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Ahh… Can you hear me? or Acknowledging Ignorance

October 21, 2009

I’ve been spending a lot of time reading lately. I have three Marketing Research textbooks on my desk along with piles of case studies and a few booklets about various software packages. I started a new job two weeks ago (hence my prolonged silence.)

The scariest part about starting this job (or I suppose any new job) is dealing with and acknowledging how much I don’t know. Not only do I have to learn a bunch of statistical methods I haven’t used before, I’m learning new jargon, new faces and names and a whole new business model. My technique for learning this stuff is basically what I use when confronted with most new things.

1. Shut Up
2. Listen
3. Read everything that I come across
4. Continue steps 1-3 until I have something new to add to what is going on.

I think this strategy is especially important in blogging and activist communities. I would never walk into a meeting with a bunch of professional graphic designers and hold forth on my thoughts about the color blue. Similarly I wouldn’t walk into any other community and start spouting my opinions without first really having a good understanding of what that community is about, what they stand for.

How could I think that I have something to add to that community, if I don’t even have an understanding of where they are at?

The land of Blog has a relatively low barrier to entry (compared to say, a career in journalism. People come to your site, they read what you say, they comment, some people tell you how great you are. (Seriously, you’re all welcome to tell me how great I am any time you want 😉 ) It is easy to believe that with just the right turn of phrase you too could be the next Queen of Blog.

But you can’t.

Some blogs in the fatosphere (also the feminist blogging community) have earned their place at the top of the hierarchy because they have been discussing and fighting and sharing and providing revolutionary and insightful commentary for years. They have defined key terms, brought more public awareness and just generally spent years talking about fat acceptance and feminism. Their insight, research, and excellent writing are what built this community.

You don’t just get to come in three years down the line and expect the same level of respect and acceptance. You don’t get to be an authoritative voice on a topic just because you showed up.

If it seems like the barriers to entry are high and your contributions aren’t appreciated it is because the barriers to entry ARE high, and your contributions aren’t exactly new. There has been a lot of material covered in the fatosphere over the years. There has also been a lot of going back, explaining, getting more contributions, losing voices, gaining new ones.

I guess the question every blogger has to ask themselves is “What am I adding to the conversation?” But how can you know what you are adding to the conversation if you weren’t even listening to the first half.

I don’t want to discourage people who are new to the community from blogging. Everyone has something to add be it your personal experiences or your unique take on social issues. But I would encourage you to read as much as you can first to make sure that this is really a community you want to be part of, and that you have something to bring to the buffet. (mmmmm buffet)

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52 Comments
  1. This is why I rarely comment on sites like Shapely Prose. I’m aware that although I’ve thought more about these things than most people in my life, it’s the opposite almost anywhere on the Fatosphere. I will write about whatever’s on my mind on my own blog, but I don’t go around telling people to read it like I really know what I’m talking about.

  2. I disagree.

    What you say is partially true, but I think what the experienced hands have and deserve is authority, not respect. Everyone deserves respect. Only the old pros deserve the authority.

    I’m still not on board with the “read everything you can before commenting” thing. Does that mean we should read all the critics’ opinions before we blog as well? How educated must one be to have an opinion worthy of respect (and by respect, I mean not being called a douchebag).

    Peace,
    Shannon

  3. This is why I staked out a “niche” of being superfat and dealing with that angle on things. When I started my fat blog Lesley at Fatshionista and Vesta at Big Fat Delicious were the only too-fat-for-LB blogger regularly out there. (Bree’s joined the crew now too.) So I’ve been mostly riffing on how my life is and isn’t “normal”.

    I am thinking of trying to bring in more FA history, since I do have several boxes of Radience and BBW back issues from the 80s and 90s. 😉

  4. Lori permalink

    While I agree to some extent, I’m not sure that most of us do our best learning by shutting up until we have something original or new to say, or have come to agree with the majority opinion. For me, most of the learning and growing I’ve done has happened because people were kind enough to respond to my often wrong, often uninformed, often misguided thoughts in thoughtful, respectful ways and engage with me about them.

    Now, certainly it’s not any blogger’s job to educate anybody they don’t want to, but I do think that there are times when we’re seeing shaming and self-congratulations and the establishing of an exclusive clique going on in the guise of “informing” or “educating.” I know that I’ve never learned anything from being shamed, silenced, or ridiculed, and I don’t expect others to learn in that way, either.

