Skip to content

CHRONICLES OF MANSPLAINING: Professor Feminism and the Deleted Comments of Doom

It all started because I deleted some link spam.

Let me explain. On this site, we sometimes get comments that are designed for no other purpose but to promote a certain blog, website, or blog post. “Spam,” these comments are called. Sometimes, these comments are nobly motivated, yet clearly robotic; a blog post about, say, domestic violence gets found by Google and we get a comment along the lines of “Domestic violence harms many women and children! Visit www.CauseWebsite.com to learn more!” Since this is spam, albeit of a well-motivated nature, it gets deleted so that our non-robot commenters don’t have to wade through it. Sometimes, it’s actual people looking to promote their own blog posts by hitching a ride on ours: “Nice post about Doctor Who! I also wrote about Doctor Who one time! My post is here at www.myblog.com/doctorwhopost!” Also spam, also gets deleted. My, what interesting facts about basic comment moderation these must be for you!

BUT. Sometimes — the specialest times of all — this spam comes from people who ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO REGISTER that they didn’t like something we wrote, and need ALL OF OUR READERS to read about that IMMEDIATELY. “You’re wrong! I wrote about how wrong you are at www.MyThoughtsAreTheBestThoughts.com! Click on it, stupid!” Etc. These do warm my heart, as they are composed of that ideal mixture of self-promotion, self-aggrandizement, and derailing dickery necessary to be a stereotypical Person On The Internet. But, I delete them as well. So sad!

Ah, but reader. In my recent Game of Thrones post, I was submerged by so many troll comments — we got linked by a few notably troll-breeding Forums That Shall Not Be Named, as well as a few blogs here and there — that I did not have time to hand-Google the resumes of each and every person who commented! And so, tragic as it is to confess this, I did a very evil thing. I deleted some blog spam by a dude who, by his own account, is Really Famous On The Internet. This dude is hereinafter referred to as “Professor Feminism,” or, if you prefer a manlier alternative, “Zoxhor the Destroyer.” From hence occurred a storm of mansplaining so archetypically perfect, and so deeply sad, that I feel the need to share the tale.

Professor Feminism left a comment that was, basically, “I disagree! Here’s my blog post about it!” I deleted it, as usual. For what it is worth: His name and blog were not anything I recognized. And, since we were already battening down the hatches for the inevitable fan rage, which tends to be particularly ugly with Martin fans (last time Emily addressed the subject of Martin, she tells me, she got a bunch dudes telling her to be “raped by Drogo”), I warned people not to do that again.

Professor Feminism then left a comment within the next 20 minutes, saying that “his readers” (and not, uh, him?) should be “allowed” to link to the blog post. This was such a lovably pathetic way of covering up his initial blog-spam — I especially liked the part where it was obvious that he was hovering over the comment section, waiting for the link to his Important Man Thoughts to appear — that I almost felt bad about deleting Professor Feminism again. But I did. Also, made a joke about it.

And that, my friends, was when Mansplain-a-Thon 2011 really kicked off.

For those very few readers who are unfamiliar with “mansplaining,” Karen Healey has a pretty good, concise definition of it:

Mansplaining isn’t just the act of explaining while male, of course; many men manage to explain things every day without in the least insulting their listeners.Mansplaining is when a dude tells you, a woman, how to do something you already know how to do, or how you are wrong about something you are actually right about, or miscellaneous and inaccurate “facts” about something you know a hell of a lot more about than he does.

Bonus points if he is explaining how you are wrong about something being sexist!

This explanation was linked to at the blog Thus Spake Zuska, which then added an additional Mansplaining Process Outline to the mix:

1. You MUST explain why everything I said is beside the point, and wrong, and silly.

2. You MUST explain why you are not a mansplainer, then re-explain things to the wimminz. Also, call them sexist.

3. You MUST explain that you mansplain because you assume that blogs are written by men, then re-explain things to the wimminz AGAIN.

4. Ignore everything everyone says, then accuse everyone else of being sexist to you. Follow this with some SERIOUS explaining! Teh wimminz are slow, but they will surely understand someday! Because you are a MAN! And you are SPLAININ’!

Professor Feminism has managed to cover steps 1, 2, and 4 by now; I am pretty sure he knows I am a woman, but he might still manage to forget it, just so that he can cover step 3 eventually.

Step 1 was covered in his initial blog post, which was a pretty epic Mansplain in and of itself. Tyrion participated in the gang-rape of his first wife, but he was THE VICTIM in that situation! Sure, he “turns” to prostitutes “for love,” but he’s SAD! (This part was especially fun because I didn’t actually object to Tyrion fucking “getting love” from prostitutes; I objected, specifically, to the fact that he turns to one of them “for love,” and then strangles her to death.) And then, finally, the coup de grace:

Sady Doyle wants fantasy to be actually sexist, to present a world in which women are magically free from all the social constraints and domestic violence that women, even in our oh-so-enlightened times, really do face.

Yes. It certainly would be foolish of me to expect something that doesn’t “really” exist to happen “magically,” in a FANTASY NOVEL!!!! What, am I expecting some kind of WIZARD to magic all the sexism away? That would be ridiculous! Wizards aren’t re…. oh.

But, as it happens, Professor Feminism is dead correct. As a woman, as a feminist, and as someone who has spent just an unseemly amount of time writing about nerdy entertainments, what I really want is for there to be MORE SEXISM. Specifically, more sexism in entertainment. You caught me, Professor Feminism! Indeed, you are a masterful sleuth!

Of course, his actual point is that he’s mad that I don’t like the entertainments he likes. All of the bloggers that have linked to us in anger have been big George R. R. Martin fans, or big fantasy fans, unsurprisingly; most of them, like Professor Feminism, have quoted the “you don’t like my toys” line, and been pretty petulant about that, with seemingly no awareness of how reacting petulantly might, uh, prove that point correct. He feels bad that I don’t like his cool dragon books, and he has to therefore not only prove that the books aren’t sexist (or racist: the entire plot about brown, rape-hungry “barbarians” worshiping a white savior is only “a little clumsy,” says Professor Feminism), but also prove that he knows sexism better than I know sexism, and that, in this scenario, I am the real sexist, and he/George R.R. Martin are the real feminists.

And that is how his humble Earth identity was dropped, and his true wizarding name, Professor Feminism (or, if you prefer a manlier alternative, “Zhoxor the Destroyer”) came to be known throughout the world.

There are many varieties of mansplaining. But perhaps none of them are more laughable or aggravating than this: the Pseudo-Feminist Mansplain. It’s a particularly illogical, self-serving, form of Mobius-Strip Mansplaining that occurs all over, particularly whenever feminist women come into contact with liberal dudes. It’s not just random dudes going “THAT’S NOT SEXIST,” as they do every time a woman says the word “sexism” in relation to anything. It’s a dude appropriating feminism in order to silence women who identify things as sexist. Here’s how it works:

