X Close

Confessions of a female journalist Revealing secrets has become a commodity with the power to make or break a career

Whether it's yoga racism or incest, women's shameful secrets are sold as entertainment. Credit: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images

Whether it's yoga racism or incest, women's shameful secrets are sold as entertainment. Credit: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images


February 26, 2021   4 mins

If you Google Jen Polachek, she doesn’t seem to exist anymore, but for a few days in January 2014, she was the biggest thing on the internet. She had written a post for the now-defunct women’s interest website XO Jane, and everybody — everybody — hated it. XO Jane specialised in the personal. Its pitching guidelines told prospective writers: “It helps to always be brutally honest and radically transparent. Don’t fake anything.”

Polachek’s mistake was probably to take that advice seriously. In her piece — titled “It Happened To Me: There Are No Black People In My Yoga Classes And I’m Suddenly Feeling Uncomfortable With It” — Polachek confesses that the arrival of a “young, fairly heavy black woman” in her yoga class had made her feel awkward in her “skinny white girl body”. Why were black people so scarce in yoga, she wondered? How could the discipline she loved be made more inclusive?

It’s a very earnest article: at the conclusion, she describes how she went home and “promptly broke down crying” over this fleeting encounter with America’s racial politics, and it would take a heart of stone not to ever so slightly laugh at this person shaken to her moral quick by the presence of a black woman in her yoga class. But that’s because Polachek doesn’t do anything to protect herself from embarrassment. This is brutal honesty and radical transparency.

It’s also exactly the article she was asked to write. The editor who commissioned it (Rebecca Carroll, a black woman) did so after Polachek, a neighbour of hers in Brooklyn, had told her about the awkward yoga class: “the fact that Jen was willingly offering up this explicit admittance of her white privilege struck me as valuable in some way,” wrote Carroll.

It struck a lot of other people as valuable too, but not quite in the same way. Polachek was traffic gold. There were pieces on Gawker, pieces on Refinery29, a follow-up piece on XO Jane. Vice gave her a “racism rating” of 5. Polachek did not do so well out of it. XO Jane’s standard fee was $50. And, in response to the hatred, Polachek, who’d shared so much of herself, began to make herself disappear.

The byline on the piece changed to a pseudonym, then her photo vanished, and so did the rest of her internet presence. “I erase everything that I’ve ever been proud of so that it doesn’t exist alongside Internet contamination,” she explained in a post on her shaming, which is the only other byline of hers that seems to exist, besides a scattering of food journalism that suggest her stalled ambitions as a writer.

In 2016, though, I managed to track down her email through a long-neglected blogger profile. I was trying to write an article about writers — mostly women — who’d bared themselves on the internet, and what had happened to them afterwards. Miraculously, she replied. She wanted to know how I’d got her email. She never agreed to be interviewed.

Nor did any of the other women I approached for my article, which, consequently, I didn’t write in the end. There was, trivially, the woman who claimed she’d found a hairball in her vagina and wrote about that for XO Jane. There was, disturbingly, the woman who wrote about having a sexual relationship with her own father for Jezebel, under her real name. All of them had engaged in what Laura Bennett, in a 2015 Slate article, labeled “the first-person industrial complex”. The mass commodification of confession.

These women continued to fascinate me, though, because I recognised the bargain they’d made. I was a barely-established writer too, and the thrill of seeing something go viral — I knew that, and I knew the jealousy of seeing someone else win big in the roulette game of online attention. I knew there were things in my own life that I could, if I chose, reveal in exchange for a commission; I had written about one of them, at the encouragement of an editor I trusted, and I believed there were good reasons for sharing my story. It’s a piece I’m proud of.

But you can make arguments for every kind of revelation. Polachek said that she wanted to scrutinise her own part in maintaining racist structures, which is something that white people, and especially white women, are constantly enjoined to do. (At least one yoga studio imploded amid accusations of “white privilege” following last year’s BLM surge; if only they’d listened to Polachek, I guess.) Hairball woman said she wanted to challenge women’s shame about their bodies. Adult-incest woman said she wanted to help other people who’d been similarly abused by relatives.

