We Are the Boss of You

Shapelings, we need to talk. I just updated the comments policy with the following:

Eighth rule: If you’re having trouble processing the seventh rule, just know that sassing the mods is a very bad idea. There may come a time when one of the moderators —me, Fillyjonk, Sweet Machine, Snarky’s Machine, or A Sarah — tells you to step back, knock it off, shut up, get lost, etc., and you think, “But I didn’t do anything that bad! This is unfair!” And you know what? Sometimes,  it might even be unfair. As I said long ago of this blog’s zero-tolerance policy for headache-causing bullshit:

Realistically, this means that we have probably, on occasion, banned or berated a perfectly decent person who might have eventually blossomed into the kind of commenter we can’t wait to hear from. And you know what? We’re okay with that. We’re not proud of it, and we certainly don’t set out to exclude bright, interesting people from the conversation here. But if it happens every now and again, oh well — because overall, our being hardasses helps keep this blog readable and only rarely crazymaking.

But here’s pretty much the worst thing you can do if you find yourself in a situation where you’ve been upbraided by a mod, can’t figure out why, and are pissed off about it: Ignore the warning and spend your next comment or comments complaining about the unfairness and/or reiterating the point that earned you a warning. Because even if you didn’t do anything all that bad in the first place, now you’ve become a Person Who Doesn’t Take Mod Warnings Seriously, which will make all five of us much less favorably disposed toward you and seriously reduce your chances of bouncing back from a not-all-that-bad-actually incident.

I don’t know how to make this any clearer than I already have: Commenting here is not a right, and decisions about what’s appropriate are not made democratically. Each of the five bloggers here has complete authority to moderate as she sees fit. It is straight-up dictatorial, and not always benevolent. Some of us are more naturally inclined to couch warnings with assurances that we get what you’re trying to say and know you’re not a bad person or whatever. But none of us do that every time, and every official statement about our policies has reinforced the basic point that we feel no obligation to be patient, issue warm fuzzies, poll commenters on whether we’re overreacting or hold back when we’re pissed off. Moderating is a lot of work for zero remuneration, especially now that every post gets hundreds of responses, and sometimes, we do not have the energy to say anything beyond, “You are getting on my tits, and it needs to stop. Now.”

Now, let’s say you get a warning like that from a mod, and you’re genuinely confused about what just happened, and you have a history of making valuable contributions here and think you’ve earned the benefit of the doubt. Well, first, maybe you have and maybe you haven’t; we’re reasonable people who don’t get off on issuing warnings or bannings, but we’ve also never made promises about giving anyone the benefit of the doubt. Quite the opposite, in fact. Second, you need to ask yourself what your goal is, and then what the most practical way to achieve that goal would be.

If your goal is to continue participating in discussions here, then challenging the mod’s authority in the heat of the moment is, hands down, the least practical thing you can do. The very best thing you can do is just step away from the thread for a while — go look at lolcats, go for a walk, make yourself some tea, whatever. Remind yourself that blogdrama is only a teeny tiny part of your life, and the worst-case scenario here is that some people who’ve never met you and have no knowledge of all your wonderful characteristics will have some negative thoughts about your screenname, right up until they go look at lolcats or go for a walk themselves. And then remind yourself that the one way to guarantee the problem doesn’t escalate is to not comment while you’re pissed off. If you don’t comment, you cannot make the situation worse! And if you’ve been taken to task by a mod for something or other, and your goal is to continue participating in comments here, not making the situation worse is job one.

If, however, your goal is to make the mod feel like a turd, and/or gather the support of other Shapelings who think you’ve been treated unfairly for a good old-fashioned pile-on, I can see how continuing to comment and challenge the mod’s authority might seem like a good idea. But that behavior is extremely likely to get you banned, even if your original transgression wasn’t anywhere near banworthy and everything would have blown over in a day if you’d just taken a deep breath and backed off when you got the warning.

That’s the other thing to remember: This shit does blow over. As I’ve said before, there are at least a handful of long-time commenters here who’ve had run-ins with the mods, stepped away from the problematic threads, and never had a problem again. And you know what? I don’t even remember who most of them are. You have to work pretty hard at being such an asshole that out of the thousands of commenters who’ve dropped by and hundreds who are active at any given time, you stand out as a particular problem for us. (And usually, if you’ve pissed us off enough times that we do see your name and think, “Oh, it’s that pain in the ass again,” we ban you, so long-term animosity during your tenure as a commenter here is just not a big concern.)

If, after you’ve taken some time to let yourself — and, crucially, the mod in question — calm down, you feel like explaining yourself further or trying to smooth things over, you can feel free to e-mail that mod. She may or may not respond, and if she does, it may or may not be what you hoped for. It may or may not be a better idea than laying low for a bit and just letting it blow over. But that’s one thing you can do without escalating the situation on the blog and putting yourself on the fast track to bansville. I cannot stress this enough: If you want to keep commenting here, challenging a mod’s authority on the blog is a colossally bad idea.

I’m not kidding about the dictatorship thing (even if having 5 independent dictators is a bit of an unusual situation). One characteristic of a dictatorship is that even when the dictator is flat-out wrong, there’s not a damned thing anybody can do about it. There is no appeals process. There is no recourse. This is why no one wants to live under a dictator, or 5 of them, in real life. But when it comes to moderating blog comments, it’s the approach that makes things most manageable for us, so we’re sticking with it. The good news for you is, if you think we’re wrong and can’t stand our moderation style, you are free to leave at any time. You are free to stop commenting, to stop reading the blog, to stop thinking fondly of us. You’re free to shit-talk us all over the internet, if that’ll make you feel better. But you’re not free to go off on a mod in comments and expect to keep commenting here. It’s really that simple, and I really can’t believe I have to keep explaining this.


401 thoughts on “We Are the Boss of You

  1. Cool. This is your blog and you should all get to call the ultimate shots.
    Good call – maybe everyone does need to be reminded of this now and then.
    (I can’t help admitting though that the possibility of being told to piss off and sit on the naughty step with no tea actually adds a frisson of mischief – only kidding!)

  2. Did the entire internet decide to have a meltdown in the last 2 weeks? I’ve been arguing nonstop with people in other places since the middle of January and it’s not over yet.

    DRST

  3. “It’s really that simple, and I really can’t believe I have to keep explaining this.”

    I say this so many times about the same three things in a given month (Wikipedia is not an acceptable source, MLA style is not hard to learn, You must staple your everlovin’ papers if you want a shot at an A), it gives me the stabby pain. I only have to deal with a couple of classes of 20, not many hundreds per post.

    Which makes me wish there was a Baby Donut of the Month Club so I could sign you all up for it.

    *Paint Monkey, it just occurred to me that the only people I have heard use the term “naughty step” are British people. Americans don’t seem to have those. It’s a great idea though…*

  4. AnthroK8, I think Americans have the philosophy, just a different name for it. . .

    lorries:trucks::naughty steps:time-out chairs

    (:

  5. I would just like to say that I love you for using this phrase, “You are getting on my tits, and it needs to stop. Now.”

    @DRST: I, too, have noticed a lot of anger flying about in the online communities I belong. I’m not sure what’s up but I’ve been keeping my head down and my mouth shut.

  6. Good for you! I ran a political blog for five years, once, and did not lay down the law. Predictably, it degenerated into a nightmare over time, with a bunch of radical jerks ruling the comments section and me pulling my hair out before engaging in occasional mass bannings and eventually quitting to save my sanity (and for other reasons). I learned it the hard way: the internet is often no place for democracy.

    @Paula: There is a ton of anger out there everywhere. It’s the times… I won’t theorize on what exactly the root cause, but people just seem on edge.

  7. Right on! I have to say, initially commenting policies like this seemed draconian to me, until I started spending time at unmoderated sites. Where I quickly learned just what a valuable service the mods here offer. Thank you for all you do!

    @ DRST & Paula – yep, I’ve seen the same thing. I finally gave up on an online community I’ve been a part of for a couple years because a couple new obnoxious mansplaining commenters on top of the old ultra-conservative and obnoxious commenters, and the ensuing endlessly repetitive flamewars, just became too much for me.

  8. @Paula and @Susan: Certainly doesn’t help that it’s the bleak midwinter. I know that there are much deeper, more interesting sociological things going on, but I am never at my best in January and February, and I sense the same of many others.

    Kate: thank you.

  9. (And usually, if you’ve pissed us off enough times that we do see your name and think, “Oh, it’s that pain in the ass again,” we ban you, so long-term animosity during your tenure as a commenter here is just not a big concern.)

    That made my bewildered little heart all warm and fluffy. Thanks!

    And, er, sorry for posting total irrelevancies the other day while ill. No-one seems to have noticed though so that’s ok.

  10. I imagine being a blog moderator is as frustrating/rewarding as herding cats. Cats are damned hard to herd, but they’re also fun to play with :) The comments section that always makes me pray for a dictatorial style moderator is hands down Huffington Post. I don’t even glance at the comments anymore, just keep on a-clickin’ to the next story!

  11. We call it “February Psychodrama” over in another community where I belong/mod. Winter blahs certainly contribute, IMO. Thank you all for doing what you do here.

  12. I very often read but rarely comment. But I really felt the need to thank each and every one of you for keeping this blog’s comments reasonable. Lots of work, no pay. So at least: thanks!

  13. @Snarky’s Machine: if you are the Kate-Keepers, is there an apocalyptic showdown involving Rick Moranis, Bill Murray and a giant marshmallow person in the offing?

  14. There’s a reason I don’t go too many places on the internet anymore. The comments policy here might be harsh, but it also makes for comments threads I WANT to read. Thank you for that.

  15. Snarky did also mention in email that she was the Snar-Key Master. That’s really too good for us to keep to ourselves.

  16. I was initially intimidated by the comments policy here, so I lurked for ages before I jumped in. I then thought I might brave the waters at other sites, and it was like stepping out of the balmy waters of the Costa Rican shores and into the icy depths of the Arctic. Ok, that doesn’t work as an extended metaphor, as what I really mean is that I was jarred by what shitholes the comments sections can be in blogs I otherwise enjoy. It took about 2 1/2 seconds for my appreciation of the Shapely Prose policies to multiply exponentially, that’s for sure, and for me to begin to understand how hard the mods must be working to keep the level of conversation where it is at SP. Thanks, all.

  17. AnthroK8: Are you teaching my students behind my back? Because I feel like I might as well have those things tattooed on my forehead. (Except the MLA part — I tend more toward “Have you tried reading the lab manual?”)

  18. I’m liking the Snar-key Master idea.
    Are you all our (adopts cinematic booming voice) Masters of the Universe OverLords then?
    If so, I hope you get to wear capes and hold flaming tridents, with constant wind-in-the hair style. My mind is running wild now.

  19. I really can’t believe I have to keep explaining this.

    I can :). I’ve been the equivalent of a moderator on an online game that’s been around for nearly 20 years, and we’ve had a similar policy for years: you have exactly one right here, the right to leave. Everything else is a privilege that can be changed or revoked at any time. And after all this time I still keep running into people who Just Don’t Get It. My personal theory is it’s that whole American Constitution Freedom of Speech amendment – which actually guarantees absolutely nothing at all about private spaces, like this blog.

    It’s comforting to me to know that it’s not just one place, it happens all over. I wish it didn’t happen at all, but then, I also wish for unicorn ponies that fart rainbows.

  20. I bet the basket that The Dude would carry down the yellow brick road would contain some seriously fabulous snack food.

  21. I just want to say THANK YOU SO MUCH to the mods. Shapely Prose is one of the few communities online where it’s even worth delving into comments. In fact, I feel like I haven’t really read the post til I’ve seen the comments. I chalk it up to your draconian (and I mean that in a good way) commenting policy. It is delightful to find safe space on the internet, so thank you thank you thank you, Kate, Sweet Machine, Snarky’s Machine, Fillyjonk, and A Sarah for wading through the crap so the rest of us can appreciate the gold!

  22. Snarkysmachine – that sounds like a code of ethics that really needs a wider application. I presume ‘Thou shalt not piss on rugs that really tie the room together’ is one of the commandments?

  23. I pretty much live by a code of ethics informed by The Wiz, Ghostbusters and The Big Lebowski.

    And this is why we love you.

    You know, Amanda Hess of The Sexist had a poll recently about whether she should moderate comments, and multiple people (who were NOT me) spoke glowingly of the SP comments policy and how much its draconian strictures enhanced discussion here. Sometimes in the abstract it seems needlessly strict, and sometimes even in the application it is harsher than it should be, as Kate said. But in practice this is one of the most consistently smart and entertaining non-fluff comments sections anywhere on the internet. It’s hard to argue with that.

    I don’t want people to take this to mean we think we can never make mistakes (and I’m really glad nobody seems to be reacting this way so far). I personally make mistakes all the time. But I really can’t emphasize enough Kate’s point that if you are generally a valuable commenter and we yelled at you one time, we do not hate you. So if it was unjustified, we yelled at you unjustifiably, you sulk, and hopefully you decide that that was unjustified but everyone makes mistakes and we all get over it and go on to have many productive discussions made possible by the letters D, R, and ACONIAN COMMENTS POLICY. If you respond instead with a bunch of sass, it is going to go from unjustified crankiness to justified banning, and we don’t actually want to lose you. (In this scenario, anyway, where “you” are a valued contributor.)

  24. thegirlfrommarz – that is absolutely the first commandment.

    The second is, of course:

    “Don’t cross the streams!”

    Definitely agree with Fillyjonk. Having been a figurehead mod in a community, which was essentially the wild west and having been a far stricter mod, it’s a whole lot easier to do the strict thing. And people feel a whole lot safer. It’s annoying and certainly, I can be quite caustic. But at the end of the day, I am more interested in having a place where people feel safe commenting, than being popular. However, Snarky is not made of wood – anymore – and it’s nice to be respected from time to time as well.

  25. I heard that in Abraham Lincoln’s cabinet every member would sometime vote nay and Lincoln would say “the ayes have it.”

  26. If this question/comment isn’t appropriate to this forum, please either delete it or tell me to quit being lazy.

    I’ve done some ableism 101 reading, and I’m really having a hard time finding the ableism in Starling’s comments on the fashion thread. I want to be clear that I’m not denying that it was there, and I’m not asking anybody to explain it for me. But does anybody know of any additional resources, maybe more on the 102 (or 101.5) level, since I pretty plainly need to keep educating myself? Google isn’t helping much here.

  27. Other Becky, I understand your curiosity, but it’s definitely best if we move on from that thread. It’s definitely not my place to speak for those who felt Starling was being ableist. Only to mod threads to ensure they aren’t.

    And not to single Starling out. But the point is not merely about ableist language, but rather a mod issued a warning and it was ignored.

  28. This is amazing for me, in that I feel that I repeat this sentiment over and over when I am having an argument with my hubbie.

    In some weird way, he is the stereotypical “woman”, and I the stereotypical “man” in this sense:

    When we disagree, he wants to talk, and talk, and get to the bottom of it all, and I want to think, take a shower, cool off, and come back from my own head space.

    (I love him, get where he’s coming from, but think my “space is grace” philosophy is more effective than his “Let’s communicate and solve it all now!” philosophy.)

    Anyhoo.

    I hear youse guys.

    Your blog, your rules, space is grace, cooling off is always good.

    I agree.

  29. It is a rare place in this Internet of Ours in which commenters are not only required to Use Their Brains when they respond to posts, but are disciplined when they Don’t. I have learned so much here, and will continue to learn, thanks to that fact, and thanks to the other fact, which is that Kate, fillyjonk, Snarky’s Machine, Sweet Machine, and A Sarah are exceptionally brilliant people. (Ugh, if you knew what a weepy type I am, oh, it would gross you out!)

    Heartfelt appreciation and White Russians all around.

  30. This blog is the reason I have a clear comments policy on my own blog. There is only one commenter, so for, who has been permanently banned, most likely since I get far less traffic than you do, but it’s definitely helpful to just be clear from the outset.

    And while I do sometimes hesitate to comment here, it’s often because I’m struggling with my own privilege and trying to work everything out in my head. I’ve been called out before, and SM was right to do it.

  31. I only comment here occasionally, but I read the comments on just about every post, simply because they’re so delightful and frequently thought-provoking. The strict moderation is what makes the discussions here so great to read. If I a mod ever does have an issue with something I write (for example, I didn’t consider the ableist implications of “lame” as an insult until I started lurking here and at Shakesville), I hope that I can take it in stride, knowing that the strict policy results in something so great.

  32. The only problem I have with your moderating is that I forget sometimes that it’s not the policy elsewhere and start reading comments-eeps! I also wish someone would moderate all the meetings in my life like SP-way too many ‘splainers and hijackers. Short: thanks loads

  33. Sweet Machine – I refer to the Third Commandment surprisingly often. That may actually say something about me (that I am going to conveniently ignore).

  34. I spent many a hand-wringing, hair pulling hour trying to please everyone in a former role as a moderator. And guess what? It really is true, I was miserable and no one else except the shit-tirrers were happy either.

    “Strict and no shit from anyone or banning” is the best choice hands down. Good for you guys.

  35. Thank you for being benevolent dictators.

    I just tonight caught up with all the comments on the Mansplainin’ thread, and while I was disappointed that by the time I’d gotten through them all the comments were closed, I can’t think of anywhere else where I’d be willing to read a 400 comment thread. (Maybe I’ll go over and post on Zuska’s site.)

  36. . . . Nobody fucks with the Jesus?

    One of my relatives, named Jesus, ran for office not too long ago, and I tried really, really hard to make that his campaign slogan, or at least get him throw this into the debate: “You might fool the fucks in the league office, but you don’t fool Jesus.”

    Alas, it was a no go. And he lost. Coincidence? I think not.

  37. I’m another who loves the moderation here. It’s easy to love because I pretty much keep my yap shut and lurk, but still…

    I’m learning not to read the comments sections of news sites or other open forums. Even the science blogs seem to be crawling with unusually high concentrations of sexist douchebags, right now. Being able to read the comment section here is a total sanity saver for me. I learn so much from everyone.

    So thanks. And stuff. Now I will awkwardly creep back to my cave of lurkdom, but I just had to add my oh-so-important opinion.

  38. I love your comments policy and I appreciate all of the time & energy you all put in to moderating (and writing, of course!) so much. Strict moderation = better discussion, for sure.

  39. I will keep the majority of my sassin’ and smarty-pants backtalk to real life. However, may I respectfully request a new avatar? I notice that my avatar is identical to Starling’s, and while I’m sure she’s a perfectly nice person/bird/whatever, I think we’d both feel more speshul if we had avatars that were all our own.

  40. Just another semi-lurker speaking up to echo the obvious (or the not-so-obvious, considering the need for this thread?):

    The SP Mods, their comment policy, and the commentariat who affirm that policy, are what make this blog totally effing fantastic.

    Thank you for your work.

  41. Oh, Starling refers to the bird, definitely. The collective noun for starlings–as in “pride of lions,” “herd of goats” –is “chattering.” Or “murmuring.”

    No, I do not know when to shut up, even IRL, and I recognize this fault. I’d have made a Friday fluff about it, but I was kind of on thin ice.

    Which (ooh, segue time!) gives me the opportunity to mention that I apologize, Snarkys, for getting in your face. It’s a frequent failing of mine when I’m following a topic, but I was out of line. I’ve enjoyed your posts and particularly appreciated your point of view as a commenter and moderator, so I feel bad putting you in a spot where you had to smack the mod stick around to close me down. It sometimes takes me a little while to catch on to subtle cues like, “Shut up! SRSLY!”

    I think my avatar is more squid-like, which does not change the fact that Tessie and I are the same person.

  42. @Alexandra Erin – I don’t know how this photo got attached to my username. And I don’t know how to change it. I went to Gravatar.com but it’s asking for a password … oh well. I’ll just sit here whilst this technology swirls around me.

  43. @hsofia:

    Gravatars are based on your email address, so I’d think if nothing else you could get the password emailed to you. Or as a kludge you could just change the email address you use.

  44. Another voice in favor of the comments policy. I usually lurk to avoid busting out with a dumb-ass comment that could be shortened to “PRIVILEGE I HAZ IT,” and I missed what precipitated this post. But it is sooooo nice to be able to read a blog post AND comments without having to cringe in anticipation of the kind of ugly, hateful crap that’s spewed out almost everywhere else. So, thanks!

  45. I don’t know if this is an appropriate place, but I’d like to apologise for being wildly off-topic in the past. A thread about fashion and I chip in with some strange little tidbit about Australian political history? I can do better, and will endeavour to do so in the future.

    I’d like to thank you all for being awesome mods. It’s rare that I can discuss issues relating race and feminism without having my experiences – as a woman, and/or a “woman of colour” as some USians put it – discounted, or my opinions devalued or mocked. So thank you for creating a safe space.

  46. @OtherBecky: They probably head on over to your class when they are done with mine. They also can’t STFU when it’s my (occasional) turn to talk.

    @Perla: Your derail on Australian history had me thinking “fauna? WTF-ing Eff? Fauna? 1967? IN CAPS 1967?!?! Holy effing-eff.” Unserweite. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am. Because… 1967?

    I am trying to figure out where “Ease on Down the Road” fits into life’s commandments. And also if I live by the Snarky Code, am I forever allowed to go to the grocery store in my bathrob? This surely has its attractions. I can’t bowl for shit, though, so all of this may fall apart.

  47. AnthroK8 – I go the grocery store quite often in my bathrobe. Though I have never drank 1/2 and 1/2 directly from the carton or written a check for $.69.

    And I don’t think most people realize I’m wearing a bathrobe. It’s kind of fancy looking with a big Auntie Mame-ish sort of fun fur collar. Unfortunately my house is just not that formal a place.

