28 March 2009

From Monkeyfish: My Life on cif. Not really…more a list of what’s pissing me off lately

I’m in premod now for the sixth or seventh time; unfortunately, I don’t keep a log of these episodes or indeed a record of deleted posts and I doubt anybody else does. This fact, together with the restriction on discussion of moderation, especially premoderation, means that it’s hard to put together any firm evidence for the recent deterioration in CIF’s standards regarding freedom of expression. A lack of any statistical data and my present state of moderate inebriation (and the spliff I just smoked-in remission kizbot) are why this is unlikely be the definitive narrative on this subject.


An absence of hard evidence or acknowledgements of a policy shift notwithstanding, it doesn’t require a Kremlinologist and I don’t feel I’m out on a limb in stating: moderation has changed; deletions and premods are increasing; it affects some people more than others; and it is having a detrimental effect on the level of discussion and debate. For my own part, there’s been no change of tone or content likely to breach the talk policy. On the contrary, I think I’ve even started to self-censor due to an increased awareness of the potential consequences. This has reached such a level that I now find the restriction (albeit ‘self-imposed’ ha ha) intolerable.


After my third stint of detention I happened to ask Hank Scorpio how he seemed to avoid premod . This was a morning following one of Hank’s (presumably booze addled) abuse fests which resulted in whole swathes of deletions. As I recall, he told me he had been premodded once or twice,  kizbot admitted to one and martillo chipped in that his copybook was as yet unblotted. All this over the course of many, many months; presumably years in some cases. Naturally all these posts were immediately disappeared and I got an instant threatening email. Contrast this with the current state of play.  Factor in Jay Reilly’s and Scherfig’s recent experiences and by any objective measure: ‘Houston we have a problem’. Question is…why? What’s happened…and here, I must admit: I’m stumped.


It would be tempting to think that it was all part of some insidious, Nulabour, control-freak crackdown on sedition. The GMG’s reliance on public sector advertisements leave it wide open to such influence However, over the same period that this situation has developed, any number of cabinet ministers have graced CIF only to hung out to dry by posters protesting their incompetence, hypocrisy, flip-flopping and arrogance. Presumably then, the change of policy was a wholly internal initiative. Whereas the likes of Blears and Blunkett have been ridiculed, Toynbee, sacred cow of the pontificariat, has been wrapped in cotton wool within a protective Kevlar pod whence she is free to spout random, fatuous advice at will.


Naturally, any question of her suitability as a commentator or the pharisaic lack of self awareness is deemed a vexatious irrelevance and instantly ruled out of bounds. This, of course, is a courtesy which is extended to others provided they’re inside the charmed circle. Presumably if Marie Antoinette were a friend of Seaton’s and she deigned to submit a piece on frugal catering, the only relevant sort of criticism would be, say, over the brand of dogfood used in the meatloaf, rather than the more pertinent “Who the fuck do you think you are? …etc etc “. Problem is: it’s always entirely germane to question the authority of the writer. In any other profession or any other sphere, it would be considered a rank dereliction of the actuality to suffer such sanctimonious claptrap without challenging both the quality of the argument and the credentials of the source.


So why the change…and why now?  One obvious answer is that there are undoubtedly rocky, uncertain times ahead. Maybe the Guardian has decided that whatever may result, whatever shake ups and make ups, its credibility must not be impugned. Clearly it sees itself above reproach; keeper of the true flame of the left-liberal consensus. It no doubt draws inspiration from across the Atlantic where the East Coast liberal elite, bete noir of loony Republican, Evangelical nutjobs is roundly vilified as the root of all evil. Transposing the analogy, any criticism it receives can be brushed off as emanating from wilfully ignorant, great unwashed, lumpen trash. Unfortunately, the analogy doesn’t remotely pan out.  Far too many it seems fail to recognise any semblance of a coherent, left wing strain in the Guardian’s output. The criticism they can’t stand, can’t cope with, just can’t countenance comes from the left. And it fuckin well freaks them out.


An example. Bea Campbell, soi disant Feminist Marxist ( hmmm), opining on the miners strike: no mention that it was the great watershed for the working classes in this country; virtually wiped them out as a political force. Why mention that when the a new feminist “it was the wimmin wot held things together” narrative could be introduced? Identity politics ( GMG’s take on the role of the left)  wins the day yet again. Now, undoubtedly, women played a huge part but, from a left wing perspective, surely the destruction of working class political identity, the last vestiges of class solidarity and the triumph of naked self interested individualism should trump the identity hand.  So I mention this and….guess what?

Pissed off? Yes I was.


