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Jun 17 2013

Dear Internet Commenter Vol #01

On my post calling for those involved in video games to let me know about any experiences of sexism, I received some comments that appear to be off-topic and just plain strange. Consider this one.

Comment 3

A few thoughts on this kind of internet comment.

First, there’s no need to “interpret” anything. I quite explicitly state in the title I need others’ help with this topic. I’ve not claimed to be an expert, to be writing the definitive view, or anything of the sort. I’m interested in hearing stories, seeing what kind of options are available to combat this sort of horrible discrimination, how extensive the problem is, and so on.

Second, when did “having agenda” come to mean “advocating a viewpoint I oppose”? My agenda isn’t outlined by our anonymous commenter, but all that’s necessary is to merely accuse me of having one. Apparently, it’s impossible that one’s agenda is to be making non-males feel less targets of hate, to make marginalised people feel more welcome in yet another area of life. That is my agenda.

Weirdly, in a way, the commenter is right: I do know little about this topic and I do have an agenda. But the post is about trying to find out what to do about both.

Perhaps, I’m wrong: perhaps there’s nothing I or you can do, perhaps I’m exaggerating the problem, perhaps I’m underestimating, etc. But these perhaps will be corrected or confirmed with data, not reactions that claim I “have agendas”. I’d hope that even my commenter agrees that making spaces safer, more inclusive and less exclusionary is a good thing. Once we agree on that, then s/he can tell me why I’m wrong going about achieving this goal by trying to find out more.

Third, this sentence is confusing: “I think there are a zillion bloggers and pundits and reporters that believe this is reasonable, ethical, and profitable.” What is “this”?

However, it’s the final sentence which not only confirms more awareness, more focus, more writing on this topic, but is also a call for acting immorally.

“I’d prefer you just shut up and listen unless you have real life experience on this.”

What does my experience have to do with this topic? Whether I have or have not experienced discrimination is irrelevant to whether most of you who are not male, my friends who are not male, most of my colleagues who are not male, my cousins, my nieces, feel unwelcome to an industry that I consider important – because they feel excluded on many levels (levels I do not know about, being male, not playing online games, not being threatened with rape or death, not attending gaming conventions, etc.).

Indeed, it’s none of this commenter or anyone’s business what’s happened to me: that doesn’t make our options or others’ experiences less important to consider. Indeed, it would be selfish and immoral for us to fight for causes that only we have experienced. I will probably never experience the oppression that comes from sexual orientation, but that’s never and will never stop me speaking out against homophobia – will this commenter tell me to “shut up and listen unless you have real life experience on this”, when pointing out homophobia, or racism, or capital punishment, or the many topics I’ve written and read about?

Also, this is “real life experience”! It’s just not mine.

But there are couples unable to marry, here, today, right now, because they are both men or both women; here, today, right now, women are being targeted or discriminated based solely on their sex; here, right now, today, abortion is outlawed, forced marriages occur, starvation happens, death and suffering flow through various rivers of life like a poisonous torrent of shit. And no, I’ve not experienced abortion, a forced marriage, starvation: Should I shut up about it?

Opening your eyes can mean opening your mouth, can mean pointing your finger. If you mean to tell me I should press that finger against my lips instead of aiming it in a direction I think deserves attention, then you simply have missed much of the point of my writings. In which case, you would need to convince me that all that I’m “allowed” to write about is that which I have personal life experience of – which would make nearly all of my writing not only boring, but immoral, since my writing could be aimed to change minds about important things (that do not actually effect me) that cause suffering to many other people.

Do I even need to mention the strangeness of a sentence telling me to “shut up and listen” on a post calling for people’s stories — for me to listen to?

27 comments

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  1. 1
    machintelligence

    I guess you just weren’t listening loudly enough.

  2. 2
    Lou Doench

    Between that and Pitchguest bawling about Anita Sarkeesian for comment after comment, I can only say “Welcome to Freethought Blogs!” We attract some first class jerks.

  3. 3
    oolon

    Yup as Lou says anything on feminism will be posted at the Slymepit with a call for PitchGuest or other winged-MRA apologist to come and take over the thread. He quite effectively made it yet another discussion on Anita Sarkeesian and off the topic of the post. Partly my fault although I did try and get him to go to Jason Thibeaults post where it would be on topic. You cannot be allowed to collect data on women being treated differently as it would conflict with their narrative that women feel “safe and welcome” … As long as they don’t cross the pitters that is.

