Thursday, April 12, 2007

FAQ: Why are you concentrating on X when Y is so much more important?

I/we often address Y, but right now we're addressing X. We can and do work on both X and Y, but persuading others and planning productively means concentrating selectively. Besides, working on X and Y seperately but in parallel is more productive for both matters, as they both counter Z (which we both detest, right?) from different directions.

Derailing a discussion of X with demands that others address Y because "it's so much more important" is a very common trolling tactic, and long acknowledged as a cheap rhetorical trick: just another red herring.

If you don't mean to troll, if you are genuinely and adamantly of the opinion that discussing X is a waste of time in light of the importance of Y, then simply disrupting the discussion of others is unlikely to make them sympathetic to your arguments.

Even if you are a fellow-feminist with a different area of emphasis, demanding that your special concern is discussed Right! Now! is disruptive nonetheless, and actively works against feminist solidarity. Are you sure that's what you want to do?

How about you, whether feminist or anti-feminist, instead try this? Write about how much Y matters on your own chunk of cyberspace, and then make a short comment in the discussion-about-X saying "By the way, I'm also hugely concerned with the problem of Y, and I've written about it [here] if you would like to discuss it".

Point made, discussion of X still on track, and very possibly a productive discussion of Y taking place in parallel. Everybody wins, except the trolls.

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