  48. @antrok8 @aliciamaud74 lorries:trucks::naughty steps:time-out chairs

    And for me as a child in 1980s Australia, it was standing in the corner with your face to the wall. “Go stand in the corner”.

  49. *Apologies in advance for going back on promised non-OTness in record time*
    AnthroK8: If Indigenous Australians weren’t counted as ‘citizens,’ they had to count them as sommet: http://www.abc.net.au/messageclub/duknow/stories/s888141.htm

    It won’t happen again. Promise. I send you all virtual ANZAC biscuits in penance.

    Personally, I try to live by the code of Mean Girls (basically the whole movie), Can’t Stop The Music, and some Aussie movies that probably didn’t get a wide audience outside Australasia.

    “Leathermen don’t get nervous!” (funny to abide by as a vegan)

    “I don’t know what all the fuss is about, it’s 80% water and we’ve got chemicals to take care of the remaining 20.”
    (From “Kenny” talking about cleaning toilets, or any other seemingly arduous task).

    “It’s the vibe of the thing, your Honour.” and

    “Federal Court Judge: And what Law are you basing this argument on?
    Darryl Kerrigan: The Law of bloody common sense! ”
    (both from “The Castle”, explaining why something Just Ain’t Right).

  50. There’s a reason why I refuse to read the comments on any other blog but SP. Sorry you have to keep repeating yourselves, but most of us really, really appreciate it.

  51. The Other Caitlin: That’s okay. I knew who you meant, and since I just typed the word “bathrob” upthread, I can’t really pick on typos, can I? :) Also, AntroK8 looks like my name typed James Cagney which, you know… awesome.

    SnarkysMachine: I thought I was lucky because my department meetings involved the serving of wine and cheese. But if your staff meetings involved no doomsaying AND choreography, that beats wine and cheese by a country mile. Especially if you were wearing an Auntie Mame collar as you ran them.

    *procrastinating on a Sunday night= better than dissertating on a Sunday night*

  52. What the Draconian Comments Policy keeps me from having to read:
    “First!”
    “Uh…but ur fat”
    “I just broke up with my boyfriend and need a date”
    “Try this herbal supplement! It will keep u up for 3 days, cause the runs, and grow hair on ur elbows, but u will lose a ton of weight!”
    “The Liberal Democrats and their Hitler-ish leader are the cause of every bad thing America is enduring today!”
    “Live chat with LONELY! SEXY! SINGLES! in YOUR AREA!!”
    “Work From Home and make 47 million dollars in 28 days!!!”
    “Obama says housewives should go back to school! Here’s how to get your degree online!!”
    “My house was in foreclosure, but (enter link here) helped me keep my house by selling my deed to a seedy scam artist who now owns my home for the next 75 years~!”
    “GET OUT OF DEBT IN 3 DAYS with my debt-free kit! It’s quite the bargain for only $4,893 (plus shipping and handling and your firstborn)”

    etc.
    etc.
    etc.

    And for this….I am eternally grateful. Mods rock. Kick-ass, super strict comments policies rule…..’Nuff said.

  53. I think we all appreciate the job that the moderators do. I’ve heard about the sort of comments that feminist blogs in general deal with every day and it’s probably even worse on a fat acceptance blog. I also appreciate the acknowledgement that sometimes the mods can be wrong. It makes it easier to swallow that you’re not all pretending to some standard of perfection and infallibility. It’s your prerogative to be wrong because it’s your blog, but you’re probably right more often that you’re wrong and that’s what makes the conversations here such fun.

    @Perla May I ask what style of “woman of colour” you are? Are you a first Australian? Or is it another hue? You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to, of course. I’m just interested as a fellow Australian.

  54. “Obama says housewives should go back to school! Here’s how to get your degree online!!”

    No matter how many times I thumb it down, this one keeps appearing on my facebook!

  55. @ snarkysmachine – I especially like the version of that terrible ad that has a picture of a man with long hair and a beard. Is he supposed to be Obama or a housewife?

  56. @The Other Caitlin: Well, my dad is of English, Swedish and German descent – y’know, “neutral” – while my mum is originally from the Philippines.

    Another thing I like about this blog – commenters and mods can get down and geeky about pop culture, *and* discuss Very Important Issues. It’s like being able to take chocolate and broccoli from the same shelf. Which is great, not to mention my dream supermarket arrangement!

  57. The Obama ad is competing with the one for I think mortgages? With the creepy animatronic-looking dancing lady for the “why is it not possible to make this web ad go away?” prize.

    Speaking of Obama, has everyone seen the fact that Urban Outfitters is now selling several tshirts in a color that they’re calling “Obama”? Sadly I am not joking.

  58. DRST: I call standard Silly-Season whackjobbiness.

    I first noticed this on Usenet – people started getting more and more unreasonable around about mid-October, and seemed to hit sanity some time around about mid-March the following year. But for about five to six months, you’d get more loons coming out of the woodwork, and more people who were tender around the fee-fees (and therefore inclined to snap where once they would have growled) participating in communities and more folks who are frazzled by having to deal with each of the above, so they’re on a shorter fuse. Used to be this would hit around September (when the new students hit the universities – there was generally a lesser version in February/March when the antipodeans got back); then it became the Eternal September (in 1997) but now it appears to have settled down into a regular seasonal pattern.

    As for why it’s worse during the extremes of the Northern Winter and Southern Summer (rather than vice-versa) – well, my guess is it’s because this is when we have the most public holidays and family occasions showing up on the various calendars. We southerners may well have better weather and a better chance of getting out of the house and away from the irritating relations; on the other hand, we also have summer school holidays (6 weeks of kids saying “I’m bored” and “it’s too hot”, generally in the same sentence) and the start of the new school year overlapping with the start of the new calendar year (“You need what? Why the hell are they asking for that? I know you don’t know, but where the heck am I supposed to get the money to cope with that now?”). Meanwhile, over there in the Northern Hemisphere, everyone who is likely to be SAD is SAD, everyone who isn’t SAD is flat out coping with the ones who are, and neither group has the resources to deal with a bunch of crazy antipodeans who are cranky with the heat.

    However, the kids are generally heading back to school either this week, last week or next week (thanks be to all the gods) so the Antipodeans should start settling down soon, getting back into regular routines and having a few more resources available to cope with freaked out Northrons (and thus putting less strain on folks from the Northern half of the world who are already stressed with dealing with all the SADness around the place). The knock-on effects will gradually start knocking on, and the mental temperature of teh intarwebs should slowly drop by a few degrees, and folks will be better tempered and calmer.

    Or at least, every moderator on the planet dearly hopes so.

    Further to this: Great Big Thank Yous to the moderators, since they’re doing something which would probably drive me absolutely stark, screaming, psychotically murderous within about sixty seconds flat. Then again, I do tend to Go On At Length when someone is Being Wrong On the Internet.

  59. Hey Grafton: Sorry to be obtuse, but do you mean “sass” is not a term you are familiar with, or that it’s not a behavior you recognize?

    AnthroK8 — I mean that I cannot tell the difference between “sass” and “trying to explain my position.”

    “Sass” is a social complexity. From my point of view, if the person I am trying to explain myself to doesn’t like what I am saying or simply does not wish to listen to me, then my behavior magically becomes “sass.” Another person may understand the very same behavior (even in the very same instance) as an attempt to clarify. Which is inevitably what I am up to; being oblivious to social hierarchy I only seem to be challenging it. Well, unless you think obliviousness to it is in itself a challenge to it, which would be a perfectly sensible position.

  60. Ghostbusters references.Fantastic. I’d forgotten how ingrained into my soul it was. No matter how many jobs as a self-employed person I get, my mind still shrieks “WE GOT ONE!” every time a new job comes in.

  61. I have had to make pretty much this same post on my own blog: “Hi, I run the shit, you do not, you will abide by the rules or I will ban your ass.” Since it’s a LiveJournal, I lost a bunch of fandom friends over it whining, “Oh are you fucking kidding me, I can’t even say I disagree with you?* I’m out.” It sucked. It continues to suck. Every time I enforce the rules I get a few more people leaving.

    Good. As much as I loved them, as much as I’ll miss them, they weren’t good for me. They didn’t respect my right to own my own space, that one little corner of the internets I can call my own. They thought the world at large could run roughshod over me even there. I was done with that.

    *Which wasn’t even what I had said. I had said, don’t come to my blog trying to convince me I’m wrong; if I post about, say, what rape is, it’s because I have thought about it long and hard, and you’re not going to change my mind. If you have something to say about it, post it on your own blog.

  62. I really like your guys’ little-nonsense policy when it comes to comments. I don’t think I would have ever realized how effective it is until I started a body positive support thread on a very negative website. When I adopted a no-nonsense policy to posting in the thread I noticed that we got fewer trolls (concern trolls and hateful trolls) and more people willing to participate in the thread. It was refreshing.

    I really need to start catching your guys’ posts sooner so I can stop lurking and start posting. XP

  63. Thank the gods for the mods! I feel like they are constantly taking one for the team, as they have to read all the crazy-making crap before it has a chance to aggravate the rest of us. There are a couple of well-intentioned blogs that I just can’t read the comments section anymore, because they often deteriorate into arguments betwen a handful of commentors. No fun.

  64. “AnthroK8 – I kind of use to run staff meetings like this:”

    I think there is little that could have made me smile more quickly on a Monday morning…

    I appreciate the comments policy too. Not that you need to care whether I appreciate it or not, you understand. :)

  65. *de-lurks*

    I also really appreciate this policy. There are rarely if ever any un-moderated blogs/forums/etc that I can read the comments on without a stiff drink and a slide show showing all my loved ones that would make me sad if they disappeared with the culling of humanity.

  66. For those annoyed by facebook ads etc, if you run firefox with adblock, your life will be immeasurably improved. Srsly. I don’t know why I waited so long to start using it.

    Back on topic, I regularly draw big puffy hears around all the mods here and put that roll-on glitter all over them after.

  67. The policy is why I comment so rarely – for me, it’s more important to be able to participate when I really want to than let my mouth run loose on every post and potentially piss people off. Not like this place is short of voices anyway. :)

    And yeah, I am more than happy with the Draconian Comments Policy if it prevents the comment threads here degrading to the level of the ones on Kate’s Salon posts. Ugh. I’ll gladly take the risk of unfairly being slapped down over the certainty of getting that special stabby pain behind the eyes.

  68. I LOVE the comments policy here. It informs my own. And every time I start to wonder if I should let voices of dissent through I realize how sanity-saving these policies really are. If i want to go stir-crazy I can go read comments on Huffington post or Farq for crying out loud!. All hail the dictators of SP!

    And in the Ghostbusters vein: Nice doggie…want a milkbone?

  69. I have to say as one of those people that had a run-in with a mod, that I totally think this comment policy is rockin’.

    Basically, my first time commenting here, I got bitch-slapped for a sort of minor offense. I cried a little, took a walk, forgot about it, and continued to read and comment (under a new name)… and guess what? Awesome ensued. Also the cool thing is… the longer you read, the more you get insight into why you got bitch-slapped in the first place. (For example, if I go back and read my original bitch-slap-worthy comment, I am super embarrassed!) It’s like having five private tutors who all are kind of hard-ass but really want you to learn how to love yourself and have a safe space, and since that is such an important thing, they do not fuck around with it, and also they are all kind of sexy and hilarious and sometimes you wish you could invite them to your birthday party.

    Um… I think I got a little carried away there.

    Anyway… Dictators, carry on!

  70. Just another person that doesn’t comment too often chiming in to add that I’ve always liked the Draconian Policy as well. I read the comments here most of the time, and the discussion’s always intelligent and thought-provoking, so I mean, it’s obviously worked pretty well so far. I’m really grateful for all the work the five of you do to keep the comments section orderly.

  71. Grafton, in the real world (and even sometimes on the blog), there is certainly a big difference between “sassing” and “clarifying your position,” but when you’re moderating a long comment thread, the distinction can get awfully blurry. And the context here is a scenario in which a mod has already said (perhaps not this diplomatically), “Please just stop,” and the commenter, however well-intentioned and lovely in person, has chosen not to stop. So the key point is this:

    If you don’t comment, you cannot make the situation worse! And if you’ve been taken to task by a mod for something or other, and your goal is to continue participating in comments here, not making the situation worse is job one.

  72. Also: when I say “run-in with a mod” I mean “said something that was uninformed and got my ass handed to me, and I’m probably the only one who remembers it.”

    Basically, I was out of my fuckin’ element. (But I like to think I’m in it now!)

  73. You know what, it’s your blog, and I’m a guest here, so I abide by your rules, just as I would if I were to visit your home.

    That doesn’t mean we can’t have lively debate, of course.

  74. Wait, let me get this straight: you are allowing yourselves, on YOUR blog, to decide who does and does not get comments posted? And if they’re mean to you, you might ask them to stop? On YOUR OWN blog?!??!
    Why that’s just…just…
    Common sense!

  75. I for one welcome my new mordant overlords.

    Incidentally, Snarky’s, I was delighted to find that you are also obsessed with office supplies. I may have purchased a Foray brushed chrome pen after reading your berating of the person who walked off with yours, and am in the process of hunting down a refill for it with ink I like better. So thanks for that. :)

    (That sucker is dense, isn’t it? It’s got a lot of heft to it for a sub-$10 pen.)

  76. Off topic – and feel free to mod me severely as I am just dying to try out the naughty step :) -, over at Jezebel a commenter just made me laugh out loud with this comparison with the “rising obesity rate”:

    If the number of Elvis impersonators were to increase between 2000 and 2025 at the same rate as they did between 1975 and 2000, 1/3 of the world’s population would be Kings. In other words, straight line trend projections are for squares.

  77. slythwolf – nobody’s as special a snowflake as a special snowflake fan. *headdesk* All the controversy I’ve been dealing with for the last few weeks has been fandom stuff.

    Meg Thornton – a friend of mine has a similar theory. It’s January, holidays are over, the weather sucks and nothing good’s on tv. ;)

    AnthroK & all other teachers – can someone explain to me the disdain of this generation for the Anciente and Noble Technologie of the Stapler? Because I DON’T GET IT OMG. It’s a stapler. It unites all your pages into a blessed single union called a “paper.” It ensures you won’t get a 0 for only doing half the assignment because one of your loose pages fled to freedom somewhere in the hallway. It only costs a couple of bucks. WHY IS THIS SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND???

    *ahem* Sorry. That’s been building for a while.

    DRST

  78. Snarkysmachine…what’s lulz? I’m having to guess. So far I’ve come up with “loud underwear laughter zorbits”, but it can’t be that surely.

  79. Your house, your rules.

    This is not rocket surgery.

    Though I, too, am one of the people Grafton describes who have some trouble picking up on ‘YOU’RE DONE NOW BECAUSE YOU’RE BEING TOO FIGHTY’ cues, I don’t think anyone needs to cut me slack on that front.

  80. Oh, Starling refers to the bird, definitely. The collective noun for starlings–as in “pride of lions,” “herd of goats” –is “chattering.” Or “murmuring.”
    `
    The woodland at the end of my street has a *murder* of crows who are constantly fighting.

  81. @Meg Thorton “more people who were tender around the fee-fees”. ROFLMAO. That phrase made me snort. What exactly does it mean? I have a certain mental image but I have no idea if I’m even remotely close.

  82. I just find it hilarious how people will come on here to YOUR blog and tell YOU how YOU should run it, when YOU are the one who makes the rules… Like someone telling me how I should plant my damn flowers outside MY house, and then getting mad when I call the cops when I see them trying to take my roses….

  83. Incidentally, Snarky’s, I was delighted to find that you are also obsessed with office supplies. I may have purchased a Foray brushed chrome pen after reading your berating of the person who walked off with yours, and am in the process of hunting down a refill for it with ink I like better. So thanks for that. :)

    It’s a very hefty pen! I have tried a couple of refills, both high and low end. The best one was oddly a Foray gel refill! 2.29 for 2!!!

    Ha! Since that entry three people have RAOK’d me that pen. (random acts of kindness).

  84. DRST: I don’t get it either. I’ve tried threats, I’ve tried bribery (extra credit for anyone who consistently staples their assignments before handing them in!), I’ve tried KEEPING A STAPLER IN THE FUCKING CLASSROOM, RIGHT NEXT TO WHERE COMPLETED ASSIGNMENTS GO, and I still get those weird-ass crimped-corners-with-a-torn-out-folded-tab.

    …excuse me. I think I need to go take a few deep breaths before my next class starts. It’s in 20 minutes, and there’s a multi-page assignment due. Pray for my self-control to improve, fellow Shapelings, lest I be indicted for attempting to decapitate a student with a pointer.

  85. Other Becky:

    OMG, “Have you tried reading the lab manual” is my constant refrain. You would think that senior chemistry majors would understand it at this point. Also “Please, for the love of your fingers, do not pressurize a closed system.” Graglr.

    I haven’t experienced the same stapler hatred as some of you other teachers. But the spell check hatred makes me cry a little at night.

    Also, I don’t roll on Shabbos. So, lablings, don’t expect me to e-mail you back at 11 on a Friday night.

  86. Dear Kate et Al,

    Thank you for creating one of the most sane and comfortable places to rest my eyeballs and use my brain on the interwebs. You and all of the fantastic commentators here help to grow my perspective and teach me that there is good in the world if we all work toward it. If my appreciation had a dollar value you all would be billionaires.

    Thanks!

  87. @Kate Harding — Grafton, in the real world (and even sometimes on the blog), there is certainly a big difference between “sassing” and “clarifying your position,”

    I have the same problems with it in face-to-face interactions. Possibly worse because then it’s possible for a person to interrupt my train of thought to tell me I’m sassing them. I don’t think “Don’t sass me,” is much like, “Please, just stop.”

    It’s not really relevant, I was making a ‘”Just sayin'” remark. The comments policy here seems perfectly fair and reasonable to me.

  88. DRST, The Other Becky: I have determined they are just absolutely going to resist something, somehow, because they must because I am THE MAN. Or the representative of THE MAN. Also, they’re always printing off the paper they finished five minutes before class on the way to class, and computer labs have no staplers in them.

    My other favorite is when their desk jets run out of ink and they turn in papers printed in magenta. Grrr, my eyes.

  89. Ha! Since that entry three people have RAOK’d me that pen. (random acts of kindness)

    For the record, it was nearly four. :)

  90. Also love the policy.

    And STAPLE PEOPLE, STAPLE.

    Also IF YOU ARE TURNING IN NOTEPAPER, RIP OFF THE EDGES. THEY ARE PERFORATED FOR A REASON.

    I had a teacher in high school whose policy was to give a 0 to any assignment handed in with confetti edges from the notebook, and now I see why. Oh gods, how I understand.

  91. Also, they’re always printing off the paper they finished five minutes before class on the way to class, and computer labs have no staplers in them.

    Hah, that was certainly why I didn’t staple assignments back in the day. Organization was not my strong suit. Fortunately, I’ve found that in the non-high school (and perhaps college) world, people seem willing to station staplers next to printers.

  92. I’m trying to conquer my fear of posting comments on the Internet. Here, I am torn between knowing that everyone here is Amazing and Gets It, and being terrified that I will accidentally say something that is something-ist (is that even a word?) I’m even dipping a toe into writing a blog that isn’t my rather boring LJ. It was all of you here that gave me the confidence to try, So, thanks. And even bigger thanks for helping me to have a better relationship with food than previously.

  93. Nthing the love for the work the mods do here at SP. It doesn’t take long reading comments at other sites to realize just how much must get done behind the scenes here. I’ve learned so much both from the quality of their posts, and from the quality of the discussions that are carried forth. Oh, and slow loris boggly eyes!

    I can’t tell at what level the teachers who are representng are teaching, but by the gods of Academia, is there a reason you can’t just refuse to accept unstapled, non-black or blue scribed, feathery pieces of paper? Particularly those who instruct post-HS (or even senior level HS)? My professors at uni had varying standards for papers & labs, but IIRC, they had no qualms about NOT accepting work that didn’t meet whatever standards they set. I hope that this isn’t an issue where you HAVE to accept crappy work? If it were me, I’d just put a D- on anything that frustrated me while I was trying to read it. (Which probably explains why I am not a teacher, maud love y’all).

  94. DRST and Other Becky:
    GAHHHH. Every semester, I add a vehement full-of-capital-letters paragraph about stapling to my syllabus, and then I take it out again because it makes me sound like a crazy office-supply martinet with a cabinet full of shrunken heads, so then I do all my ranting in person instead, which probably makes me sound even crazier, but apparently not crazy enough to convince a room full of COLLEGE STUDENTS that letting the pages of their essay fly every which way and piss off their instructor is not in anyone’s best interests.

  95. IrishUp — That seems like a perfectly reasonable solution. However, it’s been my experience that some teachers can pull off the draconian thing, get respected for it, use it to create a totally functional and effective learning environment, and some can’t. I am firmly in the “can’t” camp, which actually works well in most ways (I go for “friendly, approachable, yet intimidatingly smart big sister” as my classroom persona). Just not for staples.

  96. Re: Staplers,
    I used to work int he computer lab and I was the manager of the stapler keepers, (and the printer queue). You could always tell when a paper was due because like 10 people would be asking if you could bump their job to the top, and the Stapler would disappear.

  97. @ JM – About draconian teachers: I am a scary, scary teacher to a lot of students (using Socratic method on fourteen-year-olds, yikes!). I wish that I came off as a friendly, intimidatingly smart older sister like yourself. I don’t. I mostly come across as either Drill Seargant, Mother Superior, or Disappointed Indian Father. Any tips to make myself more friendly without sacrificing my relentless academic gains record?