  4. 4
    Pitchguest

    Lou Doench: Indeed. But with jerk repellent, where would you go?

    I’m not sure I was “bawling” so much as “lamenting”, but then it seems any opinion on Sarkeesian on this side of the aisle that isn’t 100% in support needs to be removed – to protect the ideological purity of the network. Of course, if I were to look into any of your shenanigans, Lou — like yours Chester’s exquisite detective work on the Slymepit (great job confirming that tentacle thing, by the way – it’s here, in case you’re wondering) — I’m sure I wouldn’t find “bawling” of any kind. Right?

    Anyway. It’s funny the “Shut up and listen” remark is being undermined and Tauriq’s objection to it met with no derision so far, when I am pretty certain that is exactly what Ron Lindsay, President and CEO of CFI, is being demonised for right now by the FtB clique. And his talk briefly dealt precisely with the kind of dismissive attitude towards Tauriq by “wtfwhatever” – curious how the tables have turned. Or did you forget about that, Lou? But enough derailing.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t support the silencing tactics of “wtfwhatever” and is exactly why I think the phrase “Shut up and listen” is inherently bad in terms of both agency and critical thinking.

  5. 5
    Pitchguest

    Actually, I’ll take this chance to address Chester for the one and only time:

    Observe the user “Bitethehand” on Ally’s blog:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/hetpat/2013/06/11/how-not-to-write-about-false-rape-allegations/#comment-2785

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/hetpat/2013/06/11/how-not-to-write-about-false-rape-allegations/#comment-2793

    That’s you in five years.

  6. 6
    kacyray

    Comments like that should be regarded as nothing more than an accepted by-product of public discourse, particularly among pseudonymed folks.

    John Gabriels Greater Internet Dickwad Theory correctly predicts this behavior (in a humorous way). Those sorts of comments can be safely ignored.

    As far as the topic of sexism in video games… I have, in the past, asked questions on various FTB forums regarding what a non-sexist society would look like. The question was provoked by what I perceived as a projection of sexism onto almost every aspect of life. Of course, rather than answering the question (or even considering it), I was flamed and labelled.

    I would like to ask a variation on this question here, and my hopes are high that you’ll address it, seeing as how you’ve dedicated an entire blog entry to an obviously trollish comment with no redeeming value whatsoever. (I suspect you won’t be doing that for very long!)

    So the question now becomes… what exactly would a game, or series of video games, completely absent of what you’re considering sexist aspects look like? Could you describe such a game? If the protagonist was an idealized female… would that qualify as sexist from the “other” direction? Would a game have to have an equal number of protagonists, with each sex represented equally? How exactly would that appear?

    Or if your complain about sexism is not with particular games but with the industry in general… what exactly would a “non-sexist” video game industry look like? Would there need to be equal numbers of WNBA games sold along-side NBA games? Would there need to be equal number of idealized female protagonist games sold alongside male protagonist games? Exactly what changes would need to be made?

    I’m not fishing for “right or wrong” answers here – I just want to know how the industry or individual games would need to be in order to satisfy a “non-sexist” requirement.

    A corollary question – If you believe that there should be an equal number of female/male protagonists represented in the game industry, would you suggest that game manufacturers enact these changes even if it could be demonstrated that it would result in a weakened game market? Should game creators compromise industry for idealism? Or do you find that to be a false alternative?

    Alright… I asked more questions than I originally intended to… mea culpa. It’s an interesting topic though, and I hope you find the questions worth considering.

  7. 7
    oolon

    No sexism in games -> stereotypes of women being helpless objects and men as idealised heroes would not dominate the scene. Women *are not* helpless objects and men *are not* idealised heroes. There would be a spectrum of protagonists of both male, female and trans that do not conform to a narrow set of gender stereotypes.

    One or two examples that buck this massive bias pulled from under PGs cape do not invalidate the point. As presented here… http://freethoughtblogs.com/lousycanuck/2013/06/13/objectification-vs-idealization-in-video-games/ … but PG doesn’t seem willing, or able, to address the issue where it is relevant. How about you KacyRay of the “innocent questions” that got you so heinously labelled? Can you post at Canucks or are you banned as well? Totally undeserved if so I’m sure…

  8. 8
    oolon

    BTW on topic the last sentence is a sarcastic reference to the “shut up and listen” gaffe from Ron Lindsay… His straw interpretation of that meme is currently dominating the “drama” between FTBs and the anti-FTB ppl like PitchGuest. So this sentence is a joke of sorts… Riffing off the straw understanding of the meme.

