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Friday, April 4, 2014

Why Blog

Kate Harding, whose Shapely Prose was perhaps the most beloved and influential feminist blog ever ever ever, last year wrote an article "That's All She Wrote" about why she decided to "retire" from blogging (and it wasn't only because she got a column in Salon and a book deal, either).  

"I occasionally teach Blogging 101 classes now, even though I haven’t had an active blog in almost three years. The first thing I tell my students is: Do not even bother to blog unless you find it fun or someone is paying you for it. Those are the only two good reasons to do it. The second thing I tell them is: Probably no one will pay you for it. Fun is actually the only good reason to blog."

"Fun" is a subjective concept, isn't it?  There are certainly a lot of activities that are worth doing that aren't necessarily fun ("physical exercise" springs to mind).  I would rather substitute "engaging" for the word "fun" here. I have to admit that reading and writing about the manosphere initially captured my interest, even my fascination.  With over a year of exposure, my interest has waned considerably.  Once a person gets inured to the jaw-dropping horror that passes for discourse on most manosphere sites, they get mind-numbingly tedious.  And depressing.

I honestly don't know how David Futrelle keeps it up.  P.Z. Myers has likened Futrelle's job to "mining for turds under an outhouse.  You simultaneously think, “OMG, that’s the easiest mission in the world” and “OMG, that’s the most horrible mission in the world.”

I sincerely appreciate Futrelle for being willing to do what he does, because God knows someone needs to monitor these groups and keep them in the proper perspective (that is, viewed strictly through the prism of mockery).

I started a blog to practice my writing skills, but until I ran into the "manosphere" I must say "feminism" was not a subject I had much interest in at all.  I'm still not very interested in reading much feminist theory.  I may never get around to reading The Feminine Mystique and I will almost certainly never read The SCUM Manifesto, Andrea Dworkin, or other radical feminist works.  Last year a friend kept pressing me to read The End of Men and I refused for no better reason than I really detest that hyperbolic title.  So it seems rather artificial and strained to be characterized or encouraged to characterize myself as primarily a "feminist."

One of my favorite bloggers, Eseld Bosustow, announced today her intention to write about whatever she damn well pleases.  She is also burned out on the MRA.  Her appetite for logic and constructing clean, tight logical arguments is, of course, wasted on responding to intellectual pygmies.  I hope she'll keep writing, though -- on whatever topic she fancies.  Similarly, I hope Ms. Bodycrimes returns to writing on the far-reaching theme ("the ways that the body intersects with commerce") that initially inspired her blog. 

For the kind of writing I am interested in, which is personal response, bordering on confessional, a blog that is now inextricably linked to my true identity is probably just about the worst medium.  I can no longer do the kind of writing I want to do here, since I am now constrained by the knowledge that everything I write Can and Will Be Used Against Me.  And hence I have developed a kind of visceral distaste for blogging in general.  

And so it comes down to Ms. Harding's point:  If it's not fun, and you're not being paid for it, why do it?  To which I would add, if I have nothing particularly fresh or insightful to contribute, that hasn't already been said (by Ms. Harding and so many others), why bother?

And really, when it comes to the Men's Rights Movement, Ms. Harding has already said everything that ever needs to be said: "Fuck You Men's Rights Activists."





17 comments:

  1. Interesting post. I too am "sick" of the man-o-sphere - I am having a hard time distinguishing them from their alleged adversaries - the radical feminists (Andrea Dworkin, Valerie Solanis).

    When I take a look at them from afar - I see the same thing basically.

    I had a long talk with a friend of mine tonight via phone - sorry for bogging you down with so many comments - but - he introduced me to this blog and others in this circle.

    I am starting to have the same attitude towards MRA's as well - when I first stumbled on them - I thought they were something else.

    However; if you take a closer look at Futrelle, I think you just might come to the same conclusion about him that I did about the MRM.

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  2. The only thing one should take seriously from all of this is theory. What are we really learning about men and women's psychology that will help us have better relationships with each other. Test the message, ignore the messenger.

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    1. I have to disagree with that - the scope here - is that it is a specific set of men and women doing all the blogging and bitching.

      Does that set of men and women really represent the mainstream? The Majority?

      Are they closet cases? Shut ins?

      Who are these people - and what qualifies them as "experts" - what validates their "theories"?

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    2. Exactly. Although some generalizations can be made about men and women, the idea that there is a "female psychology" versus a "male psychology" and especially the idea that it is biologically determined is such useless and often misleading bullshit. In general, men and women are much more similar than different in their motivations and needs. People are individuals. I am not going to improve my relationships with either men or women by approaching them with a set of stereotypical assumptions based on someone else's theory/agenda.

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    3. Well...I really do believe in differences between men and women, but I'm not one who can't try to have a civil listen to the other side. What we often see in the commenting/forum world are people who are incapable of doing that. Many of these people are in a wounded state battling between their desire to succeed and their pride in asking for and accepting help: people who want help but who punch anybody who tries to help them. People wanting different lives but being unwilling to change or not knowing how to do it.

      No, I do not believe these people are the mainstream or the majority. They are a passionate minority with likely the same personality types. It appeared to be an intellectual movement originally that has- with more public exposure- attracted a different element that I refer to as the "masculinists": men who feel entitled to unrealistic things without doing any work to improve themselves. Sort of the counterpart to the kind of woman they disparage.