  • BASIC FACT #1: Sexism is, on its most basic level, the privileging of men over women. It’s more complex than this, of course, because gender is more complex than “men” and “women” in the first place, and we do live in kyriarchy, so not every man experiences male privilege in the exact same ways. But, basically, sexism goes, “man/manliness = good, woman/womanliness = not so good.”
  • BASIC FACT #2: All women have a better chance of understanding sexism than cisgender men do. This is because women are targeted by sexism, in their day-to-day lives, whereas cis men have spent their entire lives being socialized not to see the ways in which they perpetrate or benefit from sexism. Again: It’s more complicated than this, because gender is more complicated than this. But all women have experienced sexism, whereas only some men have; women can learn about sexism from both lived experience and study, whereas cis men primarily have to study and work toward a level of self-awareness that the culture simply doesn’t support. Non-gender example: If I want to know more about the food at Momofuku, I can read the Momofuku cookbook, but that won’t make me David Chang. In fact, reading the cookbook won’t even really teach me what the food tastes like; to know that, I have to eat there. Lived experience is knowledge; if you can’t have the lived experience, you can’t have total knowledge of the subject. That is a very basic part of How Shit Works.
  • THE COMPLICATION: Where man=good and woman=not so good, men are presumed to always be smarter than women, no matter what the subject at hand is. Hence the phenomenon of Mansplaining, in which a woman — no matter what her credentials, intelligence, or base of knowledge may be — can automatically be cast as ignorant and treated as such by a man, who assumes Real Expert status he does not actually possess. When it comes to Mansplaining sexism, the problems of the man’s credentials as compared to the woman’s are immediately apparent to anyone who gets How Shit Works.
  • AND YET: The odds are high that, at some point in his life, a man will hear a woman identify something as sexist, and that he’s not going to like it. Perhaps it is something that makes him feel particularly defensive, such as his favorite book series, or his personal actions. What can he do? Well, he can Mansplain. He can use the powers of the man=smart, woman=less smart assumption to explain away her perceptions and thoughts, by casting himself as the One True Expert on this matter.
  • COMPLICATION #2: But the matter at hand is sexism! And this gentleman fancies himself an enlightened sort! He’s not the sort of mansplainer who mansplains sexism away without caring whether or not he looks sexist in the process. He’s got to convince people that he just knows more about sexism than a woman does, in spite of all the evidence and basic logic pointing to the contrary, while still retaining his Liberal Dude Credits. “How can I achieve this impossible thing?” The man wonders, more or less unconsciously. “Perhaps if I… EXPLAINED MY SUPERIOR UNDERSTANDING OF FEMINISM????? Yes, that should do it!” And so the nightmare begins.
  • THE SPLAIN-MAN COMETH: And so, it comes to pass that a feminist woman — maybe even one who’s relatively accomplished or experienced, when it comes to her feminism — has feminism Mansplained to her by a random dude who is upset that she’s called something sexist. It’s not just a guy explaining feminism to a woman, remember; that can be obnoxious, but it depends on the man and woman in question. It’s not even just a matter of a guy unsolicitedly explaining feminism to a woman who can logically be assumed to know a fair amount about feminism, as if she’s ignorant; that’s still just garden-variety Mansplaining. This is a guy explaining to a woman who can be assumed to know a lot about feminism that she should not call certain things sexist, because she doesn’t understand sexism as well as he does, because he’s less sexist and more feminist than she is. And how does he prove his lack of sexism? Why, by the sexist act of Mansplaining, of course!

This has happened, to me and to my feminist lady-friends, so many times that I cannot count it. It never stops being mind-blowingly obnoxious. And this is how Zhoxor the Destroyer, AKA Professor Feminism, explained why a feminist writer was The Real Sexist, for seeing sexism in his favorite novels.

That post was Mansplain enough. But it was also just a classic fan tantrum. The disingenuous caricaturing and misrepresentation of my initial points. The ad hominems and claims of psychic insight into my wants and needs. (“What Sady wants is [SOMETHING I JUST MADE UP THAT IS STUPID.]” Apparently, Professor Feminism read my diary, where I expressed all kinds of secret and forbidden desires; I only pray that he hasn’t gotten to my hot, hot Walder Frey/Wun Wun The Giant fan fic.) The sexist dog-whistles. (Apparently, I “shout a lot” and have “wild ravings;” perhaps they are even shrill and hysterical, hmmmm?) And, of course, the complete blanket denial of any problematic elements in the novels, to the point of denying the existence of certain scenes within them. That, all of that, is classic Fan Tantrum. That’s You Broke My Toys. That’s Everything I Like Is Cool And Awesome, You Suck. And that’s par for the course. It’s why people don’t take online “fandoms” seriously, it’s why people joke about “nerd rage,” it’s why I didn’t bother trying to appeal to George R.R. Martin fans when I wrote the post, and it’s what we all expected, when we put the post up in the first place.

But then I deleted his comments. At which point, Professor Feminism flipped his ever-loving shit all over the Internet. At which point, this stops being about his personal Fan Tantrum, and starts being about sexism. I am “cowardly” and “a fraud.” I am operating in “bad faith.” He wasn’t looking for publicity for his blog post — which, uh, explains why he flipped out when we didn’t allow a link to it? And monitored the comment section to make sure we published the link? And then pretended to be concerned for “his readers” who “should be allowed” to link to it? — because his blog gets SO MANY MORE READERS than I do, GAH, he is REALLY FAMOUS ON THE INTERNET. Comment upon comment upon comment. Tantrum upon tantrum upon tantrum.

At this point, Professor Feminism has written an entire second blog post about getting deleted from an Internet comment section. Although, of course, he frames it as a discussion of whether I believe “men can discuss sexism.” Actually, what happened is that a bunch of other fanboys came over, subsequent to his blog post, and started either parroting his talking points or straight-up calling me a cunt. (This was so predictable that, on the Tiger Beatdown Back Channel, people who hadn’t seen Professor Feminism’s link started asking if we’d been “linked by some bro blog;” the pattern of “critique” inevitably escalating into troll-assailment and c-words is well known to every feminist who has ever run a blog. Which is why most feminist blogs — like mine — run very, very heavily moderated comment sections, so that people who are interested in discussing sexism without experiencing it can actually talk without being drowned out or scared off by all the Man Anger.) I pointed out that these commenters were men, and hinted as politely as possible at the sexist, Mansplaining dynamic, by asking them if they could “see a theme.” Apparently, Professor Feminism is not Professor Good At Picking Up Hints, however, because now he thinks I am saying that men should NEVER be allowed to discuss feminism AT ALL, and of course if men can’t criticize feminists, what’s the point of reading feminists, or attempting to understand feminists?

Ha ha, yeah. WHAT COULD THE POINT POSSIBLY BE.

Actually, at this point, I’m pretty confident that Professor Feminism is not Professor Understands Sarcasm, either, so I’ll spell it out: The point of listening to women and feminists is to listen to women and feminists. Because if you listen to them, you might start to understand certain basic points, such as: Women do not automatically have to accept you as an expert, particularly not when the subject under discussion (sexism!) is something you’ve never experienced first-hand. Women do not have to make you “comfortable” and “welcome” in every single conversation. Women do not automatically have to grant you a space in their discussions, on their blogs, or in their lives. Women do not have to permit you to enter their political movements, their self-created spaces, their personal space, their bodies, or anything else that belongs to them; you, as a man, are not entitled to women’s attention, praise, affection, respect, or company, just because you want it. And when a woman says “no,” you respect that this particular woman said “no,” and you stop. You don’t make excuses, you don’t explain why you should be able to get what you want, you don’t throw a tantrum, you don’t call that woman names: You just stop what you are doing. Because she said “no.”

Here’s where we appeal to that “lived experience” thing. Because: Have you ever had a guy come up to you — on the street, in a bar, whatever — and just straight-up say, “hey, I wanna talk to you?” Happens all the time, right? Happens to women, all the time. But have you ever just straight-up said, “no?” Not “no, I have a boyfriend,” or “no, I’m busy,” or “no, I have to race to save the city from the Joker’s diabolical machinations, for I am the Batman,” or any other excuse: Just the word “no,” by itself?

Yeah. So you know what happens next, after you say “no.” The guy always keeps talking. He tries wheedling, or begging, sometimes. But if you say “no” firmly enough, or often enough that he gets the point, the dude just starts yelling. He tells you that you’re not that hot. He tells you what a bitch you are. (“You bitch, I have a Rolls Royce,” was my favorite of these.) Sometimes he follows you down the street, yelling at you; sometimes, he follows you in his car. These dudes are always so fucking certain that they’re entitled to your time and attention that they will harass you until you give it, or at least until you’re scared and sorry for not giving it. You do not have the right not to interact, as far as these guys are concerned.

This is how women are conditioned to live within a sexist culture, and within a rape culture. Unbelievably, I don’t need George R. R. Martin, or any man, to tell me what that’s like: It’s my actual no-fooling life, which I do believe I know more about than George R. R. Martin. Like most women, I currently live in a society where violence, harassment and scary shit can break out at any moment, just because I told some random asshole “no” without bothering to be nice about it. Doing that is so dangerous that most women don’t dare; after a few scary incidents, they learn to make up excuses, to smile, to be sweet and welcoming, to act as if every single random asshole on the street is a precious new friend that they would just LOVE to stand outside of the Chipotle and chat with FOR HOURS, if only cruel fate had not intervened. That’s what it’s actually like, being a woman: Playing nice with every random asshole, because this random asshole might be the one who hurts you. And then, if he hurts you anyway, they’ll tell you that you led him on.

But sometimes, I still don’t feel like playing nice. So: Have you ever had a random dude come up to you and say, “hey, I wanna talk to you?” And have you ever just said “no?” Then you know what happens next. The dude keeps talking. And if he doesn’t get what he wants, he lashes out. And that is exactly what Professor Feminism is doing, right now, in the name of his enlightened, anti-sexist views.

