An Exercise in Hate-Reading

Posted on September 26, 2015 by Richard Goulter
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I understand ‘Hate-Reading’ to mean reading something prejudicially / with fore-knowledge that you’re going to dislike it.
You’re not reading it to build-bridges, but to bolster your own attitudes; you’re picking an example of what is condemnable about some group/idea you don’t like, and laughing at it in a “hey, look how stupid this is” kind of way.
Certainly, in terms of rhetoric, saying “look at X, can you believe anyone thinks that?” is a great way to give the impression of stupidity to anyone who does think X isn’t such a bad idea.
– So while I’m not unaware this isn’t constructive, allow me to. - If we do want to be constructive, we ought to try to interpret ‘the best’ out of the piece, rather than just pointing out all that’s wrong with it.

With that out of the way,
this showed up on my timeline:
“Ryan Adams’s 1989 and the mansplaining of Taylor Swift”.
I just know this is gonna be a good one.

The title. The goddamn title includes the word ‘mansplaining’.
If you read through the rest of the article, you’ll also find the keywords: ‘gendered’, ‘appropriated’, ‘patriarchal’, ‘man-baby’.
It even links to some article pointing out Swift is the patronus of ‘white feminism’ (with regards to Swift’s reply to Nicki Minaj).
I’m astounded that the author didn’t use the words ‘straight white male’, also.

To try and be constructive, the opening paragraph at least seems to understand the situation the article describes: ‘not liking pop/mainstream music’ is ‘cool’, and ‘Adams is more indie than Swift’, modus ponens. – That much does make sense, and sufficiently explains what’s going on.
Author’s suggestion of “takes vibrant pop music and makes it blandly meloncholic in an indie way” sounds like it’s accurate, also.
But the author then goes on to point out, rather than this being “media loving ‘indie’ artist covering ‘mainstream’ artist’s music”, it’s instead “media loving ‘male’ artist covering ‘female’ artist’s music”. (For what it’s worth, I’ve not heard of Adams. Presumably he’s popular. And as lazy as “if the genders were swapped” is, I can totally see any author that would use the word ‘mansplaining’ would also see ‘sexism’ in having-heard-of a mainstream male artist & not an indie female artist).

But are the other sites all positive?
A quick search shows Mic, Jezebel both 1) like the album well enough and 2) point out that Swift enthusiastically endorses the idea. – I mean, if Jezebel isn’t ‘calling out’ the sexism of it, right?
– Oh, wait, The Mary Sue takes the same stance as OP. “people hate pop + idolise indie … which equals gendered sexism” or so. - The Mary Sue goes one further and points out ‘feminine’ things aren’t taken seriously. (Mary Sue then links to some call-out on The Guardian. Oh, internet, don’t stop being so reliable).

– The newstatesman piece also suggests that this instance of ‘mansplaining’ evokes other instances (a woman’s joke not being found funny, only to be laughed at when a man says it; a woman’s idea not being endorsed only to have it be a good idea when a man says it); but given the indie-is-cool dynamic going on, author really does seem to be crying wolf. (If clearly Swift herself likes music, but Adams’ covering it is sexist, then

That said, while I don’t particularly doubt the author’s sincerity in their writing,
at ‘best’ this kind of reaching comes about from some ‘quest to find sexism under every rock’ or so; like wearing shit-tainted glasses.
More cynically, this kind of sexism-under-every-rock garners clicks from 1) people who strive to call out sexism 2) people annoyed at the ‘cry wolf’ call outs. – And since the passionate in either of these groups are likely to dislike the other, it’s likely to be shared emphatically.
And have people write about it on their blog.

Or it could be something else entirely: an indie-lover who sees that some music is ‘too mainstream’. (And liking Swift’s mainstream music is a non-mainstream opinion). – But the idea of something as .. uninspiring as an album review trying to stir shit is fun.

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