Critiques of call-out culture: a linkspam

This is a repost of an linkspam I created in 2015.  So naturally, all the links come from 2015 or earlier.  I’ve removed a few broken links, and added some contextualizing commentary at the bottom.

One of the most common complaints by social justice activists about social justice activism is that there’s a lot of toxicity. Whenever an activist makes a misstep, other activists will “call out” that person, sometimes directing a disproportionate amount of anger and abuse at them. This pattern is often (but not always) referred to as “call-out culture”.

For a while, I’ve been collecting a lot of articles and blog posts which critique call-out culture from an internal view point. My main motivation is that I would like to write about the topic myself, and I’d like my ideas to be responsive to what has already been said.

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Linkspam: June 10th, 2017

Japan’s rising right-wing nationalism – I recently discovered Vox’s youtube channel, which was especially informative on foreign policy and politics. (Although, I know so little about foreign politics that they don’t have to be that good to teach me something new.) This video is about right-wing nationalists in Japan, whom I immediately hate. They’re the equivalent of neo-nazis, and the rising sun flags are like confederate flags.

On a somewhat related note, why aren’t more people talking about Mindanao (southern Philippines)?  The military clashed with a terrorist group in the city of Marawi, and president Duterte declared martial law in all of Mindanao.  This is very troubling for a number of reasons.

Confusing Intelligence with Goodness – Sara talks about the tendency in American culture to strongly associate intelligence with goodness, and observes that this is not true in Chinese literature.

There have been some attempts in social justice spaces to stop using the word “stupid” because it’s ableist.  But the more I think about it, the more I think this is the wrong approach.  Tabooing a bunch of common words is difficult, and doesn’t address the root problem.  It’s the whole cultural association between cognitive ability and goodness.  BTW, yes I am aware that “stupid” is used in the title of a link in this linkspam, and no I will not comment on that further.

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Linkspam: May 12th, 2017

This is my monthly linkspam, which includes some articles I found interesting, and some brief commentary.

Video games are better without stories – Ian Bogost argues that video games just aren’t as good at storytelling as movies or literature.  Currently the best stories seem to be told through environmental storytelling, which falls quite short of the interactive storytelling often envisioned.  This is a point I’m sympathetic to, having played several games that were widely praised for their story, and being frankly disappointed at how poorly they compare to even mediocre literature.

As far as my personal calculations go, it’s not so much a question of what the medium of video games is capable of. To me, the question is, “Is it economically feasible for the medium to produce good stories that go beyond mainstream tastes?”  For me, movies fail this test because either they need to sell to a broad audience (which generally doesn’t include me), or they need to be poorly produced.  Video games are also in a bad position, but they may get better as development costs go down.

I found this link via Critical Distance, which paired Ian Bogost’s article with several critiques.  To be honest, I was really put off by that Gamasutra article, which started out by complaining that this whole debate had been dismissed by academics since 2005, and then immediately followed this with the complaint that Ian Bogost was being elitist.  Games critics, why are you bad?  Patrick Klepek makes good points though.

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Linkspam: April 15th, 2017

Yeah, just finished my taxes!  So now it’s time for my monthly linkspam.

Double-Dipping Datasets – Why is it wrong to use an old dataset in order to answer new questions? Answer: It’s not wrong, I do it all the time in my research. Oh, and social scientists do it too, as in the well-known study from 2004 showing that asexuals make up about 1% of the population–based on a survey from 1990.  Nonetheless, there are some cases where it intuitively seems like using the same dataset twice sounds wrong.  HJ Hornbeck digs into some of the reasons why.

Here’s another thought.  Researchers have limited resources and can only collect so much data.  Collecting a few large datasets and using those for many purposes is fine.  But if you’re collecting lots of little sets of data, you shouldn’t be testing lots of hypotheses on each data set until you get a hit.

Trans 101: Put Down the Map – Heh, well this isn’t the kind of article that tries to explain trans issues in a simplified and accessible format.  There’s a lot about epistemology, using the “map vs territory” metaphor.  I will say that every social justice advocate should have a healthy amount of empiricism, and that’s why we encourage listening to people rather than just theorizing about them.

