It’s not satire when you mean it, stupid
Sexism isn’t sexy or satirical
I want to talk about when everyday sexism gets passed off as satire on the internet. But I don’t want to get chewed out about it because life’s too short.
The names have been changed to protect the innocent. The names have also been changed to protect the guilty — most likely from themselves.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. About three months ago to be exact. Mr Butt Hurt wrote a nasty piece about women on an online publishing platform called Tedium.
The article’s title was: ‘How to make it on the female dominated Tedium.’ It was about as fun to read as it sounds.
Their basic argument was that Tedium had moved to a feminist slant and subjective essays.
This made Mr Butt Hurt’s butt hurt. He liked to write futurist articles and tech journalism; which no woman has ever done since the dawn of time.
He lamented losing publications that tackled subjects like programming, blockchain and technology.
He felt that women writing about feminine subjects dominated Tedium’s in-house publications.
You know what women are like — talking about their feelings and stuff.
Tedium would be less, well, tedious if they didn’t allow ladies to write about their ladyparts. Or something like that anyway.
Whose line is it anyway?
Mr Butt Hurt was sad that he could no longer make good money from writing the things that he wanted to write.
I’m not sure how you make serious coin from blockchain articles and bad poetry but there you have it.
He claimed to be the victim of trolling and harassment by women online. You’d think from his tone that feminists were starting to stink up the place.
It’s not like women have ever done anything for the tech-bro dominated digital world, now, is it?
Not since Ada Lovelace became the world’s first computer programmer.
Not since Mary Lou Jepsen launched her One Laptop Per Child project.
Not since Grace Hopper created COBOL — but I digress.
Let’s say that the internet was a little less than kind to him in response.
He upset a lot of people and they exercised their right of reply. Both in direct comments on his piece and by writing their own articles about the subject.
He tried to pass off his article as satire and himself as a victim.
I called him out on this, and his habit of deleting or moving his offending posts, and got blocked for the privilege.
That’s pretty much my experience of the internet circa 2019 in a nutshell.
Someone says something sexist or stupid. I get angry about it. Somehow that makes me the villain. It’s irony on a base level but I like it.
This is why we can’t have nice things
Believe it or not I’m not here to beat up on other writers no matter how much I disagree with them.
I want to make a point about the way that people treat each other online.
People read your words and feel them. It isn’t satire if you mean it. And it isn’t harassment if people disagree with you.
I responded to the author’s original article and tried to engage him in debate. He blocked me. I reached out to him for comment. He ignored me.
This is why we can’t have nice things.
I read his ‘satire’ — or ‘sexist bs’ as I called it at the time — and replied to him to express my dismay.
Satire can be biting but it also needs to be informative and informed.
How d’ya like your eggs in the morning?
Mr Butt Hurt blocked me on Tedium and deleted their article. Was that flattery? Or was it all a clever part of the satire?
I’m not sure that blocking people who disagree with you is the healthiest way to deal with criticism.
At some point you have to learn how to play nice with the other children. Even if you don’t like them or think that they’re being mean to you.
I’m not a clever satirist. So what do I know?
I was angry about what they said. I was angry that they had the temerity to delete or move their articles when challenged. I was also angry at the way they acted like their fecal matter doesn’t stink.
After my response to them I was still furious. And yes some of that was because I should have done something constructive instead.
I considered posting my reply to them as a post on Tedium. All I did was sub-tweet about it.
This has stuck in my craw ever since.
At least other people had responded with intelligent articles that challenged online misogyny.
I did what I thought was right at the time — which was to call out his behaviour — but should I speak out or keep my trap shut?
You can’t put lipstick on a pig but you can make an ass of yourself
I don’t tend to comment on people’s work but I had to say something.
I’m a firm believer in free speech and that includes the right to say stupid stuff that I don’t agree with. Freedom of speech has one job.
Everyone has the right to choose how they handle criticism. But you can’t post something hateful and then block anyone who calls you out on it because you feel victimised. It’s the coward’s way out and shuts down debate.
I hate bullies. I hate cowards. I hate liars. And I hate bastards. Or you can do combinations.
It should go without saying that sexism is wrong.
Is Mr Butt Hurt a sexist or a satirist? If it waddles like a duck, swims like a duck, and looks like a duck, then it might as well be a duck.