That’s the real problem behind Mansplaining, and all the rest of it: We live in a culture where men are taught that, if they want women’s time and attention, they are entitled to it. They simply cannot grasp that a woman has the right to say “no.” You bitch, I have a Rolls Royce or you coward, I have more blog traffic than you: Whatever it is, it’s a guy insisting that he’s entitled to a form of attention a woman doesn’t want to give him, and lashing out at the woman for not giving it. From hence springs Mansplaining, sexual harassment, rape culture, and everything else we don’t like about how men treat women, from the tiniest violation to the most violent. All of it, ALL of it, springs from the idea that women should be ignored or punished when we say “no.” Which is the idea Professor Feminism is reinforcing with his actions, as we speak.

So, yeah. Tell me one more time how much you understand about sexism and “the constraints that women really do face,” Professor Feminism. Tell me just one more time how much you know about that. Because your behavior would certainly indicate that you are super-credible upon this particular subject. A Real Feminist: That is you, for sure!

Of course, there is the minor problem that, in order to address this creepiness, I have to acknowledge the existence of Professor Feminism, and give him publicity, which is what he wanted in the first place. We have ways of dealing with these things. For instance, since Professor Feminism already has such huge, impressive, superior blog traffic — SO MUCH blog traffic, for REAL; his blog traffic is HUGE and THICK and THROBBING WITH LIFE — he clearly does not need this humble little woman-blog to link to him. In fact, he doesn’t even need his given name! Yes, friends: I invite you to discuss the mighty works of Professor Feminism. But please, in our comments, refer to him by his title. Or, “Zhoxor the Destroyer.” If you prefer a manlier alternative. Which you very well may.

100 Comments

  1. Devery wrote:

    OPERA OF THE FANTRUM

    I love you, Sady Doyle!

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Permalink
  2. Kiri wrote:

    This post is a thing of beauty. Definitely something I will be linking to as needed.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Permalink
  3. Emily wrote:

    I want to print this out and carry it around with me. Brilliant.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Permalink
  4. kite wrote:

    I THINK I LOVE YOU.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Permalink
  5. John G. wrote:

    Sady,

    I agree entirely with this post. I had never heard of this blog until it was linked to in one of those “troll-breeding forums”.

    I did not know the rules of this site, and my initial comment was a little rude. I used the phrase “knee jerk”. I apologize for that. I am used to the general lawlessness of other sites, where one has to shout to be heard, and was taken totally off-guard by a site with laws.

    Now that I’ve found your site, and I’ve read several articles on it. I like it. I would like to be able to participate. I want to, as you say, “listen to women and feminists” by listening to women and feminists. Now that I know the rules, I can follow them.

    I don’t have a blog. I don’t want to give you link spam. I’m not a robot. I never use the c-word. And ultimately, because I agree with your post, I know I am not entitled to participate, but I would very much like to.

    will you allow it?

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Permalink
  6. Simon C. wrote:

    “Actually, at this point, I’m pretty confident that Professor Feminism is not Professor Understands Sarcasm, either”

    I laughed so hard at this I made an extremely unflattering hiccuping noise. I am definitely not Professor Reads Amusing Blog Posts With Dignity.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Permalink
  7. Well played, Doyle. Well. Played.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Permalink
  8. Triplanetary wrote:

    One of the best descriptions of street harassment I’ve ever seen. Plus, I never would have made the connection between Zhoxor’s entitled tantrum and street harassment, but now that you put it that way it makes perfect sense.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Permalink
  9. Allie wrote:

    What an incredibly wonderful, gratifying, hilarious post. I never realized how to explain why I feel constantly constrained to be insincerely nice and polite to men who bother me or make me feel uncomfortable, and then why it unnerves and humiliates me that I continue to kowtow to strangers and acquaintances like that. I only have the courage to make forceful comments on anti-woman shit that my FRIENDS say, and then they get angry at me. I’m going to try to absorb some of your articulate feminist wit and not get derailed into appeasing them the next time that happens.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Permalink
  10. Geek wrote:

    Sometimes I’m glad I have almost no readers at the moment. Ugh. This is why women get to say “ugh, men” and not get called sexist. Because it so very often leads to this shit. I love your rants :)

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Permalink
  11. emjaybee wrote:

    This is a thing of beauty. Thank you!

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Permalink
  12. Jet wrote:

    Brilliant post, Sady! I may have broken my spleen in an effort not to laugh out loud while reading.

    But I have one burning question: Is it Zhoxor with a hard ‘z’, or is it more of a soft ‘j’ sound? (also, is it “oxor” to rhyme with “boxer” or is the ‘x’ more of a ‘ch’?) BTW I am a Professor of Only Paying Attention to Small Insignificant Details.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Permalink
  13. Pat wrote:

    I can only repeat many of the comments already posted. I think this is a brilliant, beautiful post. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Permalink
  14. Marnie wrote:

    Ah, the mansplanation of sexism. I got a heaping cup of that when the whole elevatorgate topic was making its way around some of my favorite blogs.

    You might know Professor Feminism’s cousin Doctor Men Are the Victim. I was informed that the reason men rape is because women are now repressing men’s voices with their eeebil feminism. When I pointed out that rape is mentioned at least as far back as biblical time when women were considered property and had no voice at all, he went off on some tirade about how that’s what all the feminists say and then he informed me that 30-80% of male criminals report being abused by their mother and that cops in his town only serve to protect white women. There was a bunch of other crazy but he started speaking in metaphors and riddles. When he said, with no qualification that the risk of a man being falsely accused of rape exceeding any risk a woman has of being sexually assaulted, I told him we had nothing further to discuss.

    The men’s rights advocates take the crazy to an all new level.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Permalink
  15. Sady wrote:

    @Marnie: Hey, Marnie, I get where you’re coming from (OH YES I DO) with your main points, but a lot of people have problems with “crazy” being used to mean “asshole,” just because it implies that every person with a mental health issue is thereby automatically an asshole. In the name of comment moderation, I’m giving you a warning on this; if you want to edit your comment to replace “crazy” with “ridiculous” or “fucked-up,” that would be awesome.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Permalink
  16. Marnie wrote:

    Repost with language fix :)

    Ah, the mansplanation of sexism. I got a heaping cup of that when the whole elevatorgate topic was making its way around some of my favorite blogs.

    You might know Professor Feminism’s cousin Doctor Men Are the Victim. I was informed that the reason men rape is because women are now repressing men’s voices with their eeebil feminism. When I pointed out that rape is mentioned at least as far back as biblical time when women were considered property and had no voice at all, he went off on some tirade about how that’s what all the feminists say and then he informed me that 30-80% of male criminals report being abused by their mother and that cops in his town only serve to protect white women. There was a bunch of other crazy but he started speaking in metaphors and riddles. When he said, with no qualification that the risk of a man being falsely accused of rape exceeding any risk a woman has of being sexually assaulted, I told him we had nothing further to discuss.

    The men’s rights advocates take the self absorbed assholitude to an all new level.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Permalink
  17. CelloShots wrote:

    Brava, sister. Bra-fucking-va.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Permalink
  18. Ella wrote:

    Thank you. Just… thank you.

    Masterful move.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Permalink
  19. Emily WK wrote:

    Recursion makes my head hurt.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Permalink
  20. FashionablyEvil wrote:

    This is awesome.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Permalink
  21. Sarah TX wrote:

    Maude forbid we disagree with a MAN! That’s unthinkable!

    Seriously, I am a geek, and I am capable of accepting the fact that people disagree with me about my geek obsessions. Not everyone loves Star Trek: The Next Generation with the passion of 1 million suns. Many feminists would find things that are straight up sexist. FFS, my favorite character is a Magical Black Woman.

    But somehow I am capable of talking about the show while acknowledging the shitty aspects (like aformentioned Magical Black Character). Because I’m an adult.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Permalink
  22. Bonnie wrote:

    Wow. I love your piece. It reminds me a bit of Rebecca Solnit’s piece “Men Explain things to me” (http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/04/13/8257), which was the first time that I, despite being a feminist academic, had ever encountered a piece where men splainin’ things was articulated in connection with violence against women. Why isn’t this stuff integrated into school curriculum!? (Hey, yeah, I’m sure it is by some teachers, but surely it’s not widespread.)

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Permalink
  23. Lynn wrote:

    That was lovely. As a nerd and engineer, I salute you.

