Well, that’s not actually Poe’s Law, which is about distinguishing satire from the real thing, but I am sadly uninformed as to whether a similar trolling-or-just-incoherent Law of internet arguments exists. Answers on the back of a red sportscar.
Point is, it kicked in when reading a blazingly bizarre post on a blog which, yes, will sadly go unlinked because ewwww. This blog claims to campaign for truth, justice and the Australian/New Zealand way, whatever that is, on behalf of people like Peter Ellis.
And this blog, when you point out that using the term “rent-boy” to describe Cameron Slater is homophobic, anti-sex-worker, and just plain lazy, makes statements like:
If in the process of outing crimes against humanity it means we here at Lauda Finem need to continue using non PC language such as ”Fuck Tard”, “rent-boy”” and “Cunts” to spread the message so be it.
Thing is, deep down I’m quite a positive person. I dearly want to believe that the writers of this blog are just really, really passionate about their cause to the exclusion of all else. (Their positive mentions of Micael Lhaws stretches this belief somewhat.)
So it just makes me sad that while stridently defending someone like Peter Ellis, a man who was persecuted and vilified primarily because he was Teaching Kindergarten While Gay And Male, they honestly don’t seem to understand how demeaning, oppressive language like that is part of the very system they’re railing against.
Or they’re just trolls. It’s probably the more likely answer.
I wasn’t going to post about this because it is just so not done to blow one’s own trumpet, but Bomber in a post at Tumeke has granted me the title of Chaotic Good Blogger of 2012.
Which is kinda awesome if you know how much of a geek I am. If you don’t, you may not have been paying attention.
The truly awesome thing, though, is the second comment on the post:
Wow.some heavy misses there.
QOT is kind of irelevant because nice girls don’t kill foetuses these dayswithout goo dreason. .And “Not Nice”, girls don’t count. So that is a big wide cultural miss. ‘Tis my opinion that Russell Brown is a left wing circle jerker. Other than that, your judgementr is right on. Keith Ng. One of the best invetigative journos of 2day.
I can’t entirely make out what Monique Angel is saying there, but according to her blog she’s a Pete George fan – and Pete George doesn’t understand how D&D alignments work (warning: link contains Pete George) which is also good for a giggle.
But thanks for the hate, Monique! Interesting point, though: a “big wide cultural miss”? According to Monique’s blog she’s living in San Francisco, so maybe she’s missed that being a stroppy sweary bitch isn’t actually that unusual among Kiwi Gen Ys.
Anyways, I digress. Like it says in the headline: you know you’re winning when people feel the need to whinge about your pro-choice-ness on fairly lighthearted posts on Tumeke, of all places. If you really were irrelevant, they wouldn’t care so much. (Though not so much they pay attention to what they’re typing.)
So, I’ve ventured forth once more into the comments at Brian Edwards’ post, where much amusement may be had at Pete George wanking on about his perma-ban at The Standard.
Brian, in response to many comments along the same lines as my own, has this to say:
I said in the blog that if someone commenting on a post had reason to fear that giving their real name could lead to them, their families or associates suffering distress or harm, then it was entirely resonable for them to use an alias. I’ve now repeated that half a dozen times in reply to comments citing examples of discrimination by employers, various authorities or the state.
Fair enough, I suppose. But this only begs one question for me: um, what the fuck were you complaining about then, Brian?
It seems that, post posto, Brian and various commenters want to now act like “the problem” is the abusiveness, the trolling, the unconstructive shit that I know we’ve all seen derailing comment threads since the dawn of net-time.
But that’s not what Brian Edwards blogged about.
Brian Edwards said:
But, whatever my faults, I have at least always put my name to my opinions.
the commonest reason for not putting one’s name to one’s opinions is … cowardice.
But [anonymous commenting on blogs] is, in my submission, a democracy of the gutless whose commonest weapon is abuse hurled from behind the ramparts of their anonymity.
More contemptible by far than the anonymous correspondent is the anonymous blogger, particularly in a democracy like New Zealand
A few brave souls write under their real names.
If that post – and by all means go read the whole thing to establish I’m not quoting out of context, that’s the joy of links – is about anything other than “anonymous* bloggers are gutless cowards” I implore some helpful commenter – anonymous or otherwise – to explain exactly how.
