Why did the mean admin not post my comment?

Here’s a newsflash: if you are overflowing with male privilege and don’t realize it, you’ll have some trouble getting your comments through moderation. Why? Because your rights are not more important than the rights of all our other readers, and I won’t tolerate your offending them with your bullshit just because you have been assured all your life that your bullshit doesn’t smell. It does. You have been lied to. Let’s look at an example.

In a recent post about The Tubes’ video “She’s a Beauty”, I mentioned that I considered the only black woman in the video being cast as a cave woman to be a bit of a race fail. One commenter, Janbo, made a thoughtful point about how it could be more a comment on race than a race fail. This gave me pause – Janbo is right. It certainly could be viewed that way, and I don’t doubt that was the band’s intention, so perhaps it’s not a fail. Note that Janbo disagreed with me and not only did I post her comment, but I acknowledged her viewpoint as perfectly valid. I mention this because: what do guys with bruised male privilege always tell us? Say it with me, class: you’re censoring comments you don’t agree with, you horrid person.

Next up we have Christopher, a white guy. What’s about the second thing Christopher says? He assures us that he is not offended by the black cave woman. Yeah? That’s about as relevant as a Democrat saying, “I wasn’t offended when someone said all Republicans were child-molesting, baby-barbecuing serial killers.” I mean, I wasn’t “offended” by the black cave woman, either – I’m a white woman, so her presentation affects no one’s view of me. I was thinking critically about how that character might impact the perception of black woman. Janbo had thought critically, too, and found another way to look at it. Christopher just offered his own white male viewpoint, apparently assuming we would find it relevant and valuable because…?

In Christopher’s defense, he like everyone else has been told all his life that the white male viewpoint is the default. It’s the one that matters. No one really needs to look at things from any other viewpoint. But the whole point of equality activism is to challenge that idea. We folks-other-than-white-men are asserting that our viewpoints matter, too. And sometimes they’re a lot more relevant.

Anyway, I actually let that comment through because I wanted to address the male privilege in it. It was the next comment I didn’t allow. First, some background: the rest of his original comment had interpreted the video as warning men against “high maintenance” women. In my response, I linked him to the article in which I explain that high maintenance is a sexist term I never want to hear again. Does Christopher read that article? I see no sign he did in his response, which is the comment I deleted:

People use the term “high maintenance” to describe certain women for one reason- because they are.

Obvious total failure to engage with the point of my article. Clearly, he’s too special to acknowledge my points, but I should listen to him. Wonder why he would think that?

Women use this same term to describe certain men and to describe other women. Men also use the term to describe other men. It’s not a gender specific term, and not one exclusively used my men.

Quite a reach. I know a few scattered people use it this way, but can anyone produce 6 TV show references to a man being “high maintenance”? That aren’t jokes? It absolutely is a gendered term in pop culture, and our comment guidelines clearly ban the use of gendered terms. Again, the rules don’t apply to Christopher!

These are the folks who may be out with you, but still have one eye on the door; or as Carly Simon lamented “one eye in the mirror.”

And we -men and women- tend to fall at least once for these types. They’re beautiful and seductive; they attract the attention of others. They can have anyone they want, for as long as they want, and they carry themselves as such. They’re fascinating, and we feel more powerful and beautiful just being in their presence.

Oh, yes, they are. Except, no, wait. I find them repulsive! Despite Christopher’s categorical statement that these people are all this stuff, period, I’ve always found them pitiful because I knew deep down, they were just deeply insecure. I never felt more powerful and beautiful in their presence, because I have always felt pretty damn powerful and, in my own way, beautiful. I never found these people fascinating because insecurity is very boring.

The song “She’s A Beauty” articulates these feelings quite well. Human insecurity draws us to seek acceptance from those more beautiful; and it’s a dangerous trap for both males and females. Notice the expressionless face of the dominatrix which seems to say “I turn you on without putting out any effort. It’s all just a sell, and you’re just another sucker in the game.” Fee Waybill is simply advising us all not to fall victim to the vanity which is beauty.

