Monday, June 3, 2013

My final thoughts on glittergate


A follow up of this post and this one.

The purpose of this post isn't to continue the "blog war." Instead, the purpose is to try to clarify my thoughts because my whole point in starting this dialogue was to say, "you need to consider the implications of your words." So I think it is only fair that I do that too. 

I have a lot of respect for Kristen and her blog. I've quoted it many times in my own blog because I liked it so much. So I take ownership of the fact that if she couldn't see my point at all, maybe it is because I wasn't making it clearly enough. Or I wasn't making it respectfully enough. So I will try again.

Anytime you write or say something, you have two messages: an explicit one (the literal statements) and an implicit one (the implications of the literal statements). My point was, those two weren't matching up. The explicit message was that modesty culture/shame aren't cool. Unfortunately, the implicit message was one of shame, and that shame was directed toward women who wear certain clothes and who take certain actions.

The reason the spreadsheet was unfair and overly simplistic is it took our perceptions of the implicit messages from the glitter boob post and put them head to head with the explicit messages of the post. We already said that the explicit message was "shame/modesty culture are bad." We aren't disputing what it said. What we are disputing is what it implied (through words like, hypocrite, liar, etc.). What the glitter boob post showed us was an objectified, caricature of a woman who was shamed for what could be interpreted as standing up for herself while wearing certain clothes. The author of the post believed the woman was shaming the men. However, I'd argue that she could only make that case by stripping the woman of all decent emotions, and any ounce of self awareness and thoughtfulness. The more problematic issue was that she then used that woman as a representation of all women in that position (and the position itself could be interpreted as both a threatened/scared position or a cruel one, depending on who you thought had the power. Again, this is debatable and I feel was not left to the girl to decide, but to the author of the post, which is troubling). I believe this is unfair and harmful.

The reason I think the accusation of "word twisting" was unfair is because word twisting implies maliciousness. What Sarah and I were doing was explaining our perception of the blog. The bottom line is, writers imply; readers infer/perceive. Sharideth is responsible for what she implies. Sarah and I are responsible for our perception. I have yet to understand how or why our perception could be malicious unless we just hated Kristen and Sharideth and wanted to be mean to them, but that is totally not the case. What we wanted to do was demonstrate how her words could be shaming and harmful. But clearly, that message never got through.

During our continued conversations in blog comments and on twitter, I feel like Kristen invalidated people's feelings and perceptions (specifically, Sarah's as I felt like Kristen matched my actions pretty evenly/fairly in our debate; though I still maintain that she never addressed the points I brought up). I think Sarah found that invalidation of her feelings/perceptions triggering (which I understand, because it is common in abusive situations for an abuser to invalidate your feelings about and perceptions of the abuse; I'm NOT saying that Kristen was abusive, just explaining how that behavior is triggering). Instead of respecting that, Kristen mocked it, which was pretty upsetting for me. I also understand how she probably felt pretty frustrated by everything, based on her perception of what was happening. I don't think she is a mean person, at all. I do think this discussion got out of hand. It was pretty frustrating because what was happening between her and Sarah was sort of our entire point (please respect boundaries and emotions). Obviously we weren't getting that message across but were somehow making things worse. 

The bottom line (for me) is that I could have been much more respectful in the way I presented my case. I think because my concerns were treated as invalid, malicious, and essentially reading comprehension issues, (which I thought was unfair) it escalated quickly. I still could have done better though, so I apologize. I've also learned how off-putting it can be to read a blog written from a place of unprocessed anger, so sorry to my readers who have felt that from me.

I still hope that Kristen will consider my perspective (which I think is shared by many others). And I hope that she will see that while the original intent of the glitter boob blog post (as I perceive it: you can't fight shame with shame) was noble. The way it was executed (through more shame, and objectification/oversimplification), was not effective. I also hope she'll consider how those words seem to invalidate women's emotions and boundaries. I think the intended message could have been conveyed without doing those things. I think Sharideth is a humorous and fun writer and the feedback could help her to be really effective in the future. But if I can't get that across respectfully and clearly, then it doesn't really matter.

Kristen and Sharideth, I'm sorry for not being more respectful or clear in our discussions. I'd like to find a place of common ground and understanding. Although I understand if you don't and have moved on.

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