Saturday, July 29, 2006

Selfish. Selfish, selfish, selfish.

So I've been getting this one tossed my way from a couple different directions lately--oh, in a collective, general sort of way, of course. But it goes something like this:

"You can't possibly understand the pain the pain the PAIN I'm talking about. Why don't you listen?! You know what?? i don't care about your trifling problems; why should I? What about MY/OUR problems, huh? HUH??? YOU are selfish. Selfish selfish selfish. (insert some sort of sociopolitical reason why; unless--oops!--it's a familial one, but that is a whole 'nother subject; or is it?)...and furthermore you are (insert labels of various meant-to-be-demeaning sorts), and OBVIOUSLY you will never EVER understand what I'm talking about because you JUST DON'T WANT TO, and I am SO DONE with you, except for I'm just gonna foam in your general direction for another six paragraphs/twenty minutes, and..."

Okay. Bored now.

You know why? Because invariably this sort of blow-up/lash-out comes as a direct response to some sort of disagreement with the blower-upper. A trigger, perhaps. A hot button, no doubt. We've all got 'em. Sure.

And you know what: the blower-upper may well be perfectly right. A-100% absotively incontrovertibly right, right, RIGHT; just as sie would appear to be insisting is the only possible interpretation. It could well be. Sure. Stranger things have happened. And:

I don't care. Either. At this point.

That's right.

Because I'm selfish. Selfish selfish selfish. It's quite true.

But YOU, see, are a flaming asshole.

Oh yeah: and a control freak.

And no, I don't care what your sociopolitical/inner moppet/biochemical justification is. Either.

I am selfish.

In this instance, that means I care more about my feelings than I do about yours.

You in particular, I mean. Because, I don't know you. I don't want to know you. And/or, back to my point: you're being an insufferable asshole.

Now piss off.


Mente Rapada said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
belledame222 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
belledame222 said...

Mente Rapada: apologies, I thought you were a spambot.

Sage said...

If you could stop thinking of yourself for a minute, then maybe you could begin to understand what's wrong with you. Even though I don't know you, I know your kind, so I can tell you what your problem is. Don't try to deny it or I'll insist you're using defensiveness to skirt the real issue. Which is me and my kind.

Am I close?

belledame222 said...

Ha, I knew you were going to say that. That's so typical of your...type of person.

belledame222 said...

(it was only the most recent of eerily similar "conversations" in completely different contexts, that one)

Alon Levy said...

Besides, how dare you oppress me by disagreeing with me? You're just a privileged, selfish person who can't see beyond her own orgasms. You're just complicit in The System, like a house slave. I also predict that you're going to disagree with me, which will just prove my point.

belledame222 said...

"How dare you compare blahblah with slavery?"

"Yeah well how dare YOU compare blahblee with rape??"

(in stereo) "Typical ___, always complaining about THEIR suffering and willfully blind to their own privilege, and to the way the world REALLY works..."

Amber said...

Thank you! I love this post. I am so sick and tired of "selfish" being used as an insult, and tossed around whenever someone is confronted with a conflicting viewpoint.

belledame222 said...

"Why don't you think of someone else for a change? Like oh say for

...of course I don't literally mean *me;* must you be so literal? So coarse, so willfully dense, so protective of your own privilege? When I say "me" I am of course speaking of All People, or at least All People Who Are (name your subgroup).

...well, except you, clearly."

Dan L-K said...

I've decided that what gets up my nose the most these days is the notion that if I'm not in agreement, it's because I haven't thought hard/deeply enough about the issues.

And implicit in that is that I'm refusing to look because I'm holding onto something I stand to lose by conceding the Rightness of the argument. And sometimes this is true, of course; I'll be the first to admit that I have blinders of privilege about all sorts of things. But other stuff: not so much. And the suggestion that I just haven't thought about it, or not in the Right Way... well, that's just a bit insulting, yanno? And presumes a lot.

(In particular, one of the recent back-and-forths in question is a fight I have no particular dog in - unless, of course, my taste for curry really is a symptom of my thoughtless raping Eurocentric imperialism. I am, for my sins, as white as they come, with no especial urges in any other direction.)

belledame222 said...

