Monday, April 18, 2005

A discussion. 

(Disclaimer: I know I'm in way over my head, so don't bother reminding me. I'm also talking in stream-of-consciousness mode, so anyone looking for a coherent "point" is in the worng place.)

So that happened.

So... I'm not sure what to say, or even if I should say anything. I'm in a position where if I say anything, anything at all -- good, bad, or neutral -- I'm going to come off to you as insensitive, or possibly vile. Why's that, you ask?

Because I'm male. Secondarily, because I have not experienced the trauma of rape. That cuts my knees out from under me right off the bat.

(See, already you're shrinking back from the monitor.)

I understand the points made and concede my error. I realize my own relative indifference to the topic; when I look at the Fanboy Rampage comments section, I'm less inclined to be offended and more likely to think, "boy, you guys have sure killed that joke stone dead." I have the luxury of approaching the topic of rape from a blissfully ignorant outsider's point of view.

Here's my concern. We all operate under some idea of what is and is not acceptable to say in social discourse. Your typical cliques and communities, online and off, find their balance, their particular chemistry. They absorb people who synch with it, and chew up and spit out those who don't. And everyone in these communities just "knows" what can and cannot be said aloud.

So I'm thinking, as (I believe) Rose suggests, that what we "know" is acceptable really isn't at all. And then I wonder about who gets to decide such things. And why. I'm not being cutesy by hinting or intimating at Rose or anyone else, here; I'm wondering these things in a purely hypothetical sense. What or who guides social discourse, and by what right?

You tell me. I don't know.

The "boys' club" vibe is very prevalent amongst the online comics community, and certainly among the bloggers and various hangers-on. We also happen to be creating a community centered around literature that is, by and large, really fucking violent. A lot of our humor is based around violence and the absurdity thereof. Do we go too far with it? Should something be said?

Oh, hell yeah.

At the same time, most loud declarations against this or that abhorrent trend really turn me off. Steven Grant, for instance. Usually I love the guy. But he writes a column noisily and prolifically against the use of rape as a cliché story device and I, unlike many of my brethern, find myself completely lukewarm. To me he's not saying anything daring, or groundbreaking, or new, or even hard.

Well, no shit, Steve. What's next, a blistering column railing against the evils of child pornography? Way to tackle the thorny ones, big guy.

And then start the "me, too" responses, and I find myself clicking away.

Maybe we need the big voices to say something loudly, long enough, for people to really start listening. Maybe we need constant vigilance shoved down our throats in an uncomfortable fashion. Maybe a steady erosion of the current, diseased status quo is what's needed to affect real change.

And maybe I don't want to hear people say, in public, how much they're against stuff it's really easy to be against. It all smacks too much of a self-congratulation festival, of a bunch of people standing around and celebrating how enlightened they all are. And I basically just want to smack the shit out of them for being the self-righteous, back-patting little egomaniacs I hope I never become.

But I only feel that way when I hear it from men.


So maybe non-traumatized men just have no place in the discussion. I'm cool with that. But I wonder what it could mean, to have no-discussion topics that groups of people are forbidden from discussing.

You tell me. I don't know.

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