«

»

Jul 17 2010

My unique style self-expresses who I personally am

Me!
Jilroy Silliphant. Me! 1963. Pixels on ectoplasm.

The inbox at Spinster HQ this morning contained several urgent communiqués from an entity calling itself “How do I remove my tampon without it hitting something?”.

Yeah, this is a little embarrassing, but whenever I try to remove my tampon, it either hits my fingers or the rim of the toilet. I’m trying to take it out slowly so that it doesn’t swing around, but it’s a huge ordeal. Any tips?

As I read these words — which seemed to me not like everyday, earthly words, but like diamantine droplets of sublime Internet perfection leaping from the screen to encrust my optic nerves in tiny, piercing embraces — a little tear of happiness (the sort of happiness that fills the void left by the pain of defeat after an arduous struggle) welled up in my jaundiced eye. Suddenly all those pent-up, anti-Internet feelings I’ve been having lately melted away into the aether. I gathered some rose petals in a basket the color of sunshine and went skipping down the lane, strewing the petals and singing my Number One Jam, “Top of the World” by the Carpenters. After I got done singing that, I started in on my other Number One Jam, Madonna’s seminal feminist anthem for social change, “Holiday.”

Upon my return to the bunkhouse it became apparent that a small point, lately arisen on the blog, required a clarification. As you know, a roiling controversy attends certain of my views regarding the practice of beginning arguments with the word “I.” My lobe — having recently been blown by the fact that the afore-referenced zenith of tamponish prosody and crystalline subsense had been achieved, by some miracle, without my vigilant intervention — now compels me to rethink my position.

Let me be perfectly clear.

Begin remarks however you like. Use whatever words you want, to convey whatever tone you desire, to express whatever thought pops into your head. If you manage to achieve even a fraction of the exquisite pithiness of “How do I remove my tampon without it hitting something?”, no greater contribution to human enlightenment could be expected of you.

Meanwhile, because I have shown myself to be incapable of explaining to anybody’s satisfaction why it is advantageous for women to disseminate their views on social and political issues as bona fide ideas rather than as qualified, localized, personal opinions, or of illustrating the ways in which this rhetorical style differs from “telling my story,” I am retiring from (but not conceding) the fight. I reckon I’m just too old and beat up.

But before I go, I urge the blametariat to consider this: an idea is infinite and infectious and evolving. Some ideas: Elvis, birth control, the Internet. An opinion, on the other hand, is small and finite and, ultimately, irrelevant. An opinion is “I like pie.”

53 comments

1 ping

  1. Citizen Jane

    If this is how you express your frustration with those of us who have trouble with the “I” thing, then I’m sorry for being so frustrating.

  2. Jill

    Citizen Jane, I have just read the revealing comment you left on the other post, and I assure you that, although the timing would make it seem otherwise, I didn’t write the above to mock you.

    I have always enjoyed your commentary and, it may surprise you to know, never particularly noticed which pronouns you use.

    You haven’t asked me for advice, so I’ll give you some. Being intellectually assertive in real life is an extremely desirable outcome, and despite early dishrag training, you can reset your lobe to accommodate it. I know, because I’ve done it. A great place to start throwing your brainiac weight around is anonymously on some dumb blog like this one. I urge you to take the plunge!

    [Note: I copied the following two paragraphs to the body of the post because they explain better than anything I've written what my dealio is on this topic.]

    Meanwhile, because I have shown myself to be incapable of explaining to anybody’s satisfaction why it is advantageous for women to disseminate their views on social and political issues as bona fide ideas rather than as qualified, localized, personal opinions, or of illustrating the ways in which this rhetorical style differs from “telling one’s story,” I am retiring from (but not conceding) the fight. I reckon I’m just too old and beat up.

    But before I go, I urge the blametariat to consider this: an idea is infinite and infectious and evolving. Some ideas: Elvis, birth control, or the Internet. An opinion is small and finite and, ultimately, irrelevant. An opinion is “I like pie.”

  3. Bonnie

    Pithiness is.

  4. Comrade PhysioProf

    As someone said in some fucking movie or some such shit, “Opinions are like assholes”.

  5. EmilyBites

    Truly, a universal dilemma.

  6. nails

    Hey now, internet feminists aren’t allowed to have a sense of humor. I’ll need to confiscate that, ASAP.

  7. humanbein

    It’s that doggy face in the lower right corner that commands my entire attention. I love it when dogs are making that WTF? face. Really puts everything into perspective.

  8. yttik

    Jill, why do you think you have failed in the “I statement” fight? It appears that the majority of blamers were agreeing with you, even those who explained why they have so much trouble giving it up.

