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September 17, 2005

Time For An Assumption Check?

Every now and then an issue (or a person) comes along and makes you rethink your naive and comfortable little assumptions about life.

I've had entirely too much of that this week anyway. It's damned unsettling even when you see it coming, so I really wasn't looking for more of the same. So you can imagine my reaction (well, maybe not) when I saw Ilyka's post:

This was really just a long preamble to saying that I'm quitting this blog.

I'm getting a sex change.

Not in real life, but in internet life. I intend to come back as a man.

Holy Hell. You all know I'm not good about reading other blogs regularly. And I'm really not good about reading other women. It's not as though I'm going to go out of my way to read someone just because she has the same plumbing I do. But Ilyka happens to be a woman I do read. Not because she's a woman. But because when she's good, she's good.

And because, though I don't always agree with her, she makes me think. She can say something I totally disagree with and it makes me question my assumptions instead of making me roll my eyes and think "Christ...this is your mind on non-sequiturs". Sadie said it best:

Unfortunately, if Ilyka really does pull down the curtains and turn into a virtual male blogger, this mess won't be inconsequential. She's the rare blogger that has influenced readers who hold views other than her own, which approaches the indispensible category, I do believe.

But Ilyka wasn't done yet:

It will be nice to have a some time, however much time that works out being, to see what it's like to just not deal with the bullshit. To see what it's like when the worst you're ever called is a "fucking idiot" instead of a "fat disgruntled chick" or a "self-loathing skank." To see what it's like when someone says "great post" instead of "can I be your stalker?" To see what it's like when someone visits to see what you wrote, not to see whether you've put up a picture on the "About" page yet.

It will be so nice to just not deal with the laugh-out-loud hilarity of bimbo jokes. As a man, I'll be able to ignore all that. Even if I don't ignore all that, my objections will be far more likely to be met with "I disagree, but I respect your opinion" than "I can pretty much guarantee these ladies / girls / women / wymyn / people don’t want to goad me into a debate on feminism and identity politics."

No more bullshit. No more crying and complaining from women who whip out that word with a quickness at each other, but then can't figure out why suddenly some guy's treating them like a 10-cent whore.

"All . . . all I did was p-p-post a p-p-picture! Why's everyone leering? Why won't they read what I wrote? Oh, this never happens to Instapundit! Oh, why? Why is that jerk so . . . so hateful?"

Because he watched you, dumbass. YOU. He watched that pronoun beginning with "y," ending in "u," and containing one "o" in the middle. He watched you do it, so he figured he could.

"She won't mind. She's no . . . feminist."

You all have fun not being feminists. I'm off to get me a virtual dick.

I intend to swing that fucker like you wouldn't believe.

Ouch. After Hurricane Ilyka passes through I'm sort of stunned. Deep inside, my sardonic half is laughing hysterically at the parting mental image. As usual, I wish I'd written those final three sentences - I wish I had the guts to write something like that. But that's not me, is it? I'm always so reasonable.

Sentiments like that don't really fit into my well-ordered little universe. Oh, I think them - all the time. I just don't say them out loud. They'd shock the children.

I think this was when I started to get angry. Or more accurately, I got mad for just a second, like when you pour too much lighter fluid on the grill and toss a match on top and it goes up: floom! in a glorious, towering burst of flame and just as suddenly, dies. And then I felt a more familiar emotion: sorrow.

I don't allow myself to feel anger often. It's so un-Southern. Not really genteel. I think the thing that frightens me so often is that when I do get angry, it takes control and I can't let go of it. So The Machine kicks in. Analyze it dispassionately: pros and cons. Apply reason. Discount emotion. Be fair. And then I saw this, and the Machine got turned off again:

Personally, I don't think angry, feminist diatribes coming from "Lance Uppercut" are going to draw any more eyeballs than angry, feminist diatribes coming from Ilyka Damen, but ya know -- whatever floats her boat.

To be fair to Ilyka, her main complaint seems to be that some men in the blogosphere say sexist things or don't take her as seriously because she's a woman -- well, at least, I think that's it. I didn't really pay that much attention because it was, ya know, chick stuff...kidding, I'm kidding ;D

Now to be entirely fair to John, anyone who knows him knows he goes out of his way to both promote and link to female bloggers. Not, I think, out of a sense of gender guilt but because I think he genuinely enjoys women. And I pointed that out during the ensuing discussion amongst the Cotillion. However, after giving this a fair amount of thought I have to conclude that John is all wet on this one. First of all, he observes:

What I think some people lose sight of is the way traffic flows in the blogosphere. There are only a handful of big blogs out there and most of them focus on pumping out content, not linking other blogs.

