Blogging Has Been Outsourced

Today, blogging has been outsourced to a couple different bloggers, because finals and also depression.

1) Is This Feminist? is my new favorite Tumblr. (The answer is always no.)

2) Roger Ebert said some stupid shit about women being better than men. I agree with Jill from Feministe:

Most people have the capacity to be wonderful, non-violent, nurturing and loving. Most people also have the capacity to be competitive, driven, aggressive and ruthless. Most people are capable of great kindness; most people are capable of being total assholes… Those things are certainly influenced by gender, but our gender does not in fact hard-wire us to be nice or awful.

Please note, also, the misogynistic history of “women are so much better than men.” Protip: if your feminist opinion was used to justify women not voting (“they’re too good to sully themselves with politics!”) and not working outside the home (“a woman is an angel of the home who is too pure for the workaday world; she has to provide a place of comfort and goodness for her man”), it’s not really feminist.

3) Scalzi writes an interesting post explaining privilege through the metaphor of video game difficulties. Also check up the followup and the mockery of deleted comments.

This entry was posted in noseriouslywhatabouttehmenz, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

43 Responses to Blogging Has Been Outsourced

  1. Matthew Swank says:

    Part of the fun of ‘Is This Feminist?’ was watching Sady develop it in real time on twitter before switching to tumblr.

  2. Danny says:

    Scalzi writes an interesting post explaining privilege through the metaphor of video game difficulties.
    Well, an interesting read to be sure but it seems to me that while trying to avoid using the word privilege they seem to fall into the idea that being a straight white male means you are going to have an easy life. But I do like that they are trying to come at it from a different angle.

  3. Matthew Swank says:

    One of the metaphor’s strengths is the idea that you may not be able to “win” on the easiest setting. Scalzi is pretty specific about that. As a first order approximation of privilege it’s not too bad.

  4. Hugh says:

    I felt the straight white male article was lacking in class-based analysis.

  5. Not Me says:

    @Hugh: While it’s true that the parts about how class fits into it was probably inadequate for some people, it probably would have pulled too much focus away from the main point of the article if the author went into full detail there.

  6. Paul says:

    See, I don’t know, I think a case could be made that for the average white woman and the average white man (as in, not a senator or a CEO) white women are better off than their male counterparts. I mean, they’re the majority of the college educated (which in a few years will translate into better jobs) live longer, have better healthcare, retire earlier, less likely to drop out or go to prison, and have better social safety nets all around.

  7. Tamen says:

    I’m having a Poe moment with the isthisfeminist tumblr.

  8. Eagle34 says:

    Comment from the Feministe thread:

    “The truth of the matter is, those with less power have no choice but to be “nicer”, more “cooperative”, etc. Very convenient… for the master class. The same traits that are lauded in women are the kind of traits desirable in good domestic servants, slaves, and yes, dogs. Only the powerful have the option of being assholes and not paying for it.”

    I swear to god, if I read one more play on the “Women don’t have agency, the master class make them do it” I’m going to blow something up!

    Only the powerful have the option of being assholes and not paying for it? Men, do they mean?

    What does that make the girls and women who hurt me then? Victims?

  9. ballgame says:

    Paul, I agree. A case could certainly be made that being a white female is playing at the ‘easiest setting,’ at least among people living in Western Europe and the U.S./Canada. (And you left out a couple of areas, like when it comes to avoiding being murdered, the advantage of being female is so great it just about cancels the advantage of being white in some age cohorts: white females are far and away the least likely to be murdered, while among 18-24 year olds white males and African American females are murdered at comparable rates.) Such an argument wouldn’t be cut and dried; there are certainly advantages to being male. But I don’t think it’s possible to know whether any given person has more gender privilege than gender disprivilege just by knowing which of the two main genders they are. I’ve yet to see any gynocentric feminist ‘do the math’ and tally up all the male privileges and all the female privileges and somehow make a case that the former are more important than the latter … which, when you get right down to it, is pretty glaring fucking omission, considering how endlessly this meme is repeated.