    On the subject of rabid fandoms and writing with gender issues, I was wondering if you had caught the latest Doctor Who ep. Because it totally dials up the Problem with Amy.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Permalink
  24. Gator wrote:

    “You bitch, I have a Rolls Royce”–wow. For years my sweetie and I have called this phenomenon “Bitch, I was just trying to give you a compliment,” but clearly we have a new winner. Entitled tantrums, indeed! Thank you for naming this so clearly, for making it funny, and for heavy comment moderation.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 7:08 pm | Permalink
  25. orlando wrote:

    “Like most women, I currently live in a society where violence, harassment and scary shit can break out at any moment, just because I told some random asshole “no” without bothering to be nice about it. Doing that is so dangerous that most women don’t dare… That’s what it’s actually like, being a woman: Playing nice with every random asshole, because this random asshole might be the one who hurts you. And then, if he hurts you anyway, they’ll tell you that you led him on.”
    I, too, am doing a major join-the-dots with elevatorgate here. But I guess any guys who were’n't changed by that conversation won’t be absorbing this one either.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Permalink
  26. Miriam wrote:

    Sady, thank you. I have been trying for WEEKS to articulate to myself why I felt compelled to get into it with a mansplainer (a stranger to me, thank God) on my sister’s Facebook wall, and you’ve hit the nail on the head right here.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Permalink
  27. lizabean wrote:

    hi john g! welcome! (i’m not sady, mind you, and have no authority when it comes to commenters. but i thought i’d give a shout out and say hi!)

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 8:30 pm | Permalink
  28. Kybard wrote:

    this was hilarious and spectacular; as a white cis male who tries to stay hyper-conscious of his particular ignorance and privilege, I always feel the urge to take fervent notes on scrap paper when shit gets broken down this elegantly and cuttingly.

    I come to blogs like this to learn and be privy to a social conversation I was unaware of until far too recently in my life, but I also come to places like here because they are not the cesspool of unreflective dumb that is most of the Internet. with intersections like this, though, I always notice how much Very Famous On The Internet resembles a slightly geekier variation of My Fraternity Makes Me a Pretty Big Deal.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Permalink
  29. slutego wrote:

    That is a whole lot of post to needle-point on one wee fucking pillow, but somehow it must be achieved.

    This is magnificent.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Permalink
  30. Helen wrote:

    Thank you, Sady. It seems for the last few days I haven’t been able to get away from Men Talking at me. Then on Friday I read your GRRM post, looked at the comments section, and thought “hot damn, Dudes again.” I loved your response to them here. I’d love it even more if women didn’t have to keep explaining why we deserve space, opinions, whole days without the c-word, etc.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Permalink
  31. Han wrote:

    This was so awesome. Your burn posts are like dessert for my brain.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Permalink
  32. John G. wrote:

    Thank you, lizabean. It’s good to be here.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Permalink
  33. Brigid wrote:

    A little while ago, a friend of mine (with backup from his girlfriend) mansplained to me that an experience with street harassment, which I had experienced and was describing to them, was not, in fact, harassment. For reasons that should be obvious, this post was particularly cathartic. Thanks!

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Permalink
  34. This is awesome (and totally right, obvs). I let comments like “You’re the real sexist since you don’t think this male-written fictional woman’s life should revolve around serving men like she CLEARLY WANTS IT TO” or “You’re a censor with no integrity because you followed the comment policy and deleted my saying marginalized people are like feces” get to me far too often.
    Ultimately, what do these mansplainers’ fantrums prove? A lot of people have a sense of entitlement, and a lot of people don’t “get” feminism and other social justice-based anti-kyriarchy movements. It’s sad but not news, and if anything, it just makes feminist blogging more important. So keep doing what you do.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 10:05 pm | Permalink
  35. Romie wrote:

    I am a regular reader and I wanted to say how much I appreciate your rigorous comment monitoring. This is one of very few spaces on the internet where I can scroll down to the comments section and not assume I’m going to have to wade through terrible, terrible misogyny. (Even on things that have nothing to do with gender! Just out of nowhere!)

    I pretty much stayed out of the Game of Thrones comments because I assumed they’d be hideous and impossible to keep up with.

    For all the “censorship” cries that show up, it seems suspiciously like an attempt to shut down the speech of the people I actually came here to hear. Suspiciously like.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Permalink
  36. Alex Cranz wrote:

    I tend to get a lot of mansplaining on my site because of the whole exploring sexism in video games aspect and I plan to now just link back to this post every time some mansplaining rears its ugly head.

    Thank you thank you thank you for a fantastic post. Every lady who happens to be a feminist and runs in nerd circles needs to have this particular post bookmarked.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Permalink
  37. JeninCanada wrote:

    A thousand thank yous for this.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Permalink
  38. liz wrote:

    This was the best thing you’ve ever written. I read entire paragraphs aloud to my husband and we both nodded in stunned agreement of your eloquence.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 11:04 pm | Permalink
  39. Soren wrote:

    Dude here.

    I thought about posting something (mildly) contrary, but I realized about halfway through thew opening sentence that I didn’t need to say it and you probably already knew it.

    Sady 1, latent sexist impulse 0. If I did it, you can too, guys.

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Permalink
  40. Mely wrote:

    A commenter above QFT’d part of your post that I felt was particularly elegant, so I want to say that I’m with @Orlando and it’s just a perfect quote.

    I also had a moment of amusement when you pointed out the rape-happy brown barbarians vs. white savior thing and I went “… oh, wait. Huh. Wow.” because I was so busy with my brain-shuts-off-now suspension of disbelief I didn’t even notice it until you pointed it out. *sheepish*

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 11:53 pm | Permalink
  41. shuu wrote:

    Since I didn’t get around to commenting on the last post, let me express that I am a fan of “A Song of Ice and Fire”, and do feel attached to several of the characters. Yet somehow, when I read your post on the series, I was laughing and agreeing with you the whole way through. I enjoy problematic media. I also enjoy critiques of that same media, particularly feminist ones, since I am a feminist. Weird, right?

    Anyways, this article is awesome. Thanks for all your moderations and commentary.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 12:09 am | Permalink
  42. Ell Zee wrote:

    This post is so many distinct flavors of excellent. I linked the original post on my facebook, and a distressingly similar mansplanation ensued there, though on a much smaller scale.

    Thanks for disentangling many of the interesting/sad-making things going on there (with much aplomb, I might add).

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 12:27 am | Permalink
  43. Sady wrote:

    @shuu: Thank you for you. And for all the folks like you. In between epic mansplains and trolling and “NO IT’S NOT”-ism we’ve had a lot of literate, smart fans of the series who are also able to acknowledge (and expand upon, in many cases) the problematic aspects of them. There’s no shame in liking problematic entertainment. Most entertainment is problematic. The only shame is when your identity becomes so bound up in an entertainment or a subculture that you literally cannot let yourself acknowledge it might have problems, and need to Mansplain them all away, or talk about how you are being persecuted for liking them.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 12:32 am | Permalink
  44. Ellie wrote:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this!

    Mansplaining is annoying enough when it comes to some random dude offering to put together a bookcase for me, because I obviously CANNOT understand his directions on how to do it properly. You know, because as a woman, I don’t know how to do “manly” things.

    But your descriptions of mansplaining when it comes to calling out sexism are even more anger-inducing, if for no other reason than because it’s infuriating to have someone try to explain something to you that they cannot possibly understand. You know, the ridiculousness of a feminist playing the sexism card because she is just whining about imaginary problems which don’t hold any weight in the “real world” and all that. Classic. It happens with friends, colleagues and in Master’s-level classes at university where you’d think men would know better by then.

    And then comes the shitstorm that inevitably follows trying to explain how mansplaining is sexist…

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 3:20 am | Permalink
  45. anarres wrote:

    Yay for this post!

    I definitely imagined Zhoxor would have a hard z like zipper, otherwise it would be hard to pronounce (for me anyway).

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 8:11 am | Permalink
  46. anarres wrote:

    I find it interesting that Lord Zhoxor wrote a blog post about men supposedly not being allowed to talk about feminism, as if Sady had forbidden this, and as if Sady actually had the power to prevent any men from talking about feminism even if she wanted to. Lucky that Lord Zhoxor is there to protect all men from the threat of (imaginary) evil feminist censorship!

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 9:03 am | Permalink
  47. Kimmi wrote:

    Welcome to the fucking party, bitch! You continue to silence my words on your site, [AND THAT'S HOW KIMMI GOT BANNED.]