Right. It's a classic bullying tactic, actually: "I know you better than you." O'Rilly?

of course this gets much easier when sociopolitical shit is thrown into the mix; sure, as you say, institutionalized privilege and unconsciousness thereof.

I still am adamant that my being blind to my own hegemonic privilege is not mutually exclusive with the possibility that this particular person is behaving like a bullying asshat.

further, it is not at all clear to me in what way my meek acceptance of other person's bullying asshattery would somehow make up for or even address said hegemonic privilege.

...except of course in the sense that the person is expressing keen frustration that sie doesn't seem to be being heard.

and you know what, I empathize, really, in a general way at least.

and I accept that it's well likely that your experience makes for a whole 'nother level of not being heard (on the individual and/or collective level) that is *not* something I would instinctively "get," no.


You know, the more I see of this particular tactic, whoever's using it, I think: there is a tacit transaction being made or attempted here.

What's unspoken, or semi-spoken, goes something like this:

"I am loaded down with toxic shame and rage, and, collectively at least, this is *your doing.* There is nothing concrete that you can do to alleviate the real world ways that I and mine have been suffering. What you *can* do, what you *must* do, is absorb some of my shame and anger."

This goes beyond "just listen to what I'm saying," (which admittedly is hard enough in itself). This is the point at which "see the world through my eyes" becomes "absorb my poison."

And maybe that is a fair request, by whatever standard one adjudges such things, after all.

I'm still not gonna do it.

Because I have my own poison; and I am trying my own ways of alchemically transmogrifying it, to the best of my abilities, these days. Because I am aware that when I just dump it on someone else, it...doesn't help matters.

further, I have been somewhat of a psychic sponge all my life; at this point I don't need to soak up any more toxins. what I need are filters.

belledame222 said...

...anyway, yeah, i had no particular dog in that fight either; but it did serve the purpose of jolting me with, "goddam, the words are different but the tune is oddly familiar..."

belledame222 said...

...what really tipped me off was the "why must i constantly explain to you blahblah..."

I came within a hair of posting "'constantly?' dude, do we know each other?"

...but decided against it, thankfully.

Dan L-K said...

All I can say is, as someone who is hopefully well-meaning but perhaps without perspective, it's a frustrating conversation.

A: Boy, I sure am pissed about [rantiness].

B: Really? How come?

A: You just don't get it.

B: Fair enough. Explain it to me.

A: Not my job to teach you, pal.

B: K. Never mind.

A: Hang on a minute! It's still your job to learn, you know.

B: Um... No. Fuck that noise.

A: Come back here! I'm not done kicking you!

...and so on.

And I should say that I have a great deal of sympathy for the perspective of "I'm not here to be your teacher" when there's a lot of having to break through the same clueless fuckwittage over and over again. Nonetheless, when the entire context is someone genuinely saying "This makes no sense to me, help me out" - well, it seems a little arch to play the "you're being willfully ignorant" card.

Because, as you say, I might well agree. And I don't mind disagreeing and having a, yanno, debate; and I can certainly be swayed. But if that's your goal - well, unfair as it may seem, that's not the way to do it.

belledame222 said...

well, yeah.

I admit I've pulled the "I shouldn't have to do your homework for you" card recently; then again what I ended up pulling up to answer that particular question was something that literally took like three minutes of googling. and I still posted it.

mostly I do think that "You just don't understand" is very much a come-here-go-away gesture.

I mean, it's one thing if you've barged in on what's clearly an insiders' discussion, as an outsider. in that case it's clearly "go away, please; or at least sit down and shut the hell up and -listen-; *we're* talking." That, I get. Harsh, perhaps, but clear; and fair.

but coming in the midst of what's supposed to be an actual dialogue, yeah, I don't see that sort of thing as terrifically useful. What *are* you trying to say, really? "You just don't understand;" dude, probably not, but you know, no one here is a mind-reader.

and particularly when you say something very specific, I respond to it, and you come back with first "I never said that!" and then later "Okay so I did say that but you weren't supposed to take it literally, DUH!"...well, again: no osmosis here, sorry.

I mean, if you're saying I'm so (willfully or otherwise) clueless that I can't even get what you're actually saying, then how d'you expect me to make the leap to pick up the Deeper Meaning behind your words? --oh, that's right, you never did expect me to; you're just venting in my direction. Sweet. Later.

