Friday, April 23, 2010

Okay look

I don't claim to be the ideal male feminist saint or whatever, and I hate to lecture people, but jeez, how hard is it to have some basic manners? Okay, I'm no saint on the manners front either, at least in certain areas. But when it comes to areas that involve me, a guy, talking to non-guys, especially in the midst of controversial gender-related discussions, I like to be a little aware of what it sounds like when a guy says things like the following to a woman:

Gene Kwak at The French Exit:

yeah. here's the thing. that magazine is solely my baby. i really don't give a
fuck if you and your forehead and your paisley wall get pissed.

Blake Butler at htmlgiant:

Sorry I started this thread.

Shut up and write.

Reynard Seifert at Amy King's Alias:

i’m sorry that it’s not the seventies and you ladies missed the revolution.
really, that would’ve been sweet. but i wish you would stop making tigers out of
tissue paper.

Jereme at htmlgiant:

why is there any reaction looking at a list of “male” names in a journal? why do
you not have the same aggressive reaction towards other patterns, red and white

you people have such bullshit expectations. everything is not
the way you want it to be.

Yeah, now technically these are out of context. If you want the context you can click the links. Sure, some of these guys went on to "clarify" themselves in other comments, but it doesn't matter. Even if you have a legitimate argument somewhere, the only thing rudeness accomplishes is to make you look like an asshole. (I would know! I've made myself look like an asshole on plenty of blogs.) I mean, telling a woman to "shut up"? What is this, the "internet literature magazine blog of the 1850's"? It's mean, sexist, unhelpful, and it makes the rest of us guys look bad.

Also, why is it that guys are eager to shit-talk women on their blogs, but not, apparently, when the same pro-feminist opinion is expressed on a man's blog? (Hint! Hint!)


  1. why was i talking to only women?

    matt, shut up and write.

    or, you know, have a sandwich.

  2. I don't think there's a context in which those comments can come off as anything other than the whines of entitled douchebags.

    I understand the defensive reaction when someone calls you out for saying or doing something sexist--I've done it a bunch in the past when I said something stupid on political blogs, and the reactions there make the ones I've seen from writers seem fairly tame. Reynard would be holding his intestines in his hands if he said some shit like that at Shakesville, for instance.

    The real question is going to be how these dudez react to this criticism. Do they dig in, as it currently looks like they will? Or do they stop and self-examine, and see if maybe the criticism is warranted? I know where I'd put my money right now.

  3. I can't read HTML Giant anymore. Also, I will remember that those people wrote those lines; this will make it difficult to read anyone associated with HTML Giant.

    Maybe I'm wrong, maybe this will be part of a maturity narrative for some of them. I think it's about as likely as any of them writing a new Lord Jim, though. (Except Justin. I expect to be reading Justin's work for a while.)

  4. brian: "The real question is going to be how these dudez react to this criticism. Do they dig in, as it currently looks like they will? Or do they stop and self-examine, and see if maybe the criticism is warranted?"

    blake: "matt, shut up and write."

    glad we could resolve brian's question so quickly!

    actually i did have a sandwich just now blake. it wasn't bad.

    @jordan yes. (and yes about justin. he's a to-read for me as well.)

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  6. I can't help but notice that Reynard is upset because his poem isn't being read so I read it and read first "funbags" or perhaps "fun bags" and then I read "tits" a bit further down then I got bored and stopped reading but I think this pretty much ties in with the whole debate in some crucial way.

  7. darius, i think people should read all of them. and also use their brains a little bit.

  8. Jokes are supposed to be funny and I don't think anyone was joking when they made those comments.

    The most frustrating part about this whole ongoing conversation is that it's fine to disagree and as a rational person I can see both sides of this issue but the personal attacks and snide comments are just immature; they make a political discussion personal in really shitty ways.

