Having slept on it, I remain bemused by a (very) brief Twitter spat I found myself in last night.
One woman tweeted: “the concept of being a slag does not fucking exist it was invented because men thought women shouldn’t enjoy sex”
Another woman retweeted it with the caption: “Say it louder for the people at the back”
I retweeted this retweet with a question: “There must be literature chronicling the history of misogyny, right? Can someone in the know point me to it”
Here the incomprehensible disagreement begins. The person I retweeted responded:
“Almost every text ever written before the 20th century and plenty since”
I presumed she was referring to 19th century “classic” novels, and so thought that my use of the word “literature” was unhelpful, implying that I was interested in fiction. In fact, I wanted a (non-fiction) academic history:
“Sorry I shouldn’t have said “literature”; I mean like an academic history?”
Reply: “I don’t quite understand the point you’re trying to make”
I clarified further:
“I want a history book as opposed to a novel which deals with the theme”
I don’t think there is any nefarious implication in this preference? Am I wrong to believe that I could not really have been any clearer in explaining what genre of book I was seeking? Well, apparently I am wrong on both counts, because this is the response I received:
“So you don’t believe that throughout history women have been silenced and oppressed? Seems legit.”
I was rather surprised by this accusation. I could not – and still do not – understand how that could be deduced from what I had said. To be honest, this slightly irritated me – not because of the theme of accusation, but because of the illogical, unjustifiable and easily-disprovable leap from question to accusation. I was more measured in my response than I wanted to be:
“Eh? I think you’ve misunderstood. Of course I know that to be true. I would just like to read some history. I read lots of non-fiction.”
She did not respond, but she did elsewhere tweet what could only have been in reference to this exchange. Four minutes after her mistakenly identifying my (non-existent) “belie[f] that throughout history women have been silenced and oppressed”, she tweeted:
It’s hardly controversial to observe that there exist history books which may trace the development of political discourses or ideologies and movements. I have mind Mark B. Salter’s Barbarians and Civilization in International Relations (the ‘”civilised v barbarian” discourse) and Robert O. Paxton’s The Anatomy of Fascism (the ideology of, and movement that is, Fascism), for example.
However, it is controversial, it would seem, to ask for recommendations of books which deal with a specific theme; for to do so is to deny any such book’s hypothetical thesis.
The internet truly is a strange place.