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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
Oh for crying out loud, y'all. 
5th-Oct-2009 03:57 pm
Boondock/can't believe
So there is apparently a brouhaha going on of Feminist Response to this XKCD strip:



Read posts here and here, the latter featuring the offended "The punchline of the strip is — haha! — the chick wanted it all along! She’s aching for some sweet sweet cock! If only men hadn’t been so paralyzed by feminist talk about rape culture and personal respect, she’d get hit on by more men, which is exactly what she wants on the train!"

And I am like "Um. What?"

Do you guys see stuff to get worked up about in this strip? Because I totally don't. And I'm moved to post this not just because I'm not offended, but because these blogs, which I ordinarily like, so do not speak for me!

I'm shy, when it comes to initiating conversations with strangers when I don't have a social buffer. This includes cute geeky strangers o trains. I actually would like it if someone someone said "Cute netbook!" at me. (Also because this would mean I'd have a netbook. I'd like that.) I love meeting people. I love talking to new people. Even if it's just the length of a train ride. I like it when people comment on my Schrodinger's Cat shirt or my knitting.

I certainly wouldn't view it as harassment. o.O

That second post also cites Jonathan Coulton's "Skullcrusher Mountain" as "...my favorite Nice Guy TM lament of all time, as well as the perfect cap to a post about geeks and rape and entitlement: Jonathan Coulton’s great song, “Skullcrusher Mountain,” about a mad scientist “in love.”"

What?

Skullcrusher Mountain? What?

Um. The whole mad scientist thing? The point is he's crazy, okay? And that his creepiness is explicitly not a good thing. The poster seems to be missing the point completely.

Also Shakesville today was all up in SNL's face over Saturday's episode for including a Polanski reference, among other things, and I'm like "we can't even say his name now?" The particular thing was a quick shot at the tail end of a Game Show Network skit, saying "Next up: Celebrity Press Your Luck with Roman Polanski!", which actually got a laugh out of me and Adam. Because it's slamming him, not supporting him.

Why can't the blogosphere tell the difference? Is Mercury back in retrograde or something?

Anyway. I'm looking at this whole "speaking to people on the train = harassment" and "Skullcrusher Mountain = rapey" and "slamming rape culture on a comedy show = bad" and I am thinking "Y'all need to chill out, seriously."

If you see me on the train tonight, feel free to say hi.
Comments 
(Deleted comment)
5th-Oct-2009 08:20 pm (UTC)
But if you interpret all the squares up to the last one as being in the man's head, the joke becomes a lot funnier.

I find it really clear that that's what's intended. I can't imagine reading it the other way around. o.O

Edited at 2009-10-05 08:20 pm (UTC)
5th-Oct-2009 08:19 pm (UTC)
Hi.

I actually agree with the questioning of the XKCD strip. I (and lots of those critiquing it) aren't saying it is a piece of evil, but it IS playing into the whole "Women never talk to you but send secret clues you are supposed to interpret" thing.

Yes, he wrote it from his position of "we all suck at communication" but as a white male geek he phrased it in a way that reflects his privilege and that's interesting.

(Especially since there are so many easy ways to tweak it just slightly and not have that problem.)

And, as you know, the "You are cute, I have every right to go and talk to you even if you have given me no sign you want to talk to me because you are working at your netbook" is one of the behaviours that pisses legions of people off.

I'm not surprised it provoked the reactions it did. (Although some of the more "He's glorifying harassment" are a bit tone deaf.)

Didn't see the SNL, but then lots of people are against any joke referencing rape or even using the word "rape" to mean anything other than the sexual assault - such as a generally bad or unpleasant thing.

Personally, I think that sounded funny, but a lot of comedy depends on context.
5th-Oct-2009 08:24 pm (UTC)
it IS playing into the whole "Women never talk to you but send secret clues you are supposed to interpret" thing.

I don't scan it as a secret-clue thing...

And, as you know, the "You are cute, I have every right to go and talk to you even if you have given me no sign you want to talk to me because you are working at your netbook" is one of the behaviours that pisses legions of people off.

I guess. But "cute netbook" in itself scans to me as just a compliment. Extrapolating this into a longer thing, if she'd shot him a Look or ignored him or said "thanks" but not acknowledged him further and he kept trying to force a conversation? That'd be crappy. But just "cute netbook" by itself doesn't strike me as too intrusive.

lots of people are against any joke referencing rape or even using the word "rape" to mean anything other than the sexual assault - such as a generally bad or unpleasant thing.

Yeah, me included on the latter! This didn't scan as problematic to me, though.
(Deleted comment)
5th-Oct-2009 08:23 pm (UTC)
Oh, I do agree interpreting Skullcrusher Mountain as advocating that kind of attitude is a bit weird.
5th-Oct-2009 08:24 pm (UTC)
Seriously!
(Deleted comment)
5th-Oct-2009 08:24 pm (UTC)
Oy. I wish these people would get the hell off my side. They're making the rest of us look batshit.
5th-Oct-2009 08:25 pm (UTC)
I know, right?
5th-Oct-2009 08:25 pm (UTC)
I actually would like it if someone someone said "Cute netbook!" at me. (Also because this would mean I'd have a netbook. I'd like that.) I love meeting people. I love talking to new people. Even if it's just the length of a train ride. I like it when people comment on my Schrodinger's Cat shirt or my knitting.

I certainly wouldn't view it as harassment. o.O


You are not everyone.

You know that.

