Twitter and the Social Archipelago



Chris lives in Austin, TX, where he once shook Willie Nelson's hand.

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129 Responses

  1. I actually know very little about Twitter. I will say, though, that I fall into the camp of people who tend to believe it is very limited, a mechanism for electronic sloganeering with little substance and a tool that privileges those who can come up with the quick one-liner or classy, pithy comeback. Some people are more deliberate in their speech, or more qualified in their declarations, and in the Twitter world, my impression is that they get shut out or, if they participate, they end up sounding like an idiot. What little I’ve seen of Twitter hasn’t challenged that view.

    However, as you argue, my impression might not be the whole story. I have almost as much privilege as it is possible for someone in the US to have. For example, this morning, before I go off to work, I have a few minutes to sit at home, drink coffee,. and compose a long-ish blog comment at a blogging community that largely conforms to my own political/cultural views.

    But I’ll return to one of your points about the darker side of Twitter and dwell on it a little more [bold added]:

    we have reached a day when privilege cannot merely exert itself, either in the form of overt discrimination or in the form of myopic ignorance of what lies beyond one’s limited experience of the world. When remarks travel so quickly between islands, such privilege will be called out, even when the privileged think they are unseen by those less privileged than they, and I have hope that as we become more fully aware of the power that Twitter and other media afford them, we will all together develop better, more precise, and more proportional ways of calling out and undermining privilege. Mobs will form, but voices that do not feel silenced will feel less compelled to join them. Where positive social change is possible, Twitter or something like it will be one of the most effective tools for achieving it.

    Part of what you’re describing is a mechanism to create and enforce social norms. And the social norms in this case are largely beneficent, or at least along lines I tend to support. But this enforcement of social norms is more and more intrusive. There is less and less we can do that is free from the peering eyes from others. And the social norms being enforced might not always be the ones I agree with.

    Now, this is not necessarily a disadvantage of Twitter itself. To my knowledge, no one is required to Tweet unless their job is as a social media consultant, and they can always quit if they don’t like it. I can in that sense remain private simply by not engaging. But I am increasingly….not compelled,…..but pressured? incentivized? to engage in activities that are legible (to use James C. Scott’s term) to others in ways I might find uncomfortable. I’ve checked my credit history a few times, and it’s freaky how much those companies know about my past, for example.

    If it’s not a disadvantage peculiarly of Twitter, neither is it a disadvantage peculiarly of our time. I imagine someone living in a traditional, “premodern” village in the past was probably subject to much more scrutiny and social conformism than someone in our more “modern” life. But I do perceive a progression (or declension?) with the internet and its ability to intrude into our lives, even if the intrusion comes about as a result of our voluntary decisions. It’s almost as if it’s Orwell’s TV monitors in “1984”: the main exception is that it’s not illegal to turn them off, but it makes life much less convenient to not to keep them on, and one can become dependent on that convenience.

    And finally, this scrutiny which I find unpalatable can at the end of the day relate back to my privilege. Those with less privilege and who are more marginalized probably experience much more scrutiny than I am used to. So in this sense, the trend is to repay the favor, and make us approach a rougher equality of less and less privacy, and Twitter seems, per your OP, to be mechanism to do so.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      “But this enforcement of social norms is more and more intrusive.”

      I disagree. One can choose (as I do) not to participate in Twitter. If you put your thoughts out there on full blast for all the world to see, there is nothing intrusive about people responding to them.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        There are two things that make not engaging with Twitter problematic: 1) Twitter bleeds into the real world. What inspired me to touch this post up a little and post it today (I wrote it in December) was the fact that something you wrote about included a phrase commonly used on Twitter, despite your not being on Twitter, and 2) The rest of the internet is being watched by Twitter, so that if you say something here, and someone puts it on Twitter, you are on Twitter whether you wanted to be or not.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        I used Twitterspeak? Shit… what was it? I need to scrub it from my vocabulary STAT.

        The main impediment to me joining Twitter is making sense of how I can maintain the anonymity I need/want while also using it in an effective and worthwhile manner.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        “I am not your teachable moment,” which isn’t from Twitter, but from what I can tell was made popular through Twitter.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I am inclined to a more realistic view.Report

      • Avatar Hoosegow Flask says:

        In addition to not having an account, you can also set your account to be private. You’d still be able to partake in the stream public information, but your own tweets would only be seen by those you’ve allowed to follow your account.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I wouldn’t “allow” people to follow my account, so much as “sentence” them.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        But it’s twitter, so not a full sentence.Report

      • @kazzy ,

        I was going to write something like, “what I really meant was….” but I’m not sure exactly what I really meant. And anyway, I should expect my comment to be judged by what I say and not what I mean.

        In other words, you’re probably right.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        Well, for what it’s worth, I think you are right, too. Were I to rephrase your statement (which was one sentence in a very long and thoughtful response), I’d say that the enforcement of social norms has become more pervasive. And that’s because social interaction has become more pervasive — especially among folks who might not otherwise interact with people — because of tech like Twitter. That is what I took away from Chris’s piece here.Report

    • Avatar Roger says:

      Plus one to both the main post and this response. Good dialogue.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      a tool that privileges those who can come up with the quick one-liner or classy, pithy comeback

      As God intended.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      Pierre, awesome comment. Seriously.

      I agree with you that the enforcement, or creation, of social norms is becoming more and more intrusive, both on Twitter and off, and the internet outrage machine can be and too often is out of control. On the other hand, like you said, some of my discomfort and perhaps yours comes from the fact that people whose legitimate outrage we’ve previously been able to ignore (and I don’t think most of us did so consciously) or never become aware of in the first place is now unavoidable. And that’s an awesome thing, even if it does make me uncomfortable sometimes. I’m not sure how to balance these two competing perceptions, and I’m still trying to work it out in my head. But I’m glad we’re talking about it, at least.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        A lot of blog sites seems to have their own orthodoxy and anybody who breaks from this orthodoxy is in trouble. My disquiet over the term privllege and other simialr phenomena is that it often seems a way to shun and enforce orthodoxy rather than engage in a legitimate conversation.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        That’s something the privileged say to defend the Eurocentric, left-brained patriarchy.Report

      • Thanks, @chris . I’m sorry I’ve been so long in responding (life, etc.). I think we’re pretty much in the same ballpark, even if we might see it all differently.Report

