In Which I Learn To Talk Less And Listen More

I am a creature of enormous privilege.

Like, it’s pretty big? I get that. I’m not just a white dude, I’m a white dude with a pretty big social media footprint. And sometimes I think I can use my privilege and my social media to do Good Things™ and instead I’m like Wreck-It-Ralph who just breaks the building and shits up the cake instead and then nobody can have the cake or the building. Or something. Think Godzilla stomping on a city not because he hates the city but because he was trying to help someone who dropped their phone on the sidewalk –

“HERE I WILL GET THAT FOR YOU OH GOD I JUST CRUSHED A BUS FULL OF CHILDREN.”

Today I peeled back the Internet curtain and looked into that #AskELJames hashtag and thought, “Well, there’s some ugly stuff going on there and it’s against a woman,” and, man, I dunno, I thought I’d speak truth to power but I think I actually am the power? And maybe EL James is the power, too? Some folks pointed out that I was punching down and ignoring a lot of the really awful things James has done and it became increasingly clear that I am speaking from a place of ignorance and that runs the risk of doing more harm than good. Like, my goal is not to use my privilege to take over conversations that aren’t mine. I’m not here to police people. Particularly women. I think of myself as feminist, but maybe I’m not a particularly good one.

And it feels like if I want to be a better one, then it’s more appropriate for me to take a backseat instead of clumsily pawing at the steering wheel and driving us all into Mansplain Gulch.

In other words, I’m going to stop talking about stuff like this because I don’t own this space, I don’t own this place, and I’m reminded of that somewhat regularly. There are better, smarter people who can talk about this stuff, and I’ll signal boost them, instead. Far better than than me being all like I’LL FIX THAT FOR YOU WITH MY LILY WHITE MANSTICK HERE JUST LET ME EXPLAIN SOME THINGS LITTLE LADIES. I hate to think I’ve been that guy.

Instead, I’ll focus more on the whole writing-advicey, pop-culturey, kid-havingy stuff. I’ll cop to that some of this is also a little self-care-related. Like, I know I’m out there pissing people off — I foolishly vanity-search myself on social media, so I see that folks think I’m sea-lioning and mansplaining and all the things I hope I’m not doing but, shit, maybe I am? It’s not my intention, but again: see earlier reference to Godzilla. Some folks think I get some kind of special mileage out of this (sales, maybe, or attention, or cookies or whatever the slang is), but mostly, I think I’m just stressing people out, and then that stresses me out because I feel like I’m not achieving my goals. I’m trying to be a good ally, whatever that means, but I fear it’s making me a worse one, instead. A fellow author exhorted me to “butt out, dude,” so –

This is me, butting out.

163 comments

  • I can understand it is easier to step back when the nastiness gets too much, but don’t give up entirely. Retreat, regroup and pick your battles. It’s not just the haters that are out there. As someone who is FFFFF (fair fat female forties feminist) I listen to you too, even if I don’t comment much. Don’t stop talking to the rest of us.

  • Dude. I don’t accept this. You wrote good shit. We need mansplaining, just not the old trope mansplaining. Your words weren’t old trope they added to the growing chorus of diverse-splaining. It’s okay to have an opinion and I thought you offered it in a diplomatic and humble way. I don’t like the soapbox or pulpit or whatever know-it-alls use to broadcast because I feel it’s more an act of masturbation than anything else.

    You were not jerking off.

    I find EL James’ work god awful. Does that mean she’s a bad person? No. Bukowski wrote good shit but was an asshole. There is no correlation between good art and benevolent personal character. I bet Jesus sucked at writing. Is her popularity disturbing? Yes. Why she is so popular is beyond me and just another reason I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.

    I don’t know what happened to make you rethink things. Give no fucks.

    ps, I love you long time. Deer fly gave me a boner.

    xo

    • June 30, 2015 at 9:05 AM // Reply

      I’m with this person. I don’t agree with everything you say, all the time, but being a white male doesn’t disqualify you from having opinions any more than being the opposite (whatever that is) would make you an all-knowing deity. I don’t know EL James, but I vehemently dislike her works. They portray demeaning and degrading women as a good thing, and worth it for love, or some such nonsense. What is this, the dark ages? No. Anyway, if you’re a man who writes things and cares about treating all people equally, that’s a good thing.

  • Be honest, did you jump in because a woman was being attacked or because you saw an author and her work being harshly criticized and you, as an author, just couldn’t take it? Because there’s a huge difference, and my impression of you and a lot of other authors who get defensive over criticism is that you pretend to care about intelligent, “civil” discourse but what you really care about is shutting down people who might hate your work.

    • There was both legitimate criticism (which he acknowledged) and people being shitty. He wanted people to stop being shitty. He opened up the discussion of where the line between the two is. Last time I checked, starting a discussion is not “shutting down people who might hate your work” nor is it defensiveness over criticism in general.

      • The first blog post had absolutely nothing to do with EL James being a woman. It had to do with someone being piled on online. Jacki and Katie are exactly right.

        Sheesh, the level of ‘how dare you stand up for someone you white male, you! you must be racist/misogynist/whatever else! Just shut up and let me spit on this person’ is absolutely terrifying!

    • That’s certainly not my intention, no — I don’t like to shut down criticism. I think the criticism is healthy and necessary. Of her work, of my work, of every author’s work. But what happens online sometimes feels, to me, less like criticism and more like something else. It feels like people duct tape their “criticism” around the blade of a knife before they stick it in.

      • I don’t think you crossed the line, Chuck. Yes, E.L. James did earn some of the criticism that she got. That has nothing to do with her being an author, a woman, or someone who writes about BDSM. It has a lot to do with how she deals with criticism and victims of abuse. James has refused the dialog, and yesterday the dialog tried to come to her.

        But.

        But the criticism she earned was a fraction of a percent of the shitstorm that was released upon her. A call for sanity was totally appropriate, and that is what you did.

        Be strong. No matter what you do, haters gonna hate. Even if your right 100%, someone will find an excuse to hate you for it.

        Doc

      • But the VAST MAJORITY of tweets were jokes and/or legitimate criticism, and yet you chose to get on your high horse over the tiny percentage of shitty commentary, implying that that was the overall tone of the hashtag. Maybe it wasn’t deliberate, but it’s annoying how authors always focus on this stuff and blow it way out of proportion, and I can’t help but think that stifling discussion is part of the motivation. I mean, if authors truly wanted healthy criticism and discussion, they’d spend more time lambasting the breathless fanboys/girls who don’t criticize fiction at all and offer nothing but squee, since they far outnumber the “mean” critics. Funny how that never happens, though.

