30 Comments

Why was I sent to this blog?

AKA: I asked some feminists a question, and instead of answering they sent me here. Why?

Last updated 2010/05/25
Your question was probably
(a) not actually on-topic for the discussion they were having
and/or
(b) covered ground they have gone over many times before and do not wish to repeat
and/or
(c) has in their past experience been a question that attracts antagonists and is likely to erupt into a flamewar that they prefer to avoid.

Not wanting to have that topic derailed [1], this site was suggested as an alternative place to find an answer to your question.

  • People find questions that do not further the current discussion frustrating and are often not inclined to answer those questions (off-topic questions in internet forums are also a breach of Netiquette, so some people simply ignore them on principle). Questioners find being ignored frustrating also, and such mutual dissatisfaction can erupt into negativity that totally disrupts a discussion. By sending you here somebody is hoping to avoid such disruption, by giving you another source of answers for your question(s). [2]
  • Maybe you didn’t ask a question at all, but asserted/argued a point that denied the factuality/importance of the topic being discussed. Nobody cheers at the thought of trying to run somebody through reams of introductory material before that person gains the grounding to argue a topic knowledgeably, so they sent you here where lots of introductory material is gathered in once convenient place.
  • Maybe you were asking advice about answers to various disruptive questions, and you were sent here because that’s the purpose of this blog and not the purpose of the other forum in which you were posting.

Whichever way, for them to regurgitate the basics yet again would derail their on-topic discussion of specific feminist issues, no matter how genuine and earnest you personally might be, just for the sake of clarifying some term/reference you’ve never heard before. There is also the distinct possibility that a grepping loon will, via a search engine, latch on to your genuine and earnest question in order to deliberately post vexatious and obnoxious comments that will drag the discussion even further off topic.

Expecting people to drop what they were doing in order to address your Frequently Asked and Answered Question about basic feminist theory is an awful lot to ask of people on the net who don’t even know you, isn’t it? Especially when there’s this whole blog over here where all those questions are always on-topic and the moderator is always ready to simply disemvowel any vexatious grepping loons.

This blog exists to give you a few pointers to places you can find more information to answer your question. Once you are better informed you will be able to contribute to lively feminist discussions productively, armed with facts and theory, even (especially!) if/when you don’t end up agreeing with feminist opinions.

First:

Second:

Read about Navigating the FAQs and follow the suggested links to browse the topics.

Third:

If your question is not yet amongst the FAQs, please add it to the Open Suggestion Thread(and if you read through the comments there you may find that someone else has suggested a link that fits the bill). Read the comments policy before commenting, please.

OK, then. Welcome to the blog.


Notes:

  1. You weren’t asking a question in a feminist forum, so you weren’t disrupting anything, but someone sent you here anyway? If you’re not a disruptive commentor, then that reason doesn’t apply to you. The person probably felt that you were looking for a general information resource on feminism for another reason. [back]
  2. If you had a specific question rather than a general question, and the person who sent you here didn’t give you a link to a specific FAQ that answers your question, then you may be feeling somewhat aggrieved. Fair enough, too. Polite persistence (“That’s a large resource – which particular FAQ should I be reading?”) should make the point that a little bit of effort on their part as well can be fairly expected, without derailing the discussion. Hopefully what you read here can generate on-topic discussion in good time. [back]
  3. The FAQs attempt to be descriptive from a reasonably neutral position. There are other posts on this blog which are not FAQs which are intended as general feminist resources and op-eds: these posts are not intended to be neutral documents. [back]

30 comments on “Why was I sent to this blog?

  1. [...] I asked some feminists a question, and instead of answering they sent me here. Why? [...]

  2. [...] feminism 101 regarding the subject matter of a previous post, i am very happy to see that this web site has finally been [...]

  3. While I came here on my own because I am curious to see what other people say feminism is, I find that the writing condescends almost from the start, for example:

    “People find ignorant questions frustrating”; “By sending you here the feminists hope”; “Feminists naturally don’t care”. Each of these statements is so broad as to be ignorant themselves. So why should I bother to read any further?

    • Yes, it’s a bit condescending and this intro should probably be re-worded. However this happens in all sorts of ideological discussions when people are coming from different sets of assumptions. Perhaps if you’re a Democrat, then the theory of trickle-down economics will seem ignorant to you, when to a Republican it wouldn’t. If you ever had a political debate with someone coming from a radically different perspective, you can probably appreciate how difficult it is to have such a conversation without feeling condescended to, or, if you’re really honest, without being condescending to that other person.