      • @leeesq

        Even though I use the term privilege quite a bit, I probably agree with you more than I disagree. “Privilege”-calling is probably something that works best when someone calls it on oneself, provided they’re not just going through the ritual of doing it for appearance’s sake.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      I bet you can’t name the most anti-semetic character on TV.
      Get back to me on “more restrictive social norms” when you can.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        This question can’t be answered because the words anti-Semitic character on TV could have multiple meanings. It could mean the TV character that hates the Jews the most, using anti-Semitic as an adjective, or it could mean that most anti-Semitic representation of a Jewish person on TV. Either way you could say the person that answers the question is wrong because of the multiple meanings.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        apologies. I shall clarify, as it was indeed unclear!
        The latter — the person on TV most representative of anti-Semitic stereotypes.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Pat Buchanan.Report

  2. Avatar Kolohe says:

    On the other hand, Piers Morgan.Report

  3. Avatar dhex says:

    “I, and many, many others, watched one Friday evening as a woman on an international flight was demonized, turned into a source of sadistic entertainment, and ultimately fired from her job (if not officially, then at least inevitably) as a result of one tweet, all before she could log on and defend herself. It was disturbing to watch as people of many races, genders, ethnicities, and nationalities pilloried her in absentia.”

    when you take text messaging, hook it up to a pa system, and fire its engine with novelty, this sorta thing happens sometimes. communitas!Report

  4. Avatar Glyph says:

    Your notion of Twitter as archipelago-collapser called to mind the story of the Tower of Babel for some reason.

    Whenever we all speak with one tongue, we may be capable of great accomplishments or great hubris, depending on the situation and the interpretation of the story.Report

  5. Avatar j r says:

    This is all true, but, as the post implies, Twitter is more than one thing. It might be best to understand Twitter broadly as two things. One of those things is the internet version of the bathroom wall. It is people trolling each other and using relative anonymity to say things that they would never say out loud to other people. That Twitter is easy enough to avoid and the only real reason that we know so much about it is that lots of lazy journalists like to write click-bait stories about Twitter, likely because those stories involve very little actual reporting and can be typed from the couch.

    The second Twitter is an almost infinite series of conversations happening between a vast combination of interlocutors. Whatever your job, your academic interests, your hobbies, there is likely someone posting or saying something interesting on Twitter about whatever it is that you are into. The solution is easy enough: avoid the first Twitter and explore the second.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      I think your Two Twitters theory is pretty accurate, though I think they’re pretty closely connected. When I read Twitter, 98% of the time it’s people making jokes, talking about the television they’re watching, talking about music, talking about each other, etc., but even that has a large component of “voices and perspectives that have previously been somewhat muted.” Hell, look what happened with the show Scandal. Its ratings didn’t look great, and I suspect that it might have been in trouble when it came time to renew it for a second season, but then people started talking about it on Twitter — people who, in many cases, probably fall outside of the demographics that TV networks usually look at when deciding whether to keep a show — and their Scandal chatter there became so loud that it was impossible to ignore. Twitter may not have saved it, but it certainly made it one of the most popular dramas on television.

      And when that first Twitter changes, often instantaneously, into the second Twitter, it’s a sight to see.Report

  6. Avatar Damon says:

    A long time ago, I attended an company ethics training class where the course leader said “don’t put anything in an email” you wouldn’t want printed on the Washington Post front page. This applies to Twitter and any other social media, and in general, its advice I’ve used for the last 20 years or so. This mind set requires that you actually think and evaluate what you are saying before hitting the “send” button. There have been enough examples of events that have blown up over the interweb that any common sense thinking adult has been pre-warned that a shitstorm may happen if you post something stupid or offensive. When I read about the woman mentioned in the OP I had two thoughts: 1) Oh Jeebus and 2) Dumbass. I didn’t have much sympathy for her though. She should have known better. The only exception would be of a case of misinterpretation or misunderstanding.

    As you might expect, I don’t use Twitter, and my general impression of it can be summed up by Mom from Futurama.

  7. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    I, and many, many others, watched one Friday evening as a woman on an international flight was demonized, turned into a source of sadistic entertainment, and ultimately fired from her job

    I recommend that you create an account, or log onto one that you’ve already created, and give it a try.

    Sure, I mean, what’s the downside?Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      Well, it’s not so much of a problem if you don’t say seriously racist things.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Or make jokes that some self-righteous dumbass could misinterpret. I mean, who does that?Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Wait, are you calling me a dumbass?! 😉

        Seriously, though, you would be right at home on Twitter. Trust me.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        How much control does a Twitter user (A Twitterer? A Tweeter?) have over the spread of his/her Tweets? If I have a private account and a small group of followers, can they still retweet what I say to a broader audience of people otherwise unaffiliated with me? Can retweets be faked? When I see them appear in people’s feeds, it looks easy to do so, especially if someone has a private account that can’t be checked against by others.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Retweets can be faked, though faking a retweet is perhaps a worse sin that writing a really horrible tweet in the first place.

        If your account is private, and only people you allow to follow you can see your Tweets, they would have to be manually retweeted. I’m not sure how often people do that.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        I assume a manual retweet means they copy-and-paste the content of a Tweet and resend it out with some sort of tag attaching it to the original author? But no way of verifying the actual source?

        As long as I can maintain plausible deniability, I should be okay.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Also, remind us how Twitter treated Adria Richards.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Well, Adria Richards could have been an example of just what I’m talking about, except she ran into a still-existing barrier: male tech geeks are seriously, seriously sexist. And she got fired, which is just absurd.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        Nah, she could have tried to handle it like an adult by dealing directly with the individuals but no, she had to take it to cyberspace first and complain. I’d have fired her too.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        I’m not sure why I ought to have any sympathy for Adria Richards. She used Twitter to publicly embarrass two men and get them fired for making an immature joke between themselves that wasn’t even sexist and didn’t have anything to do with her.

        She tried to start an internet lynch mob and ended up getting attacked by one herself. Personally, not a big fan of internet lynch mobs, but there’s that saying about playing with fire.