        • I don’t really expect or ask that authors demand their actual fans be more critical of their books. That’s a strange request.

          And as for wanting healthy criticism and discussion — that’s actually exactly what I was saying was a good thing.

          I said:

          “Further, I think because her books are controversial (both in terms of their fan-fic origin and their stance or non-stance on consensual BDSM relationships), I feel like it’s totally understandable to want to grab that hashtag and ask her serious questions about those serious issues. An open forum like that is, despite her likely desires to the contrary, valuable if it addresses those things. And I don’t think the response, don’t like them, don’t read them is a meaningful one. I think when it comes to big cultural things like this, it’s meaningful to talk about even if you’re not a “fan.” You don’t have to buy into the conversation with the currency of purchase. If there’s toxic shit surrounding this work, then it’s worth stirring it around and seeing what bubbles up.”

          And then:

          “But I question too why we have to be mean for the sake of being mean. And I don’t connect a line between criticism and cruelty. It is not cruel to criticize. It is not cruel to engage critically and to ask real questions about real things. But you actually have to try to do that. You actually have to try to engage earnestly. Ill-made snark and meanness dull the effectiveness of your criticism; they do not often sharpen it. Is it bullying? Maybe not taken individually, but when it becomes a crashing tide like that — I don’t care who you are, that’s not healthy for your mental well-being.”

          I’m not defending her from criticism. I’m trying to defend her from abuse. And what I saw there — I did not hover over it like a fly over a trashcan, so maybe what I saw was not representative — was not a majority of legitimate criticism. Some of it was jokes (“jokes” is better in quotes there, as jokes are meant to be funny).

          Criticism does not equate to meanness.

          Meanness equates to meanness.

          Now, what happened to her — I get more now that it wasn’t my place to speak up. There’s a history here with the way the author engages with her fans, and while I don’t think her horribleness excuses horribleness done in return, at the same time, maybe I’m not a real good judge of that horribleness given that I’m a privileged guy who doesn’t really have to deal with this. Further, I’m not a romance or erotica author, so there’s also some cultural stuff there I’m simply and woefully not aware of. I’d be comfortable bashing the shit out of Trump or Cosby, and so it feels hypocritical of me to be all up in somebody’s shit about how they want to publicly treat EL James.

          All that being said, I don’t think it counts as being on a high horse when I say that folks should remember people online are humans. And that shame is not necessarily the best way to change things or change people. If it takes a high horse to believe those things, then I guess that’s where I am.

          • “I don’t really expect or ask that authors demand their actual fans be more critical of their books. That’s a strange request. ”

            Oh, come on. You know that wasn’t my point. My point was that it’s dishonest for you or any author to claim that what you care about is healthy criticism when you complain about readers being “mean” to authors, when what really bothers you is that not everybody loves your work. Be honest about your intentions.

            You never provided any examples of tweets you considered abusive, (funny how authors never do when they throw around “mean” and “abusive” and “bullying”) so I have to assume that we just define “abusive” and “bullying” very differently. Because while the sheer number of replies can make it feel like a pile on, well, that’s twitter for you. The individual responses are what count, and I stand by my statement that the majority weren’t a problem.

            One more thing–I’m aghast at the amount of time given to express concern over the feelings of an extremely rich writer. Why does it matter what her naysayers say when clearly, EL James won? Who has the power here? Her books are instant best sellers and her fans are clearly in the majority. Enough with this complaining that James is some kind of victim and that her fans are somehow being shamed by critics of her books. It’s obviously not true.

          • Right, and I pop examples of those tweets in and then accidentally give license for people to go abuse them? I don’t think so. I said that in the original post — I don’t want to link to the offending tweets or give cause for people to go after different people.

            As for the author being extremely rich, I don’t see how that’s a meaningful factor. She’s rich, so? Rich women can’t be abused? Their money makes it so they deserve it? Again: if folks feel she deserves it because she’s legitimately horrible, then that’s on them and as I said, there’s hypocrisy on my part if I tell them that’s wrong.

            As for being honest about my intentions —

            You know, that actually sort of bothers me. How is it exactly that you know my intentions? Are you psychic? Lots of people seem suddenly able to guess my intentions and my motivations. But I don’t know yours and I won’t pretend to intuit them. The best you have is my words, and the words I expressed in the former post drew a pretty precise line between when something is criticism and when it just gets mean. I’m comfortable if you don’t agree with my definition and I am aware that my definition is likely an imperfect one. But assuming that I’m making this point because this is somehow about everybody not loving my work is an assumption made of fantasy.

            — c.

          • This is actually a reply to Angelica at 2:08, but the blog won’t allow nested replies that deep (which is… odd).

            “I’m aghast at the amount of time given to express concern over the feelings of an extremely rich writer.”

            …and here we see the nasty underbelly of this whole thing: Whether the de-humanization of James (she’s a person, despite the insistence of online critics to treat her as a thing), or the bemoaning of Chuck using his large social-media footprint… It all boils down to envy. Envy of those who are more successful, envy of those who have been more widely received, envy of other’s positions.

            That’s really fucking ugly, and really, really needs to be examined.

          • For Gareth:

            I’m not am author, published or aspiring, nor in anyway involved in a creative field. This isn’t about envy, this about the general tone of people’s defense of her work. She is not a victim, here. WHO CARES what the critics say about her writing and her books when her livelihood will never suffer? What with this lack of perspective? What, her feelings are hurt because people mock her for things like “My eyebrows widened.”? Please.

    • My read was that he was talking about the dogpiling phenomenon that happens online, and people’s tendency to treat that kind of discourse as ‘not real’, and allow themselves to be extra shitty as a result. And the fact that regardless of the reason people are dogpiling and who it’s on, they’re still people, words still effect people, and WTF humanity.

      Maybe that was just my read.

  • You are entitled to your opinions and you have earned your social media footprint. Bringing up relevant – or novel – issues obviously interests a great number of people based on the discussion they generate. It’s your blog, why not talk about what captures your attention?

    As for the reason for bringing up E L James, it is difficult to look on as someone is abused. Even if that person is rumored to be less than nice. Does more unkindness make it OK?

    I agree that online is real life. It is people socializing, but the anonymity sometimes frees their worst possible selves. It also seems as if a crowd/mob mentality takes over and people push the limits. Isn’t that how those bullying scenarios work, the ones that result in someone committing suicide.

