Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

I seem to have found myself on a break from twitter, again. We can argue later about whether or not logging in to send dms to friends, or to click on the occasional link, constitutes ‘cheating’. But officially, I’m not there.

I’m not temporarily unplugging though, and claiming some kind of ‘detox’ from the internet as a whole. I agree with Casey N Cep who wrote recently in the New Yorker:

‘Few who unplug really want to surrender their citizenship in the land of technology; they simply want to travel outside it on temporary visas. Those who truly leave the land of technology are rarely heard from again, partly because such a way of living is so incommensurable. The cloistered often surrender the ability to speak to those of us who rely so heavily on technology. I was mindful of this earlier this month when I reviewed a book about a community of Poor Claresin Rockford, Illinois. The nuns live largely without phones or the Internet; they rarely leave their monastery. Their oral histories are available only because a scholar spent six years interviewing them, organizing their testimonies so that outsiders might have access. The very terms of their leaving the plugged-in world mean that their lives and wisdom aren’t readily accessible to those of us outside their cloister. We cannot understand their presence, only their absence.’

I am not ‘absent’, technologically speaking, then, even if that sometimes seems an attractive prospect, and even if I don’t tweet for a while. I am still reachable via the usual means. I still need the internet to go about my daily business, such as it is.

This piece by Adrianne LaFrance is an interesting commentary on where twitter is at, in 2014, 5 years after it came into being. I don’t agree with everything she says. But I have my own reasons for finding twitter now a lot less fun than it seemed back in 2010 when I joined. One of the problems is that I do not feel free to speak my mind on twitter anymore. And I’m not really prepared to try and produce a sanitised, easy to swallow version of QRG.

Sometimes the ‘breaks’ in relationships expand and merge and turn into permanent splits. Maybe that will happen with me and twitter, maybe it won’t. But for now, I’m seeing other people. We’re on a break!!

 

journalism

I saw this George Orwell quote on twitter ( /via @MrDarrenGormley ) and found it quite resonant.

The PR-ification of journalism has been well-documented already.  But maybe what hasn’t been so well documented, is the lengths to which some journalists are prepared to go these days, to censor what they don’t want ‘printed’ – or in the internet age, spoken, tweeted, blogged, etc.

I know the hoi polloi have stormed the stage now, and that makes some ‘professional’ hacks uncomfortable. But if they don’t want to be just another PR, they should embrace the new world, and what it has to offer in the way of ‘citizen journalism’, ‘feedback’, ‘BTL comments’ and diversity of information and opinion.

And if you’re a journalist reading this and thinking: yes but she’s a troll, she has no right to claim her freedom of speech may be under threat. Her speech is beyond the bounds of decency, morality or some other …ity, then maybe you’re part of the problem I’m talking about.

Those who make a living by writing and speaking should value everyone’s freedom of expression. Even mine.

 

twitter-censorship

This week has been a worrying one for twitterphiles like me.  The social media site was blocked by the Government in Turkey, in a seemingly blatant attack on Turkish people’s rights to freedom of expression.  Today a court proposed that the ban should be lifted. As they wait for confirmation that it will be, Turks are using creative means to get round the ban, such as installing   Tor browsers and tweeting via sms on mobile phones.  Whilst representatives from twitter the company did speak out against the ban by Turkey’s authorities, they are not quite perfect ambassadors for freedom of speech. In 2012 twitter.com put their new policy into practice, allowing them to block tweets in particular countries, when they censored output in Germany from neo-Nazis. I’m not a fan of racism in any form, but a social media company making political decisions to restrict access to content concerns me. This seems particularly ironic when we remind ourselves how heavily the actual Nazis relied on censorship  and repression of certain points of view in their regime.

