Sunday, 7 August 2011

On Angry Blogging and the Use of the Second Person

Vaulting and I had very different reactions to this post about street harassment over at feministe. I wanted to explore why.

(A note for readers: I'm not certain why I reacted so negatively to it, but I'm pretty sure it's not because I think the lousy excuse for a human being who said "nice legs" while running over her foot was in the right. Just saying.)

See, Vaulting said I should go read the post because it encapsulated well the frustrations some women experience with their treatment on the street. There is (in my understanding of things) a problem in our society whereby many straight men think it's somehow their birthright to comment on a woman's appearance, usually in a way that claims a space and makes a woman (or, indeed, all women) into trespassers, welcome or otherwise.

Nevertheless, I couldn't read the post.

I started, but by the fifth-ish paragraph the animosity started to get to me, shortly after that I started to skim, waiting for the author to address me-- or, indeed, address anyone who wasn't the douchebag who ran over her foot. But it didn't happen. It left me feeling upset. Right to the very end, "you" meant "him".

And that's where I think the problem lay. There's a danger, I think, in using the second person when you're angry and blogging. Think of anger as a gun: when you're blogging, "you" is your reader -- the problem is, in this case, "you" is also who the gun is being pointed at. So even though the article was addressed to the fellow with his head so far up his posterior that he was wearing it as a hat, I had a hard time dissociating that "you" from the one that meant "me". That meant every bit of anger meant for him hit me, and resulted in my inability to continue reading the post long enough to empathize with the writer.

Maybe I'm "thin-skinned"; maybe that's it. All I know is that by the time I was halfway through, I felt done with being sworn at and blamed, and stopped reading. Maybe the blogger actually thought that the chauvinist-bicyclist was an every-day feministe blog reader, but I doubt it. I think in this case, and perhaps in many cases of angry blogging in the second person, our author has shot her arrow over the house, and hurt her readers.

What do you think, dear readers? Have you ever second-person angry-blogged? What were you aiming at? What did you hit?

1 comment:

meg said...

I clicked through from my RSS feed thinking, After five days, I bet the comment space is going gangbusters! But no. So sad.

Anyway, I understand your feeling implicated -- even interpellated -- by her screed, but I suspect it's more about the nature of one strain of gender polemics than about the second person.