have something valuable to contribute.

  98. Hedgepig

    Having read all the comments to the last three posts in one go, I am now unable to bring myself to suggest what I was initially determined to suggest: that Jill disable the comments section for awhile so we all experience what a world without being able to comment on Jill’s posts would be like.
    But it’s been such a delightful, thoughtful read that not for the first time I feel sorry for those who claim to only read the posts and hardly ever read the comments.

    Grasshopper has a lovely turn of phrase and I hope she didn’t think people were teasing her about referring to herself in the third person, because she does that elegantly and somewhat infectiously.

    Siren is lovely too, and I firmly believe that she doesn’t think eyeballing 50 is in any way a bad thing because I happen to know that she was born into and grew up in a radfem environment so she probably hasn’t absorbed the “older women are (insert pejorative here)” idea that dominates mainstream society.

    Hi veganrampage, I fear my dogs would look askance at your cats if you were to stay here on the way to NZ. And by “look askance at”, I mean “eat”. By the way, ALL my friends are mental patients. ALL. Or should be.

  99. tinfoil hattie

    Siren, since I will be 50 in October (and you’re all invited to the party, blamers!), I COULD be your grandmother. That I know of I am not, but if I am, perhaps you already are a combination of me and some other old feminists! And I ain’t insulted. Being 50 ain’t a bad thing.

    I thought there weren’t enough aint’s.

    And thanks for the compliment.

  100. tinfoil hattie

    PS Siren: “Humble” sucks. Don’t ever shut up about how great you are. That’s f’ed up.

  101. Siren

    To yttik:
    Thanks. And ha, yep I had to look it up. First I just googled “Boss Hog” and it was some punk rock band known primarily for “controversial use of full nudity” and there was this image of an album cover showing a woman wearing nothing but black shiny boots up to her thighs and black shiny gloves up to her armpits. I was sort of taken aback, but then when I googled “Daisy Duke” I figured out I had the wrong Boss Hog. This was a relief until I realized what a shit the right Boss Hog was. I figured what I said must’ve been pretty awful to evoke that kind of comparison, and that’s when I decided an apology was in order.

    Honestly, though, I don’t get what’s so terrible about the age thing. I guess in general it’s just kind of rude to say something that draws attention to age? I thought that was like a patriarchal brainwashing thing or something. Sometimes my version of feminism is pretty warped. So maybe it’s more like the other side of what I experience, which is a bunch of crap attitude because I’m so much younger than the people I like to talk with. Doesn’t have anything to do with me being a girl at all. People often qualify what they say to me by referencing my age and it totally pisses me off. So I can see how having some upstart come along and point out how old you are could be pretty obnoxious too.

    Huh. I started writing this comment in response to yttik’s and then decided not to post it because it was too me me me. Then came back and saw Hedgepig had explained the whole age thing way more clearly and succinctly than I had, damnit, and tinfoil hattie had commented in a way that was kind of alarming and comforting at the same time with that “Mwahaha maybe I really AM your grandmother” business. So a quick moment here to say thanks for the reassurances. My own private posse of old feminists has taught me that saying “that’s sweet of you” is a fast track to a lecture on oppressive metaphors of women as consumables, so I’ll just stick with “thanks.”

    Back on topic, though. Isn’t the whole idea of being able to make unqualified pronouncements about universal truths a boy thing? If so, then this strategy makes sense if you have to interact with a boy. I-statements won’t get you very far, so use his tools against him. Cool.

    But what about when you’re back among real people, and it’s not a fight for survival as much as a wish to learn or teach something? I want talking with people to be about exchange, not establishing dominance. So what if someone wants to say what she thinks without pretending she knows some larger objective ideological truth, which concept in itself is a totally bizarre patriarchal construction? I’m not sure I want to model my conversational style after the most effective way to deal with dudes. Or after a style that dudes use to dismiss and silence women. Maybe the subtext of I-statements — for all its potential pitfalls — is preferable to the subtext that informs patriarchal discourse.

    Among people who DO hold one another’s opinions in high regard, do I-statements function the same way they do when women use them with dudes? Is every I-statement a woman makes a submissive speech act, no matter the context?

    And how do I convey that I’m really asking these questions in a non-rhetorical, genuinely curious way?

    Goddamnit, I wrote another freaking essay. Every other sentence has an “I” in it. And this is comment number three. This shit is fucking HARD.