    “I’d prefer you just shut up and listen unless you have real life experience on this.”

    Good summary here ->

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/camelswithhammers/2013/05/feminism-civility-and-ron-lindsays-welcome-to-women-in-secularism/

  9. 9
    oolon

    Spamming your blog now, but searching for “shut up and listen” I read a post by Mano Singham and our commenter appears there to trollollol on the same subject. This person aptly describes his aim ->
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/singham/2013/06/05/it-is-not-easy-to-just-shut-up-and-listen/#comment-352448

  10. 10
    Lou Doench

    Ok Pitch, can I call you Pitch? I apologize for insinuating that you might be a jerk. That’s incredibly rude of me and my Emigo Dan Finke would be very disappointed in my uncivil behavior. That being said I maintain that your comment history here at Freethought blogs, in particular in regards to feminism and especially when it comes to Ms. Sarkeesian’s video series, to be infuriating, unnecessarily combative, rife with well poisoning vitriol and largely unproductive. And repetitive… so boringly repetitive.

    You continuously cast unsubstantiated aspersions on the motives of your targets. You have a childish and thickheaded understanding of feminist theory and sociological science. Your contribution to yesterday’s discussion largely missed the point of Tauriq’s question, it was just another chance for you to play out one of your many and varied vendetta’s against your ideological opponents.

    I for one, as the primary caregiver of three young children, find Anita’s feminist critique of video games (and her earlier critiques of toys and movies) invaluable in navigating the world that they will have no choice but to grow up in. A world rife with patriarchal assumptions and sometimes outright sexism that Ms. Sarkeesian has worked very hard to reveal and analyze. I want my girls to grow up being able to play better games, games where they can see someone like themselves as the hero. And I want my boy to grow up to play games that don’t require him to play out sexist tropes to be enjoyable.

    You are free to disagree with this assessment of the situation, it’s a free internet last time I checked. But I won’t waste any more of Tauriq’s space arguing with you about it.

  11. 11
    kacyray

    Questions were for the blogger. Thanks.

  12. 12
    Tauriq Moosa

    These are important questions, thanks for asking them. I’m interpreting you as someone genuinely concerned about answering these questions as much as I am. I will add these to the kinds of questions I’m going to ask people.

  13. 13
    wtfwhatever

    1. You claim affinity with skeptics (and may even claim to being a skeptic or critical thinker yourself)
    2. You have been told of a problem and told it is serious
    3. You are going to write an article to help mediate that problem
    4. You then admit you know nothing empirically about that problem, nor have you ever experienced it yourself
    5. You then seek to hear more about that problem, not from some random survey of people, but by seeking anecdotes and experiences from a very self-selected group of people.
    1. You claim affinity with skeptics (and may even claim to being a skeptic or critical thinker yourself)

    I think if you know shit about something you should shut the fuck up and not write 10,000 word essays telling everyone your opinion about that, especially when your research is based on self-selected anecdotes.

    I appreciate your defense (actually I truly do) of a behavior most on this forum would otherwise describe as mansplaining.

    How do you feel when feminists dismiss lectures from ignorant men giving feminists their advice and opinion on subjects they know nothing about as ‘mansplaing’?

    I think it’s bullshit and assumptive and essentialist and sexist and disrespectful and dismissive and bullying and so truly, I appreciate your defense of it here.

    “Second, when did “having agenda” come to mean “advocating a viewpoint I oppose”?”

    That’s bullshit on your part and makes gross assumptions about me clearly not present in that sentence of in my comment.

    I accuse you of having an agenda because you say you have an agenda, I say you know shit because you say you know shit.

    I would say that of any dipshit poo flinger and of many so-called pundits and I usually feel it more towards people that align with my point of view, because flinging dipshit poo does damage to discourse and even if I hold a similar agenda, my standing by that reflects poorly on me and damages my cause.

    Third, this sentence is confusing: “I think there are a zillion bloggers and pundits and reporters that believe this is reasonable, ethical, and profitable.” What is “this”?”