And these are all causes that I would broadly say are good. There are taboos about female bodies and female lives that have historically forced us into hobbling secrecy, and there’s power in breaking that. When the stigma of being a victim of male violence stops women speaking about it, the perpetrators are protected. When miscarriage is treated as a private failure, women grieve in miserable seclusion. When our bodies are treated as unpleasant, unmentionable things, conditions like endometriosis are ignored by medicine and the women who suffer from them left in agony.

It doesn’t follow from this, though, that the greater the exposure, the greater the liberation. Telling women their bodies are shameful is one kind of misogyny, and treating female bodies as public is another: the red-stained sheet hung from the bedroom window to announce a shattered hymen, the suffragettes groped by policemen because an unruly woman can have no boundaries, the girl whose digitised humiliation is uploaded to Pornhub by a seething ex so he can experience unlimited revenge.

No wonder women can be defensive when they write about themselves. Take the recent scrap between writers Julia Llewellyn Smith and Elizabeth Day. In an interview with journalist Rosie Green (who has been extensively honest about her painful divorce), Llewellyn Smith included Day in a list of female writers who she said had made a “full-time career” of their “mishaps”. Day hit back, saying: “For the record, the reason I talk and write about miscarriage and fertility is to attack shame and stigma.” (Llewellyn Smith apologised and the article was changed online.)

Confession is supposed to be the ultimate truth, but sometimes so many things are true at once, it’s impossible to discern one clear line. Men would never be judged for telling such stories about themselves, but men are placed under no such pressure to share these things anyway. Honesty can be radical for women, but there is not much radical about requiring women to empty themselves out for public entertainment. Between the dictates of silence, and the demand for total access, where is the space for a woman to rebel?


Sarah Ditum is a columnist, critic and feature writer.

sarahditum

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

78 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Alex Mitchell
Alex Mitchell
3 years ago

‘men are placed under no such pressure to share these things anyway’. This seems like one of many areas where women pressure each other into doing things for the consumption of other women, so that yet more women can complain it’s only women who have to do it.

John James
John James
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Mitchell

No one is that interested in the lives of average blokes: less pressure but more disconnection from the world.

Bertie B
Bertie B
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Mitchell

I’m not even sure women are placed under pressure to share things. How can you be placed under pressure to share something, unless people already know about it? I think its more of a case of some women wondering if they can use their experiences to further themselves or causes they believe in, almost without exception the female aquaintences I have are far to sensible to tell people things that really shouldn’t be broadcast.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
3 years ago
Reply to  Bertie B

A desire to monetize their egocentricity. It’s often nothing more than that.

David Stanley
David Stanley
3 years ago
Reply to  Bertie B

Exactly! Women can’t simultaneously complain that they feel pressure to share and keep silent about their problems. It’s ether one or the other.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Bertie B

Precisely. You can’t be pressured to share anything that someone doesn’t already know about. It’s illogical to make such a claim. Yes, some women use oversharing as publicity, as do some men. I’m with you in that I don’t have women acquaintances who over share and then want to be praised for it. But I don’t associate with men who do this either. Privacy is a much underrated skill these days.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Mitchell

‘For the consumption of other women’. ‘Consumption’ is a nice way of saying fuel for abuse. The advice that “It helps to always be brutally honest and radically transparent. Don’t fake anything” was nothing more than an invitation to make yourself the victim of abuse by other women.

Andre Lower
Andre Lower
3 years ago

Exactly. And the reason men don’t do it is because they know better. There is no such a thing as sympathy for masculine issues.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Andre Lower

what?

Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
3 years ago
Reply to  Andre Lower

You filthy racist swine!

