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Elliequent
February 26, 2013
10:00 am
avatar
Vitamin Poisoning
Senior Hamcat
Meows: 743
Snarking Since:
April 30, 2012

It’s quite hard for me to explain how you come across in writing. You are a really good writer, but the things you say just give the impression that you think you are superior to your readers. Maybe it is the no-comments thing, or maybe it’s just when you put yourself out there naked and bleeding on the internet, you have to develop a superior attitude. Maybe it’s just that tone gets lost in the translation from context to written word.

I can pinpoint that the little things like the statements about religion or Republican women in your “about,” that sometimes leak out into your blog as well, don’t help you come across as “down-to-earth.”

Personally, being both religion-less and one who leans more left than right, I take no offense to these statements, or other things you write in your blog, really- I’m not gay nor am I a minority- but they make you come across as cold and closed minded. While I appreciate your desire to be genuine, you wouldn't go up to someone you just met immediately disregard them after finding out they are Republican or believe in God, so why do it on the internet? You can have your beliefs and others can have theirs, but there is no need to judge them so harshly for it. It’s that kind of thinking that starts wars and spreads hate.

I think you are an excellent writer, really, and you do come across as genuine in your posts, and maybe I am just misreading your confidence. I appreciate that you post content with subject and depth, and don’t write to gain readership or sponsors. You accept and seem to welcome the criticism- (though if this is really true why not allow comments on your blog? Most of your content is great and could start some equally great discussion)

February 26, 2013
10:32 am
avatar
Gamine
Hamcat
Meows: 57
Snarking Since:
May 16, 2012

What I took away from your about me section was that I was in some way an inferior person to you for having those beliefs.  I'm hoping that's really not what you meant; that you believe I can still be an intelligent, caring, worthwhile person even if we have a difference of opinions on religion.

Completely, 100% see where you're coming from, and you're right: I need to address that. Again, I don't want to be disingenuous with you, because I do have extremely strong opinions about religion. But the line in my About section – "I will have serious doubts about your intellectual prowess" – yes, I get what you're saying. I guess in writing it, I felt like the harshness of my statement is explained (justified?) by the cartoon it links to, which (obviously, me being the atheist) I agree with. But hearing you use the word "inferior"…that's a bit of an eye-opener. I'm navigating really tricky ground here, because I want to both stand by my beliefs but also assure you that I hate hate hate the idea of making it out like I think I'm "superior" to religious people.

When I hear "inferior" or "superior", I feel like we're talking about value. The value of a human being. And I don't think religious people are less valuable than me. Oh my god, no. In fact, I'd make the argument that many of them do things (volunteer, teach, etc) that are a hell of a lot more valuable than screwing around with their friends all weekend, which is what I do with most of my time. (Though when that volunteering or teaching is enmeshed with potentially manipulative religious instruction, then that's where I start to have a problem with it.)

That's the main thing I want to be clear to express: no, I don't think I'm better than religious people.

But I do believe religious beliefs are irrational (which is way I go out of my way to emphasize the more supernatural/mythological things like "talking snakes"). I believe that religious people can be intelligent, yes. My issue is with the cognitive dissonance I feel is a part of saying, "I'm a rational, educated adult who believes a global flood killed all the animals on the planet except pairs of them who were on a great big boat sailed by a 500 year old dude."

And I know that last bit will be jarring to most religious people, but it would be dishonest of me to back down from it or apologize for it, because it's the very crux of my belief as an atheist.

I really hope I didn't do more damage than good in my reply to you, because I genuinely am so grateful to have this dialogue with you in the first place. You're very clearly intelligent, and caring, and kind – the things you said about my writing are some of the nicest compliments I've ever heard. I love (and had never considered) that it seems open-ended like that – what an awesome thing to hear. Bottom line: I hear you, I appreciate what you're saying, I'm sorry that my About section phrasing is poorly put, and suggests I think I'm better than you.

I do not think that. 

