Monday, December 08, 2008

December 8th, 2008.

You should all know by now that I've left my writing job at Blog@Newsarama.  Not much behind it, really.  JK Parkin was leaving and I didn't feel like explaining to a new editor that holding me to a deadline or a predictable posting schedule was a threat to national security.  I took the opportunity to bow out gracefully and start pruning away the other responsibilities that are making me an overwhelmed/overworked/overstressed lump of misery.

I do admit to missing the massive soapbox and the ability to brag about being paid to write.

The new blog posts too much to really keep up with, so I didn't really pay attention to it even when I got an email linking this post as indicative of Blog@'s new direction. Then I got another email linking the same post, so I figured it might be worth looking over.

I had the strangest reaction, too.  It wasn't anger or disgust. See, it was posted on Friday, which was theoretically when my own feature was posted.  It was posted in a rambling stream-of-consciousness manner.  Every sentence in the first paragraph started with "and" or "so."  I admit it's conceited of me to think they might try to replace based on my writing style rather than my role, but that's almost certainly what it looked like.  And the substance of the post screamed the opposite of any word I had ever posted on that entire website.  To hell with humility and perspective, the only two words in my mind at this point were "Bizarro Ragnell."

So at the same time my feminist heart fell to the floor with the impact of what I'd been replaced with, my ego swelled to four times its natural size.  But alas, I have a brain and it does have some sense of perspective.  This was just a fucking weird coincidence.

My ego deflated to a healthy size again, I picked my heart from the floor and placed it back on the bookshelf next to Jim Butcher's Blood Rites where it belongs.  (I keep my rage tucked between the covers of Chronicles of the Lensmen if anyone's curious.  Gives it a good charge.)  I then sat down, expressed the acceptable amount of human sympathy for the poor saps who are now stuck with the Blog@Newsarama audience and outlined just what was wrong with that particular post.  I refrained from asking Mr. Brownfield if he'd ever read my column while I was at the blog.  I've always had a sneaking suspicion no one did, and this is no time for that sort of idea to be confirmed.  I just told myself I was done with preaching to Newsarama after that comment and went back to the daunting task of organizing and reviving my crumbling life so I could get back to writing something someone might actually read.  Then the author of the article responded:
Thanks guys for the feedback. I appreciate the words and that anyone even takes the time out to read anything I write. Thank you. As for the not respecting women statement, I have nothing but the utmost respect for women. A gay friend of mine read this same article and mentioned that the same statement could relate to him as easily as it could a women. And the lesbian statement came from Terry Moore writing Strangers In Paradise ( a wonderful book that I highly recommend to anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of reading it) in which, hey, there were lesbian assassins as well as a whole world of crazy crazy goodness.

And yes, I do tend to put my foot in my mouth more often than not but the comparison to porn was only just that, a thought or idea meant to convey an image in the mind of the reader. Not at attempt to downgrade women.

My mom, my sister, my nieces and my aunts all read my blogs, and works, and the majority of my friends, as well as readership (not to mention the main, Calie Liddle, character of the Wonderland series that I write) are female as well and while something’s I might say might seem uncoth or less that civilized, I’d rather it be me coming out rather than everything else you see on the internet that goes through this strange policitical filter of not wanting to write something that everyone will not find offensive.
For those of us who can't sigh over the internet when I see something like this, there's Twitter.

There's also painstaking replies that barely scratch the surface of the column but are still long enough to be put in moderation forever:
Raven -- Okay, I've got nothing against you, man, and I can tell you mean very well but there's two really wrong things with that comment. I don't really have the time/energy to get into the details right now but you did two very big groan-worthy things in that second-to-the-last paragraph.

The "Some of my best friends are women and they aren't offended" thing is incredibly problematic for a few dozen reasons, but the biggest one is this: I don't know these friends and family of yours, I just know what I read in your article. I can only judge based on my knowledge and experience. So can the rest of the commenters here and many of us were given a poor impression by your post and the accompanying imagery.

The other issue is saying that people who carefully watch what they say are just politically-motivated and not merely thoughtful people. I don't know of a nice way to put this, so here it is: That's pretty much dodging responsibility for thinking. Look, writing is communication. What you communicated was that women aren't worth the time it takes to phrase and frame your piece--a piece that seems designed to try and SELL a product--in a manner that at least won't actively offend them.

Maybe to you that's a bogus "political filter" but all writing is political. LIFE is political because human beings are insanely social creatures. We have a billion little tiny rules that we observe in our interactions with each other. There's a reason for that. Because our lives depend on the support of other humans, we've developed a system of rules based on gaining and keeping that support, as well as fettering out who can be trusted to give that support and who that support is worth giving to. What rules are followed and what rules are discarded TELL us what other people consider a priority, and what might be result if we invest our time our efforts or our money in this person. This piece on a professional blog written by a man in a professional capacity is like a neon sign flashing "This guy's product will not appeal to you!"

Example of that political filter? My first impulse was to write "This guy will spend your money on strippers!" but I didn't want to risk earning your emnity for the sake of a cheap laugh when I'm trying to convince you of my point of view.

But there's a more serious, more disturbing implication in that paragraph. And I'm going to qualify it by saying I don't have anything against you personally, and I don't dislike your comics but I'm going to bring it up. It's worth the risk of your emnity so that I can get you to think it over: You seem to be saying you dropped those early thoughts and wrote this because it was a truer representation of your personality than a more measured piece. Well, if people react badly to your true personality after you've dropped the filter, can you really defend yourself by blaming the filter that keeps people from seeing that?

Even pared down I still wrote way more than I'm comfortable in someone else's column, but I still probably just miss the soapbox. On the bright side, I'm writing again.


  1. On the bright side, I'm writing again.

    Glad to see it.

  2. You were nicer about it than I could have managed. Man, the only person I'm checking Blog@ for now is Caleb and I was already a fan of his Every Day Is Like Wednesday...

  3. See, Ragnell, all you needed was a little outrage, and you are writing again! Huzzah!

    Frankly, you were stunningly polite, all things considered. You also know how to spell, and how to coherently frame a sentence.

    And yes, I'll only be reading Newsarama for Caleb's articles.