There have also been observations by twitterers that sometimes suspension of individual users can be the result of pressure from groups who dislike them, rather than for any violations of twitter.com’s terms and conditions. I am surprised I’ve never been suspended myself, actually, considering the various political and personal cliques who don’t like the cut of my jib on twitter! (I hope I’m not giving anyone ideas *stern look*). But whatever its faults, I am inclined to agree with Paul Bernal, an  academic who studies privacy, media law and Intellectual Property, that twitter provides great opportunities for freedom of speech:

twitter

I also agree with Dan Hannan, MEP, that whether it is at state or individual level, the calls for banning, censoring and punishing people are always made in relation to other people. A  ‘troll‘  is always someone else isn’t it?. But the kind of rhetoric that demands ‘tougher penalties’ for ‘cyber bullies’ and the values it espouses could have a negative, restrictive effect on us all.

twitter_DH

I have considered leaving twitter a few times in the last couple of years. But there are too many reasons to stay. Apart from the excellent friends I have made, and apart from my ‘professional’ reasons (for that read: ego) for using twitter, illustrated by recent praise for my novella  and for my critique of feminism, Leaving The Sisterhood, I think it’s too important to abandon. I know that I am no different from the majority of twitter users, in that my ‘output’ is often frivolous, or boring, but its my self-expression. My chance to contribute to discussions and debates, to see the events of the world unfold in real time, to learn and expand my horizons.

A lot nearer to me than Turkey, we also learned this week that restrictions have been put on prisoners receiving books and other gifts. Their freedom of expression and freedom to learn is not just curtailed by their incarceration, but now by further, draconian regulations. Even in the comfort of my own home, it is all too clear to me, that my right to talk shit on the internet is not something to take for granted. And it’s certainly not something to give up. They’ll have to drag me kicking and screaming away from that little blue bird, I’m afraid.

 

 

‘some girls are bright as the morning, and some girls are blessed with a dark turn of mind’ – Gillian Welch

Before I steal myself to face the cold and the crowds, and do my Christmas food shopping, I thought I’d pause and wish you all, my long-suffering readers and friends, a very merry Christmas.

I quite like the festive period in the UK, tat, tack, manic consumerism, cholesterol overdoses and all. I enjoy planning a meal, thinking about what presents to give, drinking alcohol as if it’s my vocation. It is a fine balance though, between genuine indulgence and – yes – joy, and forced, painful jollity. I have nearly been pushed over the edge into bah humbug mode once or twice already this year, by ridiculous  Christmas jumpers taking over London, by nearly fainting in a particularly claustrophobic shopping centre (Yes, Birmingham Bull Ring, I’m looking at you), and by the sorry sight of my bank balance, buckling under the strain.

However, I’ve rallied myself, put the tree up, wrapped gifts, played Just Like Christmas by Low to death, started drinking for real, this time. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.

One thing I’ve learned over the years about myself, that Christmas puts into sharp relief, is that it’s ok not to be the jolliest, happiest, most fun person in the room. I have found I’m more able to enjoy life, even at its most tinselly, when I accept my limitations, including my slightly dour side, that I share with most of my dear family. As I have said in a recent post, I’m even getting more realistic about friendships and romantic relationships, and it’s making me – shock horror! – happier.

And even Christmas culture offers some beautifully bitter-sweet gems for us to enjoy. It’s not all jingle bells, Michael Macintyre and cheap sherry. Pondering very briefly (I really must face that shopping), I am reminded of brilliant, sad-but-happy films such as Miracle on 34th Street and It’s A Wonderful Life that go very well with a whisky or two late on boxing day.

As a young woman I tended to veer towards the all or nothing, Morrissey-loving miserabilist stance in relation to Christmas and possibly life in general. These days I think I’m able to embrace the good stuff, the giggles and the twinkling lights, whilst also acknowledging some poignancy, in the carols, in the faces I pass hurriedly in Asda, in my own ‘dark turn of mind’.

So Happy Christmas everyone, just be yourselves. QRG Loves You. Mine’s a G and T!

feminists-angry-at-blogger

Ally Fogg is not a feminist, allegedly. But maybe he is worse than that. His apparent attempts to be ‘reasonable’ and ‘balanced’ and separate from the battling factions in the gender wars are increasingly unconvincing. I can see the benefits, to Ally, and to feminism, of his fence-sitting stance. He avoids the personal cost of being a ‘male feminist’ and never pleasing the sisterhood enough (see Hugo Schwyzer). And the feminists get an – um- ‘ally’ who speaks feminism, acts feminism, supports feminism, but lets the girls rule the roost. The Guardian** (as an outpost of feminism) also benefits, as they have a man writing about gender to wave around as an example of their ‘diversity’. But a man who says exactly what any feminist woman journalist would say.