  102. Amber

    Jill, I know you’re expensive, but please find it in your heart to write something about Mel Gibson this week…

  103. Meg

    Hi, trailer-park-liver for ~10yrs here. Don’t know much about the construction of them, but given that many of my neighbors who have moved in/out over the years have taken their homes with them, I do know that many of them really are ‘mobile’ homes, brought in behind (rather large) trucks. Others, like ours, are stuck permanently where they are for various reasons (mostly additions and other modifications that would fall down if the trailer was moved, wrecking a bunch of wiring/plumbing/external-turned-internal walls). Permanent concrete pylons might be the manufacturer’s suggestion, or even the law, but it sure doesn’t seem to be the norm.

    Whatever you call it, that sure is a cute living-dwelling — though it doesn’t look like you’d get much privacy with all those windows.

  104. Citizen Jane

    Every time you talk about this “I” rule, I just cringe. Stating my own opinion at all is hard. Doing so would be too scary without at least some qualifier to show that I really only mean that this is my humble opinion, and it probably doesn’t matter to anyone else. With this “I” debacle, you keep telling us that we have to remove this qualifier, and speak as if our opinions are broadly applicable to everyone, and that everyone should care about them. I can’t do this!

    It’s like when people tell me that I apologize too often, so I try to stop apologizing, but it’s kind of painful and makes me feel like the worst person ever. Soon I go back to my usual apologzing self.

    Twisty, were you not, like so many of us females, raised to be polite above else? Did you not get punished as a little girl for not showing sufficient politeness – where the so-called “politeness” would have been more accurately called “submissiveness”? If you were, and you managed to gather all the confidence that you exhibit anyway, then you are amazing. But please understand that not all of us have managed it.

    I am fully aware that I am doing the same thing now. I could have written the above as something that applies to more people than just me, but doing that is scary. I am telling you this because I’m sure it applies to more people than myself, but I can’t phrase it that way because I don’t have the assertiveness. Us females are raised to be submissive, and to just shed that is hard and scary and painful.

    So I find myself in a spot where I really want to participate in this community, but I’m not welcome to because I don’t have the ovaries to speak with authority. Should I resign myself to lurking then?

  105. Jill

    Siren
    July 16, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    [...] It seemed like a quick, shorthand way to explain I just haven’t had time to get educated yet, without having to come out and say exactly how old I am. Because when I do that people tend to dismiss or ignore the content of my comments by saying stuff like:

    Those were the days.

    Alas, I Blame the Patriarchy is, as is stated in the sidebar, addressed specifically to advanced patriarchy blamers. The stodgy old Guidelines for Commenters applies even to precocious young persons with moxie.

  106. Jill

    Amber
    July 16, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    Jill, I know you’re expensive, but please find it in your heart to write something about Mel Gibson this week…

    Show me the money. I wouldn’t write about Mel Gibson for free if he were the last delusionally entitled criminal honky celebrity on earth.

  107. Siren

    Alas, I Blame the Patriarchy is, as is stated in the sidebar, addressed specifically to advanced patriarchy blamers. The stodgy old Guidelines for Commenters applies even to precocious young persons with moxie.

    Okay, message received. I got lulled into a false sense of security, I think, because recently you’ve made comments about ways to deal with less-advanced blamers, and I misinterpreted them to mean there was an openness. That’s moxie for ya, I guess.

    And I wouldn’t (and didn’t) call those guidelines stodgy and old. I think they’re pretty cutting-edge.

  108. nails

    Aww, citizen jane. I hope you move past that misery eventually, it took me a long time, but I know what you mean and it is a painful way to live. You’ll get better at talking about you the more you do it.

  109. humanbein

    It’s hard to not take the “I” comment criticism as a command never to bear witness or tell your own story, even though the criticism was made regarding how to respond politely to a pardonable (but still objectionable) classist, racist or feminist gaffe.

    Jill has stood by her limited idea that certain kinds of corrective criticism work better as universal truths rather than personal attacks. She has never expanded it to include other forms of commenting. Sometimes we need to tell our stories, in order to get the support and maybe the help we need. Like Citizen Jane.

    Citizen Jane is smart enough and aware enough to see her own patriarchal training and hate it, while still suffering from the compulsion to submit to it. Who isn’t still wishing they were liberated from these kneejerk desires to conform to patriarchal standards of one kind or another?

    Some comments are all about you. And that’s for the good of everyone, and hopefully you, too. Let’s not confuse a technique to soften the blow of contradicting a good blamer with a command from an autocrat to eliminate pronouns where pronouns are needed.