Thank you for caring enough and liking me enough to take the time to tell me all of this, for real. I clearly need to revisit my About section, even if it's just to clarify that line, or take it out, or explain, whatever. 

Virtual hug gratefully received and returned, along with a virtual beverage of your choosing. :)

February 26, 2013
11:21 am
avatar
Gamine
Hamcat
Meows: 57
Snarking Since:
May 16, 2012

I can pinpoint that the little things like the statements about religion or Republican women in your “about,” that sometimes leak out into your blog as well, don’t help you come across as “down-to-earth.”

I hear you. Totally fair. 

While I appreciate your desire to be genuine, you wouldn't go up to someone you just met immediately disregard them after finding out they are Republican or believe in God, so why do it on the internet?

Also fair. However, I'd like to think I'm consistent enough in my integrity to say that, having found those things out, I don't work particularly hard to cultivate close personal friendships with those people. I believe myself to be extremely democratic and inclusive in my nature (I love talking to random strangers about whom I know nothing), but I don't think it's horrible of me to prefer to associate/spend the majority of my time with people who share the same values and beliefs that I do. I don't know if that makes sense, or if I even got your point fully, but don't worry, I'll re-read this thread like a hundred times I'm sure, lol. It'll sink in eventually I hope.

You accept and seem to welcome the criticism- (though if this is really true why not allow comments on your blog?

some reasons:

- my brother is a dangerous and extremely cunning psychopath who has my blog address and who, with a carefully constructed comment or lie (he has nothing but time, being in jail), can devastate me to weeks of depression and anxiety 

- an abusive ex-boyfriend with NPD and a history of domestic violence (he put his pregnant wife in the hospital) has my blog address, and he, too, is smart and evil enough to say things that will f**k me up emotionally 

- a couple other ex-boyfriends and ex-friends have my blog address, too, and they know my emotional sore spots; should they wish to, they could really hurt my feelings

- I've made some blogging enemies over the years, partly my own fault, partly not; don't want to deal with potential drive-by nastiness from that quarter

- I'm scared that getting comments would affect how I write, making me self-conscious 

- I'm scared that NOT getting comments would hurt my feelings and make me feel like my post sucked

- I wouldn't want readers or my friends to think they HAVE to comment or encourage me or validate me, just because I wrote something really intense, or super creative, or whatever

- I'm lazy as hell about social media already, and I'd probably be shitty about staying on top of replying to comments.

- IG, Twitter, and email seem to be sufficient ways for readers – when they're so inclined – to reach out and let me know that they liked a particular post; I know if they go to the effort of commenting on IG/Twitter or emailing me, that it must have really impacted them, so that praise/validation, while rare, is very meaningful

Anyway, thank you for replying back to me. I understand what you're saying, and will keep your feedback in mind when I'm writing. At this point I know I've alienated you, either just with who I am personally, or due to some failure of mine as a writer. So I appreciate you nevertheless taking the time to try and make me understand how I f**ked up.

I will think on what you said (and probably talk it over with some friends, who are awesome about being honest with me), and hopefully be at least 20% less asshole-ish moving forward. 

February 26, 2013
11:28 am
avatar
I Feel Like Margaret Mead
Senior Hamcat
Meows: 656
Snarking Since:
February 11, 2012

Ellie,

I too have cringed sometimes when you've written about gay people – I remember a few posts about you being a "f*g hag" in particular. I do think it's better to be aware not to marginalize the group with some of the language and descriptions you use, even though I believe that you're just trying to be funny and do support the protection of this group's civil liberties. But you wouldn't call yourself a "n****r hag" if you had a lot of black male friends, and I think "f*g" is a comparable word in many ways – accepted and used by some in the community it marginalizes, but with an ugly history that cannot and should not be ignored. I think to come full circle in the gay rights movement, people have to be prepared to value gay people on their individual self-determined qualities, and not on their sexual orientation (e.g. "loving the gays" isn't a compliment; it reduces them to their orientation). I do agree that many people love the vibrant gay community in L.A. and feel like they fit in with it despite being hetero, but that opinion can be expressed in a more conscious and nuanced manner. Otherwise you're just veering into Dooce territory.