Fogg’s latest offering to the feminist goddesses is particularly awful. He starts by anticipating and undermining any criticism, and implies it will come from unthinking, crass individuals. I guess he’ll file my response as a ‘hit blog’. He writes:

‘ This is an article about angry white men and their galloping sense of aggrieved entitlement. It is at least partly inspired by feminist theory and analysis of structural racial supremacy. Before I’ve finished my third sentence, I’ve probably already contributed to a minor epidemic of hypertension among a certain section of Comment is free readers. I can anticipate the comments, the hit-blogs and the hate-mail already: by even mentioning white men, I am the real racist. I am the real sexist. Why doesn’t the Guardian take a pop at the angry brown men over here or the angry black women over there instead?’

Ostensibly, Ally is reviewing a book by someone who does own his identity as a ‘male feminist’ – Michael Kimmel. I am not a fan but what I think is troubling is how Fogg hides behind Kimmel’s brand of misandry. Fogg doesn’t say he supports everything Kimmel says but quotes him uncritically. So Kimmel’s comment that

‘the penis should carry a sticker saying: “Warning: operating this instrument can be dangerous to yours and others’ health.”‘

is given ‘airtime’, not challenged, and is a juicy bone thrown to Graun feminist editors and readers.

The article gets a little confusing as it progresses. Fogg mentions Kimmel’s criticism of ‘angry white men’ and puts the examples of ‘the men’s rights activists of cyberspace’ and ‘the high school spree shooters of parental nightmares’ next to each other in the same sentence. He then says ‘the thesis can only really be made to work by means of tortuous logic’ , but adds ‘nonetheless there is more than a jingling ring of truth to his argument’ and goes on to agree with Kimmel enthusiastically. Fogg supports Kimmel’s notion that white men are responding badly to social change and growing gender equality, due to their sense of ‘entitlement’ and an inability to move with the times.

This is a clever ploy in a way. If men’s rights activists, for example respond angrily to Fogg’s article, he can say ‘I told you so’ and cite their sense of ‘entitlement’ again. Fogg’s article also ignores the ‘angry white women’ of feminism, who  don’t like it up ‘em. He fails to mention how feminism has always celebrated ‘female’ anger. Sometimes that anger gets violent:

https://twitter.com/AxeCo2Tax/status/399489435416674304/photo/1

I don’t think I am angry with Fogg. I have got to the point of being jaded and a bit depressed by his collusion with a politics that belittles and demonises men, their problems and their opinions. Ally is a ‘white man’ too. I don’t like the implication that he is somehow ‘better’ than the men he derides, more ‘enlightened’, ‘nicer’.

It’s business at usual at the Graun. But it’s a rather nasty business. And any challenges to this type of misandry are in my view, more than needed.

this-shit

* ‘going native’ observation by my twitter pal Ben

** I’m putting this at QRG Blog rather than Graunwatch which is on a brief hiatus.

And another one’s gone! From Feminist Ideology. I was recently contacted by the blogger called Female Fed Up With Feminism. Like me, she is a woman who has used that precious right of women (and everyone else) everywhere, and changed her mind. Now that she has become ‘fed up’ with feminism, and seen its bias against men, and against honest open debate, she has decided to challenge some of the worst excesses of the gender politics ‘cult’. FFUWF writes:

‘I am a very proud non feminist female who has decided that it’s time to deal with the frenzy that is now going on in the media about how society is riddled with so-called ‘sexism’. I believe that things are much more complicated than that, and that the manner in which feminism is hijacking important issues is stopping us from having a mature and rational debate about many things.’

Also like me, the blogger is concerned about feminists’ tendency to attack  freedom of speech   in the name of combatting sexism.  And one of the outfits she finds most irritating and propogandist on the subject of sexism is that well known (to some of us) twitter account  and blog Everyday Sexism. If anyone has any ideas about how to challenge Everyday Sexism’s bullshit about men, women and gender, let us know!

I will finish by wishing this latest Female Fed Up With Feminism all the best in fighting her  ‘sisters’ . Don’t forget to wear protective clothing though – these debates can get very heated!