    “An opinion is small and finite and, ultimately, irrelevant.”

    Yes, but only when it’s offered by a female. For the most part male opinions Truly Matter. I’m sure we could even find a mansplainer on the internet somewhere using lots of I statements to educate and inform troubled tampon users, proving his vastly superior expertise based on nothing but his own personal opinions.

    You’ve said something important that women need to hear. You’ve told them to speak as if they were qualified to declare universal truths and to not apologize for doing it.

  9. Citizen Jane

    Goodness gracious, I am so very touched. Thank you, Jill! It’s wonderful to get affirmation from someone you admire.

  10. Jill

    humanbein
    July 17, 2010 at 11:30 am

    It’s that doggy face in the lower right corner that commands my entire attention. I love it when dogs are making that WTF? face. Really puts everything into perspective.

    The dog’s role in the work is that of Voyeur. In order for Me! to exist, an audience must perceive Me!, but from a distance, and benignly, and selflessly, with no expectation of reciprocation .

  11. Comrade PhysioProf

    The dog’s role in the work is that of Voyeur. In order for Me! to exist, an audience must perceive Me!, but from a distance, and benignly, and selflessly, with no expectation of reciprocation.

    HAHAHA! That’s so fucking funny! I didn’t even see the little doggie until it was pointed out. You must not like cats.

  12. Jill

    Comrade PhysioProf
    July 17, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    The dog’s role in the work is that of Voyeur. In order for Me! to exist, an audience must perceive Me!, but from a distance, and benignly, and selflessly, with no expectation of reciprocation.

    HAHAHA! That’s so fucking funny! I didn’t even see the little doggie until it was pointed out. You must not like cats.

    Also, because no armadillos or manatees are pictured, it can be inferred that I don’t like them, either.

  13. Jodie

    It is very hard to give up when one has done that for a lifetime, especially when one rarely speaks up much at all.

    The dog may be Voyeur, but with an air of puzzlement.

  14. Sylvie

    Pie, pie, you say.

    “For people who like that sort of thing that is the sort of thing they like”.

  15. sonia

    Still unclear why referring to ourselves in the third person is not a great idea. It would take a minimum 2-3 posts for all of us to get so sick of it that we stopped taking ANY form of general address to heart. No?

    Well, whatever. Also want to state that my use of capitals to begin sentences has been greatly improved since my return to IBTP.

  16. Pinko Punko

    I believe that the expression of “I” is suboptimal in commenting because it is cultivated as an affectation of passive aggressiveness, or a kind of secret legitimizer implying that ones belief renders ones opinion to be Truth, and perhaps is perceived as a tool of cafeteria -inism (name your prefix).

    But I just use it. Frak.

  17. Pinko Punko

    I think that it means that it isn’t all bad, but I also think I get the gist.

    AGAIN I did it. I am a stinka.

  18. sargassosea

    “Being intellectually assertive in real life is an extremely desirable outcome, …”

    Yes, despite the ass being chewed on a daily basis for it.

    This has been an excellent exercise for a whole new way of Blaming. Yay!

  19. AileenWuornos

    “Meanwhile, because I have shown myself to be incapable of explaining to anybody’s satisfaction why it is advantageous for women to disseminate their views on social and political issues as bona fide ideas rather than as qualified, localized, personal opinions, or of illustrating the ways in which this rhetorical style differs from “telling one’s story,” I am retiring from (but not conceding) the fight. I reckon I’m just too old and beat up.”

    It never even occurred to me that this is why you don’t like comments that start with “I”. However, now this valuable piece of information has reached my grey matter, it feels as though I’ve been sitting in the dark and someone has just turned the light on. Huzzah indeed. Twisty/Jill your blog is fanastic because it forces me to think about my writing and patriarchy blaming in a whole new and clearer way.

    I might be so bold to say that when I “grow up” I want to be an awe inspiring spinster aunt with an adorable dog friend too.

  20. Sylvie

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00t48ts/That_Mitchell_and_Webb_Look_Series_4_Episode_1/

    Synchronity (or is it…?????)…….

  21. Ma'Whis'Ki

    [“An opinion is small and finite and, ultimately, irrelevant.”

    Yes, but only when it’s offered by a female. For the most part male opinions Truly Matter.]

    Agreed, and agreed. Case in point, the male medical *opinion*, current until the late 1950′s, that a woman’s cervix has no real sensitivity. My mother wound up having a cervical cauterization done (mid-50′s) *without anesthesia*, because her obgyn agreed with the prevailing *opinion* rather than with the expanded scientific data of the time, which did note that there were in fact sense-nerve and pain-nerve receptors in the female cervix.

