The Bitch blogs offer daily feminist response to pop culture in a shorter and more timely form than our print magazine provides. Staff members and interns blog regularly, and we also showcase guest bloggers, who cover a specific beat—TV for instance, or media and the environment, or parenting—for about eight weeks. If you're familiar with Bitch, the magazine, it won't surprise you that this is a blog that unapologetically loves, hates, and aims to critique pop culture. If you're wondering why we're wasting our time writing about, say, Shiloh Jolie's wardrobe or the ableist undertones of Glee, we're wondering why you're wasting your time reading and/or yelling at us about it. Telling us that people are dying in Darfur and therefore talking about pop culture is a waste of analytical space is what we call the Genocide Fallacy, and it will not convince us to abandon our pop culture-y pursuits. And for those who think we should "lighten up" and just enjoy Avatar or Adam Lambert, we refer you to Moff's Law and urge you to leave us to our nerdy business in peace.
Otherwise, we are thrilled to have you join the discussions in the comments section—feel free to register as a user. Even though we currently allow both registered and unregistered users to comment on blog posts, just because "Anonymous" is the default name does not mean we encourage anonymity. Please take the time to pick a pseudonym. This makes you less of a stranger, and allows other commenters the ability to interact and/or respond to you accurately. (When there are five "Anonymouses" commenting on one post, things can get confusing.)
As far as moderation of this space goes, guest bloggers moderate the comments on their respective posts, but website moderators will step in when necessary. It's our responsibility to make guest bloggers feel comfortable and safe (they are our guests, after all), and we expect commenters to do the same. In fact, we rely on you, as commenters, to help make this a progressive and safe space for smart, wide-ranging discussion.
Web staff can't moderate everything all the time, and we encourage our community of commenters to be part of the process. We are currently working to implement tools to help you do this in the upcoming weeks—not just because we can't do it alone, but because we also don't want all content authority coming from the top down. For now, please contact us if you see something that needs our immediate attention.
So in addition to the new system we've got coming, here are some basic, old-fashioned (i.e., common courtesy) tools to help. If you've got questions, concerns, or tips of your own, feel free to contact us here and write "Comments" in the subject line.
Overall, we strive to create a forum for thoughtful, inquisitive, and informed commenting that moves discussions forward and helps everyone push their thinking and analysis. And, of course, we strive equally to create a community of people who like responding to and learning from one another. With that in mind, a few requests…
Read the thread.
Read all the previous comments in the thread, especially if you plan on responding. It's best if you know what others have said so you don't repeat their sentiments, or misrespresent them. Plus, how can you properly respond to something if you don't know what it is?
Stay on topic.
Sometimes a comment thread weaves all over the place, and all of a sudden you're recounting a Thanksgiving dinner at your grandparents' house instead of giving your two cents on the topic at hand. Keep the original post in mind when writing a comment and we'll all be a lot happier (and less confused).
Think before you type.
Think about the language you're using. Can cursing be used to add color to an argument? Yes. Racist and ableist language? Not so much. Don't start your comment or response with, "No offense, but…" because that's a sure sign that you're about to be offensive. Even use of "Um…" or "Really?" at the start of your response to another poster can carry more uncritical sting than rhetorical zing. Want respect? Give respect.
Save your snark for the issues, not for other commenters who have come here just like you to engage with pop culture. This involves directly attacking the poster, using snark as a weapon ("Um, sorry, but have you been living under a rock for the past five years?"), or just generally giving attitude. Trust us, if your reasoning and arguments are good, they should be able to stand on their own merits.
Disagree? Again, address the argument, not the person. If you're critiquing someone's tone ("Why are you so upset?"), the emotions behind their argument ("You obviously have issues."), or resorting to adjectives like "delusional," "ridiculous," and "paranoid," you probably need to rethink your comment.
Make your point and step back. Just because you think you're right (or because someone else thinks you're right), that doesn't make your opinion any less of an opinion. You know what they say about opinions and assholes, right? Leave room for other people to disagree with you. That's the difference between a dialogue and dogpile.
No knee-jerking. If you feel particularly strongly about a topic, chances are a preview button and a simple math equation won't be enough to ensure that you post a well-thought out answer. So please think through your response, and make sure that a) it isn't attacking someone b) you're not responding out of defensiveness c) if you're coming from a privileged experience, that you wouldn't be better off going on a walk first. And on that subject…
Check your privilege.
If a post addresses a topic unfamiliar to you, or is about an oppression that you yourself do not experience or have not lived, your first reaction should not be hitting the keyboard. Instead, think it over. This might include doing some research and reading, and listening to other voices before commenting.
One way to address such a topic is to not make it about yourself. Dismissing someone's actual lived experience in favor of your personal opinion is also referred to as 'splaining. As they word it on the website Feminists With Disabilities for a Way Forward (FWD): "My belief," the 'splainer says, "outweighs your experience. What I think matters more than the information you are presenting me with about what is actually lived." As you might have guessed, we don't like 'splaining. Set your rhetorical argument aside and respect someone's actual experience.
This is a feminist website, but not everyone who visits it has the same understanding of either feminism or privilege. If someone's comment sounds like Feminism 101 to you, there's a good chance it's because that is their current understanding of feminism, and while that may frustrate you, it's not helpful to lash out at them. That commenter has as much right to be here as the most well-read and theory-seasoned commenters do. We aim to accommodate different levels of understanding. That said, willful ignorance will not be entertained. If you are new to feminism or a topic at hand, please see above.
If you're unsure about your privilege, here are some helpful links:
- Derailing for Dummies
- Checking Your Privilege (via Shrub.com)
- How to suppress issues of race (via Coffee and Ink)
- Transphobic Words and Deeds (via Questioning Transphobia)
- How to Fuck Up (via Teh Portly Dyke)
The final word on commenting? Respect. Dropping your defensiveness, not being dismissive of others, and treating other people the way you want to be treated sometimes seems like a lot to ask for, we know, but our mission in creating a forum for discussion is to keep that discussion useful, thoughtful, and non-alienating to as much of our audience as possible. Will we please everyone? Unlikely. But we can try.
We will edit or delete any comment we feel does not fit these standards, and will turn comments to approval-only temporarily if we feel it is necessary, or if a guest blogger requests it.
Oh, and this should go without saying, but please don't hawk your wares here. We have to deal with enough Viagra and Louis Vuitton bags as it is, please don't use this space as your personal eBay. We have a wonderful sponsorship program set up for you to advertise legitimately here.
Thanks a lot! Now get back to the comments section!
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