I can also completely work that scenario to make you think of it as harassment without any difficulty whatsoever.
5th-Oct-2009 08:29 pm (UTC)
Example me! :)
(Deleted comment)
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5th-Oct-2009 08:26 pm (UTC)
I only cringed when I read it because I predicted other Nice Guys I know going "SEE SEE THIS IS WHY WOMEN ARE SO CRAZY." But that's just me. :/
5th-Oct-2009 08:35 pm (UTC)
Bingo!
(Deleted comment)
5th-Oct-2009 08:28 pm (UTC)
Wow. I just thought this was a portrayal of how some people are afraid to strike up conversation for fear of being shot down and horribly embarrassed, etc, when ironically that other person might also be afraid to say hi, and sitting there hoping you'll take the initiative to do so, and both people are just... not saying anything... and missing out on a chance to meet one another...

People really read a LOT into that strip, I think...
5th-Oct-2009 08:30 pm (UTC)
Especially considering that he's offered this shirt for years.
5th-Oct-2009 08:29 pm (UTC)
O_o

So a guy imagining a girl shooting him down = her wanting "it"?
5th-Oct-2009 08:31 pm (UTC)
I do not get it either.
(Deleted comment)
5th-Oct-2009 08:32 pm (UTC)
When I originally saw the strip, I found it not funny but sad, as it was an illustration of self-defeating behavior... well, for both of them.

Generally, yes. People need to lighten the hell up.
5th-Oct-2009 08:35 pm (UTC) - Personally
I agree with you one hundred percent.

I looked at the strip twice because I didn't notice the whole "day dream scenario" thing when I first saw it. (when it was originally posted).

But yeah, the commentary is way off.
5th-Oct-2009 08:37 pm (UTC)
I've said to friends before that sometimes xkcd vibes very strange and/or creepy with respect to male-female relationships. Here's an example:

http://xkcd.com/420/

Of course, I don't need someone to come out and tell me, oh, hey, being a dick about someone not choosing you for a relationship is bad. The comic doesn't have to be didactic.

But here's my point: why even do a comic like that in the first place? It just feels all kinds of awful. Maybe that's the point, I dunno. But at a certain point, doesn't the "geek who can't communicate his or her feelings in a socially-acceptabe way" meme become a self-fulfilling prophecy? I don't see xkcd helping in this regard. Rather, the comic seems to celebrate this trope. Repeatedly, with no gloss.

Your mileage may vary, of course. But it's one of the many reasons I can't really get "into" xkcd. Sometimes I just wish he'd stick to computer science jokes I don't understand.
5th-Oct-2009 08:39 pm (UTC)
He's a shy nerd who has occasional Nice Guy tendencies and buys into the whole "I'm too shy and women are mysterious" thing.

He's also aware of that and often writes stuff that shows he is aware and struggling. But at heart he still does believe that and so has some weirdness sometimes where his heart is in the right place but he is unaware of his biases.

Not uncommon. He doesn't need to be villified, but pointing it out is perfectly fair.
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
5th-Oct-2009 08:46 pm (UTC)
Wow, I had missed this. It seems so obviously two shy geeks being socially-anxious to me. They're being socially-anxious in gendered ways, sure, but -- well, people do that.

I am a bit boggled that it can be read as "women are all mysterious and don't give cues" because they are both being mysterious to each other...

People confuse me.
5th-Oct-2009 08:51 pm (UTC)
He's been selling this shirt for years, and a lot of XKCD has to do with social anxiety, so that's what I scanned it as, too.
5th-Oct-2009 08:47 pm (UTC)
I didn't read the post that references Skullcrusher, but I did agree with most of the analysis in this post by a friend. there was also a feministing post that talked about how netbooks are "cute" because they're seen as girly and not "real tech".

http://dimethirwen.livejournal.com/693101.html

I *don't* want people trying to pick me up on the train. That is not what I am there for. It's not a bar. I'm just going about my daily business, and while not as rude, chatting me up on the train feels like it's on the same continuum as catcalling---I'm going about my business, most likely deep in thought, and then WHAM! someone reminds me that I'm a sexual object. And then, often the guy goes straight to calling me a bitch when I convey my lack of interest.

I don't think we need to bring out the feminist pitchfork mob here, but I do think the XKCD strip does display a certain amount of male entitlement to chatting up women just because they're in public unescorted by a man.
5th-Oct-2009 08:54 pm (UTC)
Whereas I don't so much see it as a pickup attempt. Pickup attempts are shkeevy, yes, but I've had perfectly nice conversations on the train, in the street, in the bookstore, that aren't shkeevy, just friendly and complimentary. I've had them when escorted by a man, too. I have One Of Those Faces, I have been told.
(Deleted comment)
5th-Oct-2009 08:57 pm (UTC) - Re: My take
Subtext, even if she's not interested or not showing any interest, try anyway.

I scan the subtext as "at least say hi". I feel like it's getting scanned as something with more sexual overtones.
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(Deleted comment)
5th-Oct-2009 08:58 pm (UTC)
Agreed on all points. But to answer your thesis question, I offer you the following from my quotes file:

"Sometimes I think the "blogosphere" functions as a machine for reassuring righties that all left types are as crazy as the ditziest college lesbo-vegan, and reassuring lefties that all right-wingers are barely suppressed maniacs who live on ammunition and raw meat."
--Patrick Nielsen Hayden (pnh)

5th-Oct-2009 09:00 pm (UTC)
Well, they don't call it an echo-chamber for nothing.
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