    Scalzi’s post is a clear failure. It fails to identify the issue correctly. It’s not a case of, “We have an aversion to the word ‘privilege’; if you would just talk down to us like we’re children then we would totally be on board with accepting the booby prize of ‘Most Privileged.’”

  10. Paul says:

    @ballgame

    Well, yeah. That’s why I said “a case could be made” I just don’t think privilege is as cut and dried with regards to gender (at least, not anymore) as it is with, say, race or wealth.

  11. ballgame says:

    The brilliant Freddie at L’Hote has an excellent take-down of Scalzi’s post:

    There appear to be two rational explanations for this behavior. One is that Scalzi and the commenters who aped his behavior have a simply atrocious grasp on psychology, human behavior, and politics, and sincerely believed that mocking people would lead to their enlightenment. The other is that John Scalzi’s purpose was never to actually contribute to education and social justice, but rather to demonstrate his superiority to those people he claimed to want to educate, and in doing so show what a brilliant and enlightened guy he is to the liberals he is in cultural competition with.

    The idiom that Scalzi has used to present his case is no doubt familiar to you. It’s the default language of many prominent liberal or leftist publication when the talk about racism, sexism, or homophobia: self-aggrandizing, pawing at a kind of witty derision, choked with condescension, and invoking a tribalism of the enlightened. That this kind of discourse is a profound rhetorical failure– that it is the kind of language that is never going to convince anyone of anything– appears to be of no consequence.

    And this is coming from someone who agrees with Scalzi’s basic premise. It’s well worth reading the whole thing.

  12. That Scalzi piece was one of the most condescending articles I have ever read. It wasn’t written to start a discussion or to make white men think differently – it was pure troll bait.

  13. Lamech says:

    @ballgame: “I agree. A case could certainly be made that being a white female is playing at the ‘easiest setting,’ at least among people living in Western Europe and the U.S./Canada.” Yeah it also really depends on how you weight the advantages and disadvantages. For example: Assigned-at-birth-Female advantage: no genital mutilation as a baby. (Which BTW, at least in one state if such a thing was counted as serious bodily harm+battery it would trip the very highest sex crime law.) Assigned-at-birth-Male advantage: Little bit more money. Some people would claim the first is better, other people would claim the second is better.

  14. Lamech says:

    P.S. Oh and IANAL, and some times legalese is weird so I may be totally wrong on the above law thing.

  15. monkey says:

    Eagle34: I don’t think Feministe was saying that women never have agency. The point was that Ebert was confusing a lack of agency with a choice not to be “bad.”

    Katha Pollitt wrote a piece over 20 years ago (when Ozy was a baby!) that reads like a rebuttal of Ebert’s column. http://academic.evergreen.edu/curricular/hhd2005/WinterDownloads/GilligansIsland.pdf

    In it she also manages to predict Sarah Palin and (sigh) Mama Grizzlies:

    “[one writer] seems to think that Maternal Thinling leads naturally to Sweden; in the United States it is equally likely to lead to Fortress Suburbia.”

  16. monkey says:

    Ugh. And I thought I only had to dislike Scalzi for ripping off (sorry, “paying homage” to) Philip K. Dick.

    A few things really stood out though:
    “I’ve been thinking of a way to explain to straight white men how life works for them,”

    Wow. He’s literally mansplaining *to other men.*

    “But they belong in the stats category because wealth and class are not an inherent part of one’s personal nature — and in the US particularly, part of our cultural sorting behavior — in the manner that race, gender and sexuality are (note “inherent” here does not necessarily mean “immutable,””

    Wow again. Is he really pulling the “in America we have no class distinctions” argument? Does he really think that a white guy from Appalachia will be treated better than, say, Michelle Obama?

