Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Pedantic Sexism; Or, How I Got Into Urban Dictionary

Because of the frequency  with which I point out oppression, a lot of people would say I'm just "looking for a reason to be upset" a lot  of the time. Actually, I know I've been told so on more than one occasion- and I don't think coincidentally, at least one of those people unfriended me on FB because, gasp, I think feminism isn't about men! So here's another thing I saw that got me thinking. That would prolly make those people think I'm overthinking.

My favorite website, as stated before, is called Overthinkingit.com; I've guested twice on the podcast and written one guest article so far. And while I've toned it down recently (realizing I was just acting like a fool and somewhat creepy/stalker-ee), I read everything they post. I wouldn't call myself a friend of any of the writers in the, like, "Come to my party," sense of the word (especially since they're all in different cities, snap!), no, but I put the site and its editors/regular contributors in the same kind of category I think a lot of people put  pop culture stuff they care about into regularly. I have a (probably, to them, creepy) emotional attachment to the site- it remains the place I feel safest about adding to a conversation online because there are still, even though it has been around for a few years, very few trolls.

A while back, they started getting some, though, and, unsurprisingly, they were all MRA-types getting pissed about gender politics and sexism against women. So the editors decided to scale back on identity politics for a while, and the trolls seemed to go away.

Then  they posted this harmless (and positively delightful), entirely not gender or identity politics piece about Lawful Good characters, using Agent Cooper from Twin Peaks as the exemplary figure. I loved it. And any content-related feedback in the comments suggests everybody else does.


Except look at those comments.

Some asshat started griping at the author about citing gifs and images, saying the author wasn't "giving credit where credit is due." Listing a few links in their comment and suggesting this author is in the slimy dredges of Intrahnet Societah because "even Tumblr bloggers are capable" of citing sources (the "capable" I found exceptionally insulting and deliberate- I could do an ableist sidenote, but yeah). Another person, Commenter (my new nickname for them), responded by pointing out that the "original sources" the Asshat posted can't be verified, to which Asshat responded with a link to a video about fair use (and of course being a condescending poo-head whilst doing so). Fortunately, the response from Commenter was well-thought and poignant, basically signaling the hypocrisy, and shut Asshat up.

So here's my thing.


Does this Asshat go around and nitpick at everybody on the Internet about "citations" of gifs and images? I highly doubt it.* Even if the article they commented on happened to be the first on OTI they said anything about/on with respect to copyright, they didn't say anything on any of the other articles on the site, nor did they make  any mention of all of the other articles on the site when criticizing  this particular  author- and nearly every. single. one. has "uncited" materials. So what makes this article stand out?

The author  is a woman. 


And in case you didn't look at the page, Asshat's username? It's actually "Someguy." Someguy




I'm giving this kind  of behavior the terminology of "pedantic sexism." Because the way I see this, it's an example of a dude coming into a conversation and mansplaining at a woman because she's "doing it wrong" somehow, and that the dude in question either would have phrased it differently (i.e. less arrogantly) or even wouldn't have said anything at all, were the person "in need of correction" a fellow member of the Penis Club. It's a dude nit-picking at a woman with a subtext that she's incorrect because of her ovaries. And with a sub-sub text that she would have  been given a pass if she hadn't been born with said ovaries in the first place. And what he's nit-picking? Doesn't even merit the nit-pick in the first place. And, although not every time, it usually involves flat-out ignoring the exact same thing being nit-picked when a dude does/did it, or ignoring even worse "errors" on the part of males.

And I'm insistent on the the "pedantic" part,  because yes, it's nit-picky. I'll be having an in-person conversation with a group, and a woman in the conversation may have one factual  error in her statement, while a man had three; another man will ignore the first man  and tell the woman to check her facts, and maybe she should just sit this one out because she's obviously confused. 

Or a hypothetical. 

It'd be like if you have two college kids in a chem class, a man and  a woman, fill in blank Periodic Tables, and the prof is a man; the woman gets the  number of protons in ONE box incorrect, while the male student, say, gets some letters wrong AND messes up some of the numbers; the prof ignores the man  and says to the woman, "Now,  you see this? This isn't correct, do you realize that? No, you didn't, otherwise you would have done it right. I know high school students that could do better, you know." And that would be  the end of the conversation.

Now, in this case, I'm sure this  Someguy character is, no doubt, generally an arrogant jerk. His reaction to SeminymousCoward, the person I called "Commenter," was exceptionally arrogant and condescending. But I think the whole "citation" bullshit was started  because of the genders of the author and this "Someguy" character.


And this just sends my Irk-O-Meter through the gorram roof. It's petty and pointless. It happens to me a lot, and  I see it  happen to other women all the time. And I don't think it's exactly the same as mansplaining, but rather a particular breed of mansplaining. Because it's over something petty or trivial, or at least petty or trivial in comparison to other things that could have been pointed out. And it should be in Urban Dictionary. But I looked, and it wasn't. So I submitted an entry. And wouldn't you know it, it was accepted!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Small victories deserve big excitement
And in case you don't feel like giving Urban Dictionary traffic (or if it's blocked on  your phone, like it is on mine for some reason), here's what I came up with:
When a man critiques/criticizes a small detail of something a woman has said or done and mansplains at her about it, either "correcting" her or shaming her for being "incorrect" somehow. Importantly, the gendered nature of the interaction indicates he would not have made any comment, or would have been less rude about it, if the woman were, in fact, a man. Bonus points if there are examples of other errors, or more egregious ones, by men in the same situation at that moment (i.e. comments on a discussion forum or a group of people talking).
Anne says, "I have only the best vegetables in my basket!" Tom says, "So do I! Look at these ripe tomatoes we both have!" Roger points at Anne and says, "Anne, don't you realize tomatoes are fruits? There are tomatoes in your basket, so you can't say you have only vegetables in your basket, now can you?" Anne says, "Wow, Roger, what a great example of pedantic sexism! I love how you go after me about tomatoes, when I wasn't even the person to mention them!"

Not that I really think my getting an Urban Dictionary entry approved will, like, end the phenomena. But I firmly believe that naming something doesn't give it power and that's the end; I believe that when it comes to societal practices and discourses of marginlaization, you have to have a name for something if you want it to change.

So, there you have it. I'm famous. Via a pseudonym.

NERDFIGHTERS.


*Also, if this dude cares so much about citations and source material, why didn't they also include in their comment proper citation information for the show Twin Peaks or any of the other shows/ movies/ etc. mentioned in the article? I think they picked gifs and pictures because that's easy and involves one Google search and copy-pasting a link, not Googling then searching a page  and deciding what and what not to include in a "proper" citation of a movie, etc. 

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