But as someone who has to remind herself of her own self-worth sometimes too, I understand your own ego-boosting. And personally, I think it's a good exercise and am not offended by it and that if it helps you (as it does me), to keep doing it. I think your response to other things shows that you're generally self-aware. Furthermore, it's a personal blog and a certain amount of introspection is expected. Nobody ever accused Ben Franklin or Frank McCourt of being too self-involved when writing their autobiographies. It's just the nature of the medium.

And honestly? As an atheist raised by atheists, I cheered in my head when I first read your about section, and agreed with it completely. I remember thinking, "this girl gets it". I DO think less of the critical thinking skills (which is a very different factor than the worth of a person, which I would never attempt to quantify) of people with strong literal religious beliefs (and often their actions and words later come to show my doubts were justified, to be frank). And again, it's your own blog and strong statements like that are ok there – it's not like you ever posted such a thing on a Catholic forum or on Feminist Mormon Housewives. Your beliefs (like the beliefs at FMH!) have a proper place, and that place is right where they are now: in your personal writing portfolio. So while it's a strong opinion that the religious will obviously disagree with, know that many others will agree wholeheartedly and believe it's an important message.

P.S. Maybe I'm just missing something obvious, but I've struggled with finding a private way to contact you when I wanted to respond to one of your posts. I don't want to send a public message in Twitter, but can't find your email address on the site. Because you don't have comments, I assumed you weren't looking for that interaction – which is fine, of course! But if that isn't the case, as you stated above, would you mind pointing me in the direction of your email? Thanks!

February 26, 2013
11:52 am
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Chicklawyer
Kitten
Meows: 10
Snarking Since:
March 2, 2013

Ellie rocks!! Been a fan for years and was priveleged enough to meet her recently, one of the sweetest girls ever. So down to Earth and just nice!! I find it interesting when people criticize for displaying their opinions on their blog. Isn't that the purpose of a blog?  I'd hate for someone to come into my home and tell me I'm decorating wrong. Keep your head up and your comments closed, you do it for important reasons and even if they weren't it's your blog!

February 26, 2013
11:56 am
avatar
Gamine
Hamcat
Meows: 57
Snarking Since:
May 16, 2012

you wouldn't call yourself a "n****r hag" if you had a lot of black male friends, and I think "f*g" is a comparable word in many ways – accepted and used by some in the community it marginalizes, but with an ugly history that cannot and should not be ignored. I think to come full circle in the gay rights movement, people have to be prepared to value gay people on their individual self-determined qualities, and not on their sexual orientation (e.g. "loving the gays" isn't a compliment; it reduces them to their orientation). I do agree that many people love the vibrant gay community in L.A. and feel like they fit in with it despite being hetero, but that opinion can be expressed in a more conscious and nuanced manner.

Heard and understood completely, especially the part I bolded. Some of my gay friends are very playful in their self-referentiality, and will make jokes and generalizations at their own expense, about their orientation – and the stereotypes that go along with it. I think somewhere along the way, despite trying to treat these friendships with the immense respect and appreciation I have for them (seriously, I cannot even tell you how much my friends mean to me – they're all I have – I'm actually crying right now, because to think I've been marginalizing/disrespectful of them in any way KILLS me), I started to co-opt their outlook or something, I don't know. 

I hate that I made you cringe. :( It's particularly embarrassing when you consider how outspoken an advocate I've tried to be, against the lesser-progressive corners of the internet. Fail.  

My email address is in my About section, but it's not super clear or obvious. It's elliequent@me.com.

Thanks for taking the time to give me all that feedback, I appreciate it. 

