The Lady Garden

Tea and Strumpets

Tone Arguments

What it is, though, is an attempt to recognize that we all have shit going on in our real lives, away from the internet, that we shouldn’t have to throw out there in order to be accorded a little bit of patience and kindness. Effective activism has to recognize that we’re all dealing with real-life stuff, and we are not all 100% engaged in these online communities at all times, and that we have different priorities and perspectives and real-time demands.

I am well aware I am putting my head on a block here. I am gonna piss some people off, and am probably inviting some people in to the garden that are going to metaphorically take a dump in the pond. But I feel like this needs to be said.

Because, you can say what you like about Julie, but I don’t think any of us can doubt her good faith and her honesty. Her willingness to learn, and her commitment to what we do, with this feminist blogging thing. She’s for many of us, the fairy godmother of the New Zealand blogosphere, the reason we started writing. Which is not to say I agree with everything she does and says. It’s not to say she can’t fuck up, or that I don’t look at things at The Hand Mirror on occasion, and think “what the fucking fuck?”.*

But seriously. Did she deserve last week’s massive pile on? (A disclaimer: I haven’t read that entire comment thread, and I have no intention to. Nor do I want to re-litigate the argument.) Did she really deserve the internet version of being screamed at by a crapload of people? Could she not have deserved a little of the patience and kindness mentioned above? She admitted she’d fucked up, she tried to explain how it happened, and tried to learn from it. And you know what? Moderating is hard. Especially when you’re on a group blog. Over at my own place, I keep a very, very, probably unnecessarily strict, hand. Because I can. Here, I am writing with other women. And we all have very different ideas of what is OK. Frankly, I wish I could go back and un-approve half the comments on this post.

In the post that quote above is from, Jill talks about the “call out” culture. About the way we (and I am certainly not absolving myself from this) look at the big blogs and expect them to be perfect. It’s different here, because we all know each other, we’re friends, we drink and email and chat on Facebook. And it is interesting, because some people seem to think they can say whatever they want about you online, and that when you’re next together in public, it’ll all be fine and dandy. Because they are just trying to make you a better feminist. Well, to quote a friend, Fuck. That. Shit.

Because screaming at people is never, ever, going to do that. Nor will devaluing “tone argument” when someone quite rightly calls you on being rude and abusive. There is a difference between being forthright and justifiably angry, and being downright insulting. (And in turn, doing harm to the very people you claim to be fighting for.) Or yelling “Own Your Privilege”, when most of us spend a lot of time doing exactly that. Admitting your privilege doesn’t absolve you from making mistakes, nor does it prove your feminist credentials. I’ve had chances to be educated about mine here, and I have taken them, and thanked the people involved. And God knows, I look back at things I wrote five, ten, years ago and want to punch myself in my smug little face. But as Jill points out, owning your privilege isn’t the end goal. Doing something about it is. And if you spend the majority of your time calling out other people, you’re missing the point.

And the point isn’t us all agreeing all the time. It isn’t us being perfect, or winning the prize for “Best Feminist Evah!” It’s about creating a conversation, about getting stuff done, and sharing our experiences. Surely? Though maybe some people just want to yell and rant and make sure everyone agrees with them. Whether because they actually do agree, or simply because they can’t handle the fight anymore.

I’ve had two conversations this week with people who have said “I am done with online conversations. Because what is the point?” And if the “tone” of our arguments is turning people off, if we are losing out on their insight and knowledge, aren’t we all losing? For fuck’s sake, i didn’t really want to write this post, I waited a week, and there’s a lot I’m not saying, because I am wary of the comments that will ensue. If those of us left are the strident ones, the ones with the spoons, the ones who yell the loudest, often about not much, are those friends of mine right? Is there actually any point?

* Like, for example, Maia’s frankly bizarre decision not to allow Coley to post her email address after a concerning comment was made about the WYFC. So, if you have come over here from there, and do have safety concerns, feel free to email Coley.

35 responses to “Tone Arguments

  1. Ngaire BookieMonster June 20, 2011 at 10:46 am

    As a very determined lurker (for exactly the reasons you’re talking about) this post has prompted me to post this comment – I really, REALLY agree with you.

