Sunday, May 13, 2007


We'll note upfront (again) that we don't support efforts to make the online world 'safe' from mean comments. We think many need to grow a thicker skin. But Ty passed us (Ava and C.I.) an e-mail by a woman who was outraged by something she found online. She wondered if she was wrong to be outraged by an exchange that took place on a site she visits?

Background, Alice Marshall is one of the ones supporting 'better manners online' (she'd describe it differently). We disagree with her on that and don't know her work enough to agree or disagree with the rest of it. We do know that in what a reader copied, pasted and sent to us, Monroe and other women were disrespected and we have no problem calling that out.

It started innocently enough when Matt Stoller decided to share his thoughts and they were the usual nonsense you'd expect. (Want to have an impact online? "Raise money for candidates.") The reader was somewhat concerned that we'd hesitate to take on Stoller. We already have. In fact, in his post he mentions that he's blogged "125-175" posts on net neutrality to little apparent effect. Possibly it helps to know what you're talking about?

Monroe opened with:

When over a hundred bloggers come together to blog about the same issue it is no longer a pet issue. It is a movement. To ignore such a blogswarm is, well, bad form.
Schaller is talking about the importance of women in the Democratic party. Without any reference to the recent blogswarm. As in they have ears but they hear not.
You cannot ask people to contact Steny Hoyer and support your work if you will not reciprocate. And really, if you do not prepare the ground ahead by enlisting the support of the
local Democratic bloggers I really do not see you getting anywhere.
And how can MyDD be a specialist in talking about campaigns & elections without reference to those who actually vote Democratic?????
I respect all the hard and poorly compensated work you have put into this, but acting like a movement requires a certain mentality, and right now it is not clear to me that you have it.
Get it right out of your head that this has to do with site traffic. Most of us are not dependent upon blogging for our income, thank Jesus fasting. What some of us want is a sense that the conversation goes both ways. You cannot ask us to have your back if you don't have ours.

And Stoller quickly responded with:

To ignore such a blogswarm is, well, bad form...Schaller is talking about the importance of women in the Democratic party. Without any reference to the recent blogswarm. As in they have ears but they hear not.
The immediate assumption here is that I am ignoring this campaign out of malice. I had no idea that this was going on, and no one asked me to join or explained why I should. I don't really understand this campaign but I'm open-minded. I become closed-minded very quickly when I am insulted for not knowing something I don't know about just because a hundred blogs linked to it. A hundred blogs link to stuff all the time that I don't know about. I'm not omniscient.
Get it right out of your head that this has to do with site traffic.
What is your criteria here? A hundred blogs link to lots of stuff. Why is this different? Make the case.

We agree that Monroe was wrong to assume that Stoller had heard of something or, in fact, anything. That The Washington Post had covered this doesn't really matter. For many today, a paper is not read, just articles that get linked to. Consider it the equivalent for the crowd that prefers the Greatest Hits and Best Of.

However, reviewing what the reader passed on, we just rolled our eyes at Stoller's blame the victim mentality. We thought the offensive statement came from Pericles which we'll address in full.

The two of the last three comments are instructive indeed. The overarching meme of America today is:
My blog...
My candidate...
My ideas...
No sense that others might see things differently or that just because 'the other', in this case

The "me" may arise from a post that elects to share one person's opinion.

Stoller, is criticizing the 'Me' in question it does not follow that 'the other' is acting out of a nefarious and evil agenda.
This is what, theoretically, separates us on the progressive branch of the human family tree from the mouthbreathers. Sad to see that 'some' did not get the memo.
Community matters and if you cannot criticize in a manner that avoids corroding the ties that make up the community then you and your agenda will not be successful.

He uses a lot of words (it is a he) and says very little. But, we're sure, he does the goat dance very well.

Further, I now cringe whenever a woman enters the thread with a complaint. Valid or not the complaint always seems to proceed from the viewpoint that 'the white men' want to keep the women down.

Having dropped his thesaurus, Pericles now wants to get down and dirty. Use Gloria Steinem's parallel therapy and substitute "African-American" for "woman" if you have trouble determining how offensive the first statement is: "Further, I now cringe whenever an African-American enters the thread with a complaint." Pericles isn't done insulting women.

Many do, no question.
But I would ask, 'Why lead with your chin?' If you are, as you stoutly maintain, an independent progressive women why do you need anyone's assistance in making your ideas known? This from a man who hung out with the first generation of feminist women and who has seen this attitude do more to undermine feminism than any of the ravings of the ReighWing.

Pericles is struggling hard to keep his head above water here. We have no idea of his age but he did not hang "out with the first generation of feminist women." He did not even hang "out with the first generation of American feminist women." If he had, he'd long be dead and we'd be spared his endless ruminations.

He doesn't know what he's talking about but that may be due to the fact that women make him cringe. When complaining, he might add, but to these types, anything other than, "No, two inches is impressive," tends to come off as a complaint.

For Pericles, the apparent offense of a woman being independent means she doesn't "need anyone's assistance" and, for the record, Monroe wasn't asking him to zip up the back of her dress. She was addressing the silence on an issue that mattered to many. Apparently a man can be independent and still have assistance getting the word out on an issue but when a woman tries to do both the best thing is to justify your own inaction by snarling, "You asked for it, libertine!"

He's seen real destruction come from feminist attitudes, a certain sort, you understand, the sort that takes people to task for sexism or, as Pericles prefers to put it, offers "a complaint."

You get the feeling Pericles has heard a lot of complaints in his lifetime? Want to bet on how many were justified?

Ladies, it's your fight...
So fight it.
I support you but I've got my own agenda to work on.

"Ladies" adds to the insult before he even gets to "it's your fault." Ladies. Ladies who lunch? That is so insulting -- "Ladies." Possibly he feels it's a step up from "girls"? His use of the term further proves he didn't hang out with any group of feminists (of any generation).

It's your fight, he says, because (a) he's busy (with real issues, we're sure, manly ones), (b) you wanted to be independent!, and (c) for all his condemning of 'me-me-me,' he's really can't see beyond his own limited circumstances. Or as Monroe rightly put it, "You cannot ask us to have your back if you don't have ours."

The reader who passed this on is a dedicated MyDD follower or was. We think that's the best way to "Take Back the Net": stop visiting sites that allow women to be attacked en mass without moderators stepping in to issue their own opinion. We're not saying delete it or ban it, we are saying when a moderator allows Pericles sexist b.s. to stand without comment, the moderator has endorsed it -- intentionally or not.
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