    I just saw something yesterday that made me crazy. It was in regards to a man who is a minister and performs weddings for LGBT couples. His wife recently died after a long illness and it has been difficult for him. Then he came out to his car one day to find a typed letter filled with vile hatred on the passenger seat. He posted the letter along with his thoughts and feelings. (heartbreaking) I was completely shocked by the contents of the letter. When I saw the words, I thought no person with any humanity could have written that, but the fact is, it came from a group. Isn’t it groups that develop that mob or herd mentality? They do things individuals would never dream of.

    And maybe, just like Scout Finch, by calling on individuals in a crowd, it is possible to break things up and restore reason.

    “Atticus had said it was the polite thing to talk to people about what they were interested in, not about what you were interested in.”

    ” ‘Hey, Mr. Cunningham. How’s your entailment gettin’ along?’ ” (Chapter 15)

    So, if you can be Scout with your opinion pieces, then maybe, in a case or two you can influence the crowd to disperse.

    ~~~~~~~~~~

    If it works, following is a link to the minister’s letter. A few people have begun posting affirmations and support on his wall to try to counteract the hatred he was subjected to.
    (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10206560994602013&set=a.4040771656087.172549.1185672937&type=1&theater)

  • I hate having to qualify myself when making a statement, but here it goes:

    I’m a woman and a staunch feminist. I dislike E.L. James’ books with a fiery passion.

    I shared your post because it was true. You were right. Heaping abuse on this woman was not, and is not cool. It’s not right to bully someone; even if one is right about a topic.

    Being right shouldn’t give one the ability to be an unmitigated gaping syphilitic arsehole. Being wrong shouldn’t reduce one to subhuman status.

    As a woman who is slowly building an online presence, the fact that people feel justified in this awful behaviour has me quite scared. You were right to call it out.

    I appreciate you doing so.

    I also get your need to hide away from the topic for a bit. Hide in the bunker ’till the shelling stops. Then please return to the trenches. It’s muddy and hard, but we need you there.

    • “Being right shouldn’t give one the ability to be an unmitigated gaping syphilitic arsehole. Being wrong shouldn’t reduce one to subhuman status.”

      This.

      A thousand times, this.

      It is pull-out-your-hair frustrating watching someone who you entirely agree with act like a total douche. It’s okay to opinionated, outspoken, stubborn, and even aggressive in making your point and fighting the good fight. But please, PLEASE resist the urge to be an asshole. Treat the people you disagree with precisely the way you want to be treated, with at least a minimum of dignity and respect, regardless of how much you disagree with them. You can absolutely destroy someone’s argument — and I mean REALLY brutalize it, to the point that the person who made that argument comes out looking like a particularly oblivious chimp — without degrading the other person as a human being.

      I know, this can be really hard when someone says something REALLY nauseating, but it’s always worth trying. At the very least, try to wait for the other guy to be an asshole first before replying in kind.

      I recall one time someone made a racist joke, and my first reply was along the lines of, “Dude, that is seriously not cool, and here’s why. Please don’t do this again.” They replied, as might be expected, like a total asshole, doubling down on the bigotry. So for my second reply, I was loaded for bear and absolutely eviscerated the asshole for being a wretched, racist, worthless pile of excrement. I was a snark-guided missile carrying a 2,000-lb. warhead of mean, because that asshole deserved it. But at least I gave them a chance to be a decent human being first.

  • I’ve said plenty on this already, but I just wanted to say one more thing…

    Your posts help me unpack my own thoughts on things, whether I end up agreeing with you or not. It’s understandable to step back for a while and let things calm down, but I really hope you come back.

    • I agree totally. I appreciate Chuck’s take on things, and, in a bigger way, the respectful discussions in the comments section. I didn’t 100% agree with his take on the hashtag debacle yesterday, but not for a second did I feel condescended to, mansplained, or, VERY IMPORTANTLY, afraid to add my voice to the discussion. I feel nervous adding my voice to the discussion in many internet places. Not here.

  • I don’t know, nor do I care,what’s going with the EL James drama. I read, while standing next to a 70 year old woman at Costco, exactly 8 pages of the first book. It was enough.

    I really, sincerely hope that you are only butting out of whatever anal-plug conversation is happening with EL James and not the rest of the social commentary you’ve written in the past year. I get a serious kick when I see random facebook friends of mine share one of your posts. Why? Because I enjoy your version of commentary. It’s one of the reasons I read your blog in addition to your books. I mean, a lot of author blogs aren’t, um, interesting (which is expected since they writing books).

    In June 2013 you published several posts about Sexism and Misogyny,effectively squashing the first draft of my novel without even having to read it. I was mad at you for awhile. I’d write words, then you’d publish a blog post and I’d re-read my progress only to feel like you were talking directly to my rough draft, followed by a hard slap across the back of its head.

    In the end, the next 2 years of story-wrestling, and the resulting roughness that is a much better tale, is a direct result of your stepping away from the “writing-advicey, pop-culturey, kid-havingy stuff”.

    I AM a raging feminist sociologist that lacked a mere 2 credits for a women studies minor– so, you know, bona fides.

    Now, I totally dig when you write the directed writing advice posts– an ebook of yours was how I found your fiction, which then opened me up to a previously-unexplored grouping of authors. I don’t know how much y’all read, but I read a fuck-ton, much of it being pure shite, so stumbling onto a future-favorite author thanks to a random amazon algorithm, is, like, awesome.

    Haters gonna hate, Chuck. Fuck ‘em.

  • June 29, 2015 at 8:22 PM // Reply

    It can be difficult when deciding to be involved or not in a subject we feel passionate about. Especially when jumping in to aid, protect, defend a person we may know personally or a particular ideal on a whole. I can reciprocate…too many times have I been told to keep my mouth shut when trying to voice my opinions and feelings about something not necessarily directed at me. Often I jump in headstrong to “help” the people I know, when they are confronted by others who may speak ill of them. But as one very close friend said to me, “I appreciate you trying to help but I can defend myself just fine.” Okay, point taken. I’ll step back, take a seat and try not think too much about it. I love the comments you make, the appeal of selflessness you convey in most of your words and admire your tenacity. I don’t think you should take a seat but “wordsmithy” the hell out of everyone and wow them as much as we have been by your skill.

  • Chuck, this is one of the few things you’ve written that I disagree with.

    You came at this issue from the perspective of ‘Let’s try making sure our online interactions aren’t vile and mean just because we don’t like someone or their work.’

    If that’s considered ‘mansplaining’ simply because of the source, then the overton window on social issue is shifting into the 5th dimension.

    On an unrelated note, “I’LL FIX THAT FOR YOU WITH MY LILY WHITE MANSTICK” made me cackle hysterically.

  • Sweet cheezits, Chuck–do not back away from your opinion. You’re allowed to have it.

