Why I Hate Salon Commenters

Jessica at Jezebel wrote about the rude, reactionary responses a Salon writer recently got to her article on being an educated woman who can barely make ends meet for her children, even while working her ass off:

Salon published a a thoughtful essay yesterday by Heather Ryan about being “working poor” as part of a series about the recession called “pinched.” Last summer, Ryan found herself, despite her Masters in writing and self-proclaimed bougie affections, unable to feed her three kids on her secretary’s salary. You see, she had recently gotten divorced, and the cost of daycare during the summer wiped her out.

Though it scared her and pained her to admit it, she couldn’t afford enough food, and so one night she took her kids to a food kitchen. I’ve written screeds against self-indulgent personal essays before, and I must say that this wasn’t one of them.

It explored a very real issue: that the gap between rich and poor in this country is now a chasm, and that many educated, hard working people are struggling, whether you see it or not. Salon‘s commenters, however, felt otherwise, and said things like, “I have no sympathy for breeders, or for brie-eaters.”

Another commenter wrote:

“The fact that you make a good salary but whine that a certain job didn’t take proper account of your ( questionable ) intellect and talent only speaks to your solipsistic (sic) ennui, brought-on no doubt by your liberal sense of entitlement.”

Could anyone other than a whiner with a massive sense of entitlement write such an unsympathetic, ungenerous comment about an article in which a person admits to her sincere surprise that the wealth gap has removed even hard workers with educations from the pot?

Sadly, ugly threads like this are nothing new at Salon. So how is it commenters like this abound there? I mean, I know Salon publishes a lot of self-indulgent, bougie whining, but the writers usually display a fair amount of compassion for the privileged and the underprivileged. How is it a publication’s readers can be so different from the writers?

And beyond that, what sort of false consciousness does it take for a person to read this Heather Ryan essay and instead of getting incredibly pissed off about how devalued labor has become in our society and how far the wealth gap has grown, finding it more important to bitch about how she had it coming for being pretentious? Really, it boggles my mind.

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Jezebel: right on double standards but wrong on solution

Slut Machine at Jezebel has a post about Tyra Banks’ recent interview with The New York Times Magazine, where, along with sharing some of her career strategies, Tyra reiterates that she believes her primary purpose in life is to help young women feel better about themselves. Is this the same Tyra I watch cycle after cycle as she tries to find the one girl who fits a narrow category of beauty most closely? The same Tyra who has told models who look perfect to me their ears stick out too much so they should be aware of this when they style their hair? Yes, it is. And it’s also the same Tyra, Slut Machine notes, who founded “Bankable Productions,” who is earning millions of dollars as a would-be Martha Stewart mogul (who yes, is relevant only because, like Tyra Banks, she is female and has used her name and her image and the TV to make money).

Slut Machine, however, thinks Tyra’s talk about helping people is more a calculated business move than a humanitarian’s confession:

It’s not so weird that we question whether someone is only interested in”instilling self-esteem in young women” when that someone built her empire on a competition-based reality show about modeling. What is weird is that Tyra feels the need to couch her seemingly endless career goals in humanitarianism, as though her ambition needs to have a heart as big as her weave. The answer is that she knows if she doesn’t say that shit, she’ll look like a money-grubbing asshole. The question, however, is: Why aren’t women allowed to be as shamelessly mercenary as men?

And yet, my question is, why are people (even feminist types, like Slut Machine) so unwilling to disapprove of shamelessly mercenary money grubbing, from men and from women? Or instead of arguing that Tyra should forget any do-gooding and just make money like the menz, why not argue that we start holding male money-grubbers to some minimum level of social consciousness?

Or in this case (since I think Tyra must be delusional if she truly thinks she’s doing real good for women by running a competition focused almost solely on external features, and I get the impression Slut Machine agrees with me), why not argue instead that if Tyra is actually sincere, she ought to reevaluate and recognize that there might be better (though perhaps less profitable) methods for helping the ladies…