Amber said...

Nonetheless, when the entire context is someone genuinely saying "This makes no sense to me, help me out" - well, it seems a little arch to play the "you're being willfully ignorant" card.

Yeah... that's what I was getting at a week or so ago in the thread at B|L about teaching/informing. The one that started off with the link to nubian's interview,if I recall correctly.

Like you said, Dan, I get it... to an extent. I just think it can be really, really hard sometimes to tell the difference between someone who's being a fuckwit and someone who genuinely wants to learn. And I don't see why it's a problem to acknowledge that sometimes, the person who's getting defensive about "not havign to be [your] teacher" might be perceiving the situation wrong. Being a member of an oppressed group doesn't make you always right. Like belledame said - you can still behave like an asshat.

belledame222 said...

I did think the chick who took on nubian was being pretty lalala-i-can't-hear-you, even in the face of a number of people being rather extraordinarily patient with her.

I suppose too many of such encounters and even your most reasonable person will eventually go knee-jerk prickly and defensive.

what interests me lately is when people either from within the same oppressed subgroup or from two different subgroups take each other on. actually come to think of it that's mostly what I've been involved in lately. the right-wingers who get blamed for stirring shit up--they don't usually interest me much these days, at least as individuals.

sometimes i take sides. people who try to do "now everyone's a little bit right.." often tend to get clobbered from all sides. which i suppose serves a purpose in itself, in that people who were previously fighting like wildcats can now at least agree on this one thing: this person is being a sanctimonious buttinsky.

mainly, more and more, assuming it's not my own personal shit, i just sit back. wring hands. pass the popcorn. whatev'.

belledame222 said...

>f I'm not in agreement, it's because I haven't thought hard/deeply enough about the issues.

Well, and that's just it, of course. prior to this last incident, primarily this post is riffing off any number of conversations I'd had with people who're supposedly in my very same subgroup. So in this case, assuming there isn't some other way to call me/my side on my/our (other) privilege(s), real or guessed at or both, this becomes the default. "Clearly, your consciousness has not been sufficiently raised. BAD feminist. No biscuit."

honestly, you can't win for losing with some people.

Dan L-K said...

I just think it can be really, really hard sometimes to tell the difference between someone who's being a fuckwit and someone who genuinely wants to learn.

And that's very true; and there's also the thing that sometimes happens in these conversations, where the person saying "please explain this to me" over and over is really saying something like "please confirm that I'm already right and don't actually have to do any work or change."

Which is, to say the least, a source of some frustration.

But, yes - part of letting go of prejudice, alas, is the recognition that you can be any gender, religion, ethnicity, or political persuasion and still be a big old asshole.

belledame222 said...


otoh: rereading the feministing interview with nubian thread (which came after the nubian/nio business, which in turn came after the seriously lame "gender trumps race" business, along with oh so many more, and I gotta say: there were some *serious* assholes there, and nubian wasn't one of 'em. I'd probably be ripping out my hair by now too, if I were her.

and I went and read fairly extensively at mj's blog. as so often happens, i got a much more nuanced picture of the poster than I did from that little encounter alone. some really interesting convos going on there. and i sort of saw where he would be coming from a bit better on a couple of things, maybe. I'd go back to read, if not post.

otoh, I also came away from it with, again, the eerie feeling of deja vu, except...not.

and thinking to myself: y'know, if I'm finding I Blame The Patriarchy too ideologue-ish for my tastes, no matter how smart the author, I don't think I'm gonna be embracing I Blame The White Supremacy any time soon, either.

much as I see the effects of both hegemonic "isms" quite clearly, and admittedly one far more personally than the other, sure.

Dan L-K said...

fwiw, I had the same experience popping over to MJ's place - yeah, a more nuanced view of things. Which was one reason I felt compelled to try and be a leetal politic on the thread.

But, yeah, ultimately, more or less the same reaction. And I don't really want to make that particular argument a habit; I value being able to agree to disagree too much, and I fear that there's always going to be the assumption that I don't see it the Right Way because... well, you know.

Alon Levy said...