    People have a responsibility to make their own choices and have their opinions. If they, or you, hate the book- then fine, hate it and don’t read it and don’t buy it and be done with it. If folks are out there using a novel as a manual for their marriage or relationships or as some kind of rule book for their personal behavior or level of wellbeing, then humph. Come on. At what point do we exercise personal responsibility and put down a shitty manual, or walk away from a fictional story instead of making it our mission statement.

    This James-roast that’s going on–I wish you could wave your manstick at THAT and make it go away. Please.

    But in the same breath- I would beg you: please don’t stop having opinions and commentary and flashing your upper gob of man meat (the part that thinks) on topics that concern women or outrage. I thought your first note on James’s work was not playing nice (but who cares really?) and your second note with the blog post, I thought to be fair and from a more distant perspective (but who cares really?). I thought the blog post settled down the folks that were waving their torches and it was well said.

    So, please stay opinionated and well thought. Please weigh in on the tom-boobery that’s going on out here. We need the difference of opinion and the butting-in to balance us all out sometimes.

    You’ve got as much right to have a word as the rest of us. Please don’t throw that away because you are estrogen-challenged.

    Just a plea.

  • Long time follower and I have never commented here before (that I remember. shaddup) but I’m going to today. I shared your first post on this subject because I whole heartedly agreed. It’s one thing to do a literary critique about a book, but to take an erotica novel and all the sudden compare it to fucking Hemingway is ridiculous. Do you know how many erotica books are out there about women taken hostage and kept in sex bondage, or whatever it’s called? Or porn? JAYSUS, don’t even get me started on the problems with porn and feminism.

    At least 50 Shades was consensual sex (although I’m sure that’s debatable as well…). Look, it’s all about the money. This book made money and people freak the fuck out. “What is this saying about feminism?” “What does it say about women?” My answer?

    WHO THE FUCK CARES.

    this book was a drop in an ocean of BDSM Erotica, and yes, the plot got obnoxious, but that’s pretty standard for erotica, and frankly it was pretty vanilla compared to some I’ve read. But, it was emotionally engaging to (evidently) gazillions of women and played on common female fantasies. You know what fantasies are? FICTION ALSO.

    It’s just like when The Da Vinci Code came out, people freaked out because it threatened their belief systems. Dan Brown kept saying, It’s fiction, people! But still it was a dialogue for a-g-e-s. *insert eye roll*
    If you don’t like it….don’t fucking read it. Period. This has gone on too long and is dumbing us down. There is no reason to drag an author through the mud.

    Plus, karma, dude. Watch what you say from your holier-than-though throne. (<< not you, Chuck. The people ripping James apart)

    I'm all for intelligent literary critiques/dialogue to keep the available books as high quality as possible. But to tear down an author because she happened to have connected to *some magical element* and the money-maker Hollywood types took advantage, when there is a sea of shit way worse than hers out there? So beneath us. Move on, people.

  • I am ruining a perfect record of not having commented ever to say this so you and your tanless manstick best be listening when I say “You were 100% on the mark with the earlier post.” Although, since you have seemingly been beaten into sheepish retreat with the enormity of your own ignorance (been there…. I mean, haven’t we all?) I’ll have no choice but support the claim afterwards. Listening to that is encouraged as well.
    You were 100% on the mark with your earlier post (were you listening?). Your post was about communicating effectively and there was truth and wisdom hidden within it. Every point made during the #attackELJames (spelling?) experiment could have been made without resorting to snark and ridicule. So, all in all, well said on your part.
    After posting said post you then received emails that informed you that the person getting attacked liked to juggle the hamsters so they’re dizzy before even going into the blender (I’m guessing. I don’t actually have access to your email. Although there IS a gofundme page aimed at fixing that). Even though her treatment of hamsters is unquestionably deplorable snark, ridicule and outright abuse probably won’t change that. As a matter of fact, because the comments are going to a person IRL the higher the ratio of snark/abuse to content the more likely the comment is disregarded immediately.
    Look at it like this, that 12 year old that joins every online game just to see how much he can cuss and anonymously insult people before mom gets home jumps online and begins to rant about the abuse these hamsters receive. Now, the annoying little fuck has a point but do you listen? My guess is you’re looking for the vote-kick option. Moments later Jeremy Irons logs in and begins to calmly detail the plight of the furballs in Shakespearean prose. Listening now?
    That was your point as I read the post. And it was a damn fine point. So, the next time you find yourself walking around lost in the maze of life, talking to yourself and making complete sense, and a little psychedelic worm tells you to “Butt out, dude. Come inside and meet the missus,” ignore his ass. If you’d have kept walking and talking you’d have been right where you wanted to be without having to deal with those creepy head-swapping flamingos. Wanting to run into them? Inconceivable.

  • Whoa. No.

    You wrote in defense of a fellow author. No man/woman rubbish here. Nothing to do with feminism, misogyny, NOTHING. You spoke out because someone (liked or not being irrelevant here) was being BULLIED online. Piled on. Spat on. General nastiness.

    It’s good to speak out about that.

    Don’t back down because a couple of people spat some nasties at you while no doubt under the influence of their own guilt. People get real nasty when they’re called out doing the wrong thing.

    Don’t back down, dude.

  • Hey Chuck,
    Use the platform you have. You’re right, you do have privilege. There are topics on the feminism spectrum that I would love to tackle some time, but, as a woman on the internet, I don’t dare because I am not ready to deal with what might come and what that could mean for my young family. I suspect I’m not the only one. Yeah, that’s me being a “bad feminist” and saying “Please, big strong man, stand between me and the big scary monsters,” but sometimes some of us need that.
    It is an imperfect world. Idealisms are great, but often not practical. I want a world of equality, and a world where I can go walk a forest track with my pre-school son and not fear for our safety…. but the fact is, the people who are going to potentially victimise us don’t monitor those conversations, and if they did, they’d probably poop all over it.
    The man who takes a few bullets for his fiance is still a hero, even if some would rather she could look after herself. There are times when it will be, and times when it won’t.
    When I read your post, I read it as you having witnessed bullying and calling it out and I solute you for doing so. I didn’t feel it was a man talking down to women. Or a person with a big platform shutting down people using what voice they had. The hashtag was a platform ripe for exploitation, and it was being exploited.
    As an author who has NOT sold millions on millions of books, I can’t help but feel a little green smile twitch when I see E L James being taken down a peg or two. But that’s all about me, and has nothing to do with her.
    It’s fair that the hashtag get used by people wishing to address issues with the books, whether they be style or subject matter, but you were absolutely right: personal attacks are never OK. This is a matter of human courtesy, not gender imbalance.