Once again, opinion stated as fact – another no-no in our comment policy. Christopher doesn’t know what Fee Waybill’s intent behind the lyrics is anymore than I do, but he feels entitled to speak as if he does: that’s male privilege for you. It shouldn’t exist.


  1. Brand Robins says

    I always expect you to delete my comments. I’m constantly shocked that my foul mouth doesn’t get zapped right off the board.

    And yet, I can remember when I was a younger, brasher man-boy and used to be full of privilege. That I was moderately smart only made it worse. I was a bright boy and so in all my classes ever I was the shining star and the one who was correct.

    At the same time my experience of the world was so narrow that I took “me and my friends and maybe some lose acquaintences (one of whom is black!)” to be “pretty much everyone and more or less normal.”

    My problem wasn’t just that I was privileged and entitled (though I was both, still am) — it was that I was ignorant. Smart as I was, much as I was always told I mattered, I just didn’t have anything like the perspective needed to actually see myself or the complications of the world around me in which I was the loudest, but certainly not (in terms of absolute numbers) the average or “normal.”

    So now I’m sitting here, reading this article, and wondering about how I started being able to get out of that very deep rut. (Yes, I’m still in process of climbing out. It’ll only take me slightly longer than my whole life.) Was it making friends outside that circle and exercising empathy with them? Was it taking classes on sociological and gender theory? Living in other parts of the world? Marrying a brilliantly, strongly feminist woman?

    Honest to whatever God might be, I don’t know. All of that, none of that… ::shrug::

    It makes me wonder how it is that I can best help other guys see it too. Both in life (where I have a small clue) and online (where I have none at all). Sometimes being righteously smacked (as this post did) certainly helps. It may cause resentment in the short term, but in the long term maybe it opens the mind to new possibilities.

    • says

      I used to try to help educate these guys, but here’s what I found:

      –It takes a LOT of time and effort. I mean, sometimes I spent more time on one comment or email to them than my average article. And it took a LOT of comments/emails.
      –In the end, 9/10 of them never had the slightest intention of having an open mind, let alone learning anything. They came here to teach me how silly I was being. On my own site, that I pay for.
      –The emotional drain, as well as the time, was ridiculous.
      –As African-Americans don’t owe white Americans an explanation for why they aren’t thrilled with aspects of US society, women do not owe men an education on their privilege.

      Conclusion: I’ve done what I could. I can’t keep at it anymore. I still try to throw them a bone so they can educate themselves if they’re sincere, but again, 9/10 times, nothing comes of it.

      So I wish you loads of luck in finding a way to help those guys. They might actually listen to another white guy like themselves.

      ETA: I don’t think you’ve ever had a comment deleted or never-posted. Foul mouths are okay. Foul ideas are the problem. 😉

      • Dom Camus says

        They might actually listen to another white guy like themselves.

        Sadly, this has not been my experience.

        Partly it’s because I only have a beginner’s grasp of many of the key arguments myself. But mostly, I suspect, it’s because it’s too difficult to persuade people of things which seem to be at odds with their first-hand observations of the world. If someone spends 20 years watching his privileged, white, male friends having “trouble” with women then nothing I say is going to convince him those women are not [insert mysogynistic epithet of choice].

      • says

        There are times I think I’d almost rather see those comments, and it’s not really because I think we can educate them.

        It’s so we can be reminded now and then that there is still a long way to go.

        There have been times I’ve looked at something a feminist or minority writer has said and thought ‘wow, aren’t you being a little oversensitive?’ And while yeah, maybe sometimes that might be the case, more often it’s a ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ issue.

        I crochet. I do it in public sometimes. And people come up to me and ask me what I’m doing or can they see/touch what I am working on. The first time it’s okay. The second time it’s okay. The third time it’s annoying. The fiftieth time I want to use the crochet hook to start gouging out eyeballs.

        And the person I snap at is on some level justified in thinking ‘wow, over-react much’, but the part they don’t get is that they weren’t the first, tenth, or thirtieth person to interrupt me that day.

