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Shhh…

26 Feb

There are certain commenters on feminist and other social justice blogs that I keep wondering about, or rather: whose behavior keeps baffling me. These people (most of them self-identified men) are no “trolls” in the usual sense, i.e., they do not linger around comment threads with the need for petty recogni­tion; the people I am talking about would probab­ly argue that they are ho­nest­ly interested in feminist and other social topics, that they do value the writing people provide on it, and that they are here to argue in good faith. Still, despite all these seemingly benign intentions, even lower-level moderated feminist spaces can’t be bothered publishing or even replying to their comments. But despite the fact that about 90 percent of these commenters’ ideas never see the bright and shiny light of comment thread day, they feel the need to give bloggers the benefit of their opinion on every other post.

Can I just ask… why? What do people think they (or the ones they are confronting with this kind of behavior) have to gain from tactics like these?

Why would you continue to comment (most redundantly) on a blog that has not acknowledged your last ten posts? Why would you think that a feminist blog is very eager to learn your spectacular insights as a white, heterosexual, able-bodied cis-man on every topic imaginable (and why would you think that you actually have the knowledge to talk about all of that)? Why do you think it is appropriate to force your half-assed analyses on every feminist blogger you can get a hold of?

This curious behavior is nestled somewhere between critical commenting, mansplaining and trolling, so I personally find it harder to handle (…engage yet again to repeat the same basics one more time? Ignore? Delete? Spam?). It is, however, quite similar to good ol’ trolling in certain regards: people who have little knowledge on feminist/etc. issues (although they most certainly think they do…) feel the ever-growing need to educate you about either very basic feminist 101 ideas that they’ve just recently learned somewhere and now need someone else to validate them, or about long-refuted hypotheses on, well, The World ™ and how it works. The other possibility (that I find particularly charming) is the devil’s advocate role where some random dudes just start throwing stuff at you (because it’s just the internet, right, don’t take things so personally, you hysterical oversensitive misandrist radical ball buster), even though paying lip service to actually agreeing with you “more generally” – Melissa McEwan at Shakesville has written about that many times, and why it is not only exhausting but privileged and disrespectful behavior in the first place.

Some of the latest examples for this kind of conduct were some of the reactions to Charlott’s post about the Oscars, over at Mädchenmannschaft. In reply to her pointing out the misogyny, anti-Semitism and racism of a show that centered around jokes about topless actresses, domestic violence, JewsControlTehHollywoodz and WeCan’tUnderstandLatin@sAmIRite?!, some people found it necessary to tell Charlott that this is just “the entertainment industry,” and what do people really expect from that? Yeah, thanks for that groundbreaking insight… In reply to Charlott stating the obvious, namely that the Academy Awards are given out by a jury of predominantly elderly white men to predominantly elderly white men, people thought it wise to interject that both in the categories of leading and supporting actor/actress, the same amount of Oscars have been awarded. No shit, Sherlock… When Charlott problematized the racist and miso­gy­nistic treatment of Quvenz­hané Wallis, people found it appropriate to “remind” her of Django Unchained and its oh-so-clear “anti-racist” message, and that this ceremony clearly was all about racial har­mony. Have you been staying under a rock recently…? I’d rather publish another response (ironically) praising the beauty of this “coal black child” than those trying to school feminist and anti-racist bloggers about, well, feminism and anti-racism with the most ridiculous assumptions and a bare lack of know­ledge, all while thinking they have a key insight to contribute to this discussion – over and over again.

shhh2And yet, magically, this happens with a large per­cen­tage of the posts on femi­nist blogs, and it is al­most ex­clu­sive­ly done by the same hand­full of people (mostly men*) in seeming­ly end­less loops of re­dun­dan­cy. So, let me give you a quick ser­vice an­nounce­ment that other bloggers are too polite to give you (…and we all know that subtlety isn’t for me): please shut up al­ready. No one cares about your ill-informed “in­for­mation” you think is pi­votal to the success of some­one else’s blog’s con­tent or their wri­ting sty­le. This is not de­bate cul­ture – this is simply draining re­sources from people who have to deal with you and full-fledged trolls on a daily basis any­way. If you have questions about feminism and/or racism, take a look at a 101 and then come back. There is no responsibility to answer every single douche canoe comment to make people happy, and there certainly is no benefit to having to repeat day in, day out, why feminist bloggers on feminist blogs care about feminism so much or why criticizing pop culture makes sense in a critical post about pop culture.