  • Fair call. Bit sad though.

    Here’s hoping you can find a Chuckina Femmdig alter-persona that you can confidently signal boost the everloving crap out of, because I think we still need to hear about this stuff, in this kind of way (brutal, honest, and humorous)

  • I grew up in a fairly misogynistic household, and as a result, I myself became a misogynist. Even though I’m a girl. I never listened to “femenazis”, because I hated women and hated myself for being one. And then I stumbled across your blog posts on feminism, and I read them ONLY because you were a man. If you had been a woman, (or if your writing hadn’t been so gosh-darn entertaining) I wouldn’t have. I rolled my eyes a lot at first, but after a while, the message started sinking in. And all the toxic beliefs I held are now (mostly) gone. You may be white, and you may be a dude, but you’ve got a valuable viewpoint. If I may offer my opinion, please don’t waste the platform you have. People are listening.

    If you honestly want to stop blogging about these issues, that’s okay. But it seems to me that you’re making this decision because you think your opinions aren’t “good enough”, or “feminist enough”, or whatever. I want to let you know that that isn’t true. You articulate points in a way that no one else can, and not once did I ever interpret it as “mansplaining”, or in any way insulting/ignorant. Your posts rock.

    It’s still completely your choice, though. I apologize if this comes across as a guilt-trip. It isn’t intended that way. Do what you believe is right.

  • I didn’t read the EL James Twitter thingie, so I can’t comment about who said or did what that was inappropriate (EL James’s books hold no interest for me at all). But I have to say, as a woman, I personally appreciate male allies who call BS on sexism. It gets exhausting to keep formulating the same arguments, citing the same data, and expressing the same feelings over and over again and to realize that no one has heard a thing I’ve said.

  • I don’t use Twitter and missed the commentary, so can only offer a second-hand opinion.

    Self-examination is healthy; we should all do more of it. Accepting that others might have been harmed, even unintentionally, is also an evolved behaviour, so points for that. We must constantly examine privilege; it’s the only way we make progress.

    Anecdotal aside: I listened to a podcast of an interview some time ago, in which you participated along with a woman writer. I don’t remember the name of the podcast, the context, the topic, or the name of the other writer (mind like a steel sponge), but what I *DO* remember is that the other writer had a quite a lot to say and dominated the interview, not leaving much space for you to contribute. Not once did I hear you interrupt or talk over her in that annoying, he-manly “listen to ME as my words are GOLDEN NUGGETS OF WISDOM and must be HEARD”. I missed out on hearing much about your views in the interview, but gained quite a lot of respect.

    Actions speak.

    • Was it the Ditch Diggers podcast? He was recently on there with Kameron Hurley (a woman author) and nobody could rationally accuse Chuck of speaking over her on that show.

  • I haven’t waded through the comments, so I’m sure (I hope?) my sentiments have already been mirrored.

    I’m sorry that you’ve been made to feel like you shouldn’t “butt in” on these conversations anymore because of privilege, or ignorance, or being MAN-ZILLA or whatever.

    As one of the ‘oppressed’ females (as tumblr would have me believe), I actually really appreciate your viewpoints, a lot of the time. Have I disagreed with you in the past? Sure, but that’s the point, isn’t it? We talk, we open lines of communication, we try to understand one another. We also fail a lot of times. Our own egos get in the way.

    While I couldn’t bring myself to spend more than one book with E.L. James, I understand that people have very strong feelings about her, one way or the other. You either worship the ground Christian Grey walks on, or you want to light the dude (and his creator) on fire.

    When emotions run high, it gets to be increasingly difficult to have rational conversations. Impossible, even.
    Do I think E.L. James needs to be re-educated on all the horrible things she’s romanticized in her books? Absolutely. I’ve been in an abusive relationship. The book made me feel sick to my stomach for several reasons. Partially because I could relate to it really well, and partly because I realized that other people were reading this and thinking of it as “good.” Something to aspire to.

    So, yes, she’s made serious mistakes. She should be held accountable (one some level).
    Does that mean people should shit all over her? NO!

    Should people shit all over you for having a controversial opinion (ennnh?) on the subject? NO!

    I’m asking a lot of rhetorical questions today. I’m sorry.
    You are one of the few people who can take difficult material and discuss it calmly, rationally, and in a way that tries to be as respectful as possible without compromising your own stance.

    I don’t want to see that disappear.
    That’s all. Good day, sir. And good luck.

  • This reminds me of those legal cases where good Samaritan types find themselves beset upon after coming to the aid of attacked random people while traveling through foreign countries. The systems that condemn them are corrupt, the witnesses are all lying, the evidence tampered with, and the principal thugs have uncles who are everything from the mayor to the village police-man. They have 101 problems, but ‘mansplaining’ isn’t one of them.

  • I’ve always appreciated the way you keep me informed of some of the issues occurring in the literary world. If you feel that you need to take a step back from them that’s your business, but I’ve always enjoyed the perspective you offered and hope you’ll still link to issues you feel are important.

  • I think it’s fine for you to come to an author’s defense when you see her getting unfairly attacked. A lot of the mean tweets were from snarky men, romance haters or people who think bdsm is abuse. Those voices deserve to get pushback. If it was just women/romance readers arguing amongst ourselves and discussing abuse/other problems the way we normally do, there would be no need for you to weigh in. There’s a difference between helping or trying to help and jumping into a conversation we can handle ourselves to talk over us. If you do the second thing sometimes, it’s not the end of the world. You don’t have to wear a cone of shame after. Just follow your heart and discuss whatever you like but be prepared for women to respond if they feel that you’ve intruded.

  • This is coming from one tiny voice in a sea of noise, but for what it’s worth, I feel like you’ve been a force for good, even if you feel like you messed up this one. I’ve always appreciated the way you support respect for women and how vocal you are about it. As a woman, I have learned a thing or two from reading some of your posts on here 1.) the whole giving a female character (or any character really) agency is what makes her strong and 2.) how we raise our boys is as important as how we raise our girls. You introduced those ideas to me and it made me a better writer and a better person. I might not agree with everything you say, but you make me think about it.

    That being said, if you feel like this is this best decision for you, then I respect that.

    As for #AskELJames, that was a slaughterhouse. I followed it for about ten minutes, and then I couldn’t watch it anymore. I haven’t read her books, but it sounds like they’re pretty atrocious: mis-representing BDSM, glorifying possessive partners, and language that would make Strunk & White weep. Scathing reviews are one thing, but public shaming? I get why people feel like she has it coming, but this didn’t leave me with a good feeling.

