Feminist Hypocrisy

Yeah, that’s a purposefully inflammatory headline, and what I’m describing is really just human nature. We have a hard time truly putting ourselves in the other guy’s shoes. It’s also the cheapest charge you can make online, since every person contradicts themselves at one point or another, either through learning additional information or changing one’s mind or just being a different person at a different time in one’s life.

I simply want to talk about how I found it amusing that I’m seeing posts complaining about statue supporters shutting down comments (link no longer available) at the same time so many livejournalers are talking about having to ban trolls or delete comments because they feel harassed. Why is it ok for them to do it but a major political statement when others who are equally tired of the high tempers do the same thing? Doesn’t this quote — “If they feel so strongly that they’re right, why not engage rather than silence?” — apply to both?

Does it make sense that plenty of people with a variety of opinions think that this isn’t going to get any better and just want people to move on? (Hypocrisy on my part, here, for not doing the same thing and for posting this.) I know, I know, it’s not the same thing, and it’s not. Anti-statuers may be getting threats of violence, when pro-statuers get called sexist or misogynist or stupid or compared to racists. They’re attacks on different kinds of levels, but they’re both attacks, and neither one is conducive to discussion or understanding.

Which leads me to the question: What’s really the desired outcome? That the company not produce the statue? Not likely, and the images are already out there, so that doesn’t seem to accomplish much. Consciousness raising? Some of that’s happened, which is great, but the points have, at this point, gotten lost in the drawing of battle lines and the stereotyping going on on both sides.

That comment’s not going to get me any friends, but it goes back to: was anything achieved? what are the actual results? If you think you’ve shown you can get people to listen to you. … Well, this is online. Are they listening or are they pointing and staring at the latest three-day meltdown? Are any benefits worth the costs?

Then there’s those complaining (my apologies on her behalf for the text-speak):

Do ppl rly have nothing better to do than pick a fight? :\ What’s worse is that they think they’re 100% right, and therefore, it’s not a debate, it’s not a discussion, it’s a fight. For a fight’s sake. It seems like many ppl are posting simply to get into a fight. It’s not their journal. If they just wanted to express an opinion, they could write in their journal. Instead, they show up on other ppl’s journals just to say “UR WRONG”. :\

That seems to me to equally describe the way the anti-statue forces have behaved as well. They show up at the vendor’s message boards and in other people’s comment threads to attack the product and its customers, and then they wonder why they weren’t listened to. They’re convinced they’re 100% right, so much so that some feel they’ve misrepresented the statue in the first place.

If you really want to live by the rules “only disagree in your own space”, then you ought to model the behavior first. Personally, I don’t agree with the rule… but it’s a very American attitude, when a group decides they’re on the side of the angels so whatever they do is ok in service to the cause, but others should live up to higher expectations.

She goes on to give advice I would hope both sides listen to:

dunno why everybody has to be RIGHT. I disagree with lots of ppl, I dun rly care that they dun share my POV. I dun call them names, or make assumptions about them or nething. >.>; The negativity hurts me.

… what’s the point of fighting online? Ppl get angry, NOBODY evar gets convinced and it ends up with both sides shouting at the wind.

Course, it’s been that way since I went online 20 years ago, so why should it change now? That’s why I love and hate it so. And I don’t blame people for having an easier time seeing what the “other side” shouldn’t do. That gets back to the whole splinter/log/eye thing. Righteous anger is fun, and a good head of steam will carry you a long way, perhaps beyond where you wanted to be.

I do appreciate their passion, and I agree with them that the statue is an unfortunate representation with messages the creators may not have intended.

22 Responses to “Feminist Hypocrisy”

  1. Pedro Tejeda Says:

    I woke up and settle down to read my blogs off my feeds and it was a joy to get this one first, especially after Ragnell’s last night.

    There is all this energy and rush going around but it feels so headless and pointless. It’s blind rage that strikes at everyone equally, focusing on the symptoms of sick industry and ignoring the real reasons why items that offend the fanbase will still be released.