        And her getting fired seemed fairly appropriate. We tend to treat getting fired as an unambiguous sign that someone has done something wrong, but sometimes people just get fired because they are not cut out for the job they are supposed to be doing. Her job was to form relationships between her company and the developer community, not to antagonize that community.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        I’m not defending her behavior, just asking why a medium that inundated her with threats of rape and murder is something I should try out. (Oh, and the reason you should have sympathy for her is that so many people threatened to rape and/or murder her.)Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Eh, I wonder whether the women here think that she should have confronted them directly. Because it seems to me that there might be potential pitfalls to doing so for a woman, not the least of which is receiving the same sort of harassment she got online, but in person, at the conference.Report

      • Avatar dhex says:

        [quote](Oh, and the reason you should have sympathy for her is that so many people threatened to rape and/or murder her.)[/quote]

        like a fireman arrested for arson, my sympathy is tempered at the intersection of their expertise and complicity. it sucks to be pilloried by millions of strangers/possible idiots, but don’t broadcast stupid things for public consumption/burn down buildings and maybe you won’t have a public reaction.

        be a jerk in private.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @dhex, I do take exception.

        One bad action does not justify another, let alone thousands of others. Calling someone out for a bad action is one thing, how you handle it defines the badness of your calling out.

        Calling out by calling for rape, murder, etc. is a bad. It’s never deserved, and never excusable.Report

      • Avatar dhex says:


        “Calling out by calling for rape, murder, etc. is a bad. It’s never deserved, and never excusable.”

        it’s dessert or lack thereof is not up for debate, being leagues upon leagues below the standard for a reasonable response to a racist joke (maybe less so the arson in my hypothetical).

        but that’s the demos. that’s people en masse. that’s communitas.
        “the public” is a the hammer that cares not but for belonging and blood.

        it’s no more surprising than someone walking in the street getting hit by a car. or in this case jumping out in front of millions upon millions of cars, wearing dark clothing, in the middle of the night, after having done their best to invite people to drive onto this dark road for the expressed purpose of trying to hit her with a car.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @dhex, I don’t know what the woman originally tweeted, just that it was racist.

        Not too many decades ago, someone saying overtly racist things wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow and wouldn’t have been considered wrong in most circles. It is because of a massive effort by the victims of racism and by others who agreed that we even recognize that racism and are able to call it out on social media.

        The same arch of change should hold true with the misogyny of rape comments. So suggesting that it will, inevitably happen, sort of disregards the progress we do make. Yes, it will happen. And it will happen less if we’re forthright in saying, “No, this is unacceptable.”Report

      • Avatar aaron david says:

        “I don’t know what the woman originally tweeted, just that it was racist.”

        If you don’t know what was said, how do you know it was racist?Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @aaron-david, thank you. I should have qualified; that it was reportedly racist; gleaned from numbers of comments and the OP.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        I think that we are talking about two different women here. Adria Richards was the woman who overheard two men joking about dongles at a tech conference and tweeted their picture.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        The woman referred to in the OP was Justine Sacco and she Tweeted this before getting on her flight:
        “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”

        Besides the offensive nature, it also just shows a remarkable amount of stupidity. She can’t actually think that her race will somehow prevent her from acquiring HIV/AIDS should she engage in at-risk behavior… right? I mean, if she really does think that, she’s a fishin’ idiot. And if she doesn’t think that… well, I’m at a loss as to what her ‘joke’ was even attempting to say. Just an all around bone-headed thing to say.Report

  8. Avatar NewDealer says:

    What the woman wrote was racist, immoral, cruel, and wrong. That she is in public relations made her tweet/joke even more mystifying. Or maybe it should not.

    That being said. I am not sure I agree with your thesis. Someone on Lawyers, Guns, and Money made the observation that the Internet is where everyone has made up their minds, everyone is talking past each other, and no one will shut up. Maybe this is just human nature but I tend to agree.

    For every horrible tweet, I think there are more examples where someone is contained by 150 characters and cannot fully articulate themselves and people are willing to rush to the worst possible conclusions about the speaker. This does not happen in left-right dialogues but also in dialogues among the left and possibly the right (I don’t follow the right speaking to themselves so I have no idea.) Intent seems not to matter either so no one gets described as being well-meaning or having their heart in the right place.

    Did you see Michelle Goldberg’s article in the Nation about the Feminist Twitter Wars and various groups calling each other out for ideological deviation and non-Orthodoxy?

    Or do think what she describes as toxic is good?Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      You’re right, because Twitter is still human, but I don’t think that completely overshadows the fact that Twitter is such an excellent connector of communities.

      When you say something on Twitter and are misunderstood, there’s a pretty easy way to handle it: apologize and explain (don’t just explain, because without the apology it tends to look like doubling down). The problem with the situation of the woman on a plane is that she never got the opportunity to do so.

      Feminists, it should be noted, have been having internet wars since the beginning of the internet. I don’t think Twitter has amplified them so much as made them visible to other people, people who might not be reading feminist blogs, say. In other words, it’s really another example of the good Twitter can do,.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        I don’t think the miscommunications (same with the making up their minds and shouting past each other) on twitter are new but they do seem amplified at least to my eyes and thought process. I could be reading too much anger into things though. I tend to be a worrier by nature and this makes me think that people are angrier at me than they really are in all things.

        I don’t think that “joke” could have ever been explained away.Report

    • Avatar j r says:

      …the Internet is where everyone has made up their minds, everyone is talking past each other, and no one will shut up. Maybe this is just human nature but I tend to agree.

      A lot of this depends on the medium. In a face-to-face conversation, a long-form journalism piece or even in a decent-sized blog post, the nature of the interaction leads people to actually engage with what is being said.

      As I hinted at above, Twitter is a very good medium for exchanging information in the form of links and even having good-faith conversations. Twitter is a very bad medium for debating. You basically have enough space to either signal your tribal affiliation or make a snarky comment. That is why so many Twitter debated ultimately devolve into flame wars.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        Can you guess why I prefer face to face (or at least voice to voice or e-mail to e-mail) communication and long form journalism over twitter?Report

    • Avatar veronica dire says:

      @newdealer — What is happening on Twitter now is very much a social good, even if it gets ugly sometimes. And, yes, wealthy, white media figures, including some who claim the mantle of “feminism,” are unhappy about this. All of a sudden they have to hear back from us. This matters.

      Must suck to have to hear bad things said to you. I’d hate to have to live that way.

      Of course, the bad things we say are very often quite accurate. You all see that, yes?

      Right now we’re watching this unfold with the Janet Mock/Piers Morgan thing. To me it is an unmitigated good that an ignorant white CNN shitstain must suddenly face the fact that a black trans woman has power.

      And how surprising this is. To all of us. And how welcome.


      Piers Morgan, however, remains as shitty as the day is long.

      Regarding the Sacco thing, sure, it got ugly. Sorry about that. But in the end nothing too terrible happened: an ignorant jerk lost her job.

