Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Why You Should Never/Always Read the Comments

I know. I know not to read the comments. Ever. But every single time I see an article talking about how great same-sex marriage will be, or the complexity of gender, or anything else that goes even slightly against all the rest of the kyriachal nonsense, I can't help but think 'maybe, just maybe, everyone's coming round and it'll all be OK...' and I can't help but read the comments, half expecting and always hoping to see a mass of well-reasoned, undickish support. And, each time, I am re-enlightened as to exactly how closed-minded, bigoted, aggressive or (if we're really lucky) all three people can be.

I recently came across this article in the Huffington Post. Although none of the few comments were violent or particularly angry*, I was just so thoroughly disappointed that, on an article about street harassment, all of the comments were on the themes of  'boys will be boys, ignore it and move on' and (worse), 'so, when can I solicit strangers for sex?' I won't go into detail, as I've already done so** but why, oh why do people think that these are appropriate or relevant responses to a woman saying she feels unsafe because of morons who feel they're entitled to her time at 1am on a dangerous road?

The failings of these commenters as potential feminists wasn't really my point. It's more the disappointment I inevitably feel when I'm reminded what the political mainstream actually looks like. It's so easy for me to forget that, in my little bubble of awesome queer feminists and, at the end of the day, that's why I can't listen when I remind myself not to read the comments. If I did, I'd forget that I need to keep going. If I didn't expose myself to anything rage-inducing, all I'd be doing would be singing songs and discussing the concepts of privilege and oppression with people who are all on my side anyway. Besides, it was only after seeing the comments thread on a particular article that I realised we still need radical feminism at all (up until then, I'd pretty much assumed any sexist remarks I heard were just unfunny jokes). So, yes, I'm making myself angry when I read the comments but, sometimes, I think that's actually a good thing.

*at the time I found the article, unfortunately not anymore
**on the comments page, no less! Thereby rendering my the point of this paragraph somewhat moot, I suppose...

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