Monday, November 1, 2010

How Not To Talk To Ladies On The Internet

I know I'm late to the party talking about this (because as we all know, a week is practically an eternity on the internet), but I feel like I need to say something, because thinking about it is making my head want to explode. For my readers who were not previously aware of the awesomeness that is Kate Beaton, ya'll remember her, right? The awesome Canadian chick who draws hilarious history comics? Well, about a week ago, she posted this to Twitter.

Perfectly reasonable, right? I mean, I know I have told people I admire that I wanted to have their babies, but generally they were people I knew well. I wouldn't say it to a stranger, and if I was told I had made the other person uncomfortable, I would immediately apologize and not say it again. Because that's what people who have manners do, right? You know, listen to other people and attempt not to offend them?

Well apparently not on the internet (as if that was a surprise to absolutely anyone). Want to guess what happened next? That's right; Twitter exploded. Apparently there are a lot of guys out there who are offended by the fact that some women find their creepy comments offensive. There were cries of "I'm sure it wasn't MEANT that way!" and "I say it to everyone, men AND women!" and "Sheeh, get a sense of humor/learn to take a complement/stop being such a woman about it, why don't you?" And then... there was this guy.

Holy Not Getting It, Batman! Not only is this guy setting loose a huge herd of teal deer, he's showing us a classic example of Mansplaining. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, "Mansplaining" is when a guy tells a woman, in a condescending manner, that she is wrong, either about something she actually knows a lot about, something women experience that men don't, sexism, feminism, or even her own feelings. The Mansplainer is always right, and the poor hysterical women are always wrong and too emotional to make a rational argument. In this example, we see the Mansplainer telling Kate that she has no right to have the feelings she feels when someone implies that they want to, perhaps against her will, wed her, have sex with her, and force her to bare their children. Not only that, he tells her that she is ungrateful and even disrespectful for not graciously accepting any and all attention she gets from men.

I also love the scare quotes he puts around the word "feminism." Ooh, women wanting to be treated the same as men, how frightening! He then goes on to claim that he supports the right of a woman to do whatever she wants to do, but then oddly compares women with animals, mythological creatures, and trees. But for all his protesting, he's ignoring the central point of this, and why it is, indeed an issue of feminism. He may claim that he supports a woman's right to do what he wants, but he's here basically telling a woman that he does not support her right to speak up when she feels uncomfortable. And that's really the central point of this entire stupid argument. Kate said that something some of her fans do bothers her. Many of her fans agreed, some apologized, but a good number did what this guy did; basically claim that their right to be creepy supersedes her right to not want to be creeped out. They claim to be her fans, they claim to respect her, but if that was actually true, they'd fucking listen to what she has to say. They are not her fans.

All in all, I think this comic, by the lovely Gabby Schultz, sums it all up rather well. This is only part of the comic (it was too big to fit), so I encourage you to go to Gabby's excellent blog to read it in its entirity.

The best part about this? Gabby is a man. THIS DUDE GETS IT, WHY CAN'T THE REST OF YOU?!

Sunny out!


  1. I'm a girl. I just wanted to say that I agree that it is bad to say "omg you are so beautiful therefore you are the best ever therefore I want to marry you and have your babies". Because that is really shallow no matter who it is directed at. I also have to admit I am confused, though. Maybe I am being a bit slow, but, in the original thing, K. Beaton said that the other person said that he likes her WORK so much that he wants to marry her etc. I am admittedly very unfamiliar with her works. But unless she is a model, or something of that nature (which I don't really think she is, because you said she is a comics creator) I don't understand how that relates to her appearance. I guess, what I am confused about, is how she makes the jump from him saying something about loving her comics, to him inviting people to critique comics based on a person's appearances. Please fill me in: was there something said by the other person that was left out here?

  2. Kate explained later on that she was using the "I wanna have your babies" thing as an example of the sorts of things some of her fans have said to her. She's also gotten comments along the lines of "Hey I read your comics, then I found a picture of you, and you're totally hot, I'd totally date you, etc etc."

    And I know I have, personally, seen online discussions quickly turn into a critique of a female creator's attractiveness once someone breaks out the "I wanna marry her," line. It happened a few weeks ago when Kotaku posted a picture of Felicia Day. Someone said "She's so cool, I love her work, I'd marry her," or something similar, not even mentioning her appearance, but the very next comment was another guy saying "Yeah, she's totally hot," and it just kept going from there.