OP/ED: Misogyny in our comments

I can’t help but think that there is a growing misogyny in many of the comments posted on WEHOville. This is troubling and sad in a City that prides itself on equity, inclusion, and the advancement of rights for all people regardless of orientation, ethnicity, gender.

Since its inception several years ago, WEHOville has been an interesting and reflective digest of West Hollywood politics, City projects, conflicts and controversies. The comment section of WEHOville provided a forum for residents to share their perspectives regarding articles published as well as other readers’ comments.

Many controversies have erupted over the years with some of the articles and certainly there were many readers who took umbrage with said articles and with other readers’ comments on the site. To somewhat ameliorate name calling, commenters were cautioned about making personal attacks against other commenters. Somehow that protocol has disappeared over the last year into what has seemed to be a free-for-all slug-fest in the commenter section. Name calling and disparagement of another’s comments seems the rule rather than the exception. And all of this takes place within a safe space of anonymity.

Commenters, who often remain hidden behind pseudonyms, seem in constant battle with who can best belittle other commenters’ opinions. And when they don’t have each other to disparage, they turn their ire on the City’s councilmembers and staff. For elected officials and to a lesser extent for staff, this comes with the territory. Nevertheless, these commenters remain hidden behind a wall of anonymous bullying.

Which brings me to the issue of misogyny and the use of the acronym SHE by some WEHOville commenters to describe three of our councilmembers.

Let’s start with a definition of misogyny. This is taken from Wikipedia, which may not be considered an academic resource, but certainly aligns with my understanding of the word:

Misogyny is hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women. It is a form of sexism that keeps women at a lower social status than men, thus maintaining the societal roles of patriarchy.

Misogyny can be understood both as an attitude held by individuals, primarily by men, and as a widespread cultural custom or system.

In feminist thought, misogyny also includes the rejection of feminine qualities. It holds in contempt institutions, work, hobbies, or habits associated with women. It rejects any aspects of men that are seen as feminine or unmanly. Misogyny may or may not include hate towards LGBT people, in the forms of homophobia and transmisogyny. Racism and other prejudices may reinforce and overlap with misogyny.

Growing up in the 1960s and ‘70s as a gay youth, I recall many instances of the word “femme” and “girlie” directed at me – a bullying tactic to somehow reduce me to what was perceived to be a lower societal status – a female. Thus, I find the acronym SHE to be reductive and misogynistic – and also homophobic when directed at two of our LGBTQ councilmembers who have been disparaged as part of the so-called SHE in the comment section of WEHOville.

“Misogyny also includes the rejection of feminine qualities”: I also find it reductive and misogynistic when one of our councilmembers is ridiculed for dying his hair or using nail polish, beauty rituals more associated with women. I can almost hear the commenters’ brains spinning: “He’s a male. How dare he lower himself to the status of a woman.”

Although women can certainly participate in misogynistic practices, I expect many of the SHE commenters are male, exercising their gender privilege so they can put these councilmembers “in their place.” Thus diminishing the hard work the councilmembers had to undertake to get elected as well as the hard work they undertake every day in service to our City.

I’m also concerned about a couple recent articles that have appeared regarding one of our councilmembers, currently running for the Los Angeles County Supervisor position for the 3rd District. This councilmember has been the target of numerous attacks by commenters as well as some misinformation appearing in WEHOville. A recent article published in this digest indicated that this councilmember was inebriated at a bar and interfered with a police activity. The councilmember was not there, was not inebriated and had no interaction with the police. Yet no official retraction was posted. A more recent article noted that an independent expenditure committee has been raising money for the supervisorial candidate, as if that is somehow disreputable. It isn’t. Unfortunately, that’s how politics work in this country. Candidates have to spend big bucks to get elected and they need contributors to help them, as well as these independent expenditure committees. I would wager a bet that no one running for office likes this or enjoys it or even wants this, but that is just how it works. Not everyone who runs for a public office is a billionaire businessman like Rick Caruso who can afford to fund his own campaign. And the comments following these articles are full of quick, bullying – and mostly anonymous – digs.

I have no idea how many people read WEHOville. Based on the small number of repeat commenters, it may not be many, unless, like me, readers prefer not to engage in posting so as not to become a target themselves of the bullying tactics practiced by the anonymous commenters. However, I also feel it is my responsibility as a resident and reader, to call out what I perceive to be the unfair comments and opinions that I see in the current iteration of WEHOville.

