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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

this is what outspoken women have to put up with

A charming and insightful comment just posted on my review of The Book of Life:


I often delete comments such as this — which show up with depressing and predictable regularity — but I feel that sometimes they’re worth leaving so that we are reminded how little it takes for some people to lash out at a woman who dares to express even mild approbation at how our culture treats women.

And also, I need to remind everyone of this: The word feminist is not an insult. You do not wound me when you call me a feminist. That’s what I am, and I have never made a secret of it. Try harder, assholes.

posted in:
maryann buzz

  • RogerBW

    Mild approbation as distinct from full-on enthusiasm?

    I think there really is a cultural divide. I’ve never felt the slightest urge to go to a strip club. I don’t know anyone who’s mentioned having done so. And yet they stay in business.

  • Robert P

    I don’t know if you should feel special. You can find vitriol hurled over endless topics and divisions. The Civil War – “…the War of Northern Aggression you bluebelly!!”. They’ll declare others are mindless and worthless over the relative merits of LP vs. CD audio. You think I’m joking.

    You can’t lay all the blame on men – my experience is that from school-aged kids (I work in the public schools) to adults no one is nastier toward females than other females. I couldn’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard women say they can’t stand other women.

  • Robert P

    Having looked at the context of the comment, I doubt it has as much to do with raging against outspoken women as it does juvenility….and/or the ineffectiveness of their meds.

  • Jurgan

    I’d kind of like it if you didn’t make jokes about people’s “meds.” Many people are on medication for mental health, myself included, and don’t become raving misogynists. Second, if you look through the comments of other reviewers with similar traffic to Maryann, I seriously doubt the male bloggers get as much hate as female bloggers.

    As for the idea that “no one is nastier to females than other females,” that’s not really an explanation. It’s more a survival tactic, from what I can tell. I don’t know for sure if this is true, but it seems to me that most of the time those women insult other women as shallow and vapid so men will think of them as different. Anyone else want to weigh in?

  • Jurgan

    I’m not sure what you’re getting at here. Strip club?

  • Jurgan

    Oy, some people. Hang in there, Maryann.

  • LaSargenta

    You’re doing fine. Keep up the good work.

  • Robert P

    Who says I’m making jokes? People don’t do things for no reason, even if the reason is irrational. My guess about someone who would make out of the blue commentary like that is they’re young and immature and/or they’re on meds….or should be.

    My comments about how many females frequently treat other females wasn’t an “explanation” it was an observation – men don’t have anything like exclusive domain when it comes to denigration of women.

    One of those who comes to mind who asserted they don’t have a lot of use for other women thinks of herself as a feminist. I couldn’t help but notice she also made it a prime directive to land a husband who was on a high-income track. She’s also a large part of why I’ll never date another psych major.

  • Danielm80

    My comments about how many females frequently treat other females wasn’t an “explanation” it was an observation…

    Yes. Exactly. That’s the point.

    …men don’t have anything like exclusive domain when it comes to denigration of women.

    Maybe not, but notice how often the targets of attack are women, and notice how often they’re attacked specifically because they’re women. They get attacked with words that call attention to their gender, like “feminist” and “cunt,” as though those terms somehow refute their arguments. This isn’t just a disagreement over a movie.

  • MC

    I’m wondering if there was a certain point during this year when it suddenly got worse, perhaps after the whole idiocy that is Gamergate popped up?

    I’ve seen what has happened to a number of women and POC in games/tech after that hashtag came into existence, and how many people were not just driven out the industry and their jobs but even in some cases, their homes, because of the relentless harassment and threats… for the crime of existing in that space and creating or commenting on games.

    I’m hoping that movement doesn’t expand to attack other people doing the same about other media.

  • RogerBW

    One good effect of the Gamergate idiocy was that people who’d been suffering in silence were encouraged to speak up about it.

  • Tonio Kruger

    What Jurgan said. Your attitude towards strip clubs is very commendable but it hardly seems applicable to the subject at hand.