 

luce

There’s a new blog on the block. And it’s rather good. FemDelusion is the brainchild of Dr Jamie Potter. He describes his project thus:

‘The central argument, as suggested by the title ‘femdelusion’, following Dawkins’ well-known The God Delusion, is that feminism is an ideology committed to various faith-based commitments.’

One of the first posts tackles the thorny issue of  Postmodernism and Feminism. I recommend reading the whole essay as it’s quite thought provoking. But I’ve chosen this section to feature here because it mentions me! And also sums up some of Jamie’s ideas about the problems posed by ‘postmodern feminism’.

Jamie writes:

‘A critical theoretic feminism is one that seeks to outline a narrative of sorts in order to justify the viewpoint that ‘women have it worse’, and is thus typically found alongside an egalitarian commitment. A postmodern feminism, by contrast, rejects such grand narratives altogether in favour of local, situated gestures. For a postmodern feminist, the trick is to expose the ‘false binary’ structures and ‘essentialisms’ we arbitrarily impose on complex lives that always escape such structures, and to ‘destabilise’ them. A quite literally beautiful example of postmodernist feminism is provided by Femen (especially Amina Tyler), who ‘destabilise’ the meaning of breasts as sexual display by encouraging people to associate their breasts with protest. (And… for the first time in human history… I’m not going to put up an image of their protests, even a blurry one. Although I will link to Femen’s homepage, as I think they’re really quite interesting.)

Given this inherent difference of approach, you’d be forgiven for thinking it odd that postmodernist feminists and critical theoretic feminists don’t really seem to have massive awkward barnies. Surely by now someone with the intelligence of Suzanne Moore has noticed that Queer Theory, with it’s rejection of the false male/female binary, would have noticed that much feminist theory out there is predicated on gender essentialist categories? So why is there so little observable conflict?

A longer, more detailed answer is required (and won’t be possible until I’ve droned on about critical theory some more), but to some extent, I think it can be explained simply by postmodernist feminists not being overly concerned about the possibility of critical theoretic feminist narratives dominating politically. Julia Kristeva, for instance, is quite happy using ‘total deceptions’ if they happen to serve a political agenda she favours.  This may, however, change as the political situation changes. Increasingly feminism is coming to resemble ‘the man’, and postmodernists tend not to like ‘the man’.

I find QuietRiotGrrl’s approach extremely interesting here. I’d highly recommend people give her a close look, as I think she’s a very original and interesting thinker. As you can see here, QRG explicitly attacks what I’d call ‘critical theoretic feminism’ on the basis that it is committed to the gender binary, something QRG thinks ought to be destabilised:

1) Feminism is based on an assumption that overall, men as a group hold power in society and this power, damages women as a group.

2) The above assumption, no matter what feminists say, relies on a belief in and a reinforcement of the essentialist binary view of gender (i.e. that male v female men v women masculine v feminine are real and important distinctions. That is how feminists justify their belief that ‘men’ hold power over ‘women’)

3) This means that in order to present these assumptions as ‘fact’, men are demonised by feminism as a whole. Feminism is, by its very nature, misandrist. e.g. concepts such as ‘rape culture’ and ‘patriarchy’ and ‘violence against women and girls’ and ‘the male gaze’ and ‘objectification’ rely on making out men are not decent people, in general, as a group. To be accepted as decent human beings, the onus is placed by feminists onto men to prove their worth, and to prove why they differ from the (socialised or innate) ‘norm’ of dominant masculinity.

Notice that QRG places a great deal of emphasis on the fact that feminists rely on the gender binary. She even then maintains that feminists not only rely on the gender binary, but activelyreinforce it by perpetuating narratives of male violence, domination, etc. For QRG, that this binary is ‘essentialist’ is, I suspect, enough to earn her wrath. Her commitment is first and foremost to her Foucauldian interrogation of the power dynamics of intellectual discourse, and it is her resistance to the power contained in being able to control how social actions are framed that underlies her (now) anti-feminism. She’s pretty much unique as a thinker, as far as I can tell, since she’s the first postmodernist feminist to flip. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if others started to follow, however.’

