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June 12, 2008


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I saw the flame war on CO (and my head hurts) and I actually came here to look for your email id so I could just say something to make you feel better.

While this is a well-written post, as were your arguments on CO (and I envy you that you've had so many wonderful people to learn from) I don't think you need to justify your stand or be apologetic for - horrors! - being a man. Just as I don't feel I have to apologise for being a woman (and an Asian woman at that, especially seeing how most of Asian culture - well, mine, atleast - is so misogynistic.) We know there are good men, and that you are one of them, and believe me, the comfort derived from that is what makes us plod on despite molestations, insults and oppression raining down on us from the powerful patriarchs who fear us and our sexuality and feel the need to oppress it any which way.
I hope you feel better after venting, but I feel your justifications, however articulate, would only serve to show such vicious extremists that they have succeeded in raising your ire. Just because they're verbose doesn't necessarily mean they're right (although I guess you already know that.)

Anyway, just dropped by to offer a pat on the back. I'm sorry you got dragged into that muck.

Be well


I just have to say, I was endlessly entertained by your war with PFS over on CO.

Unenlightened feminist are some of the most sexist people on the planet. I'm enjoying watching you pluck her feathers. ><


Hey, bertha-s. As a dyed-in-the-wool feminist, a critical thinker, and a fan of CO, I just wanted to come over here and thank you for your incredibly well thought out commentary over there on the CNR thread. I woke up this morning to see the barrage of anger spewed over there by pinkfuzzyslippers, and was disheartened. (And I'm so glad it happened when I was asleep, because I'm supposed to be working on my thesis, and the commentroversy would have sucked me in if I were awake when it was happening.) It's such a complex issue, and you handled it with care, consideration, critical thought, and articulate commentary. Pity her mind was closed to any but her own arguments.

The sad thing is, I can concede *some* of the points I think she was trying to make. I too find the current onslaught of raunch culture, and the complicity of women (especially young women) in that sad world depressing. (Yes, I read 'Female Chauvinist Pigs' and agreed with a lot of it.) But I believe it's possible to be a feminist AND sex positive! I believe it's possible to be conscious and aware of the ways in which society objectifies women at the same time as being a part of that society and wanting to be sexual, and enjoying parts of the playing field. And I also believe it's possible to consciously play with the images that raunch culture glorifies to create a post-modern commentary on those images (which is one of the ways I looked at this particular CNR post). And I also believe that it's possible to look at a picture of a sweet marmalade kitten curled up around a soft breast and simply think "awwwwwwwww...." (Which was my initial reaction.) Not to mention, I believe it's possible to discuss these complex issues without dismissing anyone who disagrees with you with insults and the language of those you profess to hate, and sadly, that's where I think PFS went horribly awry.

Wow... guess I went off on a tangent there! My main reason for coming here was to thank you (as always) for your intelligent, reasoned, handling of someone who, if not a troll, was certainly exhibiting troll-like qualities. And reading your blog post here, I have to agree with Subhangi. While it's wonderful reading about all the women that have made such a contribution to your life, IMHO, you have nothing to apologize for, and no need to defend your feminist cred!

Keep on rockin' on, b-man!


I just spent 2 hours reading all of the posts on CO, which seem to be still going, and unfortunately don't have the stamina to read your post here yet, but I just wanted to say I found your posts refreshing, articulate and, when intended, amusing.

You may have noticed that no one supported the one poster and it really didn't matter what anyone said, she is too full of self importance to view anyone's opinions but her own as worthy of consideration.

A few times I thought of adding my two cents, but realised she was unable to see any side but her own, however extreme it may be.

Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for your posts and thanks for being a good guy, cuz I can tell you are.


I'll admit to being two feet from Gregory Peck and not saying a word...so it's not like I can talk... :P


Hey Bertha,

Don't let that little weasel PFS get to you (yea, I should take my own advice, eh?). What you stated in that thread was intelligent, well thought out, mature, inclusive and just all around fantastic. SHE is the one who chose the path of ignoring and deriding.


I only wanted to say that I just think you're absolutely awesome.

Smart men are SEXY! Truly


I haven't even finished reading all of the Cats & Racks commentroversy over on CO (I had to stop. My brain was hurting and my blood was boiling.), but I just HAD to write and tell you that--as a woman and a writer--I appreciate both your arguments to PFS and your wonderful, wonderful way with words.

I *do* love people who can articulate their thoughts in heated discussions without resorting to cheap-shots and pandering. I bet you're a great conversationalist!

Have a fabulous Friday and please don't stop posting on CO!

Stacey (The library staff member who brought up "sweater kittens," and who is going to go put on a burqa now so she don't get objectified at the fruit stand on this 90-degree day. Because that is SURELY the answer to PFS's sexism problem, right? RIGHT?! ::eyeroll::)


Thank you all for the kind comments. This is an issue that was kind of a "problem" for me in my early 20s; sympathetic to feminist causes and ideals, it was easy for me to indulge in enough self-doubt to keep me from forming decent relationships with women. Being attracted to a woman felt "wrong" -- not in the "I like men way" (NTTAWWT) -- but that I would wonder, what if she thinks I'm creepy or might get violent? Does she feel objectified? Do I not take her seriously as a person because I'm attracted to her?