I would urge my fellow residents to be more thoughtful before they comment on this digital space – to be less reductive and more productive. Be aware of the inherent misogyny you may be projecting in your attacks on councilmembers and other readers of WEHOville. Also, please use your real names and don’t hide behind anonymity. I believe this will help you consider more thoughtfully your comments. WEHOville can be a very helpful forum for our City, but only if we are brave enough to use our names and thoughtful enough to engage productively with our neighbors. I believe the owners and editor of WEHOville are sincere when they say they want to make WEHOville a community forum. However, it is up to us, readers and commenters, to make this a more balanced periodical. We’re neighbors. Let’s act like it.

Post Scripts:

1. After reviewing this opinion piece, I was informed by WEHOville that it has a readership of 4,000 per day and that it has resumed the review of comments before they are posted. Although I have not witnessed a significant change in the tenor of the comments, this is nevertheless a positive step taken by the editor and owners.

2. I do want to acknowledge and thank WEHOville for posting this opinion that appears critical of its current direction. I also want to acknowledge fellow residents and commenters to WEHOville who do not hide behind a pseudonym in sharing their opinions: Steve Martin, Carlton Cronin, Ruth Williams, Jerome Cleary, Alan Strasburg, Elyse Eisenberg and others. Whether or not I agree or disagree with the opinions they post, I do respect them for the courage to give a face and name to their opinions. That’s a helpful step toward more positive civic engagement.

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Andrew Campbell
Andrew Campbell
24 days ago

I’m not sure how many people are still tuning in to this discussion, but I do want to thank all the people who posted. It was an illuminating experience, to say the least. I received several other comments from readers via email. I wasn’t sure about sharing them, but they gave me the option to do so. Not wanting to enter the fray of attacks, they also wish to remain anonymous and did not want to engage on this site. The following is an email I received from one (male) reader and West Hollywood resident. He cites an interesting point… Read more »

Last edited 24 days ago by Andrew Campbell
Good Goblin
Good Goblin
24 days ago

Small minds talk about people, mediocre minds talk about events, great minds discuss ideas.

Even in anonymity it is good to present ideas, information which even to the smallest degree, may turn on an occasional light bulb. Often folks are required to hack through the idiocy to make reasonable responses. Lesson: one can rarely have an illuminating conversation with an idiot without slipping into idiocy.

Thanks for sticking your neck out .

Ian-"The dumb tramp next door".
Ian-"The dumb tramp next door".
22 days ago

Dear Mr. Campbell,   “Readers Responses” did not begin with social media. Nor one’s interpretation of another’s written word. Purple prose does not an intellectual make one (due note the delivered grammatical gibberish).   Hemingway’s entire legendary career was built upon his simplicity in delivering powerful, emotion filled stories with language used by common folk.   Hollywood, indeed, West Hollywood was mot made for those faint of heart. Rejection and the tough mirror of truth is the DNA of those that survive its life of sharks.   I suspect you anticipated a Gatsbyesque response to your lengthy, condescending opinion, in… Read more »

Last edited 22 days ago by Ian-"The dumb tramp next door".
SHEpocalypse
SHEpocalypse
24 days ago

I guess Mr. Campbell is coming for me? I like the term SHE for our three stooges because they try to force everyone to use pronouns like some woke fascist state. Maybe I will call them Larry, Curly and Moe moving forward so their goons have less reason to claim anyone that does not agree with them as racist and sexist.

Andrew Campbell
Andrew Campbell
24 days ago
Reply to  SHEpocalypse

Thank you for weighing in. I actually was not sure who started this, so thanks for taking ownership. I received several other comments from readers via email. I wasn’t sure about sharing them, but they gave me the option to do so. Not wanting to enter the fray of attacks, they also wish to remain anonymous and did not want to engage on this site. The following is an email I received from one (male) reader. I will forward him your comment which will clarify why you decided on SHE. Thank you for the clarification. Here’s the comment: From what… Read more »

Last edited 24 days ago by Andrew Campbell
Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
12 days ago

When an acronym spells a common word that’s the one you go with.

Ian-"The dumb tramp next door".
Ian-"The dumb tramp next door".
22 days ago
Reply to  SHEpocalypse

I’ll stand shoulder to should with you, general!

Good Goblin
Good Goblin
25 days ago

Dear Mr. Campbell, Please stand up and do something for your country, city or self instead of finding grievances. The good work is located on the other side of the garden.

Jim Nasium
Jim Nasium
25 days ago

This opinion piece ain’t going over too well.

Andrew Campbell
Andrew Campbell
24 days ago
Reply to  Jim Nasium

Jim, I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this comment. After a day of personal attacks, it brought me a welcome chuckle. Thanks!

Took The Bait
Took The Bait
24 days ago
Reply to  Jim Nasium

Quite the opposite; it’s accomplishing exactly what it’s supposed to. It brought out the misogynists en masse! Just like Trump brought out the sleeping neo-nazis.