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
3 years ago
Reply to  Andre Lower

Hang out with your community of sane people. The thought police losers are useless. Get awsy from those losers. They have nothing to offer life

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
3 years ago

Yes. A child’s mind. The old wisdom has become false. Actions speak louder than words. In Western society’s culture it has all changed. Actions are irrelevant and should be discouraged. People need to think “right” thoughts. That is the only thing that matters

Neil Bradley
Neil Bradley
3 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Boylon

But who decides what is right?

robert scheetz
robert scheetz
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Mitchell

Yes, that seeming gratuitous crack gives away the game. One had thought she was on her way to exposing the morbidity of this psychological fallacy, be it the Catholic sacrament, Alcoholics Anonymous, the Congregational initiation ritual, Freudian psychotherapy….

Last edited 3 years ago by robert scheetz
Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Mitchell

What woman has pressured the author into writing the article? You may be assigning the author’s comments far more accuracy than is warranted. Rather than assuming the author is correct, perhaps we should first ask the question……who has pressured you into writing this? The answer would be illuminating in that it would likely be something along the lines of “society”. But we don’t assign blame to groups, it’s an individual characteristic. I realize this is not easy in the time of group blame, whether it be men or white people or any other media disfavored group. Nevertheless it’s important to ferret out what is likely a made-up blame-worthy entity.
It’s far more likely that she merely wanted an excuse, a straw man so to speak, to write it, and cannot simply say “I felt like dumping a bunch of angst but I couldn’t just say that”. The reality is that no one pressures anyone into doing this. Women don’t have to do this, regardless of what the author says, anymore than beta men have to assume the guilt they believe should be assigned to all men.

Last edited 3 years ago by Annette Kralendijk
John Jones
John Jones
3 years ago

Good post Annette.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
3 years ago

There is a proliferation of female writers who write about themselves. I’m not talking about a woman who writes about women and women’s issues. I’m talking about a woman who writes about herself and no one else. It is natural and healthy that a woman who has had a miscarriage should focus on miscarriage and ask how many women suffer them, what are the causes and what are the effects? That though would take a lot of research. It would also require the writer to think of someone other than herself. So instead we are offered an account of her miscarriage written as if no other woman has ever suffered one.
When the first black woman turns up at her yoga class, a writer might well ask whether few black women turn up at other yoga classes and if so ask why that is. There are obvious further questions to be raised. Do other racial groups turn up to the classes? Asians? Latinas? Are there other yoga classes where the attendees are predominantly of another racial group? Do black women just not like yoga? But no, the writer is so self-obsessed that she has to make it about herself even it means that she has to accuse herself of racism. She has to ignore the presence of Asian and Latina women. She has to take agency away from black women. It has to be about her.
If the writer was capable of thinking of anyone but herself, she would realise how stupid it is to see attending a yoga class as an example of ‘white privilege’. There was no mention of people being barred on account of their race. No mention of hostility towards a newcomer. No mention that the fee was exorbitant. Just some women choosing to do yoga and some who didn’t.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

I get that you’re making a point, but who cares how many minority women show up for yoga class? No one, no one, clutches their pearls when playground basketball courts are almost 100% filled with black players. So much of human activity has become racialized to where the concept of individual agency is ignored. Maybe black women are not into yoga.

Elizabeth W
Elizabeth W
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Alex, this is exactly what I am thinking as I am reading both the article and people’s responses here. Who cares? Maybe they go to another yoga class the writer is unaware of or maybe they just aren’t into yoga. Why does everything come down to racist or white privilege?

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
3 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth W

Shock, horror that a ‘person of colour’ might not buy into the enlightened lifestyle ideals of a patronising liberal elite.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
3 years ago

Precisely. Hers is a univariate analysis not a multivariate one. It is also the expression of ‘lived experience’ and further, the ideological interpretation of that experience – as in ‘privilege’ and ‘racism’, I think by someone else.
I do wonder whether what we are being exposed to are writers with a particular mix of Big 5 personality traits and the outcomes that occur when those traits come into contact with a social media platform?

Last edited 3 years ago by michael stanwick
Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
3 years ago

If it is a case of guilt about ‘privilege’, then it is probably a case of guilt about ‘skinny privilege’. Polachek doesn’t just mention the black woman’s race but also her body size in contrast to her own. Presumably, she would have felt differently if a slim black woman had attended the class. Clearly the disparity in size was as relevant as the difference in race. Or in Polachek’s mind the two are linked. Why then does she focus on race and blame her own racism and white privilege? Because in her world this is acceptable. What is unacceptable is to admit to feelings that being skinny is more attractive than being ‘heavy’, that black women are ‘heavier’ than white women and by extension that white women are more attractive than black women.