Now the other thing that gets my piss boiling is the way this metropolitan, media mafia protects its own. Other than wanton alliteration, nothing makes me madder. Consider the Myerson and Gogarty sagas. Two instances when the sordid, media underbelly of patronage and nepotism were briefly exposed. Gogartygate was priceless. The lengths they went to cover it up, justify it and shift the emphasis to try and turn it into a tale of mob hysteria and bullying rather than actually state: “Yes, he’s one of us cos his dad’s in the loop and so he has earned his place at the trough”. Then Myerson: Seaton’s finest hour. “Actually, they’re friends of mine”…and I commissioned her to write for me when I wrote the parenting section…so read the book” I know this is a bit of a hobbyhorse of mine but, mention nepotism at the Guardian….guess what? Suggest that some inane piece of crap by Jemima this or Toby that only made the grade because daddy’s such and such or is best mate’s with such a body and…guess what…90% of the time you’re on the money because guess where your post ends up?


Tell you what: imply that a small incestuous, closed-circle of friends, family and acquaintances gradually populating the whole of Opionville might not be the best thing for openness, democracy or free speech and…guess what? As for Seth fuckin Freedman, I’ve given up. How many years, how many articles, how many thousands of words does it take to say: there’s two sides to this story and maybe the children will sort it out? Oops, I’ve answered my own question: one friggin sentence. Try mentioning this…guess what?


Oh well I’ve got to stop now because this is getting repetitive and I really could keep this up indefinitely. Seems what pisses me off about CIF is just about all of it at the moment. Well, apart from that little sex-bomb Bidisha. Sometimes, I dream of what my life might have been. Me and Biddy, holed up in a Tuscan hideaway, taking potshots at the Patriarchy between chugs of Chianti and rampant jungle sex. Then I look in the mirror. Washed up…broken… forced into exile. If only I’d heeded Matt Seaton’s warnings: “If you’ve got nothing nice to say…don’t say anything at all”. Fuckin Left Liberal my arse-the guy’s a Victorian Paterfamilias and CIF’s turning into Pravda.


But again…why the change…I still can’t come up with an answer. Best I can do…dinner party…Seaton, Toynbee, Ashley, Williams, Whittaker sitting around a table…coke long snorted, brandy a distant memory…working their way through the 10 year old sherry, Crème de Menthe and Cointreau remnants…finally Seaton caves in, slurring badly: “Yeah fuck it Pol…you’re right…the ignorant fuckers have gone to far…no more Mr Nice Guy…they either toe the line or they’re fuckin brown bread”


Toynbee, stroking a purring  white Persian cat nestled snugly in her lap: “ I knew you’d come around Matt…ever been to Tuscany?”

Vive la Résistance!

We seem to be falling like flies around here.  Some of our finest lads, off in the Gulag and dear, old Monkeyfish banned...  What are we to do?  

20 March 2009

Okay - well that was fun!

Apparently we all had a grand ol' time over on the Bidisha thread.  It's still open, so the fun isn't over.  I wish I'd gotten into the Harker thread a bit sooner than the last post!  Oh well.  Kiz suggested summat about what's on your MP3/iPod.  Not surprisingly, about half of what's on my computer (no iPod for me) is Terry Hall in some form - Specials, Fun Boy 3, Colourfield, Terry, Blair & Anouchka, solo, and I have the Dub Pistols version of Rapture (I actually like it better than Blondie's original.  Middle-aged white women should not rap.  Shouldn't even think about it.)  Apart from that, mostly I only have one or two songs from various people - my taste is all over the place. With a bit of luck, that will change a bit later tonight and I'll have the album "Manden der ønskede sig en havudsigt" by the wonderful Danish band TV-2 on there, too.  A sampling of the other stuff:  Blur's "To the End" just ended and GooGoo Dolls' "Iris" just started.  "Big in Japan" by Alphaville is the first thing, alphabetically.  "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" by Warren Zevon is last.  The Cardigans' "Lovefool" is the most embarrassing thing on here.  Queen, The Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, Petula Clark, They Might Be Giants, Squeeze, Nanci Griffith, Echo & the Bunnymen... oh, and another song that only scherfig would be familiar with - "Tik Tik" by Kim Larsen.  That's just a bit of it, but I'm guessing most of you now know much more about my taste in music than you ever wanted to.

A point of business here - if anyone would like to be included as an author - meaning that you can start one of these posts & not just comment - click on my profile & e-mail me.  I will then e-mail you an "invitation" that will enable you to get on as an author.  Kiz has already become one and 100 are allowed, so we've got 98 spots yet!

14 March 2009

So much for the blokeosphere...

