Comment Policy

This comment policy is required reading before commenting, as are all linked articles herein except those marked "optional". Failure to do the required reading before commenting will result in the revocation of commenting privileges.


Ana Mardoll's Ramblings is a progressive blog dedicated to deconstructing literature and media in order to better understand the privileges, biases, and systemic marginalizations in our culture. This includes close examination of literature and how it intersects with and is influenced by larger society, regardless of individual authorial intent.

[Required Reading: Why This Matters by Ana Mardoll]

As part of the feminist activism conducted in this space, we engage with the following ideas and concepts: privilege, sexism, racism, heteronormativity, fat-hatred, ableism, gender-policing, bully culture, rape culture, informed consent, context, and a multitude of related feminist subjects. Topics and conversations which are not on-topic for activist threads must be proactively taken to posts tagged as Open Threads, out of respect for the activist conversation the contributer(s) are seeking to foster.

[Required Reading: Community Note by Ana Mardoll]

Advanced Feminism vs. Feminism 101

This is not a Feminism 101 site. As part of the advanced feminism nature of this space, we expect commenters to actively familiarize themselves with the above terms and concepts before commenting. (Lurking and/or Googling before commenting are both highly encouraged here.)

Though some posts may touch on basic 101 subject matter, the comment threads are for members of the community seeking to engage in meaningful community activism at an advanced level. For that reason, we do not do newbie education on demand, nor will we indulge any form of "devil's advocacy" or discussion which seeks to treat feminist issues as nothing more than abstract academic thought experiments. Basic 101 questions are allowed only in the posts tagged as Open Threads, and then with the understanding that commenters must still respect the safe space guidelines.

[Optional Reading] Some valuable Feminism 101 explanations are available at Shakesville and Shapely Prose and Fat Nutritionist and Geek Feminism as well as numerous other places on the internet.

Safe Space Community Guidelines

The comment threads here are actively moderated in order to maintain a safe space for readers. A "safe space" is a place where marginalized people are safe from further marginalization. Note that the term does not refer to a space where privilege is never challenged or pointed out just because to do so might make someone feel uncomfortable. Understand that "unsafe" and "uncomfortable" are not synonymous.

[Required Reading] Safe Space at Geek Feminism Wiki

Because most of us have some form of privilege (and because all of us are products of toxic cultures), almost everyone who participates in a safe space community will require correction occasionally. Moderator decisions are not open for debate or discussion. The appropriate response to correction is to acknowledge the correction and adjust future behavior accordingly; inappropriate responses include arguments, demands for further explanation, and/or explanations on why the correction should not apply due to intent or other mitigating factors.

[Required ReadingOn Sitting With Fear by Melissa McEwan

Understand that intent is not magic. An expression of privilege can harm members of the community, even if the speaker has the best of intentions. That doesn't mean you should never speak for fear of causing harm; it does mean commenters here are expected to be open to correction and lifelong education. Recognize that "flounces" are not welcome here on the grounds that these outbursts communicate to marginalized people that the act of sharing their life experiences and perspectives is unwelcome -- if you don't want to comment here anymore, just stop commenting. No notification necessary.

[Required ReadingThe Point, It Is This by Ana Mardoll

Phobic language, regardless of intent, is not welcome here (unless it is being used in an attempt to deconstruct or reclaim that language, in which case a content note must be included with the comment). Commenters are also requested to take special care to avoid "nouning adjectives". Dehumanizing / Depersonifying language, eliminationist language, and language which generalizes large groups of people are all strictly disallowed in this space.

[Required Reading] A Note On Language by Ana Mardoll
[Required Reading] Typos by Ana Mardoll

In order to ensure that readers are not exposed to commonly triggering subjects in this space without consent and self-preparation, content notes will be included at the head of each post. (Posts will also include spoiler warnings for the material under discussion.) Post notes apply to the comment thread associated with that blog post and do not need to be duplicated for individual comments. Comments which introduce or continue material not covered by the blog post notes must be appropriately headed with the necessary notes. Strongly spoilery or triggering material should be masked with the ROT13 cipher.