February 26, 2013
12:29 pm
avatar
I Feel Like Margaret Mead
Senior Hamcat
Meows: 656
Snarking Since:
February 11, 2012

Ellie, I do think it's important to remember that the majority of people on this thread are long-time readers for a reason, and wouldn't be if we were majorly offended. We all know that you're a big supporter of gay rights- this was just a semantics issue that you'll be more aware of in the future. Context is important and you've done nothing to hurt any of your gay friends; the issue of how to translate spoken riffing into writing is a very complex one with a sharp learning curve. I have no doubt you'll get there easily.

Most of us wouldn't waste our time trying to give constructive criticism if we weren't very invested in the body of work you've created. I put more time and thought into my comments here than 99% of my GOMI comments – much more than I'd put into a comment about Cecily or Jenna. Everything I say to you, I'd say to a friend; but I think that since it's the internet you don't have that security that a friend does of being loved despite her flaws. I don't know you as a friend, but as a writer I love your work despite its relatively minor flaws.

I hate that you feel bad, and I'd encourage you to remember the compliments here along with the criticism – especially because the former far outweigh the latter. You have real talent, and personally your blog has made me feel better (I too love your writing about depression) many, many more times than it has made me cringe. That's what's important, and I thank you for giving me access to so many pieces that have struck a chord. Your blog (and occasionally mimi smartypants) is the only writing-based personal blog that I read at all, which speaks volumes for its overall quality.

And while I respect noidea's right to state their opinion here, I disagree not only with their wording but also the contents of their post, and I'd guess that the vast majority of your readers feel the same as me. Don't let highly skewed outliers keep you from internalizing the overall positive feedback you're getting from the general population.

February 26, 2013
12:30 pm
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secretnamething
Hamcat
Meows: 112
Snarking Since:
July 21, 2012

Gamine said
 

Lanadelrey, I'd like to respond to you first. Over dinner on Valentine's day, my very good (gay) friend called me out on a couple things on my blog that didn't sit well with him. He is probably one of my biggest supporters, always a great cheerleader – but he doesn't hesitate to smack me down when I need it. He's the person who has taught me to be aware of how I write about gays, because as much as I may think I'm writing from a place of respect and love, sometimes I get it wrong. Way wrong. Even in conversation, if I make a statement that comes across as marginalizing of gays, he points it out, immediately. 

After he told me about the things he didn't like, I explained to him that when I blog, I have a sort of radio wave running in my head, that starts to hum and vibrate when I'm writing about sensitive topics like gays or minorities. And I try to listen to it, to be self-aware and careful in what I'm saying, but clearly, I'm failing. :( And like I say, the criticism doesn't surprise me, because even after I hit publish, I sometimes have a lingering suspicion that I've mangled what I was trying to express, and sounded like an ignorant asshole. So the truth is I'm grateful for the feedback, because I don't want to be an ignorant asshole. I love the hell out of my friends, and it would KILL me to think I'd hurt them or disrespected them due to my not knowing better. Hell, it kills me to hear I've done that to any human being. I really feel like shit right now. :(

 

I'm sorry, but do you not see how it is offensive to refer to people as 'the gays' or 'the minorities' or 'the blacks' (I know you didn't write 'the blacks' but it's the same principle)? This, right here, is the issue. It's dehumanizing and bigoted. Just reading it makes my skin crawl. As said above, how about thinking about individual people instead of 'topics' like 'gays or minorities'? Are those 'topics' even yours to claim/co-opt? It's nice that you are trying to educate yourself, but really, stepping back and thinking a little bit about the implications of your language would be even better.

February 26, 2013
12:41 pm
avatar
I Feel Like Margaret Mead
Senior Hamcat
Meows: 656
Snarking Since:
February 11, 2012

^ not to WK, but Ellie DIDN'T say "the minorities" in her posts; and the word "minorities" is a completely acceptable term, for f**k's sake. And yes, she's allowed to write about her interactions with her friends who happen to fall into one of those sub-groups. It's not dehumanizing to MENTION someone's differences and how they affect your friendship, and that's all Ellie is doing.