So some of that "guilt" is lingering pieces of that, although I'm happy to say I don't GENUINELY feel guilt anymore. Most of what I offer here is rhetorical.

Ultimately, I stand by the opinions of the women who know and love me, even if those opinions are mixed. And I am not a perfect feminist or a perfect gentleman, by any means, and I'm sure that the subject of some of my academic work would NOT be appealing to many women (and some men). Still, I do appreciate the support offered here. Love to all.


I just wanted to add my comments to those above me.

I did manage to post something on CO, finally. Luckily I was asleep during the most of the discussion, so I just got to catch up when it was all over.

I grew up with a father who referred to himself as a feminist (among other things) and only now do I realize how rare that is amongst my peers. (I'm including you with them, you're not THAT much older than me). I now have a brother who is a lover of women in all forms, and would protect my right to do whatever I want until the day he dies. I find myself drawn to that type of man, and so, and I'm not hitting on you here, I find myself looking for your posts on CO because I know they will be witty and wry, and amuse me.

Keep on writing because I enjoy reading you here and there.


(get it?)


I agree with the others, you rock! You are well spoken. And a fun read! Keep it up!
Oh, and as a proud caretaker of a slightly paler version of a marmie - you must get one! And then share the pics so we can all go Ahhn! :)

claudia d

I always enjoy reading your comments because they are so well written. After reading much of the commentroversy, it seemed like you were attempting an intellectual "EHN!" but there was nothing of substance to connect to on the PFS side. I'm surprised you were able to hang in there for so long. She wasn't worthy of the effort.

I'll add my voice to those who are encouraging you to get a marmie!!


Don't worry, Berthaservant, all us real girls love you, and we know that you are not a sexist. I have always enjoyed your posts at CO - sometimes witty and lighthearted, sometimes thoughtful and scholarly, always articulate and well written. Please continue posting there and don't pay any attention to the occasional troll.

I'm thinking that the pink slipper person must have really hit a nerve with you. But his/her/its "arguments" weren't actual attempts to participate in reasoned discussion or debate - they were just window dressing for sophisticated and determined trolling, pure intent to incite and provoke and nothing more. I'm sorry that such a spiteful person with nothing better to do could cause real pain to real people, especially to you.

Speaking of which, I couldn't find the link to your MySpace page. If you took it down as a result of slipper person's malicious postings, I don't blame you. I wouldn't want someone like that knowing how to get in touch with me either.


May I second everyone's comments? Intelligent, articulate, and open-minded men are the sexiest things on two legs. I love the way you write and always enjoy your comments on CO. Thank you, for making me think and making me smile.


Since I only just discovered your blog, I'm am only now coming here to comment on this deplorable flame war...well, not deplorable in that it gave those of us who feel we know you enough to know that you are a good egg to see just what a good (and intelligent and respectful and strong) egg you are. Others have said it here better than I. You put into words, and backed up with Names of Officially Smart Ladies the way I feel about this sort of issue; as afraid as I feel of some men, hiding my body just seems to be the absolutely wrong answer. Isn't that what burqas are all about?

I also wanted to say that I very much sympathize with what I perceive to be your hurt feelings over being attacked in this way. I myself recently submitted to a flame war over on Library Mofo. I said something to the effect that, while I was happy to share a restroom with trans- women, I could empathize with some women who might be viscerally alarmed at seeing someone they perceive to be a man in the ladies room. I was called sexist and told that my empathy came from a place of privilege (frankly, wherever empathy comes from, it never occurred to me it could be a bad thing, but anywho...). And all this at the hands of similarly unpleasant, rhetoric-spouting, nasty, bitter (albeit articulate and well-rehearsed!) person whose whole argument centered around NOT respecting anyone else's point of view. Whoever was right or wrong, the point is it shook me to the core to be called sexist, to be told that I was inherently, how else can I put it, BAD. It ruined my day. It ruined my week. I lost sleep, and I missed a day of work. Oh, and I did not remain nearly as clear-headed and respectful as you did. I was UPSET. And all because of some troll on the stupid interwebs!

I'm sorry this happened to you too, because as I said, I think you are the best of eggs! I must say I envy you for being so well able to stand your ground, but I guess that you just can't win with someone who is bent on telling you that you are wrong wrong wrong and bad bad bad. Well, just add me to the chorus of strong women who think you are awesome awesome awesome.


Another supporter of all things Berthaservant. :)

(And I'm a liberal, feminist, tree-huggin' hippy momma too. GASP.)


Just had to post again because I somehow missed that you teach at the lovely UCSB campus! :) We live in Santa Maria, and head over to SB whenever we can. Isn't it just a lovely place to live?

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