18 April 2010

Meta-blogging: And now I get to delete assholes!

Remember when I said my blog isn't popular enough for people to be complete and total dickheads in the comments? Not true anymore! So I have turned on comment moderation, and below is a general reasoning for that as well as general guidelines for commenting here.

This is the direct result of my interview with Whocast. I've had about 50 or so hits from it already, and a couple cranky comments from one Andrew Littler. Both have been deleted, but for context, I'll let you see the most objectionable one:
Thank you for doing your feminist duties and pointing out things about female characters that only your sort can manage to pick apart as much as you do.

What voices are being privileged? What duty does the fan base of any particular show have to advertise how apparently open they are supposed to be? Would not calling out for female input then be discriminating against a male audience?

But then, I forgot what feminism really is. Not about female equality, but about female superiority. Sorry, I must have missed that part.

Ps: the mislabeled 'irony' in your third paragraph had no actually associated 'example'. It is not ironic that you are whining about attractive women in a gay dudes show, that is what we call 'annoying' and 'stereotypical'.

You do not understand sci-fi because you are a female, but because you are a fucking idiot.
[N.B. The fact that DW is a "gay dudes show" (sic) makes the objectification of Amy Pond even more disturbing. The heterosexual male gaze is so normalized that it even finds its way into a show where most of the viewers are gay men or women? How is that okay?]

Now, I didn't delete this because he called me a "fucking idiot." I deleted it because it argued that reaching out to female fans is sexist (!) and that feminists really just want female superiority. Not only is he full of shit and in no way looking for a debate, since he's already decided that nothing I have to say is worthy of consideration, he's a fucking mansplainer who thinks that he knows better than feminists what feminism is about.

When Paul from Whocast emailed me to let me know they've been getting lots of feedback about it, I told him I'd already received a cranky comment on my blog, but I deleted it, because it's my blog and I can do that. His response is illustrative, I think, of how privilege works on the internet:
I think anything that is put out for public consumption should be able to stand up to any sort of critique; if it can't then the analysis of that will show it to be false. However, that isn't to say that it should be removed when found to be invalid -- a comment that doesn't gel with our own thoughts doesn't make it invalid, just different. I think rather than removing comments, the intelligent thing to do is to address the comments in a thought out way or confront them.

Your posting about me and other male podcasters is a classic example, you had something to say and in one context perfectly valid; personal insults aside, I read it with an open mind and felt the best way to respond was to speak to you directly and let you have your say. In doing so, some contexts were changed and some of the thought processes were changed. This indeed, does not invalidate your first posting at all; I still think a lot of assumptions were made that were unfair, but I think they (for the most part) have been resolved.

So, all I am saying is, censorship is not a male v female thing, it just is. EVERYONE should be allowed to voice their views, no matter how distasteful and it is the intelligent people of this world's duty to ensure they comment and discredit, or support and push (depending on the view being placed).

Free and open conversation should always be encouraged, but censorship stifles that (in my opinion).
I find the claim that arguments like the above are not "invalid, just different" to be a dangerous form of relativism. Littler's arguments--that feminists want female superiority and that attempting to bring more diverse voices into the fore of the DW fan community is discriminatory--are absolutely invalid. They are wrong, and they are obviously wrong to anyone with a dash of critical thinking skills. They are the arguments of a privileged individual who doesn't want his privilege acknowledged, examined, or threatened. And this guy doesn't want a debate. He has already decided that my voice doesn't matter, that my feminist-y ways make me incapable of being right, of having anything worth saying. If I were to engage with him, it would degenerate very quickly into the sort of gendered violence and insults that I don't want on this blog.

I do, however, understand where Paul is coming from, but as I said to him, the internet is a different place for him than for me. The idea that the internet is a free market of ideas, in which intelligent debate sorts out the valid from the invalid, is an idea you can only hold true if you're in a position of privilege or you only go to certain (moderated) places on the internet. (It is also an idea you can only have if you've never ventured into unmoderated comment spaces, like the comment sections of big news networks.) When I made the argument on the Gally forum that we should be responsible for the things we say, and recognize that even jokes have consequences on other peoples' lives, I was literally considered crazy, hysterical, and over-emotional. It was a gendered attack, and a (very) effective strategy for silencing and marginalizing women since the beginning of Western civilization. I didn't win that argument, and it would be impossible for anyone to read it and decide that it's because we had a fair debate in which I lost. My experiences meant nothing to those people, and neither did the experiences of any other marginalized population. So, yes, it is a male v. female thing, as well as a white v. non-white thing, an abled v. disabled thing, a cis- v. transgendered thing. It is all of those things, because when you self-identify as one of those marginalized populations (or even just argue that we should rectify our discriminations against those populations), the internet is a different place. A meaner place. A more threatening place. And the fact that my identity is no secret on this blog means that I am in a more precarious position, one in which gendered threats on the internet have more purchase in my life. And that affects what I will and will not put up with in the comments. It is not my duty to debate with every misogynistic anti-feminist asshole on the internet. It is not my duty to debate with every misogynistic anti-feminist asshole on this blog. Because, frankly, this is the ONE PLACE on the internet where I can determine how upset my commenters make me. The ONE PLACE where I don't have to react to gendered attacks or sexist arguments.