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 9:24 am | Permalink
  48. Isobel wrote:

    I don’t know what I’d do without these posts, they’re brilliant.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 9:59 am | Permalink
  49. shinobi42 wrote:

    Prof. Feminism used to post at a non feminism blog that I read and he was taken apart by commenters and other front pagers so routinely that he left after a short time. He’s not prepared to be disagreed with.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 10:43 am | Permalink
  50. Brian wrote:

    Awesome.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 10:45 am | Permalink
  51. Jen wrote:

    This post explains exactly why I feel compelled to be quiet and polite when random dudes intefere with my day.

    Understanding it is new to me. Thank you.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 10:47 am | Permalink
  52. Jen wrote:

    This was sublime.

    I only wish it didn’t need to be said, over and over and over.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 10:59 am | Permalink
  53. Bethany wrote:

    It’s even sadder when women feel like they need to mansplain to other women — such as when I was told by a friend that yelling at a dude who called my ass “value-sized” was stupid, because he was only trying to compliment me and who was I to turn down a compliment?

    As always, totally on point, Sady. Thank you!

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 11:31 am | Permalink
  54. alula_auburn wrote:

    This is beautiful, and one of my favorite explanations of mansplaining ever.

    (And they’re still showing up in the GRRM post to prove your point!)

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Permalink
  55. XtinaS wrote:

    Sady Doyle wants fantasy to be actually sexist, to present a world in which women are magically free from all the social constraints and domestic violence that women, even in our oh-so-enlightened times, really do face.

    *blinks rapidly*

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Permalink
  56. Zweisatz wrote:

    Brilliant article. And as usual, I have to thank you for fulfilling the burden to read a lot of sexist crap in order to make this blog a save space. Thank you.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Permalink
  57. Kathleen wrote:

    aw, golly. I love this so much — Sady is hilarious and then the comments are, too. Slutego, I’m lookin at you in particular:

    (That is a whole lot of post to needle-point on one wee fucking pillow, but somehow it must be achieved.)

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink
  58. DifferentKathleen wrote:

    the above was actually DifferentKathleen; there’s another Kathleen ’round here nowadays (I haven’t been by for a while) (not that anybody cares, but possibly the other Kathleen does)

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 1:50 pm | Permalink
  59. dave wrote:

    This is a really great post – insightful and funny and spot on.
    Unfortunately, I think the original criticism of ASOIAF was facile, parochial, and inflammatory; the (numerous) valid points it made were undermined by a refusal to acknowledge any nuance.
    BTW, I hope I’m not getting anyone in trouble here, but I was directed here after reading Alyssa Rosenberg’s response to the original post; I’d be interested to hear sady’s reaction to it.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Permalink
  60. miatrix wrote:

    Thank you so, so, SO MUCH for writing this.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Permalink
  61. I was discussing this issue, using this post and the fantasy series as a starting point, with a mixed-gender group of friends. A dude in the group asked how best to go about having a mixed-gender discussion in a way that doesn’t feel like mansplaining. In this particular case, he was wondering if there’s a way to be an expert about, say, the fantasy genre or, even more specifically, George R.R. Martin’s work, and to share this expertise in a conversation about the role of violence/sex, in a way that doesn’t feel like mansplaining. I wonder if anyone has thoughts on this.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 4:44 pm | Permalink
  62. Sady wrote:

    @Dave: For what it’s worth, I’m re-posting a comment I left at the blog of someone I like, about this. I don’t want this person to get flooded by trolls, so I’m protectively not-linking.

    Here’s the thing. I will come out and say this: I think online “fandoms,” by their very nature, often discourage engagement with criticism. I think online fandoms teach one specific mode of engagement, and it’s incompatible with other forms of criticism. For that reason, I don’t like online “fandoms” that much.

    And this comes from history. History that is not this one post, but which was specifically mentioned in that post. I wrote an affectionate, measured criticism of “Harry Potter.” I got people writing “fuck you” and “you’re stupid” and re-stating the author’s reasons for liking the character as if they were immutable and unchallengeable facts, and also Alyssa Rosenberg. I published someone else’s affectionate, measured critique of “Doctor Who.” I got people writing “I will never read your website again” and “you’re stupid” and re-stating the producers’ stated reasons for liking the characters as if they were immutable facts, again. This is how “fandom” engages, what it looks like — not just in sci-fi and fantasy, though sci-fi and fantasy fans tend to be the most numerous and aggressive — and it’s fundamentally incompatible with what criticism does. “Fandom” says “this is awesome, we’re awesome because we like things that are awesome, let’s have arguments with each other about which parts are the most awesome, or analyze facets of the awesome thing with the tacit agreement that we’re all here because it’s awesome. Anyone who doesn’t think it’s awesome is a hater and we hate them and fuck them, because you would have to be stupid to not understand that this is awesome.” That’s “fandom.” That’s not what I do. And, understandably, “fandom” encourages nasty attacks on critics, because “fandom’s” assumption is that you should only engage with their favorite things on the grounds that those things are awesome.

    I think that’s a really silly way to engage, and I think the recurring, overwhelming, ad hominem nastiness “fandoms” direct at critics, maybe especially GRRM’s “fandom” — Ginia Bellafante and Troy Patterson, who reviewed the Game of Thrones TV series, both got mega-trolled — is obvious, recurring, stupid, and childish. I don’t write with the hope of reaching “fandoms” any more. Not only do I not like “fandom” modes of engaging, ‘”fandoms” have always already made up their minds. But there are lots and lots of people who’ve read these books, or thought about reading these books, who are not part of a “fandom.” That’s who I’m writing for.

    But, whooooooooooooops, I happened to mention a very well-known reaction within fandom — and, I mean, are you kidding me? Everyone knows this happens; anyone who pretends that “fandoms” aren’t known for ad hominems, overreactions, and trolling of critics is either being disingenuous or lacking in self-awareness — and made fun of it, so now the whole reaction is about the greatest of all oppressions: Not-liking-shit-about-dragons-ism. This is how you justify trolling someone for three days straight, calling her a “cunt” and a “retard” and telling her she “should have taken cooking lessons” instead of learning to write, mansplaining and rape-joking away, all the while casting YOURSELF as the victim.

    This nerd martyr complex isn’t only ridiculous. It doesn’t only trivialize actual oppression by pretending to be equivalent to it. What it does is to JUSTIFY and COVER FOR actual oppression, and actual aggression, in the name of defending the imaginary oppressed-victim status of nerds. And I lost a whole lot of respect for Alyssa Rosenberg for participating in that. I just did. The “girl who speaks up for the boys” girl is just not someone that I tend to have a lot of respect for — especially not when she’s more or less re-writing points from men’s previous blog posts, especially not when she’s linking to trolls, and especially not when she’s calling “feminism” the problem, and doing it in the name of “feminism.” The “girl who does the boys’ work” thing isn’t cute on Schlafly, it isn’t cute on Paglia, it isn’t cute on Palin, and it’s not cute on Alyssa Rosenberg just because she does it in the name of nerds.

    I mean, I have other real problems with Alyssa Rosenberg’s piece, too. (Most notably, the idea that there is “no way” to tell whether rape is “gratuitous,” and that the presence of normalized/eroticized/graphic rape in a book, well over three dozen times by my count, happening to literally thousands of women over the course of the series, is just “a matter of personal taste” — thereby completely ignoring the political aspects of what portraying sensationalized rape does to mislead, obfuscate, and normalize rape culture.) But this characterization of “fandom” or “nerds” as a threatened, persecuted, oppressed group is sheer malarkey, and it does enable the active, aggressive oppression and marginalization of other groups.

    S.

    PS: This idea that, because I object to stereotypical characterizations of women and normalized/eroticized/sensationalized rape, I want all books to be about fluffy bunnies who make hats out of daisies and preach gender equality is… bullshit. Just huge amounts of bullshit. I’m currently reading a book, “Room” by Emma Donoghue, that is about a kidnapped woman who’s kept in a shack, raped, and impregnated. The book doesn’t stuff her in the fridge, it doesn’t sensationalize or eroticize the rape scenes (we count “bed creaks” instead of seeing it, which conveys the horror effectively enough) and it focuses on her psychological process and agency, and how she summons up the will to stay alive in this situation. For this reason, it is way scarier and more uncomfortable than GRRM mentioning cartoonishly violent gang-rapes every few pages. I really like it so far. It’s not a bestseller and there are no princesses, but GRRM fans who think they want “realism” in their rape “critiques” might want to give it a shot.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Permalink
  63. Sady wrote:

    @Jenna: I think just acknowledging that you know a lot about this series/fantasy/the author, but (a) might not be the best-versed in feminist media criticism, and/or (b) YOU ARE A DUDE, OBVS should do it. I mean, I try to do this when (for example) I discuss Russell T. Davies, who gets a lot of flak for some of his problematic depictions of queer relationships and characters, and whose work I like; I can say that I’m grateful there ARE queer characters there, and lots of them, but also, I’m straight! And I don’t know your life! And I’m not encouraged by the culture to be self-aware about this stuff, no matter how much I try for self-awareness! So, there’s that.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Permalink
  64. FashionablyEvil wrote:

    Unfortunately, I think the original criticism of ASOIAF was facile, parochial, and inflammatory; the (numerous) valid points it made were undermined by a refusal to acknowledge any nuance.