    I want to see a stronger non-white, straight, male force in both of the continuity focused super hero universes. I want to see better written characters. It makes all cape books better to read if they are well formed.

    But my fear is that since the outrage by people who have the chance to change things will be lost in their anger. Has anyone changed opinions? Has it inspired more people to try to change the way Superhero books are written? What do the anti-statue supporters want out of a vague, better treatment of female characters?

  2. Glaurung Says:

    I couldn’t disagree with you more. There is a huge difference between moderating comments, which is what Devildoll has had to do with the massive number of comments to her post about that stupid statue, and turning off the ability to comment, which is what the poster you link to was complaining about.

    Moderation is not censorship, nor is it refusing to listen to opposing points of view. It’s enabling opposing points of view to be aired and heard, rather than merely shouted past one another (Teresa Nielsen Hayden explains in more detail).
    Turning off blog comments, though, is refusing to listen to opposing points of view; it’s the equivalent of putting your fingers in your ears and saying “la la la.”

  3. Mel Says:

    I don’t think moderating comments is silencing other people.
    It’s one thing to ban and delete someone if they disagree with you, that I don’t agree with, but if you’re getting comment, after comment just bashing your views or saying how stupid your argument is or telling you to STFU… then moderating is necessary.

    That doesn’t make it censorship.

  4. Johanna Says:

    Yes, moderation is necessary — I learned that lesson well when I was responsible for the DC Comics Green Lantern board during HEAT’s glory days.

    Let me try this way: those being moderated, whether pro- or anti-statue, rarely agree that it was necessary to remove their comments. Perhaps those complaining that their comments against the statue were removed were thought to be “bashing or just saying ‘how stupid'” too.

  5. graig Says:

    Off topic, but it’s unfortunate that Ami-Rants writes in that horrible text speak. I’ve read a few of her posts and she seems to have quite an intelligent viewpoint, but the “txt spek” does undermines her sentiments to an extent.
    I have to wonder, is this the future evolution of the written language?

  6. Ami Angelwings Says:

    Hi Johanna :D

    For the record, I nevar troll other ppl’s LJs posting that I disagree with them or telling them they’re wrong XD I just dun see the point :)

    And I’ve been trying to keep out of it, I haven’t even made a comment about hating the statue (except that I wasn’t fond of it, BUT I didn’t mind the clothing since I wear that).

    But nobody bothered to read my opinions on the statue. They grabbed a link from WFA (that wasn’t about the statue at all) and then started attacking points I never made or me in general. :\

    They just wanted to pick a fight :(

    That’s mostly what I was complaining about. It’s not even disagreeing with points, it’s the fact that right now ppl are trolling other ppl’s journals just to fight. :\

    And it makes me sad :( But I’m not saying it should be illegal or nething XD

    But ppl posting on the manufacturer’s site is different. As potential customers they have the right to. And the manufacturer also has the right (and did use it) to moderate the comments as they see fit. *nods*

    So I dun rly see the problem there. :\

    If it’s ppl who dun like the statue going onto blogs of ppl who LIKE the statue and telling them they’re wrong to like it, I dun think that’s useful at all. :\ And it goes along with what I was saying XD

    It’s the same as ppl coming to their blogs and insulting them for not liking it.

    Honestly, if ppl dun like it, their beef is with the manufacturer. But whether you like it or not is a personal choice. :( And fighting about it wun change nething at all.

    However, this is just my opinion :3

  7. Ami Angelwings Says:

    Hi Graig! :D

    I apologize for my writing style :( I know some ppl dun like it :\

    Maybe eventually I’ll get bored and write normally XD It happens :3

    But this is just how I like writing :D I opened my blog just b/c a few friends of mine were interested in comics and wanted to read more of what I had to say about it :D

    I’m happy other ppl read it, but I feel like if ppl read me, it’s a bonus and they’re visiting my blog :) But I dun write to change the world or nething XD

  8. Estara Says:

    You know, Johanna, you and a lot of other comic bloggers I read have very interesting views and quote interesting sources. But this is now the second time I read people extensively quoting Ami’s views but at the same time apologising for or (in the other case) being appalled at her writing style.