  98. I love that this is a safe place and I know we have the Mods to thank for it (thank you!). As a mostly lurker I usually have to stop myself from commenting as I mostly want to comment when I feel highly emotional and least articulate. But in recent months I find myself not commenting because I fear running afoul of the standards. I accept/applaud/rejoice in/enjoy the fruits of your rights to mod, but I wish there was more room for learning and teaching.
    No “other” is obligated to educate anyone else about their privledge, but I come here to read/learn/grow/share and I thought many other were as well and I thought the Mods were here to do the same.
    I’ve learned I need to educate myself more about my cis privledge and I’m more than willing to stay quiet while I learn so that other don’t feel unsafe/aggravation from my comments, but I’ve seen some people getting the comments slapped out of them for the same things I thought or felt.
    I feel like there has receently been more blogging on the cis/trans/gender front and maybe everyone in this community of readers wasn’t ready for it. I wish it didn’t seem like well intentioned people with an honest desire to learn and be open weren’t getting shot down.

  99. Lol, JM, I guess I can’t figure out why stapled, blue or black ink, no confetti = draconian? It’s probably just that MY standards have gotten totally skewed. I work in clinical research; the standards I’m used to meeting for journals, grant administrators, and the US govt are beyond draconian right into designed-to-make-less-work-by-creating-enough-rejections-that-<2%-of-submissions-will-make-it. The people who invent these submission standards will have perfected their art when it is impossible to submit anything that complies.

  100. However, it’s been my experience that some teachers can pull off the draconian thing, get respected for it, use it to create a totally functional and effective learning environment, and some can’t.

    This is very true, and actually one reason why I enjoy having UNLIMITED POWER as a mod so much. How much authority we mods have here does not actually depend on your personal opinion of whether we should have it or are using it correctly (hence, this post). But in a classroom, in person, how much authority I wield is limited to a certain extent by how I’m perceived by my students. This is a pretty well-known problem (IME) among female grad students, especially young and/or petite ones. I have had plenty of friends who make a point of dressing up, wearing heels and makeup, having stricter rules, etc. so that students will actually treat them like the teacher in the room — and I’ve known several white male grad students who just walk in with their jeans and baseball caps and automatically get treated like the person in charge. This is not to say that it isn’t actually personality-based, as well, but I’m pretty sure that none of my male professors had a student write, on an actual teaching review that becomes part of your teaching file, “Try not to be such a bitch” (as one of my best friends who’s a young professor did).

    To sum up: sometimes I wish I had a banlist for students. ;-)

  101. I am a freak. I used to carry a stapler around in my bag.

    Grafton, if that’s freakish, then I’m glad I was never normal. *was also a stapler-carrier* *a mini one, mind you, but still*

  102. Gasp. . .I am beyond thrilled at the concept of a student banhammer. . .I would use it infrequently, but oh! With such satisfaction! Which is probably an indicator that I shouldn’t be allowed that kind of power. . .

    My stapler gets stolen every year. The replacement I bought this year is very heavy, very unwieldy, and covered with my name.

  103. @sweet machine – I kid you not, I watched old episodes of A Different World to see how their house mom/prof dressed and bought a bunch of Ms. Cleo/Auntie Dresses and barked a lot of orders like Neil on Gimmie a Break.

    on my evals (which were great) everyone noted my endless supply of sparkly muumuus.

  104. Oh – not staples – but I’m sick of saying things like:
    “Why didn’t you save to the ‘submissions’ folder?”
    “make sure it has your name in the file name, so I know whose work it is”
    “Stop whining about being asked to redo something for the nth time – *I’ve* had to look at it that many times ”
    and:
    “It’s finished when *I* say it’s finished – I assess the damn thing – do you WANT to pass?”

    And the draconian teacher thing – I’ve had years where I haven’t done it at the beginning – it makes life MUCH harder in the long run.

  105. The Stapler Thread: There’s an “eco-stapler” available now which punches a little hole and folds over a tab in a stack of paper; I think they max out at about 10 pages. Perhaps there’s a perception of staples as ecologically unsound? (Actually, compared to the plastic in either stapler, I’m pretty sure they’re negligible…)

  106. i’m pretty glad for the comment policy here. it’s tiresome to deal with jerks. i have, however, made one comment that probably hurt some people and was offensive and i greatly appreciate the way i was treated in return- respectfully. the people offered what their POV was (unlike me) and most were able to understand where i was coming from. I’m really glad for that.

    as far as blog-drama goes, good for you in your dictatorship! this is your blog! yours to do what you want! people can get overrr it.

    i like the blogs here so i will keep reading, and commenting. :)

  107. *laughs* I’m student teaching at a middle school right now… and staplers? Be glad their NAMES are on a page of it… oh, and that it gets into the basket before “grades are due tomorrow and my parents will KILL me!”

  108. I can’t tell at what level the teachers who are representng are teaching, but by the gods of Academia, is there a reason you can’t just refuse to accept unstapled, non-black or blue scribed, feathery pieces of paper? Particularly those who instruct post-HS (or even senior level HS)? My professors at uni had varying standards for papers & labs, but IIRC, they had no qualms about NOT accepting work that didn’t meet whatever standards they set. I hope that this isn’t an issue where you HAVE to accept crappy work? If it were me, I’d just put a D- on anything that frustrated me while I was trying to read it. (Which probably explains why I am not a teacher, maud love y’all).

    As the wife of a former professor, the powers that be would come down on you with sharp pointy things for refusing to accept any work from a student – and universe help you if you actually FAILED a student (especially a graduating senior) for poor work. He was called on the carpet so many times, for “politics” and student’s mommies and daddies complaining, well……it’s why he doesn’t teach anymore. Now, this is a man whose students will write to him years later and tell him how much his class impacted them for the better.

    I would, shit you not, help him grade papers by sorting them into piles A and B. “A” pile would have the papers that followed directions and “B” pile would not. “A” papers would start out at grade “A” and “B”s from there. You’d think it wouldn’t be too terribly challenging to set up your word processor to Times New Roman, font 10, 1 inch margins.

  109. THANK YOU for having a moderated site. I’m sure it is a pain in the ass for you all, but it makes it so I feel safe to come here and talk (or these days, mostly read!) without having to hear opinions that I can find attached to ANY OTHER article about fat people or feminists. Love you all :)

  110. I’m learning NOT to read the comments anywhere else. Makes me appreciate you all that much more.

    And thanks for the link on the avatar thingy. Off topic, but cool.

  111. @The Other Caitlin “Wow, it seems like half the commenters here are teachers or university lecturers.”

    Are you surprised?

  112. In 8th grade I turned in a book report where each page was typed in a spiral. I think I got a “I’m not reading this, but I guess you took the assignment seriously” B-, and learned that if I want to push the margins of what constitutes a paper I should turn in a readable plain text copy too.

    All through college I had an “I need to establish how unique I am through typefaces” thing that is kind of embarrassing to look back on (even if it paid off in book arts). I anticipate some sort of cosmic revenge if I ever go into teaching.

  113. @ailbhe Perhaps there’s a perception of staples as ecologically unsound?

    I don’t think it’s so much the staples, though of course they are metal and not recyclable. I think it’s more than staples very often don’t get removed and that interferes with recycling. I could be wrong.

    @hsofia Yes, I am surprised. There’s a disproportionate number of teacher types here compared to the general population. I didn’t expect that.

  114. Can I share my stapler stories too?

    When I was a TA in grad school, I threatened to deduct points for unstapled homework assignments. The TA manager told me that I wasn’t allowed to do that, but I *was* allowed to “accidentally” lose one or two pages from each unstapled assignment. I have no idea what would motivate him to make that distinction, except maybe because he wanted to prove that he was more of a hardass than I was.

    Then, when I was a postdoc, I had the desk right next to the printer in a big shared office. The existence of a boundary between my desk and the printer table was, I guess, too hard for some people to understand, and they kept leaving random crap all over my desk. Phantom printouts, printer cartridges (full and empty), you name it. And the stapler. The stapler ended up on my desk so many times that the voice of rationalization inside my head went, “They keep leaving the stapler on my desk, so they must think it’s mine.” So I took it. I still have it.

  115. SM: Oh, yes. I have started to tell students that evaluations that comment on my weight, my clothes, or my bitchiness will be read dramatically in the bar, and laughed at roundly because only jerks are sexist in evaluations. The assholish comments have scaled back since I started saying that disclaimer at evals time.

    Why don’t we take the papers if they’re not stapled? It’s a case of picking battles, I suppose. It’s a lot of hassle to have unstapled papers, but a bigger hassle to deal with the fallout of failing unstapled work.

    Also, I think they couldn’t care less about the ecology of stapling. They just can’t be bothered. (Grafton and other stapler carries, THANKYOU.)

    And, Krishji, whose avatar I love… if you’re draconian, I say roll with it. IME, good teachers are good because they play to their strengths for the benefit of their students, not because they’re closer to some universal standard of good instruction. If you’re doing your best to be fair, to be interested, and to be helpful, then being intimidating and draconian, or a disappointed Indian dad will serve you well.

  116. Wait, don’t you have to have your name/page number on every page of your assignments in college? How can you lose pages if they have names on them? Or is it just a way of making people use staplers?

  117. Imagine having the nerve to defend YOUR RIGHT to enforce YOUR RULES in YOUR SPACE! It’s like you think people should respect you or something!

    Seriously though, one of the things I really like about SP is the comments policy. I think there are more thoughtful comments (and commenters) here because of it, and thus it is the ONLY blog in existence for which I make a specific point of reading the comments.

  118. The people who invent these submission standards will have perfected their art when it is impossible to submit anything that complies.

    Yes. I read and made rec’s on grant proposals for many years and really it’s about seeing who follows directions. If you can’t follow explicit directions or have problems with authority then you’re probably better off doing a bake sale or a cake walk. Grants are just not for you.

    Yet, we’d get people – probably the same TAs who were so strict about staples – who couldn’t follow one single direction on a grant application form and would hound my office day and night asking why their proposal wasn’t funded.

    Uh, did you read the part where we stated, “NO COMMUNITY GARDENS OR LITERACY PROGRAMS PROPOSALS, PLEASE!”

  119. As I vaguely remember it, the preferred style at my undergrad college was that papers should NOT be stapled, but should be paper-clipped instead. That was more than 10 years ago, though, so I may be misremembering.

    On the very rare occasions in grad school when I had to hand in a hard copy, they were always unstapled, but that may be a special case. My MS is in computer science, so the only hard-copy stuff we did involved equations or code, where it’s really helpful to be able to lay out multiple pages side by side.

  120. Wait, don’t you have to have your name/page number on every page of your assignments in college? How can you lose pages if they have names on them? Or is it just a way of making people use staplers?

    This is assuming that students who can’t be arsed to staple their work can be bothered to use the proper academic style for their papers. I’ve gotten papers and even in-class exam booklets turned in without even names on them!

  121. That class I had this afternoon? The one with the multi-page assignment due? I got them all to staple it this time! (But I also got confetti edges. You win some, you lose some.)

    For those who are having “I’m afraid to comment” issues: Let me refer you to Rule Nine (“Be good-natured and delightful”) and reassure you that few people here eat live babies. (Baby donuts, yes; actual babies, no.) I lurked for quite a while before first commenting, too, which is generally a good idea, but don’t be scared. Allow me to expostulate on my Theory of Life (as it applies to commenting on Shapely Prose):

    Try, really hard, not to be an asshole. My approach to this is greatly informed by the Episcopal Baptismal Covenant (bear with me here), part of which is, “Will you persevere in resisting evil and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?” Not if, but when. Everybody fucks up. And if I go into things sincerely trying not to be an asshole, but knowing that I will occasionally fail, that changes my response when my failure is pointed out to me. If I believe that Not Being an Asshole makes me a good person, then if somebody catches me being an asshole, I am a Bad Person unless I can make them wrong, so I get all defensive and make counter-accusations. But if I believe that Trying Not to Be an Asshole makes me a good-enough person, then if somebody catches me in one of my less-successful moments, I can apologize and thank them for telling me. And then I can try to figure out what I did wrong and how not to do it again.

  122. One of our former (retired) landscape instructors at the community college told a student who was continuing to misuse a chainsaw that he was fired. The student was enough of a dumbass that when Jim told him not to come back, he didn’t.

  123. What colleges are you guys at?!? I’ve only had one class where people wouldn’t staple their papers, and then it was only because no one had a stapler, not because they couldn’t be bothered. It was kind of funny watching them scrabble desperately for a stapler before I pulled out the one that I carry. I think the difference is that my university has a huge huge fucking number of non-trads who are extremely willing to follow instructions and often parent other students. I slacked off in my 2D design class and a non trad berated me for not doing my work like my mom would. Or maybe it’s just that I’m not seeing it from behind the scenes, though I’ve never heard anyone complain about strict stapling rules.

    Shout out to all the other teachers, or future teachers! I was surprised for a moment at how many there are, then I instantly stopped being surprised, because well it just seems to make sense.

    Also, I love the commenting policy, despite sometimes not following it… When I first started commenting, I noticed several other shaplings who seemed to be the gold standard of commenting. As I continued to comment, constantly sure I was fucking up, or that I was never contributing anything as good as them I started to see every one of them eventually fuck up. Finally I realized that the difference was the fact that when they fucked up, they took it in stride and would do better the next time. It’s a constant learning experience, I enjoy being along for the ride.

  124. My experience of being a TA was that so little felt within my control (syllabus, deadlines, etc, all mapped out by the profs) that when people ignored the few things on which I was entitled to assert myself, it drove me batshit. So, something like staples, which might usually seem like No Big Deal, could become crucial.

    For me, staples weren’t actually one…but I was really big on insisting that people check the syllabus for the answer before calling me with a question a) in the middle of my work day teaching high school or b) in the middle of the night. One woman (non-trad grad student) ignored this completely and called me several times each week; I started answering almost all the questions with “As it says on page 3 of the syllabus. . .” but that didn’t stop my blood from boiling.

  125. Yeah I’m confused about the stapling thing … I’ve had instructors specifically say NO stapled papers (don’t know why), and others not mention it at all (so I’m assuming stapling was okay). I’m not saying there aren’t dumbass students out there, but if it’s a teacher preference (as opposed to a university-wide standard), I can see people getting confused.

    Also, the no stapler (or non working stapler) in the computer lab thing that someone else mentioned could make a big difference. I’ve had to borrow staplers from the desks of librarians and admins before (with their permission).

    Man, I’m glad not to be in school anymore.

  126. SP is definitely the only blog I frequent where I read the comments *for fun.* I really really really appreciate your comments policy and wish more mods were as strict. Thanks for the effort you put in here!

  127. @ Johanna – I use the threat of losing pages of unstapled assignments with my students all the time! “Because you know my block is windy, you never know what might happen.” I make up Baroque threats all the time – “You don’t put your name on every page, I might forget I’m reading your paper, might decide to give your A to someone else.” My students think I’m crazy, but they know I don’t play.

    @ AnthroK8 – Glad you like my avatar! Are you in on the joke? Being a hardass has been my signature teaching style for years, mostly because I don’t tolerate stagnation. Everybody MUST IMPROVE OR ELSE. I think that this attitude is why I got my current job teaching at HEAF, because their mission focuses on raising underachieving students’ scores and inculcating values like self-respect, responsibility, and planning for the future, but there are times when I poke my head in at other teachers’ lessons, and everybody looks all relaxed and chill, and I get jealous. I want to be “chill teacher” so badly sometimes, instead of “OMFG terror-puke! teacher”. But I guess that’s what being a disappointed Indian dad is all about: you know he’s only scaring you to death because he loves you! (And I DO love my kids.)

  128. @Alibelle “I was surprised for a moment at how many there are, then I instantly stopped being surprised, because well it just seems to make sense.”

    Yeah, on reflection I’m not that surprised. Not because I think or feminists or activists are academics/teachers, but because of the language used here. I can’t imagine actually saying “cis-gendered” in a conversation with one of my friends or family members and keeping a straight face. And if I tried to write it in an article, I would certainly get a grumpy sub-editor asking what I meant and to knock off the jargon.

    Which is not to say that it’s not a useful term, but it’s one used in a certain milieu.

  129. Yeah, on reflection I’m not that surprised. Not because I think or feminists or activists are academics/teachers, but because of the language used here. I can’t imagine actually saying “cis-gendered” in a conversation with one of my friends or family members and keeping a straight face. And if I tried to write it in an article, I would certainly get a grumpy sub-editor asking what I meant and to knock off the jargon.

    Which is not to say that it’s not a useful term, but it’s one used in a certain milieu.

    I am stepping in as a mod to say, “Don’t go there” to you specifically or anyone else who thinks this is an “interesting” tangent to explore.

    Don’t make me say it twice.

  130. I can’t imagine actually saying “cis-gendered” in a conversation with one of my friends or family members and keeping a straight face.

    *headdesk*

    I echo Snarky.

  131. I can only heartily one-millionth the sentiment that I love you guys and your take-no-shit comments policy. Seriously, it is so nice to come somewhere online and not have to deal with massive amounts of buttholes wanking all over an otherwise lovely comment thread. In my Intrawebz experience, even the most innocuous topics can bring out the raving crazy in folks (I have seen people make like fifty impassioned CAPSLOCK O’DOOM comments in threads about whether or not it’s ok to microwave butter), and stuff like FA and feminism just multiply the asswaffle tendencies even more, so it’s great to have a safe place to come and have rational discussions with reasonable, eloquent, and fascinating women and men. Wow-Holy run-on sentence, Batman, but you guys know what I mean.

    And on the paper thing: I must confess to being leery of excessively picky paper-graders, not because I don’t understand the heartbreak of paper fringes everywhere and unreadable ink/fonts (my mom is a teacher and we used to have to vacuum the paper chaffs from up around her chair) but because I had an exceptionally bad personal experience with such policies. I’m a left-hander, and it isn’t a problem most of the time, but sometimes it really sucks. In fifth and sixth grade I would get frustrated to the point of tears, because the teachers forbade writing in pen for no discernible reason, mechanical pencils were banned at the school for fear of their being used to shoot staples, and they wouldn’t accept typed papers “because your parents could have done it for you.” However, as any of you lefties who have tried writing with standard pencil know, it results in giant black smudges all over the paper no matter how careful you are. So of course I was constantly getting yelled at for turning in messy papers, and kept in for recess if I tried to argue that if I could write neater papers if only allowed to use pen/mechanical pencil/computer. I was also told that if I had that many problems, I should try to “be normal”, i.e. right-handed. Yes, I might still be bitter about that six years later…

  132. So true about teachers outlawing pen for no particular reason. This was the case with my elementary-school teachers too. It made me platonically fetishize pens to this day.

    I just read an article in the SF Chron debating whether elementary should still learn cursive, the idea being that typing is ubiquitous, and printing is good enough for handwriting.

  133. As a current college student, I must admit that I am sometimes one of those students who doesn’t staple their papers. It’s basically because I tend to be disorganized, meaning I print stuff off/finish it like 5 minutes before it is due – working on getting better though, I even set up a Google calendar! But, I am now going to make much more of a conscious effort to staple my papers because I definitely don’t want to be thought of as one of those irritating students who doesn’t follow directions!

    Also, I used to hand in work with the confetti edges and in high school frequently turned in assignments that were bent/crumpled because they’d been at the bottom of my backpack. But I’ve matured past that point – mainly because I realized how unprofessional/immature looking/annoying to the teacher it is to hand something in that looks like it’s been half destroyed.

  134. @Snarky’s, wayyyy above…I’m a grantwriter and often have to fend off my supervisor’s entreaties to just “throw in” an application for some funding for which we don’t qualify, just to “get our name out there.” Every time I say, “if we submit something in violation of the guidelines, we’ll add useless crap to their workload, and not only will they not fund us THIS time, we will probably piss them off, so if they ever open an RFP we actually qualify for, they’ll already be sick of our shit before we apply.” [I use less rude language when speaking with her...at least I try to.] Good to know that the funder’s reaction is pretty much what I thought it would be…

  135. But, I am now going to make much more of a conscious effort to staple my papers because I definitely don’t want to be thought of as one of those irritating students who doesn’t follow directions!

    Partly it’s following directions, and partly it’s the very practical reason that though your paper is Yours and Yours Alone and therefore the only one that matters, the person grading it has 30 or 60 or 100 papers on her desk/in her bag at the same time and life would be a lot easier if they were all stapled before they get to her. :-)

    ETA: this is actually a decent principle for commenting here too. Everyone wants to add to the discussion with her own contribution, but imagine for a moment that yours is the 300th comment that the mod read that day. If you were the mod, would anything about it piss you off? If so, better rethink it.

  136. @ Aliciamaud
    “but I was really big on insisting that people check the syllabus for the answer before calling me with a question a) in the middle of my work day teaching high school or b) in the middle of the night. ”

    I am so big on this one. I never give out my cell/home phone number to my students. If they are inventive, they can find my office or my office phone number. I always tell them that I will always be compassionate regarding actual emergencies, but for all else they must allow for a 24 hour gap in e-mailed communication. The limits the number of one-hour-before-class-OMG-help-me-now e-mails and means that no one e-mails me Friday night expecting a response during my one day off. And, when I take a few hours to get back to them, they are delighted at my speed.

  137. @Jamie: Ugh, not a leftie but I feel similar pain. My parents had to fight like crazy to get the elementary school to let me type my assignments even with documentation on my disability. My fifth/sixth grade teacher was reluctant to give up the excuse to fail me on penmanship and spelling and watch me make me mistakes on long math problems because I couldn’t read the numbers I’d written.

    I’d like to say I’m shocked that a school teacher would be pushing the “normal” view on lefthanded students in the 21st century, but I’m not.