I couldn't disagree more. Look at the top blogs: who comes to mind? Instapundit? How much "content" does he "pump out"? Almost all he does is link to other blogs.

Michelle Malkin has a syndicated column and she writes quite a bit there. But her blog? Compare the ratio of original writing to links to other blogs to a site like, well... mine.

Let's keep going. John Donovan. Heavy, generous linker but also writes. Also happens to be one of the few male bloggers I know who is an equal-opportunity linker. Captain's Quarters: lots of original writing, not many links. Atypical. Hugh Hewitt: lots. of. links. Mudville Gazette: again, heavy linker though he also is an excellent original writer AND links to women. LGF: I'm not seeing essays. Links, not heavy content.

That's what blogging is - it's really quite atypical for a blogger to "churn out original content". They link. They excerpt. If anything, add a bit of drive-by commentary. That's what bloggers do. I'm weird in that I don't, much.

It's one reason I don't complain much about the fact that I go mostly unnoticed by the heavy-hitters of the blogosphere. My stuff is too long, too detailed, too boring, and I don't have a big name like Mark Steyn or David Brooks so they're not going to bother to wade through the BS if they ever do bother to stop by.

That's why I think John's off-base with his arguments, first that Michelle Malkin's success, though I'm not taking anything away from her, is in any way typical or disproves the sexism meme (she had name recognition going in) and second that somehow linking "doesn't matter" to bloggers. It does, to most. It matters like hell. It is, in fact, the whole reason most bloggers are here.

Ilyka provokes strong reactions in people. But I wonder how surprised the right-wing men of the blogosphere would have been, had they sat in on the conversation at the Cotillion the other night? Yes, there were a few who disagreed with Ilyka, but there were an awful lot more who didn't. And exchanging emails with her over the past few days, talking with other women (rather a new experience for me), reading posts like this one from Beth, and this interesting Defense of Feminism, from a Dude from Hubris, who already has a quarter of the Cotillion ready to have his babies (all right, that was oinkish of me), I found myself for some reason thinking of statistics. Type I and Type II error. And it occurred to me that it's just as much a knee-jerk reaction to brand complaints of legitimately rude/obnoxious sexist behavior (without taking a position on Jeff's comment) as FemiNazism as it is to overreact the other way and try and turn every tiny blonde joke into a "hostile work environment" for women.

Both are opposite ends of the same extremist point of view: one sees EVERYTHING as sexism and the other thinks that NOTHING is ever sexism.

Neither is, strictly speaking, correct. I think Beth said it best:

Sexism exists. Anyone who says otherwise is living in a dream world.

This has nothing to do with right or left.

There is a certain sexism towards men, too.

The disease of the Left is to think that only females suffer from sexism, and of the Right to think that only males suffer from it.

But Ilyka had it about right: it's wrong, no matter where it comes from, and though I'm not going to come out in favor of heavy-handed government legislation to right all possible wrongs, that certainly doesn't mean we need to succumb so far to political correctness that we can't call someone on it when they're behaving boorishly, unfairly, or hypocritically just because it makes for unpleasant hearing or challenges our comfortable little world view.

Not all problems have solutions. But maybe, just maybe, those of us on the Right could do a little less blaming of the messenger when we don't like the message.

Just a thought.

Previous rantings on sexism in the blogosphere

Posted by Cassandra at September 17, 2005 02:55 PM

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Comments

Excellent post, Casandra. FWIW, a lot of these posts and conversations has made me wonder if I come across as too boorish and whatnot.

Concerning a-list bloggers, the odd thing is, I usually find smaller bloggers to be much better than the "A list" ones. Don't get me wrong, I read Instapundit and LGF (among others) on a daily basis, but most of my daily reads are from lesser known bloggers.

Posted by: ratan at September 17, 2005 07:37 PM

I wasn't so much trying to knock anyone in particular. It just struck me that everyone seemed to be jumping all over Ilyka for voicing an opinion they didn't care for, and instead of trying to refute her argument, they were attacking her personally.