    I think as long as her points are so interesting that you guys quote her, why not accept that she writes that way and just quote her.

    You’re not her mum, you’re not responsible for her style, so why apologise?

    As a non-native speaker I find it difficult to read myself, but then I’m not the intended audience and I still get her if I read slowly and it is her ideas I find interesting, not her spelling.

    Maybe I have a higher tolerance because I’m an ESL teacher in real life and see much worse or had to cultivate acceptance of what little German English speakers have and tend to misquote ^^.

  9. Lis Riba Says:

    You’re trying to confuse the issue by conflating several different things.

    Do you really not see the difference between:

    (a) personal insults, harassment and trolls,
    (b) on-topic critical comments (Newsarama example from Sideshow’s boards — and I challenge you to explain how Lisa Fortuner violated the board’s posting guidelines), and
    (c) closing down ALL comments, even though people are having productive discussion.
    To his credit, after an evening to cool down, Tom Hughes restored the comment threads and a rollicking discussion has ensued.

    If you can’t distinguish betwen (a) and (b), look up Kathy Sierra…

  10. david brothers Says:

    Yes, moderation is necessary — I learned that lesson well when I was responsible for the DC Comics Green Lantern board during HEAT’s glory days.

    Cripes, that’s actually kind of impressive. You’re a better person than I.

    Anyway, regarding your point on engaging vs silencing– I recently made a comment on Carla Hewitt’s blog on the same subject. Here’s the meat of it:

    Why would you immediately assume the worst and respond out of spite? That’s a crap response. If someone wanted dialogue or real change, they’d be open to someone else saying “I don’t get it. What am I missing?”

    If someone says, “Help,” don’t say “You didn’t say please.” Screw that.

    Let the rest of the internet be jerks. If you’re going for change or dialogue or even just intelligent discourse, you’ve got to be different and/or better.

    For context, Carla had made a post about the statue where she basically stated (paraphrasing) “I don’t get it, the art is kind of cool. Tell me what I am missing and I swear to listen to your every word.” The response was an insult and (quoting) “I’m honestly not certain whether you’re intellectually dishonest, or just missed the critical distinction, but I shall assume the former.”

    re: misrepresentation– I tend to agree with Dirk on that one. The problem is that the statue has no context at all. You just see Woman + Basket + Assets. the story behind it is that Spidey slipped his laundry into MJ’s load and she’s smiling at him trying to trick her. With that, the statue is a little bit less of an issue for me, though it’s still a pretty thoroughly ugly bit of plastic or clay or whatever.

    Adam Hughes’s concept art for it was charming, the statue itself is mediocre.

  11. Johanna Says:

    Estara — I have a professional interest in written language; one of my roles in my day job is proofreading and copyediting. When someone’s method of presentation gets in the way of what they’re trying to say, that’s a concern of mine.

    Lis — as always, opinions vary. When I first started discussing this issue, I got some very nasty messages (that I removed) from some of the self-identified feminists who thought they were just being critical, not realizing that they’d crossed the line of appropriate behavior. The line may not always be as bright as we’d like to think, especially when people are strongly emotionally involved.

    David — heh. Thank you for your compliment. It was a rather tough period… but surviving it puts much of the rest of this in perspective.

    Love the quote. I totally agree that those who seriously want to change things have to be both different and better, regardless of how unfair or tough that seems.