 

Let Me Back In

Posted: May 10, 2013 in Blogging, Freedom of Speech

 

Thanks everyone for their messages here and elsewhere, when I took a bit of  a breather from the trials and tribulations of being that – er- notorious  ‘internet troll’ Quiet Riot Girl.

But friends, enemies, frenemies and strangers. I’m back.

How’ve you been?

Xx

 

Regrets collect like old friends
Here to relive your darkest moments
I can see no way, I can see no way
And all of the ghouls come out to play
And every demon wants his pound of flesh
But I like to keep some things to myself
I like to keep my issues drawn
It’s always darkest before the dawn

-Florence and the Machine

This is a short note to say I won’t be around much in the public rooms of the internet for a while.  I’m not able to speak/write freely or tell of my present situation so, in those circumstances, I am ‘going dark’ for a bit.

Friends can always find me in the usual ways.

See you soon, in the full light of day. It’s always darkest before the dawn.

XXQRG

posthuman

Over at Cyborgology blog,  Whitney Erin Boesel has written a critical post about gender representation in Digital Dualism Debates. To really engage with what she writes, if you’re not part of the discussion already, you might have to read some of the posts she links to. Here I show the begining para of her piece, followed by my comments BTL and her reply to me. Then I will see if I can ‘widen’ out this topic to be relevant to more than just the digital dualists (and their opponents).

Whitney ( @Phenatypical) wrote:

‘If you’re a regular reader of Cyborgology, chances are good that you caught the most recent “brouLOL” (yes, that’s like a 21st century brouhaha) over digital dualism and augmented reality. If you’re a careful reader of Cyborgology, chances are good you also caught (at least) one glaring omission in much of the writing featured in this wave of commentary. What was missing?

Ladies, gentlemen, and cyborgs, allow me to (re)introduce you to Jenny Davis (@Jup83) and Sarah Wanenchak (@dynamicsymmetry)—oh yeah, and my name’s Whitney Erin Boesel (I’m @phenatypical). None of us identify as men, and all of us have written about digital dualism. In fact, you may have seen our work referenced recently under our collective noms de plume: “the other digital dualism denialists,” “others on this blog,” “others,” “other Cyborgologists,” “other regular contributors,” etc. If you’re a crotchety sociologist with a penchant for picking apart language (ahem: guilty), it doesn’t get much better than this. Per the conversation earlier this month, there are two groups of people who write about digital dualism on Cyborgology: there are named men, and there are unnamed Others’

I responed:

‘I too notcied the debate being framed as between what I termed – a bit sarcastically – ‘men of ideas’.

But I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say women are being ‘silenced’. Your post is not silence for a start. And in the piece by Machine Starts about Jurgenson v Carr the writer also mentioned Sherry Turkle at least. And at the #ttw13 there were loads of women talking, tweeting, organising, questioning etc.

Here’s my take. I believe that the ‘where are the women?’ statements are PART OF THE PROBLEM. They give too much credit to the ‘white men’ and their ‘pissing contests’ and present women as innocent victims of their lack of ‘voice’.

I believe gender inequalities are a problem in the realms in which you are focussing on – academia, journalism, tech, entrepreneurship etc. But I dont think these inequalities are as simple as a ‘lack’ of women and a ‘dominance’ of men. You mention trans people and people from diverse ethnicities, but as an afterthought, or as subservient to ‘women’.

I am a woman. And, as I have said before, the people who have ‘silenced’ or attempted to silence me the most have been feminist women.’

Whitney replied:

‘hi QRG – thanks for your comment. i agree with you that there were a good number of women engaging in dialogue around #TtW13; in fact, that’s part of why i think there *must* be more women writing about these issues, too!

we both know there’s a lot of gender stuff we’ll never agree on (though i like to think we have our points of agreement as well ;) , but there are two points in your comment i wanted to address:

first, i certainly have not intended to treat transpeople and people of color as afterthoughts. my focus in *this post* is the way women theorists were overlooked in a particular conversation (everyone writing for cyborgology at present is white, as is everyone who’s engaged in the early march 2013 debate so far as i know); what i want to do in my *future post* is highlight work done by a range of non-white-men. there are probably more non-white-men doing this type of work; i just don’t know about them yet. wanting to know is part of why i wrote this piece.

second, there’s a big difference between “speaking” and “being listened to.” women ARE speaking about digital dualism, as i’ve illustrated! but if no one’s listening (or if most of everyone is ignoring), that’s being silenced-in-effect–and i think it’s important to recognize that.’

