Not an Odalisque

Making People Angry

Being in the middle of a blog furore is a strange feeling. The day is sunny, I have solid things to do, even if they are as uninteresting as washing the car and wondering why the chapter at the climax of my novel seems to be mostly about the smell of trains. Goings on online feel strangely unreal, but they keep drawing me back.

I criticised someone in a blog post and he’s upset about it. This isn’t the first time it’s happened to me, although it’s the first time that quite so many people have responded to the rallying cry of the distressed performer. I’ve said my piece, he’s said his, and now I’m left with soaring site traffic and a Facebook page of insults.

I’m not surprised that the performer is upset, I would be, too. If I can give an angry and defensive response to a request that I tidy away my shoes or put less chilli in next time, how much more defensive would I be about a personal performance of a piece I wrote myself? What I find interesting, in the world of the internet, is the orchestrated surge of support for your perspective, the attack on the people who disagree with you.

I’ve responded to these rallying calls myself. I’ve clicked links on Twitter to ask Facebook to delete groups promoting rape. I’ve been outraged by Unilad, I’ve left supportive messages on feminist blogposts under attack. The usefulness of a feminist response to something like Unilad is in showing that their perspective is not mainstream. A critical mass of responses tips the magazine from funny, but frowned at by a few humourless feminists, to a disgusting rag promoting violence against women, reviled by society. Now and again we bring something horrible to light and kill it. That’s a good thing.

It doesn’t happen very often. Usually, people just get locked in mutual antagonism with one another. If the internet’s glorious freedom of information and communication has a downside, it’s that there seems to be an expectation that everyone has a right to be heard, and anyone who writes something online will be willing to educate the rest of the world, one person at a time. I’m not.

Joe Black has encouraged a lot of people to read my blog and comment on it. He’s thanked them for their, “wonderfully funny and also intelligent comments,” such as, “what a cunt.” (Special shout out to Glynn Evans for that gem). On my post, I received some lovely, interesting, insightful comments. Ok, I received one lovely, interesting, insightful comment, and many less interesting ones.

I’m not willing to educate the world one person at a time. If you can’t see that Art influences culture, and that culture influences people, then you’re not going to understand my post. If you struggle to see how fiction can contain more or less insightful ways of looking at the world, you aren’t going to understand my post. If you haven’t got the basics of feminism pinned down, you aren’t going to understand my post. I realise I’ve frustrated a lot of people by not replying to their comments individually. Maybe I should put up some signposts to the basics.

In the meantime, let me acknowledge these things: Joe Black has more fans than I do. Joe Black espouses more mainstream views than I do. I am not under any illusion that I speak for the majority. If you came here to tell me you think I’m wrong, please don’t feel frustrated that I’ve closed comments, as I’ve already got your message. Feel free to share your views somewhere else; I just didn’t see any useful dialogue coming out of the comments I was receiving.

Me, I’m going to put on a miniskirt, wash the car and go to a WI meeting. You know, the sort of thing us humourless feminists get up to on a sunny afternoon.

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Written by Not an Odalisque

May 22, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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