I’ve decided to concentrate on writing rather than waste time responding to other people’s work. Aside from this piece of course.
The internet’s a trash fire. I’ll stick to my own corner from now on. Ok, that will never happen.
The moral of this story? Don’t annoy writers — they might decide to, you know, write about it.
In the interests of full disclosure here’s the reply that I made to the original post which was then deleted.
Please forgive me if it comes across as a little angry, hasty, or off-the-cuff.
The only good misogynist is there are no good ones
Here we go again, Mr Butt Hurt. You’ve created a popular Friendface group for Tedious Friends. You’ve created a successful open sister publication in Clickbait-Central.
You’ve written on Tedium for many years and, if your boasts about your earnings are to be believed, you’re a very successful writer on the platform.
I’ve a lot of respect for what you’ve achieved and appreciate the time that you’ve put in to what you’ve built. So it saddens and baffles me whenever you seem determined to dismantle it by writing sexist nonsense like this.
You frequently say that, as it’s overall theme, this publication is intended to bring people together.
You also frequently comment on people’s posts in this publication to admonish them for posting something that you don’t feel is in the spirit of the publication.
Fair enough. But please explain how insulting women is in the spirit of this publication? How does sexism bring people together?
It isn’t satire when you mean it. It isn’t satire when all you do is reiterate the hateful things you’ve said in the past.
You say that you feel victimised, singled out, and picked on by women.
I don’t know what goes on behind closed doors, or to what events you may be referring to, all I know is that you post things like this and then act butt hurt when people call you out on it.
People disagreeing with you is not harassment.
You wrote a listicle about your list of the top writers on Tedium, as defined by a scoring system that you invented (counting the number of Top Writer tags people have collected like Pokémon), and put yourself at the top of the list.
The list was 50/50 male and female but you somehow still managed to draw the conclusion that women on Tedium were a problem as they write about certain subjects.
After people complained, and even asked for their names to be taken off the list, you amended it and moved it to a different publication.
There have obviously been a lot of changes on Tedium — but they’re about business, not about gender.
There may well have been a shift away from the stuff that you like writing about such as Bitcoin, Blockchain, Tech, Futurism, and what have you. And a pivot towards subjective essays and more personal issues.
But why do you think that one is exclusively male and the other is female?
I know women who are scientists, STEM students, programmers, and one friend in particular comes to mind who builds robots for fun. She’s a total badass, drinks whisky, smokes cigars, shoots guns, and knows how to strip down and rebuild cars. She’s also a complete brainiac and math genius.
I also know plenty of men who write poetry, confessional essays, and talk about their feelings. So what? None of this is remarkable. Or bad. Or unusual.
I’m new to the Tedium Partner Program but have been on Tedium for years.
There’s an awful lot about the platform that, as a trained journalist and professional writer, I don’t like and don’t think is fair. But the presence of women writers on the platform is not one of them. Not by a long shot.
I dislike the lack of professionalism and common courtesy, the disregard and contempt shown for content and for writers, and the pettiness, in-fighting and squabbling that goes on between a lot of writers and publications on the platform. It’s amateur hour.
I also dislike a lot about the way that Tedium conducts its business and the grim reality for new writers trying to make an income on the platform.
Only 7% of writers make over $100 per month on Tedium. Those are some terrible odds right there. It purports to be a meritocracy but is clearly not.
I’m not saying that it’s a pyramid scheme — but Tedium’s scheme is, you know, definitely pyramid shaped.
Tedium used to be a great place to put your writing because your best work would make it to huge amounts of readers.
Then they favoured writing behind the paywall to the exclusion of writing that is not. Anything old or freely available to read might as well not be on the platform.
Then they favoured writing that was in the bigger publications at the expense of everything else. Again, if you’re not in one of those favoured publications — many of which are closed shops — then you’re plum out of luck.
And now the big publications are leaving and Tedium is favouring its own in-house publications.
This is what happens when digital sharecropping — if the platform you rely on to publish your content pivots away from you then your business or audience can disappear overnight.
Every writer on Tedium must decide for themselves whether they will adapt to whatever changes are foisted upon them.
But this has nothing to do with gender. It’s not some grand conspiracy. And it’s certainly not about women vs men. It’s just business asusual.