That's exactly the kind of behavior we don't like when it happens on the Left, so I'm not wild about seeing it happen on the Right. If you don't agree, argue the merits or the point but don't start name-calling or accuse a person of whining because you don't like the message. Especially in this case, since it apparently struck a chord with an awful lot of other conservative women. Ilyka just happens to be the one who spoke up and got hammered.

I guess that's why I felt like I needed to say something - that didn't sit right with me.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 17, 2005 09:19 PM

I've already told ya who I consider "must reads" daily.You're on the Varsity kiddo.

If owning a "virtual tallywhacker" makes a blogger feel more utile---then press on "con mucho gusto".

I reckon I can't empathise.BUT,heck----even Jesus had detractors.


Greg

Posted by: Greg at September 17, 2005 09:47 PM

I guess that's why I felt like I needed to say something - that didn't sit right with me.

I agree totally, Cassandra. I was surprised how many people went after Ilyka. It needed saying, and I'm happy she said it.

Posted by: ratan at September 17, 2005 09:55 PM

Would it be sexist of me to wonder if she is going to blog in her virtual boxers with one hand scratching her virtual junk?

Posted by: Pile On at September 17, 2005 11:08 PM

No.

It would just be funny as hell.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 17, 2005 11:11 PM

And thank you, Greg.

I don't say that often enough.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 17, 2005 11:17 PM

I don't know what the brouhaha is all about, but your citations from her thread seems to be a big case of "the grass is always greener on the other side" type of thing.

A lot of men think women have it easier, while women say the reverse. Same old same old, if you ask me.

Posted by: a former european at September 18, 2005 12:10 AM

I don't think it's that the *grass is greener*. It just seems that men are taken more seriously while women are subject to gawking and laughter.

Cass makes me think and for that reason I read what she writes. On my list of *stuff to read daily*, Cass is the only woman. I haven't found another female blogger that receives as much respect and playful banter as I've seen frolick through the comments. Maybe I am not searching hard enough.

Posted by: Lisa at September 18, 2005 04:58 AM

Oh damn it. Now I need to write some more on this topic of criticism.

Thank you, Cassandra;-)

Posted by: sadie at September 18, 2005 05:24 AM

It would just be funny as hell.

WORD! Especially if I got a webcam.

Imagine the possibilities!

Posted by: ilyka at September 18, 2005 05:58 AM

Some of this is semantic: Ilyka is more comfortable using the word "feminist" than I am (I became disenchanted with that locution during the Clinton impeachment trials).

But it's not a great experience when you're reading a warblogger who suddenly joins his commenters in discussions of women as if they were simply commodities--good/bad whiskey. Fine/disappointing tequila.

I don't mind the stupid commenters; those, I laugh off. But I despise it from people whose thinking I usually respect. (For the record, it appeared to get worst during the "Washingtonienne" scandal: suddenly she was being discussed in a way that basically defined her whole person via what sexual acts she'd partipated in. I'm not defending her: she showed bad judgment on a number of levels. But I found myself reading a couple of male bloggers and thinking "holy shit. Is this really what you think? You would never judge a man so thoroughly as a person for a series of sexual misadventures. You'd celebrate them.")

Posted by: Attila Girl at September 18, 2005 06:00 AM

"Sexism is always wrong." This sure seems like a reasonable statement, until you are called upon to define what constitutes, "sexism." I'm sure there would be much disagreement on that point among all of us....

I've seen sexist comments on both sides of the spectrum. I've found that women can be even more snide and snarky than men. Some of the most vile comments I've ever seen were by women who professed to be anti-war feminists. I was called some of the most vile names by these women, who knew I was a woman. Yes, more often, I find that men will make such sexist comments to me, but I've seen women make snide comments to men about as often.

Let's face it, these type of insulting comments are usually engaged in when one's argument has run out of steam. They are most certainly not a sign of maturity, and do not lend to intelligent debate. I do not take bloggers seriously who engage in these type of insults regardless of their gender.

Posted by: JannyMae at September 18, 2005 12:06 PM

But I found myself reading a couple of male bloggers and thinking "holy shit. Is this really what you think? You would never judge a man so thoroughly as a person for a series of sexual misadventures. You'd celebrate them.

Of course they would! After all, they're men.

You might want to try working on that old "beam in your own eye" thing...

Posted by: scott at September 18, 2005 12:29 PM

Hmmm...This is a fine line to cross and I don`t know how to express it properly, but here goes.

