Friday, May 6, 2011

Tall Poppy syndrome is alive and well in the blogosphere

There is feminism, and then there is Feminism.
There is first wave, second wave, a token wave to, and ‘the revelation hit me like a wave” Feminism.
There are young people just learning and starting out, and older women who have battled for a generation or more already.
None of us are alike, but all are invested in equality, it is only our knowledge of the world around us that varies how we practice what we do.

I must confess that one of the biggest deterrents to blogging was the large amount of sniping and criticism that goes on in blogging circles.
This isn’t a “lady problem” or even uniquely feminist. I find the same thing in atheist circles, parenting blogs, and science groups.
If someone is passionate enough about something to write at least once a week on the topic, then they have got confirmed theories, opinions and issues around the topic already. Add to the mix the amount of anger that can stand behind marginalised groups, and the fact that each person is a different medley of minorities and it is a volatile mix.

I love the debate of the comments sections because I can choose or not choose to engage.
It gives all sides an opportunity to explain themselves if needed, and provides an open forum to potential resolution and understanding in both parties.

I’m less fond of the growing trend of passive aggression by the way of writing a critical analysis of someone else’s point of view and separating into two camps without constructive discussion between the two. It's all well and good if you overtly disagree with the entire thing (my example would be the tits out campaign). However if you like a concept but they have missed mentioning something that is YOUR baby (whether it is the forgetting the inclusion of your group, or the way something is worded) don’t immediately run back to base and undermine an entire cause.
Discuss with the organisers your concerns in private.
Discuss with the organisers your concerns in public.
Then look at reasons that have been put out there, and if they are still unreasonable by all means, step up and take a stand.

Before you do all this, take a look at the organisers.
A corporate group with their own legal team and plenty of moolah to research should know better, and should take feedback on board and make changes swiftly.
(Hello The Rock FM and HAHAHAHA to your latest ratings btw).
A volunteer group may not have the resources, but should also have people’s best interests at heart.
A blogger... well who are they?
Are they just some shmuck who likes to write, a person with their own passions for human rights but a fledgling knowledge of all the issues?
Or are they a well informed person who should know better and is well respected and widely read?
Are they a cover for someone on the other side trying to undermine a cause?
(The “vote on my abortion” fiasco would be a good example of this).

Take a look at who you are trying change, and why.
The range of opinions on the internet is what makes it so cool, and I would hate to pasteurise our feminist movement through fear of criticism.

So next time you decide to jump on a good cause because there is something you don’t like about it take a deep breath.
Is it really their job to cover ALL the issues at once?
Is there a trend of offensive behaviour or exclusion?
Have you even asked why they have done what they did?
Have you given them the opportunity to improve?
What are YOU willing to do as far as putting in working hours to help find a solution?

Or are you just doing this to bolster your own profile and have something to write about in your own space?
Tall poppy syndrome is international, not just a kiwi issue. The internet has shown this to me.

Disclaimer: I started writing this when I first started my blog and it always sounded like "why are people so meeeeeean?" it has taken me this long to whittle it to a more functional version. If I didnt know you 18 months ago, it has nothing to do with you! (except you jerks mentioned in the examples!)

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