      Sorry, little sympathy comes from me. Does Sacco care how many trans women lose their jobs? Does she ever think about how Twitter empowers we who have little power?

      Cry me a river.

      Twitter gives us a voice, in ways you might not plainly see. And it seems like a big deal to me; for example that Morgan shitbird is in fact having to engage (even if his engagement only further proves how horrible he is, as if we didn’t know that).

      And this article seems very much on point. Call it required reading if you’re interested in the outrage machine:

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        What is happening on Twitter is in no way a social good. Using social media to make a person’s destory a person’s life or at least inflcit short term misery does not become more ethical or moral simply because the target is rich or white or a homophobe or a racist or anything like that. It might come with a lot of emotional satisfaction for the people punching up and the historic victims of oppression and persecution but that doesn’t make it right or a social good because its doing nothing to create a more tolerant and broad-minded society. People are just goign to double down rather than reconsider their actions.Report

      • Avatar dhex says:


        “What is happening on Twitter is in no way a social good.”

        i disagree. it certainly can be. the socco example was illustrative of several truths. some were ugly. her behavior was ugly. a significant part of the response to her (the threats of violence, for example) were also ugly.

        these are valuable lessons.

        but if your job is to be someone’s public mouthpiece, and you go out of your way to publicly broadcast things (virtually) no employer would want said on their behalf – that is also a valuable lesson.

        shame and social sanction are powerful tools – it’s hard to find holocaust deniers who aren’t marginalized, for example – and it’s not because people are denied the right to say awful things, but because there will be a response. and sometimes that response is you get sacco’d from your job.

        it both narrows and broadens the acceptable framework of what passes for public conversation in an international audience; though i would argue is that it speeds up that process of mutation significantly due to the rate of the back-and-forth, and that itself is actually a social good.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        dhex, well said. It’s not going to be perfect, because nothing human is, but I really do find the sorts of things that are happening on and through Twitter (and other social media, but Twitter is the biggest and the fastest) encouraging.

        And it’s not just limited to calling people out or shaming/sanctioning them socially. I have little doubt that we will see change in entertainment, for example, because people whose opinions and viewing habits haven’t always been taken into account are more difficult to ignore now. Like I said in an earlier comment, we saw this to some extent with Scandal, and we’ll see it again with other shows, music, etc. Twitter is now the first reaction, and often the loudest reaction, and because that reaction includes voices that might not have been heard in the past, things will be different. That’s definitely a social good.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        “Sacco’d from your job.”

        Heh. That’s adorable.

        But the Sacco thing is just one example of the outrage machine, and certainly not the best. It’s that one cherry picked anecdote that perfectly strikes fear into the hearts of the callous.

        Fear, great mobilizer.

        Oh no! Not the mob! They’re gonna say stuff!

        I am the mob, sweetie, and to me it looks wonderful. This is the day in, day out now. And the rich-white media establishment hates it.

        Of course, they hate it because now there are consequences for being horrible. And consequences are just the worst.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Holocaust Deniers margianalized you say? Maybe in the United States but I think you need to read a little abotu France’s Dieudonne M’bala M’bala and the Quenelle.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        With the Sacco mob, people were threatening to find her at the airport, and one dude actually did show up at the airport (though he just took pictures and talked to her father). When a mob forms, even online, it tends to turn ugly. Granted, no physical violence occurred this time, but when things get as out of control as they did in that case, there is a real danger.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @chris — Right. And I think most agree that went too far.

        But then, watch the conversation turn from that incident to an indictment of all of the “outrage machine.”

        But what drives this? Sympathy for poor Ms. Sacco?

        Maybe. Perhaps. Sure, why not?

        But more, identification with her?

        It could be me!

        That is stronger. But then, it probably won’t happen to you. And perhaps we can worry about then sooner-or-later-maybe Twitter mob murders after we reduce the number of trans women of color that are murdered per year. Sound good? Is that a deal?


        But let us turn to the day to day outrage machine, where some wealthy, elite, established, probably male and probably white media douchebag find themselves the target of the machine.

        Piers-fucking-Morgan called himself a “victim”! Ha!

        Yes, it is much noise. It is probably less than constructive. But this is the baby taking steps.

        It’s fucking beautiful to watch.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Yeah, that’s sort of what I said in the OP.Report

      • Avatar j r says:


        For someone so invested in defending people’s identities, you spend an awful lot of time calling white men who don’t agree with you douchebags.

        Some people seem to love the mob when it goes after someone they don’t like. The thing about the mob is that sooner or later it turns on you as well.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @j-r yeah, I’ve noticed there’s this whole mob of non-white men out saying that white men are violating their rights, a total violation of the white-male’s right to violate others’ rights that some white males seem to feel entitled to, which causes no end of shit-storm on this good earth. The individual transformed into representative of the group.

        Glad to see you finally get it.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Sacco is one thing, but what about poor, innocent Vanzetti?Report

      • Avatar dhex says:

        “Holocaust Deniers margianalized you say?”

        yes holocaust deniers are marginalized. i know i’m going out on a limb here but i’m willing to throw my money at this particular lotto ticket. call me crazy, but you can’t hold me back.

        more seriously, please note that valuable lessons are usually ugly. valuable doesn’t mean “feels good”.

        “And the rich-white media establishment hates it.”

        i think this is an error on your part. almost every bit of twitter is a data point for people like me to bid on. they’re working on monetizing the rest.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @dhex, do you use max? My sweetie did patches that use it as a data stream, plus enable tweeting from max.Report

      • Avatar dhex says:


        max was always beyond my poor hardware sampler lovin’ mind’s ability to comprehend, but i used to jam with some guys who did crazy stuff with it. that sounds pretty neat.Report

  9. Avatar NewDealer says:

    I’m also not sure that twitter is different from any other place on the net in terms of viral spreading. It seems that I can hear a lot about what happens o twitter (at least the high points) without having an account and just going to my normal internet haunts.