I replied:
‘I do not think ‘white men’ is an accurate description of those who dominate debates on digital dualism or anything else. I suspect they have other characteristics in common. Because in USA for example, many ‘white men’ are INCREDIBLY disadvantaged in terms of economics, education etc. Are they writing about digital dualism? I doubt it. Once we start looking at ‘the academy’ we are already talking about some very ‘well off’ people in many ways.

also, as for ‘not being listened to’ = ‘silencing’ I see where you’re coming from. But not sure its an exact fit. and again, it is feminist women who have ‘not listened’ to me the most, in groups, on blogs, twitter etc and who have banned and blocked me to high heaven. so ‘silencing’ is not just something those big bad ‘white men’ do.’

——————-

So how does this exchange fit into wider debates on gender, academia, and the ‘digital society’ we live in? Firstly I have noticed before that the rather loaded question, Where Are The Women? is asked frequently and insistently. Where are the women in politics? science? celebrity chef land? music industry? etc. And the answer usually seems to be that they are cowering under the weight and dominance of those beasts – men. I find it is normally white, middle class feminist women, who already have some ‘power’ in life, who ask this question. And that they blame their brothers and husbands and colleagues - white middle class men, for the lack of parity in gender representation in their fields. Boesel says in her piece she is not looking here for reasons for gender inequalities in digital dualism debates. But I think she is. And I think she finds reasons – ‘white men’. But as I said in the comments, many many ‘white men’ are far more disadvantaged and far more ‘silent’ in the media, academia, technology, than the women she is championing. Because inequality doesn’t cut down a binary line. It’s complicated! The calls of ‘where are the women’ just reinforce the binary, and maintain the ‘silence’ of those not ‘represented’ by it in my view.

Secondly, the notion of ‘divides’ in digital cultures is not always helpful. In his #ttw13 talk,  ‘Urban Libraries and the Control of Access’ Daniel Greene ( @greene_dm ) critiqued the concept of the ‘digital divide’. He – yes, he is as far as I can tell a ‘white man’ – suggested this binary presentation of the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ in digital culture is simplistic and misleading. The myriad ways in which we access technology or are excluded from technological activities, are not expressed by this phrase. And I think the ‘where are the women?’ phrase similarly simplifies and obfuscates the complex issues of gender, opportunity, ‘silence’ and voice in digital dualism debates. At one point in her piece Whitney asked for us to send her links of work by ‘non white men’ on digital dualism, including people from various ethnic minority backgrounds, and trans people. I dont think this is the answer either. Trans people in particular, I think, may have huge problems in having a voice and being visible in academic cultures, digital or otherwise. For them, ‘visibility’ can be hugely distressing, difficult,  linked to medical and financial issues around transition, and, can even be a matter of life or death. I don’t think it is any coincidence, for example, that Professor Raewyn Connell became ‘visible’ as a trans woman after she had developed her career and name as an academic in her assigned gender identity. As a trans person I dont think she’d have been able to achieve what she did, at least not without all sorts of very hard personal and political battles. Maybe some of the men and women writing on digital dualism are trans? But haven’t ‘come out’? And why should they? Boesel is not advocating ‘outing’ trans academics, but I think she may be assuming more of them are ‘out and proud’ than there probably are.

 I have more to say on this. And, I am glad that, the group at cyborgology won’t try to ‘silence’ me. I have found them welcoming and open in their style of engagement. However, one of the issues I do intend to tease out is, illustrated by Boesel’s post, some of the gender politics these exciting young academics espouse, are lagging behind their more forward thinking 21st century ideas on digital societies and digital dualism. Donna Haraway was, in some ways ahead of her time with her cyborg feminism. But in other ways she was very much of her time, and she held up ‘women’ to be special flowers in my opinion, oppressed by those big bad wolves, men. I dont see the world like that. And I don’t think cyborgology has room for gender or any other form of binaries.