  • RogerBW

    It seems to have parallels with the view of women as primarily for men’s pleasure, or not. Clearly there are plenty of men who think that employing women as strippers is just fine with them, but I simply don’t meet them among the poeple I know. So there’s a limit to how much it makes sense to discuss this stuff, since we’re all going to agree and the people who don’t agree either aren’t here or (on the usual form) are completely incoherent.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Like most guys who have worked in a co-ed environment, I hardly consider it a big surprise to hear that women can be very nasty toward other women. Indeed, anyone who considers that to be a big surprise obviously has not worked with many women. Nor have they ever heard their female acquaintances kvetch about their mothers, their sisters, their female bosses and co-workers, etc….

    Then again so what? A lot of my male relatives can tell stories about getting into fights with other guys at work and/or school that make the nastiest verbal duels between women seem rather mild. And let’s not forget that women tend to get beaten up or assaulted by men more often than they get beaten up or assaulted by other women. (And of course since most men tend to be physically larger and/or stronger than most women, such violence tends to be a bigger deal than two women spouting vitriol at each other. )

    In any event, woman-on-woman arguments hardly negate the existence of misogyny any more than fights among Jews negate the existence of antisemitism or fights among African-Americans negate the existence of white-on-black racism. Human beings just don’t work that way.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Again, what Jurgan said. Hang in there, MaryAnn. Don’t let the bastards get you down.

  • Tonio Kruger

    What LaSargenta said.

    Anyway, I’ve noticed for years that male critics like John Kenneth Muir or John Nolte can give a bad review to the same type of movies that MaryAnn disses and not receive a tenth of the verbal garbage that she regularly receives. Funny coincidence, that.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Well, I could point out that most of my male relatives who have gone to strip clubs in the past don’t usually go around calling women “cunts” or — to make a more neutral point — I could argue that author Lynn Snowden once noted in her book Nine Lives that she got less harassment from men when she worked as a stripper than when she worked as a cocktail waitress.

    But I suspect I would be dangerously close to being off-topic in either case. Mea culpa.

  • Robert P

    And let’s not forget that women tend to get beaten up or assaulted by
    men more often than they get beaten up or assaulted by other women.

    I think you’d have a hard time substantiating that. Men may tend to do more damage if they assault a woman due to disparity of strength but there’s lots of violence between women. And women attack men as well – happens all the time.

    In any event, woman-on-woman arguments hardly negate the existence of
    misogyny any more than fights among Jews negate the existence of
    antisemitism or fights among African-Americans negate the existence of
    white-on-black racism.

    …or man-hating on the part of women or black-on-white racism which are extremely prevalent as well.

    My original point is that I wouldn’t hold my breath thinking that you’re going to enlighten or otherwise straighten out someone who goes online hurling random insults – who I would envision to be some high-school or college kid, or some lithium-case…or a middle-aged drunk.

  • Constable

    I wonder if “fuck you simpleton” has anticipated our reaction and simply named themselves accordingly. Now we can express our feelings simply by referring to them by name. How considerate of them.

  • Danielm80

    So you’ve narrowed it down to someone who’s either in high school, middle-aged, or in college, and is or isn’t drunk. Or on medication. I suppose the person is either a man or a woman and is white, African-American, or some other race.

  • I don’t feel special. Thanks. And I didn’t “lay all the blame on men.” But again, thanks.

  • I think the misogynist subtext of “Shut up you feminist cunt” is pretty clear.

  • Robert P

    I think you’re giving them way too much credit. My guess is this same idiot is prone to hurling invectives for the sake of hurling invectives rather than any particular desire that “women learn their place” or whatever. Probably just as likely to post “shut up faggot” with no particular reason to think someone is a homosexual, “shut up asshole” etc.

    Kind of like when not long ago someone posted a story on Facebook about a synagogue being defaced with spray-painted, albeit incorrectly drawn swastikas. They really made a botched job of it – you could see where they started and stopped a couple of times and couldn’t figure out how it was supposed to look.