So here’s the upshot: Brian Edwards totally doesn’t think all anonymity is bad, he totally understands that some people have good reasons for remaining anonymous (or, you know, PSEUDONYMOUS).
He just thinks he gets to be the person who decides whether or not your reasons are good enough, because obviously, as an anonymous coward, you can’t be trusted to have made that decision for yourself or anything.
So, everyone, please line up by Mr Edwards’ desk to out yourself and justify your previous use of a cowardly, contemptible pseudonym. He’ll let you know if your own reasons for your own choices are valid. He’s a respectable old white heterosexual middle-class dude who writes under his real name, you know.
There’s another theme emerging, which Farrar helpfully parrots: that pseudonymous bloggers are less polite, less restrained, less rational. I merely refer that entire argument to Wh*l* O*l.
Over the past few days a couple of commenters at The Standard have taken a few swings at me.
They’ve pretended to be “surprised” that I’m commenting on a Saturday afternoon -
Thought you would be playing Saturday soccer or softball now anyway.
Actually you would probably make a good prop in rugby, they need to be heavy.
They’ve estimated my shoe size -
Not QoT’s this, is it? Or she’ll jump on me with her size 15 Doc Martins, and flatten me but good.
And, in comments tragically lost to the internet (but not my inbox) have referred to me as being “in man mode”.
It’s one of the great ironies of being a feminist blogger. People will furiously insist that there’s no such thing as sexism in our society, women are equal, the pay gap’s a lie …
And then just to tear you down they’ll make it clear that the very worst thing you can tell a woman is that she’s not a real woman. Because she likes softball and wears Doc Martens. (Oh, and also is fat, but for now I’ll just refer that to this previous post of mine.)
Upshot? I’m a big hairy masculine lesbian, that’s what I am!
The obvious problem is that if you’re not a pathetically insecure bigot, there’s actually nothing wrong with a person being a big hairy masculine lesbian if that’s what floats their boat. There’s nothing wrong with women playing soccer. There’s nothing wrong with women wearing Doc Martens.
But to these kinds of people – the people who will spend all day telling you you’re wrong about sexism – that kind of thing is literally the worst thing they can think to call you. You’re meant to be ashamed, upset, torn down, booted into a spiral of self-doubt, because you’re failing to match up properly to the Magical Femininity Scale.
And thus, they make your point for you. Clearly, there are still people who think women and men have innate, defined gender roles – because they do. Clearly, there are still people who look down on women who don’t conform to those gender roles – because they do. Clearly, there are still instinctive responses to shame women acting outside those gender roles, to bully them back into “appropriate” behaviour – because that’s what they try to do.
The only real problem is to try and quash your own reflex to try to educate them. They don’t want to be educated. They just want to shut you up. So don’t let them. And enjoy the belly-laughs when they just do not comprehend why their incredibly-cutting “lol ur gay” insults aren’t doing the job.
A lot of people who have the privilege of writing under their real/legal/given names perennially attack bloggers for posting under pseudonyms. It’s happened to me, but the biggest target in the NZ blogosphere is probably the various pseudonymous posters at The Standard.
The charges are that pseudoynmous blogging (though let’s face it, they always call it “anonymous” blogging either because they don’t know the difference, they don’t like using big scary words, or they know it sounds scarier and more random) is unreliable and not worth reading, because:
- you don’t know who’s writing it, and you can’t judge the words on their own merit without knowing if the author has red hair
- you don’t know if it’s always the same person writing it, because anyone could have the password to that account (in fact I’ve recently seen specific allegations of this directed at a Standard poster: “oh, I know X used to have the password, but then Y had it and now I don’t know.”)
- the writer never has to “back up” their opinions the way Real Writers Using Their Names do
And there are doubtless plenty of other reasons why you should just stop reading this right now because I’m incapable of having anything worth your attention if I haven’t shown you my birth certificate.
And all these arguments could have some validity to them. Certainly when a troll with a rapidly-shifting pseudonym pops up in blog comments we often just say “Ignore them, they’re a troll.” When a person’s writing has a lot of obvious bias in it, you may well find yourself saying “I wonder if there’s an ulterior motive to this.”
But there’s a big problem for me around all this, and that’s the long and honourable history of pseudonyms being used right there in the mainstream media which so often calls pseudoynmous bloggers mean names.