  2. coleytangerina June 20, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Word. Especially this part “And God knows, I look back at things I wrote five, ten, years ago and want to punch myself in my smug little face.”

    Five years ago I was 19, and I wouldn’t have even considered myself a feminist because I genuinely thought that feminists were all what I know now to be RadFems – the ones who rank your worth on whether you’ve ever slept with a dude because it’s ‘like sleeping with the enemy’ etc.

    If it hadn’t been for people who were really patient with me, and let me bounce ideas off them and slowly start to wake up to how many inequalities are hiding in plain sight, I wouldn’t be writing this right now. I wouldn’t have gotten involved in national politics for women’s issues, I wouldn’t have started the WYFC.

    I *cringe* to think of what an egg I must have looked like, talking excitedly to my friends who had considered themselves feminists for years about rape culture as if it was some new thing. But they never made me feel like I was less than them for not knowing about it sooner. For not ‘educating myself’ earlier, because I wouldn’t have even known how. For that matter, if it wasn’t for their patience I wouldn’t have known what I needed to educate myself about!

    I am sure I said some things about a myriad of marginalised groups which was offensive, erasing, or just downright ignorant. And I am also sure I was called on it. But I sure as hell know that I wasn’t verbally abused for not having my thoughts perfectly formed, or my knowledge vast and credible. Once I understood privilege, and the many ways in which I am privileged, I was able to have a pretty effective lens for finding errors in my own (and other’s) socialised views of things. I entirely credit my friends with giving me the safe space and patience to get there.

    And even though I have gotten some shit for it, that’s what I have tried to do with the WYFC. Create a social space that facilitates learning, and does not require a level of card-carrying feminism to enter. It DOES require a willingness to learn, to be called out on stuff, and to leave your self-righteousness at the door. And we will (and do) call people out on bigoted/un-educated/harmful views. But we do so by discussions and directing people to where they can learn more. It is only *after* someone proves themselves to be an unrepentant troll where we will get to the internet yelly point, or if their energy is clearly not in line with a 101 space we may ask them to leave.

    And to be honest, that doesn’t happen very often. Most people who have entered our space have done so because they have an interest in these issues, and I have had SO much beautiful feedback from people saying that this is their first proper encounter with feminism and it has taught them so much. I truly think that there’s a difference between expecting people to think critically and challenging their privileged views and screaming at people because they should have fucking done their homework before they said anything.

    In the same way that it is our prerogative at the WYFC to have a learning space with different levels of tolerance and a different style of interaction, it is totally other people’s prerogatives to have more advanced feminist spaces where that ‘call out’ culture is heavy. However, I don’t think that people should try and push that culture onto another’s blog. I am an avid follower of Queen of Thorns for example, but I would never go into her space and say “QoT you’re being so MEAN! Why can’t you just be NICE to everyone! Stop swearing!” in the same way that she would never come into the WYFC and berate me for answering a newcomer’s questions about what rape culture means.

    In this vein, I find the aggression levelled at Julie to be abhorrent. It’s as if people are saying how DARE she still be learning, how DARE she make internet mistakes. Fuck that! I make internet mistakes all the time! So do you!

    If I’m honest, the way that her and other THM mods have handled things could have absolutely been better, and I have agreed with Queen of Thorns and Octavia’s analysis of what went wrong here. However, in the comments on the apologies posted over at THM I find the “FUCK YOU, YOU OFFENDED ME SO EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE TRYING TO SORT IT OUT I JUST THINK YOU’RE A BAD PERSON” line is useless. Where are we ever going to get if we can’t fuck up and try and make it better? How can we do better if everyone is going to get fucked off that we didn’t try and make it better the exact way they wanted us to?

    I think it would be really nice if before we took someone to task online, we thought back to the messed up views we’ve all held before we learnt more about that particular topic. And the fact that in 5 more years we could easily look back on ourselves now and go ‘I can’t believe I never thought of X! That was so offensive that I kept doing X without realising!’ Maybe we should eat some humble pie before declaring a blog unsalvageable because they displayed the same ignorance many of us have displayed before.