    Rather than some ominous declaration of Nazi sentiment it was pretty obviously the work of idiot kids who probably couldn’t spell either Nazism or Israel correctly or find Israel on a map. They didn’t have any political ax to grind, they were just morons with some notion that this symbol was going to cause a reaction and likely whooped it up seeing their handiwork show up on the news broadcast. Another night they probably went out and bashed mailboxes.

  • Danielm80

    Could be, but after GamerGate and the many, many other attacks on feminists–not just abusive comments but actual threats of violence–the odds suggest that this person really does hate women. I believe the statistics more than I believe your gut instinct.

    This essay is only loosely connected to the discussion, but it’s really interesting (at least, it is to me):


  • LaSargenta

    And how, exactly, is

    “shut up faggot”

    (for one example) not patriarchal as well?

    Dismissing throwing of shit as something done by ignoramuses as almost a reflex is, in fact, ignoring the broader cultural soup that gives this behaviour safety and a place.

  • LaSargenta

    Not that I’m answering anyone in particular, but I just need to state that it is pretty damn pathetic that MAJ’s review — which is her opinion, out of her brain, as a result of her experiences and education (in the broad sense of the word) — has to be considered “outspoken”. “Outspoken” should be reserved for saying something beyond the regular day-to-day rub of life. The fact that simply having an opinion (that is perfectly appropriate for mixed company, not calling for violence against anyone nor any group, etc., etc.) and daring, DARING, to say it out loud or to write it and publish it counts as “outspoken” is pitiful.

  • Robert P

    I’ve narrowed it down to someone who likes to hurl insults.

  • Danielm80

    Have you read the Book of Life thread? MaryAnn made a not-at-all-radical suggestion: The female lead ought to play an active role in the story, rather than just be a prize for men to fight over.

    After she posted that, she was flooded with comments saying that the movie was as feminist as it needed to be, and she was asking too much if she wanted anything more.

    Some of the comments were pretty anti-feminist:

    I don’t think good female representation in movies can be made by passionate feminists because they think too strongly and critically of an ideal environment without male interaction.

    Just yesterday, someone said that the review was “one single agenda polemic.”
    MaryAnn gets that sort of response almost every time she posts a feminist idea, even when it’s something mild that’s been said by a hundred other people.
    I don’t know what “fuck you simpleton” was thinking when he (or she) made his comment. Neither do you. But when MaryAnn has been fielding sexist attacks for 17 years, it’s not a big leap for her to think that this comment comes from the same mindset, especially when it includes the words “feminist cunt.”
    I’m curious why you’re so opposed to the idea that a sexist comment might have come from a sexist person.

  • Bigotry that is so ingrained that is subconscious is still bigotry.

  • Some people are *very* invested in the idea that the world is *not* sexist and misogynist. They would have to alter their mindsets too much if it were.

  • David

    I went to a strip club once. I was 21, had just joined the army, found myself with copious amounts of disposable income, and I went with another guy. I ended up spending $500 in one night. I don’t go to strip clubs anymore.

  • Bluejay

    “Approbation”: I do not think it means what you think it means. :-)

  • Bluejay

    So you’re saying this idiot isn’t actually sexist. He just insulted MAJ as a “feminist cunt” to try to upset her, for a laugh, but in reality he supports gender equality and believes in all the feminist principles that MAJ does. Got it.

    The insult always reveals something about what the poster thinks deserves insulting.

  • Tonio Kruger

    I’m not sure why it matters so much whether or not the guy was a true sexist, anyway. After all, MaryAnn is judging him by what he actually wrote, not by what he might have been thinking while he wrote it. And if you’re going to write nasty messages to people on the Internet, it should not be considered especially surprising if people choose to view such messages in the most negative light possible.

    Anyway, the idea that the obvious insult was intended is somehow lessened by the possibility that he didn’t really mean it just seems silly. After all, the world is full of bullies and sadists who are quick to rationalize their worst actions on such grounds as the fact that they were just kidding or just having fun.

  • Tonio Kruger

    I myself have never been able to find out what feminism is; I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute.
    –Rebecca West

  • SaltHarvest

    Don’t bet on it.

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