I was going to add this on to an outfit post, but I feel it deserves it’s own post, so I’ve posted the outfit earlier today, and now you’re getting the full benefit (or not!) or me going on about something or other.
Have you seen the contoversy L. on academichic kicked off after describing her female students as ‘parading their bodies’ (thanks to La Historiadore de Moda for the link)? I don’t want to add to the substance of the discussion here (I’ve documented some of the concerns I have about the modesty debate in a previous post), but I just wanted to point out of what a high quality the critiques offered in the comments were. Yes, people disagreed very strongly with what L. had written but they did so in a rational, respectful way, they focused specifically on what she had actually said, and offered different ways of thinking about the issue. Which is as it should be, because as a blogger you should expect get judged on what you write, and that expectation is particularly strong for a blog written by academics. With one single exception, noone attacked her personally, i.e on anything other than the statements in her post. And L. herself recognised this, and gave an excellent defense/apology in the same rational respectful manner.
Yet many commenters described those giving a critique as making personal attacks and described what the critiquers had said as unacceptable and rude (ironically, some of these same people then did get quite personal in their refutation of the critiques). This worries me a lot. As I said in a previous post on critique, challenging people on their views in a grown up and respectful manner is one of the best things about blogging, and crucial for working through ideas properly. But if what I perceive as adult discussion is perceived by others as personal attacks, then how can we ever understand each other across different positions? What hope is there for any sort of critique? Are we really left with only ever commenting if we agree?
photo by Mamluke.