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What discourse norms do you tend to follow? Why? Do you think everyone else should follow them, and why?
Discourse isn’t that hard. Open your eyes and don’t be an asshole. Does anybody disagree with that in theory? Probably not, but in practice, some people need more, well, practice to see past their limitation.
Being open-eyed not-assholes shows up a couple ways in discourse. First, you need to listen and care about people who are suffering. Should someone who grew up under the weight of poverty, racism, or other discrimination be taunted with “well, if you just worked harder, everything would be OK for you?” Of course not, because that’s both factually wrong and assholishly mean. So don’t say it until you take spend some time listening to people who have been through that shit.
Second, you need to be aware of and challenge the system that creates suffering. It’s easy to say “I worked for everything I got, and fuck everybody else” when you haven’t taken the time to realize how easy you had it. And taking credit for something you didn’t earn? That’s being an asshole. Rubbing it in the face of someone the system keeps down for your benefit? Asshole^2. Instead, learn about the system and use that knowledge to confront the system and to open people’s minds.
So educate yourself before you talk, then use that knowledge to help people crushed by the system and to challenge the system itself. And should everyone do it? Duh, and yes.
What is the true reason, deep down, that you believe what you believe? What piece of evidence, test, or line of reasoning would convince you that you’re wrong about your ideology?
I believe what I believe because I’ve lived it, and because I know other people who have. Sure, there’s plenty of science – I could point you to dozens of studies showing that women get interrupted or that people of color don’t get hired, or that asshole parents cause suicides, and that’s all fine, but at the end of the day, I’ve lived it, and my friends have lived it.
I don’t need a study because watched my friends collapse in agony telling how how they got talked over in class, I’ve seen my loved ones not get jobs or get stopped by the cops, and I’ve taken the ten minutes it takes to listen to people’s experiences. Sadly, as a white cismale, I’ve also lived the other side – I’ve heard dudes telling gay bashing jokes in the locker room, seen teachers call on me instead of on brilliant women of color sitting near me, and I’ve been able to walk through a store or down a sidewalk without getting harassed or catcalled.
What would it take to convince me that I’m wrong? I guess the opposite of every fucking thing I’ve seen in my whole life. Some more science to show that all those studies were wrong would be a bonus, but let’s start with repeated testimony from people of color, LGBTQ friends, etc. that everything is going great. That would go a long way.
Gamergate is actually a great demonstration that white men just don’t know what it’s like not to be white men, and that they don’t know that they don’t know it. They get hard ons from pretending to kill things on their computer, and when they think someone threatens their precious boners, they move on to pretending to be tough guys on 4chan, without taking the time to give a yoctoshit about somebody else.
Basically, Gamergate’s seeds were planted when a Youtuber started a popular series of video game criticism, pointing out some pretty obvious stuff like Super Mario makes Mario a hero with agency and Peach a prize to be won. Instead of saying “duh, that’s something we should fix so everyone can enjoy videogames just like we do,” a group of 4chan white boys began to simmer with outrage that someone had a different opinion about their precious, especially an attractive woman with her own opinions. Similarly, they were frustrated that some journalists writing about games were perceived as have a pro-SJ (in other words reality-based) position.
This outrage that someone dared to hurt white feelings boiled over when a feminist game designer’s boyfriend posted a tell-all piece that included an allegation that the designer slept with a gaming journalist. (Not a journalist who then reviewed or reported on her games, mind you, just a gaming journalist). Given the chance to slut-shame a feminist target, the dregs of the internet screamed and leapt, with personal attacks, doxxing, nude photos, death threats, and whatever else they could come up with.
This is probably the part that shows the privilege blindness most clearly. Each time people tried to respond to Gamergate and point out that people were being harassed beyond all reason, Gamergaters punched back with thinnest of pretexts:
This journalist donated some money to a development project. That journalist had a friend who developed games. That other journalist over there wrote something mean about nerds. The Gamergate advocates were being portrayed as exclusively white male when they were only mostly white male.
For all I know, each of these points might have had some merit in a normal civil discussion, but each “reasonable” Gamergater was accompanied by a bunch more engaged in the same vile harassment – outing trans people; doxxing; threatening, catcalling, gaslighting and the like.
I’d like to think that if the Gamergaters actually knew a few of the victims attacked by their fellow travellers, then they would have decided that that wasn’t the time to raise their debaters’ points – if anything, it was good time to let the “ethics in gaming journalism” debate rest for a few months and focus on, you know, not destroying people’s lives – by calling out the worst of the harassers, by expressing support for people who were being harassed, and whatever else they could do. But instead, the Gamergaters just ignored the bodies piling up around them while they allegedly tried to discuss “ethics in gaming journalism.”
In the best case, carrying on the debate under those circumstances reflected white male privilege, where people being forced to flee from their homes and contemplate suicide weren’t perceived as real concerns because the primarily white men involved couldn’t imagine what it was like to be that injured by harassment, and in the worst case, it was a defensive reaction by a bunch of boys who felt threatened by feminism and were titillated by a chance to take an attractive woman down a peg by outing her sex life. Eventually, everyone got tired and gave up. The end, hopefully.