First, when you say "mj's blog," who are you talking about? The only person in that exchange who I remember has the initials M.J. is Ms. Jane, who apparently has no blog of her own.

Second, the whole "If you disagree with me, you're oppressing me" act eerily reminds me of ultra-Zionists who think everyone who criticizes Israel is an anti-Semite. Some pro-Israelis have convinced themselves that the Holocaust and a few thousand Islamist terrorists give them permission to pound everyone they don't like both verbally and militarily.

Third, in most debates, "Explain this to me" puts one in a position of weakness. It makes the explainer the person who knows about the subject and is thus right and the explainee the person who doesn't and is thus wrong. There are only two ways I can think of for an explainee not to come off as ignorant: to display ample knowledge of everything about the subject except the specific thing to be explained, and to successfully show the explanation to be wrong, both of which are usually extremely hard. So "Asking me for explanations is oppressive" is not only an overreaction, but also a surefire way to alienate everyone who doesn't already agree with you.

Dan L-K said...

Alon: other thread.

As far as "explain this to me" goes, you're right if all it is is a debate; but it strikes me as perfectly reasonable in, yanno, a conversation.

This presumes, unfortunately and often incorrectly, that that's what everyone in the room actually wants to have.

Alon Levy said...

As far as "explain this to me" goes, you're right if all it is is a debate; but it strikes me as perfectly reasonable in, yanno, a conversation.

It's no different in a conversation. In fact the idea of asking people questions is even more essential to non-argumentative conversations. In fact, aversion to asking and answering characterizes debates pretty well, since you can't answer when the position you defend makes no sense, and you can't ask unless you know in advance that you'll be able to counter whatever answer the other person gives.

Alon: other thread.

If I sat near a wall, I'd bang my head on it repeatedly.

Dan L-K said...

That's more or less my point, I think - a conversation is all about the exchange of information. The only reason you wouldn't want to a) ask for clarifications on that information, or b) welcome the chance to clarify your own ideas, is if you equate conversation with debate (or, gods help us, argument).

(Or, well, that's how I have conversations, anyway. YMMV, I suppose, depending on how much you assume any social exchange is a kind of contest. Speaking only for me, the kind of people I choose to be in communication with over any significant period of time are the ones who don't.)

I suppose a large part of my frustration on this topic is with the mindset that it's more important to win and be Right than to communicate; but that's the Intarwebs for you.

belledame222 said...

Well, and I think there are ways and ways to ask for information, you know. "Please clarify what you mean here," or "can you give me some examples of such-and-so that you're referring to here?" or even "can you recommend any books or websites on blahblah?" should be welcome, generally. "Wow, I've never met anyone like you! Tell me all about what it's like to be you!" --that, that sort of thing can kind of grate, more.

or, too, if you've had repeated encounters with a particular person and each time the person asks the same damn questions you've already answered, with no apparent acknowledgement that this is the case (digger further into the answers already provided is something else), then, yeah.

Alon Levy said...

Well, I think there is a way to view debates and conversations as similar. For me, in a conversation I try to find out if my current way of looking at things is right, and to explain my view to the people I'm talking to. In a debate, I explain my view to the readers in the hopes of convincing them that I'm right.

In practice, it's not as clear-cut as I made it look. Sometimes one can morph into the other: I intended the Nubian thread to be non-argumentative until Nubian decided I was "disgusting"; prostitution threads on Reclusive Leftist would tend to oscillate between the two, depending mainly on whether Sam was there.

Here I mostly take the conversation route because I don't imagine there are enough non-participant readers to justify playing to the gallery. Plus, I take the debate route mostly when I'm sure I'm right and/or the other side won't be swayed (e.g. when dealing with a creationist, or a global warming skeptic, or a wage gap denier).

belledame222 said...