  5. I’m still not on board with the “read everything you can before commenting” thing. Does that mean we should read all the critics’ opinions before we blog as well?

    No, because when you post something on your own blog, you are starting a new discussion. When you comment on someone else’s blog, you are joining a discussion. If you haven’t read the majority of previous comments, you’re walking into a discussion going “HEY EVERYBODY LISTEN TO ME” without extending the courtesy of listening to others.

    • SM,
      I think its all a matter of perspective.

      If the post I’m about to comment on has a modest number of comments (for me, that’s under 100) I like to read chronologically to get the gist of the conversation. But if we’re talking Schrödinger’s Rapist, I have neither the time nor inclination to read every single comment before weighing in. And if that’s the criteria for opining in the SP universe, then I want nothing to do with it.

      People make comments on my blog clearly having not read a damned thing except the one entry they heard was so horrible. They make stupid assumptions and snap judgments and false arguments that make sense to no one but the anonymous commenter.

      So, I take time to respond. Nine times out of ten, I never hear from that person again.

      Irritating, absolutely.

      But in explaining to that person where I stand and why I believe what I believe, whether for the 1st time or for the 101st time, I am explaining it to all the other people who are reading Atchka! for the first time and who are likely not going to delve into my archives just because I want them to come to the table with a full understanding of who I am, what I believe, and how the style and tone of my writing typically works.

      Your blog is an intellectual powerhouse. I read it and I blogroll it because the Fatosphere is not the Fatosphere without Kate and the Gang (I’m not sure whether that makes you guys sound more like a 70s jazz/R&B/soul/funk/disco group or a cartoon crime fighting team, minus the anthropomorphic dog).

      Shapely Prose informs thousands of people every day about what Fat Acceptance is and why it matters. How many new people every day are introduced to the concept of Fat Acceptance through Shapely Prose. And they may have questions that are not answered by the comments or they may have strong opinions based on their life experience which don’t align with what they are reading.

      That person speaks up. Do they deserve to be verbally assaulted? If they’re new to FA, they may be unsure of whether this way of thinking is worth pursuing. She gets snapped at, told to get educated before she comments, called a douchebag.

      What is that woman supposed to think? She came looking for inclusiveness and was met with more derision.

      I keep hearing about how SP is supposed to be a safe place. For who? The choir?

      Your comment policy is your prerogative, but what happened to Bianca was that she, as you say, started a discussion on HER blog. She wanted to comment on the concept of privilege from the perspective of a newbie and she did that by explaining what she saw as her privilege.

      She bragged that she had a lot of privilege, probably more than you. Jealous?

      She then goes on to list the many ways in which she’s privileged in an open and honest fashion and finishes by asking for ideas of how she can proactively combat the advantages her privilege has given her.

      It seemed that the problem most people had was the “Jealous?” part. But for God’s sake, Sylvia and Bianca are playing the part of divas. Its their persona. Its the way they communicate. You may not like that, but at least acknowledge that they have an exaggerated way of expressing things. They are exuberant and brash and delightfully tacky.

      They’re genuinely fun to read. And they have a strong voice that, if you read it on a consistent basis, you would recognize and be able to understand how “Jealous?” wasn’t a literal taunting of the un-privileged, but a rhetorical statement.

      Of course, you’re jealous! Who wouldn’t want to be Bianca? She’s fabulous.

      Fuck, they’re icons are from Ab Fab. Do you think Joanna Lumley is really that snotty in real life?

      And I know there’s a difference between playing a character on a TV show and writing a blog. But the way I write, the way I communicate in a blog is not the way I communicate in real life. Its how I communicate in my head, to myself. Maybe you don’t write that way, but I do and I’m betting Bianca does too.

      Or maybe I’m wrong.

      Maybe Bianca is a cold, heartless bitch who hates minorities and the poor… hell, she goes out of her way to make their lives more miserable: gives homeless people handfuls of pesos, lets loose the service dogs of the blind. She’s a horrible, mean, little person who wants to nothing more than to rub her privilege in everybody’s face.

      But I don’t think so. And if you read her blog at all you wouldn’t either.

      Maybe it was an indelicate turn of phrase, but it was not malicious and it was definitely not deserving of Marianne’s wrath. Yeah, she’s got her own blog, but fuck me, what do the newbies think of that? Because not all the newbies saw Bianca’s post that way.