    I will also not delete my mother’s *I*, as in ‘I vomited’, ‘I passed out twice’, ‘I screamed’, ‘I thought I was going to die’, because these I-statements are *not* opinions. They are the first-hand-account statements of a victim of medical sado-sexual torture, and are admissible as evidence in a court of law.

  22. utahgirl

    “They told me to change and called me names and so I popped one. Opinions are like assholes and everybody’s got one.”

    -Salt N Pepa

  23. ivyleaves

    But it’s far more likely that an asshole has an opinion than the reverse.

  24. speedbudget

    “Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one, and nobody thinks theirs stinks” is how the quote goes, I believe.

    I love that one.

    I am also glad to know I am not the only one dealing with errant and mischievious tampons. Those suckers are so hard to corral. It’s all very maddening.

    Hey, guys, I like the insistence on us standing up and just saying shit rather than starting with “I feel” and “I think.” Practice:

    Goddamn, Ma’Whis’Ki, reading that made me cringe all up inside. OUCH. And I love that the medical opinion was there was no feeling and no dude scientist or doctor ever thought to, you know, ask some ladies if their cervix had sensation. And then to sit there and continue the procedure on your mother as she screamed and vomited and eventually (thank Dog) passed out is unconscionable.

  25. speedbudget

    I think Phil hates me. All my comments end up in moderation.

  26. Jill

    speedbudget
    July 18, 2010 at 4:57 am

    I think Phil hates me. All my comments end up in moderation.

    I’ve been trying to figure this out, and can only conclude that you are currently using a banned IP. Are you Mandos in disguise or something?

  27. speedbudget

    No, it’s the same old speedbudget I’ve always been. I am posting on an iMac using Safari if that means anything.

  28. buttercup

    Jill, that photo is wonderful. You look positively beatific, and the voyeurdog is menacing and cheerful at the same time. Well done.

    Overcoming early conditioning is difficult, but can be done. I piss people off regularly by challenging and reacting honestly to insipid facebook memes, disney princesses, self-deprecating comments, and passive-aggression. I’m working on expanding this behavior into the real world in celebration of my 50th birthday.

    So how DOES one remove a tampon without having it flail about everywhere? We wouldn’t want errant tampon juice touching anything, after all.

  29. Virginia S. Wood, Psy.D.

    It was Clint Eastwood, to the mayor, in Dirty Harry who said it first: “Opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one.”

    It remains one of the better lines in movie history, and pre-dates Salt N Pepa’s use by at least two decades. However, I like her context better. Spunky!

  30. Bushfire

    1. Pull tampon string until tampon is peeking out from vagina.
    2. Grasp string right where it meets the tampon, so that fingers are holding the tampon steady.
    3. Continue to pull tampon.

    OR

    1. Use a diva cup.

  31. Pinko Punko

    Mandos wouldn’t post under a nom de unbanned, would he? Maybe if it was about an iPhone. That really gets him going.

    If you whitelist speedbudget’s IP, it might come back in the clear. A few times into the pile of suspicion and things snowball. Free speedbudget!

  32. redpeachmoon

    again, thanks jill and blamers for the soul-balm of these essays and comments! I feel the tension in my body releasing when i visit this site and feel encouraged and somehow supported in kicking back on FB, for challenging some casual verbal cruelty thrown out my way, or otherwise being chastised for being ‘disagreeable and not letting things go’. was there really ever a womens’ movement in my youth? what the hell happened? the inequities the patriarchy creates and maintains astounding and far reaching…. yttk, I love your post, and it is so appreciated today. blame on you beautiful women. I need you!

  33. redpeachmoon

    Sorry, just read the guidelines. I promise to tighten it up.

  34. hero

    Buttercup: hero (“I”) will stop being passive aggressive if it will really make you happy.

  35. joy

    “It never even occurred to me that this is why you don’t like comments that start with “I”. However, now this valuable piece of information has reached my grey matter, it feels as though I’ve been sitting in the dark and someone has just turned the light on. Huzzah indeed.”

    Indeed indeed!

    Perhaps in the non-IBTP world, many have experienced this conversation:

    Feminist: “Porn/prostitution/stripping/BDSM/child abuse/capitopatriarchy hurts women.”
    Non-Feminist: “PROVE IT BITCH.”

    To which the feminist may suggest a bunch of studies and books to read, but those suggestions will be invariably be ignored. Ultimately what sex-pozzies and some dudes love most of all is “personal experience”, and thus many feminists may jump the gun and go straight to experience to prove their points.