>If you disagree with me, you're oppressing me" act eerily reminds me of ultra-Zionists who think everyone who criticizes Israel is an anti-Semite.>

o yes. great fun for the whole family, that one. there's one especially deranged troll (he is assholish in this regard, but it is by no means his only way of being an asshole) on a vc I belong to. had many long topics on the "new" anti-semitism, which is all about criticizing Israel. and as I'm sure you've encountered with such people, if *you're* Jewish but (gasp) disagree with such a person, well. Bad Jew. No biscuit.

or, well, and the American thing. and o yeah: he and a friend were mighty free and easy with the misogynistic and homophobic slurs as well.

but *that's* okay. and he's not a bigot anyway cause (some disingenuous thing; trust me, this one went wayyy beyond your usual drama; there's something seriously wrong with this guy. everyone loathes him, he's been kicked off several other vc's. real nutjob).

anyway ultimately after one such exchange (before i finally learned better and stopped engaging altogether), i said to him i said, something like, "honestly, your homophobia and sexism are the least of your problems; you're a thoroughly vile, repellant troglodyte pushead with no social skills or empathy and a brain the size of a walnut; I'd be more surprised if you *weren't* a bigot."

belledame222 said...

> In a debate, I explain my view to the readers in the hopes of convincing them that I'm right.

See, first of all I just want people to hear what I'm actually saying; and vice-versa. That to me is more than enough right there. I mean obviously I argue my position, but...Some people you're never gonna convince of your rightness, especially about big murky shit; so be it, you know?

for me relationships, even online ones, are more important than "winning" any particular argument. conversations take place over time and evolve; and they're never entirely free of personal feelings.

which doesn't mean i'm never gonna disagree with someone because they're my friend.

but it does mean I talk to people differently based on what I already know of them, or at least their persona, yeah.

belledame222 said...

...Ilyka Damen just posted something that seems apropos here:

belledame222 said...

>Plus, I take the debate route mostly when I'm sure I'm right and/or the other side won't be swayed

See, to me, that's when I *leave* "debate" mode (I'm not so sure how sold I am on the clearcut notion of "debate" especially, as it tends to put me in mind of a highschool debate team or talking heads shouting at each other); anyway, conversation; that, especially the latter part, is when I either set the flamethrower to "flambe," or, more likely these days, (I'm gettin' too old for this crap, basically) just take a walk.

There is such a thing as writing more towards the not-speaking observers than the person you're actually supposedly talking with, yes. I do do that sometimes.

Dan L-K said...

Direct link to the Damen post here; and, yeah, well worth reading.

Alon Levy said...

Ilyka's post underscores a pretty important point, in a way, which is that people who have some experience can naturally speak about it more confidently.

To be more concrete, being from Israel, I'm likely to know more about the I/P conflict than most Westerners; so if I talk to a Westerner about the I/P conflict, I'm supposed to come off as more knowledgeable. However, I'd be mad to use the "I'm from that region, so I know better than you, and you should shut up" line; even in the most heated argument, my being from Israel would be useful only insofar as it would help me pulverize the other side's points.

But the only way for that to work is if everyone agrees not to use that line or any variation thereon. No matter how attractive age-bashing, location-bashing, and so on, are, people should eschew them.

Dan L-K said...

"Wow, I've never met anyone like you! Tell me all about what it's like to be you!" --that, that sort of thing can kind of grate, more.

Exactly. And that's a breed of "Speak for Your People," which is another thing well-meaning but clueless folks can have a hard time wrapping their heads around why it makes people nuts.

belledame222 said...

In general, I tend to avoid I/P discussions like the plague. I'll listen to what people who're actually from the region have to say about their own experience, but apart from that...I just can't seem to make myself do it. the whole thing just makes me feel like I'm wearing my stomach as a hat.

ilyka said...

Wow--this got so wide-ranging so fast it's hard for me to know where to start.

My only perspective on the I'm-not-here-to-teach-you thing is from participation in the comments on feminist blogs. Sometimes I think feminist blogs should come with warning labels: "For advanced feminism topics only; newbies B gone" would apply to more than a few of them, I think. So when someone on a blog like that gets frustrated with the noobs and the same old, same old questions, I get it. At the same time, I think it's a shame to waste the potential (ooh, I hate this phrase, but) "teachable moment."

I vacillate back and forth and never seem to pick a clear, consistent position. I have an email I've been sitting on for 2 weeks now, from an antifeminist guy who seems--seems--to be genuinely interested in dialogue. But I mean, he's an antifeminist guy who found me via, right? So what if I throw some data and research at him that I spend my time to look up and provide, and it turns out he just keeps stubbornly insisting I'm wrong? HUGE waste of my time.

