21 June 2010

Adrienne and I talk blogging.

We have a new guest blogger, Adrienne! To break her into the blogging rhythm, we decided to do a conversation post, á la Sexist Beatdown. Adrienne is my smart, lovely lady friend in the graduate department with me at A&M, and she is also recently moved from Austin (but for reals, not like me). I'm very excited to have her on board and hope I can convince her to stay for a long time. Today we're going to talk about blogging, because we both like being meta straight out of the gate.

Courtney: Welcome Adrienne!

Adrienne: Thanks Courtney, I'm happy and excited to be joining you. I've had fun posting comments and look forward to how much trouble I can get into in the main blogs. Unlike you, I have significantly less experience with blogs. I don't read nearly as many as you, and this will be my first time actively contributing. So we'll see what happens. Chaos!

Courtney: Chaos is, I think, what the internet was mainly built for.

Adrienne: Woot. And is my middle name? Okay, no. But they start with the same letter.

Courtney: So, blogging! And whyfore! Which is not, I think, how you spell that.

Adrienne: Yes, blogging. And whyfore, which is I think how you spell it. Tell me first about the project you did for gender theory. I read it by the way, and I thought it was excellent.

Courtney: Thanks! This post was originally going to be modeled after a presentation I gave in gender theory class. (Yes, I gave a presentation about my blog in class, because I am a narcissist and love to talk about myself.) For that presentation, I decided to talk about why I blog, which was not a question I had previously answered with a real answer. Something, besides, you know, "Because I'm awesome." Which is true, but not actually an answer.

Adrienne: You are awesome and that, in my opinion, is answer enough. The internet clearly needs more awesome. And I mean that fairly seriously.

Courtney: Reason I love Adrienne #1,556: She tells me I'm great.

So in making that presentation, I figured out that I blog mainly about three things: Doctor Who (and other sci fi things), Texas A&M, and atheism (not so much, but I actually start lots of posts on atheism that I don't end up finishing).

And so I figured that one of the reasons I blog is to orient myself as a lady and a feminist within these three communities, which don't always accept the lady feminists with smiley faces.

Adrienne: They like lady feminists with frowny faces?

Courtney: No, they HAVE the frowny faces.

Adrienne: Ain't that the truth.

Courtney: So my blog acts as the space that is safe for me to complain, critique, and also squee about these communities, where I can determine who I do and don't listen to when I do so, and where I can feel like my opinion is heard. Because it's my space.

Adrienne: And part of this all came about also because certain commenters even in your space were trying to take that away from you...

Courtney: YES. Those well-meaning Doctor Who fans who are all, “if you delete commenters, you are not taking RESPONSIBILITY for your positions.” Which is nonsense, of course, particularly when it comes to anti-feminist trolls.

Adrienne: I find this kind of commentary all the time. Not just on the internet but here too. In having a conversation with a friend recently—he tried really hard to make the argument that I should respect and be polite to those people I actively disagree with—not just actively disagree with but whose opinions are wrong—racist, awful, hurtful, and wrong. And there are times when I do think we should put our foot down and say no—you don't have a voice here.

Courtney: Absolutely. We seem to have, as a culture, this very strange idea of what “fair and balanced” means, since we seem to think that means we should give equal time in debate to total assholes, like the KKK or something. And this idea that “fair and balanced” should be the goal of EVERY SPACE EVER.

Adrienne: Because the whole world has already started off fair and balanced. Because that is the place we start from.

Courtney: YES.

Adrienne: A friend last night at a dinner party made some joke about how there should be penis monologues since there are vagina monologues and I had to walk him through how no, no, that isn't the same thing. I told my friend that the whole world was pretty much already a penis monologue.

Courtney: I have had this exact conversation with acquaintances who joke about how there should be a WET (White Entertainment Television) channel. And I usually say, “Oh, you mean every other channel on TV?"

And talking about the internet is even worse, because people like to act like identity is not an issue on the internet! As a lady who frequents the internet, I call bullshit.

Adrienne: Ha, that is a good point. And it's really strange because the internet and a lot of these places are so male dominated. Just in numbers. I frequent Something Awful—because a) I have a terrible sense of humor and b) just like you, I'm a masochist.

Courtney: True story.

Adrienne: And it is more than clear there that mainstream voices on the internet are heavily male, heavily anti-feminine, and believe, despite this obviousness, that they can hide behind some kind of anonymous mask.

Courtney: Agreed. I think what people mean, when they say that identity is unimportant on the internet, is that, unless I say otherwise, everyone on the internet assumes I am a straight, abled, cis gendered, heterosexual white male. Which is not, you know, actually a good thing, and doesn't erase the serious discomfort I feel in many online spaces. Especially since I go running my mouth off about my feminism everywhere I go.