  • Nobody gets it right every time. You’re in a position where, when you get it wrong, everybody sees it and can shout at you from every direction. But don’t stop doing what you’re doing. I think the vast majority of us see that you’re coming from a good place. There are far *worse* people out there on the opposite side who aren’t going to walk away because people disagree with their poisonous opinions. If you, and people like you, walk away for fear of making things worse, hurting somebody’s feelings, or just not being able to get it right every time, than it only leaves a larger door for the wolves to stalk through and be shitty all over everybody more than they already are. I look forward to reading you’re posts about all topics, not just writing and kids and pop culture. I don’t agree with every single thing you say. I would be very worried that you are somehow brainwashing me through some kind of wendiggery trickery if i did agree with everything you said.

    TLDR; Just keep doing what you’ve been doing.

  • I sincerely hope you’re reading all of the comments on this post. I sincerely hope you re-read the comments on this post. Chuck, my dear man, you are so self-aware that I think you hamstring yourself a bit. As a woman, as a writer and as someone who has been treated VERY BADLY at the hands of white men let me tell you right now young man that if I were your mother, I would be standing over you pointing a finger in your face and saying, “Don’t you dare stop being who you are, don’t you dare stop speaking up for others and don’t you DARE think that you haven’t been an amazing ally to women and to people being bullied.” Then I’d bake you some don’t-let-the-butthurts-get-you-down cookies. Damn it man, you’re doing good things. Don’t let a couple of grouchy people tell you differently. As so many others have said, we NEED privileged men to speak up for us because when we speak up for ourselves, we get a fat mouthful of SHUT UP BITCH, regardless of gender. So, you know, yay Wendig!

  • This whole thing made me think long and hard about what my feminism looks like, which is an interesting and necessary question so that’s a good thing. What I came up with is basically this:

    It’s intersectional or it can gtfo
    It’s sex-positive
    It questions systems not choices
    It does not countenance the harassment of women. Even shitty ones. (this was the tough one)
    It invites criticism made in good faith

    I also don’t suffer many value judgements on feminism (ie there is no “good” feminism or “bad” feminism) so let me just say that I appreciate your contribution. However, and this is important, I also respect your decision to maybe keep your thoughts to yourself for awhile.

    I think that also hits on something that was bugging me about the whole James thing. What many people were complaining about was her refusal to answer critiques of her work. Even when those critiques are valid, and they are, that’s bizarre. It means we have the absolute right to someone’s time and attention, which is not only false but exactly what misogynist trolls tell women on the internet every day. We can, and should, have an ongoing conversation about work we find troubling but we can’t, on the one hand, tell certain people they are obliged to join it while, in the same breath, tell others they are not welcome.

    Would I prefer that you continue to share your thoughts on issues dear to me? Yeah, I personally would but that it not my call to make. So those are my thoughts this morning. I may think differently this afternoon! We’re learning and changing and anyone who claims to be perfectly coherent about this shit is a fucking liar.

    • I don’t think most critics who want to be answered necessarily believe they deserve EL James’ time, but that they believe if she wants people to stop criticizing her, maybe she should stop continuing to make millions of dollars off the same shitty rape narrative without showing any sign that she understands the harm she’s doing to people while she gets rich.

      Asking someone to acknowledge that they realize that the things they do are actively hurting you doesn’t seem like a lot to ask to me.

  • I’m a woman and I can really empathize with your attempts to do good being met with “butt out!” No one is feminist enough for feminists these days. I definitely don’t blame you for finding someone even more articulate to take the flack for trying. It’s sad that nobody else will pitch in with as many wonderful expletives as you, though. This is an expletive-worthy issue.

    Personally I’ve never noticed you mansplaining anything, and I’m so sorry that your attempts to help have caused you such angst. I’ve always found you to be immensely helpful.

    And are you already working on a cellphone-retrieving Godzilla comic? I’d read that!

  • Hey, you know. I respect your opinion and your choices. If this is where you are more comfy, then do this. If not, then do that. You’re good.

    And… “little white manstick”. **snort**

  • Holy shit, are you seriously considering not writing about social issues because somebody suggested that you should no longer write about social issues?

    You’ve let someone in the internet comment-crowd make you feel bad about your opinion? COME ON, MAN!

  • June 30, 2015 at 1:22 PM // Reply

    Just read this and thought it a propos to this particular situation: “insistence on using the ‘right’ terms can shut potential allies out of the conversation because they fear putting their foot in their mouth.”

    I consider you a rock-solid ally: aware of your inherited/intrinsic privilege and taking steps to make it better for all, not just some; holding others accountable when they abuse the marginalized, in whatever manner.

    I also sympathize with your position: you don’t want to inadvertently taint-punch someone for whom you’re trying to advocate.

    I think your heart and intentions are in the right place, and it sucks to think that others are shaming you for Not Doing It Right. A therapist once said, “You can only make the best decisions you can with the information that you have at the time.” If you mean no harm, then other people’s reactions are not your responsibility.

    I don’t think you need to recuse yourself from the fight entirely; however, I completely understand needing to back away for a bit. Chin up (not out, where someone can land a good right cross), and hope to see you back in the ring someday.

  • Far better than than me being all like I’LL FIX THAT FOR YOU WITH MY LILY WHITE MANSTICK HERE JUST LET ME EXPLAIN SOME THINGS LITTLE LADIES. I hate to think I’ve been that guy.

    *eyebrow raise* The euphemisms…

    In any case, do you. If you want to comment on the EL James stuff, do it. I don’t think you’re speaking from privilege or whatever. You simply wanted to give your comments. If other people think you’re punching down, well that’s their problem. Your point stands: People can be really mean on the internet and opening yourself up on Twitter like that is just an inevitable tide of shit growing ready to storm-surge your emotional shores.

  • I’ve been reading for a long time, but never posted. I just graduated from law school, and something my Constitutional Law professor continued to say resonated with me in light of this post: “The cure for bad speech is not less speech, but more speech.” If you find yourself spouting off something that you later figure out was not exactly well informed or incorporated ideas that do not resonate with who you are and your voice, then put something out there that clarifies, retracts, or illustrates your growth of understanding. To not do so would be negligent. You would be just leaving a fraud of who you are, your views, your growth as a human and intellectual to be taken at face value. Often our understanding of our world is shaped by the understanding and reasoning of those in the public sphere that we admire. They’re stilted progression can often hamper our own. However, their growth, their shared knowledge, logic, and understanding can help propel progress in their interest audience. I’m not saying that one with a public voice is going to necessarily spark a light bulb moment in everyone who pays attention to them, but that voice can serve a guiding light. Each step and stumble can reflect a member of your audience’s own thoughts and struggles through a difficult problem. So if you feel like you put your foot in your mouth, let others learn from it. So please, don’t stop talking. Be a guiding light. It’s when ideas have progression that words are elevated from the din of the honking, barking, noise of the mud-flinging circus monstrosity that seems to bother you about public debate.