[Required Reading] Why I Like Trigger Warnings by Ana Mardoll

Doyleist vs. Watsonian

This blog frequently examines literature and media with regards to authorial choice: we examine what the author or creator did do within the work under discussion and what they did not do. This approach to deconstructing art is referred to here as a Doylist approach (named after the author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), and allows us to examine a piece of literature in terms of the finite choices made from an infinite selection. The flip-side to Doylist interpretation is in-universe or a Watsonian approach (named after the character John Watson), which allows readers to find explanations for things within the framework given by the author.

[Optional Reading] Watsonian Versus Doylist at TV Tropes

So, for example, a Watsonian answer for why there are no identified QUILTBAG characters within a setting would be to speculate that the world-setting is so profoundly unsafe that characters who self-identify as QUILTBAG cannot do so openly. But a Doylist approach would point out that the author could have chosen to either include QUILTBAG characters or explicitly define and address the issues surrounding an unsafe culture, but chose not to -- and that the end result of this authorial choice is the invisibling of QUILTBAG people within their work. It is important to note that this conclusion does not necessarily mean the author or work is "bad", but that the choice does contribute to a larger phenomena in our society.

[Required Reading] The Bechdel Test by Ana Mardoll

Most of the posts on this blog approach the art under discussion from a Doylist perspective, and commenters need to be aware that Watsonian "rebuttals" to Doylist questions don't actually work: the two approaches can be used in parallel with each other, but not orthogonally. And while Watsonian analysis of art is not explicitly off-topic in this space, those discussion do tend to spin off of the activism focus very quickly -- for this reason, moderators will occasionally ask commenters to take some facets of a Watsonian conversation to the nearest Open Thread.

[Required Reading] Watsonian vs. Doylist Analyses of Willow Rosenberg's Sexuality by Will Wildman


Comments on this blog are powered by Disqus, which is not visible on all platforms. If you are having difficulty accessing the comments, please contact Ana Mardoll. The latest iteration of the Disqus system (2013) is not very compatible with the community format for this space. In response, members of the community are requested to be aware of and observe the following:

Vote Up, Not Down.
Upvotes are encouraged so that community members can see their comments were valuable to others. But we ask that commenters not downvote comments here, due to several community members and contributers having anxiety disabilities exacerbated by anonymous downvoting. Thank you.

Sort by Oldest.
The comment threads here should be read in chronological order. The best way to do this is to set Disqus to Sort by Oldest, using the sorting drop-box under the Disqus response box.

Don't Use The Reply Function...
The new Disqus "nests" comment replies rather than sending replies down to the bottom of the page. Several community members and contributers have trouble processing information in nested threads. Additionally, moderation of nested threads is extremely difficult as moderators cannot easily check for new comments at the bottom. We therefore ask that commenters not use the Reply function, and instead type all comments in the main "Leave a message..." Disqus box that appears between the bottom of the post and the top of the comment thread. Note that this blog template has a Link to Disqus Comments hyperlink at the bottom of every thread page to make it easier to "jump" back up to the comment box.

...Except For Short Replies.
The exception to the "no Reply" rule above is for extremely short comments of agreement or appreciation or acknowledgment, which may be desirable in special cases. In these cases, please do not nest more than one level deep (i.e., don't reply to replies) and keep the reply-comment under a dozen words. If this becomes a moderator impediment in the future, we may have to revoke this exception, so please reply responsibly. Thank you!

Rules to Remember

Write Right.
No one here can hear the tone of your voice, nor see your facial expressions, nor peek into your mind to divine intent; we have only raw words to go on, and words mean things.

Example: When a comment leads with the phrase "to be fair", an implication is conveyed that the person being addressed was unfair and is in need of correction. Ask yourself: Is that really what you intend to communicate? If not, pick the right words for what you mean to convey.

