To speak out, or not to speak out …

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Feminists, and I did not speak out—
Because I didn’t want to rock the boat or get laughed at.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

— courtesy of Martin Niemöller

The question is, when does one speak out? Or comment on a blog post? Is it just best to let it go? Why is it even important?

My last post referred to two blog posts which I considered to be sexist.

With the first one, I didn’t comment because a number of other people were disagreeing with the rampant rhetoric of the original poster. Could I have added value? Doubtful.

The second one was a different barrel of fish. This is a busier blog, with a fair amount of sycophants followers, who applaud his every word.

On a blatantly sexist post, that accused anyone who objected to it of lacking a sense of humour, most commenters reinforced the blogger’s perspective.

I have no quarrel with that. We normally gravitate towards people who reflect our own image. Why regularly read blogs we disagree with?

My dilemma was whether or not to wade in and comment. It’s not a blogger I’m on familiar terms with, although I’ve seen his level-headed and reasoned comments elsewhere. Maybe that’s why I was surprised at his post.

I decided not to comment. If he thought it was witty to poke fun at a woman’s appearance, his choice. I’d just end up sounding like a grumpy feminist.

The trouble is, others did think like me. And didn’t point out the sexism, probably for the same mish-mash of reasons.

How about this comment on my blog?

Oh yes, and I enjoyed (and agreed) with your words on Doobster’s horrible piece of late.

Because, in the end, I went back and commented. And received exactly the defensive/aggressive response I expected.

We all blog for a variety of reasons. Fun, money, publicity for whatever, to create a record, to engage. And when we touch on serious topics, we can expect criticism as well as agreement. Our blogs move out of the knitting, cooking, gardening, photography arena into the politically charged one.

Seriously, do not say ‘I believe in equal pay, equal ops and pro-choice so therefore I’m one of the good guys.’ Want a Blue Peter badge for that? Am I and the other 3.6 billion women in the world supposed to be grateful? That should be the norm.

But I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the unacknowledged sexism that is ever present in daily life. And quite simply this is what most people don’t get, or refuse to accept. It’s also a nightmare to even try and explain. We live in a patriarchal world and we live within those norms. To be more blunt, it is what we learn, or, how we are indoctrinated.

Anyone who visits religious/atheist blogs will know that neither the twain shall ever meet. In some cases, atheists who were previously Christian understand the perspective of the religious person. They can quote chapter and verse (unlike me). But, the two are never going to agree because they are coming from totally different viewpoints. Religious people, in many cases, are indoctrinated.

To look at a simpler parallel, it’s like someone telling me what being vegetarian/vegan involves. And getting it wrong. Or conversely, me telling someone who isn’t white about racism. Men telling me what constitutes sexism doesn’t cut it. But, wait, it does, because Men. Know. Best. Even about sexism.

Minority groups have a hard time. They are, by and large, ridiculed and put down. It doesn’t matter whether you are Homeless in Seattle (or rather LA in recent days) or an atheist being threatened with hell fire and regarded on a par with a rapist in terms of trustworthiness. Disagreeing with the majority viewpoint is no walk in the park.

But let me end with the final put down:

I suppose I could have just let what you wrote in your original comment go, but you made some incorrect statement in your comment and I felt compelled to respond.

Patronising? Just a little? So my opinions are incorrect? Or my view of feminism and women’s rights is trumped by some white American male? Oh yes.

So rather than taking this any further, I think we should call it a day. I’m sorry that you took exception to this post, but, as I said before, I am not a foe of feminism and there is nothing I do in my everyday life that would lead one to believe I am anything but a supporter of women’s rights.

‘Nuff said, I believe.

Sure. Silencing. Put down. Restatement of own beliefs and denial of what the minority person says.

THIS is why it is hard for people to speak out. And why I tend to write on here rather than get involved in unproductive stand offs.

But let me end with a thoughtful blog post by Maurice. A world of difference.

About roughseasinthemed

I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
This entry was posted in Atheism, blogging, christianity, feminism. Bookmark the permalink.

53 Responses to To speak out, or not to speak out …

  1. Hariod Brawn says:

    As to the sycophants [ouch!] ‘followers’, then perhaps it gets a little like tolerating your grandparents’ racism: you’re in the family; it’s cosy – not somewhere you rock the boat for fear of alienation. I’ve tried striking a middle way in such episodes, which I did on the post you refer to, though invariably the point ends up getting lost in the mind of the offending author, who wants to ignore the possibility that they’ve undermined their own (imagined) status. I think it’s about choosing your targets well, if you’re inclined to choose at all, and then being unambiguous. I need to get better at that.


    • Sorry! 😀 anyway, you aren’t sycophantic or you wouldn’t have argued about than/then. I’ve still never seen that. Maybe I read different blogs.