Yet I still feel guilty for not answering him.

On the I/P thing--funny you'd bring that up, Alon. I've been nerving myself to write a little tiny bit about it--more about the attitudes I'm seeing about it online than the conflict itself--and that's why I republished the post belledame222 linked here. But "stomach as a hat," yeah, belledame, exactly. Touchy subject, especially knowing that I'd invite responses like "you're not Jewish, so why do you care?"

belledame222 said...

Trust me, it doesn't get any better if you *are* Jewish.

and I hear you about the ambivalence wrt "teaching moments."

actually just now (re)reading a thread where a woman is being remarkably patient with someone who can't or won't make the connection and frankly, (imho) doesn't merit anything beyond 'k thanks for sharing seeya at this point.

...starting with he leaped onto her blog in the middle of a thread which had nothing to do with what he's on about, on account of he wanted to continue a fight he'd been having elsewhere (involving one of the same players I'd been referring to here earlier, yes), and she took the time to respond to him. which, her blog, her call, but: jumping into someone else's discussion on their board to continue an unrelated thrash is pretty much a textbook definition of "hijacking" in my book.

I do think exchanges like that, not to mention an earlier one she has with a blatant and hateful troll, do end up sucking up one's reserves of goodwill and energy.

so yeah, I can totally get why sooner or later someone would get to the point of doing a 180 and just going straight into snarl mode whenever anyone who does anything that remotely suggests they might be on the way toward that sort of behavior comes along.

sucks, though.

wmnpha is a great blog.

belledame222 said...

...anyway, I guess for me it really does come down to a case-by-case basis.

maybe it helps to look at it not so much as "teaching" as "reaching." anyway i have a fairly good feel for when there's a connect and when there's not, usually. not something i could easily generalize about, though. "I know it when I see it." not real helpful, I know.

Alon Levy said...

I understand what you're saying about advanced feminism topics, Ilyka, but at the same time the phrase "advanced feminism" is usually taken to mean "containing assumptions questioning which is considered trolling." It makes sense if the assumption is that evolution happened or men and women should be equal, but not so much if it's that Brownmiller's theory of rape is right and every criticism of it is necessarily sexist.

It's perfectly possible to have a blog dealing with advanced topics - science blogs do that all the time. An advanced feminist blog might similarly feature discussions about the exact way income inequality works, or about family law. But of all feminist blogs I've checked, only one fits that description - The Countess, with its family law threads - and, in addition, one other blog (Echidne) had a one-time advanced discussion of the wage gap.

belledame222 said...

I have to say that the "advanced feminism" thing rankles with me a bit; mostly based on my experience of the people who actually use the phrase to describe their own feminism. Advanced by whose standards?

to me, if you're only familiar with one school of feminist thought, have little or no greater historical or cross-cultural context, haven't really done much reading *or* on-the-streets activism, much less any sense that there might be any other possible sociopolitical framework--to me, this is not any definition of "advanced" I'd recognize, even if I did have a standard by which I'd apply the word to something as broad-ranging as feminism.

belledame222 said...

...anyway, I don't know. It's interesting; the feminist blogs or at least threads I participate in, I somehow manage to block out the MRA's and so forth, most of the time; and I haven't been that aware of "wow, so do you really all burn bras?" level of gormlessness most of the time; or at least haven't paid much attention, I guess. maybe just because I don't have much invested in such people to begin with.

Sly Civilian said...

"It's interesting; the feminist blogs or at least threads I participate in, I somehow manage to block out the MRA's and so forth, most of the time;"

Yet a lot of them still have infestations of racists...a disparity that puzzles me greatly.

Maybe i'm being unfair, but after seeing Samhita's Duke thread, and Kortney's interview both get derailed into total slime...i became a strong fan of restrictive moderation. Collective assumptions can make a space safer, and that's not a bad thing. There are always the snide comments that imply that the truely rigorous thinker should brave the rhetorical wilds, but mostly I just find talking with MRA's, racists and homophobes to be just plain frustrating and a waste of goddamn time. Come to the table ready.

That's not too much to ask.

belledame222 said...