      But there’s another big wig of FA insulting Bianca, not in Bianca’s comments, not in the body of her post, but in the fucking headline. Why didn’t she just write, “I hate you Bianca, I hope you fucking die”? Seriously. Douchebag? Really? She deserved a public douchbagging?

      If some people want to play mean, then do it in the sandbox, in the comments on the blogs where its okay to be harsh. If the SP crowd wants to trade barbs, that’s fine. I know that’s what to expect (although, again, think of the newbies), so it doesn’t offend me there.

      But don’t launch flamewars from the balcony. Lets not air our dirty laundry for the whole damned world to see. The fact that Kate and Marianne are so visible gives them a double responsibility to lead by example and keep the conversation civil.

      Its Marianne’s blog and she can post what she wants, but I’m just saying that it doesn’t look good from an outsider’s perspective. And the whole point of advocacy is to make the outsiders insiders, and you don’t do that by attacking each other in such a visible fashion.

      I just want to know what happened to basic human respect? Somebody says something that pisses you off, you ask them about it. You tell them why it came out wrong. You explain to them why they shouldn’t say things like that.

      You don’t call them names and make fun of them behind their backs. That’s what children do.

      I’m just asking that we all be adults. Lets stop looking for opportunities to pounce on the other person and if we disagree, say so without resorting to degradation and humiliation. We’ve all had enough of those realities.

      Lets save the hate for the trolls and cynics, and treat our allies, whether we agree with their opinions and methods or not, like allies.

      Peace?
      Shannon

      • Shannon, no one at SP has participated in any aspect of the Bianca/Marianne discussion except for my statement about our general commenting philosophy above. You and I are not having the conversation you think we are.

      • So, wait, you’re saying that nobody from SP posted comments on ZC’s entry about privilege?

        Peace,
        Shannon

      • orodemniades permalink

        Shannon wrote: If the post I’m about to comment on has a modest number of comments (for me, that’s under 100) I like to read chronologically to get the gist of the conversation. But if we’re talking Schrödinger’s Rapist, I have neither the time nor inclination to read every single comment before weighing in. And if that’s the criteria for opining in the SP universe, then I want nothing to do with it.

        But surely you then can’t be surprised when people get upset or irritated by what you say if you haven’t bothered to read what others have said? And I do understand not being able to keep up, some posts have comments flying so quickly that by the time you respond to one comment, 10 or 15 others have popped up.

      • orodemniades,
        I understand being upset, but I don’t understand being upset enough to call people names. That’s just childish.

        Peace,
        Shannon

  6. “If you haven’t read the majority of previous comments, you’re walking into a discussion going “HEY EVERYBODY LISTEN TO ME” without extending the courtesy of listening to others.”

    In other words, I have to read the entirety of SP/Fatshionista/The Rotund’s archives before I can hold an opinion on FA? No? How much do I have to read, then, before I am allowed to post on it? Does it matter that I may only have been on the Fatosphere feed for a couple of months but have actually been working on the issues of FA (although I didn’t know it had a name then) for more than six years and have quite a lot of reasonably educated opinions on feminism (hello, four years of women’s college!), academia, research, etc.? Do I count as adequately informed, or should people just not be put on the Fatosphere blog at all unless they can meet some academically-styled “tenure review” with enough published blog posts that demonstrate mastery of a given topic?

    Is the Fatosphere really only about *experts* on FA (meaning that the rest of us need to go form our own Fats for Newbies community until some enlightened soul decides that we’re ready to join the REAL FA people) or is it about accepting everyone that is part of this community, at whatever point they are in their FA journey, with the elders in the community letting newbies know in a *constructive* fashion if there’s something they might be missing (even if it’s something huge) and actually, you know, acting as mentors instead of constant critics?

    And whatever happened to that sage wisdom that says that even new voices have something to contribute to any discussion and that the true joy of working with people who are new in a field is their passion, their enthusiasm, and the sometimes unexpected insights that the seasoned sages never even noticed or thought of?

    This community claims inclusivity but it is in all of these discussions of inclusivity that I can see some real insensitivity I never expected was here.

  7. hafidha sofia permalink

    Heidi – I think she means reading the comments for that POST, not all of the blog.

  8. Heidi, I should clarify: what I meant was that if you haven’t read the majority of comments on the thread you’re currently commenting on.