  12. 4thletter! » Blog Archive » Real Talk Says:

    […] now, or at least in the comics blogosphere. The Mary Jane statue thing is a big deal currently, though it isn’t without it’s problems, and it is honestly what prompted this post of […]

  13. mickle Says:

    I haven’t read all the links from WFA by any means – but my impression is that most of the feminists complaining of comments being deleted are complaining of comments being deleted from forums. Forums that often purport to have no agenda other than discussing comics/comic merchandise (as opposed to discussing comics from a particular viewpoint). Plus, there is also a difference between abuse and disagreeing comments.

    The same general idea may still apply, but yeah, I’d say it’s a bit different to complain about deleting any disagreeing comments on a commercial site (which, one supposes, has a paid moderator) and banning people who repeatedly disrupt the conversation and/or become abuse on a personal blog mostly supported as a hobby.

    Which is why Ragnell’s advice to take screen shots is a good idea; assuming the feminist bloggers/fans are being truthful in their descriptions of what they are deleting versus what the forums are deleting, I think a significant number of people will see a definite lack of hypocrisy.

  14. Estara Says:

    Johanna – Okay, then I guess it’s just something you can’t pass by without comment, much like I have to comment German Popstars using bad English whenever my students tell me that “soandso” used a wrong construction or whatever in his song.

    Fair enough ^^.

  15. Johanna Says:

    Mickle, the main forum I’ve seen complaints about is the one run by the people making the statue, not those discussing general comics. In their case, it makes sense (although one might not agree) that they want their forum to serve as advertising for their products and so they would remove attacks on them and their work. I’ve known editors who ran their letter columns the same way.

  16. Merlewhitefire Says:

    Tell you what. When you can bring me a feminist who said they wanted to rape the makers of the statue and cum down their throats, then we’ll talk.

  17. Lyle Masaki Says:

    Johanna, my inner customer service guy disagrees. Generally, when a vendor refuses to acknowledge criticism, especially if the critics can come off as reasonable (not having looked at the screenshots, I can’t say) that only fuels the controversy. Let them vent at your site, as long as it stays civil, and the fire burns itself out. Start suppressing those comments and there’s a whole new batch of kindling to fuel the controversy.

    Merlewhitefire brings up one area where I do see a difference between the two groups deleting comments… consider how there’s been a lot of attention to feminist bloggers receiving death threats and other threats of violence (including one recent case where a blogger was photoshopped into pictures in threatening ways), I’d be willing to consider that the feminists deleting comments might have been doing more than suppressing criticism.

  18. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » May. 21, 2007: Spider-Man too sexy? Says:

    […] threads of the anti-statue brigade and began flamewars of their own, a situation documented best by Johanna Draper Carlson. By going after a harmless bit of cheesecake fluff rather than actual misogynistic storytelling in […]

  19. Toon Brew » Blog Archive » Muckraking Says:

    […] agreement breeds confidence on the internet (good old ad populum), here is someone who agrees with me about the pointlessness of righteous […]

  20. universalperson Says:

    “Vague better treatment of female characters?” I hardly think not dying pointless shock valued deaths is anything vague.

    Here’s the thing. Sideshow has been deleting negative but REASONABLE comments.

    Devildoll has been deleting trolls who signed up just to piss her off. They had no argument at all.

  21. Johanna Says:

    I’m sure the person who posted the attack on me I deleted this morning thought they were being reasonable, too. From my perspective, someone who posts nothing but “you’re not worth listening to and I’ve thought so for years” is someone just trying to piss me off. Thus, instant case study.

  22. Matthew Says:

    Ah, but there actually is an objective-ish standard of reasonability.

    In the case of the statue, Sideshow has been deleting comments that criticized the statue, but certainly not in the way of OMG THIS STATUE SUX! (I have seen people post like this. It’s frightening). Sometimes the statement is more grammatical, or put in different words, but it has the same implication: The thing in questions is horrible because the poster says it is horrible.

    I think we have a valid reason, however, to not like the statue. The attack you deleted…well, I don’t know the contents of that attack. However, “you’re not worth listening to and I’ve thought so for years” is definitly an unreasonable argument.




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