When you realize at some point that none of your comments (or very few) ever make it through, it might be time to step back from the hard and cruel comment game and start reading and listening a bit more. That’s how most of the feminist bloggers (surprise: including this loud-mouthed one) started out, by the way: shutting up and educating themselves in other feminist spaces, for example – not drowning everyone everywhere in a flood of useless comments. If you don’t have anything else but rudely phrased banalities based on superficial knowledge to add to the conversation (which, by the way, can be quickly determined by people’s reactions to your posts or the fact that your posts are never actually answered or never even appear on the page), you might want to reconsider your actions. You know, the basic common decency approach has proven quite popular here and elsewhere… Because right now, the thing you’re doing is essentially online harassment. You’re the guy who is “just not getting it,” no matter how pronounced one signals you to back off. It’s not sexual harassment, but it is gendered harassment – and No means No (including the “No” that is conveyed when ignoring you).

Now: step away from the keyboard, and try to keep it down.

Excuse Me, Your Misogyny Is Showing.

20 Aug

[Content Note: rape culture]

Ah, rape culture – alive and thriving. Not only is Julian Assange encouraged to continue his charade of “Who’s the bigger victim? Me (white, cis, het, popular dude who has been fighting being questioned in evil Sweden about the sexual assault and rape I might have committed for almost two years now, and who has been able to gain political asylum from a free-media-despising state after having lived in their embassy for two months to circumvent my impending extradition) or the CIA-honeytrap b*tches? See, that’s me waving from their balcony yesterday! Just ask millions of loyal followers who agree that this was just a dirty trick against my penis’ integrity, and even if it wasn’t, my penis is still more important than those honeytraps’ sensitivities, because it is attached to a white man, and I’ve done other things in the past and, therefore, could never commit a crime. Also, I’m amazing, like, whoa…”

Now people have to listen to U.S. Senate (Tea Party) candidate, Todd Akin from Missouri, and his very peculiar theories on rape, abortions and biology:

Yes, it is: Tea Party biology for comic relief. Except that it’s not funny, because people like Akin are not only granted a public forum to spew out their theories of misogynistic absurdity, but actually have a shot at gaining a seat in a legislative body that, with Roe v. Wade under ever increasing threat, can and will try short of everything to make access to abortion, birth control, women’s health care and support structures for rape survivors virtually impossible; thanks to this kind of reasoning.

Whereas people with a minimal understanding of human biology and basic common decency would agree that forced pregnancies and forced birth are anathema to women’s* human and civil rights, and that (further) legislating women’s* bodies to a point where every sense of bodily autonomy and integrity has vanished is a mere testimony to underlying currents of misogynistic impulses to (re)gain control over a specific part of the population, even the most hardcore right-winger usually backs down on forcing women* to give birth in the cases of rape, incest, or an immediate danger to a woman’s* life.  Akin, however, represents a truly disturbing fraction of forced-birthers (…”pro life” – my ass) – that includes Sarah Palin, by the way – who think that a blastocyst trumps a woman’s life, bodily integrity, physical and emotional health, and right to be acknowledged as a full human being. Incidentally, this way of thinking goes hand in hand with a hate for everything of importance for women’s* health and an obsession with finding ways to talk yourself out of biological processes by simultaneously loading banalities of nature and aspects of developing life with existential meaning and aggressively ignoring others.

