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.