Mischaracterizing a person's statement completely (she never said "the minorities" or "the blacks", wtf?) just invalidates an observation that would otherwise have some weight (some of the stuff she says about gay people HAS been overly flippant and the quince party was odd).

p.s. I am honestly not sure as to how p.c. "gays" is – I personally wouldn't say "THE gays", but I see "gays" as more of a descriptive term and don't flinch at it. However, I usually just try to say "gay people" to be on the safe side.

I'll end this comment now – but secretnamething's comment was so ridiculous and not even applicable that I had to respond. The downside of GOMI is that we all say preposterous things here sometimes, and that comment was one of them.

February 26, 2013
12:54 pm
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FrizzyFryFro
Feline Porklord
Meows: 1147
Snarking Since:
February 12, 2013

I Feel Like Margaret Mead said

And honestly? As an atheist raised by atheists, I cheered in my head when I first read your about section, and agreed with it completely. I remember thinking, "this girl gets it". I DO think less of the critical thinking skills (which is a very different factor than the worth of a person, which I would never attempt to quantify) of people with strong literal religious beliefs (and often their actions and words later come to show my doubts were justified, to be frank). And again, it's your own blog and strong statements like that are ok there – it's not like you ever posted such a thing on a Catholic forum or on Feminist Mormon Housewives. Your beliefs (like the beliefs at FMH!) have a proper place, and that place is right where they are now: in your personal writing portfolio. So while it's a strong opinion that the religious will obviously disagree with, know that many others will agree wholeheartedly and believe it's an important message.

 

I agree with Margaret on this. Perhaps you could word it the way Magaret did "I DO think less of the critical thinking skills…"? That's how I feel too – I know that people "with religion" aren't stupid, etc. (not that you said that) but I feel that they either can't or don't want to work out the "problems" I see with religion. I'm also an atheist, and I really struggle to not shout "HOW CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?!" because I know it's a personal choice, but I feel like people should be able to see the "flaws" in their religion. No matter what you have to be true to who you are, and you always are true to who you are – which is one of the reasons I enjoy your writing so much – you're never putting on a show for your readers.

I am another fan of your writing. You write your stories in a way that makes them easy to visualize since you don't include pictures. I am always excited when I see you posted. :) I do wish you had comments open, BUT I completely understand why you don't. (Crazy family / ex-friends is why my blog is full of aliases and vagueness – I don't want the whackjobs to find me.)

February 26, 2013
2:13 pm
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Gamine
Hamcat
Meows: 57
Snarking Since:
May 16, 2012

Secretnamething wrote:

I'm sorry, but do you not see how it is offensive to refer to people as 'the gays' or 'the minorities' or 'the blacks' (I know you didn't write 'the blacks' but it's the same principle)? This, right here, is the issue. It's dehumanizing and bigoted. Just reading it makes my skin crawl. As said above, how about thinking about individual people instead of 'topics' like 'gays or minorities'? Are those 'topics' even yours to claim/co-opt? It's nice that you are trying to educate yourself, but really, stepping back and thinking a little bit about the implications of your language would be even better.

Secretnamething, are you responding to something specific on my blog? If so, could you tell me which post(s)? Or are you just responding to my reply? Because I think you might have misunderstood my comment to infer that I regularly write "topic" posts about gays or minorities as a group.

I do not.

I recently wrote a post called "fruit fly" that talks about my friendships and interactions with my gay friends, and gay men I've met through them, and I do make some observation-based generalizations in it that I should probably revisit (such as the idea that gay men are a harsh judge of womens' looks), but the post is largely about my personal experiences in the gay scene – I don't know that it'd be fair to call it a "topic" piece about gays in general (though maybe I'm wrong, I don't know – that might be the crux of the argument). Did you read it? If so and you believe it to be offensive, and wish to tell me specifically what you find offensive/problematical, please do. That's what Margaret Mead and some of the others are doing, because I DO want to be aware of the implications of my language.