As most of you know, there was a bit of a "Cif tiff" over at Cath Elliott's blog this week.  Coming hot on the heels of Rowenna Davis's assertion that the blogosphere is a boys' club, the experience was interesting, if not downright surreal.  Kiz and I decided that we should relate our experience in the "safe" atmosphere of a women's issues blog.  Therapy for us - entertainment for you.  First, here's Kiz:

Cath’s Blog Debacle
When I first saw what was going on with Ciffers on Cath’s blog my immediate reaction was; there’s been a misunderstanding (resulting in some quite unpleasant comments from the fems and ciffers.) but, perhaps, there is a chance to get a decent debate going. So I decided to stick my oar in with the intention of trying to get some dialogue going on a different footing.
Big mistake.
I was determined not to get into any name calling and set out just to suggest, seeing as Cath explicitly welcomed men on to her site, that there was room for all of us to get talking. I also tried to point out that AllyF and Jay weren’t misogynists. The reaction I got from the rad fem posters was jibes, sneers and outright derision. Assumptions were made about my age, sexual history and aspersions were cast on my validity to call myself a feminist and even my sex (woman) was called into question.
Still, I foolishly tried to keep a dialogue going. I was accused of being smug and I in turn accused them of being condescending and well… bossy! In the end, I got a lot of comments about how I can’t do anything without a man telling me what to do and that I was simply the kind of woman looking for male attention, which was a shame because I would suffer emotionally when I discovered that men actually despised me (I paraphrase for brevity). So, not surprisingly, I decided that the forum wasn’t really conducive to debate and I left.
Now, I didn’t really think that the radical feminists were going to welcome my opinions with open arms, but neither did I expect to be ganged up on in that way. In fact, I was really shocked. It’s a feminist site that is supposedly a place for women to meet up and discuss feminist issues. I expected, if not respect for my opinions, at least, a willingness to debate them. But I found that the only women who are welcome are ones who hold the same opinions as them. It is, in fact, an exclusive club and one that is rabidly defended from any outsider regardless of their biology. CiF is not perfect and there are more than a few idiots on the threads but I’d rather be there where I can find people to engage in debate, even when they really don’t agree with my views, than on a site that just attacks with such spite and venom. So, the next time I hear a feminist say the internet is intimidating to women I shall point out that the most intimidating place
 for a woman to be on the internet is just as likely to be a feminist site as anywhere else. It’s a shame, because I do not in any way blame Cath, and I’d love to comment on her site but I think I’ll stick to CiF, which, as it turns out, really is a broad church.

Now it's my turn.  Looking back at my initial post over at Cath's, I was perhaps not as diplomatic as I could've been.  I did tell them that it seemed to me that they were more interested in mutual masturbation than actual debate.  But lord love a duck, by the time I got over there, they'd already savaged Ally, Jay, Dot and Kiz!  I tried to point out to them that there was nothing inherently sexist in suggesting that perhaps current models of DV services aren't working terribly well.  The reaction?  According to someone called stormy, I'm sucking up to men.  She proceeded to make what seemed to me to be a non sequitur comment about the suffragettes and then told me that I need to think more deeply.  The tone was so condescending that I'm afraid I couldn't come up with a better riposte than to refer to her as a bovine with attitude.  I'm deeply ashamed of that.  I feel like I let the side down.  

As the exchanges went on, we were repeatedly told that we were more interested in sucking up to men than we were in feminism.  One poster seemed to accuse us of having "internalised misogyny" and using "abusive language" to defend men.  I was asked how old I am and there were more wild assumptions made and more words put in my mouth.  I was accused of thinking that radfems were sexually repressed prigs and one told me she'd done things with men that would make my eyebrows curl, but this same poster turned around assumed that Kiz and I were both "solo-partnered" types (as if that somehow made us less qualified to decide whether or not men are all bastards).  Honestly, the arrogance and condescension shown to us because we did not share their radfem outlook was just astounding!  Not once in all my years of joining in on-line discussions, first on Usenet starting in the late 80s/early 90s, and now on Cif - have I ever been subjected to that much vitriol.  (Not even when I dared to suggest once on soc.culture.british that some English men seem to have an unhealthy fascination with train timetables and rolling stock!)  At the end of the day, in the "safe" environment of a blog on women's issues, I was told that I was an emotionally immature, sexually inexperienced, male-worshipping teenybopper.  Just because I dared to suggest that Ally and Jay were pretty reasonable men and that they might have something worthwhile to say.

Suffice it to say, I won't be venturing off into the world of the radfems any more.  I shall wear my emotionally stunted man-worship like a badge of honour.

13 March 2009

Kizbot's week on Cif...