    This story seems to be spreading well without twitter:

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Lol. I’m finding the whole thing hilarious.
      True story: I do know someone who slept-walked out into the snow in his underwear [he’s perfectly capable of having conversations while sleepwalking — or ordering liquor]. Luckily the frat boys let him back in (no dorm key).Report

      • Avatar Murali says:

        I’m a sleepwalker. Apparently according to my platoon mate, while in the army, I sleepwalked all the way to the foot of his bed stood there looming over him for a short while and then sleepwalked back.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      Yeah, things spread virally without Twitter (though Twitter contributes to that), but it’s not so much a matter of things spreading, but what spreads, and who spreads it.Report

    • Avatar Hoosegow Flask says:

      Twitter does allow for much quicker spreading of news (and often misinformation) than other services. I first started using twitter mainly as a glorified RSS feed and followed mostly news organizations and reporters. I’ve seen several news stories break on twitter and have to wait some time before more information appears on news sites.Report

    • Avatar Glyph says:

      Just another example of tighty-whitey privilege.

      Michelangelo’s David isn’t even wearing pants! There’s no loom to conceal the fruit!Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      Amanda Marcotte has a good point about people using new words. A lot of the terms the get people to roll their eyes like privilege have origins in various academic communities. The internet popularizes these words but at the same time twists them out of recognition.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        This has always happened. Look how much Freud shows up in everyday English, and look how little of it actually accords with Freud’s use.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        It has always happened but I think the Internet is increasing the speed of the phenomena and making it more than a little worse than previous. Freud’s terms took a relatively long time to entrench themselves in everyday English and with somewhat fewer changes to what he originally meant. BlaiseP pointed out that privilege in its Internet context dates back to no more than 2006 and spread like wildfire as a checkmate move since than. Like all checkmate moves, its really sometimes needed to quiet a troll but it also can lead to a quick end to a debate for no good reason.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        since thenReport

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Good trolls don’t need to be quieted.
        Stupid trolls, yeah, sure.

        … I should write a post about trolling,
        shouldn’t i?

        Good trolling takes a ton of work.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        So we have from @leeesq: “Like all checkmate moves, its really sometimes needed to quiet a troll but it also can lead to a quick end to a debate for no good reason.”


        Couple questions:

        1. Can you show me any cases where this actually worked, where it actually stopped someone from talking?

        (Let us limit it to this forum. I mean, sure it might have happened that one time in that one place. But in general, does this actually work?)

        The phrase “You’re silencing me” is usually followed by much talking.

        2. Who decides when there is a “good reason” to end “debate”?

        To my view, much of what passes as “debate” on the Internet is ignorant people making noise. Getting the various flavors of *-splainers to actually stop talking seems a positive good.

        For example, take a quick look at this article:

        Now, imagine how lovely it would be if the dudely types this woman encounters would say to themselves, “You know, I actually don’t know shit about physics, so I’m gonna shut up and listen to what this woman is saying.”

        Heh. I know. I can’t really imagine it either.Report

      • Avatar Murali says:

        If privilege talk worked as it’s user intends it to, then it would in fact shut people up. Saying that it doesn’t actually work is rather coy in that when someone (e.g. you) tell us that we cis-gendered heterosexual males will never understand because we’re privileged and should shut up, you intend to shut us up.

        But, I came here to get myself heard. I also came to understand other people’s point of view, but people telling me that I should shut up about X because I can never understand it sounds like something I ought to just ignore. Why? because I did not come here to shut up. Shutting up is pretty much the last thing I want to do.

        A related worrying feature is that the kind of semi-public debate that I and others come here to have depends crucially on arguments and evidence being shareable. That’s why we advance arguments and deal with responses etc etc. Ideally, the correct exercise of our faculty of reason on shared evidence should bring us into agreement. To say that there are some things we cis-gendered people cannot know is like some guy saying God spoke to him and that we are to take his word for it. There just may be some things that I as a cis-endred male cannot know and God may really have talked to Joe-Blow, but the spirit of open debate precludes us taking either seriously, at least as far as our purposes in fora like this are concerned.

        A third problem is that private evidence is like an unknown unknown. Your flagging it for us does not make it a known unknown. It only becomes a known unknown when we ourselves can figure out how to compensate for not having access to that. But if all we have to go on is someone saying that we can never understand, then we only have reason for taking you at your word that we cannot understand if we already take you at your word. But if it is possible to explain privilege in terms that others who have it can understand and accept, that would not shut people up. But hopefully it would convince reasonable people and that is all you legitimately ask.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @murali — There is not much for me to engage with here, except to say I disagree.

        I will clarify one thing: I do not think that privileged people should shut up for ever, remain eternally silent, while only we trans gals get to speak.

        That’s silly. And totally not a danger.

        Instead, what I mean is this: privileged people already get to talk a lot, and already have their (often false) assumptions reinforced by the broad culture, and thus we hear enough of their voices already.

        But each Internet dudebro feels compelled to add his two cents!

        Thanks, dudebro. Really need to hear that again.

        What I am questioning is the value of their contribution. Are they adding anything? Or are they making noise?

        What I am requesting is that the privileged shut up more often than they do, especially when discussing topics they really don’t know much about.

        Like the lived experience of people very different from them. Like worldviews that are completely at odds with their own (but that are consistent with physical reality; this ain’t about delusion or private worlds).

        To actually-really accept there are things you cannot know, not completely, and can know partially only with great difficulty — that kind of humility is probably necessary to even begin to understand.

        That is so far from the attitude of the average Internet-techno-dudebro that I don’t know where to begin.

        I can suggest they shut up more. Perhaps a few will listen.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        @murali and @veronica-dire

        If I may, I think you are both right to a degree (and I think Veronica’s clarification helps make that a bit more apparent).

        When Veronica says, “Thanks, dudebro. Really need to hear that again. What I am questioning is the value of their contribution…” I hear her saying that certain arguments have been stated, accepted, and affirmed; they are, for lack of a matter term, a matter of public record. Repeating them adds little value. She is advocating that other voices be brought forth and given a finite about of airspace, this means limiting other voices; and the place to start is those voices that repeat what is already written on the walls.

        Where this can feel problematic is that individuals are being asked to step back because of something collective that happened. Veronica, you are asking Murali to “shut up” because (you think, maybe rightly, maybe wrongly) you’ve already heard what he has to say from the collective majority of which (you think, maybe rightly, maybe wrongly) he is a part. However, Murali himself has not yet participated in the conversation, not directly, not in a way that to him feels like he is engaging. So while you might be wholly right in that you’ve heard what he has to say before, you haven’t heard him say it. And there remains the possibility that you haven’t heard what he has to say; a possibility of intense importance to him because he knows you haven’t heard his words, even if you have heard his ideas in other words.