    • tallulahspankhead June 20, 2011 at 2:03 pm

      “How can we do better if everyone is going to get fucked off that we didn’t try and make it better the exact way they wanted us to?”

      There are people with whom I no longer engage on the Internet. I no longer have discussions with them, because they were abusive and rude to me, and chose to talk shit about me in a very public space. I could have given all of this up over that, and I very nearly did.

      What I decided to do instead was take it as a learning experience. Which was actually the harder thing to do. If we’re not allowed to use these spaces to learn, often by making mistakes, then what’s the point? No one comes to the Internet a fully formed perfect feminist, because there’s no such thing. We have to be allowed space to fuck up, and to then fix it in our own way. Not the way that someone who has declared themselves arbiter of all things correct decides is the right way.

      It’s funny, because I’ve been declared, in the past, a “white cisgendered hetero woman”, and I own all that privilege. The work that I do in my real life includes quite a lot of advocating for women of colour, and I spend a lot of time thinking about what that means as a white middle-class woman in New Zealand. But because I don’t talk about my job online, people assume that I am completely ignore the very many ways I could possibly be fucking up.

  3. Emma June 20, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Yeah… I think it’s pretty well-known that I’ve had some huge problems with THM over the years. And I stopped commenting there because, being sex-positive, I didn’t feel safe. A lot of my self-worth is centred in not being a dick on the internet, so I wasn’t. I had open and honest conversations about it. The irony is that all of this has blown up just as things seem to be getting better. And the refusal to accept a genuine apology? I’d have loved a genuine apology.

    I’ve had actual tone arguments used against me at PAS. I’ve been able to slap them down because of my Not Being a Dick. And you know, there is a wide, wide space of discourse between “bullying arsehole” and “doormat”.

  4. Meg June 20, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Thanks so much for posting this, it sums up my frustration over this whole situation. At one stage I asked someone posting ‘to just stop’. I just felt overwhelmed by the way they were engaging. All I got back was anger and I didn’t engage further.

    I was so impressed how the main people concerned managed to apologise/learn/forgive/work through the situation despite everything.

  5. Good Gravey June 20, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    It has certainly been an education for me. As I have said elsewhere, I don’t know Julie as well as most. But I do know genuine when I see it.

    Scar and others were absolutely right to point out the problems in the whole issue. Not a doubt in my mind about that.

    Sometimes, the problem comes from how we do things and not realise the hurt it can cause. And that hurt leads us to act in fear and anger. Perfectly understandable. But then acting in fear and anger can lead the original person to also feel hurt and angry. It is important in those cases for that person to realise that the vitriol being thrown at them is only there because of the way the other person feels. This is how things escalate – when neither side fully understands or appreciates that they are actually hurting the other.

    It is really hard. It is especially hard when we know we have hurt someone to just sit there and take their anger.

    As I have also said elsewhere, I personally didn’t like the way Julie was treated, but she did act out of (forgive me – I do not mean this in a mean way) ignorance and privilege. She realised the error, and tried to make amends.

    If we want to have a safe environment for all, it means people do need to be called out on their privilege. But just because one person is hurt by something, it does not justify causing hurt to another.

    I don’t have a problem with swearing or anger. But I tend to like it seen to be moderated slightly out of compassion – at least when it becomes comments about individuals – comments about ideas is another matter. But that’s just me. I don’t expect anyone to change because of it.

    I understand people being angry at the things Julie had said, and even for it to be mis-directed and to be angry at Julie. And I get that people were angry that the wording of the apology gave the appearance of either not being genuine or that she hadn’t learned (whereas to my privileged eyes she had). I just feel that this level of anger is better directed at those who demonstrate an unwillingness to learn, as opposed to those who try hard but screw up every now and then.

    I try to be careful to fall into the “tone argument” trap (although it seems people define this in different ways). I had always been taught that the most constructive way to deal with conflict or being hurt by someone is the “When you do X, I feel Y” approach. What it does is it focuses attention on the offending behaviour rather than the person doing it, and it focuses on the feelings of the person who has been hurt. That too can be really hard. Because it requires us to put our feelings aside and think about how we feel.