    • Thanks for the clarification – what it begins to sound like, however (and I admit, I was reading this into your comment based on comments by others elsewhere) is that unless we have been part of the FA community for years, we aren’t entitled to an opinion, unless we can somehow present appropriate credentials. I expanded my response to your comment into a response to the original post, which I apologize for doing 🙂

  9. Heidi –

    I’m not sure why you’re quoting Sweet Machine. That’s more a question for Shinobi. The portion of Sweet Machine’s comment you quoted was about joining a comment stream already in progress. She explicitly stated that “when you post something on your own blog, you are starting a new discussion.”

  10. Right, I just piped in about the comments philosophy — I’m not going to engage with Shinobi’s post because I don’t want to sway the discussion one way or the other. Also I wanted to say hi to Shinobi. (Hi! Bye now!)

  11. I like your approach, Shinobi (educating yourself before blah-blahing).

    Unfortunately, the blogosphere seems to attract a lot of people who want to spout out ill-informed opinions.

    It also seems to attract people who feign innocence while making hurtful statements (to provoke others because they’re bored, or something), and then feign surprise when others call them a “douchebag”.

    Interesting.

  12. Heidi,
    Y’know I’m having a hard time understanding how you got the idea that I don’t think anyone should contribute from what I wrote.
    I said:

    1. Shut Up
    2. Listen
    3. Read everything that I come across
    4. Continue steps 1-3 until I have something new to add to what is going on.

    Which is not the same as read everything ever and get 6 degrees just to prove that I’m an expert.

    I also said:

    I guess the question every blogger has to ask themselves is “What am I adding to the conversation?” But how can you know what you are adding to the conversation if you weren’t even listening to the first half.

    I don’t want to discourage people who are new to the community from blogging. Everyone has something to add be it your personal experiences or your unique take on social issues. But I would encourage you to read as much as you can first to make sure that this is really a community you want to be part of, and that you have something to bring to the buffet. (mmmmm buffet)

    I don’t think you need a degree, I don’t think you need to be an expert. I think you need to actually be thinking about things and be willing to read and acknowledge what you don’t know and try to bring new things to the conversation as much as you can. There is a lot I don’t know. I’m a terrible example, which is why I have 110 publish posts and 50 unpublished drafts that I realized were not in any way substantive or interesting.

    I don’t have a problem with educating newbies and engaging with them. I do wish we had more 101 type resources for people who are new to FA or Feminism or anything ever.

  13. Also, I don’t have a problem with people commenting even when they aren’t 100% experts. I hope you always feel comfy commenting here PurpleGirl.

    I do prefer it when people actually read the post they are commenting on tho.

    Also, HI SM!!!!!!

    • Shinobi, I’ve always felt comfortable here. I think perhaps SP is so intimidating because of the sheer number of comments! By the time I read 200 comments there’s nothing left for me to say except “Yeah, that!” 🙂 I do sometimes stick my oar in, but I try to do it as carefully as possible, wherever I am.

  14. Sarah permalink

    It also seems to attract people who feign innocence while making hurtful statements (to provoke others because they’re bored, or something), and then feign surprise when others call them a “douchebag”.

    I fail to see what was said that was “hurtful.” But I don’t cry when I read opposing opinions either. And it’s certainly NOT helpful to reply to such a post with childish insults.

  15. Sarah,
    It was pretty hurtful to hear someone act as though their privelege isn’t meaningful and be so insensitive to what other people go through. I am pretty priveleged myself, but I try not to y’nkow… gloat.

    I think there IS a substantive argumetn to be made that the post in question really ignores a lot of unpacking an discussion of privelege in favor of whimsical self indulgence.

    And y’know enerally a lot of people get called names around the fatosphere. Usually they are public figures or trolls, in this case it just happend to be someone who has a blog.

    I accept that perhaps name calling is not the most productive way to engage in debate. But lots of other people shared comments that were constructive and did try to engage the writer. It doesn’t really seem like these people were really heard.

  16. Oh and can I just say, didn’t we JUST GO THROUGH THIS with WATRD? I think this is what bothers me the most. IT’s not as if there haven’t been huge discussions of privelege in the fatosphere within the last six months. If the post in question had asked some real questions and expressed a desire for better understanding I would be more sympathetic. But it was mostly flippant. I’m surprised she didn’t sign it Barbie and proud of it.