Greg Maland
Greg Maland
3 years ago

It’s a miscalculated attempt at virtue signaling. In the “woke world”, it’s no simple matter to convey exactly the right tone, attitude, belief, perspective, etc, and very easy to shoot yourself in the foot. That the confessional, or pseudo-confessional tone is hazardous terrain is perhaps the moral of the story to similarly-intentioned writers.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Greg Maland

It’s virtue signaling (even miscalculated?) to notice and comment on another woman’s size and weight simply because she is black? It’s actually quite offensive. Someone else’s weight falls into the MYOB category.

Last edited 3 years ago by Annette Kralendijk
Stewart Slater
Stewart Slater
3 years ago

Much of this harm could be avoided if we realised that, while we generally consider ourselves to be fascinating, other people, by and large, don’t.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

Men would never be judged for telling such stories about themselves, but men are placed under no such pressure to share these things anyway.
Men are not putting women under such pressure, either, so perhaps that’s something for you to write about. And seriously, all the heartburn over a white woman wondering why yoga classes are mostly white?

John Jones
John Jones
3 years ago

Isnt this a natural consequence of monitizing female narcissism, combined with toxic wokeness?

bob alob
bob alob
3 years ago

Strange article, surely there are better examples to quote than a woman who got her wokery wrong and someone with a hairball.

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
3 years ago

Men would never be judged for telling such stories [confessions] about themselves, but men are placed under no such pressure to share these things anyway.
 
Could be right: men – poor simple thoughtless children that they are – don’t generally go in for any of this in the first place.
 
‘Not enough attention! Too much attention! Bullied into silence! Bullied into saying too much! I was pressured into doing it!’
 
Actually, in these cases, it seems (i) there was no pressure, or (ii) the pressure came from other women.
 
So, who might be in the best position to remedy this sad state of affairs?

John Jones
John Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

Be careful- you’re coming dangerously close to telling women that most of their problems are self-imposed, and that most revelations of those problems are based on self pity, in violation of the primary directive of feminism: women are never responsibl for anything they do..

That’s what the “patriarchy” exists for- to act as a convenient scapegoat. That’s why the last half of the article struggles to shape the narrative to explain why none of this ceaseless narcisistic angst is the fault of women, but of men because “men would never be judged for telling such stories about themselves, but men are never under any pressure to tell these things anyway.”

So there you have it.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

Painting all women and all men with the same broad brush is counter productive. Unless the goal is to set women and men up as pure combatants, which it may be in some instances.
I appreciate your use of the word “generally” since undoubtedly some men do blame their problems on women as a group, sometimes with violent consequences,
The truth is far more complicated, of course. Some men think all men are the same the same way the author sets up all women as the same. The reality is that most men and women don’t do what the author has done and do accept responsibility for their own actions. It should suffice to expose when any one man or woman does not accept such responsibility without digging into a corner of all men or all women.

Last edited 3 years ago by Annette Kralendijk
Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
3 years ago

Thank you for your reply. 

I entirely agree with you when you say ‘The reality is that most men and women don’t do what the author has done and do accept responsibility for their own actions.’  

You may rest assured that my criticism was directed specifically at the picture of pointless dysfunctional behaviour in the article; that criticism is certainly not of universal application. I am very much against the lamentable tendency to corral the world into mutually-hostile identity-groups. In other words, I don’t like the idea of ‘digging in’, either. 

Do please note that the article includes certain things men do to cause suffering to women: male violence, misogyny, policemen groping suffragettes, incest, revenge porn. (And yes, I mean ‘some men’, ‘some women’.)

