Yellow Peril by Tze Ming Mok

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Yellow Peril: Are you gonna liberate us girls from male, white, corporate oppression?

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  • Mark Easterbrook,

    Alert! White Boy chiming in...

    Away from my desk last week, or I would have come to this sooner...

    Tze Ming, I think the root of the offence that some of the other white boy's here have taken is that, to throw a blanket term over all white males unfairly drags us into the company of those we do not want to identify with.

    I do not consider myself as part of the same subset of people as George W. Bush, for example, or Gerry Brownlee, or the National Front munters. I use other identifiers to define myself.

    Being white and male does not mean I feel I have anything in common with other white males. If by being a white boy, I am required to fit the same subset as Byron Kelleher, do you as a yellow girl have to fit the same subset as his wife, Singapore-born ex-porn star Kaylani Lei?

    At university, I hit some negativity early on from both lecturers and fellow students who, seeing only my 'white boy'-ness, assumed I had nothing to say that they wanted to hear. So I kept saying what I had to say, and eventually they realised they were wrong to assume anything based on race and gender.

    Big deal, some might say, welcome to the world of the minority. But I can clearly remember the way a particular self-identified feminist lecturer would physically react when I put my hand up before she got to know me. I could see her bracing herself to rebutt what I said before I even opened my mouth. I didn't like the way that made me feel.

    And I think that's the crux of the issue here - by calling someone by a loaded name - and "white boy" IS a loaded name - you can hurt them. If that someone is Kyle Chapman (for example), the attack may be justified but, ironically, the bullet won't wound. If that someone is me, Che Tibby, RB, Steven Crawford, or anyone who feels they have tried hard to overcome the dark side of their white-boy-ness, so to speak, the attack hits AND it hurts.

    Feel free to suggest I get over it - I have a stromg enough sense of self that this stuff isn't ruining my day - but I'm just trying (probably poorly) to show the view from the other side.




    Christ that was a long post.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 264 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Christ that was a long post.

    It's the Curse of Tze Ming: long posts, and long threads with a notably high poster-to-lurker ratio. This is a good thing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    Out of interest, has anyone *ever* been physically attacked or even approached by anyone in NZ as a result of Internet discussion?

    Not internet, but as a result of a letter I wrote to the DomPost a few years back, I received a hand delivered letter full of gibberish & warnings from someone purporting to be god (that'll teach me to criticise the SPCS).

    It was harmless, indeed highly amusing, but I was unnerved that someone took the trouble to look me up in the phone book & visit.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2075 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Out of interest, has anyone *ever* been physically attacked or even approached by anyone in NZ as a result of Internet discussion?

    I get bailed up by strangers fairly often, which is usually gratifying and cool.

    But I've also had a couple of people obtain my phone number by deceit and call and talk to family members when I'm out. I didn't like that.

    I seem to recall getting the strange hand-delivered letter once too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    There have been times I've been very glad that I live in NZ, and the effort required from the odd freak who can't tell me from my role-playing character to seriously RL-stalk me is prohibitively huge.

    I don't think anyone wants to trivialise real-life physical violence: at least with on-line harassment, you always have the option to switch off and walk away. But the damage done by verbal harassment is still real. I once got an email so amazingly abusive it made me cry for three days. From a woman, who was employing me at the time.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    I seem to recall getting the strange hand-delivered letter once too.

    Anything like http://sunnyo.blogspot.com/2005/03/god-mispelled-my-name.html?

    Since Nov 2006 • 2075 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    That should have been a clever link displayed simply as "this one?"

    Oh well.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2075 posts Report Reply

  • andrew llewellyn,

    Since Nov 2006 • 2075 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I once got an email so amazingly abusive it made me cry for three days. From a woman, who was employing me at the time.

    The most outrageously abusive email I've ever had was from Nick Wood, after I wrote a story based on a highly abusive Ihug staff memo someone leaked to me.