    • orodemniades permalink

      Yes. In fact, I made a comment – with links! – and the reply was that she’d read it and didn’t think it had much to do with what she wrote (from what I recall, I can’t go and reread it because I have few sanity points left for ZC).

  17. Synna permalink

    I find myself lurking on many blogs (like this one, tee hee, until recently) because by the time I get around to reading the threads, what I want to contribute has been said usually, and often more articulately than I could have expressed.

    And I think that it is a sign of respect to do some self education on a topic before launching in, especially if its not a 101 post.

  18. zezebelle permalink

    And yet despite Shapely Prose’s dominance of the fat blog market, they are a relatively young entry into the fat blogging community. Believe it or not, fat activism and the fatosphere (note: no hyphens) existed before Kate Harding co-opted it to further her career ambitions. Kate and co. have actually succeeded in silencing numerous and diverse viewpoints in what was a dynamic community – and which now seems to exist as an echo chamber. Oh dear. That’s not received wisdom is it? Bad Zezebelle.

    • Disagreeing with someone is not silencing them. Unless Kate & Co somehow have the magical power to block blogs from the whole internet, they didn’t silence anyone. People who read SP may choose not to also read certain other bloggers they disagree with, but again, that is not silencing those people, it is ignoring them, which we are all entitled to do. I don’t read glenn reynolds or link to Little Green Footballs, is that silencing them? or is it just ignoring them and carving out my own section of the blogosphere.

  19. So, wait, you’re saying that nobody from SP posted comments on ZC’s entry about privilege?

    Yes.

    • Ack, silly threaded comments! This is a response to Atchka. No one at SP has commented on ZC or TR about any of this. Like I said, my comments on this thread are the only participation from SP in this conversation, and the only reason I’m commenting here is because I wanted to respond to your defense of not reading long comment threads.

    • Um, I can point to several people right now, but I’m heading home. hsofia is one, though. I’ll look for more later, if that’s what you’d like. Feel free to comb through the comments. I’m sure you’ll recognize some names.

      But can we at least agree that name calling toward non-hostile, non-trolling members of FA is inappropriate?

      Peace,
      Shannon

      • Shannon, I did not mean that no readers of SP were part of that discussion; no bloggers from SP are. Our readers are welcome to comment on other sites; they do not represent us when they do so.

      • Furthermore, if anyone who ever commented on SP counts as being “from SP,” then that group includes you.

  20. SM,
    Its the environment fostered on SP (newbies unaware of triggering language being attacked) that is overflowing onto other FA blogs. No, you don’t control them and they don’t represent you, but on SP you participate in the attacks on people and it becomes almost a contest to see who can degrade that person the most.

    For trolls and hostiles, that’s fine, but for someone who genuinely doesn’t see what you see, its a harsh environment to stumble into.

    There are plenty of people who have started at SP to find out about FA, only to be turned off by the Lord of the Flies commenting policy. You say you want to create a safe space, but again I ask for whom? What about the people drawn to FA by Kate or Marianne’s public appearances and are coming to be educated only to find name calling and back biting?

    I’ll ask this one more time: can’t we agree that the name calling is unnecessary in this forum? Save it for those who deserve it. Give the clueless the benefit of the doubt and help them understand why what they’re saying is wrong or offensive, rather than beat them for their ignorance.

    Whatever your comment policy on SP, people should not assume that the rest of the Fatosphere is game for the harsh tone that has spread through the comments of late.

    Peace,
    Shannon

    • Shannon,
      I do not agree that name calling is unnecessary. I do not agree that it is inappropriate for people to be rude on their blogs.

      It is just as appropriate for TR, or Me or any other fatosphere blogger to call someone a Douchebag, as it is for another bloger to write a flippant and unresearched post about privelege or any other issue that has been covered to death in the fatosphere.

      This is my blog, and I can say whatever I want on it. That’s the point. If I want to call someone names I can. My commentors are then welcome to tell me they think it is inappropriate, and then I am welcome to tell them where to stick it at which point they can stop reading my blog or whatever.

      Now the points you mention about the comments at SP are points that have come up on just about every progressive blog I’ve ever read at some point. No one wants the newbies to get their poor widdwe feewers hurt. Look, if people are interested they can read, if they feel COMPELLED to comment without reading and then get piled on, I can’t really blame anyone but them.

      You are obviously free to disagree. But neither you nor anyone else dictates policy about what is or is not appropriate on individual blogs.