  138. Oh, and definitely thank you for the comment policy here. This is one of the only places where I regularly read the comment section – I love the fact that this is a safe space; I know that I can read the comments without worrying that there will be a bunch of triggering/hurtful remarks.

  139. I don’t comment often but I do read the posts and comments here pretty much daily. I was just thinking last week, when I found a nifty new blog and started reading the comment threads and had to stop before my head exploded, how much I appreciate the comment policy and community of commenters here.

  140. @Alicia Maud and Shosie – Argh, student phone calls. I no longer have a landline phone after having a student with no sense of boundaries track down my home number and call me repeatedly.

    @Sweet Machine – I really loathe the special snowflakes who can’t be bothered to follow submission guidelines (like stapling, typing, or including their names on the papers). I think their reasoning really may be something along the lines of what you mentioned – they have the only paper that matters. Surely I will be able and willing to pluck their separate, unidentified and oft-times illegible pages from everyone else’s papers to lavish praise and adulation upon!

    Or, you know, not. Perhaps I should start making my submission format guidelines as draconian as the attendance and late work policies.

    Ooh, and for actual on-topic goodness: I appreciate the moderation policies and the subsequent rarity of stabby pains while reading. Like half the other posters in this thread, I rarely read comments anywhere else (sometimes at Shakesville, but that’s about it).

  141. @Jamie – that is so wrong. I’m sorry that happened to you. I can’t even imagine a good reason to prohibit the use of pens in class. And then to not even listen to a student who has a reasonable explanation. *sigh* Sometimes I think that a teacher with those kinds of rules must have such low expectations of their students – surely, this isn’t how they would treat a child they thought was “gifted” or destined to great things.

  142. Morte – I read other sites, but I often cannot stomach their comment sections. In particularly news outlets seem to have the worse comment policies or non existent ones.

  143. AnotherKate, academic admin staff across the world salute you. Because, you know, it’s not Dr. Bigwig that gets to sort through that crap, print it out 15 times, forward it to everyone, double check that the submittee knows what grant they’re applying for, and then file all the paperwork on the rejection.

    Besides, if your process is like ours, you get to piss off multiple sets of admins across the world with every useless submission, which is neither kind nor wise. And while you don’t want to piss off Dr. Bigwig – trust me, you *really* don’t want to piss off the international admin cabal.

  144. As far as papers go, I don’t care whether they’re typed or handwritten, ink or pencil — my tiny superpower is that I am the Woman Who Can Read Any Handwriting Except Her Husband’s — but if it’s on multiple sheets of paper, for the love of Twinkies, attach them in some way. And put both first and last name on there. I teach way too many people with the first name “Jessica” or the last name “Patel” (although never both together so far) for either one of those alone to be a sufficient identifier. (Other teacher-types, are these your common names as well?) I also strongly prefer that it not be written in red ink, because then I have to switch pens while I’m grading. (I maintain a stash of no fewer than 3 different colors of grading pens — currently, they’re orange, red, and purple.)

    aliciamaud, I also do the “as it says on page 3 of the syllabus…” thing. I keep hoping that students will be sufficiently annoyed by it to read the damned syllabus already. The other question that bugs the hell out of me is “How many points was this out of?” C’mon, the thing’s only two pages long with point values written next to every single question. Add it up your own damn self.

  145. @Anita – thank you (and Snarky’s) for confirming. Certain people in my agency think that I’m a pessimist for EVER saying no and/or that I’m turning things down because I don’t want to work hard (LOL!) but that is NOT it. I’m just gonna keep saying, “This foundation includes two pages of guidelines & exclusions for a REASON…I know you see a six- or seven-digit dollar figure on this RFP but that doesn’t actually cause us to qualify!”

  146. I really doubt that staples are a hideous environmental threat. They do make archivists twitch, but I expect the staple-free students don’t know that, and if they were larval archivists they would be deeply, deeply concerned with keeping their non-stapled papers together somehow, and in the correct order.

  147. @other Becky, I meant the commment about making the effort to not be an asshole and trying again when one fails and is temporarily an asshole. Your comments about ink color and stuff were cool too, but I LOVED your earlier comment :)

  148. Anita – yeah, my org was a little different. The point was to go through the “slush” pile and find worthy projects that just had ineffective proposals. Though this often meant we had to read everything in the circular file, (including the ones where people got creative with the submission directions) because the funders had rejected all the proposals, but still needed to get the money off the books.

    Not that anyone asked, but I actually gave my ten best tips at some point.

  149. @ Snarky’s – that link is great, particularly point #5 (chasing the money). I feel like I spend part of every day explaining that there’s a difference between expanding/enhancing programs and just pulling newly invented/nonexistent programs out of your butt because you see a big payday….talk about the Emperor’s New Clothes!

  150. When I was a TA I was incredibly lenient on just about everything, mostly because I remembered being caught out on this rule or that as an undergrad and how incredibly angry and impotent it made me feel :( I mean, I probably took it to the bad extreme by allowing late papers and make-up exams all over the place and on the slightest of pretexts, but I kept thinking that if I’d saved even one student from the shit I went through (lol severe undiagnosed ADD and depression and utter inability to ask for help) then it’d be worth it. That said, I definitely lucked out by having almost uniformly motivated, interested, and incredibly smart students, so it wasn’t much of a stretch to believe them when they said they were having trouble and to extend the same forgiveness to those who hadn’t said it aloud but looked it.

  151. @Alexandra Erin, my eldest gets a Dana (a wordprocessing pad thingy) now that he’s gotten to sixth grade, it’s made such a difference in school for him. He has very poor fine motor skills and the OT said they were as good as they were going to get.

  152. Jamie: So my feeling is, unless we are talking about accommodating some kind of ADA need (and then you follow the damn law already, and do it with a supportive smile…), I have picky rules that make my life easier, not a student’s life harder. If you see what I mean. Standard pencil for a leftie does not make anyone’s anything easier, as far as I can see. That’s just not cool.

    So it makes my life easier when papers are stapled, things are turned in in electronic and hard copy format, if revisions are turned in with changes high-lighted, and if people can expect 24 hours lag time for e-mail responses.

    I also, because it does not make my life harder when I have small classes, (as with this year), allow papers to be late if students send me an e-mail with a new deadline included; allow as many revisions on drafts as students care to make; and will conference papers before they are turned in.

    I don’t mind cutting people slack every now an again either, because I know how life can go, and would lose my own head if it weren’t screwed on. But it would be nice if most of the time, most of the people just took the time and consideration to staple their damned papers already. Sheesh.

    Which, on reflection, is kind of like how I feel about comment rules. They’re not there to control my Freedom of Speech and make me miserable because I have to Agree With the Mods. They’re there to make reading and responding a pleasant and productive experience for everyone else and to save the moderators the havoc inappropriate comments wreak.

    (I will happily admit to passive-aggressively using an unstapled paper as a coaster while grading, though. Someone always gets their work back with coffee rings all over it, and a mildly apologetic and totally insincere smile.)

  153. PS: Krishji, my favorite prof in college was not a fuzzy bunny and we cowered in fear of her raised eyebrow of disapproval. I was so proud when I got an A- in one of her classes, I tell you what.

    I will bet my last purple grading pen someone has said much the same about you.

  154. I like to think that two+ years of a long distance relationship conducted substantially by email has taught me well the dangers of interneting while agitated. Especially when we can both be proud and touchy and quick-tempered. We’ve gotten much better at saying “wait this is stupid we need to stop and chill out” before things escalate. Or just doing things like call each other and talk on the phone instead of email. Though obviously that is not an option for the average SP commenter.

    As a TA for a computing sort of class, nearly everything my students do is turned in online in some way, and most of it is web-based, so all I ask is that there is a link, somewhere, that will let me find their files. You know, so it is actually possible for me to see them in order to grade them. But yet, this concept eludes so many of them.

    I can’t blame the students too much though, the class I teach lab for is sort of a big mess and I end up having to do a lot of presenting poorly organized material and asking them to do poorly thought-out assignments and I do what I can to make it better for them, but I can’t really blame them for not making sense of a lot of things that…don’t actually make sense. Still, if I can’t find your files, I can’t find your files. Really. Just putting them on the server does me no good if I don’t know what name you’ve given it or what folder you’ve put it in, or anything else that involves me reading your mind.

    Sigh.

  155. OH, you’ve brought me out of lurkdom with the stapling stories. I’ve downgraded my expectations from “Please staple” to “Please have something holding your pages together; a jerry-rigged twist tie will do the trick” to “For the love of pete, at least put your name on every page so I don’t have to try to match your handwriting.”

  156. Hmm I would take a “dictatorial” mod over a non-existant mod anyday. A few months ago I just stopped reading The Sexist, because however much I might like some of the content, some of the comments were just sickening. There are lots of blogs/sites I can’t read online, purely due to the unmoderated comments sections….and it’s really not an issue of ‘oh, just don’t read the comments’, because I think we all know it’s not as simple as that….most people want to know what other intelligent people think about an article…..and really, for a site to be a “safe space”, the comments section needs to be readable too.

  157. snarkysmachineComic Sans FTW

    Here is a handy way to determine when you should use Comic Sans.

    Shapelings, feel free to pass on to all your students. Spread the good word!

  158. I’ve just remembered the teachers who used to insist on paperclips, not staples, and return all work stapled. What did they do with all the paperclips, and why?! Also, we definitely had to write Firstname Lastname Assignment title Page x of y Date on every single page.

  159. @Stapler Thread…I work at an academic library, and we keep statistics of all the questions that get asked, mostly by type, but there is the always-helpful “other, explain below” column. One of my coworkers made one of those word-cloud things of all the things that had been written in “other”, and in giant letters in the middle was “STAPLER”. My personal stapler pet peeve is the students who don’t know how to use one. You lay the stapler flat on the table, insert your paper (of less than 20 pages, otherwise you ask us nicely to take out the Giant Stapler of Awesome), and press firmly on the top until it staples your paper. Sometimes the stapler is feeling cranky and will not comply, in which case we’ll muck around with the needle-nosed pliers. However, whacking it until it bounces will not help. Neither will picking up the stapler and squeezing — you’re always going to be putting slight rotational tension on it, which in a public setting will eventually break the stapler. Or alternately, you can use the electric stapler and provide amusement for the library staff by jumping when it makes this giant THUNK noise. ;-)

  160. Ailbhe:

    Instructor removes paperclip, photocopies paper, puts in file for future reference (“Gee, this sounds oddly familiar”), staples before returning because staples work better.

    The running header is a style sheet thing. Also useful if the paper comes apart before it’s gotten stapled.

    As a grad student, I sold those paper clips to buy rice and beans, or a new paper bag where I lived in the middle of the road. Grad students these days may have it easier.

  161. I just read an article in the SF Chron debating whether elementary should still learn cursive, the idea being that typing is ubiquitous, and printing is good enough for handwriting.

    Oh man, I wish this had happened sooner. I hated and still hate cursive and don’t really see the point. My writing doesn’t have to be pretty; it has to be legible.

  162. DaniJo: I feel like there has receently been more blogging on the cis/trans/gender front and maybe everyone in this community of readers wasn’t ready for it. I wish it didn’t seem like well intentioned people with an honest desire to learn and be open weren’t getting shot down.

    Wait, what? Oh hey, anyone who identifies as transgender, you’re making people uncomfortable, and we can’t have that, so maybe you should just not exist until we’re more used to the idea. jesus.

  163. I’m sitting her at 7am, taking advantage of a few minutes of reading before shuffling off to work and this post really made me feel better about being transparent and a hardass. I need to do a little more of that there. Thanks.

  164. “Wait, what? Oh hey, anyone who identifies as transgender, you’re making people uncomfortable, and we can’t have that, so maybe you should just not exist until we’re more used to the idea. jesus.”

    Not actually what DaniJo said, at all. I’m mainly a lurker, but I think I’m going to have to stop reading the comments here. Anyone with any kind of question immediately gets attacked, usually by other commenters. It’s painful to watch.

  165. Nice, GingerCat. An OT, shit-stirring flounce on a post by the site’s owner about how she, and the other mods, are the bosses here. Well played!

  166. @Lynn @Volcanista I read something the other day about how the pedagogic outcomes were better when children wrote rather than typed, and that they could also write faster and longer than they could type. This was for middle school students.

  167. GingerCat, Kate and other mods have repeatedly said that SP is not a 101 space, which I’ve taken to mean that you need to educate your ownself and demonstrate that you have when you do ask questions. That’s a good policy to have wherever a person goes online where the terms and concepts used in regular discussion are unfamiliar, regardless of if it’s non-101 status has been stated directly in your line of sight or not.

    The questions I’ve seen that get angry answers are 1. questions that could be readily answered with a quick application of Google and usually 2. have an odor of othering about them (see also: my recent episode of foot-in-mouth disease).

    DaniJo’s comment shows a lack of understanding of the culture of SP re: it not being a 101 space and that se doesn’t seem to be going to the effort to give hirself the most basic of education on hir questions, first. Se also makes an entitled remark that se has seen other people get slapped down for things se’s thought hirself, which seems to lack any awareness that perhaps those things se thought were privileged/ill-informed/hurtful and se should learn from other people’s mistakes.

    I can’t see hir statement that ‘maybe everyone in this community of readers wasn’t ready for it [cis/trans/gender]‘ as anything but entitled. Why should SP bloggers and commenters wait for everyone to be comfortable with a particular issue before writing about it? The people who live these issues are made uncomfortable by the status quo to a far greater degree than the status quo is made by having to think about it.

    People who are made uncomfortable by a topic would be well served to look at their discomfort and do the footwork and research to start figuring out where it’s coming from on their own, rather than expect the mods/commentariat to answer their 101 questions in a manner that doesn’t make them more ~uncomfortable~.

    Yeah, snark hurts, but pain is a sign that something has gone wrong. Sometimes that wrong thing is that you shoved your foot so far down into your mouth you’re gagging on your toes.

    Shorter me: Google first, read second, process third, ask questions last.

  168. I just read an article in the SF Chron debating whether elementary should still learn cursive, the idea being that typing is ubiquitous, and printing is good enough for handwriting.
    Noooooo! To this day I prefer cursive over printing on the (rare) occasions I have to write anything by hand. Printing is slow, and makes my hand cramp up in no time… cursive is much faster, smoother, and easier for me to write.

    @everyone re: stapling – I TA intro biology labs, so stapled papers are a non-issue, but really – what is it with students’ inability to follow directions and/or persistence in pushing their limits? Going to the departmental office when I asked him to come to my office (in a different building) – when I had even handily written my office number on his syllabus for him. Asking “Is there going to be a quiz this week”, when it clearly states on the syllabus that there will be a quiz every week (and we’ve *had* a quiz every week to date). “Will you give us a word bank?” when I’ve told them the last 20 times they asked that we do not give word banks in lab (this isn’t high school!). “What will the quiz be on?” when, again, it says on the syllabus that quizzes are 20 points last week’s exercise / 5 pts today’s exercise, and every quiz to date has followed this format. Aaarghhh!

    I’ve blamed a lot of it on these being freshmen, and very privileged freshmen at that (I teach at a semi-elite private university). But it seems like this is more universal than that.

  169. On student phone calls: I have mostly had really good luck with that, actually. I would rather have them call with a question than not do an assignment, for sure. And most of the kids I teach are in in 9th or 12th grade, so they’re definitely phone-shy in the current generation—they would rather email or text or stop by office hours. Out of about 1500 kids who have had my number of the years, 3 have been really annoying, and 2 of those were in my grad class–there was a real sense of entitlement that was hard to swallow. And, man, those 3 did make me think pretty hard about my phone policy.

  170. Oh, noes! My Freedom of Expression is being VIOLATED!

    Life is so very hard. Woe.

    By which I mean, thank you so much for making this one of the few places on the internet where I will still willingly read the comments. I just don’t have enough Sanity Watchers points to deal with comments on, for example, any sort of mainstream media site.

  171. I’m mainly a lurker, but I think I’m going to have to stop reading the comments here.

    Well, I’m glad to see you’re taking my advice for people who don’t like the moderation here. That works out well.

  172. I think their reasoning really may be something along the lines of what you mentioned – they have the only paper that matters. Surely I will be able and willing to pluck their separate, unidentified and oft-times illegible pages from everyone else’s papers to lavish praise and adulation upon!

    It’s like they’re Ralphie turning in his essay on wanting the Red Ryder BB gun.

    Now that I take most papers electronically (anything not done in class), I have to constantly remind them the rules of
    1. Title your file something that MAKES SENSE TO ME. This generally involves your name and the assignment. It is NOT “Class essay”.
    2. Put your name on your paper. No, really. Somewhere in the text of it, because if it’s only in the file name, if I print them out then I have no idea who to give it back to. See rule 3.
    3. Put your name in the header. That way it’s on all pages, and if it gets printed, no pages get put with someone else’s paper instead.

  173. Whoa, I made humungo-quotes! Sorry, I would have just italicized if I’d realized it would come out so brash-looking.

  174. 2. Put your name on your paper. No, really. Somewhere in the text of it, because if it’s only in the file name, if I print them out then I have no idea who to give it back to. See rule 3.

    Dude, even my grad school classmates have major FAIL at this. Like, yeah, if we’re all in a Shakespeare seminar together, and we have to circulate papers before class, you probably shouldn’t title your file “Shakes paper.” I have made a habit of retitling files before I send them to “Sweet Machine Very Specific Assignment Name February 2010.”

    Anyone with any kind of question immediately gets attacked, usually by other commenters.

    Ah yes, the vicious attack against people who are just so pained by discussion. We didn’t really need an object lesson on this thread, but what do you know, we got one.

  175. The post title makes me grin. I envision it being said in a deadpan delivery. Also, I’m trying to remember if I ever turned in papers without stapling them and, fairly sure that I must have at some point, feel very very fuilty about this.

    I know at least a portion of this drama was instigated by me; I think the references to trans issues specifically, above, indicates that this is likely so. For whatever it’s worth, I do feel badly about how I’ve conducted myself. In particular, I’d like to apologize to RNigade, should she be reading, for being ungenerous, for not giving her the benefit of the doubt, and for not asking clarifying questions. I’m sorry.

    On an unrelated note, I understand the frustrations expressed by folks who want to converse and to ask questions but aren’t sure if they will be inadvertantly harming others. I feel that way a lot, actually, and it has resulted in me posting fewer comments than I might have otherwise. (Though my online name references my trans status–as, when I first began commenting on blogs, I was posting on something trans-related–I’m privileged along more axes than I’m disprivileged.) I do think this frustration is likely a relatively small cost, compared to the harm that I can potentially do, however.

    Also, just speaking for myself, it’s not a stress-free or inconsequential thing for me to call out what I perceive as cissexism or other -isms. I feel sick to my stomach every single time before I post about something that I feel is problematic or cissexist. Am I overreacting? I ask myself. Am I just being emotional? What if I’m wrong? What if no one else agrees? Plus, just as some are frustrated that they feel they can’t ask questions in good faith, I’m sometimes frustrated that I’m expected to just assume that people who say things that are cissexist or act in cissexist ways are acting in good faith. Lots of horrible, horrible people who want to wipe trans people from the face of the earth begin their attacks on us by “just asking” us othering, ungendering questions that very often seem perfectly logical and fair to cis observers.

    I’m not saying that anyone here is such a person. I’m simply saying I have no way to know, not really. And even questions asked in good faith can still sting if they’re cissexist questions.

    There’s an additional heavy pressure, as well. Sometimes in discussions, I’m the only openly trans person, so I fret over making sure as many trans perspectives as possible are included and worried that if I conduct myself poorly, people won’t think, “Just Some Trans Guy is a jerk (stupid, oversensitive, etc.)” but “Trans men are jerks (etc.)'” or even “Trans people are jerks (etc.).”

  176. Also, just speaking for myself, it’s not a stress-free or inconsequential thing for me to call out what I perceive as cissexism or other -isms. I feel sick to my stomach every single time before I post about something that I feel is problematic or cissexist. Am I overreacting? I ask myself. Am I just being emotional? What if I’m wrong? What if no one else agrees?

    Thank you for saying this. As I’ve said before, it took me about 20 years to become confident enough to call out people who use “retarded” and I still feel sick to my stomach when I do (except here on the blog where I have Absolute Power). And that’s just a “little” thing! I know it feels shitty to be called out on something yourself — it feels terrible and you want to defend yourself because you are horrified that people think you might be a Bad Person. But it feels worse for the person calling you out to live in a world that oppresses them in huge and also subtle ways.

  177. When I first began reading SP several months back, I wasn’t familiar with the terms “cis” or even “privilege” as it is used here. A quick little Google search enlightened me. I think the best thing to do here and on other blogs is to read, read, read and then turn to Google if you have general questions before commenting.

  178. I guess the stapler thing struck a nerve. Sorry?

    I am the bitchy, mean, evil professor. Because I am a girl at a deeply patriarchal institution and I have to fight for acknowledgement every day and keep control of my classes by being a hardass in order to be respected. I was just having a discussion about being female and teaching at the college level and how many of us insist on being called “Dr.” or “professor” when our male colleagues don’t care and also often don’t understand why we care. Maddening.

    Of course, I also give them a lecture at the start of the semester about how I’m not actually a robot who powers down in the office overnight awaiting a panicked email from a student, but an actual human being who goes home and does not check email at 10pm on Sunday night, so if you wait until the last minute to do the assignment, don’t expect me to be able to help you, etc. (See above re: mean, evil professor).

    AnthroK8 – I tell my students any evals that slag on my appearance or personality will get ignored because the administration will assume you’re holding a grudge, so if you want to get me to change, you need to be respectful and offer constructive comments. I’ve gotten a LOT of “she’s fat and ugly no wonder she’s not married the bitch” comments on evals over the years.