    It was so OTT it was hard to take seriously, although I did briefly worry that he'd do something silly with my internet.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Heather Gaye,

    Rich said:

    If I'm right, it's reasonable to assume that anyone who threatens you is no more likely to take on physical form than the characters in a video game. So treat the nasty people as a string of bits, delete their outpourings and move on.

    For a few weeks I was the target of a string of abusive emails & forum comments. It wasn't any kind of random misogyny but a personal matter, it could be argued that I deserved it. I also knew the person sending the emails wasn't going to follow through. Over the course of those weeks, I stopped going out, I'd rush home from work in the dark with my hood up, and I'd sit alone in my room with the lights off. It really annoyed and frustrated me for being so affected by "a string of bits", but that was my life for a month, and no amount of trying to shake it off worked. I simply dreaded going outside. It may not seem rational, but those kind of threats are the abuse.


    Personally I've often had the tendency to fob off feminist opinion as hysterical hypersensitivity (it doesn't help when they all seem so angry). My first reaction was the same as Finn's - that it's not a male/female thing, but an arsehole thing, and that sex just happens to be a convenient target.

    I think that's because I've never been a victim of any kind of sexual discrimination (I'm not sure why that is, lucky me). I've only started understanding that misogyny actually exists (and is whole lot more nuanced than my original, rather blunt understanding) by reading feminist blogs that are heavy on real-life examples. I think that's what causes at least some of the division in this topic - that it's difficult to acknowledge that a problem exists, and the impact it has, if you've never really been exposed to something that you can specifically identify as that problem. It's telling that Finn describes the distinction (women vs other bullied people) as "arbitrary".

    Morningside • Since Nov 2006 • 533 posts Report Reply

  • Heather Gaye,

    ...the revelation in this particular case was those astounding 25-to-1 AOL figures. I know it's a small part of the net, and perhaps we're different round these here parts, but seriously, twenty-five to one???

    Morningside • Since Nov 2006 • 533 posts Report Reply

  • Tze Ming Mok,

    Okay, look - I don't see where I was 'tarring' anyone with the same 'white boy' brush as any evil imperialist, when I said 'white boy's playground'. In an earlier draft of the post, I even referred to whether we 'girls' wanted to 'play' or 'not play' in said sandpit considering the hygienic conditions, followed by an elaborate riff on gendered toys. But it was already a pretty long post, and that part was the wrap-up. The statement of race and gender was a fact, the 'infantilisation' was a joke, and one I assumed the 'nice white liberal boy' readership would have the self-deprecation to take okay, rather than as nasty patronisation. Some have, some haven't. Russell, I'm sorry that you think I was bullying to Steven, and I'm sorry to Steven if he feels bullied. However, yes, I still think it is precious for some of these guys to have been so incensed: and the fact that from the post, this was the one to have occupied a substantial part of what they were interested in, is definitely sad in my view. When I said this post and thread was 'dedicated' to women, I meant not prescriptively, but obviously in terms of context, content and feeling, in the way you might dedicate a song on the radio, and I think it is sad that one or two people thought even this was necessary to contest. Doesn't mean they don't have a right to say that; I just think it's sad. It makes me sad, that's for sure.

    In terms of Manakura, as you say:

    I'm sure there was a fatigue factor,

    That's all I was specifically talking about, in the context of Anjum's comment. Still, one doesn't have to be receiving a hiding on blogsites to experience different kinds of fatigue, when you are in the position of being the sole person repping your 'race' in a forum, even a really really nice one. Anjum will know what I mean, and so does Manakura, although I won't speak for him here!

    In that vein, I think I'm done here. [throws toys]

    SarfBank, Lunnin' • Since Nov 2006 • 154 posts Report Reply

  • Finn Higgins,

    Jesus you people are fast. Don't you work?

    A few things at a time...

