A Comment So Dumb, I Had To Memorialize It

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 12.06% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

So here’s my dirty little secret: nothing I do over here on this little corner of the web causes much fuss, these days.
Which is not to say that I don’t post my Social Justice Warrior-style essays – but I’ve been doing this schtick for so long that people have come to know what to expect.  I hear some of my friends going, “My Facebook, oh, it’s so filled with angry conservatives!”  Whereas I’ve been posting for so long that either the conservatives have learned to live with me, or they’ve fled.  And I’m not popular enough that the opposition will come over here just to make fun of me.
So occasionally I’ll write a piece like “Why Straight Dudes Don’t Get As Offended As Normal People Do,” and it’ll get linked around, and maybe I’ll get a few extra thousand hits – but my comments section looks pretty much the same.  I am, largely, preaching to the same choir.
But on FetLife…
I cross-post some of my political essays to FetLife, where it often reaches their “Kinky and Popular” front page, and hooooly shit do I get some frothing opposition.  Which is good!  Meeting opposition is where you have the potential to change minds!  So most of my spirited debates are over on FetLife these days.
And posting my “Straight White Dudes” essay has been a cauldron of amusement.  People started keeping a tally of the number of straight white cis guys who posted comments without even bothering to read to the end.
And it was there, my friends, that my favorite comment ever originated.
One particularly strident dude took me to task at length for being a sad windbag.  When do words ever change anything?  You’re just a sad sack couch potato, your side doesn’t have any effective protests, you’re useless and worthless and you name it.
I commented back.  I got two private emails from people warning me “DO NOT ENGAGE WITH THIS BOZO, HE NEVER SHUTS UP.”   And lo, he didn’t, going on at further length about the things I did and didn’t do.  (It doesn’t help that I wasn’t arguing my case as well as I could have.)
Eventually, he unleashes this gem:
“In full disclosure I make a lot of money. So I BUY the trappings of privilege, I didn’t inherit it and it wasn’t given to me. When I started my business I didn’t have two nickels to rub together. And I had exactly ZERO privilege to trade on. I didn’t make it because I was White or a man, or had a wife that was born female. I did it because I was willing to do what other people wouldn’t. Got my hands very dirty and handled some truly disgusting shit, but it paid well.
“And then I risked everything I had and took risks. I got lucky, but I worked very, very hard. There were no springs in my boots as I’ve heard used as a common metaphor. And among almost all the small business owners I know the story is pretty similar.
“We rose by our own hands. Yes we had employees. Capitalized on opportunities where we could and now we get to be told that we are to blame for your missed opportunities in this life.”
And actually, even though I hadn’t discussed privilege at all with him, nor had I blamed him for any missed opportunities, I actually did feel some connection with the dude.  I feel that a lot in discussions of privilege – people going, “I worked hard, this is mine, how dare you say I had it easy?” Because hell, I worked hard to get where I am, I could see how people can feel a sense of that pride ripped away from them.
So I wrote a long and rather heartfelt comment that was a reiteration of my essay “If It’s Not Privilege, What Is?” I talked about how I was a depressive, and had twenty-five years of struggle to get my novel published, and I missed out on parties and lost girlfriends and wrote for three hours a night to fulfill my dream –
– and yet despite all that hard work to get where I was, I still had to acknowledge that women have it harder, people with chronic illnesses have it harder, poor people have it harder.  And that’s why I believe that “You worked hard to get what you got” and “Others can have it harder” is not a contradiction.
And despite the fact that a link to my book is literally the first thing on my FetLife profile, this was my favorite comment of all time:
“Then I guess you have to keep hustling don’t you Ferrett. I left that part out. I got up today and knew I had to keep running to stay ahead of the crashing wave.
“See there is no resting on your laurels. It doesn’t work like that. Sorry bud there is no case of bud lite waiting for you after you type another 500 words. You have to be able to sell something.
“Maybe if this isn’t working you should try something else. I realize that sounds harsh, I don’t mean to say you aren’t good at it, but maybe there is no market for what you are selling?”
Wanna know what it looks like when a dude loses an argument?
It looks like that.  And oh, it’s the best feeling in the world.
Despite the fact that he’d made whole posts about who I was and how I acted and how he knew my kind, he didn’t even know I’d sold a book.  (Or two, if you count the sequel dropping in six weeks.  Or, if you’re really into that sort of thing, three books, as I just sold the third in the series.)
He didn’t even read the first paragraph of my profile.  Hadn’t Googled me, hadn’t checked, just assumed that because I was an SJW I was a failure.  (In the way a lot of straight white cis dude are claiming I make assumptions about them, even though I acknowledged those stereotypes were unfair in the essay itself.)
So yeah.  It’s the best feeling in the world for me, watching him now twist and turn, attempting to say things like “I didn’t read your profile because I didnt think enough of you to spend much time researching your life” and accusing me of a “clumsy attempt at a trap” and…
Doesn’t matter.  He just lost the game.  All his authority, dribbled away.
You rarely get to watch such a magnificent foot-shooting, but there we have it!

1 Comment

  1. Brad
    Sep 1, 2015

    I’ve never seen somebody express the “x have it harder” idea in a way that doesn’t feel like it invalidates the person’s bad beats story. I’m close to thinking it’s impossible because of a scope mismatch where people that don’t get it are trying to have a personal conversation and compare themselves to Oprah or something when we’re talking about emergent social phenomena. The thing is, your personal shit actually doesn’t matter on the level of driving while black or wearing clothes while female.
    I prefer to frame privilege negatively rather than positively because it at least avoids “you have it easier” turning into “you have it easy” because they stopped listening and when white people are in a shitty situation because of their mental illness or poverty or social pariah-ness (nerds of a certain age) it’s really hard to get them to care about somebody else’s shit (see the otherwise inexplicable poor white republican.) You do it a little bit when you say others have it harder. Life shits on everyone because reality sucks and people suck and capitalism sucks (especially for the “losers”), but some people get shit on more. We should chip in to get them umbrellas. And my metaphor just got really weird…

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