    He claims to have been “at the bottom” (which usually means “I made it, therefore you have no excuse”) Scalzi went to the University Of Chicago, where one of his profs was David Auburn and Saul Bellow was his thesis advisor. That is not “the bottom.”

    And finally (pardon the caps) NOT ALL STRAIGHT WHITE MEN PLAY VIDEO GAMES. What’s next, explaining feminism to women through lipstick choices?

  17. bttf4444 says:

    I really don’t get what the isthisfeminist tumblr is supposed to be about. Can someone explain?

  18. monkey says:

    Sorry for monopolizing here, but:

    I also get a subtle Success Myth vibe from Scalzi’s piece, with the message being that if you’re a SWM and not a financial success then a) you’re a failure and b) it’s your own damn fault.

  19. Eagle34 says:

    Monkey, look at this sentence right here:

    ““The truth of the matter is, those with less power have no choice but to be “nicer”, more “cooperative”, etc. Very convenient… for the master class. ”

    Those with less power have “No Choice to be nicer, more cooperative, etc”. As in, no free will, no independant thoughts or feelings of their own. They are slaves.

    Then there’s “Very convenient….for the master class”. Master class. What in the fuck does that imply? Men?

    Like I said, it’s the old “Women have no agency, the ‘master class’ made them do it”.

    I’m tired of it. It basically absolves women of responisbility, including women who hurt and abuse people. Especially the ones who hurt me.

    I’m not granting this argument any more justification. If I do, I’m only going to feel like blaming myself for being abused in the first place by those girls and women since “Hey, they have no agency. Maybe next time I should make the world better for them since it was the master class that made them do it.”

  20. bttf4444 says:

    Oh, I think I get what the tumblr blog is about. It’s a blog that pokes fun at the type of feminists that say “you’re not a feminist if you do X or don’t do Y”, right? The type of people that are the primary cause of why other people say “I’m not a feminist, but…” – because they think feminism is about following a bunch of rules, rather than simply supporting gender equality.

  21. Gaius says:

    @Bttf4444:
    “Is this feminist” is, in part, about rote problematicization: the ease with which you can say, “Such-and-such isn’t feminist BECAUSE of some fundamentalist reason.” Here, I mean fundamentalist in the denominational sense, because if you think about it, there are as many “denominations” of feminism as there are people, and some of these people are rather fundamentalist about their particular denomination.

    That said, I should note that some of these people who identify as feminists aren’t feminists by my definition, because some people who call themselves feminists also demonstrate misandric behavior, and I don’t believe that feminism should be misandric, at all (also: some people who identify as feminist also attack women an awful lot).

    In short: the blog lampshades the fact that you can’t please everybody. More to the point, you can’t please ANYBODY but yourself.

    Also: the blog also derive secondary value from the fact that it deconstructs supposedly feminist images and actually looks at some of the inegalitarian forces behind our society — but that’s as much a deconstruction of propaganda and advertising and implicit meaning as it is anything else, since it can be just as easy to read other meanings into the images there (since we have no context for them).

    For example, take the woman with headphones. IS THIS FEMINIST? The blog says, “No, because music is patriarchal and because she might be hiding her misogynist music choices.”

    This is a blatant example of rote problematicization. You can just as easily say:
    “No, because she has been clearly posed within the frame in a manner designed for display; women are not objects to put on display.”
    -or-
    “No, because the image invokes the exoticism of race, which jeopardizes her agency, which isn’t feminist.”
    But the counter-argument is:
    “Yes, because this person has dreamed since childhood of being photographed in just this way.”

    But none of these analyses are necessarily accurate. In a way, ALL possible readings of the image are true — which is the problem of trying to deconstruct something based on insufficient evidence. Lacking context, all we can do is deconstruct the image in rote ways.

  22. bttf4444 says:

    Thanks for explaining, Gaius. What you say makes a lot of sense.

    Also, yeah, I don’t like the type of “feminists” that perpetuate the “man-hating” stereotype or condemn other women for not living up to their standards of “feminism”.