        If having somebody yell ‘hey baby nice ass’ was an isolated occurrence, it wouldn’t bother me so much. If a clerk ignoring me when I tried to buy computer parts was extremely rare, I’d shrug and go on with life.

        If 90% of movies passed the test, would we bother to care about the ones that don’t?

        • says

          Just curious – would you find it valuable if I posted comments from time to time like I did this one, and dissected the problem? And if anyone hates that idea (I know SBG does – there is the valid argument that it just feeds the trolls), please also speak up. I’m just curious to see how folks come down on this, and mulling over some possibilities. Like, even setting up another site for those posts so we can refer people to them without having them here.

          Actually having the comments in the threads… just leads to ugliness, IME.

          • says

            Oh, I didn’t mean to say you should let the comments stay, I understand why you don’t. Somebody always feeds the troll, unfortunately, and things can turn ugly fast.
            I like that you do posts like this for particularly egregious examples, but it would quickly get monotonous.

            There are people who don’t intend to be discriminatory, they just don’t realize they are because they’ve never taken the moment to put themselves in the other person’s shoes. And because nobody wants to think of themselves as a bad person, they resist when they are called on their behavior.

            Taking their comment and dissecting it publicly in this manner would be counter-productive. Instead of letting them think about it for a while and coming to the conclusion ‘maybe she had a point’, they’d look at the dissection as an attack and dismiss you as just some ball-busting know-it-all feminazi bitch.

            tldr: If they are bad, have at them, if they are just ignorant, better to ignore it and hope they grow up some day.

          • SunlessNick says

            I’m just curious to see how folks come down on this, and mulling over some possibilities.

            Posts like this very much come under the category of those explanations you do not owe. And I can’t really argue against it being troll-food. So I think I ought to go with Sbg’s view.

      • Brand Robins says

        I don’t think its your job. At all. Ever.

        I suspect it may be mine.

        I just have no idea how to do it.

    • says

      Actually, that’s Akismet sucking (why so many of your comments end up in mod for no apparent reason), and we’re testing a new anti-spam plugin now. You’re not the only one it’s affecting.

    • sbg says

      Every single one of my comments ends in moderation. I figure it’s because I said shit once or something. 😉

      I’m just guessing that I’ll have to go release this one before you’ll see it…

  2. Eileen says

    You didn’t post one of my comments once, and it was totally because of privilege that I completely failed to acknowledge. I noticed that the comment didn’t post and I thought about it, and then I realized, “Yeah, I could have done better, or just not done anything at all.” It was a positive experience!

    Some people are immune to positive experiences.

    • says

      I had one of mine go unposted, but it was probably for the best. I’d had a bad experience earlier in the day that had truly ticked me off. I read a post that triggered brought out some of that irritation and ranted far more than I should have in a way that was easy to interpret as someone upset their privilege was challenged. Better that it was just deleted instead of having to waste time clarifying and explaining and apologizing for too broad a brushstroke.

  3. DragonLord says

    I’ve had more than a few comments vanish through moderation, and as has been mentioned on many other boards/blogs. There is no free speech here (in that what you type EVERYONE gets to see), if you want free speech go start your own blog/forum.

    I would imagine that some of my missing posts are because I’ve completely missed the point, some of them because I’m approaching them in the wrong way, and some of them because they are too far off topic.

    So to other people that complain about their posts going missing in moderation. Take a look at what you’ve written and what other people have written and try to work out what you’ve said or done that means that they’ve read what you’ve written and thought the post inappropriate, and remember they they can’t see your thought processes.

    As an example about how the way you present a point may influence how people react to it. At the convention I’m going to this weekend one of the rules is that you need to get consent before you initiate any physical contact that could be considered intimate, and they say to “remember that how you ask can be as important as the fact you ask, after all ‘can I hug you?’ comes across differently to ‘would you like me to hug you?'”

  4. Karakuri says

    I’m surprised all mine have gotten through, as I’m so eager to participate I post before I’ve thought it through enough to explain my point properly.

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