Here’s my weekly wind-up. Hope I don’t rant or waffle too much.. do try and stay awake at the back there now…

Due to a bit of over-consumption at a taverna to celebrate IWD on Sunday I was in no fit condition to go to work, so I monged at home with Cif for company. Not a bad day on cif with plenty to keep me occupied and amused. Charlton is always fun so no change there. I managed to get a bit cross about the article ‘The Lies Men Told To see Me Dance Naked’… Surely it should have been the money men paid me to see me naked? Still it wasn’t so much the article as some of the responses that wound me up, particularly Susahini’s ‘ What you were forced to go through was absolutely wrong’. Voluntarily taking on a job is not forced, now is it! It really is like banging your head on a brick wall on cif at times! but what the hell.. My day on cif ended pleasantly enough with a chuckle at Katherine Whitehorn’s piece on washing machines and catholicism.

In solidarity with ‘incarcerated friends’ I posted a comment on PT’s latest thread with Tuscany rather deftly (well I thought so!) included, as did a few others I’m glad to say. We’ll see if and when the mods spot them. Which they will if they come on here! As I was supposed to be working (shudder) I didn’t have much time to play on cif other than keeping an eye on Polly to see who else would try and pull a fast one on the mods. Mod baiting may seem as childish as chucking green custard at politicos but seeing as the CiF powers-that-be refuse point blank to discuss anything to do with moderation then they deserve everything they get. I also (inexplicably!) managed to elicit an offer of marriage from poster charlessimmonds15 on the Katherine Whitehorn thread but no one will ever believe me coz it was modded. Weyhey hey! I made the best of comments thingy for a post on the open thread on Julie Myerson… a first!

Just had a skim of AllyF’s thread and bitethehand did my head in (again). He accused AllyF of being like a boy complaining about being excluded from his sister’s birthday party. A telling analogy, in that he appears to think excluding a family member from a celebration because of their sex/gender is an acceptable thing to do. Hello!
I was feeling a bit dispirited and wondering why I ever bother to stick in my tuppence worth on ‘Gender Issues’ but then Annetan came along and gave me hope. She’s fab.
Have got fed up with the Julie Myerson thread, it’s all been said now and I thought that the comment someone made about Matt Seaton and Ruth Picardie on the subject of confessional journalism was wickedly cruel. Matt can drive me a bit mad with his supercillious comments but that was just out of order.
I then added a few comments to Rowenna’s ‘blokeosphere’ thread. Again, another blog espousing victimhood. It is actually driving me a bit mad that CIF feminism so resolutely insists on sticking to 1979 and that as soon as someone like AllyF suggests a new approach the response is to scream him down, which hardly fits in with Rowenna’s theory tbh. Ah well, I’ve made my bed in cif feminism and I can shout as loud as the other fems and I, for one, am not going to be giving up any time soon.
The interesting thing about this thread, though, is people talking about debating styles and which are male and female . The Lout (whaddya know) had a wee pop at me about sounding female. I have no idea if my online voice sounds female or not and it’s interesting because I’ve got lots of posters’ biology wrong in the past. It’s funny how we attribute a sex to a poster even if they have a gender neutral moniker, and then sometimes find out that we got it wrong. I suppose preconceptions about me are reinforced by the fact that I’m pink and make a habit of pointing out I am a girl… So folks have I got a girly style? And I don’t mind if I do…Just wondering?

They’ve changed the CIF main page! Now we’ve only got the top 5 blogs… Oh! Annoying! I liked the top ten list. It was useful for finding threads that I’ve been active on.
Went on the Tanya Gold thread. I like her pieces. She’s funny, even if she is pathologically self-obsessed. But, like Michele Hanson (I love her too), she gets a hell of a lot of ‘Yet again I’ve wasted 5 minutes of my life…” Funnily enough it appears to be mainly male posters who go in for this kind of bitchy commenting. Whoever it is, though, it’s bloody tedious.
Was about to be bored today, but Jay started a bunfight on the ‘blokeosphere’ thread that was great fun.

Happy and surprised to see that My little battle with Jay has not been modded. It was pure daft but it goes to show in some way (I hope) that battling it out with other bloggers isn’t necessarily intimidating. Wildhack’s post coming to Jay’s rescue was brilliantly funny, and a fitting end to the battle of gendered wits at the CiF ok corral. Too much serious stuff on the site today for my Friday mind. I was hoping some silly threads would turn up to wile away the hours til I escaped the office but it wasn’t to be. Spent most of the day on Ally’s thread which ended up having some really fantastic comments. In the end, and despite a rickety start to the thread, it was one of the best threads of the week.

* Really really hard to compress a whole week on cif into one short article!
** Sorry about the lack of links... am linkphobic.

06 March 2009

Well, let's just talk about the mods, then...

Scherfig's back with the troops.  Sarka managed to find something offensive to say about Michelle Obama's arms.  Let's just talk about those wacky mods, eh?