  9. okay, so i'm sure not all of those things were said in jest. certainly i don't think jereme was joking, but i think jereme is a jerk and that much is well documented. and while i'm not trying to justify the things that were said, i am saying that sometimes people say things that aren't meant to be taken entirely literally and yet can still come from a place of anger and also be meant in jest. can this cause indigestion? sure. what i said, for instance, was an acidic expression of my distaste for the way certain people were going about making an example of this one journal and this one situation and trying to make it somehow representative of everything, which i think is just silly and i don’t like stuff like that because thank god the world is more complex than that. sure, i was defensive. and sure, i meant to be offensive. and obviously it's complicated because people on the internet don't know me personally and they can’t read my tone and we don’t get to actually have a conversation. so, was it a joke made in poor taste? okay, it wreaked. but a joke nonetheless. i thought certain people were overreacting and i guess i was spraying raid on the beehive because that's the sort of thing i do and maybe it's stupid but whatever, i am my grandmother’s granson and so i've never been one to keep my mouth shut regardless of whether it's going to be a good idea in the long run, it’s like a kid peeing on hotwire. (i mean, look at me go:)

    that said – do i stand behind what i said? yeah, i think i do. i mean, it isn't the seventies and there was a revolution and i was addressing the ladies of the house and i happen to know a lot about the three waves of feminism because i do care and it was really fucking important and i'm totally glad it happened and i would absolutely be there with them if it were happening right now; but this isn't then; nor is it that. certainly, things aren't perfect. there are still a ton of problems and inequities and a lot of people suck, good lord do they suck, and maybe i take my own knowledge of that for granted sometimes. the same thing happened with the wigger chick scandal. but, again, the idea that nothing's changed in forty years or whatever is preposterous (which is a general attitude i perceived, like the sexist attitude others perceived, from a certain set of people and was essentially stated by many people – although, sorry, i don’t feel like taking little bits of things from people’s spontaneous grunts as evidence of this attitude). obviously this is a different situation but there are obvious parallels. unfortunately, i feel that much of the hoopla in this whole thing is the sort of self-important, i-believe-this-and-you're-an-asshole-because-you-don't sort of b.s. that makes my blood boil every time people act like online literature is going to change the world or something, as if it were even a significant part of the popular culture. if it were, i suppose i would feel differently. but sexism in particular is so utterly apparent in pretty much every aspect of my daily life that i think it’s a joke to get pissed about it in this arena and not in every other one as well. and how can you live with yourself if that’s how you think about life? i would lose my goddamn mind.

    also, for what it’s worth, i would like to remind everyone of sam pink’s post wigger chick post re: jl austin:

  10. reynard, i appreciate you trying to explain what you were attempting to say, but there's no way the comment about "you ladies" could be construed as anything other than an insult. you can't just expect everyone to be wearing their irony caps and somehow read your mind to detect all the subtle little onion skin layers of meaning you're going for—especially when the people reading your comment have no idea who you are, have no idea about your professed feminism, and who are naturally going to assume, from the bald nastiness of your tone, than you're just a troll, a jereme.

    i didn't catch any irony in it, and not only am i slightly familiar with you(r online self)—whom i've always basically liked—i like to think i have a pretty good joke detector.

    i mean, you do realize that the word "ladies", the way guys often use it, is meant in a belittling way, don't you?

    you can have whatever opinion you want about gender equality in the lit world, but what i'm saying is, why not keep the discussion respectful? i think guys should approach any feminist-related debate from a position of some deference, remembering that women will always know more about what it's like to be a woman than we will.

    and feminism is just as important today as it was in "the 70s" or any other time. i assume you've heard about this class-action lawsuit against wal-mart, for example. could be a multi-billion-dollar suit, the largest ever.

    w/r/t to this comment:

    "i feel that much of the hoopla in this whole thing is the sort of self-important, i-believe-this-and-you're-an-asshole-because-you-don't sort of b.s."

    i think you're wrong about that. i can't speak for anyone else, but the reason some of us thought y'all were assholes is because you were acting *exactly like assholes*, not because of your beliefs. and i do think that most people who got pissed about this do get pissed about sexism in all arenas, not just literature.

    but thanks for commenting. unlike some people at least you're willing to talk about stuff.