    Alibelle – I miss my non-trads. They were often a lot easier to work with than traditional students. I assume that’s a maturity thing, and also an awareness of what life is like outside of college without a degree (not to mention they’re usually far more aware that they are paying for these classes and thus want to get at least something out of every one).

    Viajera – the basic inability to follow instructions is absolutely mindboggling to me, and I’ve seen it at big public universities and tiny private schools. Not students who need clarification or don’t understand something, that’s never a problem, but the ones who just never read the instructions at all and then get mad when their grade suffers because they didn’t follow the instructions. AAAAA!

    DRST
    Who must now go grade 50 quizzes and 50 papers from last night’s class.

  179. Calling someone out on an -ism isn’t easy for me, either. I’ve also had the experience of telling someone, “You shouldn’t say ‘such and such'” and not really being able to explain why because I’d only heard that it was bad. For example, in a workshop I was leading, I once talked about taking care in using words like paralyzed or crippled, and a crippled attendee in the class raised her hand and completely disagreed with me. Oops. This experience (along with a few others) made me very reticent about speaking to issues I don’t have a firm grasp on. Basically, I’ve learned not to claim more knowledge than I have. What that looks like typically is me refraining from using questionable language. If someone else is using it, I might ask, “I’ve heard that’s an offensive word to some people; do you know anything about that?”

  180. I may get banned for this but it’s been bothering me since I first read the fashion thread. Like at least one commenter before me, I’ve read through Starling’s comments several times to find the able-ist portions and have still not been able to find them. I trust that, given the mods’ reaction, they are there somewhere.

    Starling seemed extremely apologetic and just wanted to know what she said that was offensive, presumably so she wouldn’t repeat the mistake. And because I have the highest respect for the mods, I’m a little puzzled by their (or rather, her) reaction–to wit, “Wow, did you miss the part where marginalized people don’t have to explain themselves when YOU screw up.”

    One possible reaction is, “Go learn about able-ism and read the thread again.” Like the person before me, I did read some “able-ism 101″ type material and still didn’t find the offending passage. What’s the harm in letting people know how they offended others, rather than having them puzzle over it?

  181. DRST: I do that, too, right before “and then I will laugh at you.” My best friend got a lot of “she’s hot and should wear short skirts more.” Yuck. It’s a Palin-Clinton axis of wildly inappropriate commenting in professional settings out there in the evals world.

    Also, with the stapler thing? I think I started that, so… yeah, sorry.

    Just Some Trans Guy, and Sweet Machine, re: call-out fraught. Yuck. I am sorry that happens to you.

  182. I hate hyphenated words. Usually a hyphen is used to support the ease of reading in complex constructions. Is “able-ism” a complex construction? I guess that “ableism” does look kinda strange. I dunno, I still think it looks better than “able-ism.” From now on, lets just use “ableism”, ok, is that cool with everyone?

  183. I’m a moderator at another site, so here is a pro-tip for AcademicGirl: I have read many thousands of comments, and comments beginning with “I may get banned for this but ” never end well. Never. You start out with a presumption of bad faith on the mods’ part, see. It’s disrespectful. Also, I’ve found that those comments almost always ask questions which have already been addressed.

    I really appreciate the moderating here, btw. Draconian’s the way to go.

  184. Why does this thing about the fashion post and ablism keep coming up when it says, right there in that thread, that it will not and need not be explained?

    (The above question is rhetorical, and actually means, “For crying out loud, stop that.”)

  185. AcademicGirl, I re-read the fashion thread, and to me it reads like Starling’s error was assuming that redlami had decided against celebrating incrementalism on the basis of being privileged enough to be able to dismiss it, rather than deciding against it on the basis of not being willing to settle. Basically, Starling didn’t know who sie was talking to, and when sie was told by snarky’s that sie was making a lot of assumptions, sie didn’t step back. Furthermore, sie requested that we as a community of commenters undertake, collectively, the work of educating hir about what sie might be doing or saying that was wrong. That’s not our job. That’s hir job.

    I will now take a moment to revel in the irony of my taking the explaining job in this case.

  186. @Volcanista – If you want to smack me down for privledge go ahead. Don’t even be nice about it. I’m a big girl. I’ll take it. But don’t put words in my mouth with your over the top hyperbole. I didn’t tell anyone to not exist.

  187. DaniJo, this is the wrong thread for getting defensive. When you say this:

    but I’ve seen some people getting the comments slapped out of them for the same things I thought or felt.

    on a post about how we mods get to decide what gets “slapped” around here (which, by the way: NO), do you really expect it is going to go well?

    I feel like there has receently been more blogging on the cis/trans/gender front and maybe everyone in this community of readers wasn’t ready for it. I wish it didn’t seem like well intentioned people with an honest desire to learn and be open weren’t getting shot down.

    It’s nice to wish for things. I suggest you reread this post.

  188. Huh? In saying the community isn’t ready for blogging about trans stuff, you implied that it ought not be blogged about, or at least, if it is, than cisgender privilege ought to be given a pass?

    So trans people get to exist, just really really quietly, and without complaining if people act like they don’t, or having allies?

  189. I love the comments policy here. I love all of you. Seriously.

    I turned 30 on Sunday, and a couple of times I found myself thinking I wanted to share my cake & ice-cream with the Shapelings, because I am entering my thirties so much more grounded and at peace with myself and my body than I thought possible. Largely because of this blog, the conversations here, and the comments policy that makes this level of discourse possible. Yoga has helped, but I was desperately seeking for a conneciton with my body, and I doubt I would have found it if not for articles like “The Fantasy of Being Thin”, and recommendations of other articles and books to read.

    So that peanut-butter cake with chocolate ganache frosting and chocolate butterflies on it? The generous slice I ate with coffee-ice cream? Consider it eaten in a toast to this here blog, and all the mods. (Kate, there was also port we’ve been saving for 5 years).

  190. @Rosemary Riveter, I’ll second what you said tremendously. This site has over the time I’ve been visiting helped to quieten quite a few demons. Although I frequently add ridiculous and deliberately silly comments, I do really appreciate the site.

  191. @Just Some Trans Guy: That was very gracious of you to apologize. It is understandable that you felt alarmed, angry, hurt, concerned, offended and/or anything else you may have experienced in reaction to my comment. My words were written in haste, with no concerned effort to ask myself if I was potentially doing harm to others. I am sorry.

    There is a big long explanation I could give, and I trust you to believe there was more to the story that I started to tell in that comment.

    In any case, I certainly regret the tone and the inflamatory words I chose so carelessly. You gave me a great lesson when you called me out (as they say). I hope my comment has done no lasting harm to others.

    To you and all: Be well in peace.

  192. I think that henceforth getting “slammed” by the mods should instead by known as “getting slimed,” in honor of Slimer, a much-beloved GB cartoon charatcher. As in, “Man, SM really slimed that Shapeling!”

    (that’s right, not only did I grow up on the movie, but also the CARTOONS.)

    I also see potential for “don’t cross the streams!” and intersectionality…..hmmm.

  193. As a teacher, I’ve actually been really lucky. When I started teaching in grad school, my first course was a freshman comp section that focused on writing semiotic analysis of pop culture and advertising. Which meant I got to talk a lot about the portrayal of gender and gendered expectations (especially as regards communication or self-expression) fairly early on in the semester. Which meant I got the fuzzy psychological boost of righteousness as well as much less blatantly expressed sexism. I actually have pretty positive connections with most of my students, which is nice.

    I haven’t had any problems with the professional vs. non-professional attire (I usually dress like Sweet Machine’s male colleagues, sans baseball cap), but I’ve been told that a lot of my communication markers are closer to the masculine stereotype than the feminine one (posture, stance and gait, tone of address and so forth). I think a lot of that comes from spending so much time with the local martial arts community (I started training as a teenager, I’m now 2 days from 28), but typing it out still makes me feel vaguely like I sold out to the patriarchy. Ugh.

    I do keep having them ask about my sexual orientation, which is odd. Not in class, but occasionally after class and individually, and in about as respectful a manner as one can ask such a personal question of someone who one has only professional contact with .

  194. Augh, thread has moved on without me since my last refresh. Sorry for the ramble on teaching.

    Also, JustSomeTransGuy and everyone else who calls out privileged, problematic, or hurtful language: I really appreciate it. It (like the delightful moderation policy) makes this over time a much safer (and more pleasant!) place to hang out.

  195. Also, JustSomeTransGuy and everyone else who calls out privileged, problematic, or hurtful language: I really appreciate it. It (like the delightful moderation policy) makes this over time a much safer (and more pleasant!) place to hang out.

    I agree so much. Thank you for using your teaspoons on us.

  196. I’ve read this blog for a few years now and never once posted a comment, as I do with most well established communities, mostly to learn as much as I could. I really, really appreciate the comment moderation, because this blog is essentially a safe place for me to learn to and grow – I have read other great articles or blogs on the internet, but rather than being able to read the discussion to further deepen my understanding of the topic, I had to simply stop reading because some the comments were so degrading.

    Anyway, I thought I’d take this chance to thank all the bloggers at Shapely Prose. I’m a few months shy of 20, but this blog single-handedly guided me from a state of constant self-hatred that I accepted as a fact of life to confident and happy person. Especially with SP’s expansion of topics, it has also made me a more socially aware person, both of the many acts of oppression as well as my own privilege.

    I may or may not comment often, but I hope you bloggers, as well as the many commenters who contribute, are aware that you do a great thing. I’m looking forward to many more years of insight.

  197. AcademicGirl–
    Ack, no, don’t defend me! I was in the wrong. My gut immediate response to being called out was, “Wait, but I’m a NICE PERSON! Let’s talk more about this! And more and more and more, until you see my point and agree with me!” Not my finest moment. Yeah, I am a nice person, but that wasn’t the time or place to get all insist-y about being recognized as one.

    This is somewhat akin to being a motorist who runs into a pedestrian and stops the car to deliver a lecture about what constitutes jaywalking. Who the hell cares about right of way, if someone is bleeding on the ground? When you discover someone has been hurt by your language, it is not the time to start in on a speech about how not-wrong you were. (And, under those circumstances, we all are conditioned to believe we are not-wrong.) It’s time to apologize and shut up, and I managed to screw up on both of those fronts.

    Sincerely as it was meant, asking for an explanation was precisely the wrong thing to do, and Snarkys as mod was precisely right to say that the only correct answer to “You are hurting someone” is “I am sorry and I will shut up now.” My personal education is of minor importance compared to keeping these threads safe spaces.

    Since the moderators have all graciously refrained from spelling out precisely how Starling was being an ass, out of consideration for my tender feelings, it falls on me to do so. So: ladies and gents, I was being an ass. Learn from my mistake! And for heaven’s sake, let’s leave the subject behind, as the moderators have been kind enough to permit–being publicly wrong is no fun for me.

  198. Rnigade,
    Peace to you, also! And yeah, I do believe there was more to your story. I’m sorry you didn’t get a chance to tell it.

    Sweet Machine,
    Thanks for the links! I’d seen the Alas post way back when, but I’d missed your own post the first time ’round. It resonated. It really can be nerve-wracking to speak up sometimes. *nod*

    hsofia,
    “For example, in a workshop I was leading, I once talked about taking care in using words like paralyzed or crippled, and a crippled attendee in the class raised her hand and completely disagreed with me. Oops.”

    *nod, nod* Yeah, since there’s no Grand Overlord of [Marginalized Group] to establish officially What The Group Thinks and Wants, it can be tricky. Just thinking over the diversity of opinion on terminology, goals, even group boundaries, within trans communitie … oof. I really, REALLY like the approach you mentioned and think I’ll adopt something similar for approaching situations where I think something icky is going down but I’m not of the affected demographic.

    Isabel Knight and Rejoyce,
    No thanks needed. Sometimes I’m the one who brings up stuff to help educate, sometimes I’m the one who’s learning stuff and being educated. S’how it works. :)

  199. I’d like to see a post about Mrs. Obama and her “fight against child obesity”. I get a quivery scared feeling about it when I see the MSM stuff on it; and I could really use reading a righteous diatribe to remind me of the facts.

  200. @aliciamaud74 (way back up there) – great poem!

    @everstar – I’d actually like to thank you for that explanation if I may, because despite reading those comments-that-shall-remain-unnamed over and over again, I just couldn’t get it, despite having already been through 101. I’m one of those left-brained science/math types, and sometimes I’m a bit (ok, maybe a lot) slow with these concepts. Neither you nor anyone else owed me or anyone else an explanation, but I thank you for doing it anyway.
    [/endtopic]

  201. I mostly lurk these days, but I put in my two cents when my brain and knowledge of the subject at hand* permit. *if I don’t know about a particular subject, I usually stay on the bench and consult Dr. Google as needed (even if fluff-related). That being said, ladies, thank you aplenty for your Draconian Comments Policy.

    Kate, Sweet Machine: hope to actually hang out with you sometime. :) fillyjonk, Snarkys and A Sarah: hope to stumble upon you and your awesomeness if/when you pass through the Chi. :)

    I shall resume lurking to glue my brain back together now…

  202. Jenniferal: Thank you! (It sometimes amuses me that my philosophy of life involves both the baptismal covenant and the word “asshole.” Then I have to snicker.)

    Rosemary Riveter: Happy birthday! Can I come to your next birthday party?

    Random factoid of the day: I was reading a review article for my developmental genetics class, and it cited an apparently seminal work on the subject as (Turing, 1952). Me: That’s odd. How many geniuses named Turing were there in 1952? Apparently, the answer is 1. The math whiz who may or may not have invented the computer dabbled in biology long enough to write a single paper. Which is still getting cited almost 60 years later. Damn, but that man had some brains on him.

  203. Other Becky,

    In case you (or anyone else) was interested and wasn’t already aware: Also in 1952, the British government was repaying Dr. Turing for his scientific brilliance and his invaluable assistance during World War II (he worked on code-breaking for the Allies) by arresting him, prosecuting him for homosexuality, stripping him of his security clearance, and forcing him onto estrogen (in lieu of a prison sentence).

    He killed himself two years later. He was 41 years old.

    The British government finally apologized for this human rights tragedy … in 2009.

  204. @JSTG:

    Any time somebody asks why we have Segways and Roombas instead of personal hover vehicles and intelligent robot servants, there’s the answer. Because the British government thought it was more important to punish “deviancy”.

  205. Alexandra Erin,

    FUNNY. And sad. BUT FUNNY. And true.

    Anti-gay bigotry: The real reason we will not have hover cars in 2015 (contra to what Back to the Future claims).

  206. I’m a college instructor as well, and have discovered a terrible side affect to stapler enforcement–students get so conditioned that they panic if they can’t attach their papers together.

    Student with paper: Oh no, I forgot to staple it!
    Me: It’s okay, just lay it down on the stack.
    Student [with frantic, panicked look]: I’ll just do this… ::student proceeds to fold corner, or do that horrid tear-a-little-strip-in-the-top-and-fold-it-down thing, or other such paper abuse that just leads to a messy stack of papers that won’t life flat::
    Me: No, really, it’s fine. Just put it down on the stack.
    Student [flipping out]: Are you SURE? ::keeps folding::
    Me: I… yes. Just… stop… just put it… stop mutilating it. Stop.
    Student [deep breath]: Okay. If you’re sure.
    Me: I think you need to go away and be a drunken, irresponsible college student for awhile.

  207. I am, yet again, grateful for the hard-core comments policy on this site. I just read an news article where some bloke – that’s all that has been confirmed, that the suspect is identifed as male – has set off explosives at an insurance agency in Darwin. What are the news site’s comments about? Immigrants (the non-white ones, obvs) and how KRudd is sending the country to the dogs by letting them in! Because it simply *must* have been one of *those* people.

    Thank Kang Baby Jebus for Shapely Prose.

  208. RE The various people who’re complaining about trans issues coming up because they’re “not ready” for them, here’s a thought – why can’t you just skip those posts? If you know that you do not understand trans issues and do not care to understand them, why not take it upon yourself to take yourself out of those particular conversations rather than expecting other people not to have the conversation just because you’re not comfortable with it? Why is it other people’s responsibility to limit their conversations to issues that you’re interested in and comfortable with? You always have the option not to participate. The fact that the mere presence of other people talking about those issues is enough to make you flounce is…odd.

    That could go for all kinds of issues, actually.

  209. @ Krishji — The thread is WAY past this now, but I had to correct a misapprehension! I think I made myself sound a lot more awesome than I actually am. Just because I aim for the cool big-sisterly thing in the classroom, doesn’t mean that a) I can actually pull it off, or b) it’s a good idea. I would bet hard money that your draconian ways cause more learning than my bumbling friendliness does.

    I have the advantage of being tall and large-framed and solidly built (even when not a major fatty, i.e. before my MFA thesis), so even though I’m a young white woman with a sweet little voice, I haven’t had to go through the same gyrations to earn classroom respect that my smaller, cuter colleagues have.

  210. @ AnthroK8 – *blush* don’t know what to say, really…

    @ JM – I sincerely doubt that you are any iota less awesome than you say you are. I am short and unimpressive, but I am blue, and that earns peoples’ respect quite easily.

    I had a long day today, and have found not only much love for the blood-curdling, draconian teacher here on SP, but from one of my actual students! Had a chat about signs of respect in different cultures during break during maths with a particular young man who tends, to paraphrase Kate, to put out a bit of sass. I mentioned this to him, that he wasn’t doing himself any favors by developing a reputation among his teachers. I never saw a face so full of embarassment! “Thank you, Miss Krishna. It means something to hear it from you.”

    Life’s Purpose = Ur doin it rite!

  211. The newspaper at my college had a brilliant illustrator who had a comic strip from time to time with characters “Murray Bold” and “Goudy Heavyface.”
    I was a typesetter then, there. I will always, on some level, be a typesetter.

  212. JSTG: Yeah, I knew about “the rest of the story.” Sometimes I wonder whether things might have turned out differently if all his Bletchley Park work wasn’t still so highly classified that hardly anyone knew it had happened. If the police and the judge had known they were dealing with a highly decorated war hero, would it have made a difference? Of course, the government that didn’t intercede on his behalf knew. Would their attitudes about the importance of secrecy (all that stuff wasn’t declassified until, I believe, some time in the 80’s, when codebreaking wasn’t quite so directly based on Turing’s work) have been different if he hadn’t been a “deviant?”

    Friedman, the American cryptanalyst who broke the Japanese code (and built a working model of the encryption/decryption machine without ever having seen one — the Allies periodically captured an Enigma machine, but didn’t get their hands on Purple until after the war), also came to a less-than-happy ending. He was heterosexual, but Jewish, and got screwed over in some less-extreme ways. (For anyone who’s interested, The Man Who Broke Purple is a pretty good bio, and also fun to carry around because the title confuses the hell out of people.)

  213. If the police and the judge had known they were dealing with a highly decorated war hero, would it have made a difference?

    No, that would have just meant the science was now gay by association. And, you know, if you don’t make examples of disciplines that make the wrong lifestyle choices, it’s a slippery slope.

    I am, in fact, only sort of joking. I do think if judge and jury had known, it might have cast more aspersions on Dr. Turing, and those who worked with him. Being homosexual was seen as more of a risk factor than being straight, because we all know that gay people cannot keep their hands off hot enemy spies, and straight people are incorruptible (despite all historical evidence that . . . yeah, not so much). Also, the enemy can blackmail you with the knowledge you’re gay! Which is a reason to make it more taboo!

  214. I’m late to this thread, but I wanted to add one more voice to loving the comments policy. Whenever I’m tempted to ask “but whyyyyy is that the wrong thing to say, think, feel???” I try to go read some thread on a subject I DO “get” and comments from people who DON’T get it and ask myself, “Do I sound like that? Do I want to sound like that??” If the answer makes me shudder, I STFU (usually ;)

    Now comes the reason my comment is so late… it’s taken me a day to try to get up the nerve to do a teeny tiny bit of “calling out” myself. I have a number of very messed up brain chemical type issues and to those who would assign motives to people who can’t manage to follow simple directions like stapling papers together… well, it smacks of able-ism to me (or ableism, for whoever it was that hates hyphenation). It sounds to me a lot like my doctor and many of my thinner friends saying, “it’s not that hard, you just eat a little less and exercise more”. After all, just trying harder worked for them, right? Well, it don’t work that way for every body and it don’t work that way for every brain. Yes, you said staple. Yes, the stapler is right there. Yes, I acknowledge that my brain problem is making your job marginally more difficult. Believe me, it’s nothing compared to what it does to my life. If you want to flunk people for not following the rules, that’s cool. I don’t expect to win top model at my weight either. But please don’t automatically assume everyone who is “non-compliant” is doing it to be an asshole (and no, no one used that word, it was a tone thing I was picking up on and I acknowledge I’m touchy on the subject and could be reading too much into it).

  215. Cassi: I, as one of the staple-complainers, hadn’t really thought of it as a non-neurotypical-type-thing. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. I usually attribute it to absentmindedness, rather than deliberate defiance, which is why I have a stapler there in the room. (I also don’t rant at my students the way I did here… at least, I’m assuming nobody here is one of my students.) But I’ll try to keep that in mind — again, thank you.

  216. I admire your stance of non-compromise. I’ve seen too many good sites fall apart for want of a little well-placed discipline when people forget to play nice and start throwing sand. Thank you for the thankless job of moderation. Oh, and “It is straight-up dictatorial, and not always benevolent.”– that pretty much describes how I planned my wedding. Made THAT much more simple, inexpensive, and peaceful too. :)

  217. JustSomeTransGuy, I really appreciate your contributions to the comments, you calling people out, and you bringing your perspective to discussions. I didn’t realize how hard/stressful it was for you (at times, at least) to call people out. From my perspective, you do a whole lot of good with your comments.