    Andrew Llewellyn - me too with the hand-delivered god-bothering, but replace "SPCS" with "Destiny" and "Dom Post" with "Herald". That was about the point where I started making sure I'd considered the likelyhood of any real benefit before using my real name in public forums. I still use it, but only in environments where I tend to think the readership are likely to be reliably sane.

    Heather - no dispute from me that gender discrimination exists and is common in our society. But my viewpoint on the issue of online harassment is that it's a practical issue with practical solutions. It happens because people put their names and channels of communication out there in public, which is a choice that you do get to make. Yes, being a woman makes you a higher profile target and that's not fair. But the problem and the available solutions are identical to those faced by anybody else who's the target of abuse online - often those holding controversial opinions. As such I don't see that raising the problem as a gender-specific issue is going to address any practical solution. If somebody could outline to me how exactly it would solve the problem then I'd be thrilled to listen, but it strikes me that the time would be more fruitfully spent discussing approaches to creating online forums where such problems can be integrated into the design considerations and minimised. I'd like to see the problem solved as much as anybody, but feminist blog days seems about as likely to solve it as, say, a good word from Bono.

    Tze Ming - I think your misunderstanding lies in the fact that you believe it possible to self-deprecate other people.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 209 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    I agree, Tze Ming. This is so overblown.

    Out of all the jokes made on PA, some of them infinitely more cutting, this one gets all the attention?!

    Makes you wonder if there's not some reason for it.

    I note that this was your first post in six weeks, which suggests that you might be dealing with competing priorities at the moment. I sincerely hope that the ridiculous direction this thread has taken does not put you off for good.

    Looking forward to your returning with a blistering critique of this hypocracy. Kia Kaha.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    But the problem and the available solutions are identical to those faced by anybody else who's the target of abuse online - often those holding controversial opinions. As such I don't see that raising the problem as a gender-specific issue is going to address any practical solution.

    But I don't think it's identical. The Kathy Sierra case, which started all this, went from escalating sexual threats and a nasty Photoshopped picture to some creep posting her home address. I was astonished that some apparently sensible people could regard her as the baddie (sorry, "attention whore") after that.

    I do think women online are more vulnerable than men. I can't recall a case of a male blogger being subject to that kind of sexual threat, but I can think of a few blogs where you'll see misogyny most days. So if some people want to mobilise and highlight that fact, I think it's a good thing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • hamishm,

    Lindsay Beyerstein also talks about this in her blog, with a few examples. Majikthise is a great blog, BTW.
    She makes good points and underlines the unifying theme that we can, at least, see in this thread despite the disagreements. No one likes this stuff and when it happens, people should be able to count on fellow posters for support. I think they could at PA.

    Since Nov 2006 • 357 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    BTW, I've just talked to Karen Gregory-Hunt for a story on online abuse she's doing for Radio NZ.

    Usual stuff: the problem's not technology, it's people; this isn't entirely new, but no one's licked the "not turning into Usenet" problem; what came out from under rocks in the Kathy Sierra case wasn't so pretty; and, yes, women are vulnerable in these situations in a way men aren't.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Finn Higgins,

    Russell, my point about the similarity is not in the style of the abuse, it's in the severity. As I recounted earlier, I've seen somebody subjected to that kind of abuse inside the last year who is white, male and otherwise fairly nondescript other than having an involvement in an activity that is controversial in certain circles. Photoshopped pictures? Yup. Home address? Yup. Sexual threats? No. But that's more to do with the fact that such threats are generally not as psychologically harmful to males than females - otherwise I've little doubt they would have been in there too. Instead they just threatened his mother, and the abuse included calls made to his home. The police were involved. The whole thing was kept private, as he is notable in certain circles and he would rather keep his public image related to what he does than what has been done to him by others.

