Below is a bunch of reader commentary of the Dish’s recent coverage of gender-based debates like gamergate, catcalling, affirmative consent, and others. A dissenter gets the last word on #shirtstorm:
You have a tendency to hate Internet mobs even when they’re right. Matt Taylor’s shirt was staggeringly inappropriate for a professional workplace, particularly when he’s been tasked to be the public face of his organization on the day of its greatest triumph. He deserves the heat for thinking that was acceptable attire – no matter what the woman who made it for him says. Her opinion ought to be secondary to that of the women who had to work with him (and all the colleagues and supervisors who didn’t question that choice of clothing).
But you can prove me wrong: Wear a Tom of Finland shirt the next time you’re on Bill Maher’s show. Don’t let the culture police win!
Thank you for covering Gamergate. I was mostly unaware of the issue until you brought it up. Now I am beginning to understand its significance. Today, some clicking around on Gamergate brought me to two places that I think are telling about all of this. The first was someone disparaging you, and saying “there’s no way to use the phrase ‘creeping misandry’ and not be laughed out of the room.” The second was this screed by Daily Beast columnist and WAM supporter Samantha Allen. It’s opening lines are “i’m a misandrist. that means i hate men.”
Another reader on “why you can’t be a male feminist these days”:
I’m about the same age as you, Andrew. I believe in equal pay for equal work. I believe in women’s reproductive health, to include abortion without interference from the government, and that it should be part of a basic health insurance policy. I believe a woman should be able to do any job a man does (and as a former infantryman, that took some work on my part). I have several bosses who are women (some younger than myself) who deserve to be in their position and would do well moving further up the org chart. I believe women should be free from sexual violence and perpetrators should be punished accordingly. In short, I believe everything classic feminism stood for to the best of my knowledge.
That said, there are so many people out there now (my Facebook feed is all about this) who follow what I consider a form of feminism that is exclusionary.
It is an all-encompassing worldview and everything, no matter how far afield, must fit into that worldview. The only thing I can compare it to is a real Marxist, if you’ve met one. Going to the bathroom to them is an integral part of the workers’ struggle (Marxists are the only people I’ve come across like this, so they are what I most easily compare it to). To hear them talk, I clearly have never had a consensual sexual encounter and must therefore be a rapist. At a minimum, I perpetuate the patriarchy and contribute to rape culture. This is non-stop wail I read everywhere I go online. Even though I’m on their side generally, I just can’t support them verbally because, whether they intend to or not, they are including me in their diatribes. I’m quite sure I’m not alone feeling this way. While you will hear it said that there is ‘always a fringe element’, its not true. This seems to be the majority. I’m reminded of the great Robin Williams movie The World According to Garp. In that movie, there is a group of feminists who are so anti-male, they don’t want Garp (or any male) to attend his mother’s funeral. It doesn’t matter what the content of his heart is, what matters is what’s between his legs. And that is what feminism is supposed to be fighting against.
That is why there is a movement for “why I don’t need feminism”. It’s not that they don’t want equality for women. They don’t want equality for women at the unreasoned expense of all men.
A couple of quick things you can do to at least keep up the pretense of not having a blind-spot where issues of feminism, gamergate and Twitter are concerned:
1) Not use the term “Social Justice Warrior” as an unironic derogative. (You’ve already taken baby steps in this regard.)
2) Not refer to a few people being banned from a platform created by a private company as a “Gender War.”
3) Really just stay away from warfare rhetoric altogether, particularly as a way to disparage and patronize people on the other side of the argument for you. (I’d say this to any offenders on the feminist side of the coin, as well. It’s just oogie.)
4) Maybe run even just one Dissent round-up post on this issue that doesn’t have your qualifying statements and nudgy asides after every quote. This is the only Dish thread in recent memory in which you haven’t published a single post of unqualified dissent. Even your latest “Dissent of the Day” on the matter has a response from you that’s as long or longer than the text from the person you’re quoting. Usually you’re more than happy to air the voices of the people who disagree with you and let them stand for themselves, in their own dissent posts. For some reason, where this issue is concerned, you’re incapable of even pretending to just sit back and listen for a little while.
That last point – “you haven’t published a single post of unqualified dissent” – is empirically untrue. Go here to read a strong female dissent, “the last word on the gamergate furore.” And views from bloggers different than my own are here, here, here and here, to list just a handful of recent posts. A reader links to yet another contrasting view:
Please try to find more feminist critics. Here’s an article from Slate that has the exact opposite take as you on Dr. Taylor’s shirt, using evidence the exact opposite of yours.