  218. You always have the option not to participate. The fact that the mere presence of other people talking about those issues is enough to make you flounce is…odd.

    That could go for all kinds of issues, actually.

    YES, IT COULD! And does! Oh, if only more of the internet had the ability to say, “Hmm, this discussion makes me uncomfortable, and I don’t think I agree with what people are saying, so… I am going to step back and keep reading (or not) instead of adding my two cents.”

    I do that on other blogs all the damned time. A conversation makes me go, “Really? REALLY?” and I get the urge to say something, but then I lie down until it passes. And the world does not end and is not noticeably poorer for the lack of my voice on that particular thread. Works like magic.

  219. Hey, Cassi, thanks for your comment. It reminded me of my friend’s solution to the eternal stapler problem when she was teaching: she bought a mini-stapler and carried it in her teaching bag. That way, if anyone handed her a loose paper, for whatever reason, she could just hand that person the stapler and they would both be happy. I’m not teaching this quarter, but I’m going to buy myself a mini-stapler before my next round of classes start.

    And with that, I declare Stapler Ranting Time over. Fellow teachers, let’s remember what Cassi said next time the Red Hot Stapler Rage comes upon us.

  220. Dammit. I missed the Stapler Ranting Time. I bet its going to be Halley’s comet all over again. I’ll have to wait another 70 years or so before I get to vent my red mist stapler rage.

  221. Sweet Machine, that’s a great solution. It creates a new complication for me, in that my teacher bag has started to make one shoulder hurt all the time from carrying so much stuff. But it was worth the cost when a student asked me for tape the other day–I was all out, but I *was* able to offer a gluestick instead. . .and also wire cutters, a phillip’s head screwdriver, and/or some dental floss. (:

  222. Ooh, way up thread, someone mentioned the passive-aggressive coffee rings of reproof on papers that annoyed them. I once handed back a bunch of frighteningly singed drafts to my class, and after giving them my general feedback fixed them with a stern gaze and said I expected to see improvement in the the next batch.

    I’m not sure that they actually believed that the sheer force of my disapproval for people who cite wikipedia in an academic paper had singed their documents, but I at least did not have to explain the unfortunate incident of the flaming pizza tray, beaten out with a sheaf of papers while my dinner guest ran for a damp towel.

  223. Cassi, thank you very much for typing up. I want students to feel free to tell me staplers (or any other procedural thing) can be an issue for them. I DON’T want A Salty Tone to make students feel as if they can’t ask for help or accommodation. So I really, really appreciate your girding your loins and sharing that information and calling out Assuming Things And Tone. I can buy a red Swingline stapler to take to class.

  224. Woot for draconian comments policies! For serious. As invigorating as a few rounds of flamewar can sometimes be, I’m frankly getting too old and cranky for that kind of crap. Coming to SP and participating in pleasant and thoughtful discussion is… is wonderful. And I have learned many things while here. Things like “yeah just because you’re thinking it, Lampdevil, doesn’t mean you should post it.” A good lesson, that.

    All of this stapler talk is making me think two things. One, that I was really quite the rotten student when I was back in college, with my badly-assembled reports and whatnot. Ouch. Two, I need to hurry up and become a student again so I can do better! And possibly get an awesome teacher like one of you guys…?

  225. Thanks Cassi-I have had the same thing happen with simple mathematical things like figuring out tips. And if it hadn’t been for someone mentioning it on SP I’d never have known about dycalculia.

  226. Coming in late to the party…

    Thank you, SP mods, for the hard work. Your comments policy is awesome.

    Also, @Just Some Trans Guy, thank you for a comment way, way up there. Something finally clicked for me with this: “Plus, just as some are frustrated that they feel they can’t ask questions in good faith, I’m sometimes frustrated that I’m expected to just assume that people who say things that are cissexist or act in cissexist ways are acting in good faith. Lots of horrible, horrible people who want to wipe trans people from the face of the earth begin their attacks on us by “just asking” us othering, ungendering questions that very often seem perfectly logical and fair to cis observers.” It is certainly not your job to explain these things to my privileged self, but you did. So thank you.

  227. People who don’t like the comments policy are free to not comment, and to refrain from reading this blog. Hey, they can also start their own blog! And argue with whomever they want!

    Thanks for this space. I appreciate your hard work – all of you.

  228. @ Cassi – Thanks for the insight. I really appreciate your help and your honesty, and I am definitely going to bring staplers, etc., and other helpful things to class with me for my students’ benefit. Your comment has really made me think: while my primary emphasis when teaching has always been that everything I say in class is important, and vital for my students to remember if they want a good grade from me, I don’t want that emphasis to diminish the effectiveness of my message for students of all kinds.

  229. God, Kate, I so empathize with this. I have (well, had) a commenter on my blog who not only yelled at me about his First Amendment right to comment on my private property (dumbass), but then proceeded to tell anyone who would listen that I was censoring him. CENSORING HIM. For depriving him of his god-given right to comment on ONE blog out of the umpteen jillion on the internet.

    Sigh. Here endeth the rant. Keep fighting the good fight.

  230. Cannot recall if anyone has mentioned this, but it’s worth repeating anyway: THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for allowing commenters here to use swear words. Hey, swearing can quite possibly save a life you know (prevents rage and/or poopiness from building up.) On some days, a series of 5 or 6 choice profanities strung together in a tidy row is one of my greatest joys. Haven’t reached THAT level here because this is one of the least aggravating places I know! Thanks for working so hard to keep it worthy of coming back to.

  231. You know what? I love you guys so much it’s ridiculous! I LOVE YOUR COMMENTING POLICY! I love how you respond to things with respect at least at first, you guys are wonderful. Nothing like what I just had to put up with at BUST’s blog. After I responded to an unbelievably classist article, I was told by the writer to lighten up. I love you guys because you would never do that. You might not agree with me, but you wouldn’t completely trivialize my feelings or anyone else’s. Thanks you so much.

    You’re so much better than this: http://www.bust.com/blog/2010/02/03/hey-internet-u-r-a-deadbeat-dont-you-see-the-teenage-girl-fight-club-happening-right-under-your-screens-roof.html#comments

  232. Wow, Alibelle, that’s…. revolting. Extremely, utterly revolting. To write something as shockingly thoughtless and insensitive as that and then be all, “Hey, LIGHTEN UP! It was a JOKE!”… well, it stinks of WATRD this summer.

    Ugh. I love Shapely Prose. So much.

  233. Alibelle – that WAS a classist article, which is a shame because bad parenting is a real pet peeve of mine, too. But at least the other commenters agreed with you!

  234. I didn’t read the Fashion Without Hatred thread at first (because I don’t find fashion-related articles super-interesting), then all the talk of the drama made me curious… Now the drama has made me cranky. (That’s always the way of it… I get sucked in by drama, but in the end it just makes me cranky, even when I don’t involve myself in it.)

    Moderating it must make one all the more cranky (even though [or should that be "especially because"] a significant portion of the drama was between mods).

  235. I do see your point and how it applies to everyone else, but surely if I keep digging in you’ll see that I’m a unique flower and the special circumstances surrounding my unprecedentedly important comment demand special treatment.

  236. Amanda
    God, Kate, I so empathize with this. I have (well, had) a commenter on my blog who not only yelled at me about his First Amendment right to comment on my private property (dumbass), but then proceeded to tell anyone who would listen that I was censoring him. CENSORING HIM. For depriving him of his god-given right to comment on ONE blog out of the umpteen jillion on the internet.

    Now you see the violence that’s inherent in the system. Help, help, I’m being repressed!

  237. @homitsu I don’t know whether you own an iPhone or not, have any desire to, or if it’s possible for you. I don’t own one myself. But just in case this information is useful to you or anyone else, I understand there is an application for the iPhone that will figure out the tip for you based on whatever percentage you set as your default.

  238. @homitsu — There’s also old-school! An old boyfriend carried a little laminated card in his wallet (I think it was a freebie from a garage, insurance company, that sort of thing) that had 15% calculated for two whole columns’ worth of check totals. Smart guy, but he never trusted himself to do the tip correctly.

    I’ll add to the chorus in saying “thanks!” for the arduous moderation tasks. I can’t imagine how big of a job it must be. This is one of the few civilized places on the internet. The disagreements and misunderstandings almost always come from good faith. As opposed to almost everywhere else, where the unpleasantness is totally intentional and, well, just bratty, where people really don’t _want_ to understand anyone or anything new.

  239. Thanks Lynn and The Other Caitlin. I had a pocketmod chart but have lost it. I was bullied enough for my learning disability that I nearly panic if put under pressure to calculate something. I guess I didn’t make the connection to others’ related issues until Cassie mentioned the stapler. Once again I’m enlightened by SP!

  240. everstar
    I also will now take a moment to beat myself over the metaphorical head with Grafton’s post. Whoops.

    That’s obligatory under Rule #10. Rule #10.1 is that you (everyone you not you you) will like it.

  241. @hsofia

    I shrank down into a suberservient cringing position when I saw your innocent request for a new post. I thought the Gods might turn angry and smite our BabyDonut crops, but I think we got away with it.

  242. Add me to all those who love the comment policy. I found this site when someone linked to the Schrödinger’s Rapist post, and I assumed the comment thread would be like…well, pretty much any other comment thread on a topic like that. But I started to read the comments anyway, and was surprised that even though there were over 1000 comments there were only a few that gave me a headache, and those were dealt with quickly. Amazing.

    Getting rid of shit-stirring and (most) dramah makes the mature, smart comments stand out. It’s a welcome change from most other sites.

  243. @hsofia — Er, about that reference to something not old… (I dare not write the words lest I peer greedy)…

    Praps it is like the tension that grows when the lights in the theeeata go down, right before the kehtin opens…the momentary hush of anticipation. The thrill.

    At least that’s what it seems like when real live theater plays are portrayed in teh movies. Never been to the theater myself. SP is probably as close as I will ever come. AAAHHHHH… The sweet tension…

  244. I second the calls of appreciation for the commenting policy here. Being a hardass is necessary to keep this space more inclusionary, compared to most places on the internet.

    As a big football (soccer) fan, I sometimes frequent football forums that discuss general topics, which are composed of mostly male forummers and not much moderation. Usually the discussion is of the ‘banter’ sort though there is some serious debate. The sheer levels of misogyny, rape jokes, transphobia, homophobia, sizism, and racism (usually against Muslims) are absolutely horrific; they permeate every single thread. To them every woman on there is a heartless cheating whore (“snake with tits”), or a sex object, or some monstrous whale who should die if not. Every mention of a woman focuses on her fuckability, every insult to a woman involves threats of rape, or long diatribes about how fat and ugly she is and how they’d mutilate her. And nobody ever calls them out on their assholeness, because then they’d be too “sensitive” and told to stop “getting their knickers in a twist”.

    And I don’t even think these men are attempting to troll – this is just how the vast majority of them truly think , without the thin veneer of obliging politeness in real life. It’s made me wonder about many of the ostensibly decent men I know in real life, who I generally give the benefit of the doubt (ie they may be completely blind to their privilege, but at least they treat gay people and women well). But I’m positive that the men on those football forums act the same way in real life – they’d be horrified at rape jokes and outright racism (though not at transphobia, which unfortunately seems acceptable), but as soon as their reputation isn’t in danger, all of this pent-up hatred comes pouring out. It’s like they bond over how much they hate and make fun of other groups, and can’t communicate in any other manner. Being a jackass is a freaking masculine badge of honor.

    In that vein I really appreciate JATG’s and the others’ responses to the transphobic/cis-privileged comments on here. I’d like to add that there are plenty out there including feminists who don’t bother with the ‘just asking’ if they think transgendered people aren’t present. They just come out with the ‘ew, gross’ since transphobia is still widely accepted in our society, and they don’t expect to be called out on it. And online they are even worse, which is where I believe they show their real intentions.

  245. @Blu. Wowsers. I too have often wondered if men who write things like this really do mean it or if it is just showboating. I was talking to Mr Paintmonkey about this very thing last night and asking him if he feels men behave differently when women are not around. He was saying that a lot of men are VERY different and the swearing and insults can reach monumental proportions, yet most of it is just said to be deliberately provocative and as outrageous as possible.
    From my own experience, I’m not sure that women (or the ones I know) change so dramatically depending on who they are with..I honestly don’t think they do.
    You are right though, the hardline drawn on this site benefits us all, you visit a site like this to learn and discuss and have fun, not to read some sillyarse’s aggression.

  246. I too have often wondered if men who write things like this really do mean it or if it is just showboating.

    I have wondered that too; my personal take is that one can’t “just” be showboating. People who don’t really have those hateful attitudes simply make different jokes.

  247. I absolutely adore the commenting policy here. So many progressive and feminist blogs are inundated with mansplainers, victim-blamers, slut-shamers, and the like. Even the Nation’s blogs are swamped with some for-serious-ignorant bullshit. It makes for a combative, repetitive environment that discourages productive dialogue and erodes the blog’s community. So thank you, SP ladies, for making this a safe and vibrant commenting community. There is no other blog that I can actually read 200-400 comment threads. I wish a few more progressive spaces would follow your lead.

  248. @Paintmonkey – my father worked for years in a power plant and he said it was horrible. While my dad is a bit of a chauvinist, he is religious, so the posters of naked women, constant profanity and verbal degradation of women offended his sensibilities quite a bit. He really hated that about his job (plus the nepotism, racism, etc.). Within the construction industry (still around 95% male), I’ve heard stories from men that when female workers are on a job site, the disgusting behavior comes wayyy down. Some men welcome women on the work sites in part because of their “civilizing” (as in making civil) effect in an environment where violent, hyper-sexualized language had become the norm.

    I blame a culture of dominance (i.e. “the blade”) for most of this. This idea that you only show respect or deference to people who have the ability to kick your ass is just ingrained in us. I think it’s awful, but when I’ve had conversations with my brothers about not using “sissy” talk around the male children in our family, etc. I get a lot of push-back. I found out recently that when one of my brothers was in middle school, there was a group of boys who threatened to kill him every day. I have *never* had an experience like that in my life – not even once. Certainly not as a child. Once I learned that in my brother’s experience, your choice was either to be “tough” or to be terrorized, I realized what my urgings for peaceful conflict resolutions must have sounded like to his ears.

  249. “This idea that you only show respect or deference to people who have the ability to kick your ass is just ingrained in us.”
    @hsofia – My word, you are right.Its horribly sad but true.If I had a son I would be bewildered as to how to advise him on dealing with that mind set-without becoming dominant and over-using his own power.
    @SKM – I agree with you. I’ve always thought that the kind of mind that can magically come up with a powerful and affecting inult can’t just be kidding around, otherwise their mind wouldnt create it in the first place.

  250. @hsofia – I honestly didn’t realise how much of an undertone of “conform to masculine norms or get hurt” there is for boys growing up till I had a friend in college who dressed in a very feminine goth style all the way through high school. His parents eventually made him take martial arts because he was getting beaten up and threatened so often. His dad actually was hoping it would transform him into a manlier sort of guy, apparently, but his mom was just hoping that if he started to be known as “that kid who’s really good at karate” the other boys would leave him alone.

  251. I’ve been talking about this with the boyfriend recently. I’m coming to the conclusion that there are dire physical and emotional effects related to the cult of the masculine. We know the big consequences for the cult of the feminine–inequality, lack of economic opportunity, lack of representation in the power structure, lack of physical dignity and sometimes autonomy–but I don’t hear much about the consequences of the social construct of masculinity.

    And yet, men die earlier than women. They have much worse outcomes for living single, and much improved outcomes from having stable family structures or social networks. They suffer in custody battles. They are disproportionately the people who get incarcerated, and the people who get killed and injured in criminal acts. They are more often in traffic accidents. I think the studies showing this dismiss it as physical–the effect of testosterone et al–but I’m uncomfortable with that. If we don’t believe that women are less capable as leaders and academics and employees and entrepreneurs because of their physical and hormonal makeup, I can’t get behind the idea that men are more prone to criminal acts or less competent as parents because of theirs.

    Why aren’t more guys taking parental leave? Why is there a stigma against having a partner who outearns you? When I complain about unequal pay for the same work, I don’t get a lot of crap about it. Men and women can agree that wage discrimination is wrong. But I think guys who dare to complain about anything that challenges the cult get really smacked down. (If I never hear the word “pussy” or “girl” being used to denigrate a man again, it will be too soon.)

    I see these not as “what about teh menz” issues but as pervasive social ills that are deeply tied to the exaggerated gender ideals that reinforce society-wide gender inequality. I think that, in a macro sense, women are more affected because they are the marginalized gender, but the idea that the patriarchy hurts everyone is not just about the ways in which perfectly nice guys have to check their privilege in inter-gender communication. The problem is much deeper.

    I found a blog a few months ago that talks about gender equality from the feminist ally/anti-cult-of-masculinity point of view, and was very interesting reading. HugoSchwyzer.net if anyone wants to check it out. The comments are lightly moderated, so use caution.

    I’d love to read other men’s experiences and points of view about this masculinity thing, though. I think there are compelling reasons for everyone, not just women, to get behind this feminism business.

  252. This is a painful topic for many mothers of boys. I reacted in disbelief the day the principal of my son’s kindergarten called to tell me he had been caught in several fist fights. He had been a sensitive and gentle child (he had once worried aloud about the garden worms making it safely back home after a rainstorm…didn’t want them to get dehydrated by the sun!). I watched in sadness (and powerlessness) as he became a frequent playground fighter during those first couple years of school. Nothing seemed to help. By third grade the fighting had stopped, as far as I knew. Years later, when he was in high school, I overheard his friends talking about his reputation as a bad ass. Again, I was shocked until I finally understood that he had developed a kind of “don’t mess with me” persona that he’d felt the need to carry with him through all his years of public school. I hate what our culture does to all human beings.

  253. @Starling – I think about this kind of thing a lot, especially as it relates to some of the men in my life. I think for them adopting a carefully constructed persona sometimes in early adolescence is seen as a matter of survival. Even my gentle, cerebral husband talks matter-of-factly about fighting as a teenager to settle disputes and establish boundaries.

    I think in our society we generally hope that boys grow up and acquire the power to settle disputes and establish boundaries through other methods … but they are often just different types of violence and intimidation. It reminds me of what Dr. King wrote in one of his letters from a Birmingham jail about how he was having a hard time talking to young black men about intra-racial violence at the same time they were being sent off to war by their government.

  254. @hsofia: Yeah, my big ah-ha! moment was when I thought, “Wait, this is actually a health issue. Like . . . men are dying because of this toxic standard.” Hello, am I ever late on that piece of news. I was thinking, ooh, health problems related to Must Be Strong and Manly, but that’s just the tip of a very big iceberg. We talk about how this society glorifies violence, but no one ever points out that it’s mostly violence by men that’s glorified as a way to show the kind of manly masculine men they are. It’s a gendered issue, and it is never framed that way.

  255. @Starling

    If you’re interested, an absolutely great thing to watch is “Tough Guise,” which is available to watch completely on youtube. It was shocking to me. I watched it for a presentation I did on gender and it’s unbelievable when you see the clips shown that are the models for boys as they grow up. It’s a really interesting watch, and it’s short enough that it’s not ridiculous to just sit and watch it on your computer.

  256. @starling, hsofia – It is a health issue, and I don’t think we can dismiss this as what about the menz because the problem is, their being socialised to be violent affects us too. Not just in the sense that the violence sometimes targets women – it makes men harder to be around, harder to relate to, less suitable as partners. The framing of women as status objects is very much tied up with the cult of aggressive masculinity.

    We really are getting OT here so mods, feel free to tell me to get back on topic, but…because of what my job is, I get to see the cult of masculinity play out pretty up close and personal. I mean, I get paid to interview people, most of whom are men, all of whom are now “high-status”, most of whom were not high-status as boys, and so I get to hear the attitudes they’ve absorbed about men and women and masculinity and…it’s pretty fucking toxic stuff a lot of the time.

    So yeah, from my point of view this isn’t easily dismissible as a what about the menz issue because it actually ends up making it harder for me to do my job in all kinds of ways (as well as makes me sad for the men and boys in my life who I care about).

  257. A realization that was triggered by a couple of comments much earlier on the page:

    1. my fat acceptance and body positivity has been greatly fostered by reading SP.
    2. I have kept reading SP in large part because of the comment threads.
    3. I have been able to keep reading the comment threads because the moderation keeps them sane.
    So you could say that the moderation policy here has contributed greatly to my FA. :-)

    (Sure, I don’t always agree with individual instances of moderation, or with individual mods, but yeah, I agree with the many commenters above who say thanks for the moderation in general.)

  258. I don’t normally comment here much, although I read often. But I’ve also noticed that when conflict methods are compared between the genders, men so often say that women have to cry about everything and discuss everything and carry grudges forever, while men have one fist fight and it’s over. And somehow that fist fight is construed as the “better” method.

  259. Er, I hope it’s okay to go kinda open-thread on this? Because I’m finding this an interesting question.

    Sure, since we’re 300 in and none of us have a new post ready, go nuts. I find it interesting, too — and it’s nice to discuss it in a feminist space with (on topic!) a draconian mod policy, so we don’t have to hear from MRA trolls who think feminism is fucking responsible for all of the real issues you brought up.