      I suppose experience and scientific study bear out the veracity of the theories. And I'm not sure anybody is exactly an "expert" so much as some people are fulfilling their relationship goals and others are not. I think there can be more than generalizations made, but I'm not worrying every second of the day whether I'm using the right toothpaste to be considered "red pill" :)

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    4. I'll admit I'm not very interested in generalizations when it comes to gender traits or behavior. There is no right or normal way to be either a woman or a man. There are many ways to be a human being, and we should focus on being the best people we can be and quit fretting over whether we are performing our gender roles properly.

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    5. I'm not sure what you mean by "test the message, ignore the messenger." What's the message? Who's the messenger?

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    6. By message I meant the written work of a particular writer, and by messenger I meant the writer himself.

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  3. I'll admit that I'm not a big Kate Harding fan, mostly because I'm not fond of the "Fat Acceptance Movement" as I think the rising obesity rates are concerning. That said I support pointing out the lookism of our society. It's not by business what someone else looks like. Even if I do think we should be concerned that 2/3 of American adults are overweight or obese.

    LOL, I just checked out ScareCrow's "Futrelle is a misogynist" blog. I'm laughing so hard I'll have a six pack by the end of the day :P

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    1. OK, Ms. Squirrel, here's a link for you: http://kateharding.net/faq/but-dont-you-realize-fat-is-unhealthy/

      I will add this. If shaming (or it's lesser evil twin,"being concerned about") fat people actually "worked" trust me I would be a rail by now. The fact is, it doesn't. In fact, speaking from personal experience, the opposite is more true: the more people have "pushed" me to lose weight, the fatter I got. Nobody gets or stays fat out of an excess of "acceptance."

      I am not a fat apologist. I would be the last to deny that weighing 360# (as I once topped out at) is not compatible with good health and mobility. HOWEVER, "fat acceptance" is about accepting fat people for wherever they are at in this moment of time. Everyone deserves respect. Even if (you think) they are "choosing" to be fat, that's their choice to make.

      Lack of acceptance often leads to self-loathing, which is arguably more toxic than carrying an extra twenty, fifty or even one hundred pounds. Just to point to a random example of this, Matt Forney loathes himself to such a degree (partly, it is reasonable to guess, because of his struggles with his weight) that he lashes out and really hurts people.

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  4. Ahhhh Cinzia, I don't fat shame others. It's not my place to judge people like that, especially since I don't know their story.

    Believe me, I'll be the first person to say that fat shamers who pull the health card don't give two shits about other people's health, they just shame because someone else's appearance offends them. You see this in the manosphere where only fat women are shamed even though men are just as fat these days.

    Still, that's not to say that I don't think the American diet and more sedentary lifestyle (generally speaking) is unrelated to why we're fatter than before, especially in lower income classes where 'food deserts' are an issue.

    I don't think the solution is to fat shame, but rather encourage and educate ALL people, fat or not, to make healthy choices from young to old.

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    1. I do think there is a systemic problem with the American diet - namely that it now largely consists of processed foods with excessive added sugars and sodium that actually make us feel hungrier the more we eat it. Fat or not, these types of foods are bad for everyone. That being said, I don't know why so-called "concerned" people don't target the unhealthy ingredients in foods, and not just point out whether or not someone is fat.

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    2. As many as half of morbidly obese people have been sexually abused as children. Childhood trauma (of any kind) is also strongly correlated with obesity.

      People understand (by and large) self-medicating with alcohol or even legal drugs to deal with internal struggles and pain, but they refuse to accept that some people use food to manage their issues and instead characterize it as a lack of character or laziness. Obese people are not necessarily ignorant about good food choices, lazy or lacking in character. In what appears to be a substantial percentage of cases, they are simply wearing visible evidence of an extremely painful, extremely difficult struggle. Of course, some may also simply not have access to healthy foods, be unable to exercise or have health problems. I can't imagine any case, though, where it would be my business to ask or assume.

      I think a little less judgment towards others and a little more understanding and, yes, acceptance is in order. I may never know what another person is experiencing, but I can offer them a little kindness and love as they go on their journey.

      ~commenting anonymously

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    3. You seem to be a very decent person with the best of intentions, but please cite a source that proves obese people are more (or less) likely to have suffered sexual abuse than people who are not obese. Seriously, if that were true, wouldn't the rising rate of obesity suggest more sexual abuse is taking place? Do you believe that is true? Here's what I believe: the tendency to opportunistically consume excess calories is hard-wired in a large percentage of the population. For thousands of years, that predisposition has served human survival. Unfortunately, in a food-rich environment where periods of food scarcity are never experienced, that predisposition bites people (like yours truly) in the ass.

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  5. On Matt Forney, yuppers. And looking at the Anatoli karlin guy, the same seems to apply to him. The guy is obsessed with the paleo diet, and i wonder if it has something to do with him being a bit chubby.

    I never understood the manosphere mentality of:
    Man: god dammit evil women whores won't have secks with meeeed
    Woman: I'll have sex with you cutie!
    Man: Fucking slut you're supposed to be chaste you evil gahhhh murican wimminz are such whores

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  6. Well I enjoy reading your blog. Wouldn't fault you for taking a break from it though.

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Thanks for commenting!