    This kind of logical fallacy is called the Fallacy of False Cause.

    Jill says: Necessary, justified criticizing is better done impersonally, without overuse of “I” or “You”

    Objection: Commenting without using these pronouns is impossible, and antifeminist.

    Fallacy: Jill did not say “All Comments”, but referred specifically to criticisms, especially justified criticisms that need to be made. This is a small subset of all comments, and therefore cannot be the same as that which it contains.

    Jeez I sound like I know what the fuck I’m talking about. I love that Wikipedia page on logical fallacies. It’s even better when you’re arguing with a man, since men all believe that logic is their exclusive purview.

  110. Citizen Jane

    humanbein, I get where you’re coming from, but if anyone is doing that it’s just because they misunderstand the argument. Personally, I find this “I” debacle very confoozling, where everybody has a different idea of when you should use “I” and when you shouldn’t and what it means and what it doesn’t. So, we’re all arguing about it when we’re not quite arguing about the same thing, but we assume everyone else is arguing the same thing we are and it turns into a mess.

    The point I was trying to make, is that “I” is often used as a hedge word. A “hedge word” is defined as a word which shows that the speaker is not completely certain about what she is saying, such as “sort of,” “maybe” or even “like.” Women use hedge words more than men, because it makes the language more submissive.

    For instance, the other day a male friend called someone a “bitch.” I could have told him “That’s sexist and you shouldn’t say it.” Instead, I told him “I really wish you wouldn’t use that word.” Using the “I” turned That’s sexist and you shouldn’t say it. into It’s not my place to tell you what to do, and this is just my humble opinion, so don’t think I’m trying to say you have to listen to me or anything, but just in case you care what my opinion is, it’s just that I feel that word is sexist and that I would really appreciate if you would be so gracious as to not say it.

    I can’t speak for Dr. Sarah Tonin, but I probably would have phrased that comment pretty much the same way she did, for the exact same reason. Not because I would be trying to convey authority, but for exactly the opposite reason.

    So I’m saying, please don’t mix up hall monitoriness with hedge words.

  111. agasaya

    Amber: The Mel Gibson story is so basic to feminism (hell, the penal code), an advanced blamer wouldn’t go there. Still among the fledgling blamers however, I practiced my blaming skills on the NY Times below the column of David Brooks. That columnist informed us Mel’s problem was the same as that of all Americans. We’re narcissists. He dismissed the woman altogether as if she wasn’t part of the equation. Nor is she as far as the world is concerned apparently. At least she has the funds necessary to protect herself unlike most of us.

    Column here: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/16/opinion/16brooks.html?_r=1

    My response is number 23 here: http://community.nytimes.com/comments/www.nytimes.com/2010/07/16/opinion/16brooks.html?sort=oldest

    Now I feel guilty as if I posted porn on Jill’s blog by linking to Brooks.

  112. slade

    I haven’t been here for a while. I love that house. Who is the manufacturer?

    Please answer.

    Just a simple answer so I can google it for more info.

    I don’t want to argue with anyone. I have enough crap IRL.

    Thank you in advance.

  113. Comrade Svilova

    It’s like when people tell me that I apologize too often, so I try to stop apologizing, but it’s kind of painful and makes me feel like the worst person ever. Soon I go back to my usual apologzing self.

    What Jill said about practicing online. In real life, I apologize so much that my boss has started getting on my case about stopping it pronto. But online, I slay dragons, and I’ve even chased one Hanging Chad Troll away from my own blog with my incisive logic and witty commentary. Practice being assertive online, and maybe it will carry over into real life. At least, that’s what I’m hoping for!

  114. speedbudget

    slade, Jill gave credit for the company at the bottom of her post.

  115. rootlesscosmo

    @Siren:

    On the age thing: I’m 68. Despite the pronoun, that’s not an opinion, it’s a fact. We’re all the age we are, and next year, if we live that long, we’ll be a year older; there isn’t a damn thing we can do about it.

    In my opinion Siren is devoting hard work and serious attention to figuring out what it means to be an advanced blamer, and she deserves encouragement and support from the blametariat.

  116. Jill

    rootlesscosmo
    July 18, 2010 at 9:22 am
    In my opinion Siren is devoting hard work and serious attention to figuring out what it means to be an advanced blamer, and she deserves encouragement and support from the blametariat.

    It’s a B movie script!

    Rootless: Siren’s got moxie! She’s hep and sharp. Don’t sell her short, Grouchy Twisty.