    Sincerely,
    Bystander.

    P.S. I’ve actually read your books, I’m not just lurking.

  • Reiterating. Do what you need to do, of course, but if you did step back from current issues, one thing I would really miss (even more than your rad view point) is this healthy, happy, interesting comments section, where almost everyone is friendly and I learn stuff EVERY time I wade all the way through. There is legitimate discussion happening, and it means a lot to many of your readers. Just wanted to put that out there.

  • I posted this on your facebook but I’ll post it here, too.

    I’m going to weigh in here and try not to sound like I’m kissing your ass because I’m not. You may actually be the best faker in the history of the internet (except that dude from like Season 3 of survivor who managed to scam everyone until the very end) but I’ve found your stuff to be genuine and honest since i discovered you several years ago.

    People may say you tread where not invited but you’re actually at a position in our community where people *do* look to see what you say. Whether you or others want to acknowledge it or not, you’re a leader in a corner of our online community.

    You’re not going to make everyone happy and believe me, I understand the doubt and the tendency to question whether you’re doing more harm than good. BUT that comes with the power you’ve managed to wield. Perfectly? No. But then again, that’s part of your authenticity.

    I actually strongly disagree with your mea culpa. As much as I want to stand up and say that women can fix the sexual assault/harrassment problem, it’s men like you in positions of power who HAVE to speak and put actions to words. I can talk about sexual assault in the military until I’m blue in the face but until the male generals down to the lowest male private start having the same conversations in public that they have behind closed doors, the problem will persist.

    We need men like you, in positions of power and privilege to keep doing what you’re doing. You spoke up and defended a woman who was being attacked with gendered attacks. Sure, her book is HUGELY problematic and I actually have no problem with the criticisms aimed at her book or how the twitter chat turned on the book. But once the mob started attacking her, it literally turned into “she deserved it” which is used all to often to justify attacks against far less powerful women.

    So that’s a long way of saying it’s find to reconsider. It’s fine to sit back and reflect on how things need to be different in the future. But please do not sit down and be quiet when there are things we need leaders like you to speak up against. To take action against.

    You’ve been given great power. It comes with responsibility. And part of that responsibility is to reflect on using that power wisely. But backing down because something you’ve said is uncomfortable or that others don’t agree with, or that is unpopular…sorry. I’m asking you not to do that.

    You have the ability to do far too much good for that.

  • If you as a person need to step away and refocus, then by all means. Whatever you need to do. I’ve deeply appreciated your thoughtful commentary up to this point.

    But until such a time as you decide to re-enter this arena, if such a time comes, I will mourn the loss of a voice that might have made those who don’t take women seriously take the issues that disproportionately affect women more seriously.

  • See, here’s the thing about feminism that I (as a feminist) hate: people will decry harassing, violent speech online when it’s used against them or someone that feminists generally approve of. There is a tactic of violent rhetoric online which allows people to make threats against women, assumptions about women, and air violent fantasies towards those women — like, “if I meet so and so I will slap her across the face.” Etc. These are all things feminism (generally) agrees are Bad.

    And they ARE bad, even when the tone is non-serious or joking or throwaway.

    But the minute it’s against someone that feminists (generally) DISlike, like EL James, suddenly the same tactics of violent rhetoric become totally acceptable and people haul out the Shame Brigade and the #flamethrowers. And anyone who calls them out gets told they’re not allowed to talk about it because they don’t understand (because they are not [insert group here]), and it’s always some kind of self-righteous shame-nun excuse for how the target of the vitriol deserves it because [insert reason here]. They are using the same tactics they condemn when others use them, and it’s fucking disgusting.

    But, people are terrible and people want to feel right about things, and sometimes people are so genuinely hurt by 50 Shades of Grey or whatever it is that they want to lash out and hurt someone back. It’s a human response.

    But it’s also comparable to the way victims can become abusers themselves. At the point people start to be abusive (IRL or online) and then say that they’re doing it because they were abused, is the point at which I lose all sympathy. I think we have to be better than that. Feminism (generally) does not critique itself enough and it needs to be called out on that kind of bullshit. Feminism is not a hive-mind. There will be and should be dissenting opinions that need to be aired and examined.

    So, thank you for your previous post. It is ENTIRELY POSSIBLE for grown-ass adults to criticize an author or their work online without resorting to harassment and abuse.

    • You perfectly summed up my feelings of the state of online discourse in regards to your -ism of choice so well. And it works. On this blog now and everywhere. People self silence because it is just not worth it as the form of discourse is so low online. It’s unfortunate but the internet selects for confirmation bias by it’s very nature. In the end it is Great that all topics are discussed more and not shame swept under the rug.. But I feel we are still in that infant to toddler stage where we are drunk with the power of our voice and free will. It is certainly better than the old fashioned converse. Until the future when we grow up, people just need to tread lightly. Unfortunately. Which is fine as long as it doesn’t then swing to far the other way.

  • Adding —

    As a reader and lurker and occasional commenter, I think the only thing you’ve done on Issues that’s annoyed me is to close comments…which annoys me whenever I see it generally but annoys me even more when men post on “women’s issues” but then close comments and keep women from responding. But your blog, your rules, your space online.

    If you need to take time off talking about Issues, do what is best for you! I didn’t want my earlier comment to come off as “HOW DARE YOU BUTT OUT” or anything. The Internet is a stressful place.

  • Hunh. I thought all you were saying was “stop saying mean shit online, it hurts real feelings.” It never hurts to say that :-) And I enjoy your feminist perspective on things, to me anyway it’s pretty pitch perfect. Until recently I kind of thought we were all basically feminists? Turns out I just wasn’t paying enough attention. I don’t have time to consume much media (it’s mostly crap anyway), but I do subscribe to your stuff. Just be real, and ready to listen.

  • July 1, 2015 at 8:19 AM // Reply

    You rule, Chuck. And your wiseness is showing through. Butting away from the ELJ mess is smart. As my old Mennonite mother-in-law used to say… ‘stay away from the manure pile or you will stink.’