Adrienne: And then when we point out these privileged attitudes and bring up uncomfortable issues—they have the attitude that we're the ones that are continuing racism, sexism, etc., because we're the ones talking and "harping" on it. If only we'd not talk about it because then it would all go away. Stick your head in a hole. And the whole world will magically change. Because by saying "that's racist!" I'm clearly being racist.

Courtney: That is the most annoying thing ever. I am so glad I wasn't leveled with THAT nonsense when talking about Doctor Who.

Adrienne: Do you think that means the Doctor Who crowd (or those engaged in this discussion) were beyond that argument?

Courtney: Not at all. It's just hard for hard-core fans of DW to claim that I'm taking something too seriously or reading too much into things (which goes hand-in-hand with the argument you're talking about) when they're, like, just as utterly OBSESSED about the show as I am. Or more so.

I want to go back to the anonymity thing, though, because I think it's really important to recognize that that anonymity is always already raced, sexed, etc. It's always already normative, and that's why people look at the internet and say, “See there! A level playing field!”

Adrienne: Yep. Same with "neutral" or "honest" etc.

Courtney: When really, it's just a place where your marginality is unacknowledged and hidden.

Adrienne: “I'm just telling the honest truth”...no no. You mean, you're telling the white middle class straight male truth. That's your truth and it's a huge problem that you think it is everyone's truth.

It's in some ways scarier than people who are willing to say they're racist or they feel women should stay in the homes.

Courtney: Which is not to be all relativist, but internet douchebags often think they can extrapolate from their personal experiences to a frightening degree.

Adrienne: It's insidious and they can't even see how other people would have a problem with it. But then what happens if you extrapolate from your personal experience? “Keep your emotions in check, Courtney. Be logical about the situation. Step back.”

Courtney: YES. White straight dudes get to assume that their experience is the rational one, but if I start talking about my experiences, I'm just being overemotional and too-personal. Harumph.

Adrienne: That connects so much to the American Exceptionalism blog that you'll eventually post.

Courtney: YES. America is not the world, and straight white dude experience is not the rational human experience. THERE. FEMINISM DONE. Let's go eat some cake now.

Adrienne: Hahahahaha excellent. And so much better than what a friend of a friend told me: "Feminism would be done if women would figure out that men can take care of themselves."

Courtney: WUT.

Adrienne: And she looked at me like I should agree. I almost exploded. I think I just excused myself. I honestly had no idea how to even respond in anger to that comment. Where to... so many... oh ohh.... boom.

Courtney: That, friends. That is why we blog.

Adrienne: And why I'm here now. To share awesome stories like that one and to respond.

Courtney: That is so stupid and incorrect, I probably would have laughed at her. I am a ruder lady than you, though.

Adrienne: It was not politeness that made me not laugh... just shock. Although I am sometimes a more polite lady than you. But that isn't saying much.

Courtney: That is true. I make up for my social awkwardness by cussing like a sailor and saying pretty much whatever is running around in my brain.

Adrienne: Ha!!! I pretty much have a heart attack every time you say "fuck" or something in front of authority figures, particularly at school.

Courtney: I know. It's cute how paranoid you are about the people in charge of us.

Adrienne: Their jobs are to judge us! Which they do. I bet they keep written records. Umm, we're totally and hilariously off topic now.

Courtney: I just laughed out loud. For reals. Okay, okay. We haven't talked about you, Adrienne! Why do you want to blog?

Adrienne: Because I think I'm the center of the universe. Because I laugh at my own jokes and need other people to so I don't feel so sad and lonely.

In all seriousness (more seriousness), a big part of why I'm joining the blog is because even though you are doing an excellent job... I think it is important to see strong awesome female community as well. So these kinds of conversations are positive for me. To read and to be a part of. Also, because I need a safe space to rant where I can get on my soapbox and not have to worry about my friends thinking "Geeeez, I wish she'd just shut up."

Courtney: That last one is one of mine too! I'm so glad we're rant buddies.

Adrienne: And by get on my soapbox, I mean, have really necessary and important things to say that are not said enough. They are probably only uncomfortable and soapbox-ish because I'm not willing to shove it all down and smile just because it makes more people happy and comfortable.

Screw happy and comfortable. Screw enjoyable and entertaining. Let's rally for thoughtful, difficult, and intense. Although now that I think about it, I find these things happy, enjoyable, and entertaining. Now if only more people did, instead of something like Avatar.

Courtney: Me, too. Nothing makes me grin more than taking down a Battalion article, for example.

Adrienne: Ooohhh that makes me happy too.

Courtney: So I know you have things to do. Any last thoughts?

Adrienne: Always... look before you cross the street. Never... eat jello. Seriously. Never eat jello. And remember that your words are powerful. Not only how you use them but how they have created you. I hope to use my words here as best as I can, and I look forward to seeing what it'll teach me.


Ryan said...

You two are great. Can't wait to see the first guest post.