    This is all very well and easy for me to say, because I have not spent a lifetime of abuse, denigration or marginalisation. But it is a process that is shown to help both parties resolve their issues very effectively.

    I guess one thing that is important to remember. When we comment, we generally are not telling other people how they should behave. We are simply expressing our views on how we would like things to be.

    Sorry for the extremely long comment.

  6. Msconduct June 20, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    I agree with your points in general: the call out culture has made genuine discussion rather than points scoring pretty much impossible in many parts of the internet.

    However, I don’t agree in this particular instance. I didn’t see the original post and comments, and can’t now, but I did read the entire comment thread you refer to, and it turned, IMO, into a useful and positive discussion in which much was learned on all sides. Julie herself acknowledged that the criticisms expressed of her apology were valid. As for the tone of the criticisms, I’m normally not at all a fan of people throwing around “tone argument” as a Get Of Out Jail Free card for being as abusive as they want (mostly because it does nothing to further discussion). However, in this case, Scar’s response to the apology was angry, but as far as I can judge without being able to read the original thread for myself she had every right to be, as Julie acknowledged. Julie, it seems to me, accurately read the negative emotions expressed not as as personal attack on her but on the transphobia of the original thread, the way the mods had handled it, and the way her apology hadn’t in Scar’s opinion dealt with those issues. I think Julie did a fantastic job of using this as a learning experience and making the entire thing a positive advance in understanding.

  7. hakig64 June 20, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    I’m not new to online conversations – I’ve been having them for 16 years, or thereabouts. What is new to me are feminist conversations online. Feminist conversations in general? . My life was full of them for all my life, and then about 20 years ago, I stopped being a politically active feminist. Privilege wasn’t a term we used, but the concept of it is not new to me, of course. I think in using the term, we also have to be very careful about our perceptions. Someone may appear to be coming from privilege, to us, but they may not be as privileged as we think, or may have circumstances in their lives which somewhat cancel out the privilege they were born to. I also find that acknowledgement of privilege is important, of course it is. However, one should never apologise for the things one has no control over. Some privilege is that we are born with, some we have made for ourselves. Either way, I enjoy conversations that move us on, that educate us, that make us think differently. I don’t think that screaming at people, no matter how justified it may be, accomplishes that. Because, to be honest, I am old enough to have been around at a time when we were all going through a similar process, in feminism, of redefinition, and there was lots of shouting and yelling and general nonlistening happening.(I may have been one of the yellers). It wasn’t useful then, and it’s not useful now. The thing that changes the way others think is caring for them, having conversations that are respectful. And particularly online, where you may know not much about the person you are talking to, it’s so important not to make assumptions. I have every confidence that younger feminists than I will succeed where we kind of fell down – by being more inclusive of everyone, and by engaging in meaningful conversations that are respectful, and forgiving, and compassionate.

  8. QoT June 20, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    I think it is entirely fair to question a blog with a history of fucking up and not fixing those fuck ups. That’s nowhere near the same as “let’s bash Julie Fairy for not being a perfect snowflake”.

    The post you’ve cited from Jill is far from unproblematic. The dominant, usually white/cis/hetero/able-bodied (i.e. very comparatively privileged) voices of the feminist blogosphere have frequently used arguments like “you’re just calling me out because you hate me” or “you just want to pick a fight with the big dog to get pageviews” or “why can’t you stop being so angry” to shut down criticism from women of colour, trans women, women with disabilities etc.

    As someone who was obviously involved, I don’t expect anyone to be perfect. I’m not perfect either. But as I have stated in my own posts on this issue, I expect people to actually enforce their own commenting policies, and I expect people to actually make progress when they have had issues – issues which they have acknowledged and promised to work on – pointed out to them.

    I have no idea what parts, if any, of this post might have been written with me in mind. I don’t think it’s presumptive to assume some of it probably is, given my involvement. I am contactable through my own blog or qotblog @ gmail.com if anyone wants to raise specific issues with me, but this thread is probably not the place to do it.

  9. Sandra June 20, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    Thank you. This bit especially:
    “And the point isn’t us all agreeing all the time. It isn’t us being perfect, or winning the prize for “Best Feminist Evah!” It’s about creating a conversation, about getting stuff done, and sharing our experiences. Surely? Though maybe some people just want to yell and rant and make sure everyone agrees with them. Whether because they actually do agree, or simply because they can’t handle the fight anymore.”

