A LINK, AND A COMMENT

Dear ARTICHOKE,

WHEN SHOW, DON’T TELL IS REALLY BAD ADVICE

So, this is quite good post, altogether, and I have no qualms with any of what she’s saying.

The one thing I can’t help but notice is something I’ve noticed more generally from female bloggers, especially from female authors, which is how many self-deprecating, warning qualifiers she gives before she actually gets to the thing she wants to say:

“I’m going to stick my neck out and declare…”
“before you come at me with your sharpest pitchfork, let me explain my madness. I do believe, in many ways, it is good and useful and wise to ‘show’ things…”
“I am nothing more than an puny, unpublished, unknown Writer/Librarian/Beatle-Maniac, but…”
“And if you still aren’t ready to drop your pitchfork, please look at these ‘show vs. tell’ examples before you skewer me…”

I’m not pointing this out to criticize her, because, you know, write a blog post however you like. I’m pointing it out because I notice it as a trend, and because I think it makes it clear that folks like Jenny Martin (aka, Ladies of the Internet) expect to be attacked for their thoughts. Not just to run into disagreement for going against the norm: straight up attacked. Even the ending here:

“Still disagree? Did I miss something? Have I forgotten an important point? I’ve braced for impact, so fire away!”

It’s not cringing, I wouldn’t say, but it’s overly courteous. It’s the same kind of tone you use when you’re telling a child something you know that child doesn’t want to hear. Women are socialized to be polite, and to not step on toes, and in order to post a dissenting opinion on the internet, they have to bend over backwards to prove no, no, I wasn’t starting a fight, I just had a thought, no, please tell me your differing opinion, I’d dearly like to hear it.

What bothers me about this is that she’s simply correct. This isn’t Jenny Martin’s delicate opinion, this is Jenny Martin taking a commonly bandied about bit of writing advice (one that I bandy about quite frequently myself, frankly) and elaborating and expanding and setting the record straight. She’s not saying “tell, don’t show”, she’s saying “show, don’t tell, sure, but here is where that generalization is wrong.” She should be able to just say this like stating a fact, a by-the-by, but judging by how she gently coaxes us into the argument, she knows that doing so means that we will freak out and call her a crazy cunt.

A woman simply expressing herself without the qualifier of politesse is enough to make people angry. And throughout this post, I keep qualifying that I don’t mean this as a criticism of Jenny Martin, or of female bloggers in general, because I’m sure it can be taken that way if someone is so inclined. Jenny Martin, and everyone else who writes their blog posts riddled with the aforementioned language, is not being too nice; she, and they, have simply adapted to their environments.

It sucks to be a woman on the Internet.

Safe travels, Artichoke, and I will see you soon.

Much love,
ONION

O&A on Tumblr! O&A on WordPress!

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About onionandartichoke

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a pair of vegetables in possession of a good quantity of opinions must be in want of a blog. Onion and Artichoke: Purveyors of Fine Literary Reviews, Discussions of Modern Life, and Only Infrequent Eviscerations. (With occasional contributions from Messrs. Aubergine, Leek, and Zucchini.) ------------- We are two college friends in our twenties, who live in the same city and (as of April 2014) have the good luck of working in the same office too. Onion runs the Tumblr, and Artichoke runs the WordPress. Onion is media-savvy; Artichoke mispronounces words on the regular. Onion is full of grace; Artichoke listens to Ace of Base. Onion is a bulb; Artichoke is a thistle. We hope this has been a very informative reading experience. Sincerely, ONION and ARTICHOKE
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2 Responses to A LINK, AND A COMMENT

  1. Jenny Martin says:

    Hi there!

    I’m the author you’re quoting. I saw the pingback to my post, and just wanted to drop in and clear up a few things. Yes, women are often attacked on the internet. It’s happened a few times to me, but my m.o. is usually pretty ‘come at me, bro.’ It just doesn’t bother me much. If anything, it’s galvanizing rather than terrorizing.

    I realize this is not always to the case. Many women face ugly threats and really scary things, and sometimes, for safety reasons, it’s better not to engage at all.

    I do admit: yes, my tone is often self-deprecating, and that’s intentional. But that’s simply a part of my personality and writing voice. Arrogance and braggadocio is a giant turnoff to me, so it’s something I’m conscious of and vigilant about. I like to communicate a perception of parity…that my ears are open, that I’m learning all the time, and that I don’t think I have it all figured out.

    Anyway, bottom line: The self-deprecation isn’t about fear of reprisal or a latent need to defer. In truth, if you asked my IRL and online friends, if they’d likely tell you that I’m one of the mouthiest, outspoken people they know. Dunno what it is, but I’m just one of those people who faces conflict head on, and doesn’t shy away from it, for better or worse. So at the end of the day, the language you read as ‘cringing’ or ‘overly courteous’ is just me being earnest. It’s just who I am..a self-deprecating, open-minded person.

    This was quite interesting to read, though. The first time I’ve been analyzed by a stranger! In the context of gender politics, no less! Cheers!

  2. Garmin says:

    There are so damn many people who get fired up and outraged over the slightest things. I can’t blame Jenny Martin or anyone else for being cautious.

    Stacey Jay,
    Tamora Pierce
    Andrew something, author of Grasshopper Jungle
    Chuck Wendig
    Kathleen Hale (okay, this was deserved)
    Kiera Cass
    That woman who wrote the KPOP book

    … off the top of my head, those examples of the internet hate/outrage brigade spring to mind. Plus you can just check out elloecho’s twitter account for the latest thing internet book peeps are raging about.

    Who wouldn’t walk on eggshells?

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