Yes, I`ve been known to post chauvanistic topics and comments, but it`s all in fun (because it is funny) and it`s usually taken as such.

There are still chauvanists in America and, to a degree, I happen to be one, but I also have a sense of balance in my thinking that keeps such things in the proper perspective.
One of the very first blogs I started reading shortly after 9/11 was Michele at A Small Victory.
I found it through a blogroll and clicked it because I liked the name and when I got to the site I saw that this girl was GOOD!

She`s writing about war and politics in a way that I can relate too. That it`s a girl doing this writing is just icing on the cake for me.

Then there was Rachael Lucas.
Guns, pick-up trucks, republicans, cowboy boots and tight jeans??? What`s not to like?
MM, Ilkya, Attila Girl and a host(ess) of others and finally I somehow came across this blog, also written by a Gurl.

Except for Moxie and Michelle Malkin I didn`t know what any of them looked like before I started reading their sites but the pertainent point is this, whether a girl is pretty or not, the only thing that will draw me back is how she writes.
I stress "how" because, simply put, women have a different perception on things than men do.

A man and woman with the same political/social ideology can witness the exact same event, yet when they write about it you have 2 totally different perspectives.
Men almost always seem to focus on the mechenics of the event(s), going into great detail over "cause and effect" and speculating on potential outcomes and any foreseen practical applications that could be derived therefrom.

Men view things (almost everything) from "The Big Picture" point of view. We want to know the big picture, what are the all the ramifications of this particular "cause and effect"? Additionally, we don`t like to wait too long to find out.

With that "Big Picture" mindset we tend to skip over the small details that help to make the whole.


From my observations, women writers provide me with the "small details" that guys routinely skip over.
I stress me because I`m speaking from my own observations, point of view and reasoning.

While women bloggers also have The Big Picture in mind when they write, it`s not necessarilly
the main focus of the article.
They tend to focus on the details that lead up to the big picture and more or less gloss over the cause and effect.
Women focus of the more centralized aspects while men focus on the generalized aspects, and from both, I get the Whole Picture.

Now before I get slammed for mis-stereotyping men and women keep in mind that I read selective blogs for that particular reason. I want a complete perspective on a topic.

Men and women are different (no, really, we are)
Aside from the fact that women are much, much, much prettier and the plumbing`s different (THANK GOD!!!) we think and act and feel things differently.

A man and women have a weekend get-a-way in the mountains and they go hiking in the forest.
Chances are, the woman is caught up in the "nature" aspect and that`s what she`ll remember, the guy, while noticing the "nature" will also be figuring out how many homes could be built with all of that "potential" lumber.

That`s just an example, but it`s a difference in thinking, between men and women, that I`ve noticed for many years.
It`s not so much "what" someone thinks that interests me but rather "how" they think it.

So as far as I`m concerned, whatever someone is doesn`t matter to me, as long as they express themselves well (at least better than me, which ain`t hard)

Be a Virtual Dood, I`ll still read ya.

Posted by: Joatmoaf at September 18, 2005 01:40 PM

Thoughtful comment, joat, and I agree with most of it. I, too, believe there are generic differences in the way most men and women think and react, and that they are valuable.

I think that different perception has much to do with how remarks guys make are 'perceived' by us.

I wanted to address Attila Girl's remark about Washingtonienne earlier, but realized I was getting too whacked off so I decided to shelve it until I cooled off.

I, too remember that whole thing. I'm not normally known for getting my ultrasheers in a knot over this kind of thing, but that whole episode was *so* upsetting to me that months later, I was discussing it with my husband over breakfast one morning and I literally burst into tears while trying to explain to him why it was so disturbing to women. And he wasn't doing anything wrong - he was just listening quietly (and very sympathetically). Poor guy.

It literally changed my view of men forever. I don't think I will ever really get over it. I remember being a young girl and listening to my Dad tell me that I should beware of men, and thinking, "Oh don't be such a cynic". Man, did those words come back to haunt me during this episode.

I mean, it's not like I'm traumatized for life or anything, but I just never realized men could be so ugly - I don't hang around people like that, and for the first time in my life I was hearing things come out of the mouths of guys I'd been reading comments from for months that I... well, let's just say I was floored.

I consider myself to be a very self-confident woman.