Akin takes the cake, however, by stating that, in the most dire circumstances (as doctors have allegedly told him), women’s bodies had the ability to “shut down” pregnancies. How exactly women* stop fertilization or nidation or meiosis, be it through chaste willpower or evil slut magic or by sucking your stomach in really hard, Akin does not explain. And how could he? It is biology for misogynistic assholes, who believe that women* are actually so dangerous and mysterious in terms of reproductive rights, at least, that no matter what you throw at them, they will still find a way to manipulate (…dammit). Here it works to everyone’s advantage, though, because if a rape survivor becomes pregnant after the sexual assault, it is actually her own fault. Not only has she already proven that her will power to fight off rape like a true lady (i.e., “legitimate rape”, as Akin calls it – more on that in a second) was just not high enough, she has now also failed to initiate the “pregnancy shut down” processes of true rape survivors, and must, therefore, have called her fate upon herself; and, in any case, does not deserve anything that right-wing assholes like him define as abortion (yes, that includes the morning-after-pill).

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Back To Shouting, Then.

8 Jul

One of the dangers of social media tools is that you’re always up to date, and this makes my particular decisions whether or not to be witness to yet another incidence of failure rather difficult. Discovering this morning that the public radio broadcasting company, Deutschlandradio Wissen, had decided on a round table, discussing an unorganized array of video games, cultural impact and sexism, and yet, did not have a single “expert” there who wasn’t a self-identified man*, this Saturday morning started out rather troublesome.

Many things were wrong with this “round table” and the fact that three men* kept musing on about what Women* (TM) really wanted in video games or what Feminists (TM) might have to say about sexism was just the most ironic part. The fact that a representative of this radio station felt the need to answer my twittered criticism by saying that if I didn’t like it, I should read newspapers or blogs instead and they thought it was a good show (surprise!), was also just another example of how alleged “professionals” deal with people who criticize their pseudo-“artistic freedom” (when this artistic freedom is nothing less than the marginalization of certain people) in germany. Not even the l**e [I apologize for using ableist language – thank you for pointing it out, zweisatz!] bad  excuse that the radio station simply couldn’t find any women* competent enough for this debate, that shit happens and that we should all calm the fuck down was particularly exciting. [Check out Femgeeks for their reaction!]

What annoyed me the most, yet again, was the publicly spoken white privilege and its subsequent defense. Two quotes were particularly sharp, namely – when (rightly) aiming at criticizing the white-man-default of video games – the continued talk of “people of other skin colors” (other meaning not white, as was the guests’ unspoken agreement, because white universality is awesome), and the half-sentence about the irritation of being prompted to battle against “Taiwanese 15 year-olds” when logging on a game.

Most people who have heard a thing or two about white privilege and racism probably understand what my problem is with this. Hints: whiteness as default and its constant reproduction, racialized clichés about “ethnic” groups, general dumbassery.

And, as it was to be expected, this was just too much for some people on Twitter. As this post might come across as putting the boot in with more than 140 spaces, let me just say that: 1. Totally. 2. Ben is just a wonderful example for a line of argument and behavior that is typical for some people.

So… Ben showed up! Male, atheist, non-smoker, and self-declared debater who thought that I read “too much into” the whole thing, and that finding racism wherever I can was my personal “wishful thinking”. Yes, he apparently believes I actively hope for discrimination, because I’m hooked on that sucker like no tomorrow. I am, actually, but not in the way Ben thinks… The “debate” rapidly worsened, because Ben was determined to show that the “context” of white privileged expressions (such as “other-coloreds”, or complaining about those videogame crazed Asians, amirite?!) is crucial, and posed investigative, multi-layered questions: if I always thought that racist language was a sign of racism, what about oral presentations about racism that are critical of racism by pointing out racist language, are they racist too…? Huh? Huh?!

I tried. Honestly. Because once in a blue moon, I think that debating people might help, and I shouldn’t virtually shout at them right away. So, I tried. I tried to explain that racist stereotypes are racist. That racist language is racist. That having three white dudes debate whether women* like a good rape background story in Tomb Raider is a really bad idea. But Ben kept asking for evidence!1! of where the actual racism or sexism lie in these words and interactions.