    That sentence is confusing, “this” is not feminists or any group apart from assholes on the Internet and on the Telly that like you, generate these sorts of articles either because they want the clicks, or they to signal to their friends they are right minded individuals, or perhaps because they have a deadline, or just an urge to mansplain.

    A pox to all of them, they just serve to damage discourse, polarize society, and spread misinformation, usually not giving a shit about any of that, but out of some sense of self-importance, some ignorance as to their own arrogance, or some desire to improve their Klout(TM) in the world.

    I submitted a 4 line comment, only 3 of which I wrote, and you got another 10,000 words out of it. wtfwhatever!

    But at least you published the original comment, so thank you for that. Most of the creeps at #FTBullies are so into moderation that only the NSA knows what really gets submitted to their blogs. We just know their faux poutrage.

  14. 14
    gemcutter

    Testing, before I write out that comment again. FTB has been eating my comments, lately. Sorry for the spam.

  15. 15
    gemcutter

    Pitchguest,

    I have never actually seen you argue about Anita Sarkeesian in good faith. For that matter, I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen you argue about ANYTHING in good faith, on this network, or on Mick Nugent’s blog, which are the two places I’ve had exposure to you.

    Your insistence that any and all disagreement with Sarkeesian is grounds for being shunned on this network is grossly inaccurate. You can disagree or agree with her on any substantive point you like. The reason YOU get shunned is not because you disagree with people. It’s because you do not have constructive disagreements here. Most of your arguments consist of tu quoque, pure misrepresentation, and going to great lengths to attribute unexplained malice to your ideological opponents.

    It’s especially clear whenever you speak of Anita Sarkeesian. She couldn’t be just providing a critique, in the hopes of raising awareness and giving the industry a push to stop portraying female characters in various unrealistic, trope-driven fashions, like she comes right out and says, right? She’s OBVIOUSLY lying. Far more likely, she’s trying to censor video games, and she’s just doing it for the money, because she’s greedy and she’s a FEMINIST, so she’s clearly out to do harm to men and take away a past-time that men love!

    It’s possible to have constructive disagreement over Anita’s videos without being unnecessarily adversarial, as you generally are. I disagree with a couple of the specific examples that Sarkeesian uses to demonstrate sexism issues in video games, for instance. HOWEVER, I still think that video game plots and scenarios have a large sexism problem. So Sarkeesian might be wrong about a few things. But what does that have to do with her overall conclusion? What is so objectionable about trying to get more realistic female characters in games? What is wrong with giving girls role models and heroes to aspire to in video games? Are these goals somehow objectionable? Do you have a problem with the means people are going about to attain them? I really don’t know. Your criticism seems to be directionless, focusing on minor quibbles, rather than large conclusions and overall reasoning. When I read you complaining about Sarkeesian, all I can really see is you making a strong attempt to make me believe that Sarkeesian is unreliable because some details in some of her supporting arguments are wrong, rather than engaging with the main thrusts of what she says.

    Even after reading dozens and dozens of your lengthy comments, I STILL don’t understand what your specific problems with professed feminist goals are. I know that you are opposed to many people on this blog network, but I don’t understand WHY. It can’t be censorship, because feminists don’t have the power to censor anybody. It can’t be using social pressure to criticize people who act like assholes, because you OBVIOUSLY support that too, when it happens to the right people (You -do- support the shaming of racists, homophobes, and anti-atheist religious activists, when they overtly discriminate against people, right? Right?). So what is it?

    That’s the pattern with you, Pitchguest. You always read people you see as your enemies in the least charitable way possible. The sad thing is, I don’t think it has to be this way. You’re clearly not as dumb as the average YEC, for instance. You have the mental faculty to figure this stuff out. But it seems like you guide ALL your thinking on the unspoken assumption that feminism is bad, and your confirmation bias rules out any possibility of individual feminists being good, or doing good things, or being useful activists.

    I would like to believe that you really ARE in favor of equality for women, Pitchguest. That you are just misguided. I don’t want to misattribute malice to you, even though you have said some very questionable things in the comments of yours I’ve read. I think you are approaching this entire issue through a misguided idea that because you personally do not see overt discrimination against women, that institutionalized sexism is no longer a thing.