Another also thinks our coverage is wanting:
When it comes to racial issues you seem to understand that you simply haven’t had the life experiences to speak in a serious way on the topic without that acknowledgement. As a result, you often quote or defer to the likes of Ta-Nehisi Coates, etc. and take those experiences seriously. You are not a woman, you will never understand what it is like to grow up as a female, work as a female, experience life culturally, interpersonally, electronically as a female. Perhaps it is time you learn to defer a bit on those topics to those that do.
As regular Dish readers know, we are constantly posting content on a wide array of issues related to women, discussed and debated by a range of female voices, including liberal bloggers like Amanda Marcotte, Jessica Valenti, Alyssa Rosenberg, Ann Friedman, Amanda Hess, Rebecca Traister, Jill Filipovic, Jessica Grose, Kat Stoeffel, and Tracy Clark-Flory, to name just the most frequent. Follow those links to see their countless contributions to the Dish. Another dissenter conveys a growing feeling in the in-tray:
“Femi-left”?! Seriously, Andrew, you are one shitty, dismissive catchphrase away from me canceling my subscription (and I paid more than the usual, too). I hate to sound like a cranky subscriber at a theatre, and I hate even more the thought of losing your daily deluge of fascinating content, but your complete and utter inability to respond to women’s issues with even a modicum of respect for the opposition is currently cheese-grating my brain. You sound like a parody of Bill O’Reilly performed by a college sketch comedy group. I’ve never sent two e-mails to a website in one day in my life, but … well, here we are.
A reader who appreciates our coverage:
I just read the dissent post regarding your “scorn of feminism” and it made me remember why I love this site. There are so few people taking a logical, well-argued stand against identity politics without actually arguing FOR racism, sexism or homophobia.
I pissed off some family members this weekend by asking why/when the term “oriental” was considered racist. I was not appropriately satisfied with the explanation, “Hello! White privilege.” Asking for more than that is, apparently, a bridge too far, and asking the question itself is considered insulting and somewhat racist. Yeah, maybe not tightly related to issues around feminism, but it seems like the left, at this moment, is very very concerned with policing speech. Look at the response to Colbert’s comedy routine, or the move to rename the “Washington Redskins.”
As I’ve been mulling this over, I think there are two primary things that bother me about this. The first, is that by creating a set of rules (you are not allowed to say x, or y, or question this in any way), liberals are creating an easy way to identify those who are in the group and those who are out. If you don’t use the right words and follow all the rules, then we can ostracize you and treat you like shit. Which, let’s be honest, is a LOT more fun that listening to people and creating a respectful dialog.
The other thing that bothers me, is that policing language is cheap. The left seems to have found a way to be both self-righteous and not actually do anything hard. We make take a stand against the word “Redskins” but no actual change is going to happen in the lives of said Native Americans. They will still be poor, still live in devastated communities, and still die young. But it’s a lot easier to change the name of a football team than it is to go work for $20K/year at a food bank or homeless shelter out on the reservation.
So, yes, thank you for being a voice of reason in all of this. If we are going to have a free society, then it needs to be able to tolerate open debate.
One that note, the far-left blog Feministing wondered about the above episode, “Is South Park turning feminist?”:
Obviously there are issues with the gendering of this episode, such as the assumption that no girl would ever find farting funny (I sure do), that no guy would ever find queefing funny, and of course the avoidance of the fact that girls do indeed fart ourselves. Not to mention the reduction of the entire feminist movement into queefing rights.
But that’s what South Park does best: Takes an social movement or trend and highlights extreme stereotypes to bring to light the most ridiculous elements of that movement. So I didn’t really find my sexism-alert piqued by this episode and actually found it pretty funny. I felt like it was more the hypocrisy of certain taboo subjects that was more under attack here than anything else. It was certainly brave of the creators to even mention queefing at all, probably the most taboo of all taboo bodily functions.
One more reader ends us on a deadly serious note:
Thanks for posting on the Indian sterilization mess. One aspect you left out of your analysis is how there’s a women’s rights angle to this as well. Male sterilization is far less invasive and far safer than female, and yet disproportionately India’s program targets women. There are a lot of reasons for that, but it can’t be denied that the patriarchal nature of India’s society definitely plays a big role. The whole situation is beyond horrifying, not just because of the senseless deaths at the hands of misguided government programs, but because it reveals how little India values one half of its population.
Please please please give this story as much air time as you did the crazy thought-policing of Twitter by “feminist activists” and Gamergate. I hate to see feminism reduced to a bunch of Americans whining about people saying not-so-nice things about them on the Internet when elsewhere women are literally dying of neglect. If women’s rights in this country have descended to the level of suppressing free speech, then clearly it is time to move our attentions elsewhere.