useful feminist and online conversational references

The Tone Argument
“A tone argument is an argument used in discussions, sometimes by Concern trolls and sometimes as a Derailment, in which it is suggested that feminists would be more successful if only they expressed themselves in a more pleasant tone. This is also sometimes described as catching more flies with honey than with vinegar, a particular variant of the tone argument.”

Splaining
“Splaining or ‘Splaining is a form of condescension in which a member of a privileged group explains something to a member of a marginalised group — most particularly, explains about their marginalisation — as if the privileged person knows more about it. Examples include (but are not limited to) a man explaining sexism to a woman, or a white person explaining racism to a black person.”

(Steph’s note – I’d critique this definition; sometimes it the subject is the marginalization, but often the subject is just something the privileged person thinks they know more about – as in the article that started it all — Men who explain things by Rebecca Solnit — in which she discusses a party host who explained to her in detail the very important book on a particular subject – a book that she herself had written.)

White Knighting
“White Knighting is an attempt at being a feminist ally that assumes that men are better feminists than women are.”

Slut shaming
“Slut shaming is the act of criticising a woman for her real or presumed sexual activity, or for behaving in ways that someone thinks are associated with her real or presumed sexual activity.”

Toes of Conduct
“If you witness someone stepping on someone else’s toes; do not harangue the person with the bruised toes for being hurt, simply because you did not feel the crush. If you step on someone’s toes; apologise for stepping on their toes. Resist the urge to point to an inconsiderate witness, or people whose toes you have not yet stepped on, as excuses for not apologising.” Also, this great explanation from a comment on a metafilter thread:

‘If you step on my foot, you need to get off my foot.

If you step on my foot without meaning to, you need to get off my foot.

If you step on my foot without realizing it, you need to get off my foot.

If everyone in your culture steps on feet, your culture is horrible, and you need to get off my foot.

If you have foot-stepping disease, and it makes you unaware you’re stepping on feet, you need to get off my foot. If an event has rules designed to keep people from stepping on feet, you need to follow them. If you think that even with the rules, you won’t be able to avoid stepping on people’s feet, absent yourself from the event until you work something out.

If you’re a serial foot-stepper, and you feel you’re entitled to step on people’s feet because you’re just that awesome and they’re not really people anyway, you’re a bad person and you don’t get to use any of those excuses, limited as they are. And moreover, you need to get off my foot.

See, that’s why I don’t get the focus on classifying harassers and figuring out their motives. The victims are just as harassed either way.’”

An Incomplete Guide to Not Creeping
By John Scalzi. This is so good and even funny. Just read it.

The Privilege of Politeness
“One item that comes up over and over in discussions of racism is that of tone/attitude. People of Color (POC) are very often called on their tone when they bring up racism, the idea being that if POC were just more polite about the whole thing the offending person would have listened and apologized right away. This not only derails the discussion but also tries to turn the insults/race issues into the fault of POC and their tone. Many POC have come to the realization that the expectation of politeness when saying something insulting is a form of privilege. At the core of this expectation of politeness is the idea that the POC in question should teach the offender what was wrong with their statement. Because in my experience what is meant by “be polite” is “teach me”, teach me why you’re offended by this, teach me how to be racially sensitive and the bottom line is that it is no one’s responsibility to teach anyone else.”

Nice Guy Syndrome: What it is and why you should kill it with fire
“Basically a “Nice Guy” is someone who wonders why if they are so nice and good to women, why they won’t reciprocate (sleep with them)? The reason is: because they don’t have to, and no force in the world can change that.”

Nice Guys (TM) Finish Last–For Good Reason
“If you are a guy, and if you are angry that women aren’t receptive to you when you see yourself as a “nice” guy, and you believe these women are instead receptive to abusive guys, then maybe it would be productive to consider that you’re harboring attitudes about women (and men, for that matter) that aren’t really “nice” at all.”

Five Geek Social Fallacies
“Within the constellation of allied hobbies and subcultures collectively known as geekdom, one finds many social groups bent under a crushing burden of dysfunction, social drama, and general interpersonal wack-ness. It is my opinion that many of these never-ending crises are sparked off by an assortment of pernicious social fallacies — ideas about human interaction which spur their holders to do terrible and stupid things to themselves and to each other.”

The C-Word (Creeper)
A demolishment of the notion that “Creepy guys are just awkward.” Deconstructing all of the assumptions. Great stuff here.

Don’t Be A Creeper – Dr. Nerdlove
Also good stuff. Lots on Male Privilege and Creeper behavior.

Meet The Predators
“These look to me to be the best available data on who the rapists are who have not been caught and incarcerated — which is the vast, vast majority. They are, however, limited, so that in talking about them it constrains the discussion of rape into a narrow range around a modal form of men raping women.*”

Predator Redux
talks about the kinds of behaviors which are not overtly threatening but which still creep women out because they’re precursors to predatory behavior even if they wouldn’t register as predatory not on the receiving end.

Great places to read about these terms:

Yes Means Yes Blog
Dissent of a Woman
Geek Feminism Wiki

You are awful, too

Whenever you confront, or see confronted, sexism on the internet, there is almost always a chorus of people doing a couple of things in response: 1) excusing the behavior of the people who are sexist, or 2) trying to defend the community in which the sexism is taking place by arguments such as “not all XX people are sexist; most of us are great people except for these few idiots.” or 3) saying things like “if you participate anonymously, you don’t have to deal with the sexism, so hide your identity and you’ll get to participate fully.”

Kate Harding blogs about a specific incident that fits this pattern – a 15 year-old girl who considers herself an atheist and wants to be part of a discussion on atheism posts on reddit in an atheism community about the book her mother got her for Christmas – and the girl gets an enormous number of rape threats and sexist, predatory comments from men who participate in that in the atheist community.

Skeptic blogger Rebecca Watson caught on to what was happened to the young woman on Reddit and wrote about it on her site. Subsequently, the comments on her post were filled with people excusing the behavior of the reddit folks as satire, people suggesting the girl should only post anonymously so she wouldn’t be subject to abusive comments, and people explaining that this is just the way the world works and we can’t change it.

Kate’s response on her site to the excuses in the comments on Rebecca’s blog is phenomenal, and worth saving for the succinct and appropriate answers to a number of common troll-isms, man-splaining and excusing behavior that serves to shelter misogynist abuse online.

I don’t want to seize a massive block-quote of her words because it wouldn’t be fair use, and her writing is also almost too succinct to paraphrase well, so please just go and read her post, and note that I love everything after this paragraph:
“I love that “you are awful, too” bit so much, I’d like to expand on it.”