    I’d always looked forward to checking the latest THM posts. Now I’m wary.

  10. Scar June 20, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    “…not to allow Coley to post her email address after a concerning comment was made about the WYFC.”

    What did you find concerning about the comment? I ask because your statement could be taken several ways.

    • tallulahspankhead June 20, 2011 at 9:16 pm

      I didn’t see the original comment, so i can’t really comment. I understand, from what I have been told, that accusations were made, and Coley, rightly, I think, felt that since they involved the WYFC, felt she should be able to leave her email address to discuss them.

      • Scar June 20, 2011 at 9:31 pm

        You can view the comment here:

        http://scarletscorceress.blogspot.com/2011/06/so-quoted-text-below-turned-up-tonight.html

        Do you think this is a legitimate accusation?

        • tallulahspankhead June 20, 2011 at 9:51 pm

          I have absolutely no idea, Scar. I know nothing about you, or the allegations made. That wasn’t really my point, nor do I wish to get involved. I certainly don’t believe everything i read from anonymous commenters. Having read it, Maia’s decision to delete it was the right call, but I still think allowing Coley to give her email would have been common courtesy, given the invocation of the Collective.

          • Scar June 20, 2011 at 10:02 pm

            No, Coley’s comment was incendiary and added weight to the allegations. I’m sure that if the person had a legit complaint either a) the police would have done something or b) the person would have contacted a WYFC admin via Facebook – instead of perpetrating this grandiose mummery on The Hand Mirror.

          • tallulahspankhead June 20, 2011 at 10:12 pm

            I have no idea what Coley wrote. But as I said clearly in my comment, I have no idea about the accusations nor do I wish to get involved myself, or have this post turn into commentary on them. If you want to continue this conversation, feel free to email me, but I’d rather not have it discussed here.

          • Scar June 20, 2011 at 10:22 pm

            That would have sounded a whole lot more sincere if you’d provided an email address. Rest assured that I will pursue this matter until it has reached a satisfactory conclusion, which is becoming increasingly likely to be a litigious conclusion.
            I’ll respect your wish for the comments to end here. I’m totally happy to continue discussing it on my blog; though I have no doubt that none of your team will take me up on that offer.

          • tallulahspankhead June 20, 2011 at 10:28 pm

            Sorry, I am commenting from my phone, and couldn’t off the top of my head think of the coding to include my email address. It is listed on the FAQ, but it is tallulah at theladygarden.org.

  11. Deborah June 20, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    I’ve followed the whole thing as it was blowing up, and read every post and comment on the protagonists’ blogs. It has been a difficult week for so many people. I admire Julie’s fortitude, and willingness to grapple with the issues. She has made a huge effort. Some other protagonists have also made a big effort, to engage, to listen to, and to accept apologies.

    But some of the other people involved? I found the abuse very difficult to read, and I found it deeply unhelpful. It is so hard to have a conversation, to work towards understanding, when there is a shouter or two or three involved.

    I think you are absolutely right that some people have slammed down “tone argument” as a trump card. It isn’t.

    And I’m with you all the way on regarding our internet interactions being as real and and important as our on-line ones. There are people posting on-line who I don’t want to meet, ever, because I don’t like their style of interaction. Someone who shouts at me on-line is just as likely to treat me poorly in real life. I see no separation between the two. I want to foster conversation and communication, and shouting is a barrier to that.

    • tallulahspankhead June 20, 2011 at 10:35 pm

      What I’d really like people to remember is that the people on the other end of the computer? Are people.

      I have no doubt (and in fact, have experienced) that most of the people who shout, don’t speak to people like that in real life. Ever. Because it would be completely unacceptable.

      • Scar June 20, 2011 at 10:41 pm

        Excuse me, your privilege is showing (at the risk of being dogpiled yet again).
        I have shouted in real life, stuff like “STOP CALLING ME A FUCKING MAN!!!” and I don’t think it was completely unacceptable. In fact, what I was responding to was the ‘completely unacceptable’ part.

