If your comment is not approved…

If you post a comment – even your 100th comment here – and it is not approved, obviously the first thing to do might be to go look at the comment policy.

But if you’ve had comments approved before, a better starting point might be: re-read the article and see if your comment was relevant and/or implied the article said things it didn’t say. The number one reason why seemingly reasonable comments get rejected by people is that they read articles with a mind full of associations from other political platforms, and fail to engage with what’s actually being said.

A recent example from comments on my What Empowerment Is post:

I’m uncomfortable with limits on specific sex acts, on the expression of sexuality between consenting adults. Some patriarchal societies and religions limit sexuality – reducing acceptable sex acts to a married male/female in the missionary position for procreation.

Hmm, this is an article about empowerment, not sex. Relevancy? Oh, wait – I did mention the article stating that blow jobs are not empowering. But I explicitly said in that article that you should engage in blow jobs for other reasons, if you’re so inclined – just don’t think it’s somehow changing the oppression you face in daily living, because it so isn’t.

Personally, I am grateful to the feminist movement and the sexual revolution for the radical notion that women might be interested in sex as well – and sex not necessarily for procreation. When societies/religions start limiting oral sex – it seems like another means of control and repression.

Oooookay. Think we’re all in agreement here, so: huh?

So I can understand a person or couple being individually empowered to explore their sexuality.

Except no. Didn’t I just explain that individual empowerment is when you gain control over someone or take their control of you away? If you’re having romantic or sexual relationships/encounters where either partner has vast control over the other, you have a problem. I did however mention that “Some people find self-actualization through religion or spirituality; through the dumping of a religion; through therapy; through personal revelations; through being loved by someone; through loving someone.” I didn’t mention sex specifically, but I thought people could probably figure out this wasn’t meant to be a complete list when I followed that statement immediately with “However you find it, it’s good stuff, even if it doesn’t improve your life.” ETA: Also, later I talked about sexual exploration/expression as way to become self-actualized, so seriously?

At this point, I’m getting a sneaking suspicion the commenter has just assumed, based on the associations in his or her mind and a case of tl;dr, that at some point I said “Blow jobs are bad, stop doing them, you naughty people!” But it’s actually a bit worse than that.

I’m reminded of some of the early 1970s feminist work about women and sex (and rape) – Shulamith Firestone and others. Are you (Jennifer) suggesting that any sex between men and women is inherently oppressive? Personally, I just can’t agree that all sexuality between men and women is forever flawed.

Wait, what? Now at some point I’m presumed to have said that hetero sex was automatically bad or rapey or something. That’s both astonishing and offensive. How on earth does one get from “blow jobs are not empowering” to “all hetero sex is oppressive!”? Even if I had argued that blow jobs were oppressive, which I didn’t because the very idea is problematic*, that doesn’t equate to the suggestion that all hetero sex is oppressive.

Sometimes you break the comment guidelines because you haven’t read the article properly, and you’re responding knee-jerk to something that was never said. That is the most common reason for otherwise reasonable comments (i.e., if I had actually said any of what this commenter thought I said, it would have been quite reasonable) to be rejected.

*For blow jobs to be inherently oppressive, every blow job ever would have had to reinforce oppression, and I just don’t think anyone can make that argument and support it. You could argue that cultural expectations surrounding blow jobs symbolize oppressive dynamics, but that’s like arguing that movies often reinforce oppressive dynamics, but don’t have to. It doesn’t mean movies are inherently bad.

Comments

  1. says

    I’m not ashamed to admit the described comment is mine – although perhaps I should be.

    I hadn’t read the original post or 80 + comments. I hadn’t seen the dictionary definition of empowerment that was given in comment 27. “To invest with power, especially legal power or official authority.” (apologies if this isn’t linked correctly).

    Despite the dictionary definition, I still have an association of “not empowering means bad”. Logically, technically, that association doesn’t make sense. Yet, for whatever reason, perhaps socialization – that’s my connotation. So when I read “blow jobs are not empowering”, that reads to me “blow jobs are bad’. I’ll own that. That’s all me.

    This is not what the original post (or current post was saying). My comment was related to an argument that specific sex acts were bad, which I disagree with. That wasn’t what anyone was saying (or arguing). I can understand and respect that my comment would have derailed that thread.

    I brought up the “sex being inherently oppressive” argument because again, I thought the argument being presented was “blow jobs are bad”. I will fully admit that I don’t understand the work of these specific 1970s feminists, and I don’t agree that hetero sex is inherently oppressive. That discussion also would derail the thread. I think it would be an interesting post in itself, I should look through the arguments to better understand where they were coming from.

    I have read hathor for a long time. I have always felt that my voice was heard, and I don’t see this site as shooting down viewpoints that differ from the OP. I emailed/commented because I wanted to clarify that it wasn’t that the mods disagreed with my point of view (and therefore refused to post it). Instead, it was that my comment didn’t follow the guidelines, and would have de-railed the conversation.

  2. says

    aerin,

    I really appreciate your response here, Aerin, and that you were interested in understanding what went wrong. That’s part of why I wrote the article – to show people how any of us can go astray when we have unconscious assumptions clouding our minds.

    FWIW, I’m not too familiar with most of the early 70s feminists. I did read “Intercourse” and totally did not get the famous message (which Andrea Dworkin has denied ever saying) that “all hetero sex is rape.” She points out some of the ways she sees society pressuring women to provide sex to men, and that men benefit because they don’t have to hold women down and rape them, but the result is still “men getting ‘sex’ from women who don’t want to have it with them.” She’s absolutely right about that, but it does not follow that no woman ever wants the sex she’s having, and that would be a requirement for the “all hetero sex is rape” argument… which she never made, but is best remembered for, sadly.

  3. says

    FWIW, I’m not too familiar with most of the early 70s feminists. I did read “Intercourse” and totally did not get the famous message (which Andrea Dworkin has denied ever saying) that “all hetero sex is rape.” She points out some of the ways she sees society pressuring women to provide sex to men, and that men benefit because they don’t have to hold women down and rape them, but the result is still “men getting ‘sex’ from women who don’t want to have it with them.” She’s absolutely right about that, but it does not follow that no woman ever wants the sex she’s having, and that would be a requirement for the “all hetero sex is rape” argument… which she never made, but is best remembered for, sadly.

    After doing some quick googling and a visit to Snopes, I owe both Dworkin and MacKinnon an apology. I have been somewhat critical of early feminists for years (though not radically so) for what I considered “taking things to far”. But I accepted misattributed and out-of-context quotes without questioning them properly…fail on my part.

    One more good reminder that (sadly, I think) I need to do a ton of corroborating research on just about any claim, quote, statistic, or argument I ever come across. It’s a shame that while we have vast dissemination of information (a good thing), it has been used as a tool to spread lies, misinformation, and propaganda.

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