      • Just Some Trans Guy permalink

        “No one wants the newbies to get their poor widdwe feewers hurt.”

        This gets brought up a lot, and I think it’s interesting to think about WHICH newbies we (the general we) are talking about. If you’re worried about slapping down racism because you don’t want newbies to get spooked … well, don’t you really mean you’re worried about WHITE newbies? If you’re worried about being too harsh on people because of their cissexism … aren’t you worried, specifically, about CIS newbies?

        Where is the worry for newbies who are POC, who are people with disabilities, who are trans, who are disprivileged along multiple axes? Where is the worry that letting commenters’ racism, ableism, transphobia, etc. run all over a comments thread without sharp criticism will tell POC, PWD, trans people, etc., that they are not welcome?

        When I venture outside of trans blogs, I tend to gravitate to (some, not all) blogs with the harsher and more unforgiving comments policies, and this is why. Because it’s exhausting enough to be the lone trans person dealing with a thread of cis people and their usually well-meaning but not always thoughtful questions and comments. Having a blogger/mod more or less “on my side” to smack people down when they get really gross or really clueless? Helps IMMENSELY, in my experience.

        Of course, not everyone–not even every trans person (or POC, or PWD, or …)–wants or needs this sort of commenting. I’m sure lots of newbies, including those disprivileged along multiple axes, want a space where there’s more leeway granted. And that’s fine and awesome. Some people want or need that. But some of us want or need the stricter spaces.

        So, to bring this ’round to Shinobi’s OP, I think I disagree a bit. Yay for people reading and learning about a community before joining, for sure–but I think the more voices in general, even from those who haven’t really done much reading or learning or even don’t have much new to say, the better. It just seems with the more voices, the better the likelihood that readers/commenters will be able to find blogs that really do match up well with what their wants and needs are. Which, yay.

        Thanks for the post, by the way, Shinobi. I like what you said, and I’m still thinking over it and trying to decide exactly what I myself think.

      • Just Some Trans Guy permalink

        Oh, no. I just realized what date this post went live and when most of the comments were posted. It’s terrible form to post so late on a thread, when everyone else has already moved on to other discussions, and I’m very sorry that I’ve done so. It was inadvertant, and I’ll do my best to be more mindful in the future.

      • Trans Guy,

        Thanks for your input! Sorry you weren’t around for the discussion earlier

        I’ve actually been thinking about this a lot as regards to the new “mansplain” conversation that’s been happening. I think what bothers me is that some people start a blog, and start “splainin” to all these other folks about how their blogs should be or how fat acceptance or feminism is, without reading or understanding what the conversation has been about before then.

        I also think there are two conversations to be had, one about comments, and the other about blogging communities like the fat-o-sphere. I think people should feel free to comment on blogs as long as they’ve read the post and abide by comment policies. But I think that if you’re going to start your own blog within a community you should at least be vaguely familiar with the major issues of that community.

        I still absolutely think there is room for new voices. I guess I just think some people start talking just to hear themselves talk, and that really bothers me.

      • Just Some Trans Guy permalink

        Shinobi,

        I can’t seem to make this comment nest under your reply. My apologies for that.

        “I still absolutely think there is room for new voices. I guess I just think some people start talking just to hear themselves talk, and that really bothers me.”

        Hee. Undoubtedly many of us are simply in love with the sound of our own voices. (I’m guilty of that, at least sometimes.) And I hadn’t thought of this post in light of manplaining/’splaining discussions. That’s interesting.

        “But I think that if you’re going to start your own blog within a community you should at least be vaguely familiar with the major issues of that community.”

        Is a blog started within a community by the blogger specifically stating it is, by the blogger writing mostly about those issues, or by other factors? This is a somewhat unfamiliar concept to me, I think. I comment on a few blogs, that write on a variety of issues that could loosely be categorized as “progressive” or “feminist,” but I don’t really think of myself as part of those communities. (Of course, I’m a commenter, not a blogger, so there’s a big difference right there.) But now that I think about it some more, the fatosphere does have some structure and boundaries–the fatosphere RSS feed being one example that comes to mind.

    • You say you want to create a safe space,

      No, Shannon, we don’t. Our comments policy is not about that. Again, you and I are not having the conversation we think you are.