    Such as…?

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Permalink
  65. natasha wrote:

    What @40 and @41 said. I’m definitely a fan of ASOIAF, and I really like the genre. I even like descriptions of medieval warfare and/or space battles where they don’t overwhelm or substitute for plot and character development.

    But Sady’s original comments about Daenerys’ and Cersei’s stories in particular are, I think, irrefutable.

    Dany is, now you mention it, way too much the white savior. There’s not a single powerful society in mostly-brown Pentos without slavery, while the white Westerosi have outlawed it. Put that way, it really falls down as a narrative decision.

    Cersei is, in fact, the only character who makes an institutional critique of sexism and seems to believe that she has a right to sexual agency even if she is a woman. And she’s also painted as the worst villain in the books, plus incompetent, her only redeeming or sympathetic aspect being that she’s been a victim of her husband’s abuse. (FWIW, I think readers are meant to come around to dislike King Robert, in spite of the fact that his childhood friend glossed over many of his faults. He’s a brutal alcoholic, a lackadaisacal executive, spends money like a dictator planning to skip the country, even his first prospective fiancee didn’t have a high opinion of him, etc.)

    So though I’ve gotten many hours of entertainment out of these stories, and I’m just going to have to disagree with Sady on the desirability of the genre, I’m not willing to mark them off as a feminist/racist critique-free zone.

    We need as a society to actually think about these things to the point where it becomes automatic. And I’d use myself as a case in point, really having not thought about these issues nearly enough while reading the stories, in spite of the fact that I’m a woman and gladly read a lot of feminist and anti-racist commentary.

    I forgot. *I* forgot. Which shouldn’t mean much to anyone else necessarily, but it means a lot to me. Because in my mind, I’m a great feminist and ally against oppression for people who face different kinds of problems than I do, and I forgot to bring all of that to the table when I read these books.

    The personal is still political. What happens in private, in our humor, in our entertainment, in our relationships, all of that is still political.

    I’m not pleased by the resort so many people make to the ‘but in the books …’ defense, because this is a deliberately created work and not a history tome. It was written by a person, an author, who (I think) tried but failed to present race and gender issues without reverting to common stereotypes that he didn’t think to find problematic. Ideally, authors would live in a society that encouraged and supported them in thinking about these things as they’re writing the books we read in the first place.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Permalink
  66. SarcasticFringehead wrote:

    Sady, I just want to say thank you not only for maintaining such a safe space, but apparently getting (consensually!) inside my head and writing about all of my favorite things. There is feminism! There is humor! There is Game of Thrones, AND Doctor Who, AND Harry Potter (not here, but it counts anyway!), AND Battlestar Galactica!

    Honestly, I feel that critically engaging things I like actually helps me like them more, because I don’t have to spend all my time trying not to notice all the problematic shit. Instead, I can say, “my, that was problematic. I will consider that when discussing [thing I like], and especially when recommending [thing I like], because I do not want to perpetuate the attitudes that show up here!”

    And then I wait for Sady to post more.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Permalink
  67. curiouscliche wrote:

    I really enjoyed this post and the original one, and I also just realized another serious problem with the argument that the series is just “gritty” and not actively reactionary. Professor Feminism claimed: “Sady Doyle wants fantasy to be actually sexist, to present a world in which women are magically free from all the social constraints and domestic violence that women, even in our oh-so-enlightened times, really do face.”

    This is basically the argument that because there was (and still is) violent oppression of women in history, a fantasy series has to amp up the misogyny for the sake of “realism”. But the sexist world of GRRM is actually MORE sexist than even medieval Europe (and that’s saying something). Just off the top of my head, Empress Theodora and Eleanor of Aquitaine are obvious examples of women who wielded immense power during a time of intense hatred for women, yet they never completely renounced everything feminine about themselves just for the sake of survival (like Sansa is forced to do), although obviously they didn’t have complete freedom to perform their gender as they may have wanted, either. Those two women (and others in the historical record) aren’t perfect examples for contemporary feminists, but they demonstrate the horror of a “fantasy” world in which the only avenue to survival, let alone power, is to eradicate every aspect of one’s femininity, or risk rape and murder for one’s lack of machismo. Obviously, there are examples of powerful women who conformed to masculine norms of the time (such as Joan of Arc), but even in backwards medieval times, there were more options than in GRRM’s “fantasy”.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Permalink
  68. Becky wrote:

    The “girl who speaks up for the boys” girl is just not someone that I tend to have a lot of respect for

    Seems a little unfair. Can’t she be a fan of Martin’s series speaking up for her own self?

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 10:41 pm | Permalink
  69. Sady wrote:

    @Becky: Not when she’s (a) paraphrasing men throughout the post (if there’s an original thought in there that didn’t come from Zoxhor the Destroyer or the other lib’rul dudes who linked to the piece first, I can’t find it), (b) linking to men who feel “uncomfortable” when women point out that they are Mansplaining, and nodding her head in sympathy, and (c) doing her best to depoliticize feminist media criticism in general by saying that gratuitous, eroticized, sensationalized, or normalized rape is “a matter of personal taste,” and therefore not a valid point for political critique.

    Whereas, in fact, it is INTENSELY political: As I’d think we’d all know by now, only ever presenting highly sensationalized and violent depictions of rape as “bad,” and presenting less violent, coercion-based depictions of rape as “less bad” or creating narrative “justifications” for them, as GRRM does, contributes to a culture wherein we excuse the majority of rapes. If you’ve heard someone saying that it wasn’t rape because the victim didn’t “fight back” physically or that it wasn’t “forcible,” if you’ve heard someone excuse statutory or date rape (or simply not recognize that they are forms of rape), if you’ve seen people say that the rapist had “his reasons” or didn’t “understand what he was doing,” you’ve lived in the culture that this kind of media helps to create, and you’ve seen the effects of it first-hand. “Matter of personal taste,” my ass.

    Rosenberg’s doing (sexist) men’s work for them, and it doesn’t help that she’s only ever paraphrasing men while she does it. I think it’s a recurring problem with her, as this is not the first time I’ve seen her find a piece of feminist media criticism, then construct a long, twisty, fundamentally disingenuous and incorrect argument as to why it’s not valid — for some people, maybe lots of people, their alliance to “fandom” supercedes their politics or willingness to admit criticism, probably because of this — but it’s the first time I’ve seen her rely on straight-up anti-feminist techniques in order to do so. But, of course, she did it probably because she saw a big anti-feminist shit storm brewing, figured she could get a lot of linkage as “the girl who said it (so that makes it not sexist),” and decided to ride that all the way to the bank. Like I said: Disappointing. I lost respect.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Permalink
  70. Liz wrote:

    Sady!!! This is the best! Thank you for outlining all the connections so well.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 11:28 pm | Permalink
  71. Dawn wrote:

    As a Lady Academic, I can not tell you the many times I have had MY expertise questioned by Male undergrads with their entitled version of the “mansplain”. One I privately referred to as “the prodigy” for the entire course since he magically knew EVERYTHING at the age of 20.

    We get it from the male faculty too- but slightly more subtle…and usually with the words “hegemony”, “telos” and “Ontology” thrown about. Brilliant piece.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 12:21 am | Permalink
  72. curiouscliche wrote:

    Whoops! I meant Arya, not Sansa. Sorry for the double comment.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 12:45 am | Permalink
  73. kiturak wrote:

    What bothers me about the whole discussion is that it’s never acknowledged that women/survivors/people of color (have to) have an entirely different way of reading those books. A straight white non-survivor guy can read the whole stuff as fluffy escapist fantasy, exactly the way they disingenously reproach us to be looking for.
    They get a kick out of the fact that GRRM treats white male protagonists like redshirts. I also get a kick out of the fact that the white guys for once get killed off with a snap of a finger, but it’s not the same – the pop culture characters I identify with routinely die during the first two episodes of a series. I just don’t feel that privileged boredom of “Ohhh my favorite characters neeever die, it’s as if they were immortal, aaaall the bad stuff always happens to others BOOORING – oh cool, GRRM! He does it! He kills them! And the social hierarchy I know is still preserved, so it’s not TOO frightening!”