My satirical intention was in reproof of the author’s mixing that up with examples of suffering caused to women by women, or by women to themselves – and in a way that seemed to imply that men are lucky that the same doesn’t happen to them. My point is that men aren’t lucky in this: they don’t suffer it because they don’t generally indulge in that particular kind of behaviour in the first place. 

My point is – and this must be true by definition – only women can take responsibility for stopping harmful things that they (or some of them) do to themselves or to other women.

I hope that helps to clarify.

Last edited 3 years ago by Wilfred Davis
Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

Some men do cause suffering to other men, as well as suffering to themselves at times. There isn’t any way to make this apply only to women or only to men.
Your point is half right. Here’s the full point and I agree it’s true by definition…..only people can take responsibility for stopping harmful things that they (or some of them) do to themselves or to other people.

Last edited 3 years ago by Annette Kralendijk
Albireo Double
Albireo Double
3 years ago

Does anyone remember how things used to be? You did good things and bad things, stupid things and smart things, and you kept your mouth shut – and learned what works and what doesn’t.
And then you learned that keeping your mouth shut works really well, because something kept to yourself is often much more quietly enjoyable than something blurted out, making you look like a braggart or a fool.
A good deed could be quietly enjoyed and an idiocy could be thoughtfully learned from. It used to be called modesty, or humility.
I’ve got news for people. You can still live that way, and it still feels good.

Billy Wong
Billy Wong
3 years ago

Please return Sarah to Guardian. Seriously

David Bottomley
David Bottomley
3 years ago

How on Earth can the author feel that she can get away with such a stupid sweeping statement that ‘men would never be judged for telling such stories ‘? I expect the reality is that they would experience a mixture of mockery, pity and total lack of interest. And, in the authors mind, who is or isn’t doing the judging – other women? If the answer is yes , then why are women so mercilessly judgemental? The phrase ‘physician go heal thyself’ springs to mind

Benjamin Jones
Benjamin Jones
3 years ago

As I read the last couple of paragraphs I thought ‘ol Sarah is making sure she gets enough of an indignant reaction to ensure another gig at Unherd.

Last edited 3 years ago by Benjamin Jones
Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

“How on Earth can the author feel that she can get away with such a stupid sweeping statement that ‘men would never be judged for telling such stories ‘? â€œ
The same way some men proclaim that women are never held responsible for their own actions. It’s just the other side of the coin and yes, the article is clickbait which seems to have worked beautifully to bring out men perfectly willing to make statements akin to “women do this” or don’t do that type statements.
A bit of calm would make most sensible people realize that a clickbait article is not an excuse to display the same type of commentary against women as a group. Some women do what the author has done and so do some men and it’s purely ideological. It’s to be avoided no matter who is doing it.

Last edited 3 years ago by Annette Kralendijk
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago

Men would never be judged for telling such stories about themselves.
Really. They would be ridiculed and rightly so.

Richard Brown
Richard Brown
3 years ago

And what, exactly, is honesty? Most of us middle-aged white males would like to be honest, but we’d probably get taken down by Facebook before the day is out. Or is it only for women? Is it telling the whole truth, or only telling the bits of it that you think you audience wants to hear, or that you want to tell them, something that the BBC has become very good at.
It’s noise word, regrettably. Like bigotry. Something that carries emotional baggage you can’t argue with. It’s the death of argument, trying to avoid confrontation at all costs.

Silvia Hansel
Silvia Hansel
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Brown

Honesty begins with yourself. I have much compassion for whatever the women (or anybody else) who go ‘public’ went through; but drama and suffering is intensely private and one seldom gains by spreading it if it is done hoping that it is an alternative to facing it within oneself. Once you’ve found release there, you can go public with it if you want, and it will take a very different form. You will also be less susceptible to negative reactions.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Silvia Hansel

I agree. Sometimes drama and suffering are used unfortunately as a means of publicity. I’m thinking of the recent Meghan Markle Harry Windsor sharing medical and emotional details of a miscarriage. This after suing the media to protect their allegedly much longed for privacy. While miscarriage is often an intensely sad event, using it as publicity makes it appear that people who don’t share such private sorrows in public are somehow not honest or brave or that society has somehow prevented people from sharing every private detail of their lives. We have lost the art of privacy today in a quest to make ourselves appear to be sufficiently burdened by pain to be somehow real.