        • tallulahspankhead June 20, 2011 at 10:50 pm

          Really? Me expecting people to show basic common decency to other people is “privileged”?

          Yelling can be, at times, the only response. I just don’t think it needs to be the default position. And certainly not when you are dealing with people who are trying to have discussions on good faith.

          • Scar June 21, 2011 at 7:47 am

            No, privileged in that you don’t regularly get put in situations which people constantly say disgusting, phobic things to or about you and you’re expected to sit there and take it under a veneer of cordiality.
            I certainly don’t think that yelling is the default position either, that’s obvious. So why you felt the need to point that out in your reply, I can only speculate. It also doesn’t matter if someone is trying to discuss in ‘good faith’ (intent is magic) – if they are hurting you, they are hurting you and if politely asking them to stop didn’t work, then shouting at them to stop if perfectly acceptable.
            As I said, your privilege is showing. Own it, embrace it, work on it. Don’t knee-jerk in an attempt to be ‘right’ or to win an Internets spat.

          • tallulahspankhead June 21, 2011 at 9:34 am

            Know that for sure do you, Scar? Have any idea who I actually am, or what my life is like, or the situations I might face? Which is not to compare my life to yours, just a gentle reminder not to make assumptions about other people.

            My response wasn’t knee-jerk, nor was it singling you out, it’s what I actually think. It’s what this entire post was about. Which to re-iterate, is that there is a difference between being angry and forthright, and being rude and abusive. (And I am not saying you are being that in this discussion, for the record.) And that if we expect to get anywhere with this feminism thing other than a series “Internet spats” and mutual love ins, then we owe each other a little respect.

          • Deborah June 21, 2011 at 10:10 am

            I know Tallulah in real life, and I know that she is regularly get put in situations which people constantly say disgusting, phobic things to or about her and she is expected to sit there and take it under a veneer of cordiality, just because of who she is. These things are said to her by women and men, and by the society around her, and she is expected to put up with it.

            Sadly, oppression is multi-faceted, and can be experienced in many ways. I don’t want to say anything as fatuous as “all oppressions are exactly the same”, because clearly they are not, nor that “oppression x is worse than oppression y”, because comparisons can be odious, and too often add little light or understanding, and in any case, scarcely matter at all to the person who is experiencing them.

            Scar, we all need to check our assumptions here. Me included.

          • tallulahspankhead June 21, 2011 at 10:20 am

            Thank you, Deborah.

          • Scar June 21, 2011 at 10:45 am

            I had no idea that you were transgender, Tallulah. My apologies.

          • Deborah June 21, 2011 at 10:52 am

            Scar, that would be an assumption you need to check. To my knowledge, Tallulah is cis-gendered. She deals with a different form of oppression.

          • Deborah June 21, 2011 at 10:56 am

            I’ve worded that poorly. Like many of us, Tallulah deals with intersecting oppressions. Just not, to my knowledge, the particular oppression that has generated this whole many-posts-on-many-blogs-with-many-comments conversation.

          • Isabel June 21, 2011 at 12:47 pm

            I think it is very natural to feel that the areas in which you are oppressed are the very worst and that the privileges you don’t have must be better and shinier than the ones you do. I don’t think this is often the case and it’s rarely helpful.

            Sometimes anger and yelling are an appropriate response but they are far more useful when they are not the first resort and aren’t used against people who are genuinely trying to learn from and engage with you.

            As has been pointed out elsewhere, intent is hard to read and doing the wrong thing for the right reasons can have disastrous consequences but, just as it behooves the to be as clear as they are able it also behooves the reader to remember that what they are reading through the filters of their beliefs and experiences may not be writer meant.

        • Deborah June 21, 2011 at 6:40 am

          I agree with Tallulah. On-going yelling and shouting is not regarded as acceptable in everyday conversations, so I don’t see why it is acceptable on blog. Yes, yell to draw attention to a point if it is needed, but to keep on and on and on with it? And to heap personal abuse on top of it? Not on.

          It’s not yelling once. Or even twice. It’s continuing to shout and yell, and adopting that as a default mode of engagement, that is destructive.