Ian-"The dumb tramp next door".
Ian-"The dumb tramp next door".
22 days ago
Reply to  Took The Bait

Along with the Far Left Fanatic Dictators with their shields of Holier Than Thou (or you must destroyed). A step by step play by the ol’Nazi agenda. Least we forget their “Word” police, always on active duty, unless of course they are burning your house down, standing up for degenerates who are busy shooting black children in Chicago or using hammers to rob or 12″ blades to stab you to death (out in an hour for round 642). I am just waiting for one of them to confront me about a word in common use until the present day Lunatic… Read more »

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
12 days ago
Reply to  Took The Bait

You are accepting the premise that he has made the case for misogyny. He has not!

Irrelevant
Irrelevant
12 days ago
Reply to  Gimmeabreak

Mr. Campbell succeeded in confirming his irrelevance.

Another Swamp
Another Swamp
26 days ago

Strange that Mr. Campbell singles out misogyny as a great character flaw. How about occupying the bureaucratic swamp in the arts world, more specifically as recent West Hollywood’s Arts Administrator. Could Mr. Campbell please articulate what his significant contributions were?

WehoFan
WehoFan
25 days ago
Reply to  Another Swamp

He took 100k+/year from West Hollywood and now wants to censor people for expressing themselves.

Another Swamp
Another Swamp
25 days ago
Reply to  WehoFan

Interestingly the great architect of the system that has tolerated and or possibly inspired these staff members has long gone. The seeds were planted and now we are witnessing the poison fruit. The great experiment that was West Hollywood, which began with some noble goals, has been neglected and sabotaged along the way in full view of the public. Excessive salaries + benefits camouflaged many of the symptoms. Seems the entire system has the disease and is now unraveling. Regardless of who sits on the city council this is likely to continue unless there is a clean sweep. There doesn’t… Read more »

greeneyedguy
greeneyedguy
25 days ago
Reply to  WehoFan

now wants to censor people for expressing themselves.”

No, he’s encouraging people to debate and discuss in a more civil manner. Why can’t you understand that? Why do you always want to go for the jugular and just tear people down on a daily basis?

Ian
Ian
25 days ago
Reply to  greeneyedguy

Who is “HE”? He has an opinion, good. Every poster has an opinion. His opinion piece is nothing more than a post with his opinion as are the hundreds of other posts. I would dare say as passive/aggressive as some of those he so condescendingly points out. What Suzy thinks is etiquette befitting her hears may not be received in the same manner as Sam. Different strokes for different folks. No one forces a single person in this town to read or respond to any post in this valued media outlet. Wehoville has conducted its operation on par with and… Read more »

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
26 days ago

I have long lamented the inanity of commentary that is largely enabled by anonymity and I still do, I do categorize anonymous comments into the well-meaning variety on one side and the simply useless and moronic type on the other side. The latter rarely, if ever, add substance to the discourse. The First Amendment guarantees that any fool can express their foolishness and the rest of us can form our own opinions of their character and intellectual heft, even if their identities will be forever ensconced in anonymity. I admire anyone who expresses an opinion and opens themself up to… Read more »

Disengage
Disengage
26 days ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

People should be able to reserve the right to publish their names as long as they contribute factual and/or thought provoking ideas to the conversation. Unfortunately there are many unhappy, downright mean individuals, and a greater profusion than imaginable in Weho, who find glee in acidic comments. Since they are easily recognized why not simply disengage from them and let them stand on their own merit or lack thereof?

Jose
Jose
25 days ago
Reply to  Disengage

Excellent

Alan Strasburg
Alan Strasburg
25 days ago
Reply to  Disengage

Absolutely. I have increasingly endeavored to do just that. I’m not perfect and sometimes the itch to respond is there, but it’s best to let the acid stand in its own corrosive pool.

Disegage
Disegage
25 days ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

Yes, a very wise friend acquainted me with the concept of disengagement several years ago. Doing so provided a clear focus on what the offender or opponent was up to and allowed time to focus on what was known to be true. The dots connect and ultimately the situation collapses under its own weight. Works for situations and people. When people are spinning out of control, best to keep out of their way.

Jose
Jose
25 days ago
Reply to  Alan Strasburg

Good post.

voter
voter
26 days ago

It’s clear that the residents of West Hollywood are extremely dissatisfied with most of the council members. The comments and complaints are not sexist or racist. We just want effective leadership.

Horvath sent out election mailers claiming to have an 80% success rate at dealing with homelessness. Calling her a corrupt and pandering liar is the right thing to do.

WehoFan
WehoFan
26 days ago

Andrew Campbell wants to attack and censor people he doesn’t agree with.