      I find it disingenuous of you to first conflate SP with Marianne, then with commenters who also comment on other sites, and then with the “environment” on other blogs. We run our blog the way we like. Other people do the same, and it looks different. We’re fine with that. Why aren’t you?

      I am disengaging from this conversation now.

    • meerkat permalink

      It’s ironic that you are so opposed to calling people names considering the names you call people who don’t agree with your posts on your own blog, and the vicious flames by other commenters that you seem to at least tacitly approve of.

      • I keep repeating myself over and over, and although it is frustrating to keep saying it, I’m not going to take it out on you. I’m not going to expect you to read each and every comment I make before you comment on something you perceive as hypocritical. I’m not going to insult you and tell you to come back when you’ve got enough education.

        What I am going to do is respectfully answer you’re question because you’re not being hostile or a troll. You just think I’m full of crap and are calling me out on it. That is a legitimate way to express disagreement.

        If you wrote, “Hey, asshole, you call people names too” then you would have gotten a different response. But because you’re not attacking me or flaming me, I’m going to treat you like a human being.

        When I insult people on my blog, it is because I consider them either trolls or hostile. Point out which of my comments where I’ve insulted someone and I will be glad to explain why that person was no longer worthy of respect in my estimation.

        You have come to disagree on Atchka!, but have I insulted you? I haven’t gone back and checked, but I’m willing to bet the answer is no. At least not intentionally. There’s always the possibility that I didn’t phrase something as delicately as I hoped to.

        The point is, I’m not saying it’s wrong to insult people in all cases. I’m saying that the indiscriminate name-calling — the constant cycle of offended and offending — cannot continue.

        You commented on Bianca’s followup post to the original entry on privilege. You wrote, “Maybe that’s the problem? Privilege isn’t about you so much as it’s about the oppressed groups that you say you neither disregarded nor acknowledged, which seems kind of contradictory.”

        Comments like this, comments that respectfully disagree, are perfectly welcome. People telling me that “I don’t need YOUR male privilege telling ME…” (http://www.atchka.com/2009/10/you-offend-myself.html?showComment=1255018676074#c8173122663798496465) as though my blog were there solely for her needs… well, that just pisses me off. And I let loose with a little verbal rage.

        I don’t dig into that rage for everyone, but people who come to the table already hostile, already wanting to pick a fight, are going to get less sympathy from me. People who can engage like grownups, who can tell me why I’m wrong without telling me to go away, do not get treated like that.

        And as far as the vicious flames by other commenters: what do you mean by tacitly approving? Do you mean, not deleting their comments? Or have I cheered them on?

        If you could provide examples where I’ve been a hypocrite, it would help. But I think my insult policy is consistent. I prefer to save the insults for special occasions, otherwise they lose their effectiveness.

        Peace,
        Shannon

  21. *you, not “we,” in the third sentence.

  22. Alright, we’re at a stalemate, I guess.

    I have repeatedly said that you can use whatever comment policy you want, but dammit, we’re supposed to be bringing people into Fat Acceptance and being rude, childish, surly little turds every time somebody disagrees with you or isn’t as delicate as you’d like them to be is no way to preach the gospel of Fat Acceptance.

    The whole point of Fat Acceptance is to persuade the world to treat us with respect. How can we do that if we aren’t treating our visitors with respect? Again, this does not apply to trolls or hostiles, but to ordinary people who may not have the verbal tools you have or you wish them to have.

    For fucks sake, just be a fucking human being, that’s all I’m saying.

    Peace,
    Shannon

  23. Sniper permalink

    Hmm. Using the Zaftig Chicks rubric for taking offence, you have just called The Rotund and (for some bizarre reason) the Shapely Prose bloggers rude, childish, surly little turds and accuse dthem of not being human beings. Nice one.

  24. Read what I said: trolls and hostiles deserve insults, newbies floundering to fit in do not.

    None of you are newbies and at times many of you have acted like trolls. The fact that you can’t be civil to someone who wasn’t aware that you had an established set of rules of engagement (i.e., read all the comments before you comment) tells me that they are rude, childish, surly little turds who lack basic human empathy to see it from a newbies POV.

    I’ve been very specific about who I think its wrong to insult and it has nothing to do with ZC’s post. It has to do with the atmosphere you all seem to delight in perpetuating.

    It is rude, it is childish and it is the kind of behavior that will prevent well-meaning people from coming to terms with any issues they have with their weight. They will peek in, see the hostility, and decide they’re better off taking on the world by themselves.