  260. @Starling: I don’t think I could really sum up the problems i have with society’s expectations of masculinity as well as the video Alibelle mentioned, but i can say that it is something that bothers me, and really freaks me out when I see the way it effects people around me. I’m a short, scrawny kid and so physically and in terms of my personality, the whole ‘masculine cult’ is something i never had any pretenses of fufilling, which I guess isn’t neccesarily a bad thing. But its amazing the different ways people de-masculize those who don’t try to meet the expectations of an aggressive, dominating, violent and emotionally restricted persona. Refusing to confront something, whether it be a conflict or a person or something you’re uncomfortable with, labels you as a pussy or a girl, or means you have a small dick. Not being clearly dominant in a relationship makes you ‘whipped.’ And all these things are supposed to pressure guys into being violently aggressive towards conflicts and their relationships with other people.

    Violence is a means of control. In my freshman year this kid who deals pot got mugged, and shortly afterwards he bought a butterfly knife with the intention of ‘getting even.’ In the past year, someone really close to me began dealing himself and was recently held at gunpoint for his cash and weed, and now he wants to ‘hire someone to beat the guy up.’

    This freaks me out. A lot. And i don’t mean for this to be a ‘wat about the menz’ post becuase i know that its those privilidged by their gender, maybe even as a result of this fucked up idea of masculinity, that are endoctrinated into it. And this creates a huge shit storm that ends up raining hard on everyone.

    This is something i’ve wanted to rant about for a while, but i didn’t really think this was the appropriate place for it.

  261. I have found “Tough Guise” an amazing tool in the classroom—it really impacted me, and my students get a lot out of it. Since I have started using it, I find the boys much more receptive to conversations about feminism, and more ready to identify as feminists—they can see pretty clearly how the issues are relevant to all of us and seem to feel less pressure to do that knee-jerk anti-feminist thing. (Sad, I know, that they can’t always see it just as a matter of compassion and justice–but sometimes high schoolers need a little convincing that the conversation directly impacts them.) But that’s with my more academic kids.

    I’m also working with a student right now who is doing a powerful piece of writing about a fight he was in—basically Joe (I’ll call him) was hooking up with a girl, and was told that she had been beaten up by her ex. And Joe went to the ex’s house, and got in a brawl with the ex, the ex’s uncle, and the ex’s brother, putting at least one of them in the hospital; he is in the court system now, and facing potential jail time. He has the sense that it’s an important piece to write/story to tell, but it’s taken us a while to get it to the point that it’s more than just a recounting of the action of the fight. (We’re trying to make it a “True War Story” in the style of Tim O’Brien.)

    What has emerged as we talked about the piece has been both riveting and deeply disturbing: he was in a situation where he felt the actions he had to take were completely laid out for him–someone had hit “his” girl (though he had been clear with everyone there was no emotional attachment) and so he “had to” respond violently to that perceived disrespect. There was no way for him to get out of it without losing respect from the group of boys he was with when he got the news of the girl being beaten–basically, he was trapped by this very limited idea of how men must act, and now he’s trapped in many other ways because of those actions. It’s pretty tragic. (Oh! And it turned out that the girl HAD NOT been hit by her ex, but was in a fight with another girl . She just told Joe that to see if he would stand up for her, so she was well aware of this system, too, and trying to manipulate it to get some evidence that she was valued.) I feel really lucky that I have this relationship with him through his writing that allows me to hear this perspective, but it has also meant having to hear some really difficult things (really misogynist thinking, for example) and to find ways to respond to those things frankly without shutting him down. It’s intense.

    With all the stuff he says that I find challenging to wrap my head around, I’m inspired to keep working with him after he said “Writing is like a conversation–even if it’s just in a notebook—and that conversation reminds you who you are.” Sob.

  262. Oooh, thanks, guys, Miguel especially.

    I’ve also been thinking about the economic expectations put on men, this time in relation to one of my brothers. He’s learning Greek for fun and has good Latin, he reads incessantly about the ancient world, his historic knowledge just boggles the mind–and he’s attending a technical college and majoring in chemical engineering, because that’s a good living. We’ve talked about it, and that decision seems rooted in the idea that he’s not supposed to go into the ‘soft’ disciplines because it’s not a good way to support a wife and family.

    And what happens when the career vanishes and the jobs evaporate? The news coverage of the recession seems to get more and more Willy Loman-esque every week. I’m thinking here of the emotional and psychological impact on men, rather than simply the economic impact–there seems to be a disproportionate amount of self-identity invested in the career. (This is primarily anecdotal, and for all I know is just Fake Trend of the Week news. I’d love another perspective on it, though.)

    The mental health effects aren’t just limited to the economic sphere, either. When it comes down to it, a society that produces George Sodinis and Nidal Hassans–men that isolated, disturbed, unable to relate to others, and full of fury–is also producing men who are not as ill but also isolated. There are obviously men who support the Pick-Up Artist types, who really do believe that women are malicious, mercenary and stupid. That’s uncomfortable and potentially dangerous for the women who have to deal with them, but it’s also pretty damned sad for the men themselves.

    (The ironic thing is that George Sodini followed the Manly Masculine Men James Bond rule book to the hilt. He even took revenge on those who done him wrong, in his eyes. And that is one hell of an indictment of that cultural meme, isn’t it?)

    Thank God almost all men manage to throw out some or most of that crap. But I wish there were more social support for it, instead of a steady cultural diet of Dirty Harry Style Revenge Shoot-em-up of the Week.

  263. I just realized that I have a story! (Shocking, I know)

    On tuesday we did a bronze pouring in my sculpture class. When we were setting up for it, my professor was saying that it was a guy thing to do, but if any of the girls wanted to help that was fine all we had to do was say something. It was a little annoying, but I didn’t want to help. If I had, the job would have been to hold one side of orange hot (this is not a figure of speech) container of molten bronze and continue to hold it up until we had finished pouring all the molds. The first pour was 9 molds and the second was 4 and frankly I just highly fucking doubted I could manage it and I wasn’t interested in destroying anyone’s hard work.

    Anyway, since none of the girls came forward, the boys, of which there are only 3 in my class and one work study student who does a shitload of work to help us, HAD to do it. There was no choice for them, no chance to back out. So after hearing horror stories about men who had been horribly burned during the process and suiting up in a shitload of protective gear they had to go into a room and pour molten bronze.

    I felt horrible for them. I got to bow out because, well fuck I was certainly scared and because I wasn’t strong enough. They didn’t get the option, they couldn’t be scared, and they certainly couldn’t be weak.

    The thing is, just because someone is more privileged than you, doesn’t mean that they have it BETTER than you. Having it easier doesn’t mean that it’s EASY.

    So I made them delicious cream cheese chocolate chip cookies, which of course makes it all better, right? Right?

  264. Alibelle, aliciamaud – thanks so much for the heads up on ‘Tough Guise’. I am teaching a class next quarter on medieval sexuality, and one of the big aims is to get students to see how social systems and cultural norms perpetuate behaviors. I am totally using this (especially because my university is way out of whack in terms of gender balance, and has a really unfortunate and damaging male culture).

  265. The thing is, just because someone is more privileged than you, doesn’t mean that they have it BETTER than you. Having it easier doesn’t mean that it’s EASY.

    Yes and no. Let’s not get into privilege-denying territory or Oppression Olympics. Having certain types of cultural privilege does not mean your life is easy, no, or that your privilege in one area cancels out all other areas. But it does mean that, yes, in some situations, you do “have it better” because cultural norms work in your favor. The men in your class are negatively affected by ideas about masculinity, and your teacher exploited that. But it’s also an idea about masculinity that still positions “masculine” as fitter, stronger, tougher.

  266. KC, there are several good videos from Media Ed Foundation that explore the ways systems and cultural norms perpetuate behaviors—I also recommend Dreamworlds (about the laws and rules of the imaginary world in music videos perpetuating violence against women) and Reel Bad Arabs, about the ways stereotypes of the Arab world perpetuate a culture of prejudice/violence against people of the Middle East. . . last time I called them, they had gotten a grant to distribute Reel Bad Arabs to educators for $10, so that’s worth asking about. (You can usually preview the films on their website, too.)

  267. Alibele’s story (and Sweet Machine’s response) make me think of working in construction. After going through a program to learn about it and prepare for an apprenticeship, I thought, “Jesus Christ, I don’t want to do this! I don’t want to inhale caustic fumes, carcinogenic particulates, and nerve damaging chemicals. I don’t want to end up with rotator cuff injuries, having to replace my knees at 50, or losing my fingers. I don’t want to fall, have something dropped on my head, or be crushed by rolling logs. WTF? No wonder women don’t want to do this!” But you know what, that wasn’t true. I didn’t want to do it, but I wasn’t all women. You know who else wouldn’t want to do it? My husband, the developer. He would if he HAD to, but so would I! But neither of us has to, thank god. The fact is that I met and know women in construction work – ironworkers, welders, carpenters, plumbers, cement masons, etc. And they like what they do, and it’s hard on their bodies but they’re okay with it. It just so happens that I’m into reading books and typing things on the Internet. But my inclinations don’t define what’s possible and desirable to women.

  268. I guess I think that the way the cultural expectations for men and women are set up is a lose/lose situation. The men lose, and we lose even worse. And maybe occasional men fit and flourish in the little box they’re assigned, but on average? It’s like betting against the house. They put the winners on billboards, but in reality, Gender Norms is a sucker’s game and leaves most of humanity poorer in big and little ways.

  269. Play the new Gender Norms board game!
    Its like Chutes and Ladders!
    Only its mostly chutes.
    And the only ladder is missing the first six rungs.
    (that only the manliest of men can reach!)
    Also, its filled with snakes on fire.

  270. @aliciamaud74: I teach middle school and my co-worker uses Reel Bad Arabs before she begins a unit on world religions (Islam included). She presented a workshop for teachers, using much of the lesson she uses with the kids and it was mind blowing to realize how awful movies and tv can be, in terms of stereotyping.

    I feel incredibly luck to work in the progressive place I do that continually questions societal norms and the world around us, as well as to have found this equally awesome blog.

  271. “But it does mean that, yes, in some situations, you do “have it better” because cultural norms work in your favor.”

    Bleh. I have been thinking about this alot lately, and that’s where that line came from, but when I thought it, instead of better it was “good.” I meant to write good. In fact my thought process started with better, then I thought, no they do have it better, but they don’t have it good necessarily. After writing it, posting it and realizing my mistake, I thought that maybe I should go back and write something to that affect, and then I thought fuck it, there’s a good chance it will go unnoticed. Bleh, wrong, and I shouldn’t even let mistakes like that stand whether or not I think it will go unnoticed. You’re totally right Sweet M.

    I hearby declare this to be what I wrote: “The thing is, just because someone is more privileged than you, doesn’t mean that they have it GOOD. Having it easier doesn’t mean that it’s EASY.” My evil twin made the mistake, not me. Or something like that…

    @Hsofia, for sure! I mean it was just me, not Women that didn’t want to do it. There’s a woman in my class who is awesome with power tools and shit who I go to for advice constantly, but she couldn’t do it because she’s having physical issues right now that might be MS. I think another time she would have been all the fuck over it. I also think that some women were put off by the fact that the professor said that it was a guy thing to do, and phrased it as “If that offends you, just tell me and we’ll get you suited up.” And of course there’s the whole boys are stronger nonsense to consider as well.

  272. It seems to me that many people in my life are comfortable talking about how men are by nature, supposedly, because of hormones and so forth, than they are saying such things (out loud, at least) about women. So many, so many! men have told me that whatever individual characteristic we’re discussing (perceptions of beauty, urges towards violence, etc) are inevitable parts of their nature. “All men think this way,” they tell me. (Recently, one gentle and good man whom I love told me that whenever a man meets a new man, the first thing he thinks is, “Could I take him?” To my protests, he was very firm that all men think this, that it’s part of their brains.)

    And I’ve been aware for years that this is harmful to others. What I’m just seeing now, as I read this thread, is how incredibly harmful it is to men. To be convinced that you have so little control over your own thoughts and behaviors, to think that certain treatment of you and expectations of you are inevitable! In contrast, thanks to the women’s movements over the years, even when I am experiencing sexism, I have a whole set of texts and friends to talk to and literary heroines to whom I may refer: generally, I know that whatever roll I’m being asked to fulfill is cultural, not inevitable.

    Yes, the argument about certain male thoughts and behaviors is used to defend privilege. But what incredible suffering it leads so many men to, as well.

    Thanks for this new part of the thread.

  273. Strange that you bring it up today. Last night I dreamed that one of the boys who used to follow me in HS and smack me around once I was alone was doing so again, and in order to escape I pulled a foxy trick that caused him to be hit by a train. Woke up in horror that I had killed him.

    Thought: Just as there is more variety in women’s fashion, there is more variety in how a person can express womanhood. People do not seem to challenge the womanhood of athletic women or women who do stereotypically masculine things — they are not seen to be as good at these things as men are, but I don’t think they get tortured for it the way a ‘sissy’ boy or man will be. What do you think?

    Why aren’t more guys taking parental leave? Why is there a stigma against having a partner who outearns you?

    Misogyny. Femininity being seen as inferior, having a woman beat you at anything makes you a lesser. If all men are better than all women and a woman does better than a man at something, he must not be a man. Or somesuch bullshit. I don’t feel it, but I know I am supposed to be humiliated by my low earnings. I think the effect is lessened if one has a ‘manly’ job — nobody suggests that my friend the forklift operator ought to be humiliated that his wife the lawyer earns more.

    I am not sure that I am socialized to be violent, but a lot of my socialization didn’t take. I have been the victim of male-on-male violence and eventually figured out that being violent right back made it happen less often. It certainly didn’t stop it altogether. Then again, I’ve been attacked by women, too, (though more often they encourage men to do it for them.) I think that I miss too many of the social cues about dominance and submission — I don’t act submissive to people who think I should submit to them, so they think it means I’m trying to dominate them, so they hit me. Or so I have gathered from what they say when they do it.

    Hrm. When I meet another man, I do not think, ‘Could I take him?’ I often think, ‘Is he going to kick me around?’ I think of women, ‘Is she going to encourage others to kick me?’

  274. People do not seem to challenge the womanhood of athletic women or women who do stereotypically masculine things

    Not true at all — Caster Semenya anyone? Florida State basketball? Bizarrely sexy women’s uniforms? Not even to mention wearing pants, having short hair, having a flat chest, not shaving your legs, presenting as butch, and other stereotypically masculine behaviors that are nonathletic in any given cultural era.

    Seriously, everyone, we can have a conversation about masculinity and violence, but we cannot have it as a “men have it so bad” conversation. It really does not work like that. Patriarchal values do hurt men, and not in the same exact ways they hurt women. But please remember that if you are the member of a culturally dominant group, you often either don’t see the harm caused to the oppressed or you don’t take note of it when you do. That is a function of privilege.

  275. Thought: Just as there is more variety in women’s fashion, there is more variety in how a person can express womanhood. People do not seem to challenge the womanhood of athletic women or women who do stereotypically masculine things — they are not seen to be as good at these things as men are, but I don’t think they get tortured for it the way a ‘sissy’ boy or man will be. What do you think?

    This observation reminded me of some posts over at Sociological Images – this one is particularly illustrative,. Basically, a toy catalog shows girls playing with toys that are typically gendered male (carpentry, crime-fighting, archery, etc. – obviously the catalog-makers do not know the SP commentariat). The take-home observation was as follows:

    Interestingly, I looked through the rest of the site and didn’t find an equivalent effort to show boys playing with stereotypically feminine toys. In fact, boys were quite underrepresented on the site–there are many more girls than boys. If I had to just hazard a guess, I’d think this has something to do with the fact that we tend to imagine gender equality as a world in which women have access to the same things men have–jobs, equivalent pay, and so on. We worry that girls are being harmed if they’re told girls aren’t good at math, never see images of women as doctors, and so on. Most people are less likely to think boys are being treated unfairly by not seeing images of boys playing with dolls or an Easy Bake oven, so the absence of those types of images don’t get as much criticism or attention.

    UPDATE: Commenter Alyssa nicely summarizes why see this difference:

    Unfortunately, we don’t see boys as being treated as unfairly when they don’t get to do “girl things” because girl things are considered inferior. It seems natural to people that girls and women want to do boy/men things because we see these activities as worth while. But a boy or man doing girl/women things is seen as somehow deviant because they are seen as wasting their time doing something useless.
    But the truth is things that are usually labeled as feminine, are worthwhile. Boys certainly are disadvantaged when they are discouraged to learn how to take care of themselves. They are disadvantaged when they are discouraged learn empathy and social skills. Our view of all things feminine are inferior hurts both boys and girls.

    I think this is probably an oversimplification, but it’s an interesting line of reasoning.

  276. I wasn’t attempting to make it a ‘men have it so bad’ conversation and I have no clue why you want to jump to that.

    CassandraSays seemed to get away just fine with saying that men are strongly effected by a ‘conform to cultural norms of masculinity or get hurt’ thing. I think there’s more wiggle room in the cultural norms of femininity. I don’t know how much subtle stuff you get for wearing pants (really?) or having short hair (really?) or being flat chested, but I see those things every day on lots of women who don’t look like they’re about to get the shit kicked out of them for it. I’d have to be a hell of a lot more threatening looking than I am to wear a skirt.

    In no way is this worse than the rule for women, which appears to be unilateral terrorism — if you conform to cultural ideals of femininity, you’re a target for sexualized violence, if you don’t, you’re a target for sexualized violence.

  277. Grafton,

    “[T]hey are not seen to be as good at these things as men are, but I don’t think they get tortured for it the way a ‘sissy’ boy or man will be. What do you think?”

    On the whole? I think femininity in men and those perceived as male is more stringently and violently policed compared to masculinity in women and those perceived as women. But that doesn’t mean that femininity isn’t stringently and violently policed in women and those perceived to be women.

    When I was in middle school, I regularly got the shit kicked out of me–for being perceived as a girl with short hair and masculine clothing. On one particularly memorable occasion, it involved a small group of boy wielding baseball bats.

    Trust me, there’s nothing “subtle” about people trying to smash in your skull with bats.

  278. I wasn’t attempting to make it a ‘men have it so bad’ conversation and I have no clue why you want to jump to that.

    CassandraSays seemed to get away just fine with saying that men are strongly effected by a ‘conform to cultural norms of masculinity or get hurt’ thing.

    Grafton. Read this post — the original post, about how when a mod tells you to back off, you back off — again and think before you comment again. “Jump to that?” “Get away just fine with”? You are giving me the stabby pain and you’ve never done that before.

    Y’all, we are done with this threadjack. I may put up an open thread about masculinity sometime soon, but goddamn it, play nice in the meantime.

  279. Thank you, Trans Guy.

    But that doesn’t mean that femininity isn’t stringently and violently policed in women and those perceived to be women.

    I didn’t mean to say it wasn’t ever. Just less so. I’m not talking some universal thing, I just mean that a woman with short hair, no and make-up, wearing jeans is probably no more at risk than any other woman, but a man with long hair, lipstick and a skirt better be ready and able to fight, when if he took of the makeup and put on jeans he’d be at no more risk than another man.

    I’m sorry you were beaten. That sucks so bad.

    I also find I rather regret that I’ve responded to what looked to me to actually be a request for a male point of view on this, since only one part of my comment is being acknowledged, and it’s just getting me yelled at and is being understood to be some sort of hard-line expression of privilege in spite of my ‘this is theoretical for me’ cues put on either end of it.

  280. So I made them delicious cream cheese chocolate chip cookies, which of course makes it all better, right? Right?

    Absolutely. And please.

  281. I don’t know how much subtle stuff you get for wearing pants (really?) or having short hair (really?) or being flat chested

    I said “in any given cultural era” because there is a history, and it is not long ago, when any of these things would cause many people to challenge someone’s womanhood, as you put it.

    I think femininity in men and those perceived as male is more stringently and violently policed compared to masculinity in women and those perceived as women. But that doesn’t mean that femininity isn’t stringently and violently policed in women and those perceived to be women.

    This, I think, is more fair in contemporary culture.

    You just don’t get to say shit here that is patently untrue, like “People do not seem to challenge the womanhood of athletic women or women who do stereotypically masculine things.”

    And now this threadjack is really over.

  282. I didn’t see the ‘back off’ there, Sweet Machine

    Grafton, I didn’t say back off — you preempted it by implying that I am being oversensitive (“I have no clue why you want to jump to that”) and letting people who aren’t you “get away” with things. This post is about respecting the work we do moderating here, which also includes not implying that we’re flying off the handle if we do some actual moderating.

    Also, I don’t know if you realize this, but this comment:

    I also find I rather regret that I’ve responded to what looked to me to actually be a request for a male point of view on this, since only one part of my comment is being acknowledged, and it’s just getting me yelled at and is being understood to be some sort of hard-line expression of privilege in spite of my ‘this is theoretical for me’ cues put on either end of it.

    is extremely passive-aggressive. Literally so, in fact, because it uses the passive voice while expressing aggression.

  283. I didn’t mean to imply that. I’m pretty lousy at implying things, honest, and I don’t have opinions about how sensitive a person ought to be. I just meant I didn’t understand why you made that conclusion that what I’d said was a ‘men have it so bad’ statement, and I don’t know what was fundamentally different about what I said from something else (CS’s post) that was inoffensive.

    I still don’t. Oh well.

    I apologize if you didn’t want me to respond to that.

  284. Sweet Machine,

    “I may put up an open thread about masculinity sometime soon, but goddamn it, play nice in the meantime.”

    I think lots of folks would have interesting things to say. If you do end up doing so, I’m in. :)

  285. Okay totally OT, but I’m watching Lost (Season 2, episode 5 – I’m behind), and can I just say that one of my biggest pet peeves in tv shows/movies is the way women stranded on desert islands never grow any leg hair! (Or underarm hair.)