Last edited 3 years ago by Annette Kralendijk
Mark Beal
Mark Beal
3 years ago

OK, I’ll bite.

It seems to me that whenever some washed up celebrity – long since presumed dead, but apparently alive and just about kicking and in need of cash – appears in the “news” to talk about their recent trials and tribulations, it’s invariably a woman. Likewise, any autobiography detailing the same is invariably written by a woman who makes her living from being some kind of public figure, and appears to assume, for whatever reason, that her story has some kind of universal import. Far from there appearing to be any kind of pressure put on these women, the vast majority of these cases seem to be voluntarily entered into as a form of publicity seeking – generally disguised as wanting to “shed light on an unexplored issue,” or “fight back against shame and stigma” or some such, despite these articles and books by now being ten a penny.

Oddly, we find that though “[m]en would never be judged for telling such stories about themselves,” as Ms Dittum would have it, even in the absence of such judgement, men have, by and large, not seemed to feel the need to publicly share their feelings about a lack of diversity in the trainspotting community, any kind of embarrassing surgery they may or may not have undergone recently, or the pain of their recent divorce.

I would suggest that the issue is not one of pressure, but is at heart one of a fundamental difference between men and women, where men are much happier when something can be addressed as a general topic for discussion, while women are much more predisposed to proceed from their own subjective experience; but since admitting that there are important differences between the sexes is a punishable offence in feminist circles, that much more interesting angle is entirely absent.

There is, however, pressure today, and it’s pressure on men in the public sphere to open up about their mental health, or their porn addiction, or to flagellate themselves for real or imagined slights against persons of all other genders, or to tell all about how “toxic masculinity” made fulfilling relationships impossible, ad infinitum. And no, they won’t be judged, but only because they’re towing the party line. You just know what would happen to any confession by a male writer entitled, “I was a cucked wimp before Jordan Peterson saved my life,” donÂŽt you?

Last edited 3 years ago by Mark Beal
Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Beal

“There is, however, pressure today, and it’s pressure on men in the public sphere to open up about their mental health, or their porn addiction, or to flagellate themselves for real or imagined slights against persons of all other genders, or to tell all about how “toxic masculinity” made fulfilling relationships impossible, ad infinitum.”
Do you feel pressure to do all this? I don’t know any men who either do this kind of self flagellation in public or feel pressured to do so.
Maybe we should not take a few examples of men (or women either) doing this sort of “opening up” as evidence of any widespread phenomenon. After all, there have always been and will always be emotional exhibitionists. Prince Harry, no doubt aided by a publicity seeking virtue signaling spouse, would be a recent example of a man wanting to publicly burnish his emotional vulnerability by “taking public responsibility” for his previous casual racism, at no cost to himself, of course. I’m sure he felt much better after getting it all off his chest, to an obliging media, while for everyone else, it mattered not at all. If we are willing to exaggerate the existence of “pressure in the public sphere”, as the author does, are we not making the author’s point?

Last edited 3 years ago by Annette Kralendijk
David Bottomley
David Bottomley
3 years ago

If the ‘feminist’ movement, issues and mind has come down to articles like this, then god help feminism

Saul D
Saul D
3 years ago

I struggle to keep up with woke norms, but isn’t yoga a form of cultural appropriation…?

John Jones
John Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

Not when women do it…

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

Apparently it signifies white supremacy and colonialism.

Colin Colquhoun
Colin Colquhoun
3 years ago

Well, I am a fairly successful oxford neuroscientist who was assaulted and then tortured by his incredibly weird psychiatrist mother who, among other things went around giving spurious diagnoses to the courts for money.

I am male. Obviously I’m going to write these up at a moment I deem appropriate, because it has public interest. Also, although I’m not interested in journalism, it might still be helpful to my career. Getting Funding etc. Or I could misjudge it and end up with problems.Let’s just see what happens shall we?