  • So, I’m nobody. I’m not a writer. I never, ever comment on blogs. Ever. But I had to comment on this one, even belatedly. I didn’t see all of the fallout of the post in question, but from where I stood, you were right on. More than that, your blog matters to me. What you say about writing and storytelling, that’s great. What you say when you use your place of privilege to comment on social issues, though, that’s why your blog is my favorite. I am a white mother of two black daughters. I have privilege that my precious little girls don’t have, and it aches. I am still trying to figure out how to navigate all of those spaces and how to be a good ally too, and it can be so complicated. Please don’t stop. The silence from people who look like me on issues that affect people who look like my girls- that aches too. I can even give you a concrete example of good one of your posts have done. During the Ferguson protests, I was completely blindsided by a close family member who started declaring that those protesting were thugs and just saying all kinds of nasty things. I had just read your post about Ferguson and once I was able to stop shaking, I quoted from your post. I can’t remember the exact quote now, but it was something about how if what had happened to Michael Brown had happened to your child, you would want to burn the fucking world to the ground and you’d want all your friends and family to do the same. Chuck, that stopped my family member in her tracks. She thought about her own babies and said “Yeah. No, yeah, you’re right.” It made her think differently. Maybe that doesn’t seem like much, but it’s something. Take your break if you need to, but please don’t stop talking.

  • For someone who fears he’s being a bad ally…. this is one of the best responses to a call out I’ve ever seen. Keep signal boosting, keeping speaking up when something moves you, and keep acknowleding when and if the consequences of your actions aren’t in line with your intentions. <3

  • Sorry you feel this way, Chuck. I don’t get how it is anyone’s privilage to advise you to *not* ally for a good cause on *your* corner of the web. Ironic how others force guilt on others when they are better off examining why *they* are offended. Let them do them. You do you.

  • Chuck, no matter what you write, I will always return! (Build it and they will come!) You’re just like so many of us in that we have assholes. I mean, opinions. Well, technically both. And there are plenty of people I admire and respect but don’t agree with; and if people don’t know how to do that, how to respect, with civility… fuck ‘em.

    You don’t need to please the masses. PLEASE YOURSELF. (Er, yeah, well…)

    No matter what, you rock you Terrible Mind, you.

    Much love,
    Steph

  • Just another person de-lurking to comment on this. I realize what I’m saying is a duplicate of a lot of other posters. But in this case, I think reiteration matters.

    There IS a difference between tone-policing vs. thoughtfully considering the phenomenon of the internet shame hammer. I read your post as the latter, no doubt. I think you were making valid points, and using your soapbox in a responsible way– not one that excuses the problems with E.L. James’ writing.

    The shame hammer is not victimless, nor does it only impact high-profile people like E.L. James. It’s like a going on a hunting trip with a tank, controlled “twitch plays pokemon” style. Are you gonna hit some worthwhile targets? Probably. Are you also going to hit a bunch of random shit, and create an environment where people are afraid to peek out from behind cover regardless of whether they’re on the tank’s nominal target list? Definitely.

    To be clear, I say this as someone who regularly– online and in meatspace– has to wrest the conversational steering wheel away from people trying to drive us into Mansplain Gulch (or one of the other ‘splaining gulches of similar character that seem to surround this damn road). I get tired of that shit. And in principle it’s refreshing to see someone willing to relinquish the wheel all on his own. But in this case, I honestly don’t think you were driving in a dangerous direction, nor do I think that taking yourself off the road will increase the overall quality of discussion. And I’m not too happy with the people who presumably told you to leave.

    So, y’know. Do what you gotta do. Don’t drive yourself to distraction over this (ha, pun!). But please know that to some of us, you’ve been a helpful and thought-provoking voice on a complicated topic.

  • You can’t be everything to everybody, and you can’t know everything all the time. You are a man, you are a man who tries very hard to challenge himself to be understanding and considerate of others, and you have an opinion which comes from your unique perspective. People are allowed to disagree, but you’re also allowed to feel how you feel openly and seek to learn from others. It’s hard to remember that on the internet, with so many people all being open together, and so many people shitting upon one another for it, and just generally being different and diverse. There’s an inherent clash in that scenario. It’s your blog though! It’s your party here. You don’t have to do anything that makes you uncomfortable here, but you also don’t have to allow yourself to be cowed.

  • It distresses me to think that people want to use your privilege as a gag. My (white, male) partner is one of the most open-minded, kindest people I know. If he has an opinion on a feminist issue, or one that even touches the topic, I’d like to hear it. Because, despite his unsightly whiteness and just deplorable maleness, it’s quite possible he is a person like any other.

    What’s the point of equality if we silence our allies? Yes, there are WASPy assholes out there, but it seems like killing rats with rocket launchers when we tar all white dudes with the same brush (*sshhh*… The women are talking!)

    And don’t sweat. It’s pretty obvious to me as a woman that you mean well. Any pettiness you might stumble onto while vanity googling (voogling) yourself can be safely ignored.

  • If a man wants to say his piece, I think he should go for it. Here’s the thing: no one is forcing me to listen. If I think a particular opinion doesn’t add to my personal exploration of an issue, I can ignore it. But I don’t believe it is my place to tell someone not to voice their opinion. Nor is it my place to tell other people they shouldn’t find value in an opinion I don’t value.

    In short, I don’t believe it is my place to tell other people what to write or what to read. I am an adult. I can choose for myself what I want to spend my time on.

    For me, feminism is not a tool for silencing others, and one thing I have found terribly discouraging is the number of times I see feminists on the web tell other people to sit down and shut up. Well, they are entitled to say it. And I’m entitled to say, “Hey, I’m a feminist, too, and I believe in respecting the right of everyone to be part of the conversation.”

    And this is so crucial to my opinion, I want to restate it: I hate to see some writers in the name of feminism shame others into being silent. Just because some feminists don’t find the opinion of a man valuable in a given time or place doesn’t mean other readers, feminist or not, can’t find value in that opinion. I think it is wrong to shame people into silence. But one of the other results of that shaming is diversity of opinion and richness of opinion is diminished. My choices are diminished.

    You know, when I was a child, my mother never restricted my reading. I could read whatever I could get my hands on. (It was a long time ago so there weren’t really that many racy options available). So, honestly, if my mother could trust that at ten years old I could decide for myself what to read, I certainly don’t at this stage of my life need somebody else policing what gets put on the shelf for me.

  • Wow man, come on. Stop flagellating yourself. If people are using your gender and race to silence you, tell them to fuck off. Nobody deserves that kind of treatment.

    A SHITTON of that hashtag was just slut-shaming, body-shaming, asking her why she was such a cunt etc. You were doing a GOOD thing. Don’t give up just because you’re catching flak for being “born wrong”, or whatever people are saying to you. Sticking your head in the sand is just sad man.

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