Cue the Fireworks and Exploding Brains, Please

6627903160d69678267f88bc2225dab4Good afternoon, kittens! As you may have noticed, all has been quiet at Spinsters over the last few months. That’s do to a few reasons, honestly–Mae recently moved to Nebraska with her love, Kate has been absolutely swamped in her corporate day job, and I…

Well, I’ve been really happy, y’all.

Since marrying Professor McGregor last winter, life has been a charmed existence of singing bluebirds and hazy weekends of love/pie. Well, mostly. I was also finishing, then defending my dissertation, and trying to form A Grand New Life Plan. Most blog posts would have been me rambling about how cozy yoga pants are (Why can’t I just wear them always!? Why!?) and waxing poetic about Oxford commas. No one wants to read the innermost thoughts of a lovestruck, pajama-clad, academically addled newlywed. Quite frankly, I didn’t want to write any of those thoughts either. So, I waited for something else to come along. I waited for something that made me so rabidly, bone-crunchingly angry that I either had to write about it or storm out of the house on a quest to kill and maim and destroy.

Then, of course, it happened. One can only go so long without running into a troll. This troll took the guise of a kindly grandmother from California, emailing me about my sewing blog.* In the sweetest, gentlest of ways, she informed me that I was doing myself a disservice by wearing floral dresses and posing cutely for my blog. A woman with a Ph.D. needed to stop discrediting herself with all this “twee” nonsense, grow up, and start wearing pants. The feminists of the seventies did not fight for equality of industry, so that I could wear flowers, infantilize myself, and pose with pointed toes. Perhaps I didn’t understand feminism, she intimated, because surely I was doing it wrong.

So…that happened. Once I’d scraped all the brain goop off my walls, I was properly enraged. I showed the email to Professor McGregor, complete with wild gesticulations and loud scoffs of disbelief. I called Mae, read it aloud to her, and ranted for an hour about demonizing the feminine. That conversation then devolved into mutual complaints about how fucking far away Nebraska is, because AARGH BEST FRIENDS SHOULD NEVER MOVE AWAY. ALSO, FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT WAS KIND OF A PHILANDERING ASSHOLE AND WHY DO ONLY MEN HOST LATE NIGHT TV SHOWS AND I AM SO TIRED OF BABY PICTURES. MAKE THE WORLD STOP BEING AWFUL!

If you’ve been timing how long I could go on being pleasant, without flights of righteous indignation or virtual stomping about, press the stop button now. Six months is my official limit. While I am incandescently happy with Professor McGregor and the home we’ve made, my patience with society is sapped. Hello, my name is Grace. I’m a comically angry blogger and I’ve missed you. Would you like to hear my feelings on gender reveal parties and professional football? Stay tuned.  

*Explanation for the uninitiated: In the non-anonymous world, I also write a sewing blog, on which I post the aforementioned floral dresses and periodically rant about fashion. It’s neat.

The Cult of Side Eye: Fame and Blogging

4ed52b7429991528e46b0e4881512045This morning was a waste. Instead of curing male pattern blandness or writing the Next Great American Cocker Spaniel Novel, I hunted virtual big game. There were villains, unleashing side eye on the innocent, and they must be stopped!

You see, this isn’t my only home on the internet. Away from our wonderful world of sarcastic ranting, I run a small, personal sewing blog. It’s not exactly revolutionary stuff – pretty dresses, witty commentary, and sewing pattern reviews – but I love doing it. Unlike other parts of the internet, the sewing community is almost universally supportive, which provides a lovely mental respite. In the four years I’ve been writing it, there’s been nary a death threat nor a hateful body snark in the comment section. Meanwhile, my first big post for Spinsters earned both, in less than two days.

Unfortunately, checking my stats this morning was a wake-up call. A handful of people found my little slice of paradise, thanks to a site called Get Off My Internets. Despite an hour of perusing threads, I couldn’t find the link itself, but instead discovered an entire side of blogging previously unexplored. This is a site, complete with its own blog and forum, dedicated to making fun of other bloggers. There are threads for all the most popular blogs around, in which people discuss, tear down, and debate every aspect of those bloggers’ posts. From what I could glean, before running away screaming, a lot of that involves speculation about these bloggers’ personal lives. It’s a supremely meta, worldwide burn book. 

It’s, also, fucking terrifying.

First off, blog hate is understandable. The first rule of writing is that universal adoration is a pipe dream. People will find you annoying for all sorts of reasons, no matter how inoffensive your work seems. That’s just fine. I’m a believer in feeling your feelings, as Kate and Mae can tell you. (They’ve had to listen to this motto a thousand times, at least.) If your feelings say that I’m a man-hating socialist, that’s cool. Personally, I think have some redeeming qualities, but you can’t win ’em all. What scared me about this site wasn’t the hate itself, but the in-depth research and dissection happening in its forums.