Not being convincing enough, he called me a “child”, accused me of trying to read between the lines (of “other skin-colored people”, because that’s such a subtle innuendo…), of being a coward and telling me that he totally believes in structural racism and sexism, but that he doesn’t want me to bring it up so much when talking to him, because he sees me as a human being, not as a woman* (yes, I had to chuckle – this sums the sexism issue up, basically…), and that I didn’t even know him, so I shouldn’t be so mean. He just doesn’t think that racist stereotypes and racist language mean racism, because context.

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How About A Vagina Mileage-Program?

23 May

germany’s Pirate Party is an issue I try to steer clear of because, you know, eeew…

There is a whole cluster of cringe-worthiness surrounding the Pirates, but the latest example would be again one of… let’s say… gender insensitivity (read: misogynistic assholery). Apparently, the Pirates are now in the middle of a discussion whether gender quotas/affirmative action is totally discriminatory towards men* in their happy post-gender world (that results in new record lows of women* in positions of relative influence and a superb 13.3 per cent of female* members in Berlin’s parliamentary Pirate group) or not.

In case you haven’t heard, the official name for gender quotas, according to one of the Pirate Party’s members of Berlin’s Senate, Gerwald Claus-Brunner, should be (*drum roll*) “Tits Bonus”.

He has now apologized for using this “inappropriate” and “sexist” term and for possibly offending or discriminating against anyone, and is now of the belief that the debate regarding gender quotas in his party is of importance.

Obviously, Gerwald’s grovelling to all the angry bonus tits (…you might call them “women*”) cannot be tolerated – and he’s facing some intra-party criticism for calling his prior evaluation of women’s biggest assets “sexist”.

Stephan V. believes that the expression wasn’t sexist, since expressions can never be anything; putting “tits bonus” in context, however, makes it kinda problematic, because it implied something along the lines of taking advantage. Uttering “bonus” was much more offensive than combining it with “tits”, Stephan V. muses on.

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Let Me Spell It Out For You: I DON’T CARE.

22 May

<rant> Honestly… Is there any debate anywhere where there’s not at least one random dude popping up, simply having to add his extremely important opinion? No matter the topic, no matter if it’s an explicitly feminist or whatever blog, some men* just can’t help but add their voice to the conversation, nevermind if they know what people are talking about or if what they’re about to say has been said 10 times before. Two of the latest, beautiful “But what about the menz’ opinions?” examples would be Caperton‘s post about men’s reactions to feminist body image discussions here on Feministe, and Helga’s post on sexual harassment here on Mädchenmannschaft.

Both of them basically boil down to the fact that most women* don’t actually care about whether some random dude finds them fuckable, and don’t want to hear a random dude’s opinion on their looks and various body parts while Being Female* In Public. Whether it is some random guy declaring that he actually likes small breasts when women* discuss mainstream body images on a feminist blog, or some dude being very upset and sees prison time in his near future for saying “Hello” to someone he deems attractive because women* discuss how offensive and annoying it can be to be constantly contacted by strangers by simply going outside, there never seems to be the possibility to have these discussions without some men* getting all flustered by the implication of taking away some of their privilege of dominance in public space.

But – wait for it – here’s the breaking news: I . Don’t. Care.

Let me repeat that: I DON’T CARE what you think about my looks when I’m going grocery shopping or meeting friends or riding my bike or reading a book on a park bench. I don’t care that you want to meet someone today and think it is appropriate to randomly approach people and persist in your contact efforts, no matter how pointedly one looks away or bids you farewell. I don’t care that you want to say Hello to someone you find attractive – Being Female In Public does not mean I’m here for your entertainment, and it does not mean that I want to meet you.

As Captain Awkward has phrased it: I don’t care about Notes From Your Boner. Leave me the fuck alone when I dare walk down the street or have the audacity to stand at a bus stop. You can fantasize all you like, and no one is saying that you cannot ever talk to someone in public. There are perfectly nice ways to interact with other people, to ask a stranger what time it is, or to give a little smile and see what happens. But all the butt-hurt desperation about how men* won’t ever find True Love if they don’t chat up every woman* on the street as they like, and men* whining that women* are totally mean and overreacting when they actually physically react to being slapped on the butt or having a boob grabbed? Disgusting. Horrifying. Exemplary of why you don’t meet anyone.

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