16 thoughts on ““It sometimes feels like this on the internet”

  1. Yeah, that scary fem’nism is sure a terrible trouble to internet ladies who want to be treated like welcome, respected participants in their community. Why is it that every time a fence-sitter tries to make an argument for her right to be treated like a person, she also has to add a few digs at the folks who are actually working to help that happen?

    Oh, right: it’s because of sexism. If she doesn’t separate herself from those “dangerous” feminist women, she might get more backlash. So surely, the answer is to capitulate to sexism even more, right? Because if we’re just nice enough, they’ll stop being jerks to us–it’s worked so well for the last 20,000 years, after all.

  2. Sorry, the cartoon doesn’t work for me. If anon wants to edit, I’d recommend real conversation (sentences) in the thought bubbles rather than topics of conversation. And I’d aim to convey the message in a more subtle and even unexpected way. Just my $.02.

  3. I also am not entirely clear on why “feminism” is one of the obnoxious features of a “female” space, when the entire cartoon is a feminist critique of “mainstream” (boys’ club) culture.
    I am aware that there is a “feminist” culture, which not every woman finds congenial (much as there is a culture of “anticommunism” which not everyone who is opposed to communism appreciates), but still, when I hear a woman say, “I am not a feminist”, it sounds as jarring as an African American saying “I am not an abolitionist”.

  4. Yeah, the cartoon ticks me off since I have been battling revise-and-resubmit requests all day that demand explanation of the relevance of feminism to any philosophical topics, ever. The oh-so-pink door has a bunch of highly feminine-associated stuff behind it, which a lot of anti-feminist women I know are happy to trade in order to see who wins the femininity contest.

    What if my witty, insightful observation is informed by feminist philosophy, as it often is, darn it!

  5. I took it that it was the female space as viewed by the males; after all, it also has breast cancer and vaginas in it. I think the idea is any public persona has to be the result of her choosing between being a respected philosoper and being an authentic person.

    But if that’s close even to be what was intended, I side with SH in saying that it didn’t really work. The message isn’t something that the images capture in a “got it” sort of way.

  6. Dr. Psycho – I think it’s because of the assumption that any female is or must be interested in feminist theory by default–in the same way, for example, that some philosophy departments sometimes hire women to teach, say, logic, and then turn around and say “Oh hai, by the way, you’re teaching feminist philosophy next semester because you’re our only female faculty member.”

    There’s nothing wrong at all with feminism-talk, but there IS something wrong with assuming that people fit into certain boxes, or forcing them into those boxes. It also bears mentioning that just what feminism is is not always clear, and supports a great deal of variation depending on context and the people involved (the annual Feministes Rebelles gathering, for example, is vastly different from SWIP, and attracts a vastly different crowd–hell, some are more open than others to accepting men who wish to label themselves as feminists). I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to require that one overtly identify oneself as a feminist if one supports some or many feminist goals (equal pay, voting rights, concerns about bias and gender stereotyping, etc.). Unfortunately, feminism isn’t quite like abolitionism (at least, so far as I understand the latter), since it doesn’t admit of the same singular set of goals: the story, in short, is more complex.

    But even if the analogy is a good one, I’m uncomfortable with requiring that all people of African descent living in the US at a certain period in time were abolitionists by virtue of their skin colour/socio-cultural and genetic heritage. After all, not everyone agrees or identifies with people and movements that seem to have their best interests at heart–not all working class poor are Marxists (many are Tories and Republicans!), but we seldom find that failure to identify with their interests particularly troubling. Well, some of us do/might, but the point is that it’s a generally fairly well accepted delusion. And if you ask these people about specific policies, they often choose those which are (apparently) in their own best interests, despite their identification with the opposite party. Presumably the same is or could be true for feminism and abolitionism. That doesn’t mean that they’re right, of course, but the conscious rejection of a label is not in itself necessarily bad.

    Perhaps I’m delving too deeply into the cartoon, however. TBH, I didn’t think it was all that well done in the first place.

  7. not to pile on, but we can do better than this. the toon perpetuates the problematic belief that one has to abject everything feminine, or everything to do with women – shoes, vaginas, feminism (?!) – in order to prove yourself to be human, which is of course to prove yourself to be a man. i too would want my witty and insightful contribution to not be the equivalent of “feminism! aakk!” revise and resubmit indeed.

  8. Perhaps I did the cartoon an injustice by not mentioning the title anon attached to it, “It sometimes feels like this on the internet”. I thought “oh, yeah, but it’s more broadly applicable, so I’ll leave that off.” But I failed to realise that it was important to think of the cartoon as “how it sometimes feels”. I’ve restored the title.

  9. Dr. Psycho:
    I’m pretty sure your second sentence addresses your first sentence. Thus I’m not entirely sure where your confusion comes from. Especially online, the vocabulary and style of rhetoric of feminism in many spaces can often be quite provocative and hard to swallow.

    It’s also worth noting that, of course, feminism is not a monolith, and some women inevitably find some of those variations genuinely problematic even when properly understood.

  10. I strongly agree with Michel X and with the cartoon too. I can certainlty relate. Of course I’m deeply interested in feminism, but sometimes it seems hard to find places for women to discuss about “generic” topics, not necessarily related to their condition as women. The best thing would be the possibility of talking about general subjects with both men and women, but that is not so easy, and, emh, I’d prefer not having to wear fake moustache to talk about frogs, cats and politics.

  11. This cartoon is literally true for me – I find that as a female computer programmer I used to get a lot of weird attention on forums etc. – people asking me out or asking what I looked like – so now I use a gender-neutral username and everyone assumes I’m a man, and I get treated with respect and people give thoughtful and useful answers to my questions about programming. And for some reason, no-one asks irrelevant questions about my personal appearance anymore.

  12. Wow, so, this is a great illustration of “only girl in the clubhouse” syndrome, huh?

    I love how “feminism” is lumped together with “purses” and “star gossip” as icky, horrible topics of discussion behind the scary scary pink door.

  13. I agree the comic was poorly executed (I’m not an illustrator nor a writer by any means, and I did it over my lunch hour). I consider myself a staunch feminist. When looking for websites that I liked, I felt like they always fell into one of two categories, they were either varied in their content, tapping into many of my interests but I would have to put up with misogyny, or they were targeted toward women, and the entirety of the content was specifically targeted at a persons gender (eg, no discussions about space exploration, or broader philosophical topics beyond gender specific ones). I enjoy feminism, purses and discussions about breast cancer, but that is not my entirety. Sometimes visiting one of these websites makes it feel like I am being bombarded with my sex. That women aren’t treated like whole people, but rather simple manifestations of their gender, while men have places that treat them as whole people. Sorry it got people so angry. I’m not a professional, and I wasn’t trying to make a grand statement. I was just trying to share a frustration I had with the dichotomy of sites on the Internet. I found this site because someone linked to the image in a redditor thread (on 2xchromasomes)

  14. Actually, when I posted the comic it was because I thought it was getting at something that’s right. Still do, even though I think some of the criticisms have a point too.

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