    Right before being told they are too irrational and not objective enough, of course, thereby proving that feminists can never, ever do anything right, ever.

    However, the compulsion to provide “opinions” as opposed to “ideas” is still there, the same way many women still feel compelled to put on makeup in the morning.

    Here at the IBTP, though, women are theoretically among equals who will not usually make unnecessary, Feminism 101 “PROVE IT” demands of one another. Thus, we are free to express our ideas as ideas as opposed to opinions and personal anecdotes, and can expect to be (largely) taken seriously.

    This is truly revolutionary, and I hadn’t thought of it that way before either. Thank you, Jill.

  36. Carpenter

    “1. Pull tampon string until tampon is peeking out from vagina.”

    This is no guarantee that the tampon won’t hit something. My friend hit someone else in the face while doing this, though someones face is neither a toilet rim nor a ones own finger so maybe its all good.

  37. JetGirl

    The only thing that could possibly make this photo better is a background of cartoon seahorses. Cartoon seahorses frolicking among kelp fronds.

  38. Ron Sullivan

    “Pull”? Jeez, back in the day, I just poiked ‘em out, no hands, patoo-splat. Unless they were still all dry. I dunno, kids these days, must be all them video games, mumblemmblemmbl.

  39. nails

    Speaking of tamping corralling- I ditched tampons in favor of a Diva Cup about half a year back. It is awesome. It doesn’t pollute the environment like tampons, it costs about 30$, and lasts for five years. When I am done with my period it goes in the dishwasher and hangs out for a few weeks. The Diva cup is latex, there is some rubber version that lasts for ten (luna cup?). No weird perfumey chemicals, and it is just as comfortable.

    Even whole foods & REI sell em. They have a website at divacup dot com.

  40. Alex

    The tampon question is very strange. Did the person think that “Spinster Aunt” means “reproductive health educator”? Is it some new spam trend? And is it really so bad if the tampon hits something? Or, to put the question another way, would the tampon hitting something be so bad if menstrual blood were not considered ritually unclean?

    Jill’s explanation of the “I” problem makes a lot of sense–it’s the exact flip side of all of the arguments in favor of “using your I statements” that one hears in therapy, business communication textbooks, daytime talk shows, and so on. “I” statements can’t be disproven–or proven. “I think the sun will rise in the morning” and “I think it won’t” have exactly the same argumentative weight. As Ma’Whis’ki’s example demonstrates, the “I” statement has its rhetorical purposes, but like all rhetorical devices, using it on reflex or as an empty signifier of politeness makes the “I” statement less powerful on those occasions when it really is called for.

    (Whew! I got through that one with no “I statements”…until now.)

  41. sargassosea

    Some two weeks ago, while practicing a bit of internet feminism, this Blamer was tarred n’ feathered for failing to preface her (brilliant!) statement with, “What does everyone here think about [said statement]”.

    Serv-Pro is still here scraping lobe off of the ceiling.

  42. Larkspur

    A bogus question, the tampon removal dilemma is. Someone wants a female someone to talk about vaginas and blood and menstruation (the “monthly ‘infection’” about which Newt Gingrich once spoke so stupidly) and the ever-present feeling of, “O, I am dirty!” or (let’s hope) “What? Am I dirty? Because of the blood? Next question, please.”

    You remove the tampon. Any splatters? They wipe right up. Then you wash your hands, and return to the battle.

    I am old old old now, and don’t deal with tampons any more. But for you youngsters, here’s something exciting. In my later menstrual years, after much practice, I no longer needed to pull to remove the things. Using only intentionality and exquisitely powerful woman muscles, I just had to get the tampon near, and thwupp, there it went. When it was time for it to go, all I had to do was aim.

    Also, the pertinent part of this post was pertinent indeed, and I thank you.

  43. tinfoil hattie

    The photo of you looks remarkably like the illustration of Ramona Quimby proclaiming, “My name is Danny Fitszimmons” in – I think – Henry and the Paper Route.

    (Note the book is really more about Ramona, but still … it’s HENRY and the Paper Route. And I digress. And blame, and blame, and blame.)

  44. Shelly

    Diva Cup? BWAH!

  45. shallowwater

    Ah ha! The final sentence has finally clicked and I now understand what is to be accomplished by avoiding “I” statements. Enlightenment achieved!

  46. Bushfire

    @Nails: Lucky you! I paid $38 for mine! We don’t have Whole Foods in Canada but I bought mine at a women’s bookstore. I love it too. It is so nice to NOT have to buy a box of pads every month for $10.