Yeah, the level of random vicious racism I've been seeing lately has been astonishing. not saying there isn't also random vicious sexism, but...

well, per the latter (random vicious sexism), some blogs seem to attract more than others, maybe by dint of subject matter or just plain bad luck. people like the Countess and Red State Feminist, unsurprisingly, get a fuckload of appallingly awful MRA's honed in on them, as they're focusing on their whole raison d'etre. and per the both the racism and sexism, the Duke rape case seems to have brought them pouring out of the woodwork. it seems like a concerted attack.

but anyway yes: I have absolutely no problem with moderation/banning. obviously there are technical/practical difficulties sometimes; but I think in at least a few cases, hosts are rather nobly holding to notions of free speech, or "there's a little bit of good in everyone," or both.

thing is, a blog is not Speaker's Corner. one can always go set up one's own blog. insisting that any blogger is somehow obligated to make space for one, -for any reason-, is to my mind pretty much the same thing as insisting that one has the right to crash a party in someone's private home or establishment.

tossing out the drunk who's been picking fights and vomiting on peoples' shoes isn't "censorship," it's just good sense; and it drives me crazy when good people are persuaded otherwise.

Alon Levy said...

Collective assumptions can make a space safer, and that's not a bad thing.

I don't buy that at all. The idea that you need to be sheltered from any criticism that doesn't conform to your personal views of how one must respect you is pointless. Some people don't mind talking to people who don't agree with them, and some people do.

It's exceedingly hard for blogs to only ban real trolls without serious collateral damage. The blogs I know are successful at it, Pharyngula and The Countess, tolerate several creationist/MRA regulars. Other blogs degenerate into unquestioned assumptions that turn them into sad echo chambers.

And I don't think it even increases the level of discourse that much. I've yet to see a single feminist blog, regardless of whether it censors people it doesn't like, have high-level discussions of rape or DV (but admittedly, I don't read Red State Feminist). The only blog where I've seen high-level discussions of family law is The Countess (same caveat), but these discussions almost invariably feature gender essentialist NYMOM. The only high-level discussion I've seen of income equality was on Echidne and was more about the post than the comment thread. The only high-level discussion I've seen of abortion was on Majikthise and was absolutely not from a feminist perspective.

belledame222 said...

Collective assumptions can of course mean such things as:

Don't spam.

Don't post other peoples' personal information.

Don't harass or stalk people; don't call people vile slurs...

and so on.

When these assumptions are spelled out, they're "rules;" when they're not, it's a social contract. It's still there. There's always *some* sort of collective assumption going on.

I get what you're saying wrt ideology and agreement. I still think that there's a fine line between ideology and behavior; and that different standards may be appropriate depending on what kind of space you want. (I will say that a lot of people aren't nearly clear enough about this, perhaps even to themselves). And that ultimately it's gonna be a judgment call, and that's just the way it is. If it's a blog, there's a host (or hosts). And it's the hosts' party. You pays your money and you takes your choice. The Internets as a whole may be democratic, or at least aspire to it; that doesn't mean that every individual space within it is or even should be a democracy.

as per "high-level discussions of rape or DV"--


this is exactly where "safe space" comes into play.

there is a vast difference between talking about the sociological causes of rape/abuse from a detached, intellectual perspective; and a space in which survivors are sharing their personal stories for the sake of emotional healing. I absofuckinglutely support the right to make any such space as exclusive as the participants need. and i defy anyone to say that any such discussion cannot be "high level" (what does this mean, anyway?)

What may be happening is that in the bigger free-for-all feminist spaces, there's not enough of a clear delineation; so that stuff that starts out being more personal/intimate gets hijacked and turned into a debate. and then there are some people who feel, I think, that -any- discussion about those subjects is one that must be strictly monitored, on the grounds that triggering stuff might come up and people will be stomping all over it.

i...well, again, i think it's important to be clear about what -kind- of discussion you want to have.

but you know, much as i for example have personal issues with Heart's "women-born-women only" business, I also think that no one space is meant to be all things to all people; and it's not up to anyone else to say whether any given closed space is useful or not to its actual participants. if that means WOC-only discussions or gay men between the ages of 20 and 45 or whatever the parameters are, then that's what it is. online especially: there's plenty of bandwidth and potential allies to go around. feel shut out? not satisfied? make your own space. build your own community. what's more democratic than that?