    Now I, personally, want those sexism/racism/*ism-free SF/fantasy worlds most of the time, and it’s simply absurd to go on calling me The Real Sexist, or to presume I want nothing but daisy fields in my books. I want just the same degree of easy escapism straight white guys find in ASOIAF. Most of the time.

    @Curiouscliche: From what I gathered, Arya *likes* the “masculine” stuff. Sure, it’s sexist that femininity gets punished. But the “she has to reject all of her femininity in order not to be discriminated against”-reasoning I hear a lot carries a slightly gender essentialist overtone (that I might imagine: it concerns me so I’m sensitive).
    So: It’s sexist to punish femininity, but non-feminine women get (and historically got) their own special sexism, as well – see Brienne.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 4:56 am | Permalink
  74. Daniel wrote:

    That similarity you point out, between online Mansplaining and “Hey, I want to talk to you – whaddaya mean, no?” on the street, really drove home for me how fundamentally rooted they both are in a certain nasty aspect of male privilege.

    I think those two examples, as a linked pair, may become my mental touchstone for thinking about how respect is needed for healthy conversation — and how privilege ruins healthy conversation.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 6:30 am | Permalink
  75. JoleneSG wrote:

    ‘These dudes are always so fucking certain that they’re entitled to your time and attention that they will harass you until you give it, or at least until you’re scared and sorry for not giving it.’

    I have lived with awareness and fear like this since I first recognized it when I was eight years old.

    I thought that I have always been a ‘bit sensitive’ about seeing sexism in everything. I am just realizing that I have not been aware enough and that it is more intrinsic and pervasive than I imagined.

    Thank you for this post.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 8:50 am | Permalink
  76. Roger wrote:

    Damn – this is so spot on that I am cringing with embarrassment at how accurately it depicts some of my own past behaviour (although not having a blog generally I do keep the worst of it in my own head).

    But as I tried to mansplain just now in a comment on the GRRM post we dig these holes for ourselves not because we are sexist reactionaries but because we are liberals and as feminist as you can be while having the wrong genitalia.

    GRRM’s books are as bad as they are precisely because he was sincerely trying to do something that other fantasy writers don’t do and depict the unpleasant realities of a world where any man with a sword can do any damn thing he wants to anyone who doesn’t have a bigger and better sword.

    But to do that properly and painstakingly would take a Sam Delaney or China Mieville to pull off and doom the book to commercial marginality.

    Where the mansplaining comes in is when rather than admitting that the limits of genre and of your own abilities have defeated your original enlightened and liberal plans for a series that turns conventional fantasy on its head, neither writer nor hard core fan can admit the failure and must resort to ever feebler excuses for something that has now become much worse than your typical sub-Tolkienesque or even sub-Howardian fantasy.

    Why do we find it so hard to just admit that cool though that toy was was at first, we did some stupid stuff with it and now its completely broken and needs to be thrown away?

    Poor Martin is stuck with it for the rest of his life (though at least he is getting paid shedloads of money for it) – but why do mere readers get so invested in what is ultimately just cheap entertainment?

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 9:19 am | Permalink
  77. Randolph wrote:

    @Kiturak: “the fact that GRRM treats white male protagonists like redshirts” is a way of putting it that’s going to stick in my brain for a long time. Wait, did you just enrich my reading of fiction? Yes, I think you did.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 9:43 am | Permalink
  78. Julia wrote:

    Sady, I am regularly wow-ed at how well you can explain things, ideas that I feel but that get jumbled in my mouth, or things that I’m still assembling in my mind and you help to fill in missing parts.

    I really love the section beginning, “The point of listening to women and feminists is to listen to women and feminists,” and then continuing to the end of the paragraph. It’s a belief that I hold but to see it reflected in such a strong and concise way makes me feel so much better. Thank you.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 10:08 am | Permalink
  79. Excellent post! I also enjoyed the original post on Martin’s novels, in spite of also enjoying reading the novels. Always good to get more perspective on how others see things.

    This post does make me want to see Professor Feminism’s post, just to see the horror of the Mansplaining in action. I suppose I must go search for it. Surely it will be easy to find someone so Famous on the Internet.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 10:37 am | Permalink
  80. Mike wrote:

    @Natasha: Very good points.

    I was most disappointed by the fact that the author decided to depict Cersei as an incompetent ruler. Cersei’s actions are to a great part motivated by her refusal to be a pawn in the game of thrones; a name to be married away in exchange for 5,000 soldiers. In this respect, her incompetence (which I think is also flavored with some sterotypes) can be seen as the result of the bird who soared to high. The woman who wanted to be king turned out to be too stupid for the job. This narrative kills everything that was interesting about Cersei.

    (Disc: I’ve not yet finished Dance of Dragons)

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 10:51 am | Permalink
  81. [dave] wrote:

    Adoration is beaming towards you from my corner …

    Also, this:

    “Han wrote: This was so awesome. Your burn posts are like dessert for my brain.”

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Permalink
  82. carovee wrote:

    What bothers me about the whole discussion is that it’s never acknowledged that women/survivors/people of color (have to) have an entirely different way of reading those books. .

    Thank you for pointing this out. I’ve been thinking a lot about the GRRM post and this one and I think one of the things that has been left unsaid (or I maybe i missed it) is that even though terrible things happen to the male characters, its still escapism because those things are never going to happen to a majority of the readers. Readers will never have to eat a rat or have their feet cut off. It just doesn’t happen. But spousal abuse, sibling abuse, rape, etc does happen quite a lot. So reading about that happening to a character in a book doesn’t present the same kind of escapism, especially for women. I really don’t think its such a horrible imposition to ask fans to acknowledge that fact (as many of the fans commenting here have done).

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Permalink
  83. natasha wrote:

    @Mike Thank you. And yes, that’s it exactly, imo. If she had been competent, rather than so clownishly bad as both ruler and parent, it would really have shaken the cartoon mold.

    As I said in response to the Rosenberg piece, Pat Robertson could have written her. She’s every bad stereotype of women in power (or even just free of strong male ‘headship’ and strict religious commandments) I ever heard growing up in a fundamentalist Xtian church, in a house where an assortment of right wing preachers were turned on every Sunday, and during an era when the talk shows my mother watched regularly featured the public freakout over women making it into management and wearing pantsuits like the uppity b*tches had the right. At every step, she hits every damn point.

    The end of ADwD, though I won’t detail it and spoil your reading, what happens to her is like a fundy wet dream of what should be done to uppity women everywhere. It actually managed to get f*ing worse, and not just because of what happened, but because of her reaction and thought process during it, where it’s revealed that any strength of character she might have seemed to possess was an illusion resting on the flattery of others.

    This isn’t the inevitable path of male characters who are full of themselves. One of my favorite analyses of the last Star Trek movie was one describing Kirk’s character arc as being that of a person who learns nothing and changes not at all, as the universe basically confirms his self-regard. Or in the same books, Theon and her brother Jaime go through some horrible sh*t and it ends up strengthening their character and determination.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Permalink
  84. Nickel wrote:

    Was pretty fuming to read that one of my friends had linked to the blogpost that was (from what I understand) link-spammed. Blech!

    Haven’t read the books, don’t have a TV, don’t even like to THINK about TV, but from what I read at aforementioned-web-place, it was clear that this was a blog-war-for-traffic/mansplaining issue.

    I love your critiques of books, and have been working on your suggestions of feminist literature. My favorite book is The Second Sex. Even if I didn’t fully understand some of your criticisms while reading (like because I hadn’t read her other books, it wasn’t obvious to me that CPG’s Herland was so eugenics-inspired), I didn’t feel like I had to aggressively jump on here and “prove a point.” Eesh. As though if someone hurts someone’s fee-fees over a book series, everyone is going to not be into it anymore. I mean that would be like me not liking ferrets because someone said their asses smell like cinnamon red-hots after they spray (seriously). Really sad that my friend had to find the linkspammer’s critique of your criticism cutting-edge and “very important,” as he stated on Facebook. I was excited to see a link to your name though because I was like, eff yeah, Sady Doyle, doing what she does best I’m sure! Was not disappointed. Anyway, this was way lengthier than I wanted and it was supposed to be a “hell yeah,” “headcount +1″ type of post. Thank you for doing what you do.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Permalink
  85. NameChanged wrote:

    I love this post. It is so awesome. I am not a fan of fantasy or fandom in general, but this applies to so much more than just those things. Thanks Sady and Team Beatdown for kicking ass all the time!