    Grouchy Twisty: Forget it, Rootless. I can’t take on an apprentice, I’m retired. Besides, she’s undisciplined, a loose cannon –

    Rootless: Remind you of anyone?

    Insert training montage: Twisty makes Siren do push-ups in preparation for holding signs at protests, Twisty corrects Siren’s spelling on protest signs, Twisty catches Siren texting her friends when she should be studying Andrea Dworkin, uh-oh! Siren spills poster paint on Twisty’s “This Is What A Feminist Looks Like” T-shirt and laughs, Siren successfully converts her first funfeminist as Twisty looks on with stopwatch, etc

    One Year Later
    Spinster University Commencement

    Rootless: What did I tell you? She’s the valedictorian!

    Grouchy Twisty: Siren’s the best patriarchy blamer in the country. The future of Internet Feminism is in good hands now! We owe it all to you, Rootless!

  117. Virginia S. Wood, Psy.D.

    Speaking generally, not just to Tonin’s comment, we do seem to have been getting harsher with each other in recent months, which has made venturing Comments a bit scary.(Hers actually was a relatively mild rebuke compared to some.)

    “Manners” silences, even suffocates us, but turning on & devouring each other only advances patriarchy. House divided and all that. I’m always uncomfortable watching women call each other out publicly because I imagine men getting off on it. There’s gotta be a middle way wherein we can call each other on our shit without drawing blood and, not incidentally, lending aid and comfort to the enemy.

    There’s a lot to be said for owning our own shit when we challenge another directly, but using “I” to call out classism, racism, ableism, and all the other -isms we’re infected with growing up in the patriarchy does run the risk of individualizing, and thereby minimizing, something much bigger than my personally taking offense. Maybe we need to do both in our Comments: Own our personal reaction to the offense and the theoretical/political frame for it. That way we’re neither hall-monitoring nor over-individualizing.

    On a related subject, the Psy.D. attached to my name is a professional degree, not an academic doctorate–in feminist theory or anything remotely related. Consequently, it never occurred to me (intent) that using it here could be throwing weight or claiming authority (effect)other than when I’m specifically addressing a psychological topic as a psychologist. I’m using it here one last time today in order to apologize for docsplaining as the doc who’s been, however unwittingly, guilty of same.

    Finally, I worry that I have been called on my shit and missed it. Or simply missed further stimulating discussion. It’s not practical to check every post I’ve ever commented on (even if I could remember which are which) in perpetuity. Could we please have one of those thingies to click that lets us subscribe to subsequent comments?

  118. Siren

    40 Years Later

    Siren visits Twisty at the Grouchy Old Spinsters’ Home and bribes her into explaining the art of deep sarcasm so that she, too, may someday learn how to deliver the perfect hilarious retort and always remain in possession of the last word.

  119. Pinko Punko

    Jill will just be a lobe in a jar then, harmonically surfing on the vibrations of the universe, or possible just deskunking Bert Jr. Jr. for the seventh time.

  120. agasaya

    Siren and Jane,

    Scenario: You work for a jerk who is driving the business into the ground and you have THE perfect solution for the problem. He rejects it because he is a moron. He has a boss though, concerned the business may go under.

    Do you and your fellow employees lose your jobs to your silent acquiescence to incompetence? Or, having nothing to lose, do you go to the head guy and offer the solution?

    The answer is no different from commenting in a public forum where you feel the audience is partially, if not fully, in keeping with the philosophy. Since you lose by doing nothing, you have everything to gain by making the effort.

    Make your statements. It has nothing to do with the ears receiving it if you feel it is justified. The responses you receive will modify your ideas about what is justified. You change during the process. Just as your readers will change watching that process. Evolution precedes revolution.

  121. Vibrating_Liz

    Manners, criticism, guidelines, disagreement, rebukes: these things don’t silence us, not unless we let them. NOTHING silences us if we choose not to be silenced.

  122. Kate

    Hello Jill, I work on a mine site in Australia, I am Very Very Old (47) and took the red (or blue?) pill of feminism a long, long time ago when I was 15 with Germaine Greer Female Eunuch, Betty Friedan Feminist Mystique etc. I only lurk here but I think you are quite right to slap down Siren to go to Guidelines for Commenters. Siren, Toughen up Princess and go somewhere else. Go Twisty. you do not have to Femsplain to Siren. Hello “Siren” thats a bit of a Sugar Burlesque name isn’t it – are you comfortable with your feminism?, it IS Twisty’s last word because its her blog. Please grow up and/or go away

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