Please, speak for yourself.

Please

As I get more and more comments on my posts, I am beginning to notice a frustrating pattern:  people disagreeing with my suggestions and stating opposing ultimatums about how the world works.

I am not frustrated by opposing opinions.  Conversation is the goal of this blog.  Talking about things is important and sharing experiences and perspectives is important, but NOT if you reject all other experiences and perspectives.  That renders discussion moot and pointless.  Even if you somehow believe that everyone else shares your perspective, assuming so is rude and risky.

I always try to use words like “majority” and “many” and “some” when I make statements about groups of people or situations, in order to acknowledge that what I am saying is not necessarily true of everybody.  The observations I make about gender and sexuality in my posts are based on discussions with people, other articles I’ve read, scholarly journals, research, my Women’s Studies classes, and my own experiences, but even then I would never presume to say that an entire group of people is the same way.

I have received so many comments from people who say things like, “I have never in all my experiences met a woman like X” or “I don’t know any man who doesn’t want X,” and therefore NO women are like X and ALL men want X.  Other comments say things like, “what that other person said about men? Yeah, that’s true,” as if their second opinion solidifies it as fact.

Everybody has a perspective on the world and believes different things about how the world works.  Everybody has their own experiences from which to draw opinions and beliefs.  Everybody is absolutely entitled to these differences of perspective, but please, please, please stop stating your experience or your understanding and using it to prove or support a blanket statement about ALL people or ALL women or ALL men or ALL lesbians.  It just doesn’t work that way.  Ever.

Nothing about gender and sexuality is absolute.  Nothing.  If you find yourself thinking in absolutes, please stop and think about what you really mean:

Have you met somebody like this?  Have you talked to many people who agree with you?  Do you personally feel this way?  Are the people you talk to being honest about their feelings?  Can you ever really understand another person’s experience?  Are you basing this statement on messages you’ve received from authority figures and media?  Does this statement just generally feel right?

None of those things constitute an ultimatum.  This is exactly how to perpetuate misunderstandings and false generalizations.  This is how our culture ends up diminishing people and situations.

If you approach my blog with a “that’s just the way the world works” attitude, you will likely leave disappointed, frustrated, or distressed, because the entire point of my blog is to question the “way the world works” and ask:

  1. Does it really work that way?
  2. Should it work that way?
  3. How can we make it NOT work that way if we don’t like it?

Comments like “but it DOES work that way!” are utterly unhelpful and out-of-place in Queer Guess Code discussions, and are not generally productive outside the blogosphere either.  Please, please DO share your experiences and your perspective, but only speak for yourself and let everybody else do the same.

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4 responses to “Please, speak for yourself.

  1. I’ve found this to be an ongoing problem too, not yet on my blog, but in blogs I follow almost daily. It’s horribly frustrating when I comment, with well, facts, and I get misinformed, unresearched, and often mean comments back. I think there are some blogs that are worse than others, too. I’ve only recently started reading yours and haven’t seen anything majorly bad, but sites like the Good Men Project and the like are filled with defensive and ruthless comments. The point is to have a conversation and to open up your mind, perhaps even sharing your own experiences or non-experiences. I look forward to continuing to read your blog and being able to engage in conversation, not confrontation. Thanks for posting!

  2. I suppose when you begin to put your thoughts out into the universe in this way that there are bound to be people who want to join in the conversation to insist that their point of view is the “right” one and/or whose participation is designed to end the discussion rather than participate in it or continue it. It is very frustrating. As a reader of your well-articulated and carefully written messages I share some of your frustration. Perhaps, though, it is the very presence of such vehement diatribes and contributions designed to end the conversation that indicate the timeliness, ingeniousness, and necessity of your ideas and thoughts. Keep ’em coming.

  3. One of my least favorite places on the internet is the comment section of any kind of posting. I become frustrated with people who make it their goal to refute everything they’ve just read. I know better than to call them out because it’s just giving attention to someone who already doesn’t care about your opinion.
    I’m glad that you state that nothing is absolute when it comes to gender and sexuality. It’s true and I wish other people would recognize that. There are exceptions to every rule.
    Keep creating discussion about gender and sexuality. The world needs it and you’re doing a great job.

  4. I totally agree with this article. Gender and sexuality are my favorite topics, because they evoke huge debates. And ‘debate’ implies that different standpoints will be delivered. It’s sad that so much ‘debates’ are turned into real battlefields, with one party cruching the other one. There’s nothing constructive about it.

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