        I won’t pretend to have a solution to this. I think Veroncia is right about the importance of broadening the conversation, accomplished in part by having those most used to talking do the listening (and really, actually listening). And I think Murali isn’t wrong to feel that he is being unfairly excluded from the conversation. We’re dealing with multiple perceptions and multiple realities all of which are running up against one another.

        I understand the frustration of hearing from the umpteenth time the same argument but being told that, no, it’s really different this time… and I can only imagine how this is compounded when the argument is or has been used to marginalized the listener. And I understand the frustration of wanting to fully participate in a conversation unhindered… which actually applies to both of you in certain ways (Murali because he is being asked/told by Veronica to step back and Veronica because her voice is so often silenced).

        Oi… I don’t know if I’ve made things better or worse. I’m just going to stop talking now.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @murali and @kazzy — So, here is the deal. Every conversation has a subtext. Every statement happens in some context. Communication works on many levels, beyond the literal meaning of the words.

        For instance, when you debate something, an essential subtext is this topic is debatable.

        On Twitter I have seen many WoC assert, “I don’t debate my humanity.”

        Damn right they don’t.

        I don’t debate my gender.

        It isn’t that I couldn’t. It’s a topic I know a lot about. I’ve read a book or five. But I’m not going to engage on the topic. Not worth it.

        Why waste my time with an asshole? After all, most Internet “debates” are meaningless noise.

        Anytime time you chime in on some topic, there are other subtexts, other contexts. One simply asserts that you are worth listening to, that you have something to say, that you are in a position to be listened to. This is not always the case.

        A certain class of men loves to tell women what they should wear. They talk much about short skirts.

        Look, we women know about short skirts. (I rather like them personally, mainly with fishnets.) We know what they mean, what they bring on. We talk of these things among ourselves.

        We trans women understand the problems of disclosure, when to tell a man we’re trans, what the risks are.

        You know, I don’t want to hear your opinion on this. Just don’t. Why on earth would you imagine you have something useful to say? What makes you think your opinion is worth the bits to carry it? What makes you think your words will be welcome? I mean, ask yourself these questions seriously.

        I seldom speak when I don’t know shit. I wish others shared my discipline.

        The other day Burt posted a thing about bar fights. Did you see me or anyone objecting?

        No, of course not. Burt really is an attorney. These cases really happened. From them he gained some insight. His insight was worth hearing.

        Many men know many things. Many cis folks are experts in their fields. (Most books I read are by cis folks.) I love to see what they say, deep thoughts, real insights.

        I love math. Turns out there is a shortage of math books by trans folks. No big deal, math is just as true when cis folks write it.

        When cis folks write about trans stuff, they (almost) always get it wrong. When dudely-cis-dudes want to chime in on gender, when white folks give their priceless wisdom on race, when a middle-class person talks in complete ignorance on what it’s like to be poor, on and on — when this happens it gets gross fast.

        In these cases, those of us who do know will tell you to take a seat.Report

      • Avatar Murali says:


        an essential subtext is this topic is debatable.

        There are some things that could be analytically true and even obviously so which could still be subject to debate. Consider Descartes’ cogito: I think therefore I exist. In philosophy classrooms we debate things like how we know the external world exists and is anything like how we perceive it. We ask about the existence of other minds. We question whether slavery and rape are really wrong etc. How do you know that slavery is wrong. In principle, then, nothing is beyond questioning at some point or another. Doing good philosophy involves finding answers to such questions without circularly assuming what we want to show. That sort of debatability is all that is required to start a debate. The thicker sort where we have positive grounds to doubt the thesis in question is not required.

        On Twitter I have seen many WoC assert, “I don’t debate my humanity.”

        Damn right they don’t.

        I don’t debate my gender.

        Except people do that all the time. Every time we say that we should have some coercive law underwritten by some conception of the good not shared by everyone, we debate the humanity of those who don’t share that conception of the good. In particular, we pre-suppose that one of the key capacities that make people human(i.e. people’s capacity for moral judgment) is worse than our own in such a way that it gives us moral authority over them. We do it when we suppose that poor people will not handle money given to them properly and thus must be helped via food stamps, we do it when we go beyond a thin liberal conception of justice and argue not just that religious norms should not be imposed on others, but that we should try to break the hold traditional gender roles have on society etc etc. We also do it when we want to impose conservative norms on society. Doubting whether some specific group or another is fit to make decisions in a particular domain of their own lives is something most of us do all the freaking time. But fitness to make such decisions is a large component of what makes us persons.Report

    • Avatar Damon says:

      I recall reading a comment on either the Slate article or somewhere else about this saying that if the statue had been an image of Ryan Gosling, the girls wouldn’t be protesting, they’d be posting with it and getting their pics taken. I LOLed for truth.Report

  10. Avatar zic says:

    I wonder if twitter, like cable news, and the effects on society are highly overrated.

    Cable news has a tiny % of actual viewers. Twitter may have more users, but the streams are very fractured, and not universal.

    Both are like looking through a pinhole and presuming you’re seeing the entire view.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      Could be. Most people in the United States probably live in happy ignorance of the controveries around social media. I recognize lots of peopleReport

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      But isn’t it that those tiny percentages of cable news viewers are more likely to vote and donate money and time to political campaigns? So yes a tiny percentage overall but one with an out-sized effect.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Interesting idea; could be another iteration of epistemic closure.

        I wonder if there’s a whole wealth of political activity, mostly at the state and local level, that gets left out of this thinking.Report

    • Avatar veronica dire says:

      @zic — I think it depends on the structures of social power.

      For instance, the actual number of transphobic feminists is probably quite low. In one sense, they’re just a very loud bunch who make much noise on the Webz. But then, how many of those women sit on the boards of social service organizations, who then decide whether trans women will be allowed into shelters?

      I bet there is a sizable overlap between “Reads Cathy Brennan online” and “Has influence at a woman’s shelter.”

      The CDC just released a report that estimates that 27% of trans women are HIV positive. (I suspect the study suffers from much selection bias, and the real number is lower. Well, I hope that, very much.)

      (Please, please, please don’t let it actually be 27%. That’s unthinkable.)

      But we know the HIV rate among our kind is very high. When considering the reasons, the CDC lists several speculative causes: lack of jobs, housing, health care access — many HIV programs specifically target gay men; but we aren’t gay men — and shelter. Many poor trans women simply don’t try to go to shelters because they know they’ll be housed with men and likely assaulted.

      So they stay on the streets. What they do to survive on the streets is obvious.