Take the editorial of the NZ Herald. Do you know who writes it? What their allegiances are? Which political party, union or business lobby group they’ve inevitably worked for as a press secretary? Certainly a lot of the more politically-active bloggers and personalities do, and that’s why you’ll see comments saying “Obviously they let [person] write the editorial today.”
But does your average Herald reader (they’ve still got a few, I’m sure) have a sodding clue whose work they’re reading? Are they given any better reason to accept that opinion piece beyond “it’s published under the mighty banner of the Herald so they must be on to something”?
As for ulterior motives, changing identities? Well, I look around at all the known attempts to make products go viral, to spam review pages or to astroturf comments on blogs … and let’s be honest, they’ve all been pretty arse.
If I, for example, am simply the sockpuppet of [pick a political party] designed purely to sway political conversation about [pick an issue] in [pick a direction], fuck me but I’m doing a fantastic job. Four years’ blogging, 500 posts on a wide variety of topics, random periods of activity and down-time which to the untrained eye might look exactly like the work of a person who sometimes has time to blog and sometimes doesn’t?
Whoever’s running Ideologically Impure deserves some kind of political-spin-doctor Pulitzer.
Let’s look at other examples of pseudonyms. In media: were Ann Landers’ words of wisdom less valid, less accepted, because she wrote as Miss Manners? How did anyone know that she had any basis for offering other people advice on etiquette? Because they read her columns and thought “that sounds like good advice” and accepted the pseudonym as a reliable guide.
They could also probably tell she wasn’t multiple people in a dark and smokey room by the way her writing style was consistent and she didn’t go from saying “Wearing white at another person’s wedding is rude because it distracts attention from the bride” one week to “HOOTERS IS A TOTES KEWL VENYOO, YO” another.
So pseudonyms: OK when they’re printed by a respectable source. When they’re just some member of the rabble who’s got a login and a pretty premade theme? Unreliable, useless, shut up shut up shut up, how dare you have opinions not sanctioned by Proper Editorial Authorities.
The final charge I want to deal to is the idea that we pseudonymous types are cowards for sticking behind pseudonyms. In a country the size of NZ, where everyone knows everyone, where our media and our political press departments overlap hugely, where a Cabinet Minister is more than happy to release the private financial details of people who cross her and literally doesn’t care when the Human Rights Commission says she did anything wrong …
You people who have the honour of being paid for your opinions really want to question why I’m sitting here behind a pseudonym?
Well fuck you, that’s why.
None of this even addresses the “side” issue, for me specifically, of blogging as a ranty feminist. Kate Harding covered it very well many years ago.
Well, even accounting for the sheer volume of porn-related search terms I get hits from (the lesson being to not be so unladylike, and especially not entitle a post “Fuck you and the horse you rode in one“*) I think it’s safe to say I’ve got readers. I’ve even had trolls! Hatemail! Guest posts on other, far bigger blogs which generated fantastic numbers of comments about how men don’t make passes at girls who
wear glasses want to smash the patriarchy.
I think it’s been a success so far. So thanks for stopping by! I ain’t going anywhere.
*Still mad, by the way, ALAC.
Here we are again at that same old place where I’ve stood up for a principle and dared to be angry about it and it is revealed once more than even strident feminist bloggers are more than happy to dip into misogynist bullshit when their buddies are called on their privilege.*
It’s not a sin to be angry.
It’s not a sin to swear a lot.
It’s not a sin to have had friendships sour and projects fail in the past due to clashing personalities.
These things are only sins, and especially only sins for [cis]women, when you buy into basic sexist notions about how [cis]women are meant to be calm and nurturing and maternal and un-combative and reassuring and gentle, and when you believe that a person’s tone and personality and way of expressing herself are valid reasons to ignore the points she’s making.
They’re only sins if you still think “well your mum dresses you funny and no one likes you” is relevant to a discussion of politics and oppression.
Guess what? They’re not things I feel even slightly like apologising for or being ashamed about.
It is no different to men saying “no one cares about your issue, little woman”. It is no different to people in positions of authority saying “if you weren’t such a bitch I might listen to you”. It is no different to every other time someone has tried to destroy progressive movements by saying “look, even normal people don’t agree with you”.