What Next?
What Next?
26 days ago

I love how everyone talks about being anti women but they never talk about misandry. The hatred of men. That’s not politically correct. Yet the woke types lump everyone into the LGBTQ community. Like you’re a gay man and you hang out with women, like Shyne or Horvath who are always putting men down. Give me a break. Did you ever go to gay men’s parties it’s not filled with a lot of women. For many, just dealing with their c-nt mothers usually is enough. The only reason the woke commenters want you to identify yourself is to cancel you… Read more »

WeHo Mary!
WeHo Mary!
26 days ago

I think you need to lighten up a little, don’t take the comments section so seriously. I definitely agree about the motivation behind the SHE acronym, but it’s also too stupid to take seriously. Pointing out John Erickson’s peculiar appearance isn’t necessarily rooted in misogyny, for me, the hair and nails are an example of attention seeking behavior. I would think the same thing if he styled himself in a hyper-masculine manner. Maybe you should try to find humor in what you read here. I always look forward to see what Ham Shipey, greeneyedguy and Cy Husain comment because it’s… Read more »

greeneyedguy
greeneyedguy
26 days ago
Reply to  WeHo Mary!

for me, the hair and nails are an example of attention seeking behavior.”

Who cares? Have you been out to the gay bars in the past few years? So many people dye their hare and paint their nails. It’s just fun to do sometimes.

Let’s concentrate on criticizing ideals and actions.

WeHo Mary!
WeHo Mary!
26 days ago
Reply to  greeneyedguy

Yeah, it’s fun, but it also says, “look at me!!!” Another way of looking at it is that coloring your hair, for example, signals to others that you’re part of a certain group. The gatekeepers love this, because it allows them to easily judge and keep track of everyone.

As far as what people look like in gay bars, I’m usually shocked at how people dress conservatively. Interestingly enough, I tend to see more crazy ensembles at the gym. It’s all entertaining, love to see people starring in their own movies, and walking down an imaginary runway (slaying?).

greeneyedguy
greeneyedguy
26 days ago
Reply to  WeHo Mary!

You look at as “look at me” but some people are just living out their lives how they see fit.

If everyone wore plain old navy clothes and suits, the world would be a boring place! Just get over it.

WeHo Mary!
WeHo Mary!
26 days ago
Reply to  greeneyedguy

Trust me, I don’t want people to stop wearing crazy costumes. I don’t want to get over it! People watching is one of my favorite pastimes. I also think that West Hollywood’s signature mental illness is histrionic personality disorder. It’s our global brand!

Idiotic Behavior
Idiotic Behavior
26 days ago
Reply to  WeHo Mary!

A very wise, elegant woman suggested that “one should never leave home looking like a spectacle, or acting like one”.🙄 It robs one of their respectability and dignity.😇

Edd
Edd
26 days ago
Reply to  WeHo Mary!

“ Another way of looking at it is that coloring your hair, for example, signals to others that you’re part of a certain group. ”

What “group” do these people belong to? I colored my hair blue last summer just because I wanted to try it, did I accidentally send an unintended signal that I was part of a group?

Stop with the stereotyping, please.

WeHo Mary!
WeHo Mary!
25 days ago
Reply to  Edd

Congratulations on the blue hair, I hope you got lots of attention and validation. The only group that I hope you’re part of is a support group. Sounds like you need it.

Ham Shipey
Ham Shipey
26 days ago
Reply to  greeneyedguy

no…..we haven’t.

hifi5000
hifi5000
26 days ago

After thinking about it,the use of the SHE acronym does appear to be misogynous,even if the users don’t realize it can be seen that way.The SHE acronym is used in place of the West Hollywood city councilpersons names which is convenient for commenters on here.

Maybe it is time the full names or at least the surnames of the councilpersons should be used instead. Shye,Horvath and Erickson are the last names for them.If you have an issue with one of the councilpersons,then use their last name and tell the readers why you have a disagreement with what they did.

Gimmeabreak
Gimmeabreak
26 days ago
Reply to  hifi5000

Uhhhh ….. WHUTT?

Jose
Jose
27 days ago

Andrew, it is quite the stretch to pontificate about misogyny because certain individuals who happen to be women, are having a disproportionate impact on the quality of life in West Hollywood. Moreover, the level of crime in this city is unprecedented, and is a direct result of these individual’s actions. Direct communication has the ability to offend many who aren’t accustomed to being addressed in a firm manner. Your opinion is that of but one reader. I applaud Wehoville’s stewardship of upholding Free Speech. Free Speech seems to threaten those that coyly attempt to impose their wills upon others. That… Read more »

Last edited 27 days ago by Jose
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