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Linkspam: March 10th, 2017

It’s my monthly linkspam!

4chan: The Skeleton Key to the Rise of Trump – To be honest, the first thing that struck me about this long article, was the name of the author, Dale Beran.  Isn’t he the webcomics legend behind A Lesson Is Learned But The Damage Is Irreversible? Yeah, so I’m a webcomics geek. I also remember Dale Beran for this comic–I happen to share his negative opinion of cars.

I’m not sure how far I would vouch for this article. There’s some nice insider perspective on the nihilistic culture of 4chan, and a better explanation of Anonymous than I’ve ever seen from mainstream news outlets. (I remember news outlets saying “anonymous” just refers to people who obscure their identity. But but that’s not what Anonymous is, can you even internet?) It veers a bit much into depicting 4channers as failures who live with their parents. I have lots of friends and relatives who live with their parents–it’s a cheaper way to live in times of economic hardship and I consider this stereotyping to be classist.

I like the bit about models of what men are supposed to strive for in life–either they get a wife and kids, or else they’re supposed to be “players”. Being an ace activist I emphatically reject these models and question whether they’re any good even for non-ace people. Dale Beran suggests that many young men are trapped in these models, and when I question them it’s like I’m saying their problems are in their heads. Something to mull over.

Laurie Penny shared her experience touring with Milo Yiannopolous. This covers some of the same territory as the previous article, but is more compact and focused.

Drug Watch: New Addyi Marketing Campaign, “Find My Spark” – Addyi is the drug recently approved (on weak evidence) to treat Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder in women.  After disappointing sales, they are trying a marketing campaign.  The campaign encourages women who want sex less often than their partners to see this as a medical issue.
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Linkspam: February 10th, 2017

Time to get back into these monthly linkspams.

Cartomancer on Greek Masculinity – This is a long but worthwhile article on masculinity in ancient Greece.  What’s interesting is that there are multiple masculinities (just as there are today, of course), as illustrated in Achilles and Oddyseus.

The Intersection of Guess Culture and Sex is Rape Culture – The thesis is in the title, and I agree with it.  When consent is important, such as in the realm of sex, then it is important that consent be clear.  I am not exactly sure what the advantages guess culture has over ask culture, but clear communication is certainly not among them.

The Value of a Vote – ExtraTricky calculates the value of a vote based on the probability that it could have flipped the election (according to polling estimates).  In California, our votes are worth 40 times less than the average vote.  I guess… I guess I already knew democracy was dead, and didn’t need math to tell me so.

Ace Tropes – This is a series about tropes in asexual fiction.  I wrote the first six articles, but it is now being continued by the excellent Sara.  I really enjoy writing about tropes because it’s a way to connect to other people over fiction, without having to have read and liked exactly the same fiction.  I live on the long tail of culture, liking things that hardly anyone else likes, but that doesn’t mean we can never talk to each other.

Linkspam: December 11th, 2016

This month’s linkspam is predominantly about trans and gender issues. That might be a coincidence.

Prejudice, “Political Correctness,” and the Normalization of Donald Trump – Julia Serano has enough in here that she really could have written three essays, and then I would put it in my linkspam three times.  I particularly like the middle essay, where she talks about the uses of “political correctness”, and why activists think the word should be ditched even if it includes some genuinely objectionable activities.  I have said such things myself but could never say it so well.

Science isn’t Broken – In the past year or so, there have been many articles about the unreliability of science, and this is one.  I’m linking it just for the interactive toy that lets you try p-hacking.

I’m inclined to believe that science is doing just fine.  It’s journalists who have been too quick to trust an claim just because a study said so, and who are now surprised to find that studies are not so reliable as that.  Working scientists have always known to distrust studies’ conclusions.  This is true in physics too, being a “hard” science does not help.  In my field we don’t really calculate p-values, so p-hacking isn’t a thing, but we still have biases, just ones that are more difficult to characterize.

An epic battle between feminism and deep-seated misogyny is under way in South Korea – This is a pretty interesting read about the South Korean version of the culture wars.  It sounds like misogyny is really bad there.  The feminist organization Megalia is characterized as rather extreme, but in that context it might be warranted, I dunno.  This link was shared by a commenter. [Read more…]