    Like, for example, with the name changing after marriage. I definitely support the right of women to keep their own names after getting married – but, at the same time, I’m not against women who do choose to change their names. There are just as many valid reasons to change one’s name (not aesthetically appealing, doesn’t get along with family, etc) as there is to keep one’s name (aesthetic appeal, career establishment, etc). I think men who choose to take their wives’ names should also be allowed to do so, without public ridicule.

  23. L says:

    Remember, Ozy: Tomorrow is also day!

  24. ozymandias42 says:

    Monkey: Scalzi has been fairly poor. I also think that while it is not a fair assumption that all men play video games it is certainly a fair assumption that all Whatever readers do.

  25. TokenGreyGuy says:

    @Eagle34,

    I was also annoyed by that comment on Feministe.

    People’s behaviour depends both on their stable long-term psychological characteristics and the specifics of any given situation (e.g. what they think they will be able to get away with). Most people have some power in some situations and less or none in others, so it is rarely the case that you can determine whether or not someone is an a**hole (across the board) solely from their gender, race, social class etc. (witness the high levels of violent crime in many ghettos for example, something that should not exist if the simplistic “powerful class can be a**holes, weaker class cannot” dynamic actually existed).

    Consider a woman living 100 years ago and assume for the sake of argument that somehow all men were more powerful than she was. She might well have had power relative to other women in her social circle in certain settings, and been able to get away with being nasty with them. She might also have been able to get away with abusing her children.

    It’s reasonable to believe that certain classes/groups have overall higher levels of power in society without assuming that this power imbalance is present in all situations, for all people, all the time. But Ebert’s comment seemed to say that women are “nicer” without qualification, not just “nicer to men” (which would also not be believable anyway).

  26. daelyte says:

    @TokenGreyGuy:
    “Consider a woman living 100 years ago and assume for the sake of argument that somehow all men were more powerful than she was.”

    Off with their heads.

  27. monkey says:

    Ozy: in that case I find his dismissal of poverty even more troubling. Poverty can be an inherited trait.

  28. monkey says:

    Ozy: I’ve looked at the essay closely and I don’t think he’s writing from his own experience: he wrote “Being poor is believing a GED actually makes a goddamned difference.” however, he’s a college graduate who went to a private school, according to his wiki entry http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Scalzi#section_5
    He was unemployed for awhile, but that’s not the level of poverty I mean. There are white Americans who are still quite poor, and deal with multigenerational poverty.

  29. Men's RIghts Activist Lieutenant says:

    Scalzi’s article was ok, but there are a lot of disadvantages you can be born with besides the three he mentions.

    Also, he gets all pissy in the follow-up post but I don’t know wtf he was expecting. His post was WAY more confrontational than the word “privilege”, which at least has some nuance, you can say things like “everyone has privilege”. Here he’s basically targeting a specific group of people and saying YOUR LIVES ARE EASY (no, not literally, but come on, that’s how people will read it).

  30. daelyte says:

    @Men’s RIghts Activist Lieutenant:
    “Scalzi’s article was ok, but there are a lot of disadvantages you can be born with besides the three he mentions.”

    You mean like poverty, disability, gender identity, etc?

    http://aspergersquare8.blogspot.ca/2009/07/ever-expanding-list-of-neurotypical.html

  31. BlackHumor says:

    …well, I never would’ve expected MRAL to be the most reasonable person in a comment thread. Congrats.

    MRAL is basically correct: It was clear from the start that his post wasn’t going to have the effect he intended because he’s actually being a good bit MORE confrontational than the word itself, not less. That said, he was still entirely correct, as far as he went.

  32. Danny says:

    MRAL:
    Here he’s basically targeting a specific group of people and saying YOUR LIVES ARE EASY (no, not literally, but come on, that’s how people will read it).
    I got an air of “If you’re born into this group your lives will be easy.” Sure one could go back and say that he meant “If you’re born into this group your lives will be easier.” but considering that he used video game difficulty as his analogy I can’t totally blame people for reading it as the former.