I've always known that I'm no beauty, but I've always been good-looking enough to attract the interest of guys I was interested in, which I guess is all you can really ask for in life. And even at my age, I still feel pretty good about the way I look - again, I know I'm no supermodel, but I've kept in shape and kept my weight down, so I'm basically happy with myself. At 46, you try to be well-groomed and not get fat and as for the rest, I think you have to accept the changes that age brings gracefully.

But I have to say that after reading some of that garbage, I felt really, really bad about myself for the first time in my life. I mean, here was a young woman with a body that most people would envy, and guys were just ripping her to shreds. It really frightened me. I think that's the first time I ever understood feminist rhetoric.

It was really a profoundly depressing (and angering) thing. When reading Attila Girl's comment, I found myself nodding in agreement, which is kind of a rare experience for me with other women.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 19, 2005 09:40 AM

Sexism and ugly comments go both ways, Cass, and I don't believe that either sex corners the market on those. I have overheard women being catty and bitchy to one another, and saying things I would be shocked to hear a man say.

Put downs and nasty comments are more a reflection of the individuals who say such things, rather than an indictment of an entire gender.

If you want to reduce the argument to a battle of anecdotes, I will tell you about some female ugliness I witnessed. Years ago, I worked for a mid-to large-sized corporation. My boss, one of the supervisors, was one of the smartest and nicest guys I ever worked for; treating all his subordinates, male and female, with dignity and respect. He was also old, bald, and rather pudgy, with nothing in the way of attractiveness to women.

The office gals went out of their way to secretly mock his appearance and unattractiveness. This escalated/degenerated into rather shocking ugliness on the part of those gals who anonymously taunted and tormented this poor fellow. He eventually opted for early retirement, and our new boss became one of the other supervisors who were all typically macho, type-A, chauvinists. The work environment rapidly deteriorated thereafter.

Shall we continue exchanging anecdotal evidence, or shall we just admit that neither sex has a monopoly on either purity or devilry?

Posted by: a former european at September 19, 2005 06:30 PM

That`s a very good point AFE and it`s one that people either ignore or are completely un-aware of.
I`ve witness the same kinds of things from time to time and have even called some of the (ladies isn`t the proper word) women on it only to be told that it`s none of my buisness, it doesn`t really hurt anyone, and besides, men do it all the time so what`s fair is fair.
My next question; "But did that man do it?" and I never got a satisfactory answer.

I actually came back to this post to leave a link to a pic, but you made a good point that seems to be overlooked all too often.

Posted by: Joatmoaf at September 19, 2005 06:45 PM

ARRRRGGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, afe!

Of *all* the people on the face of the fricking earth, how can you accuse me of being one-sided?

IF ANYTHING, if you look at my posts, I have come down heavy-handedly on feminists and women and have OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN said how much I like and admire men and think modern-day feminism is misguided!

So why is it that EVERY SINGLE TIME I HAVE THE NERVE TO POINT OUT ONE SINGLE THING ON THE *OTHER SIDE*, I get this inexplicable rash of "yeah, but..." as though I'd never made the opposite case, when YOU KNOW I HAVE? How many times have I remarked that I don't get along with women and prefer the company of guys? Why the heck do you think I say that? But here I try to be fair and see another side of an argument, and I get accused of being one-sided? Please!

If you guys bothered to look at my server logs, you'd notice that a whole slew of men's forums link to me, because I'm one of the rare women who writes things that are favorable to men and portray *your* side of things. Three of my posts have been linked to both in the US and Europe - they even get translated into other languages - that's how much men like them!

You know, I *try* to be even-handed. I happen think there is sexism on both sides, and I will continue to point it out wherever I see it. Men are mistreated in the Family Court system, and it's a traveshamockery. And I still happen to think women get the short end of the stick on certain issues, no matter what you say. I'm living it - you aren't, and I have been for 46 years.

I don't complain, but I am pretty fair and I can tell when something is not right. And I never maintained otherwise - I can't imagine where you (or anyone else) got the idea I did. I didn't "reduce the argument". You are trying to take my response to another commenter and blow it out of proportion, and that's not fair, given my record.

Do NOT make me come out West and thump you, afe. I may be smaller and weaker, but given that I am a woman, as you have remarked, I am undoubtedly wilier and meaner :D

Posted by: Cassandra at September 19, 2005 06:54 PM

Whoa now, little lady! I kin tell when I'm outgunned. Hey now! Quit thumpin' on me when I'm 'splainin'!:)

I never said you were unfair, Cass, nor did I ever claim that you could not or would not see mens' perspective on things. Please read my previous post carefully. Your ability to do precisely those things is one of the reasons I spend some of my very limited free time perusing your site. Your intellect is another.