“Men would never be judged for telling such stories about themselves”

I dunno man I’m not as confident as you are about that one.

David Stanley
David Stanley
3 years ago

I read endless articles by women talking about how they are tired of having to stay silent about their problems. I read far fewer such articles by men.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

‘Take the recent scrap between writers Julia Llewellyn Smith and Elizabeth Day. In an interview with journalist Rosie Green (who has been extensively honest about her painful divorce), Llewellyn Smith included Day in a list of female writers who she said had made a “full-time career” of their “mishaps”.’
Upon clicking, I learned that this interview appeared in The Times. And they wonder why we refuse to subscribe to these so-called newspapers.

Gerry Fruin
Gerry Fruin
3 years ago

‘A barely-established writer’? When was that, last week? I’ve got confused by Unheard, I thought writing by ‘established journalist’s’ was to have some meaning, be provoking perhaps, kick start commentators into discussion. Well it used to but now we are presented with pap. Nonsense of the lowest order, complete and utter tosh.
Two points.
1. This trying to be a writer should take a break and try to find employment doing ‘something’!
2. That’s it for me. I’m unsubscribing. Enough is enough, wasting time whilst being treated to garbage is not in my DNA.
Cheerio everyone. Keep well, stay safe.

Andre Lower
Andre Lower
3 years ago

Here we go again – Sarah Ditum writes something frivolous, preferably confusable with a polemic issue, for the sake of filling-up editorial space at Unherd, ultimately counting on having people comment and thus make it mildly meaningful. Wash & repeat…

J Bryant
J Bryant
3 years ago
Reply to  Andre Lower

Yeah, this article is click-bait journalism. Fortunately, there are enough informative and interesting articles on Unherd to balance out the dross.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Andre Lower

Yes and it is surprising what an article like this can lead some to disclose. Everyone to their corners, immediately.

John Jones
John Jones
3 years ago

Quillette has just published an excellent article entitled “The Evolutionary Advantages of Victimhood”. This article provides an excellent framework for understanding not only this article, and women like Sarah Dittum, but the entire feminist movement. I strongly recommend that everyone read it.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago

Annette, you are a refreshing voice of reason.

Johnny Sutherland
Johnny Sutherland
3 years ago

You started to lose me with “admittance of her white privilege” – er was this because she was in a yoga class? Then the references to, I assume, on-line magazines.
Any chance of you clarifying things like this in future articles or are they just for those already in the know?

Arild Brock
Arild Brock
3 years ago

“Between the dictates of silence, and the demand for total access, where is the space for a woman to rebel?” The author is here stating three “ambitions” which I believe are difficult to accomplish at the same time: 1) oppose “dictate of silence”, 2) resist “demand for total access” and 3) rebel. And all three are negations. I suggest we look for something positive.
A society and a culture where things can be dealt with would not be an open “arena” with no boundaries. We need institutions and norms within which women’s diseases as well as other women’s frustrations can be dealt with.
One familiar boundary is the one between private and public. Don’t follow the guideline of XO Jane: “.. be brutally honest and radically transparent.” (why would you follow the guideline of a website that everybody hates anyway?) If you ignore the boundary between private and public, you “contribute” to breaking it down. In a sound society the cost of breaking a sensible boundary would be higher than the gain you can achieve in the form of attention (and money). If our society is no longer sound in this sense, the question falls back on the individual. Who do you want to be? – a “contributor” to the breaking down of what remains of boundaries or a “rebel” AGAINST THIS TREND by defending sensible boundaries?
I, by the way, think that not only women are under pressure for their gender. The author suggests women are told “their bodies are shameful”. I think men are told that their whole persons are shameful. What we could call gender nihilism is depriving both genders of their pride. That’s our common adversary! Be positive – be a woman, or a man – and at the same time push back against gender nihilism. 

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
3 years ago

i’m puzzled by the apparent disappearing of my earlier comment

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

Comments do seem to disappear for no reason. Is this just the new way?

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
3 years ago

I think it might be because I used the word ‘twit’ -surely not -guess I’ll find out with the fate of this post!

Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
3 years ago

My describing a poster as a “filthy racist swine” also got the heave-ho. Someone tell me what’s so wrong with that?

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago

From my recent correspondence with them I think Unherd is still just trying to iron out a few things with the new comment system.

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
3 years ago
Reply to  G Harris

thank you

Karen Jemmett
Karen Jemmett
3 years ago

I don’t necessarily see it as rebellion, but overkill

Kendell Wilson
Kendell Wilson
3 years ago

“It Happened To Me: There Are No Black People In My Yoga Classes And I’m Suddenly Feeling Uncomfortable With It”

I could’ve sworn Titania McGrath was responsible for that one..

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
3 years ago

I find it increasingly difficult to talk this writers work seriously; only women suffer and all that suffering is perpetrated by men.

Al M
Al M
3 years ago

Did anyone else click through to read the story about the yoga studio that ‘imploded’?

Al M
Al M
3 years ago

Did anyone else click through to read the story about the yoga studio that ‘imploded’?

Neil Bradley
Neil Bradley
3 years ago

There is a lot of unpacking that has to go into this to be fair, something most of us do not have the time for. What BS this concept of privilege; black versus while, male versus female, that is suddenly being peddled.. Somewhere along the line we have turned our back on Martin Luther King’s measurement by “Content of Character” or that long lost song of “Coffee Coloured People by the Score”.. It is a power game of course. Those who are outside want to come in, but are not prepared to do the work to get there. Easier to blame those who have worked and achieved and who have made it inside figuratively speaking.
.

Jon Quirk
Jon Quirk
3 years ago

Being able to choose to go to a yoga class is a “white privilege”? No its not – it is a choice, a white choice if you feel you must attach an epithet.

Richard Lord
Richard Lord
3 years ago

Is there a genetic element to this, dare I ask? Not wishing to generalise, I think it’s more common for men to have an opinion or disagreement (sometimes physical) and then move on. Is it impertinent for me, as a man, to suggest that women are more likely to have differences grow and perpetuate? My experience of working with young people across decades would suggest that this is the case, although I would accept that this is an unfashionable opinion.

Last edited 3 years ago by Richard Lord
Richard Lord
Richard Lord
3 years ago

Is there a genetic element to this, dare I ask? Not wishing to generalise, I think it’s more common for men to have an opinion or disagreement (sometimes physical) and then move on. Is it impertinent for me, as a man, to suggest that women are more likely to have differences grow and perpetuate? My experience of working with young people across decades would suggest that this is the case, although I would accept that this is an unfashionable opinion.

Last edited 3 years ago by Richard Lord
Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
3 years ago

Why are comments disappearing? Is this a flaw in the discussion system or are we being silently silenced?

stephen f.
stephen f.
3 years ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

It is-one reason among many- why you see less participation from formerly regular commenters.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  stephen f.

Time to establish a new platform

Jane Kantor
Jane Kantor
3 years ago

This episode titled “Secrets,” from the podcast “This American Life”, discusses this subject. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/this-american-life/id201671138?i=1000510091299

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
3 years ago

The lovely in the yoga class photo isn’t Jen Polachek, not that I mind.

Lee Jones
Lee Jones
3 years ago

There seems always to be a tendency to talk of women as some kind of homogeneous group.This tendency has multiple faces often reducing millions of peoples to an archetype. To me, it seems, if you cannot talk of your experiences or views or even give your own opinion of issues without being held up as paragon or traitor to whichever group someone else decides you belong to, even should you feel some affinity to that group (and don’t we all have group affinities, mine being gay and someone who walks his dog among others who walk theirs, or sharing a slight bemusement at the soiled male underwear that occasionally festoon the bushes in the communal gardens of my street). But why is it assumed we speak for these groups rather than for ourselves. Young writers who think they are journalists perhaps? Or perhaps a rather sad desire to represent people who have similar interests as a group of people who think alike,when they are no such thing. I suspect a recurring theme with those new to journalism, easy and obvious meat. But not a silly piece, and shows some potential, good luck with future articles.