      There is a strong network of transphobic women, who maintain an online community that feeds on its own anger, and our anger with them. It goes round and round. Hate grows. We die.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        As I understand it, laws are being passed in certain states that would extend anti-discrimination laws to trans men and women. Would this resolve the issue you speak of here? Would it demand that they be treated similarly to cis people who identify as the same gender (i.e., trans women have full and complete access to everything cis women have)? Or does it simply prevent them from being discriminated upon on the basis of their gender identity (i.e., you can’t fire someone for being trans but you can still insist a trans woman use the men’s room)? If they only do the latter, it would seem they are woefully incomplete (albeit a step in the right direction).Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        Yes, this is happening, but there are different laws in different states. MA for instance has gender-inclusive anti-discrimination law in the workplace, so I cannot be (openly) fired for being trans. Plus if I encounter any kind of systematic discrimination, I suppose a class action could apply. (Not sure how this stuff works, but from time to time a company gets hit with this stuff. Which to my view is entirely proper.)

        However, we do not have public accommodation laws, so you can throw me out of your restaurant (or whatever) for being a sick, ungodly queer.

        I am legally a woman, so I can’t get in trouble for using the women’s facilities, although I’m not sure I want to depend on the “F” on my driver’s license when facing a right wing southern sheriff.

        That said, there are public accommodation ordinances in Boston and Cambridge. So for most of my day to day I am protected. (I get dirty look, but whatevs.)

        Note, much is also happening in the courts. For example, last year a trans woman won a court case in D.C. against a homeless shelter that denied her access. Just recently a girl in Maine won a case against her (former) school district, which denied her access to the girl’s room. (After a boy followed her in and insisted if she could, he could.)

        So, for the big picture we’re winning.

        But life is lived in the little pictures. We have far to go.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:


        Off topic, but something occurred to me yesterday, as I was thinking about your comment about talking less and listening more, which is that when someone doesn’t reply to one of your comments–doesn’t talk–you have no way of knowing whether they’re listening or ignoring. I think the nature of blog discussions can create the impression that people are ignoring us unless they’re arguing with us. So I just want to say that, speaking for myself, when I don’t “talk back,” I am listening, not ignoring.

        A discussion like this current one, for example…I have nothing to contribute. But I’m reading and thinking about what I’m reading.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        Thanks @jm3z-aitch for saying so.

        Which is why those interminable “like” buttons can actually be kinda cool. It lets you say, “yep” without having to take up a whole post to do so.

        Not that I think this forum should have like buttons. That would be weird.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        Does the F on your driver’s license suffice if you were trying to access something like shelter services? Does that depend on where you are?

        If you will indulge a broader question… do you think the ultimate goal to recognize cis women and trans women as two subgroups of women, each of equal merit, worth, and value and entitled to equal access to every and anything the other side is, with the distinction being necessary only to recognize that there might be experiences unique to one or the other? Perhaps a better way of asking this is, ultimately, do you prefer to be identified as a trans woman or a woman? Should we see those terms as synonymous? Is there any risk in that of denying the unique experiences of trans people?

        Okay… that was more than just ONE question… It’s just that it would seem to me if you have an F on your drivers license than you should be seen and treated as all the other people with Fs on their drivers license, period, end of story (with a full concession that I’m using drivers license as a weak proxy for gender identification because they carry a certain formal/legal acknowledgement that might not exist absent them).Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @kazzy — I don’t know what the “F” will buy me. One thing I get is a certain confidence. If challenged, I can pull that out.

        I haven’t actually had to do that.

        But then, I am a privileged white trans woman with money. I speak well. I dress nice. I clearly “know people,” and a bright person would figure that I’ve hired attorneys before in my life. How I personally am treated in these situations is not the question.

        Let us take an example: a seventeen-year-old trans Latina whose only job experience is petty theft and blow jobs. She shows up to the shelter and encounters a shitty transphobe.

        Think she’s gonna sue?

        Does she have any ID at all, never mind having payed thousands of dollars to get it updated? (The actual fees are a few hundred, but you must have a letter from a therapist. Getting your gender maker changed is a middle-class luxury.) Think she has ever spoken to a lawyer who wasn’t a public defender?

        She will give up, drift away into the night.

        Regarding your second question, it’s complicated.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Thanks so much, @veronica-dire . I have to say that it is remarkable that you are able to recognize the axes along which you are privileged giving the intense marginalized and oppression you face along other ones.

        The realities of being trans in America today seem woefully unknown. Hopefully that changes and, with it, the way we treat our fellow humans.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        you must have a letter from a therapist


        And folks scoff at me for being a libertarian.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        But think of the children! Without that letter, any ol’ pervy boy who wants to sneak into a girls bathroom could just show up and say he identifies as transexual and BOOM!

        It’d be funny if there weren’t very serious people making that argument very seriously.

        One thing that bobbles me about it is that the best way to curb teenage sex is probably to let the one gender see what goes on in the other’s bathroom. Teenagers of the world… if you think there is something you will find sexy about seeing the other gender using the bathroom, let me assure you… the vast, vast majority of you will feel no such thing!Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @james-hanley — Fine! You win this round!Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @veronica-dire, you are right, and thank you for pointing it out.

        I have a dear friend who went through multiple-year child-support/custody/visitation hearings after she got herself and her children out of an abusive marriage. She ended up representing herself in court, too. One of the things she found useful was a list of scripted answers for different kinds of questions/accusations, etc. Consistently responding in the same way.

        So I’m curious how social media like twitter might aid groups that have trouble getting heard develop consistent language and ways of identifying injustice that helps; phrases and responses that, when repeated and reiterated over time, help develop an awareness to the community, the violations people within the community experience, and defining appropriate manners and social standards that majority groups can adopt to show respect and consideration for the minority group.

        Shorter: does social media, and twitter in particular, help tribal language seep into common usage in a way that better reveals the preferences of the tribe?Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @zic — Yeah, I don’t know specifically. Right now I think the trans community is still finding its legs. We are learning a common vocabulary, mostly nipped from the Womanist movement.

        We have great leaders, great power. I mean, Janet Mock glows! I cannot imagine who I would be without Twitter.