I've always liked this bit from Shakesville's comment policy:
This blog is meant to be a refuge from the entire rest of the world where people who deviate in some way from arbitrary norms are ridiculed, marginalized, turned into punchlines, silenced, targeted, treated as less than, made to feel not good enough, put at real risk of physical harm, and denied rights, opportunities, access, equal pay, friendships, votes, equality.
Basically, I think it's unfair to expect all bloggers everywhere to engage with bigoted and trolling arguments. That is an unfair burden. I shouldn't have to tell Littler that no, feminists don't want female superiority, just an end to all forms of hierarchy-based dominance. That reaching out to more diverse fan voices is necessary only because certain voices are already privileged, because fan communities can be unsafe spaces for certain people. Do you really think he'd actually listen to me? He's already made up his mind. So unless I leave him up to be mocked by me and other commenters, his comment serves no purpose but to give me a headache. And I think we all deserve ONE PLACE in our lives where we don't have to listen to and engage with bigotry and douchebaggery. ONE PLACE where we can either respond with sarcasm and rudeness (an unsafe response in the real world) or where we can literally delete them (an impossible response in the real world). This blog is my place, and I hope it can be that place for other people, too. And in the context of my life, the argument against "censorship" just holds little purchase. I'm not violating anyone's rights here. I am not representative of the government, and if I tell you to shut up or fuck off, I am not infringing on your Constitutional rights. What I am trying to do here is create a safe space for constructive discussion (I think sarcasm and rudeness can be strategic and constructive.), and allowing trolling assholes to run wild is not going to contribute to either of those goals.

I will not allow bullying here. I will not allow people to engage in sexist, ableist, homophobic, racist, sizeist, transphobic arguments here. And I will not allow douchebag trolls like Littler to completely sidetrack the entire conversation by arguing against gender tolerance and feminism altogether. If he wants to argue that, I'm not stopping him. He just can't argue it here. It is counter-productive and makes my blog a place where I don't feel comfortable. And if I don't feel comfortable, how can I expect other people, people with far less privilege than me, to find my blog a safe space?

So you don't have to be polite to me. You don't have to agree with me. But this is a feminist blog. It is intended as a safe space. It is not a place where we put down women, people of color, GLBTQI people, fat people, disabled people, old people. It is not a place where we engage with stupid and ultimately bigoted arguments--like the argument that reaching out to women is discriminatory to men or that affirmative action is racist. It is not a place where we make threats or engage in linguistic or epistemological violence. Because I get enough of all that in life and in other places on the internet, and so does everyone else.

In all fairness, you're allowed to do what I do. Most comment policies say things like, "avoid personal insults or ad hominem attacks." I don't. You can be rude, you can swear, and you can mock. I didn't delete Littler's comment because he called me a fucking idiot. I deleted him because his comment detracts from constructive conversation, because I judged him to be trolling douchehound. If anyone has a problem with this policy, go elsewhere. The internet is a big place, full of blogs that aren't feminist.


Andrew Littler said...


Courtney said...

That is by far the most precious trolling comment ever. When I said you didn't want an actual debate, I clearly judged correctly.

Andrew Littler said...

Debate? What kind of debate can be had when you are deleting anything I say?

Courtney said...

See what happens when you don't read my moderation policy? I'm pretty sure I didn't write "Rule One. Delete everything Andrew Littler says."

Andrew Littler said...

You SURE you aren't a Republican?

Adrienne said...

Ha. I like your space and I like your choices. And yeah... it's a nice pretty thought that censorship isn't a male/female thing- isn't a majority/minority issues. But it isn't true. So many people aren't allowed to voice their views in so many public open spaces where (significantly more than a blog) they should be. Isn't it a pretty idea that we can just suddenly have equality for everyone by saying that everyone should be able to do the same thing. Bwahaha. Nice fairy tale.

I've also had similar experiences where what I had to say was rejected, denounced, invalidated, etc. and it was because I was a woman or a feminist or outside the "normal." How sad is it that even in your space- a space that is supposed to be your voice, your views, your refuge that you have to deal with this. How sad also that when you make your choice in your space that you're told (not only by those attacking you but by bystanders as well) that you're doing it wrong and you need to correct your ways there, little crazy lady. *facepalm*

Scenario one: A person in a minority position goes into a place where majority voice rules and makes some statement and are then trounced on. Majority agrees, everyone rejoices, and minority silenced. Whoo the power of majority.

Scenario two: Person in majority position goes into a space where minority issues and positions are voiced. Majority still watches and interacts with this space... majority voice overwhelms not because of right or wrong but because of majority. Heh. Majority wins. Minority silenced.

These two scenarios of no censorship... no regulation of voice... is perhaps why sometimes using "censorship," deleting trolls, and keeping a space safe for the speaker and the intended audience is a good idea. Actually, a necessity.

ShawnW said...
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Courtney said...

Oh man, I wish I had more commenters MOCK ANDREW. He's all, "I want debate! Oh noes, you deleted me! Even though I'm obviously a GODDAMN TROLL! Here, let me prove it with my pointless and fucking stupid comments! Get it? You support censorship! Which I only think because I apparently can't fucking READ!"

Look, Andrew, you are wallowing in privilege, that much is clear. And it makes you SO ANGRY when I tell you to shut up precisely because you're wallowing in it. I've given you plenty of chances (as in, not deleting any of your comments since the first two). This is your last warning. If you post another troll comment (that is, one that is designed only to piss me off instead of actually contribute to the conversation with any content), I will ban you from this blog.

Courtney said...
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ShawnW said...
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Courtney said...
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ShawnW said...
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Diana said...

Hi! First time reader, first time poster, former Houston resident of an Aggie family now long since fled to the PNW -- great blog, and keep up the good work.