          With respect, Scar, you’ve left comments here a couple of times and reminded us of matters that apply to some men, or have a particular resonance for people who have transitioned, or are transitioning, from male to female, and people here have responded politely and welcomed your comments. We’re all for conversation. We are however, drawing a line. As we say in our comments policy:

          We are fine with swearing, strong language and general excitableness. We are NOT fine with abusing other commenters – even if you don’t use naughty words doing it.

          Let me hasten to add, me quoting this is NOT directed at you, nor in the way you have engaged here. It is directed at everyone. If someone comes over here and misgenders you or another woman, or a man, and continues to it when they’re asked not to, well, that would step over the line, even if they do it in the most exquisitely polite language. If someone comes over here and points out that I have said something hurtful and wrong, then that’s fine. And it’s fine to keep on going with the conversation if they feel that I’m still getting it wrong. What’s not fine is yelling right from the start, or yelling even if I am trying to engage, and to apologise and set the matter right.

          I would walk away from, and refuse to associate with, someone who kept on yelling at me on the street. I would walk away from, and refuse to associate with, a co-worker who did that. I recall once seeing a airline passenger yelling and yelling and yelling at a check-in clerk, who simply could not walk away. People around him regarded him with dismay, and walked away, so they didn’t have to be near him (her supervisor came over to support her).

          Very roughly, I want to see the same standards on-blog as I would see in real life.

          • coleytangerina June 21, 2011 at 12:21 pm

            I love that! Seems so simple ‘would you say that to someone in person? No? Okay then maybe it’s going too far?’

            Stuff.co.nz would be a much nicer place if people had that rule! Come to think of it, everywhere online would!

  12. coleytangerina June 21, 2011 at 4:01 am

    Given that THM comment mentioned that they were a WYFC member and they had safety concerns, as the organiser I simply gave them my email address. This wasn’t a comment on the validity of their claim, merely common sense that when a group you run has a member discuss contacting the police, you should probably try and get in contact with them.

    On a personal note, Scar, I will not be engaging with you online (or in person) ever again. You are welcome to continue reblogging things on my personal blog and finding subtext which doesn’t exist, and to continue calling the WYFC transphobic for banning you after a series of deeply innapropriate behaviours, but I draw the line at you using a different username on QoT’s blog to start telling me when and where you’ve seen me out in public.

    Obviously we play in the same online spaces, but engaging with your bullying Internet behaviours ends now for me. Please respect that. That said, even if you don’t I will still not engage you.

  13. Jackie Clark June 21, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Scar, this thread isn’t about you. Nor how you have been treated elsewhere. It is simply an entreaty, I believe, for us all to engage in feminist dialogue in a way which respects the people we are talking to. I understand, from your postings, that life has not been easy for you. I can’t comment on that, nor sympathise, because I am not a transgendered woman. I don’t know your pain, I can only say that I am empathetic to your struggles, as I am empathetic to the struggles of all women, because we all have pain of some sort. We are all marginalised in different ways – some of us more than others. Being cisgendered does not preclude marginalisation or pain. White privilge is a societal phenomenon, I believe, that does not preclude the individual members of our society, who are of European desccent, from experiencing the shit that life throws. Sometimes we do have to yell and scream to be heard – being an older woman, I know that for myself. But only at people who are aiming to do harm to us in some way.

  14. ludditejourno June 23, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    Hey Tallulah,
    belatedly catching up on what this turned into while I was out of the country, and absolutely and wholeheartedly agree with what you’ve said here.

    I thought about it quite a bit – the fact that one of the things people who organise collectively have to do all the time in person and online is find ways to tease out arguments you don’t understand, or disagree respectfully or continue having conversations which together grow what you’re doing – and I think it’s harder to do this online than in person.

    Not that it’s easy in person always. But when you can see how someone else is reading what you’re saying sometimes you can short-circuit problems just because of empathy I think.

    I love seeing people – any kind of people – who can say “I’ve got some learning here” and that’s what I think Julie has done, with enormous integrity, in this instance.

    Thanks for this post, it’s given me back a bit of faith in the interweb as mode for feminist discussion. Yeah 🙂

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