There were threads debating whether someone had gained weight, because she was pregnant, or just because she’d eaten too many of her picture-perfect cupcakes. People discussed the financial details of bloggers, down to how much their husbands made at their jobs, and the imprudent travel habits of one D-I-Yer. The attacks were personal, detailed, and sounded like the most salacious tabloid headlines. Only…they weren’t attacking celebrities. They were attacking normal people, who happen to blog.

Is there no longer a line between blogger and celebrity? There’s no denying that the internet is a public forum, of course. We write with the knowledge, often with the hope, that other people will come along and read our work. And yet, most of us don’t blog out of a desire for fame. The statistics are just too dismal. There are millions upon millions of blogs, filling every niche from snarky twenty-something feminism to anthropomorphic basket-weaving. The number of bloggers who have earned traditional fame–TV show, movie contract, book deal sort of fame–is scant in comparison.

We started Spinsters out of a desire for community. Kate, Mae, and I would meet for dinner and rehash all of the ridiculous things that we’d experienced that week, from workplace sexism to dating disasters. Our stories were normally funny, but also touched on what being a modern, single, twenty-something meant. We decided to blog, out of a suspicion that those experiences were common to other women like us and should be shared. Since then, our lives have changed quite a bit–from promotions, to big moves, to marriages–but we still blog for the same reason. We believe that speaking out, that sharing our rants, reminds other young women that they’re not alone. Plus, it’s really fun to wax poetic about beards every now and again.

Who’s to say that other bloggers, who may now be popular through their efforts, didn’t also begin out of a sense of community? Surely, it’s one thing to dissect people who put their lives out there for actual media consumption, for traditional fame, and another entirely to denigrate normal people who are sharing things on the internet. In this modern age, when so much of what we everyone does is on the web, that harsh spotlight could fall on so many perfectly innocent people.

There is a reason we blog anonymously. Originally, I thought it was to protect us from the censure of friends and family, but maybe the world at large is more the threat. If one lifestyle blogger is open to weight comments and financial dissection from a community of haters, why couldn’t three funny harpies be next? The internet is a fish bowl. I suppose it makes sense that, somewhere out there, piranhas are lurking. We have been warned.

– Grace

Coincidentally, my dad just sent me this video of celebrities reading mean tweets about themselves on Jimmy Kimmel. It seems remarkably apropos, no?

These Two Things Are Not The Same….

I was speaking to a male blogging friend recently about some of the worst comments he has ever received (because bloggers share comments like soldiers share battle wounds) and something really struck me. Lets see what you think…

His 5 Worst Comments

  1. I hope you die
  2. Your grammar is incorrect
  3. You’re not as smart as you think you are
  4. You’re an asshole
  5. You should do more research

My 5 Worst Comments (Warning – graphic)

  1. I hope you get raped
  2. I’m going to find you and dick slap you
  3. I can’t wait to beat your cunt
  4. If you get raped, know you deserved it
  5. I’m going to shove my big dick up your ass until you bleed

So…those are not the same. All awful, but not exactly equal. What really struck me, is that my friend blogs about what might be considered controversial topics and I…well…I don’t. (At least not on the blog where I received these comments) I blog about happy things and things that make me laugh.  So, why are my worst comments so much more violent than his?

I have a pretty good theory as to why – it’s because I have a vagina.

BUT – before I add another thing to my sexism list, I thought a larger sample was in order. So, male bloggers – have you ever received violent comments? Feel free to be as vague as possible (aka, just say “yes”) as I know this can be very painful and difficult to rehash. I’m just interested to know if my friend is just super lucky in the comment troll department, or if there is something bigger at play here.

Let me know your thoughts! (And ladies, if you would like to, feel free to share as well)

– Mae

Don’t Be An Asshole

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Here is a rule that I think everyone should abide by all the time: “Don’t be an asshole”.

Simple, no? And yet it seems like every person with an internet connection and the comfort of anonymity feels like they have a right to be an asshole and they make good use of that right by commenting on well-meaning blogs everywhere and BEING AN ASSHOLE.

You disagree with something a blogger has written? So be it. That’s totally cool and hell, I welcome it, but there should be just a shred of human decency in your response. (Unless you’re just a spam bot, in which case, sorry to point out that you’re incapable of human emotion). As bloggers, we don’t expect to be agreed with all the time, we write because we have something to say, and it’s ok if you don’t agree and have something to say yourself in response to what we said (you follow?), it’s why we have comments enabled on our blog, to allow discussion.

I like discussion. What I don’t like and what I absolutely won’t tolerate is someone acting like an asshole in response to something a blogger has written. First of all, you don’t know them. You can’t ever be clear on what motivates them or what circumstances have driven them to post what they post. Second of all, you don’t have to read their blog. Ever. YOU DON’T HAVE TO READ IT. No one is forcing you. If you see something you don’t like, move along. IT’S SO SIMPLE. And thirdly, WHAT ARE YOU HOPING TO ACCOMPLISH BY BEING AN ASSHOLE???

Maybe you were hoping to get a reaction. Congratulations! Mission accomplished! This is my reaction to you being an asshole. It can be summed up by saying DON’T BE AN ASSHOLE.

Let’s be kind to one another. Please.

– Mae