  286. @hsofia – oh, Amen to that. I think that all castaway stranded women should be shown with full on leg/underarm/moustache hair after about two weeks, and should also give off a tangible hum of horrendous smells. I’ve never thought about it before, but I’m enjoying the idea tremendously.
    They should all take to screaming with rage and then crying the next minute preferably followed by raw food induced farting and belching.
    Sorry, I’m overthinking. I would like to see romance blossom under such conditions though, especially amongst the square jawed perfect people. I pondered this very thing when watching Keira Knightley in the Pirates films…would they really have liked her so much when she would have had legs you could strike a light on and would be literally ready to kill any man left for the last sweet biscuit on board?

  287. It is clear that the magic island on Lost not only cures diseases and heals injuries of its favoured people, it maintains the hairstyles, beard length, and shaves of nearly, but not quite, everybody. The women remain free of body hair, while most of the men grow a week or so’s worth of beard and then magically stop, failing to ever appear clean-shaven again, or to grow real beards. I imagine the smoke monster with clippers, silently trimming everybody to just the right degree of scruff in the night.

  288. I’ve got a friend that truly doesnt give two shits about anything and she would love to be stranded on Hirsute Island. I once heard her say absentmindedly “God, I smell a really dirty sweaty body smell – oh, it’s me,” without an ounce of embarassment, then she simply dug a century old body spray out of her bag and sort of half heartedly wafted it in her general direction. Completely at ease in her own skin and a joy to be around because of it.

  289. Just as well. People smell better than most deodorants. And lady leg and armpit hairs are nice when they get long enough to not be sharp stubble. In my no-doubt-wrong sensory-processing-issues head’s-all-miswired opinion, anyway.

  290. It’s weird how we are all so freaked out by a natural smell. I’m guilty of it myself -I hardly dare go near a naked flame for fear of igniting with the amount of stuff I’ve sprayed on. I do like and admire people who arent quite so fussed about everything, which is why I like my friend I mentioned above. She’d trek to the Himalayas for you if you telephoned her with a problem, and she’d probably do it in her pyjamas while reading and eating cereal from the bowl she was holding when you called her.

  291. I like to smell stuff and am sort of sensitive to it. I’ve a love-hate relationship with perfumes, have a little collection of BPALs and bay rums, a few real perfumer’s scents, love many of those, hate the cheap synthetic white musks and florals in most laundry products and hairsprays, find most deodorants vile, think antiperspirants smell of aluminum.

    I cannot explain why people think those smells, especially he shallow, harsh, tinny smells of grocery-store laundry and grooming products, are better than the smell of human skin. But my opinion is clearly not the majority one. Then again, good perfumes, on, smell better than skin alone and can cover a certain amount of sweat-staleness.

  292. I’d like to add a big AMEN to what Dawn said way upthread, about other blogs’ commenting policies as compared to comment moderation here:

    It makes for a combative, repetitive environment that discourages productive dialogue and erodes the blog’s community. So thank you, SP ladies, for making this a safe and vibrant commenting community. There is no other blog that I can actually read 200-400 comment threads.

    I’ve learnt a LOT from the comment threads here, and that’s thanks in large part to the draconian commenting policy that enables productive dialogue. So, thank you.

    Also:

    I imagine the smoke monster with clippers, silently trimming everybody to just the right degree of scruff in the night.

    Ha!

  293. Yeah but their bikinis and shorts never atomize either. It’s the Law of Preservation of Sexual Cues, you can add one unrealistic sexy element if you also detract one realistic one.

  294. Fact: There is a surprising literary bloom of Batman v. Twilight fan fiction.

    Query: How does one even come up with the idea?

  295. @hsofia: Also, all women portrayed on TV seem to have plucked eyebrows. Even when the show is set in the 17th century. Did women actually pluck their eyebrows in the 17th century?

  296. @Blu: Hey, I know this is an old comment but I feel the need to respond. You said that football fans are racist against muslims. Hating muslims is a terrible form of discrimination, but it is not racism. Islam is not a race. I believe it is important to keep this in our minds because so much damage has been/is being/ can be done due to people not thinking or not caring about the distinction between race and religion, especially in the middle east where you will go wrong fast assuming that muslim = arab (though naturally I do not deny the link between them).

    I know I’m being a pain in the ass but we just can’t afford to be unconcious about how we use these terms.

  297. Aleks, I cannot help but to suspect the nefarious hand of Seventh Sanctum. Either that, or it’s one of those “reading Twlight over the summer; also going to see Batman over the summer” associations. I find the idea of some sort of wealth/social battle with the Cullens vs. the Waynes while simultaneously Edward fights Batman so entertaining that I can’t even muster much horror.

    I cannot help but think that Gotham with sparkly vampires would be a very different place, and while I don’t want to write fanfic about it, I can see the appeal.

    (PS – I got a suggestion from Seventh Sanctum for a Space Balls/X-File crossover, which is not one that I think the world is waiting for.)

  298. As far as I can tell, the two best places for comments on the Internet are Slashdot (with a 4 comment threshold) and KateHarding, and KateHarding is better.

    One of the big problems of leveraging the Internet as a place for consequential national dialog is figuring out how to integrate and expose public contributions. Heavy-handed moderation among self-organizing groups seems like the way to go.

    @rachael
    Race issues are complicated. You’re not going to bring enlightenment to public discourse by separating melanin and cheekbones from every other differentiator among PoC.

  299. @AdamR, race and religion aren’t the same thing, and it’s important to differentiate between them for the reasons mentioned above and also because it’s racism and stereotyping itself to assume that just because someone is an arab that they’re muslim. Or that just because someone is black that they’re southern baptists, or if they’re white they’re also mormon.

    It’s also defining someone by what they are, rather than who they are. It’s seeing someone who is indian and running down the list of things that they are because they’re indian.

  300. On the other hand, it’s disingenuous to pretend that all people who hate Muslims have no racist overtones. It is vital to distinguish between race and religion, but race is certainly one of the elephants in the room during these discussions.

  301. I mean, it’s silly that the Losties would work so hard to keep up with conventional grooming, but they had all the tools. First they had all the luggage from the plane (which would have included hand-held mirrors, razors, small scissors, boxes of knives, soap, pregnancy tests, etc.), which would have had to run out eventually, but then they had access to everything in the Swan.

  302. Grafton: bay rum? Really? That’s so awesome. I love it, but the only place I ever see it is extremely old-fashioned drugstores.

    On a tangent, what do people think of the whole Lindsey-Vonn-Sports Illustrated cover thing? (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/cover/featured/11382/index.htm to see the cover if you haven’t yet — sorry, I lack html skillz.)

    So, she’s an Olympic downhill skier, considered almost certain to win gold this year, who’s posing as if she’s, well, skiing downhill. Meaning in a tuck position, with her butt sticking up. And there’s hullabaloo about the photo being too provocative. I’m not quite sure what I think about it. I doubt that people would be saying the same thing about a similar photo of a male skier, but a photo of a male skier in the same position would be unlikely to have him smiling at the camera. So what do y’all think? Is this objectification of an amazing athlete because she also happens to be white, slim, blond, and pretty? Or are people reading objectification into it because of the above?

    (My current opinion is that magazines suck, photos suck, publicity sucks, and most people suck, but that’s probably because we’re in our seventh straight day of snow/sleet/slush and no sunshine. There are reasons I live in the South, dammit, and not having to deal with weather like this is about six of them.)

  303. Fact: There is a surprising literary bloom of Batman v. Twilight fan fiction.

    Query: How does one even come up with the idea?

    For some people it’s “I like X, and I like Y, so I’ll put them together! Yay!” But sometimes it’s “X and Y are practically in different universes, mood- and theme-wise… so putting them together will be hilariously weird. Let’s do it!” The latter is an amazing amount of fun. Awareness of the dissimilarities makes it easier to dial up the weird to delicious levels.

  304. I for one would be interested in a post about how patriarchy hurts men, and hurts them in a way that results in them further hurting each other and the rest of us.

    When I was in college Jackson Katz came to show his Tough Guise video and answer questions and stuff. It was awesome.

  305. Other Becky,

    Given Swimsuit Issue (give me Swimsuit Issue) that Lindsey Vonn picture doesn’t seem at all provocative. She’s fully dressed, in a skier’s pose . . . She’s pretty but if I was looking for sexed up pictures that would be disappointing in the extreme.

  306. As for whether anti-Muslim sentiment is technically racist, it sure fucking is. Our president is accused of being Muslim because his father (vaguely) practiced Islam? That is what racism is. They threw everything they could think of at Bill Clinton, but they never thought of calling him a Muslim, because gosh that would have just seemed silly.

    Muslims in Catholic Spain and Jews throughout Europe who converted to Christianity were still considered tainted, and so were their descendants. That makes it a racial thing. It doesn’t *make sense* that religion would be an element of race, but the entire concept of race is pretty sketchy intellectually.

  307. Back to original thread topic…

    I love the mods here. I have learned so much about feminism, FA… A few nights ago I found myself shouting ‘that’s heteronorming bullshit’ at the TV, which is new for me.

    And I’ve been introduced to the concept of mansplaining. It’s all good.

    Thanks for keeping this a good place to be.

  308. Eleventy One: Oh, yes. Women did pluck facial hair. They might need to be superwealthy, but they did. And they might even have gone a bit wild with the plucking tools, relative to the current eyebrow tastes of Fashion.

    And it was popular to shave hairlines back as well:

    I have a passing interest in Body Hair et al Through History- what/if women shaved/ waxed/ plucked/ threaded when? What, if anything, did people use as absorbant materials during menstruation? And so on.

    I would love there to be a book on Waxing Through The Ages of Western Europe. It would make great waiting room reading.

    Also, clearly when stranded, after food and shelter the next thing one needs to get are mussel shells or something to use as tweezers. One would be might bored, I expect, when not running from smoke monsters and such, seeing as how you’d have no cable and there’d be no library. Plucking armpit hair could keep one occupied on desert islands for ages.

  309. Hm: I think I have been link-moderated. Eleventy-One, women did pluck their brows back in the days of Queen Elizabeth II. They also shaved their hairlines. Google Queen Elizabeth I and have a look at her royal portraits. And also take a look at the Arnolfini Engagement.

  310. I read and enjoyed this entire thread, but it went to so many different areas that I’ve forgotten what I wanted to say.

    Oh yes. Many people say they read comment threads nowhere else.

    I read comment threads on Shakesville (not always), Greta Christina’s weblog (every singly post and comment), and Worthless Drivel (there are more comments usually on the Facebook notes version than on the original blog). And that’s the three feminist blogs I read.

    I also read comments on Pharyngula (not every comment, or I’d never get anything else done), Box Turtle Bulletin, and Good as You. The other blog I read regularly, Slap Upside the Head, doesn’t have comments.

    ***

    And on the various distractions: I would love a post on how the patriarchy hurts everyone (most obviously women, transpeople, and the genderqueer, but also men). It’s a topic on which I feel I should have something interesting to say. (I don’t have anything interesting to say about it, but I feel I should, which is why I’d like to read your thoughts to get me started. You’re very good at making me think, which is the reason I read what you write. All of you. Including the commenters.)

    There was something else I wanted to say about how I got through school without ever fighting anyone. But I’m actually not at all sure how I managed that. I think it was mainly by affecting not to notice when people expected me to fight. I was genuinely naive, and I pretended to be even more naive.

    TRiG.

  311. When a comment doesn’t go through (I think my previous one was caught by the spam filter for having too many links), could you please give some sort of message? It’s less confusing. (I know it did post, because I tried again and got a “duplicate content” warning.)

    TRiG.

  312. While I agree that it’s important to distinguish between race/ethnicity and religion, what I meant to convey about the anti-Muslim remark is that the people on there are very clearly conflating Muslims with Arabs – for example they call Indians either Indians or Asians, even though many Indians and Asian and North African people are Muslims or one of many other religions, but they almost always refer to Arabs as Muslims. “The Muslims” has become a common byword for the entire Middle East, and I’m sure that that is what they have in mind when they think of a typical Muslim – complete with stereotypes of how all of them view women, other religions, the West, and tendency towards extremism. What is actually anti-Arab is framed in terms of anti-Muslim (which then applies to all Muslims, because all Muslims think the same everywhere *eyeroll*), perhaps because it appears more acceptable to be against a religion – which is a “choice” – rather than against a race (which would be racism, and OH NOEZ I’M NOT A RACIST UR BEING TOO PC). I can’t imagine that there isn’t a racist element going on there. We tend to have some stereotypical images of the people who practice certain religions, and much of it stems from stereotypes of their cultures which then get equated with their religion.

  313. While I agree that it’s important to distinguish between race/ethnicity and religion, what I meant to convey about the anti-Muslim remark is that the people on there are very clearly conflating Muslims with Arabs

    Yes, this happens a lot.

    Sometimes it’s even more serious than hate speech, like the people who were going to bomb US Representative Darrell Issa’s office “in retaliation” for the September 11 attacks.

    Mr. Issa is the descendant of Christian immigrants from Lebanon–he had zero to do with al-Qaeda operatives from Saudi Arabia and Egypt and Yemen.

  314. Of course, the vast vast vast majority of Muslims, including those from Saudi and Egypt and Yemen and their descendants in other parts of the world, have zero to do with al-Qaeda and other extremists, and I never meant to imply otherwise.

    But the part where the hapless terrorists assumed that Issa must be Muslim because his grandparents were Arab was extraordinary.

  315. When a comment doesn’t go through (I think my previous one was caught by the spam filter for having too many links), could you please give some sort of message? It’s less confusing. (I know it did post, because I tried again and got a “duplicate content” warning.)

    Who is the “you” here? The completely automatic spam filter? I just went and found your comment and approved it, but no, we cannot give you a message when the spam filter catches something, because we don’t see it to know it’s been caught, because we’re not in the habit of looking at spam.

    If you think your comment has been caught in the spam trap because of too many links, just let us know. If you don’t see your message reappear after a while, it’s either because we haven’t found it or we chose not to approve it, and either way we’re not going to leave you a message about it.

  316. Other Becky — Yep. Bay Rum. One has to mail order the aftershave. I don’t have an old-fashioned drug store around. You can find the fragrance oil at organic foods stores sometimes, though, and use that to scent your lotion, or drop-by-drop into a bag of corn starch and shake about. It’ll probably burn if you use the undiluted oil direct on your skin but you can put it in jojoba oil for a carrier. Or whatever. It might not be sold with a “Bay Rum” label (which would be wrong, ’cause the rum part isn’t there) but as West Indian Bay oil or Pimenta racemosa. If the stuff you make with it doesn’t smell like the aftershave/cologne-splashy stuff you remember, the missing element is probably lime oil.

  317. @Blu – okay, now I understand what you meant. If these people are using islam as an excuse to be racist against arabs then indeed they are racists (and also misinformed and stupid).

    @aleks. Hold up! Being anti-Muslim is not being racist. It is not racism to assume that someone whose family is muslim is a muslim themselves – it’s just stupid and pathetic.

    “Muslims in Catholic Spain and Jews throughout Europe who converted to Christianity were still considered tainted, and so were their descendants. That makes it a racial thing.” Okay I think the separation is this: the european christians were racist against arabs AND they were anti-muslim and, like many football hooligans today, they conflated the two. That doesn’t prove that the two are conflated (once again I don’t deny the historical links between arabs and islam, but it is still wrong to conflate the terms). You can’t use that to prove that islam is a race, though you can say that those europeans were racist and discriminatory on the basis of religion because they conflated the two.

    The concept of race is not *that* intellectually sketchy in a genetic/biological sense. The concept of race as it is played out in most pop culture is totally sketchy, I agree. But I’m not about to let them have it! We have to stand firm on the distinctions. We need to stop letting people get away with “muslim = arab”.

    It seems to me that we may all be in violent agreement here.

  318. If the stuff you make with it doesn’t smell like the aftershave/cologne-splashy stuff you remember, the missing element is probably lime oil.–Grafton

    Menthol crystals are also an ingredient, at least in Royal Bay Rum brand. You can get them at perfume/aromatherapy sites like Snowdrift Farm or Mountain Rose Herbs (many others too, I’m sure).

  319. Edward fights Batman

    Edward “fights” Batman? You and I read very different kinds of fanfics, methinks. :D

  320. @Grafton:

    The ‘art of manliness’ website has a recipe for homemade Bay Rum, both a modern one and a trafditional version.

  321. Speaking of being fascinated with Hygiene Through the Ages*… Grafton et al. I had no idea Bay Rum was a thing that was real in the world. This is because the only time I’ve ever read the words “bay rum cologne” outside of this thread is in romance novels set in Regency-era Europe. Men are always running around the pages of those novels smelling of tobacco and bay rum.

    You learn something new…

    *It took me three tries to spell “hygiene” so I didn’t get a red misspelling squiggle under it. I am the most appalling speller and shudder to think what reading my writing would be like if we had no spell-check. I’ve been in social sciences for years and years and still never can remember how to spell “process.**”

    ** two tries.

  322. rachael

    @aleks. Hold up! Being anti-Muslim is not being racist. It is not racism to assume that someone whose family is muslim is a muslim themselves – it’s just stupid and pathetic.

    One could theoretically be bigoted against Muslims without introducing a racial component, but that’s clearly not how it actually works. There’s a reason no one suspects Hillary or Palin or Bush or Kerry or any other villainized figure of Islam.

  323. Closet Puritan… no! I hadn’t!

    But now that I have, you have totally, totally made my night.

    (I am going to spend my Superb Owl reading about bleeding…)

    Thank you for the link.

  324. @aleks, I think you’re hinging too much on the Obama thing and you’re only thinking about the USA. Here in Australia many people have no sympathy for David Hicks despite him being a white male. In the UK many people are vehemently opposed to the introduction/option of sharia law for muslim immigrants, without being racist. In France, there are those who want to include the headscarf in the ban on religious symbols in schools/public service, and they are not necessarily racist. You may argue that they are being discriminatory (though that is clearly up for debate) but these views are not inherently racist views.

    I agree with you and with Blu that the football hooligans may well be racists as well as anti-muslim and I understand that she was trying to say that they were both. That’s understood and I imagine the same goes for those who made Obama out to be a secret muslim. No contest on that front. Like you, I think that’s really wrong and therefore I think we should make an effort to correct the conflation of arab and muslim and we should refuse to accept this lazy thinking. That’s all I’m saying.

  325. @AnthroK8: That’s really interesting re: facial hair (and hygiene through the ages – it’s stuff that I think about too). The particular TV show I was thinking about portrayed “ordinary” (in this case: not wealthy) people in history, which is why I noticed the eyebrow-pluckiness. I guess it falls under the same category as why women in movies/TV wake up with make-up on :-)

    Re: menstruation, I’m sorry if it’s been mentioned before, but there’s a book out on the cultural history of menstruation (don’t know if it’s from an American perspective or a wider perspective): http://www.flowthebook.com/ I haven’t read it yet so I don’t know if it’s any good though.

  326. Okay, y’all, I think you’ve made your points about anti-Islam sentiment and racism. This is not the thread for a detailed comparative cultural analysis. Let’s move on.

  327. Eleventy One: There’ s a History of Costuming thesis in what elements of period dress make it into a costume design and which elements don’t. One can tell that A Man For All Seasons was made in the 60’s because, although the Tudor Gowns Looked Tudor, the color scheme was avocado green and harvest gold with heavy emphasis on mascara.

    I think Cate Blanchett’s transformation at the end of the film Elizabeth I is interesting. She went from late-90’s long hair and brow to a into a white-powdered, brow-plucked bewigged monarch who was going to declare herself asexual to the world.

    I understand from a museum exhibit I went to recently that one of the ways art forgeries are discovered in the World of Art is that, in the decades after a piece is made, you can see elements from the time it originated. The exhibit had an example of an “Egyptian” sculpture that looked an awful lot like a flapper to me. It was made in the 20’s, but because the 20’s had its idea of what heads look like when they are “natural” no one saw it at the time.

  328. Who is the “you” here? The completely automatic spam filter?

    Yes. Sorry, that was badly phrased. What I meant was, Can you please configure your site to give a message when a post is blocked, instead of failing silently leaving the impression that there has been an error. If I hadn’t copied my text before posting, so I could simply paste and repost, I would have spent several minutes typing it out again. This would have been annoying. (And I wouldn’t have typed it the exact same, so I wouldn’t have seen the duplicate content warning, so there would now be two or perhaps more versions languishing in the spam queue.)

    I’m not familiar with WordPress, but I get the impression that it’s fairly configurable. Just a request/suggestion.

    I’d like a preview feature too, but I haven’t seen that on any WordPress blog, so I suspect it’s not possible. When I get around to writing blog software ….

    I just went and found your comment and approved it

    I can’t see it.

    TRiG.

  329. TRiG, it turned out I saved your comment from the spam filter only to have it kicked into the mod queue (also for the links). I don’t know if it’s possible to implement what you describe, but we’ll keep in mind the suggestion.

  330. @aliciamaud74 Wow, that’s quite a story about your writing student. Thanks for sharing.

    I found the stuff about masculinity interesting and would be keen to read a thread on it at some point.

  331. It is wrong to “second that comment” when you have 396 comments in front of you, most of whom agree however I will.
    Quality before quantity although you all do pretty well on both counts.
    Look what happened to Paul at BFB, between requiring registration and banning anyone who disagreed with him he gets 4-5 comments a post and zero interaction with his readers. I do not know what his readership is but they must be going elsewhere to participate.

  332. I just want to say that since reading this post, I’ve been blogging more often because I’m less self-conscious about laying down the law when the discussion takes ugly turns. I’ve started using the phrase “The Conversation We Won’t Be Having Here” to refer to derailing topics that are specifically verboten on a post.

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