      To someone coming from a feminist mindset (broadly speaking) some questions may seem ignorant because the feminist dismisses the underlying assumptions. For example, I think there’s another post on here about why some feminists find comments about men in discussions about the rape culture problematic. To an outsider comments such as “but men get raped too!” seem perfectly fine and on topic. To a feminist, who believes that male and female rape differ (at least somewhat, probably to a large degree) in their etiology and culture, such a comment misses the point completely.

      I do think that feminists would do better to be less impatient, dismissive, or condescending with people coming from a radically different perspective, as hard as that is. When I was younger I certainly found the impatience to be hugely off-putting; I still do. Unfortunately for someone who believes in feminism or any other type of activism the person coming from a different perspective feels no need to change. It is the feminist who wants them to change. So the feminist NEEDS to be the one doing the work, extending the charity, remaining calm and non-confrontational even when the other person isn’t, and not getting huffy that a person “dares” to be so ignorant/mis-informed/whatever.

  4. Dear “anon” (superlatively original net handle, BTW),

    This is an introductory level blog on feminist theory. Have you ever actually been in an introductory level course in which the opening address didn’t seem at least a little condescending in its attempt to cover all bases? Not everyone coming to read here may be as ineffably erudite as thee.

    There are links provided in the post above to material which addresses specifics. If you’re really interested in discovering what other people say about feminism, follow them. If all you want to do is score online debating points, then don’t bother. Your choice entirely.

  5. Also: anon, if no one sent you here, then this attitude doesn’t apply to you. No need to take something personally that wasn’t meant for you in the first place.

    As to why you might bother to continue reading, I would suggest that you read this post again. The statements you found so offensive didn’t, in fact, communicate what you quoted at all. You are attributing intentions and attitudes to feminists that are just not present in this particular post.

    If you’re open-minded enough to leave aside your preconceived notions and read only what’s been written, then you might find the reason to continue reading about feminism here that you seek.

  6. Somewhat in defence of Anon, this feminist admits to being taken aback when she read “people find ignorant questions frustrating.” I find nothing wrong with the other phrases Anon mentions and the rest of the intro comes across as friendly and helpful. However, the word ‘ignorant’ in that one phrase doesn’t fit with the rest and seems inappropriate to me.

    One way of re-wording it might be “people find questions that are basic to feminism frustrating.”

  7. Ocean, I’m actually using ignorant deliberately because there’s nothing wrong with ignorance IMO – it just means you don’t know something yet.

    However, if it’s taking allies aback then I need to clarify my view of the word in the post or find another phrasing.

  8. Unfogged had a useful post on how men can behave respectfully during feminist discussions:

    http://www.unfogged.com/archives/week_2006_09_03.html#005405

  9. Thanks, Wogglebug. I think I have referenced that one in one of the FAQs already, but the more links to great posts in comments the better!!

  10. Indeed, tigtog: Ignorant is not an insult, but a description. I am thoroughly ignorant of anything past the most elementary principles of astrophysics, beyond, say, that stars are made up of burning gas or that planets travel in elliptical orbits.

    I think this meaning of ignorant was made abundantly clear in the post itself, so I would consider this a case of reading at less than 100% attentiveness. (I find it easier to miss stuff while reading from a computer screen, so I’m not picking on anon at all. This happens — it’s called being human.)

    If we’re leaving the potentially insulting word ignorant out (which seems a fairly reasonable act) then may I suggest:

    “People find questions that do not further the current discussion frustrating.”

    There. Trolls are now included. ^^

  11. nightgigio, the clarity of the intended meaning of ignorant is there now because of the text in brackets, which I’ve now further amended to indicate that this was a later edit than the original version against which the complaints were made.

    I certainly use ignorant as a descriptor rather than as an insult, but then I don’t find the accurate description “fat” insulting either.

  12. tigtog, thanks for the clarification. It is, at least by me, much appreciated. ^^

  13. I didn’t think it was terribly condescending I just thought it delightful that you refer to other feminists as “allies”.

    In 1980 I could see that but in 2007 I am under the impression that anything that can be related to a “war” has long been won.

    Can you clarify?

  14. That strikes me as an oversimplistic and also very Western-centric view, Surix.

    Most women in the world don’t have a chance at self-sovereignty, and those of us who do are still struggling for equal opportunity against a culture that trivialises every choice a woman makes.

  15. Yes tigtog I was referring to the western world.
    I am not a woman so perhaps I miss some things but what do you mean by trivializes every choice a woman makes? What is a choice that is considered important when a man makes it but trivial when a woman makes it. Or am I misinterpreting your statement.

