Having Been Human
<Previous Next>
Tue Oct 23 21:26:43 2012
Fenton

For a moment my hope that CNN is not utter crap was restored, but in a way that just left me feeling sad inside; they ran a story about how Katherine Fenton, the preschool teacher who asked about the wage gap in the third debate (second presidential), has suffered abuse, threats, and things akin to stalking... by some surprising actors.

It is lousy that there are some trolls that do this kind of thing. That's a hard problem to deal with, and I wrote about that recently. However, I don't expect news organisations (of any stripe) to be the origin of any of this; it's wrong both because journalism shouldn't feel so slanted in political ends and because that's a scummy thing to do when anyone does it and we only shake our head at trolls because we can't normally identify them to shame them. So frustrating. It's good that CNN ran the story, although not long afterwards they returned to their normal mindless drivel (let's analyse body language of candidates rather than, say, actually talk about policy and facts, because we're targeting Americans).

Maybe it's a bit weird that Fenton is emphatically "not a feminist" too; there's that whole "the third-wave nutters like Genderbitch and RWatson are not the only flavour of feminist out there, and presumably you're at least a first-waver of some sort or you wouldn't be asking the question" frustration. It sucks that some of the worst in the movement are not only the loudest but also are thought of by so many as owning the term.

Plus many more moderate conservatives are justifying the attacks on Fenton by calling her a democratic plant spouting nonsense about the pay gap. Also frustrating. Yes, the bare statistic is not all there is to say about the matter, and like most statistics one needs to understand the contributing factors to tease out causality (for the math-y, an SVD would be ideal!). It's still a fact, and except in the most unlikely world-of-facts people could imagine we're in, it's still an indicator that there are big problems left to solve. It should be the start of a conversation, not the start of personal attacks on the person who asks the question.

I guess having just finished reading a (really good) book about the run-up to the holocaust and how it felt like an entire society was Kitty Genovesed, more rubbing my nose into how badly some people react when their positions are pressed on by facts was probably not a great thing to pile in there (and yes, if you want to get meta, the fact that my general love of/hope for humanity is constantly tested and is tested here by incomvenient facts, causing me to become frazzled.. that's pretty meta. But I have never threatened anyone or lied or done more than ranted because of this constant anti-rosy-eyedness treatment I put myself through). I do wish that people could generally deal better with the idea that there are real problems that they don't personally suffer from that they might be able to help fix. They don't have to agree with the points, but that visceral reaction, rather than a dispassionate curiosity as to what might be inconvenient facts, is a problem.

After the story was done, I started to get to my dinner (ate at an Indian restaurant, hence the TV), reading a book that I ordered sometime back but haven't gotten around to cracking until now; it's Brené Brown's 「The Gifts of Imperfection」. I was initially really turned off by the book; it smelled like self-help, up to the point of using cutesey acrostics for some early points. Forced myself to read "a few more pages" and began to remember why I ordered the book; it is, more-or-less, a book of practical-life-philosophy that stretches into self-help, but it's elaborating a basic point that I also really believe in and which I have not elaborated enough on my own; that notions of perfection are toxic to health. More comfortable reading it now; there are things I will have to overlook, but I'm in the realm of liking it again. Probably helps that the non-intro chapters are less-BS. I became curious why I generally hate self-help books so much; I think it's that they feel sappy, really easy to write, and they don't really say anything (except for things that are often pretty unhealthy to say). Hoping this book will continue not feeling like that.