Monday, November 22, 2010

Sometimes YOU are wrong on the internet

So someone writes a blog on the internet on feminism, homophobia, or racism. They don't think much of it, but then discover that someone has written an article vehemently disagreeing with them. Worse yet, the other article declares that some of the sentiments in that article are actually sexist/homophobic/racist.

The original author of the article thinks a little. They know they're not any of those things, and they obviously didn't intend to say any of those things. How dare someone accuse them of being prejudiced. They get angry, and retaliate, and, seeing as this is the internet, some of their followers get a bit heated. So the wheels on the internet turn round and round.

Its pretty hard to take critisism- I know this to be true because I have difficulty doing it- but its vital. Not everything one says will be correct, and its quite easy to say something that is genuinely a bit regressive. But expressing something which reinforces sexist/homophobic/racist trends does not necessarily make one a sexist/homophobe/racist. So when someone is calling you out, its worth taking a step back, taking a breath, and wondering if they had a point. Sure, you didn't mean it that way, but once you've written something it gets fired into the wild for everyone to interpet. I'm not saying you have to apologise, but its possible you could learn. Now obviously there are rude crazy people on the internet, and you can't take everyone sensibly, but when someone makes a reasoned, non-inflammatory article calling you out, maybe theres something there.

Lots of people fail. Joss Whedon can occasionally be hailed as a feminist writer. He has written some strong female characters, for sure. But there are episodes of Firefly that are pretty sexist, and Dollhouse is uncomfortably so on several levels. He introduced a beatuiful gay relationship in Buffy, only to have it turn into a wronged lover revenge trope at the end. Race is worse-count the number of non-white characters in Buffy up til season 7 please. Or asians who turn up in Firefly. This doesn't make him an evil person, but I would argue that occasionally he has failed. Why may be for complicated reasons- with Buffy I expect partially it'll be studio pressure, but I suspect sometimes its simply unthinking.

Sometimes its YOU who is wrong on the internet.



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