I was solely referring to the whining on the other site which was the basis of your thread. Frankly, I could care less whether a site is run by a man or a woman. You are either smart/interesting/funny or you are not. Gender is wholly irrelevant.

As to comments on physical appearance, I think these are way overblown. You have been a good sport on many occasions when teased (pro or con) re your appearance. Other posters, male and female, have engaged in such activity here and in Scrappledom with often hilarious results.

I still remember Colorado Kitty's endless obsession with Adrian Paul (Highlander). It would be ridiculous, however, for Adrian Paul to post about how upset he was to be judged as a piece of beefcake rather than be judged for his mind. In other words, lighten up people!

If women are going to be defensive from time to time re their appearance, then I see this as nothing different than asking "does this make my ass look fat"? Men understand such a loaded question, and that nothing good will come of continuing that conversation.

If, however, men are being abusive or truly hurtful re a woman's appearance, then they are either ill-mannered louts or hopelessly adolescent, and should be deleted/removed from the site. It is assumed that adults and those who know how to properly behave in public are the target audience. The rest can go back to watching MTV.

Posted by: a former european at September 20, 2005 01:15 AM

I am NOT just a piece of beefcake!!!

Posted by: Adrian Paul at September 20, 2005 08:36 AM

Adrian, do me a favor and slip on that Male Harness (in the Corsican Brown, I think) and I'll let you know what I think...

[oink!]

*running away*

afe, you're going to have to stop spinning me up like that.) I'm way too easy - it's not sporting :)

Posted by: Cassandra at September 20, 2005 08:55 AM

Shall we continue exchanging anecdotal evidence, or shall we just admit that neither sex has a monopoly on either purity or devilry?

I don't see how this is germane to the topic, as no one has made a claim to the contrary. "I am tired of being judged based on my gender" does not equal "men are evil and women are awesome."

Does the fact that not just women endure sexism mean we should shrug and ignore the issue?

I was solely referring to the whining on the other site which was the basis of your thread. Frankly, I could care less whether a site is run by a man or a woman. You are either smart/interesting/funny or you are not. Gender is wholly irrelevant.

(1) I think whether something is defined as "whining" or "legitimate complaint" depends on perspective, and it's too easy to dismiss something as whining when it's not something we're dealing with ourselves.

(2) Good for you on not caring about the gender of the author of a site. However, that does not mean it's true about everybody else.

Posted by: Hubris at September 20, 2005 05:21 PM

I think whether something is defined as "whining" or "legitimate complaint" depends on perspective, and it's too easy to dismiss something as whining when it's not something we're dealing with ourselves.

I think that's what I was trying to get across with this post.

I have sometimes been accused (paradoxically) of being insensitive because even though I worry all the time about people's feelings, when it comes to decision-making I try to go with reason and discount emotion.

I really despise people who are always getting in a lather - you can see that in my writing. I use a lot of phrases like "getting your pantyhose in a knot". But at the same time, I'm at a point in my life where I've had to go through some pretty hard things, and though I guess I'm handling them OK, there are days when I feel really rough. When I'm not sure anymore that I can even cope, which is a new emotion for me.

I'm more emotional now than I've ever been in my whole life, and it's given me a different appreciation for how it must be to be someone else. I hate it. I try not to let it control me, but damn, it's hard sometimes.

And that's part of what I felt when I read Ilyka's post: "Yeah, I have not experienced a lot of the same things, but how would I feel if I had?" And I remembered how horrible I felt during that whole Washingtonienne thing (which is why I brought it up).

I have never been more sorry for clicking on a link in my whole life, than I was for being curious and clicking on that link. But Christ - I'm in my 40's - I should be able to take that stuff - and it still rocked me to my core. It sounds so fricking stupid, but I lost something that mattered greatly to me. I know it was just an illusion, but it mattered.

And that's my point, in a way. You never know - you never know what will affect you, and how it will take you at different points in your life.

We feel so sure, that we are right. I know I do. And ideology is important. But it is not everything, I think.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 20, 2005 06:27 PM

We feel so sure, that we are right. I know I do.

Well put, I know that's something I have to acknowledge about myself. And this medium tends to amplify it; since everything I write is forever frozen in amber, I'm sure that there's a heightened unconscious inertia against changing my mind (damnable foolish pride!).