Also, your comment suggests that I refer to people as "the gays" or "the minorities". Again, have you seen either of these phrases used on my blog? Because believe me, I will comb back through it, but I don't believe I have ever once referred to my gay friends as "the gays" (though FWIW I've heard my friends themselves use that term in a playful, self-referential way, like "the gays love Kylie" etc.), and I've certainly never referred to any group as "the minorities" – that I'm 100% sure of.

I'm just trying to parse out what you think I said, and where, so that I'm not accused of unfairly of bigotry here, that's all. 

February 27, 2013
3:58 am
avatar
Drunken Polka Dot Feet
Expert Hamcat
Meows: 462
Snarking Since:
December 13, 2011

Ok, I read Elliequent's GOMI statement – that's it, so I don't know about these other issues. But because of my curiosity I read this thread. What turns me off is using a GOMI SOMI thread to discuss these very real issues that need to be address, rather than trying to host one on your blog. Hell you even direct readers to this thread to encourage discussion, but close your comments…As mentioned above, most of these people on this thread are long time readers, so if you had that avenue open, you could have gotten this feedback a long time ago.

February 27, 2013
8:21 am
avatar
Gamine
Hamcat
Meows: 57
Snarking Since:
May 16, 2012

Drunken Polka Dot Feet wrote:

What turns me off is using a GOMI SOMI thread to discuss these very real issues that need to be address, rather than trying to host one on your blog. Hell you even direct readers to this thread to encourage discussion, but close your comments…

I'm only here in this thread because there were some criticisms of me put forth – here in this thread – that I wanted to address, not because I wanted to use the SOMI section of GOMI to discuss any larger issues (such as pertain to gay persons or minorities, which is what I'm thinking you must mean by "very real issues"). I didn't start this thread, period, much less with the intention of using it as any kind of discussion forum about my writing.

I actually didn't close comments on my blog – I never had them open to begin with. So I could be wrong, but I'm not sure that it's fair to criticize me for not hosting any kind of discussion on my blog, when I've never allowed comments on my blog to begin with. I'm making every effort to respond to my critics right here, where the criticisms were launched, and I don't think that's unreasonable of me, especially in light of what I disclosed above, about why I don't allow comments.

To elaborate on that point, part of why I don't allow comments is that I have both my emotional well-being and my physical safety to consider. As I said above, I have a mentally ill older brother and a violent ex-boyfriend who could (and would, I have no doubt) love nothing more than to goad me into conflict via my blog's comment sections, leading to god knows what real-life, potentially dangerous situations. My blog contains posts that talk about these men in some detail, as well as the kinds of threatening behaviors they engage in. Someone unfamiliar with me wouldn't know this, of course, but it seems like at least a few of the commenters in this thread have been reading my blog long enough to know what I'm talking about.

I also don't know that I agree with the characterization that I'm directing readers to the thread to "encourage discussion" about any of the issues raised above. I posted the link on my blog as a gesture towards transparency, and to say, Hey, I know that not being able to comment on my blog makes me somewhat inaccessible, so if you're so inclined to, please feel free to comment anonymously on the GOMI/SOMI thread that someone else started about my blog, if there's something specific you'd like to say. I didn't say, Hey, come join such-and-such discussion. 

if you had that avenue open, you could have gotten this feedback a long time ago.

There's no reason that anyone wishing to communicate with me about something I'd written could not also direct that feedback to me via email (which happens often). It isn't as if I don't post my email address and invite readers to get in touch if they wish – I do. I also regularly interact with readers via Twitter and Instagram, and if someone had wished to air a criticism to me through any of those avenues, anonymously or not, I would have happily entered into a discussion with them then.

Your statement presupposes that I was WANTING to get this feedback a long time ago – that's not the case. I am and always have been open to feedback, but have not actively sought it. I'm only getting it now because Margaret Mead added me to the SOMI thread.

I don't know if any of that made sense, but I hope so. Cheers, and thanks for reading.



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