    I do however have some insight into the life of a woman as I have been a part of or aware of my sisters life from birth (80s) to adulthood. She has never considered herself a feminist or felt cheated in anyway on account of her gender and the way society views it. She is a successful business woman and had no problems from society in getting there. Is there some injustice (related to gender) that she has not been aware of and might she have had a happier and more successful life if those injustices did not exist? Or is that not the goal of feminism.

  16. About cultures outside of the western world, it would seem fighting for the rights of those woman would more appropriately be called humanitarianism rather than feminism. We now know what equality is, the time for feminism would seem to have ended. Some movements need to expire, at least how(and in what way) they are referred to. For example when a white person greets a black person you wouldn’t call it “integration” anymore. That would be absurd and possibly setting back ideas that were fought for and accepted long ago. Instead you don’t think twice about blacks “integrating” with whites because you just see it as people relating with people. In order to “not think twice” you first have to stop using and drawing attention to the words and concepts. That is how I see it.

  17. Also, I’m glad for your sister that she is successful etc. But why should your anecdote trump decades of data?

  18. One would also wonder how Surix would know how his sister felt growing up or how she feels now in spite of her success. I am a woman and I have two younger sisters — I wouldn’t presume to speak for them and how they might or might not feel on any given subject.

  19. [...] also find it fascinating upon reading an FAQ written by a website known as feminist 101 when the author states how annoying it is to have to explain their viewpoints all the time. What a [...]

  20. nightgigio, you suggested rephrasing to:

    “People find questions that do not further the current discussion frustrating.”

    I’ve decided to run with that after all. Thanks!

  21. [...] kommt die eigentlich immer?) hier die Geschichte des Feminismus neu aufzurollen, möchte ich auf diese Seite verweisen und abschließend noch mal die Ani zu Wort kommen lassen: “I think what we need to do [...]

  22. I was sent to this site for some real Feminist discussion but instead I’m accused of de-railing an interesting discussion others were having???!!! I will not be using this site again!

  23. The effect of your question must have been a potential derail, or they would not have pointed you here. Nobody is saying that you deliberately set out to derail the discussion, just that derailing is what would have happened if everybody switched to answering your question instead of staying on topic.

    Derails are often inadvertent. That doesn’t mean that other people have to accommodate them, just because you didn’t mean it as a derail.

    If you want some feminist discussion here, you’re more than welcome. You might want to thicken the skin a liitle.

  24. [...] Griffin and Irving and their stupid ilk are not interested in healthy debate. Quite the opposite: what they want is to stifle debate by dragging it back to the starting point over and over again. If you have to keep explaining over and over again why racism is wrong, the discussion can never move forward. It’s a hoary old trick that any feminist will recognize: we get it all the time. [...]

  25. Ignorant is derived from the verb IGNORE.

    To ignore is to willfully overlook something.

    It implies intention, don’t you think?

    I might feel insulted by being called “ignorant” of feminism, because I don’t mean to overlook it and forget about it, though there is much that I have to discover.

    I suppose that is not the only way to use the word ignorant, but those are just my two cents.

    • @anewpairofeyes,

      The discussion of the word ‘ignorant’ has already resulted in its removal from the article, a long time ago now. Why raise it again now?

      As it happens, you have the etymology reversed. The word ignorant came first, derived via French from the Latin word ignarus that meant ‘unknown’. The English denotations of wilfully overlooking are a later burden on the word ‘ignore’. That’s why the phrase “wilfully ignorant” exists – to distinguish between the deliberately overlooking type of unknowing/ignorance and the ordinary just never heard about it before type of unknowing/ignorance.

      However, etymology doesn’t necessarily trump usage (sometimes I wish it did, but then how would languages evolve?). I’ve already accepted that other people have a far more negative reaction to the word than I do, therefore I removed it.

  26. Ah, I guess I’m just here to start shit! j/k :0

    Sorry about that, I didn’t realize you had already removed it.

  27. I suppose it’s a bit late, and this is a bit pedantic of me, but it turns out that I was accurate in my etymology…..

    O.E. cnawan (class VII strong verb; past tense cneow, pp. cnawen), from P.Gmc. *knoeanan (cf. O.H.G. bi-chnaan, ir-chnaan “to know”), from PIE base *gno- “to know” (cf. O.Pers. xšnasatiy “he shall know;” O.C.S. znati, Rus. znat “to know;” L. gnoscere; Gk. *gno-, as in gignoskein; Skt. jna- “know”). Once widespread in Germanic, this form is now retained only in English, where however it has widespread application, covering meanings that require two or more verbs in other languages (e.g. Ger. wissen, kennen, erkennen and in part können; Fr. connaître, savoir; L. novisse, cognoscere; O.C.S. znaja,

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