    But its your universe, be an asswipe if you want. I can be an asswipe too, but I choose to restrain myself until its well-deserved.

    It is now well-deserved.

    Peaee,
    Shannon

    • Y’know, I still don’t think expecting people to look around a website, maybe read some FAQs or some info about the site before they start spouting off their opinions is exactly asking a lot.

      • But how do you know they haven’t? How do you know they didn’t read the 101 and didn’t get it? How do you know the person posting isn’t just hopelessly stupid? Should hopelessly stupid people be banned from the Fatosphere?

        You just don’t know what a person brings to the table. He or she may be writing about dearly held beliefs that they feel are substantiated by things they have read elsewhere.

        Just because someone doesn’t see an issue the same as you does not mean they are willfully posting ignorance. People post for all sorts of reasons. Some people use their blog as a public diary, where they work through new concepts through stream of consciousness.

        Some people truly believe they understand a concept, only to find out that they have only scratched the surface.

        Some people have read entirely different sources than you have and come to a drastically different conclusion.

        You don’t know.

        And for you to assume that they’re just intellectually lazy or willfully ignorant is an unfair assumption. People don’t know what they don’t know until they know that they don’t know it (I learned all my oratorical skills from Donald Rumsfeld).

        Until people react strongly to a post on privilege, Bianca may not have realized that it was such a sensitive issue. Until people explain to her that boasting about her privilege, even if meant to be light-hearted, is inappropriate, then she may not get it.

        So tell her. Inform her. You don’t have to write her an essay, but in the same amount of characters it takes to tear her down, you could post a link to build her up.

        If Bianca comes back next week and posts a similar entry on privilege, then it would be harder to defend her from the flames. Making a mistake is not a punishable offense. Not learning from that mistake can be.

        Most of the people who commented on Bianca’s post were respectful. I have a problem with that small percentage who took it as open season on Bianca (TR included).

        Peace,
        Shannon

      • Shannon,
        We’re speaking in generalities here and without really looking at a specific case it is hard for me to say one way or another. The way you say something is just as important as what you say, so it may be that two people could be similarly ignorant but one person would approach their comment in a way that would be particularly Trollish and then they would get flamed. Another person might have the same issue but phrase it as a question and seem willing to understand and no one would mind.

        That’s not to say that it is always deserved but considering the number of trolls a lot of us deal with it is hard to say that people should always just be really super nice. I could spend a lot of time being really super nice to people who have no interest in an honest discussion and are just out to say what they think and never really listen to what I have to say.

        On the more specific topic of Bianca, if she is not aware that Privilege is a sensitive issue then she is not reading the fatosphere feed because there was, within the last few months a huge number of posts about privilege because of some posts over at WATRD blog. I think if this was the first time the issue had come up in a major way in say, the last year, the conversation would be different. But we seriously JUST FINISHED arguing with some people who don’t think privelege exsists or applies to them. (see my post here: https://fatistician.wordpress.com/2009/09/25/the-case-for-discussing-thin-privelege/)

      • Shinobi,
        I read most of your post on thin privilege, but didn’t read any comments. Before Bianca’s post, I was not aware that it was such a sensitive subject. I don’t read everything on the Fatosphere and I don’t read every comment. I just don’t have the time for it.

        Also, I don’t expect you to be super nice to anyone. You don’t even have to be nice. Just respectful.

        And I don’t think it is that hard to judge the intentions of people. It isn’t a perfect science, but you can tell the difference between someone who is trying to piss you off and someone who pissed you off, but seemed to be trying.

        I think Bianca clearly fit into the latter. She may have stumbled with the phrasing, but her post was about seeking advice on what to do about her privilege. If she was just posting a troll entry, it would have ended with, “Fuck you, I have privilege.”

        Use your best judgment to determine whether a person is an intentional asshole or an accidental idiot, and if there’s any grey area, give them the benefit of the doubt. Ask them what their intention was, try to clarify, and THEN unleash the fury.

        I’m against a policy of shoot first, ask questions later. Figure out who you’re dealing with first, and then decide how to respond. You’re much less likely to step on anyone’s toes that way.

        Peace,
        Shannon

  25. Sniper permalink

    I can be an asswipe too, but I choose to restrain myself until its well-deserved. It is now well-deserved.

    Well, Atchka, we’ll see if it makes any difference.

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