Posted by: Hubris at September 20, 2005 06:40 PM

I suppose I'm just not seeing your point, Cass. People treating other people badly is just plain wrong, however you slice it. I try and live by the golden rule as best I can. Making boorish conduct a gender, racial, ageist, nationalist, ethnic, or whatever issue simply detracts from your point, IMHO.

I believe in individual, rather than group, responsibility. If someone demeans you because you are a woman, the problem is not with women or men as a group, but rather exists on the other side of the equation; namely, the jerk who enjoys putting women down. I say again, this is not a gender issue, but one of personal behavior/lack of decency.

Posted by: a former european at September 21, 2005 01:55 AM

Yes, but that is entirely beside the point of this conversation, isn't it?

We are not debating the issue of culpability or responsibility. We are debating whether or not there is a generalized bias against women, just like there is an issue of whether there is a generalized bias against men in the family court system. That question exists independently of what you choose to do about it, or how individuals choose to behave, because the more general climate we all live and have to deal with every day affects us.

I'm sure you can see that afe, because it annoys you greatly than men are discriminated against in the family law system.

That bias has real consequences. It affects you.

Now I can tell you that your problem is with the individual judge who awarded alimony to your ex-wife, and that a more fair judge would have given you a better settlement. And there is a lot of truth to that statement. But that does YOU no good, does it? You are still obligated to pay up, big guy.

Likewise, if a woman gets a lot of nasty comments that she thinks are sexist because they specifically reference her gender, but which *you* choose to see as merely nasty, that does not change the fact that she still believes she is living in a world that does not value women - that puts her down not because she said or did something dumb (which she can change) but because she is a woman (which is the one thing she can never overcome).

And you can poo-pooh that all day and all night, afe, but it is something you have not experienced. And your reaction, when a few of the women on this forum have commented on male behavior, implies that you well know how upsetting those types of remarks can be - and they were quite mild in comparison to the types of comments we're talking about, which were abusive in tone.

My point on this post was not to agree or disagree with the topic of sexism, but to point out that perhaps my own knee-jerk reaction had been prompted by inflexible ideology or even perhaps a resistance to examinining the issue from a truly open-minded point of view.

I find it rather interesting that my own self-criticism has prompted such resistance in others :)

Posted by: Cassandra at September 21, 2005 08:55 AM

OK, I think I see where you are coming from now, and I don't disagree. I understand that it can be frustrating to be judged as a member of a group, rather as an individual. This sort of thinking is so alien to my own worldview, however, that it is hard for me to get my head around it sometimes.

For this same reason, I have never truly understood the american obsession with race. Perhaps it comes from being raised in a european culture, but I'm not sure. To judge someone simply based on the color of their skin, to me, is the height of absurdity. There are saints and sinners of every race, and I would rather befriend quality people irrespective of race, national origin, gender, or what have you. Likewise, I avoid idiots and jerks even if they happen to be the same race, sex, ethnicity, etc. as me. For me, its all about the individual, and I just can't comprehend the "groupthink" that seems so prevalent out there.

I have been criticized before for having an uber-individualistic, "cowboy" mentality, but I think you do a disservice to anyone by pigeonholing them into a group or faction.

Now, I understand that, in the real world, people will indeed judge you superficially. Whether you are young/old, male/female, native-born/immigrant, black/white or whatever, they will have pre-conceived notions about you as an individual. To rail against this reality is like shouting at the wind; a waste of time and effort. People who pre-judge you in this manner are inherently ignorant, so I don't give a fig about their opinions.

I have faced quite a bit of adversity and prejudice, but have overcome such by demonstrating my personal quality. Superior qualities, whether intellectual, athletic, academic, professional, etc. can always overcome initial prejudice through perseverence. To me criticism or scorn has just goaded me into greater achievement, a sort of "in your face" challenge to the mockers. I think this is more productive than simply bemoaning the fact that I was pre-judged because of some immutable characteristic.

Furthermore, for those who criticize you, I think it is imperative that you consider the source of the criticism. If it is from someone I respect, then I may need to engage in some personal reflection or re-evaluate my position/argument. If, however, it is from some ignorant lout displaying his ignorance (i.e. some redneck shouting about "them there niggrahs"), then ignore it as background noise.

Posted by: a former european at September 21, 2005 05:46 PM

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