And if you are going to identify as a feminist/progressive blogger and pull this misogynist shit on someone, and refuse to engage with the actual points she’s made in favour of hitting all those well-ingrained social buttons that are meant to make her submit and go away and shut up out of the shame of being labelled Doesn’t Play Well With Others, I only ask you do two things:
a. Own your massive, throbbing hypocrisy
b. Fuck off.
*Yes, this post was inspired by your comments, Stef, and I’m sure you’re very proud. But please do not flatter yourself that you’re the only hypocrite employing behaviour-policing shaming tactics against other [cis]women. This goes out to y’all.
Paul at The Fundy Post seems to have a wee bit of an issue with me, off the back of a wonderfully juvenile Twitter argument over that whole “Maori weren’t actually innately abusive parents who were only saved from self-genocide by blessed Christianity” thing.
He took particular offence at the terrible, terrible charge that maybe there was a tiny bit of racism involved in rejecting oral histories as inherently unreliable as opposed to the mighty written words of white people (who incidentally back up much of this research, oops) because as we all know, there is nothing worse than being called a racist. Even actual racism pales in comparison. (Oh, snap.)
Matthew of Episto! tried to help by keeping it on topic, but Paul was determined to keep it all about how the word “kyriarchy” is “so, so 90s” (love to see a white-mandated-history defender saying that a thing being old makes it irrelevant) and how actually, *I* was the racist because I would clearly never question Western dismissal of indigenous oral histories as racist if Paul were Maori. Or something.
Anyway. I really didn’t think any more of this after hitting the “unfollow” button until today, when suddenly a bunch of referrals from Fundy Post showed up in my stats.
Because clearly Paul has been thinking more of it and has decided that adding some transphobia to his racism will totally put me in my place, or something.
Let me save you time and spoons:
- People just want to be offended
- Normal people wouldn’t even have noticed that the flyer didn’t mention cissexism
- People shouldn’t be criticised for failing in a basic aspect of their project (it wasn’t called Gay The Night) as long as they have good intentions
- “Taking offence is the motive force of leftwing trolls”
Oh, Paul. I’m sure it’s really comforting to tell yourself all this, and swipe your Martyrcard to pay for all those straw arguments. So much easier to convince yourself that that nasty research tries to paint pre-colonisation Maoridom as Fern Gully than actually question your own biases and prejudices and, yes, racism.
But I’m not offended. I’m contemptuous. And apparently was able to become even more so towards you. Who’d’a thought it?
Lesson for the day, kiddies:
Saying you’d consider docking a tax credit to [in-work] families to pay for earthquake recovery is just a completely political-context-free statement.
Criticising that statement for unnecessarily politicizing the earthquake aftermath is policitizing the earthquake aftermath.
Thus spake Cactus Kate. Also: as a Standard guest poster, am I also a Labour MP in disguise, or maybe a Green?*
Tim Watkin has a nice take on this … up till the point where he demonstrates a lack of understanding as to the difference between anonymous and pseudonymous blogging.
But then I feel somewhat safe assuming Tim has never seen his blogging result in losing a high-profile job, victim blaming, rape threats,** death threats, or having people call your local police station demanding a copy of your rape report.
Gee, why would an angry feminist like me, writing in the 4-million-people-2-degrees-of-separation land of NZ “hide” behind a pseudonym given all that?***
*Internet cookies to whoever creates an OKCupid poll to determine this.
**Oh, what do you know, a link about a Kiwi bloggerdouche targeting a Kiwi feminist blogger. Quelle surprise.
***Because I’m actually Trevor Mallard, duh. Our styles are so similar.
… which you should read:
On dealing with dudebros at Two Whole Cakes
Your resistance was not surprising. It always seems as though these issues will go away if you stop looking at them, which is a function of being one of the fortunates for whom looking at them is optional. But you can’t push these conversations aside; you can’t ignore them away, and you can’t will them out of existence.
My point, here it is at Shakesville
Since yesterday, when Mike/Gabe declared “Okay That’s Enough,” once he found himself on the receiving end of the same sorts of threats and violent rhetoric I’ve been getting from his readers for the past six months—from exhortions to kill myself to threatening emails and comments to a coordinated campaign against me and the blog … which explicitly encourages Penny Arcade readers to stalk and rape me—the amount of email I’ve been getting has actually increased.