Communicate Carefully.
Careful communication applies to everything from word choice to phrase choice to analogy use. Commenters here are expected to compose their comments with care and awareness of social context and personal privilege. Common pitfalls to be aware of include:

  • Analogies can minimize marginalization. Remember that Oppression A is not Oppression B.
  • Recognize that acknowledging the existence of a privilege is not the same as checking that privilege.
  • Employ I-statements. Do not universalize your experiences, your culture, or your local legal system. 
  • Recognize that centering an issue may inadvertently invisible others. 
  • Be aware of the difference between offering an opposing viewpoint versus attempting to shut down all others.

Engage Effectively. 
Make a good faith effort to read the entire post and the full comment thread before posting comments in response. Sometimes a point that may seem to be in error is actually addressed later in the post; sometimes a topic raised in the comments has been declared off-topic and moved to an Open Thread. Effective engagement requires making a good faith effort to be aware of these factors before posting.

Forgo Fannishness.
This blog examines privilege and bias as it is expressed in popular culture, so that readers can learn how to identify systemic marginalization and can learn to do better. This activism is important because society is shaped by popular media. It is important to realize that the ability to consider a specific bias within a work as "not a big deal" is a manifestation of privilege, and not an indicator of its overall importance or impact.

Recognize that critical examination of a particular piece of popular culture is not an attack on the work, the author, or the fans. It is additionally inappropriate in this space to center your point of view as the only or best one; stating that people here must interpret a piece of media a certain way, or need to take into account various factors (such as author intent or later retcons), or should be writing about something else (i.e., that movie instead of this movie) is not compatible with the activism here.

[Required Reading: When We Like Problematic Art by Ana Mardoll]

Opine Openly.
Comments on deconstruction threads should be made in a good faith effort to stay on the activist topics introduced and analyzed in the post. But threads tagged as Open Threads are places where off-topic comments are both suitable and encouraged. Most Open Threads have some kind of "starting topic", but only because a starting topic is less imposing than a blank white screen. If you have something to say that has nothing to do with the open thread topic, go for it! Open Threads are also open for linking to other blogs and for shameless self-promotion, so please don't hesitate to promote yourself and others there.

Personify Politely.
The community members and contributers here are actual people, and not content-generating machines. Commenters are expected not only to avoid dehumanizing/depersonifying language and tropes, but to also make a good faith effort to treat others as people rather than concepts. Remember that word choice can convey humanization/personification of others.

Example: Requests which contain the word "please" sound less like a demand. Opinions prefaced with "in my opinion" can sounds less like a universal statement of experience. The words "thank you" can meaningfully acknowledge the contributions of members of the community. By remembering that the community members and contributers are not machines, we can engage in a constructive sharing of lived experiences.

Personification also requires that commenters not be dismissive of the lived experiences of others, nor should they appropriate the lived experiences of others for purposes of discussion (i.e., "my disabled friend doesn't mind this movie, therefore..."), nor should they offer advice instead of listening in response to shared lived experiences. Generalizations, stereotypes, and harmful tropes are disallowed in this space.

Example: It is not appropriate to silence opposing viewpoints by preemptively expressing fear of reprisal for posting a comment. This invokes the harmful stereotype that Feminists Are Hostile, and is silencing to discussion and activism in this space. Commenters are expected to own their fear of their own potential failure when posting-while-privileged, rather than pushing that fear onto a stereotype of Hostile Feminists, Angry Liberals, or other harmful tropes in an attempt to deflect responsibility for their own actions.

[Required Reading: Helpful Hints for Dudes by Melissa McEwan]

Respectfully Remember.
Respect the moderators and their decisions, and actively hold yourself accountable to the community standards. Remember also that we all have moments where we forget to check our privilege, and therefore be open to correction. Remember that good intentions do not erase or prevent harm to others.

Share Safely.
Commenters are allowed and encouraged to post relevant links in comments; commenters are also allowed and encouraged to share the posts here elsewhere on the internet. However, please use good judgment when linking. Out-going links should have relevant content notes, and the comment should provide some description of what is being linked to. Particularly virulent or nasty sexist/racist/phobic/etc. sites should not be linked to here, since those links undermine the safe space for both the commenters and the moderators.

This comment policy was last updated 05/10/2013.