    And also this reminds me of a something that I’ve seen too many times. Its one thing to use the idea of privilege as a tool to examine the status of society (how can you fix it if you don’t know what’s wrong?). Its quite another to use it as a weapon to shut people out. Not that that was happening here, just an extra thought.

  33. monkey says:

    “And also this reminds me of a something that I’ve seen too many times. Its one thing to use the idea of privilege as a tool to examine the status of society (how can you fix it if you don’t know what’s wrong?). Its quite another to use it as a weapon to shut people out. Not that that was happening here, just an extra thought.”

    Actually, that’s exactly what was happening, IMHO. I forget who said it first, but to criticize people without offering an alternative is simply cruel.

  34. daelyte says:

    @Danny:
    “Its one thing to use the idea of privilege as a tool to examine the status of society (how can you fix it if you don’t know what’s wrong?). Its quite another to use it as a weapon to shut people out. Not that that was happening here, just an extra thought.”

    Did you look at the comments, and replies to those comments? He uses the idea of privilege to shut out dissent, as do many of his commenters. His post practically invites oppression olympics, and other nastiness.

    If his purpose is to (in his words) “explain to straight white men how life works for them, without invoking the dreaded word “privilege,””, IMO the example he provided fails miserably.

    I much prefer this explanation:
    https://noseriouslywhatabouttehmenz.wordpress.com/faqs/#kyriarchy

  35. pocketjacks says:

    He was unemployed for awhile

    Welcome to Generation Y. That’s not evidence of poverty. Not having grad school at age 30 as a fallback option (because you didn’t go to college) is evidence of poverty.

  36. John Markley says:

    Nice to see Mr. Scalzi joining the proud ranks of successful white men who stomp down on people less privileged than themselves to raise their own status and pat themselves on the back for how progressive and caring they are for doing so. Perhaps he and Hugo Schwyzer should start some sort of club.

  37. John Markley says:

    OK, serious this time, and I apologize for doing this as a separate post: The thing I probably found most objectionable about John Scalzi’s remarks was actually his attempt to qualify his point to sound less dismissive of the problems a straight white man less successful than John Scalzi might face. Quoting Scalzi:

    “Likewise, it’s certainly possible someone playing at a higher difficulty setting is progressing more quickly than you are, because they had more points initially given to them by the computer and/or their highest stats are wealth, intelligence and constitution and/or simply because they play the game better than you do. It doesn’t change the fact you are still playing on the lowest difficulty setting.”

    This is repulsively trivializing and dehumanizing. According to Scalzi, A is on a lower difficulty setting than B even when A’s life is more difficult than B’s, provided A is a straight white guy. A’s difficulties quite literally don’t count.

    The problem with his use of the game metaphor to defend this position is that his distinction between “difficulty level” and character “stats” is arbitrary. Straight white maleness is a difficulty level, whereas other advantages and disadvantages, even those equally outside a person’s control, are stats. Why, other than because Scalzi says so?

    You could just as easily say that wealth is the difficulty level, and race, sex, or sexual orientation are character stats or traits. Or they’re all stats, and the difficulty level is whether or not you had an abusive upbringing, or are neurotypical, or good-looking, or have a charming, extroverted personality, or whatever. Or that everyone plays the same difficulty and everything is a stat. Or there are no character stats, and the game has extremely granular options that can add or remove individual gameplay elements that affect difficulty.

    These are all just as valid and no more arbitrary than the way Scalzi divides up the different things that make life easier or harder. Scalzi has to privilege sex, race, and sexual orientation as more fundamental because his argument needs them to be, but I have no reason to accept that.

    There’s also a nasty victim-blaming aspect to this metaphor. monkey alludes to it in his comment:

    “I also get a subtle Success Myth vibe from Scalzi’s piece, with the message being that if you’re a SWM and not a financial success then a) you’re a failure and b) it’s your own damn fault.”