    When I saw the Kathy Sierra case hit the blogs, my immediate reaction was “oh, somebody’s decided to go public with their experience”, not to be utterly shocked that such things were occurring. Because I’ve seen it happen. And since my only experience of seeing it unfold has been targeted at a male victim it seems bizarre to me to treat the broader issue as primarily one of male-on-female aggression. Other stories posted in this thread have included examples of homophobic abuse and women abusing women. I don’t doubt that women are at higher risk of being targeted online, but it seems a waste of a good opportunity to do something about the whole problem if Kathy Sierra’s experience is treated as a gender issue alone.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 209 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Out of all the jokes made on PA, some of them infinitely more cutting, this one gets all the attention?!

    Makes you wonder if there's not some reason for it.

    Ahem. People have a right to express offence in civil terms. You have a right to believe they're overdoing it. But responding with open-ended speculation on their motives, character or secret beliefs isn't helpful.

    Pastoral blogsite-owner over and out ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • 3410,

    This is too wierd. I'm out too.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Easterbrook,

    Out of all the jokes made on PA, some of them infinitely more cutting, this one gets all the attention?!
    Makes you wonder if there's not some reason for it.

    An alert went out on the secret White Boy Wire (a network of corporate stooges, misogynists, colonisers and private school old boys) telling us to man the barricades and defend our hegemonic superiority. Your secret decoder ring didn't vibrate? </light-hearted sarcasm>

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 264 posts Report Reply

  • nanoplanet,

    Sheeesh, I can't believe how this thread has degenerated.
    Any of the precious and offended notice the title? Yellow Peril. I think that implies that references to ethnicity via colour are meant with just a little bit of mirth and irony.
    Steven if you want to throw yourself in the middle of something to argue your point in an aggressive and direct manner, don’t be surprised if people return the favour, and don’t suddenly get upset if not everyone praises your magnificent contributions.
    Russell I would have thought that if you couldn’t manage loyalty to other contributors you might at least but out. I have a lot of respect for your journalism but your judgement in some your comments on this thread is way off.
    The course of this conversation has really proved Tze's points regarding the disproportionate amount of shit thrown at female commentators, especially if they aren’t also white and dare to challenge white men. I doubt she would feel particularly vindicated or pleased though. I only hope she does continue to make more submissions. I doubt I will.

    Here • Since Apr 2007 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • nanoplanet,

    Sheeesh, I can't believe how this thread has degenerated.
    Any of the precious and offended notice the title? Yellow Peril. I think that implies that references to ethnicity via colour are meant with just a little bit of mirth and irony.
    Steven if you want to throw yourself in the middle of something to argue your point in an aggressive and direct manner, don’t be surprised if people return the favour, and don’t suddenly get upset if not everyone praises your magnificent contributions.
    Russell I would have thought that if you couldn’t manage loyalty to other contributors you might at least but out. I have a lot of respect for your journalism but your judgement in some your comments on this thread is way off.
    The course of this conversation has really proved Tze's points regarding the disproportionate amount of shit thrown at female commentators, especially if they aren’t also white and dare to challenge white men. I doubt she would feel particularly vindicated or pleased though. I only hope she does continue to make more submissions. I doubt I will.

    Here • Since Apr 2007 • 15 posts Report Reply

  • Anorak,

    I too am surprised at the turn this discussion has taken.
    There is certainly a problem with all kinds of online harrassment, but surely a blog for Take Back The Blog, an initiative set up to show support for Kathy Sierra, doesn't need to be full of "what about teh menz!!1!!"
    The thread kinda got hijacked...in response to the hijack I've included a link (i hope) to Chris Clarke of Pandagon's excellent response to the Kathy Sierra/Kos debacle.
    I implore you all to take a gander at it.
    Chris Clarke is a white boy, by the way.

    [I have fixed this link - TMM]

    Auckland • Since Apr 2007 • 61 posts Report Reply

  • Anorak,

    I'll try that link again, otherwise try the ol' cut and paste.

    [ [http://pandagon.net/2007/04/13/how-to-not-be-an-asshole-a-guide-for-men/] ]

    Auckland • Since Apr 2007 • 61 posts Report Reply

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