I’m that person on facebook that will fucking always end up in 30, 40, 50 comment debates on facebook. (blog comments, message boards.) *Usually* about sexism/misogyny. Sometimes about racism. Occasionally about rock climbing. Slightly more often about blues dancing. I just… don’t not say shit. And it pisses people off. Why do I bother?
My most recent epic was on a rock climbing forum, where someone had started a thread calling for photos of women climbing. Now, these crop up from time to time, and are not actually always train wrecks. Sometimes they are full of pictures of badass women doing badass things, and maybe looking sexy, but mostly for their badassery. Sometimes they are full of shitty pictures of bad rock climbers doing things that are super boring but include tits near a rock, or a gym. Sometimes they’re such a cluster that the posters are clueless enough to specify they prefer tits over good climbing or good photography.
I fuck that shit up. I grew up on the internet and have been called every kind of bitch lesbian angry femnazi that there is. So I know it’s coming.
This most recent time, it was on a website whose motto is (paraphrased) “Be nice to each other.” And it is HEAVILY moderated. I knew the mods were watching the thread, because they deleted a post of mine “for indecent content” which referenced “gender normative cocksuckery.” [Someone commented that a heavily muscled woman (one of the best in the world) couldn’t be attractive because all of her icky muscles and that two badass female pioneering climbers (old photo) were unidentifiable as women.] The moderator and I were corresponding and he admitted the thread was awful and inappropriate, so I asked why he didn’t just nuke the whole thing? “They would just whine SO MUCH,” was the gist of his reply.
In the midst of the insults about my sexual orientation, my general attractiveness, and my fellatio skills, somebody asked me why I was bothering, since the other posters could easily make a new thread if they wanted, and I DEFINITELY wasn’t going to change the mind of anyone I was arguing with.
“I don’t need to change any of THEIR minds,” I said. “I only need it to be more of a pain in the ass for the moderators [=people in power] to let sexist crap stand than it would have been to do something about it. And I want to say something, for everyone who didn’t want to stick their neck out because this crap does not respect female climbers. It poisons the community and tells them they’re worth nothing more than how they look getting their photo taken from above with their flexed pecs pushing out their breasts.”
That’s extra sucky to me as a climber, because that community is actually usually pretty awesome about respecting women.
So this is pretty much my deal with getting in unwinnable fights on the internet about sexism:
(1) So that there is a cost to power to tolerating sexist bullshit. Annoyance will do if there is nothing else. Some cost. ::Squeak Squeak::
(2) So that I’m not saying nothing and spreading the impression that “everybody agrees.” To let everyone else that doesn’t agree know they’re not alone. And while I may not win hearts and minds that are already set, but there are hearts and minds that read the internet that haven’t decided yet.
(3) For everyone who is not privileged enough to be able to say unpopular things and piss off a bunch of people. My professional field and my intimate friends are pretty uniformly “Right on, Feminists!” And I have a loving, long-term partner at home so I don’t have to sit with the nagging fear that if I am too aggressive, I will be so far out that no boy (or girl) will ever love me. And I am a cis-gendered, white, educated, heterosexual.
So I keep wading in. It’s a lot of the same conversations over and over again, but I try and remember that not everybody has honestly ever had these conversations before. Sometimes people (or other people reading) genuinely learn new perspectives. [Facebook more than anonymous message boards, but the point stands.] I get a lot of messages of support on Facebook about it, which is pretty cool. I got a number of supportive comments and messages in the rock climbing thread.
Somebody has to start the dance, or nobody is dancing, natch.