    I agree, except for the “subtle” part. According to Scalzi, the disadvantages associated with one’s race, sex, and sexual orientation have a source external to the person suffering those difficulties- the difficulty level is a property of the world you’re playing the game in, not the player character. On the other hand, things outside the Holy Trinity are treated as attributes of the person who has them, even if they’re equally unchosen and often also equally “intrinsic.” (If you accept Scalzi’s contention that that’s an important distinction.)

    In other words, if you’re suffering through no fault of your own because you’re female or gay a member of a racial minority, that’s because there’s something wrong with the world. If you’re a straight white male suffering through no fault of his own because you’re poor, or had (or are in the midst of) an abusive childhood, or a victim of the legal system, or psychologically traumatized in some way, or ugly or otherwise sexually unattractive, or have a personality and disposition that causes you to deviate from normative masculine behavior, or are visibly abnormal or part of some stigmatized group not falling under the Trinity, or whatever… that’s because there’s something wrong with YOU. Your life is still on easy mode, you’re just losing because YOU suck.

  38. Not Me says:

    @John Markley: Maybe, but some people’s lives are hard because they genuinely *do* suck, straight white male or otherwise. Are we supposed to pretend *that* doesn’t exist?

    …Oh crap I did not just say that (tiptoes away)

    Hmm, maybe you could get around it like this. If you do get everything right, it still possible that one of your teammates might knock you off a cliff accidentally. Or even on purpose. Because they suck, not you. That might work for the inflated-ego crowd.

  39. Danny says:

    daelyte:
    Did you look at the comments, and replies to those comments? He uses the idea of privilege to shut out dissent, as do many of his commenters. His post practically invites oppression olympics, and other nastiness.
    I’m not gonna lie. No I really didn’t and took it on faith that that was not what he was doing. That would be my bad I suppose.

  40. ozymandias42 says:

    John Markley: Uh, I’m pretty sure “the computer arbitrarily gives more points to buy stats to some people” still doesn’t count as being your fault or being because you suck… I believe the difference is that people can “level up” the wealth stat (even though it’s easier when you can max that out because you got 200 points when someone else got 50, and that is still incredibly fucking unfair) but it is rather more difficult to level up your “race” stat until you’re a white person.

  41. 2ndnin says:

    Ozy, given the very low level of social mobility in places like the US it’s not that easy to really change your wealth characteristic either. It’s also quite difficult as most people have pointed out to actually do anything about these situations without wealth or influence – it really restricts our ability to do something if we aren’t significantly up the success hierarchy.

    I think a good way to actually measure privilege is to look at how people value their privileges. Taking the simplest example we have wealth vs poverty, most people would likely opt for a higher wealth stat rather than a lower one. If you could magic wand your wealth stat it would largely be a no brainer. In contrast gender and even race would be a harder choice, and especially depending on location – privilege is relative to location.

  42. Men's Rights Activist Lieutenant says:

    The analogy basically serves its purpose, I guess, but it’s pretty limited. Someone early on said, it’s useful until it isn’t, and that’s kind of my feeling. This is an adequate way to talk specifically to straight white men. It wouldn’t work so well if you wanted to confront another group- say, wealthy people, or gay black men, or white women, or whatever.

    So no, I don’t think it’s a good all-purpose analogy for “privilege”. I think it’s a way to talk specifically to one group of people about their particular privilege.

  43. bttf4444 says:

    I really like this comment from http://feministing.com/2012/05/18/new-tumblr-crush-is-this-feminist/:

    “Anyone who decries a feminist participating in any activities as ‘Non-feminist’ probably isn’t very feminist themselves. From the right point of view, watching sports, reading, and studying science can be feminist just as much as attending a pro-choice rally, a take back the night rally, or commenting on feminist blogs can be ANTI-feminist. It all depends on why you do it.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s