      That’s an excellent analysis. I once got accused of trolling because I dared to disagree with a blog person (Le Clown, interesting story if you didn’t cross there, I’ve got a post somewhere) and, yup, the rest of the family piled in on the outsider.

      I think rocking the boat is a big no-no. I’ve done it (surprise, surprise) although sometimes by email rather than a public one. I’ve also ignored a request to take a public disagreement to email too though.

      The middle way is in theory, the way to go, but as you accurately say, the comment is selectively filtered. Yours, MMJ’s, Ruth’s … I’m left wondering how many people really did find that post offensive, but tried to say so nicely?

      I think being unambiguous is good, and selectively choosing also. It depends what we all consider important.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Hariod Brawn says:

        Put ‘Le Clown’ in your search box but nada.


      • It was interesting to see his response to the polite disagreers compared to those that thought it was hilarious. It was clear that he did not think it should be an issue at all. His laugh mattered more than the points brought up by ‘sensitive’ complainers, but if he decided it was polite enough, he’d send us off with a pat on the head.

        A few weeks ago I was part of a conversation with two men and another woman about gamergate. The men had the conversation, we got talked over. They weren’t disagreeing or mansplaining, yet every time one of us tried to talk we were talked over. Their point was more important even though they agreed with us. These interactions are the ones that really grind me down and piss me off.


        • Yes, I think that’s a valid assessment. What’s interesting, is that in commenting on other blogs, I’ve seen a supportive thoughtful personality, yet that post triggered off unexpected, some critical, comments that presumably aren’t the norm. Again, while I’ve read his comments elsewhere for some time, I’ve only re entry started reading his blog.

          Don’t you know men are better gamers and know more about it? 😀 women have to fight to get respect. Men are born with it.


        • And you know what, one minute I’m up as a blog (Roughseas) to take a look at, next I’m gone. Coincidence? Of course … Men’s games …


  2. makagutu says:

    I guess half the time am guilty of feminist statements and the other half am still guilty of feminist remarks.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for speaking out! We need our voices to be heard. If we don’t speak up for ourselves, who will?

    I read Sailor Dale’s post, and I commented on it! He commented back to me, and we’ve been having a surprisingly civil debate. He doesn’t budge from the religious and inaccurate views he has about feminism, but at least he’s civil and we’re having a discussion.

    I encountered a horrible woman who commented on my blog. I believe her name is a LQ Duane? Something like that. She just ranted angrily about radical, lesbian, feminists. She was nuts!


  4. davidprosser says:

    Not all stand offs are unproductive. There are times when speaking out is so just so self satisfying, times when it’s just great to beat a bully over the head with a big stick and times when you hear other people on the same blog cough with some embarrassment and say maybe you’re right. Just moving one or two people out of the bigot’s sphere is a great gain.
    Where religion is concerned I’ve many times been attacked for my Unchristian views ( which they would be as I’m not a Christian) like the Pastor who preached to his audience that children as young as 4 should be beaten if they stood in a gay fashion. There was no chance of debate as it was all attack, attack, attack with them, but by not (for once) rising to the bait I was told afterwards by someone I had opened their eyes. I don’t suppose they gave up their beliefs but perhaps moved them to a less toxic area.I had the satisfaction of knowing he was one person down and maybe I could chip away some more.
    I know you have strong views Kate but you always manage not to let the awkward sods out there diminish you with their rhetoric. It’s a lack of that always lets those beggars think they’re right. Keep beating your drum when you can, eventually enough people will listen.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. violetwisp says:

    I love a good blog spat! I read the original post and didn’t get a chance to comment. I particularly enjoyed the quotes from the first blogger, too funny (but frightening in the real world). The Butterface one is interesting, because I think everyone has kind of mixed feelings about it. There’s the initial interest in the wordplay, which may be accompanied by a cruel laugh at the thought of someone it might refer to, followed by the realisation that it’s likely to be hurtful to many people. Not least the poor girl’s face he actually posted. I see he’s regretting posting it because of the negative feedback he’s received. But he doesn’t seem to have digested the fact that he’s spreading what is essentially playground bullying on the internet. And that’s before we even reach the underlying sexism …


    • Hey, spat, me?

      Interesting that we all dismiss the first one as just, well, silly. But, that view is out there and exists. Good on Rebeca and Ark for tackling him. So to speak.

      Yeah, the buttery one is far more meaningful. Doesn’t realise what he’s done? Still wants to defend it, doesn’t like criticism? Post it and suck it. The underlying sexism is a long way away from his grasp. Much as he supports women’s rights.