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 12:02 am | Permalink
  86. Abigail wrote:

    “I think online fandoms teach one specific mode of engagement, and it’s incompatible with other forms of criticism”

    This has not been my experience of fandom at all. I’ve participated in, or observed, fantoms for Stargate: Atlantis, Supernatural, Battlestar: Galactica, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, and J.R.R. Tolkien in which criticism, and particularly criticism on issues of gender, race, class and sexual orientation was welcome, encouraged, and sometimes even the point of the fandom. So I think it’s worth saying that “fandom” means many different things to many different people. One of the angriest responses I’ve seen to your ASOIAF post came from a female fan who was very aggravated by your assumption that the issues you’d raised about the books had never been discussed within Martin fandom, because in her version of fandom, they were.

    None of which is to minimize your experiences or claim that they don’t represent “real” fandom. For every group of SGA fans I saw bemoaning the fact that the show’s sole male character of color (Game of Thrones‘s Jason Momoa, AKA Khal Drogo, by the way) was depicted like a Noble Savage, there was probably an equally large or even larger group whose response was “yay! Noble savage!” and, within that group or alongside it, groups that would have reacted negatively and even threateningly at the suggestion that there might be something wrong with the Noble Savage type. All of these groups would have referred to themselves, quite rightly, as “fandom”s. But by its very nature it’s the last one that will be most vocal and visible when posts like yours are made, and that is clearly a reaction of fandom. But I think it’s more a reflection of the kind of people who participate in that fandom and the kind of fandom they’re interested in, than of fandom itself.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 1:27 am | Permalink
  87. Zoe wrote:

    As someone who studied feminism at varsity and wrote her thesis on it (Scarlet Letter made for delicious writing) I am always butting heads just because of the whole “lol u is feminist, make me tea bitch” idea.

    So thank you for giving so many of us a post that serves as a wonderful reference for what it is we go through and how we feel. I look forward to many more visits here and I thank you for the time you took to write this.

    Please may I link your blog on mine? I think many of my visitors would share my enjoyment of your site.

    Thanks so much,
    Zoe
    SA

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 5:53 am | Permalink
  88. G wrote:

    A funny side note: Professor Feminism is remembered at one political blog where he was a contributor because he failed to follow the commenting norms there. That blog’s internet traditions call for the post writer to participate in the comment discussion. Professor Feminism made himself unpopular by writing controversial posts and then not showing up at all in the comments.

    But we can see him lecturing us all now and criticizing Sady with “The internet can be about having a conversation or it can be about shouting in ALL CAPS.”

    Because he’s a man and he’s splainin.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 9:58 am | Permalink
  89. Lorien wrote:

    I haven’t read the book and don’t identify as a fan. Your blog post, on the other hand… This is a fantastic resource :) thanks for writing it!

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 11:54 am | Permalink
  90. Kathleen in Oakland wrote:

    really great post Sady. True and eloquent. The connection to street harassment in particular is brilliant. It was very cathartic to read. definitely getting bookmarked for repeated reference.

    For what its worth to anyone, I say this as someone who loves the GRRM series, recognizes they have problems, thinks they have Too Much Rape, *and* I disagreed with 80% of Sady’s original post.

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Permalink
  91. tarabrae wrote:

    So.Much.Awesome

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Permalink
  92. Karen Healey wrote:

    I always love seeing my definition of mansplaining on awesomely feminist posts.

    I love it even more when I get credited/linked for the definition. Could this happen?

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Permalink
  93. Fede wrote:

    You are brilliant.

    I hope you know how important this post is. This is one of those instances of brilliance that take feminist thought to a higher level than it was before. Plus, it is hilarious.

    Seriously though, the way you linked mansplaining and street harassment has given me a new clarity about the ways in which sexism works. Fuck, you’re good!

    By the way, I’m here via IBTP, where minervaK used the word ‘top-shelf’ of this piece, which I now realise was a gross understatement. I am printing out this post and using it to boost my feminist friends’ spirits, as well as my SO’s growing alliance with feminism.

    After that, I’m going to translate it for my father and two brothers, who are well-meaning ally-wannabes, but exceedingly naive on the subject of sexism. Come to think of it, that description fits most of my male acquaintances – so I’ll get them all to read it! Do them a world of good. Might even quell some of their sexist impulses, in which case everybody wins.

    Thank you!

    Thursday, September 1, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Permalink
  94. Lara wrote:

    No one has ever properly explained to me the underlying unconscious reasons why men feel they can approach a woman in the street, in the supermarket, outside the bath room, in an aeroplane (the list goes on), or why I have developed my special “don’t hurt me please” smile and a number of excuses, none of which inculde the honest response of “I have a girlfriend,” as some men feel even more of a right to comment then, and my chances of getting hurt increase ten-fold.

    Amazing how “I have a boyfriend” is a respected excuse in the way that “I have a girlfriend” is simply not, implying that the man invading your space and time has more respect for your imaginary or absent boyfriend than he does for you, or the girl you are “just confused” about, as that’s why you’ve been sleeping with her for years.

    Oh yes, and being a lesbian also means you have to be open and speak to men in detail about your sex life and “how it works”. Otherwise you are being a prude, a spoil-sport, or a dyke.

    Point is, thank you. These mechanisms are so ingrained they are invisible, even to someone with life-experience. I needed to hear it. Now I can stop feeling guilty for saying no.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 9:13 am | Permalink
  95. Eva wrote:

    I just want to say how much I love & appreciate the way you keep going when you get sexist shit poured all over you, how you fight back with your wonderful sense of humor. Sometimes there’s nothing to do but point and laugh!

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Permalink
  96. G wrote:

    Link to Karen Healey’s post that the quote in this post is taken from: http://karenhealey.livejournal.com/781085.html?thread=5802781

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Permalink
  97. Sanoe wrote:

    I read this the other day. Then I read it yesterday. And now I’ve read it again today.

    Still awesome.

    Friday, September 2, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Permalink
  98. Charlie wrote:

    This rules. Thank you for posting it.

    Saturday, September 3, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Permalink
  99. alula_auburn wrote:

    @Abigail, it’s definitely true that fandom can be experienced in a lot of ways–I’ve been at leasr preipherally involved in about half the fandoms you mention, and I certainly would not describe the fandom for those texts as a whole to be places where “criticism, and particularly criticism on issues of gender, race, class and sexual orientation” were universally welcomed, or where people making such criticisms did not regularly get the responses Sady has gotten here. I’ve been able to cloister myself, for the most part, in those places where the discussion happens along those lines, but that’s do to active choice and avoidance of many major fandom hubs on my part. And even then, often I’ll find a fan who writes with great insight on one of those issues but becomes a caricature of fannish defensiveness on intersectionality.

    One of the major divides I’ve always felt crosses through most fandoms is the question of what does it mean to be a fan. Personally, I am not in fandom for things I just love, like Jane Austen; I am almost always in fandom for texts that aggravate me as much as they please me, because those are the places I want discussion or counter-readings. But a lot of fans will buckle down to a) massive privileging of authorial intent, b) the idea that fannishness means obsequious loyalty, c) people who derive fannish pleasure from criticism are being “fake” (no one really reads/watches TV that way) and trying to spoil other people’s fun and d) if you can’t like something enough to quietly overlook those things or treat them as minor, you should just shut up.

    Saturday, September 3, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Permalink
  100. Mazarine wrote:

    This guy’s mansplaining reminds me of my little brother. Who is 22, and who never asks questions, who always has the answer.

    It makes me wonder, right, does this behavior come from the elevation of men in male-dominated violent households, or is it something picked up at large by surrounding cultural sexism?

    Nature or nurture?

    Thoughts?

    Mazarine

    PS. The comment #25 @slutego “needlepoint this blogpost onto one wee tiny pillow” made me laugh and laugh!

    PPS. I second @ronnie’s comment #35. Thank you for moderating! Too often, I have been on Bidisha’s blog on the Guardian and there is SO MUCH HATESPEECH that it messes with my head for the rest of the day. I don’t see why The Guardian can’t just heavily moderate comments like you do.

    Sunday, September 4, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink