Tuesday, January 24, 2012

All topics ain't for ev'body... or are they?

Almost daily around there here Innanets, I see people pontificating about various topics that they may or may not know a damn thing about. For the most part I let it slide. I mean opinion is opinion, right? But when those opinions start easing towards a "knowledge share" or advisory slant - I need the good people calling themselves writers, bloggers, columnists, whatever to leave expert topics to the experts. Or at the very least, speak from a position of intelligence.

My older brother is a doctor. I am not. The extent of medical advice that I give out generally sounds like, "Nyquil is the bomb. Heating pads are miraculous inventions. Migraines were created by the devil. Drink more water." See what I did there? I shared my experience and told you what worked for me, you are free to draw your own conclusions.

Similarly, do I not always (always, always) tell people that I'm not a relationship expert? I can only give my opinion based on the crazy-azz life I've lived and the out-of-pocket things I've seen and wish you the best of luck. You'll rarely see me give marital advice. Know why? Multiple engagements do not a marriage make. I don't know from married life, I've played at it, been near it, come close and backed away. All I can do is offer a witty uneducated opinion and call in Dr. Jayme.

I mean, I have seen the reactions when non-African Americans attempt to speak to "the Black experience" - it's not pretty. Does this mean that white folks should never write about black folks? Of course not. But it means that the writer should pen either a) opinion & commentary b) researched facts from reputable sources c) fiction or d) factual news reports. Any attempt to delve into an experience that is not only foreign but complex should be considered long and hard.

Similarly, there are some "female" topics that men should approach with all due caution and reverence. Yes, reverence. Pregnancy and all menstrual issues to name one or two. Basically all issues surrounding the vijayjay except sex. Men can blog about sex all day and all night as long as they are willing to accept constructive feedback and performance appraisals.

I was sent the link to an article written by a man about his opinions on rape and responsibility. Not men being raped, women being raped. I had to pump the brakes. Rape is one of those topics that is already ubersensitive and personal.  Because of that and a myriad of other reasons, it's not a "winnable" topic. The best you can say is - rape is bad, don't do it. And back gingerly out of the conversation. But when you start tiptoeing around blame and responsibility - the waters get mighty murky especially coming from a male.

I also read an article penned by a European woman about why Native Americans hadn't "pulled themselves up by their bootstraps" by now and reclaimed land that was rightly theirs. I read in stunned disbelief as she delved into revolutionary strategies she believed would make hundreds of years of shiggity magically right itself. I had to stop reading in fear that her next line was telling African Americans to get back on the boat.

These types of articles leave me wondering why a writer chose a particular topic? Was the writer just really passionate about it? Was it the use of a knowingly inflammatory topic for pageviews? Did anyone consider the long-term value add? I'm not taking shots, I'm just curious as the bigger picture.

So I ask, good people, are there just some topics certain folks should leave well enough alone or is it all just open season? Should there be more "this is just my opinion" disclaimers tacked on? Do share your thoughts...

54 comments:

Oh Stewardess said...

Folks should tackle any topic they choose at their own peril ...I like the disclaimer you listed "This is just my opinion" or my 0.02cent

thinklikeRiley said...

I'm in the music industry. I used to write a music column. One day they asked me to review an opera dvd. Opera is cool but Riley don't know ish about it. I started the article "If you like heavy-breathing Italians in tights..." that was the last time they asked me to write about opera.

People can write what they like but stop acting like they know every damn thing.

PatriciaW said...

Yes.  Because chances are you are in the 99% who don't quite get it and don't realize it and therefore can't write effectively about it than in the 1% who may not have experienced/relate to/belong in group affected by the topic but manage to bring an understanding and sensitivity to said subject.

Moni said...

I read that rape article that you were referring to and the author needs to have a whole row of seats because it was a hot mess. I don't know anything about that author in particular, but often it comes down to a  big, fat ego and blatant ignorance. The type of ego that says, "I know better than these silly uninformed women/minorities/whoever how they should conduct their lives and solve their problems." The type of ignorance that fails to realize or doesn't care that  their solutions are nothing that the intended audience hasn't heard time and time and again. The type of ignorance and ego that ignores the greater societal issues that render their "well-meaning" advice meaningless.  Imo, if your opinion can reasonably be considered victim blaming, you should just leave well enough alone or, better yet, write something directed towards the perpetrators of violence and injustice.

Just_A_Thought1218 said...

yes. Emphatically yes. People should leave some stuff alone. I am not a doctor, nor a lawyer, no matter how much ER and Law & Order I've watched.  I know a grip of chemistry and some thermodynamics, but you won't see me arguing about fluid behavior or substrate composition because that is not my field of expertise. And, there are some real world experiences that I have absolutely no clue about. 

That first article you referenced?  That was the first thing that greeted me on twitter this morning.  The.First.Thing.  Let's just say it was not a pleasant start to my day.  Especially given that bloggers long history of trenchant fcukazz douchebaggery in regards to women.  It's almost as if that person's face should be the emblem for black male privilege.

Anywho, I won't rant anymore about that.  But to reiterate, yes, there are some issues that some people should do a whole lot less talking/writing/pontificating and an entire lifetime's worth of listening.

Shanda Webb said...

Absolutely right. 
The empirical data that writers/bloggers spew doesn't make them an expert. Also, it's important as bloggers to do research before you start claiming what you say to be true. Dish out facts to support your opinions and claims. 

Ithopiam said...

Okay my latest peetpeeve are males from a certain sexual orientation believing that because of that they are fashion gurus on facebook. I mean I just had to defriend someone who continue to take pictures of yes unclassy women and put them up for a public laugh.  Okay everybody likes a funny picture but everyday....no bueno

TrulyPC said...

That very same post was in my inbox.  I. Just. Can't. Deal. With. Stooges.

When I write I can be very passionate about my thoughts on a topic but I try not to imply in any way, shape or form that I am ever an authority on anything but me. 

invectiva said...

I wish all colleges/universities had a requirement course of Privilege 101. Maybe even high school courses. A lot of talking out of one's behind could be avoided if folks understood that their own perspective is not necessarily that of the rest of the world's.

OneChele said...

*whispers* totally stealing trenchant douchebaggery

Rob said...

My pet peeve is when male bloggers/writers/whatever spout some shiggity like they are speaking for all of us. Nah son, just cuz women play you for a simp and you can't find a good one - that's on you. Some of us happy out here. Quit projecting your lame my way.

Pure Choco said...

I wish I could find the link to this post a dude wrote about how women were overexaggerating PMS and cramps. Girl!!!

CaliGirlED said...

"If you like heavy-breathing Italians in tights..." that was the last time they asked me to write about opera."...You are insane Man!!! LOL

GuessImJay said...

Men who are not rapists and haven't been raped need to leave the topic alone. Let women discuss it and we'll ride in as invited, needed or wanted. Period. We have plenty of other things to talk about, really.

FreeBlackMan said...

It's like that skit Chris Rock did where he said rich people can't talk about poor people and skinny people can't talk about fat people. There are just some topics that make you come across douchey for even mentioning it.

Dude in my office now has the cubicle by the bathroom because he tried to drop knowledge about labor pains... in a meeting full of women. See? Douchey.

rozb said...

Some folks bend over and say "Hmm...here's an orifice I have not tried to speak out of yet. Wonder if I could talk out of it?" And that, my friends, is the origin of the crap that comes from crap talkers.

I wrote a blog about something like this. Wanna see it - here it goes: http://happysnappynappy.blogspot.com/2011/05/makes-me-wanna-holla.html

rozb said...

I wish I could quit you. But uh - can we read that review? 'Cause it sounds funny as Hay-ull!

rozb said...

Dude probably got some searing side-eye and tried to make his ill-fated post. While trying to wean a box of Midol and high-heeled pump from his butt...

blackprofessor said...

This topic strikes a nerve with me! I am an academic and I make my bread and butter from doing scientifically rigorous research that gets published.  That is my hustle and I get promoted based on the quality of work I do.  By default, most academics have to be experts in some topic area.   

It grates my nerves to read all this press about non-experts pontificating on stuff they haven't studied worth a dam!  I have two main gripes right now - single Black people and race relations.  If I see one more simple and non-scientific book about single Black people garnering major press (side eye to Richard Banks, Steve Harvey, Demetria Lucas and any other faux expert), I am going to choke someone!  There are academics who have been studying relationships/marriage for decades and there work doesn't get an iota of the press these individuals get. I am not going to get started on the discourse involving race because I might hijack this blog.  I conduct research on race and the idiocy I see in popular culture makes me want to pull my hair out.   

I am not saying that folks can't have an opinion, everyone has one.  There are people who have INFORMED opinions based on personal experience, empirical research, clinical studies, etc. and bring more to the conversation.  I personally would much rather hear from real experts with informed opinions that include nuance and depth than these characters but maybe that is just me. Rant over!

maureen said...

Read that article, and could not believe he wrote that.  then again, things from that blog  don't surprise anymore.
As the saying goes; silence is golden or as  my gramma used to say "babe u don't have to have opinion(s) on everything."
I'm interested in knowing his explanation to this maniac that has been going around raping seniors at  this  senior  living center  in my community.

BklynBajan said...

I can't breave....

maureen said...

I just hope for the life of me  that he did  not write that blog for hits. Lawd help me!

Leon X said...

If one cannot recognize the privilege they have when speaking on certain topics it is best that they do not speak on them.

CaliGirlED said...

LMAO!!!

CaliGirlED said...

I hate when people serve their opinion up on a "fact platter"! Everyone has an opinion, but if you want to shove yours off on me, in disagreement with mine, you need some proof, research, statistics, evidence, DNA, a CSI bag, something! I will shut a conversation down with silence when I see this happening. And then give the, "Why are you still talking?" look!

CaliGirlED said...

Ok who let me loose that day? LMAO!!!

rozb said...

You went in that day! It's folks like you (and the Bougie masses) that make even attempting a blog worthwhile!

CaliGirlED said...

I know it sounded like  was throwing shade to other women, but I really wasn't, I promise I wasn't! But that's how mamas get when they have to defend, it ain't always pretty! LMAO!!!

Leo the Yardie Chick said...

I haven'rt read that rape article (first I'm hearing of it), but unless this is what he wrote? He needs to have himself a sit-down.

Only1DivaC said...

"If you like heavy-breathing Italians in tights..."
 
This made my day. Thank you for the good laugh!

GammasWorld said...

I would definitely appreciate more "this is my opinion".  I read a lot of blogs and the ones I love are the ones that are clear that they're speaking from their own experience or it's their opinions.  The ones that Google a topic and reconstitute the first link that comes up and calls it "research" don't get another visit. 

Brenda Kay said...

Facebook is an absolute breeding ground for pseudo-relationship experts, pseudo-religion and faith experts, pseudo-political and US Constitutional experts, pseudo-race relations experts, and my personal favorite, Black men who are pseudo-experts on Black females. If I had a dollar for every unsolicited posting that I've received telling me what I need to do to get and keep a good Black man, I would be living on a very nice yacht in Principality of Monaco. ;-)

If you're not making a living wage or salary from your inspirational quotes, words of advice or ranting pontifications - miss me with them, please and thank you!

Javalicious said...

I love how you keep things polite without pointing fingers and then someone feels compelled to come in and drop the name and the site. WDDDA?  
Anywho - First amendment and all that but perhaps people should think longer and harder before sharing every opinion.

rhenewal said...

Why censor the name and the site? Let others read the offensive article if they wish to. Chele can be polite and whatnot as this is her industry/site, but I have no reason to hold back.

CCDreamz said...

"Some of us happy out here. Quit projecting your lame my way."  I need this on a tee shirt, coffee mug, and mouse pad.

DB said...

"I think he was reacting to the original article in Ebony in a somewhat
childish manner of "But why do I have to deal with this situation. I'm
not doing anything wrong!""

I do not think that is what he was trying to say.  It seems that he thought that the Ebony article he based the blog post on seemed to put all of the responsibility of stopping rape on men without telling women that they need to be careful in certain situations.  He did, however,  say that being careful may not stop a woman from getting raped.

CaliGirlED said...

If I come into your house and you have a "No Shoes On My Carpet" policy, I either need to take my shoes off or get back in my car.

DB said...

Non-rapist men are needed when the conversation starts.  The problem is non-rapist men are invited or wanted long after the conversation has started when if they had been involved in the beginning, more good could have been done.

GrownAzzMan said...

"If you like heavy-breathing Italians in tights..."
There is so much wrong with this...LOL

GrownAzzMan said...

I think people should write whatever they want. If a writer enjoys the public ridicule which is sure to come when they inject some tack-head-azz-bullshiggity into the public discourse they who are we to deny them?

aishao1122 said...

Many Native american tribes are losing ground to the 'american' objective of digging here in the US for oil, they have no water rights on many of the  lands, and basically live like thrid world refugees ON SOME of the reservations~~this is gleaned from doing two semesters of Native American studies which involved volunteering on two different reservations (one in Arizona, one in the Dakotas, plus my partner is Native American= little bit of knowledge) I personally still wouldn't touch on the Native experience or what went wrong where (i mean we can tell but still) Non Native speaking on the Native experience= How the hell would you know? Shut the hell up and sit down somewhere. (same thing goes for non-blacks speaking to the black experience)

As for rape: I have never been there, but the thought of someone taking what wasn't freely given is a huge fear for many women, the concept of powerlessness, is something that many women can empathize with. This however still doesn't make me an expert and I'm a woman; so I also don't talk about how these women should feel. Unless a man is speaking from the experience of having a partner/lover/friend/sibling who has been raped, and is discussing how he dealt with it, or how he helped her deal with it, I agree, he shouldn't discuss what he doesn't know.

Great post

aishao1122 said...

im glad you put it up because I had no idea what Chele was talking about, so i was only getting 1/2 of the conversation. 

Sol_dier said...

A discourse at whose expense?.

just because people want to talk about stuff doesn't mean they should and especially not at the expense of REAL victims. 
That post and some of the people defending it were just full of fail and so was the non-apology that followed. but hey ho.. He has an audience who will let it pass.

Sol_dier said...

lol . I've had people try to debate my no shoes policy in my house. 
I say try, because I usually start to usher them out the door. Dude... this is my sanctuary... come on now.

keishabrown said...

man. 
im glad i was unplugged from the webs yesterday. 
and i probably should have stayed today (for more fun, there is a follow up post).

all i can say is this, i dont have a problem with you sharing your opinion, but please recognize with great power comes great responsibility and that some hold the opinions of others higher than they perhaps should be.  there are already enough men who believe that rape is preventable, and now there are more. 

beaucoup de sighs. 

rozb said...

Tack-head-azz-bullshiggity. I wish I could quit you, GAM. But I cain't...

Rubie said...

I am not impressed with stats/empirical data my Prof. in grad school use to get so mad at me about that but I did not care. Numbers can be flipped to serve anybody's purpose or point of view in my opinion. 

Brenda Kay said...

I have a no shoes-in-the-house policy as well. And to make it easier, I have slippers by the door - Asian markets have them for less than $2.00 a pair. :-)

rhenewal said...

I don't know Sol_dier. I am trying to give dude the benefit of the doubt because I normally do enjoy his writing. I don't think I'm "letting it pass" because I'll definitely be looking out to see how many of his future articles are as un-thought-out and insensitive as this one was. The non-apology made it worse, IMHO. I'm trying to not be angry, though.

Sol_dier said...

'I am trying to give dude the benefit of the doubt because I normally do enjoy his writing.
That really is the definition of giving him a pass because of his previous body of work. 

I don't really understand where you are coming from but I respect your decision to do what is good for you.
As for me, I can't see anything more heinous than victim blaming rape victims and then smugly declaring you are not apologising for it and implying you were being rational but those in opposition to you were simply emotional and not able to grasp the intellectual nuance of your debate. - What utter nonsense.

I don't care how funny, fine, hooked up, balling or educated you are. You victim blame, there has to be something wrong with your soul. I ain't hanging around to find out.

You are being emotional, angry, sensitive is the last resort of weak people who find your sentiments frustrating because they can find no real opposition to it, so they try to be dismissive.

And to top it off you have women & men running through and thanking him for stepping on the backs of people who have endured a painful, humiliating & devastating experience for blog hits?.  obviously that place is #WDDDA

I mean, seriously?.  O_O .

Nah mate, you ain't gotta be disrespectful more than once for me to chuck the deuces. 

Sol_dier said...

hi 5

Sol_dier said...

GAM.. 
ridicule? You know its the most asinine who get the loudest supporters. Steve Harvey is spouting that junk and his audience & approval is vast.

C Nelson said...

It seems that he thought that the Ebony article he based the blog post
on seemed to put all of the responsibility of stopping rape on men
without telling women that they need to be careful in certain
situations.


... I'm of the opinion that telling men not to rape, given that it is overwhelmingly men who rape,  is far more effective in stopping rape than giving women a set of rules to follow to maybe, hopefully, keep them out of the way of rapists ever has been or ever will be, myself. You can leave a thousand dollars on the table all day long; only a thief will steal it.

(It's not like every woman ever, from the time she's big enough you don't let her run around without a shirt anymore, hasn't heard all those rules -- and all they end up being is a list of reasons why, if someone does rape her, we won't take her seriously and we won't hold her rapist's feet to the fire. After all, if she didn't do all those many things perfectly, you can't really blame the guy, right?)

Writerz Block Blog said...

I think people should be able to write or comment about whatever they want.  It's tough to criticize someone for doing what you love them to do.  These cats write smart-ass remarks err day all day and get mad praise for it.  What did you expect from them dudes?  Plus, there are more important things to put the effort into instead of backlashing a blogger for writing the same way he writes every day. 

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