Sunday, November 5, 2017

Should We Call Out Other Bloggers?

Many months ago, a personal finance blogger wrote a post that included a caricature of a woman that I found to be sexist, racist, classist, and ableist*.  Being a good Canadian, I usually have nothing but sweet and polite things to say on people's blogs; however, I was so offended by the post that I couldn't not say something about it.  So as politely and constructively as possible, I expressed my thoughts on the post.

It didn't go well.  I got the distinct impression that the blogger took zero time to reflect on what I said before attacking me and calling me a racist, because I had assumed the racial background of the person based on the caricature.  This was followed immediately by many other people commenting on how I was too "politically correct" and should just "shut my pie hole".  It was actually a really upsetting experience for me, because I really like when people like me, and I hadn't intended my comment to be an attack.  And it also seemed to have accomplished nothing.

And yet, I would do it again.  Because I think we as bloggers have a responsibility to not post sexist/racist/classist/ableist/misogynistic/xenophobic/homophobic/transphobic shit on our blogs.  This particular blogger has a big audience and therefore the ability to influence the thoughts and beliefs of a lot of people, and I think that influence shouldn't be used to reinforce outdated and damaging stereotypes.

I was reminded of this event today, when I came across a statement that I found offensive while reading an otherwise really good blog post.  The post was talking about someone who was saving money by getting her boyfriend to do repairs around the house, and the writer stated:  "I’m guessing she is paying for it in some way..."

Maybe I'm overreacting?  But I kind of hate the implication that a woman trades her sexuality for home repairs.

So I called the blogger out on it.  The blogger accepted my comment, but hasn't responded, so I'm interested to see how this plays out.  Hopefully the blogger will know that my comment was only meant to provoke some self reflection, not to diminish or attack what was otherwise a really good post.

How about you?  How do you respond when you read something you find offensive on a blog?

*I'm not going to link to any particular bloggers in this post, because this isn't about publicly criticizing/shaming any particular person, but rather reflecting on what our role is as readers and bloggers.  Also, I don't need any pissed off bloggers labeling me a "Nasty woman" and trolling my blog.


  1. Not just on blogs, but I try to speak up whenever I can. Sometimes it's not worth it - if I make a comment of my disagreement with the position, I often don't have the time or energy to go into great depth, and I don't expect that everybody who disagrees with me has to do that labor to educate me, either. I'm grateful for when people call me out because they are helping me see either how I'm misstating something that I don't really mean, or how my biases need to be faced.

    At the same time, there are some things that I will just reject. Somebody once posted on my blog about how my struggles with my challenging dog were a result of my weakness as a human and all sorts of stupid shit. That doesn't deserve a response. Delete.

  2. Once I posted a comment on a Facebook post by one of my very favorite writers. He had used the word "less" instead of "fewer" and I just said - hey, what do you think of using fewer? That seems to flow with your writing and I'm so fond of that word. GOOD GOD you would have thought I'd attacked him viciously. People turned on me so angrily and were just mean. I don't care if people like me (being an Alaskan and not a Canadian), but some of those responses were way out of control.

    1. From what I know of your online persona, it doesn't surprise me that you would call people out on things. Which is great! But yes, some of them are ridiculous enough that you just have to ignore them. I'm starting to learn that the hard way after a lot of wasted energy arguing with lost causes.

    2. One time I met a woman at a botany event in California and she seemed really nice and invited me to join her and friends on a yacht ride. About an hour in, people started bitching about Spanish speakers in California. The absurdity of this, based upon historical factors and demographics, struck me and of course I spoke up. I was a teacher of Spanish-speaking students and was not ok with a bunch of white people speaking ill of my charges and their families.

      It got rancorous. And I realized I was on a boat in ocean with people I don't know and I hadn't told anybody where I was going. I locked myself in the head and waited to return to land. NOt that I really thought that I was in actual danger, but I definitely wasn't going to shut up, and "accidents" happen.

      Did that make me stop speaking up? Of course not. It did make me avoid being in groups of all-white people, though. Many of my favorite people are white and many are great, and many others are not, and in a group where everyone has white skin it's too easy for casual racism to be expressed and that's exhausting. I do remind myself: not as exhausting as if I weren't white, though, and so I power on.

      There are other ways to approach this that are at least as valid as my way. I don't suggest everyone become confrontational. But I do suggest that we find our ways to stand up and resist what is wrong. Otherwise we'll get a hateful demagogue as our president and ... oh wait, too late.

  3. He has every write to post the cartoon and you have every right to criticize him; that's the beauty of the West. He doesn't have to take it down because it offends you... and you don't have to go to his site again.

    1. It's true that he has the right to post the cartoon...but I still think he shouldn't! I think the world would be a much better place if we all made a greater effort to stop being assholes.

    2. Yes! It would be a much better place indeed.

  4. Answer: Sometimes it can be worth it.
    Reality: Letting it go is often easier and if you can do that, you may have a less angst filled life.