        (And there is an interesting kinda-sorta alliance between WoC feminists, sex worker advocates, and trans feminine advocates. I think largely because these are the women most injured by the second wave.)Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        @zic this is a of side note, but if i find people giving me clearly scripted answers and can’t say what they mean in something like their own words that will lead me to be suspicious of them and very curious about own ability. I clearly get that many people have trouble expressing what they mean which may be even worse when dealing with difficult subjects. But scripted answers are, at least to me, a poor answer.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @greginak that’s a good point. And scripted answers may not be such a good descriptor for what I mean, which is really a standard of terms and manners (in writing, we’d call it the stylebook) of how to speak. This creates some language cohesion within the tribe that, I presume, twitter would help spread to people outside the tribe at a faster rate.

        As to the scripted answer problem you identify, my current pet peeve is GMO, which increasingly seems to be used as shorthand for any and all problems with the industrial food chain. Global warming is another. Big government. etc. etc. etc.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        Are you familiar with Marisa Richmond? She is a trans women of color who served as a delegate to the DNC in 2008. I got to see her at a conference this past winter. Another leader in the community.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @kazzy — Well, one Google search later, and now I’m familiar with her. 🙂Report

  11. Avatar NewDealer says:


    I’m glad you are basically admitting to being a troll.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      I trolled you. Once. Did you learn anything from it?
      (That, by the way, is the only time I’ve ever trolled anyone…
      Trolling is hard, guyz… well, it is if you do it /well/.)

      You’re a lawyer — how many times have you trolled anyone?Report

  12. Avatar veronica dire says:

    So, this came across my feed just now:

    Very on topic, very well thought out.

    Through all the anger, all the heat, we are finding our voices and strength. I don’t think it would quite be happening, not this way, without Twitter.Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

      So, because I don’t know…

      How should a journalist phrase questions about…what can I call it, the “earlier period” in a trans person’s life?

      I’m somewhat sympathetic to Morgan’s probable ignorance in the first interview (although I think one could fairly say that as a journalist he was lazy and didn’t do his homework), but his tweets…good lord, they just kept getting progressively worse, didn’t they?Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:


        That explains certain terms, but it doesn’t tell how to ask a question.

        Not that I’m going to be asking these questions, but in an interview setting, questions presumably must be asked.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Yeah, I think Morgan could have come out of that better if he’d said, “You know, this has been a learning experience, for me and for my viewers,” because this is the sort of thing that should be a learning experience for people who don’t have a lot of exposure to transgender people. But instead, he came out calling people who criticized him stupid. In other words, he’s still Piers Morgan.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @jm3z-aitch — I’ll take this as a serious question.

        We are not circus animals, and your *curiosity* is sometimes kinda gross.

        I mean, I get it. You’re curious. But this is a *professional* interview about a woman who wrote a book. Turning it to the Jerry Springer material is just fucking lame, just fucking pathetic.

        Seriously, SO TIRED OF THIS SHIT!

        I’m married. My wife stayed with me.

        It happens. Are you amazed? Get over it.

        Janet’s man stayed with her.

        I Don’t blame him. That woman burns like the sun.

        Just home from a night clubbing. So, tonight I was at the drag club, sitting arm-in-arm with a stunningly beautiful Asian trans woman. Two cis girls came up and started asking dumb questions. Shallow compliments. Are we dating? — about which, no, we are not. She likes men. Plus she is — how to say this — a *professional*.

        You know what I mean.

        But she is a dear friend, a deep person with deep love.

        Later one of the cis girls asked if I was wearing a wig. She touched my hair. Told me how pretty I was.

        I told her I’m a dyke. It was funny.

        I EXPECT BETTER FROM A CNN HEADLINER, compared to two dumb, drunk cis girls at the drag club. I expect depth, real respect, real knowledge.

        Yeah, I know. Too much to ask.

        Look, any random three people from this blog would have given Janet a more thoughtful interview. Hell, I have no doubt you would have.

        So how to ask about her prior life?

        She was always a woman — deep in her soul, like all the ocean. Her man stayed with her because she is amazing. Obviously.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        No, Veronica, that wasn’t taking my question seriously. That was boilerplate complaint instead of guidance. It’s telling a student “stop doing it wrong” instead of showing how to do it right. What not to do isn’t always what to do, because there’s a limited number of ways to do things right, and an infinite number of ways to do things wrong.

        If I was interviewing Janet Mock, sure, I’d avoid making some of Morgans’ mistakes. But I don’t think I got any help here. You want people to stop talking stupidly and start talking the right way? Then help them when they ask, don’t yell at them. If you’d rather yell at someone for not getting it right than help them get it right, then I guess you accomplished your goal.

        And, no, I’m not amazed. Human experience is wonderfully varied. Not much amazes me anymore. Amd I’m not seeking to be amazed by you. I’m seeking to not be a douche when I meet a trans person.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire says:

        @jm3z-aitch — Then perhaps I cannot help you. And perhaps you will end up being a douche. Can’t judge at this point.

        Look, we have lots of trans 101 articles on the web that cover the basic stuff, the simple rules you can learn. Easy peasy. Don’t screw up our pronouns. Don’t use our old names. Don’t call us “men” or “boys.”

        Piers Morgan couldn’t even get that basic shit right.

        But that, in the end, is the superficial stuff. The deeper stuff is this: don’t lay your preconceptions, preoccupations, and bogus narratives on us.

        Like, if you are deeply fascinated with our genitals — just stop. Ain’t your business.

        But why are cis people so fascinated with our genitals? To you this might seem a natural curiosity. But why? Why not be fascinated with the tendons in her knee? It’s all just tissue.

        Here feminism has a tentative answer, one that I believe is roughly true.

        To Piers Morgan, the most important fact of Janet Mock’s life is when she had her fuck hole installed. The reason is this: to him, a place to put his dick is all that matters about a woman.

        In the end, these are deep narratives of cissexism, misogyny, racism, on and on. A man like Piers Morgan just cannot help but reduce this woman’s life to his preoccupations: her genitals, her sexual faculties, what her boyfriend must think — as if this woman must be understood through the eyes of men.

        It’s really gross and extreme.

        Which is why — and I mean this — I believe you would do better.

        You would, right?Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        But why are cis people so fascinated with our genitals? To you this might seem a natural curiosity.

        Well, I don’t temember ever asking about that.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      What if Janet Mock didn’t want to be his teachable moment?Report

  13. Avatar veronica dire says:

    By the way, if anyone wants to delve deep on this issue, way beyond what you’ll get on this forum, start here:

    Follow the links. Set aside a few days for reading.

    Note, much of this is “family discussion” (or “inside baseball” if you prefer). There is a lot of context to these conversations. I suggest developing an opinion slowly.Report