  47. Italian Meringue

    Highlighted Virginia S. Psy Wood,

    Inspector Callahan also said “there’s nothin’ wrong with shootin’ as long as the right people get shot’.

  48. Ma'Whis'Ki

    [Goddamn, Ma’Whis’Ki, reading that made me cringe all up inside. OUCH. And I love that the medical opinion was there was no feeling and no dude scientist or doctor ever thought to, you know, ask some ladies if their cervix had sensation. And then to sit there and continue the procedure on your mother as she screamed and vomited and eventually (thank Dog) passed out is unconscionable.]

    Speedbudget–

    I was 5 years old when she went through this, and she talked to me about it when I was 30– I had a similar procedure done, under anesthesia, of course. The thing that fried me about my mom’s case is that when I checked to see when the medical literature started acknowledging cervical nerve-endings, I found that said nerve-endings were known about when her obgyn (a man) tortured her. He did it on the strength of *his own opinion* that– as he told her– there weren’t enough nerves there to really matter.

    This was, completely and utterly, nothing more than a male *personal opinion*, which became pseudo-fact because patriarchy gives undue importance to any and all male I-statements, and zero credibility to female I-statements, even when they are the kind of first-person testimony that *is* court-admissible as evidence. So the situation becomes one of “male I-statement = incontrovertible fact, female I-statement = ‘just an opinion, and can be safely ignored’”– the female *I* is summarily deleted before that *I* can develop any traction.

    However, just because a woman’s I-statements are (patriarchy-patronizingly) rubbished, it does not follow that she should further sanitize I-statements from her speech ‘in order for her ideas to be taken seriously’. The problem isn’t with the woman or any I-statement she may choose to make, it’s with the patriarchal a priori devaluation of her *I*, because ‘the I speaking is a woman’…

  49. Elizabeth

    I spend half my paper-grading life crossing out “I think” and “I believe” from students’ argument papers, especially those of female students. I could not agree more with Jill, even though it appears that I have used “I” several times.

  50. Emma

    If one is talking about one’s own experiences, “I” statements are appropriate, no? Consciousness raising among women, the very method of feminist theory making, is all about “I” statements.

    For example, “I was sexually propositioned by my boss and fired when I said no. I don’t think that’s right.” repeated 10, 100, 1,000, 100,000 times became the feminist theory of sexual harassment which became the law of sexual harassment.

    But how does one draw the line between mutual consciousness raising and hall monitoring? For me, it’s about the time when somebody says: “But if a feminist says something racist, sexist, etc. in front of me, I’m not going to let it slide.” Your belief that you need to immediately correct everybody’s ignorance about their “exercise of privilege” is what makes feminist discourse unbearable on so many occasions, regardless of the language used to make that correction.

    I think Sarah Tonin gave the commenter the benefit of the doubt and was assuming that perhaps the commenter had a momentary lapse of attention or privilege analysis that could be self corrected by reference to the commenter’s knowledge of oppression. Twisty’s long-winded explanation assumes the commenter has her head so far up her ass regarding class oppression that a history lesson explaining it all was necessary forthwith.

    ST’s comment gives room for a momentary lapse of judgment, which everybody has, and self correction. Twisty’s comment assumes ignorance born of class privilege and the need for education given, of course, by the one who holds the superior knowledge of class oppression.

    Of course, *how* one holds that superior knowledge is central to feminist method, i.e. consciousness raising. Could it be because “I” or “you” have experienced it?

    Anyway, bottom line, there are plenty of “I” and “you” statements implied in Twisty’s history lessons about trailer parks, IMO. Mostly that “you” have your head up your ass and “I” obviously need to tell you what’s what. Which is fine generally speaking, but certainly doesn’t meet the goal set by Twisty.

  51. Sophie

    Menstrual cups are excellent. That is not an opinion. That is a fact. Although now I’ve read about Larkspur’s hands-free tampon removal I want to use them again so I can see if I can do it too (unlikely).

  52. Helen

    I must stop reading this blog now, because my LOLs are embarassing my teenager and making the dog make anxious whiny noises.

  53. Katherine

    “You remove the tampon. Any splatters? They wipe right up. Then you wash your hands, and return to the battle.” – Larkspur

    It still must be annoying to have the extra steps of checking and then cleaning up splatters, regardless of any feelings of disgust (or the lack of them). We can never know the level of disgust that the original questioned held unless they tell us.

  1. Versatile blogger award! « Feminéma

    [...] and brush up on our blamer mouth muscles. I just wish I could come play with her animals. Read “My unique style self-expresses who I personally am” and get a taste of what you could be enjoying with more feminism, [...]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>