    I challenge you to realize that even you (I hope) would think your own anti-feminist comments would be completely beyond the pale for reasonable discourse if you were to replace the issue of gender with race, sexual orientation, or religious affiliation (or lack thereof). How many times, I wonder, have you, as an atheist, heard Christians cry about persecution and free speech when they are criticized by private people and organizations? Why are you, and the other Slymepitters, putting yourselves on that very same cross?

  16. 16
    wtfwhatever

    If a friend tells you about something that concerns you, and you want to express support and help as best you can, you don’t do collect anecdotes and call it research and then write 20,000 words telling us how we should think about this and what we should do.

    You instead write 500 words saying, friends and people I respect tell me about X, I dislike X and would like to see it stopped, and I think you should go here to find out more about it. And then you point them to your friends instead of acting like an egotistical knowitall whose thoughts on the matter are a result of experience.

    That raises awareness, provides traffic, gets you on position, and supports your friends. All without you acting like a click baiting attention whore.

    HTH

  17. 17
    A Hermit

    wtfwhatever, you should apply for Randi’s million dollar prize since you’re apparently clairvoyant. How else could you possibly know what Tauriq’s article will look like?

    I don’t see an agenda here, I see someone with a particular perspective formed from his own experience on an issue asking others for their perspectives based on their experience. Why do you think that’s somehow illegitimate? Sharing our experiences and our perspectives is one of the ways human beings learn about the social world.

    More information = better understanding. Why do efforts in that direction make you so angry?

  18. 18
    Steven

    You’re not helping your case wtfwhatever by using a clearly misogynist slur.

  19. 19
    wtfwhatever

    “whore” is not a gendered slur, especially when used as “attention whore” don’t mistake correlation for causation.

    Urban Dictionary: “Label given to any person who craves attention to such an extent that they will do anything to receive it. The type of attention (negative or positive) does not matter.”

    Also: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AttentionWhore

    BUT, if you want to see a misogynist slur, click here to see Ophelia Benson call Girl Writes What a stupidbitch.

    http://storify.com/ElevatorGATE/conversation-with-opheliabenson-and-aratina-1

  20. 20
    wtfwhatever

    test: am I in moderation, or was did my quote of a person using a “bad” word, throw a comment into moderation?)

    http://storify.com/ElevatorGATE/conversation-with-opheliabenson-and-aratina-1

  21. 21
    wtfwhatever

    Okay, I guess I am not in moderation and there is a “bad” word filter in place, or perhaps a two links is one two many filter.

  22. 22
    kacyray

    Thanks brother. See you around.

  23. 23
    oolon

    Haha, so I’m “stalking” you now PG :-D

    You do realise that I’d be perfectly happy to never reply to you again? Unfortunately as many in this thread point out you turn up time after time to spew the same boring bullshit. It never changes… You could only hope to manage in 5yrs to be slightly different. I’ve spoken to your old pals at sinfest.net and they assure me that you have been the same for at least the last 5 yrs. Sat in your parents basement tapping away at the keyboard….
    –> Every time something feminist is written you are there to condescend and miss the point.
    –> Every time a woman expresses emotion you are there to condescend and sneer at her.

    That’s why they have decided you are an out and out woman hating misogynist. Not sure I agree but give me another few yrs of seeing the same boring arguments from you and I may change my mind. However I predict very few bloggers here will put up with years of the same idiocy and you’ll accumulate bans which you can whine about at the Slymepit.

  24. 24
    oolon

    Well said. This one blog post is probably what PitchGuest is basing his accusation of me “stalking” him on, but its too apt to not link to. http://www.oolon.co.uk/?p=384
    He and the other Slymepitters main argumentation tactic is the argument in bad faith. They really need to justify why that is valid…

  25. 25
    Pitchguest

    Right, because “attention whore” is a misogynist slur. *facepalm*

  26. 26
    oolon

    Not for PitchGuest but for anyone with an understanding of context ->
    http://thatweirdatheistgirl.wordpress.com/2011/11/14/shes-just-an-attention-whore/

  27. 27
    garlic

    For once I’ll have to go with the crowd here. Apparently, “attention whore” does seem to be used in a gendered way:

    Google “she’s an attention whore”: about 6,690,000 results.
    Google “he’s an attention whore”: about 157,000 results.

    Note that Pitchguest is not a native speaker of English (neither am I), which may be a cause of misunderstandings.

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