      Love to hear your take. Well, when it suits my pov of course 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. EllaDee says:

    The words courtesy of Martin Niemöller are excellent. I’ve never heard them before I will always think of them now…
    I should speak out more and even seek out the opportunity, as there are lots of voices doing so. But will they hear me, will they listen, will they care? I think likely not. Are they energy suckers, either deliberately provocative or comfortably ignorant/set in their ways? I can’t bring myself to give energy to things I abhor.
    And I have developed an instinctive flight mechanism when encountering argument.
    As you say, I tend to write mostly via my own forum. I’m selective. Most people already have an awareness around anything I have to say, and if they were going to come onboard they would have. The value I can add I think is in concurring with views with which I agree adding to the strength of their conviction and another lamp in the darkness.
    For me part of it is an ingrained reluctance to challenge someone on their turf, however misguided. I feel the same way about people coming into my home and expressing ridiculous views/behaviours. I won’t tolerate it. Sadly, that’s the extent to my speaking out.
    If you feel it’s warranted we should speak out. And when you do, you do it very well. Which probably annoys the crap out of the other person. And while that amuses me somewhat, it annoys me because it would be so much better if they stopped and truly thought about its merit. Sadly some people just enjoy the argument.


    • I did add the feminist line … I was going to use the basic quote, and I looked and decided to add a line to reflect my thinking. I’m really surprised you haven’t heard the quote though, maybe it’s more widely repeated, almost over-used, in Europe? Don’t know. It’s very much about (political) apathy and how we should speak up for weaker or victimised people.

      Who can say how much impact any of us have? If people read any of my posts and learn something about whatever topic, then I’ve achieved something. When I wrote a book review about Botticelli’s bastard and wrote about redecing the flat on the same post, someone commented that they’d learned how to treat the damp/mould in their flat 😀

      It’s nice to stay in our comfort zone, but the world isn’t always comfortable. I venture out of mine from time to time. Today I went to a religious blog and was sad and sickened to read about Christians and a non-Christian being beheaded for not denying Christ. The reaction of the Christian bloggers was how wonderful for all these murdered people to be saved by Christ (I paraphrase). That point of view is just incomprehensible to me.

      I think speaking out away from home is difficult. Which is why sometimes I’ll write it on here instead. For one reason, my ‘comment’ would invariably too long, so might as well make a post. For another, to avoid getting into a disagreement and appearing disrespectful on another’s blog, regardless of their opinions/post content. It always depends on the blog, the content, the subject, any perceived value I may add, the tone of the blog, how well I may know the blogger, the phase of the moon etc.

      Thank you. That’s subjective of course, we tend to like dissenting comments when we agree with their perspective, I see myself doing it all the time. I think the other aspect is about sticking to our knitting. I stick to topics I know something about. I leave academic arguments alone these days because I’m not writing a thesis, I’m commenting on blogs FFS, others can enjoy displaying their intellectual prowess, frequently men incidentally 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sorry, that was a bit cryptic even for me. I was on the list of Doob’s’ ‘blogs to take a look at’ and now I’m not. Does that make more sense?


  8. disperser says:

    Eh! I spoke out for 40 years. I’ve recently decided is someone else’s turn.

    Especially since things got worse rather than better (some may argue that, but they are wrong).

    Plus, I’ve come to the realization this is the way of civilizations . . . we grow, stop executing idiots, and then go in decline as we are overrun with them.


    • I’ve done it on and off. The Internet has brought about a different type of idiot though.


    • disperser says:

      The part about the internet that I really don’t like is it offers anonymity to many who would otherwise keep their messed-up views to themselves. Sometimes that is good (I remember asking one guy why a pseudonym for online and his answer was he feared his atheism might cost him his job) but often it lets the least likable parts of human nature shine through without fear of owning up to one’s behavior.


      • That’s valid. I would say it lets every idiot under the sun think they have an outlet to publish their unoriginal,views and mediocre writing and the glory goes to their head. I suppose blogs are better than Twitter.

        There are a lot of reasons for pseudonyms. Too many to go into here. Even those of us who use one can be easily identified, unless we make a real effort not to give out personal details. Like how we © photos, where we live, family details. Local shots etc.


      • disperser says:

        Most people who are jerk while online know most people will not make the effort. Some keep identities that are free from all that specifically for the purpose of trolling.

        But, it’s neither here or there. For casual internet use and interactions, I see little to no use for hiding one’s identity, but then few people follow or care about what I do and who I am. I suppose it might be different if I had some influence or importance to the world.


        • Most people who are jerks online don’t know they are jerks …

          Some people don’t want to mix professional and personal, eg the atheist comment, some don’t want family and friends to read. Others don’t want to be stalked. For starters.


        • disperser says:

          Funny that . . . I put myself out there so people can avoid me.


          • I liked the post you wrote on time thief’s and thought your blog was an interesting mix and a shining example of how to post 321 photos on one blog post …


          • disperser says:

            Ah . . . being old I’ve forgotten about that guest post. I had to go back and see who all commented on there; two current followers came from that blog post (which was not why I offered it up).

            As for photos . . . I don’t think I even went above seventy (70).


I appreciate any comments you leave, so long as they are relatively polite. And thanks for reading.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s