5 Tips for Writing a Great Dissenting Comment

The other day a commenter dropped by Fashion bloggers and nudity…how far is too far? and left me this immature little rant:

“You know what is the most disgusting part of this post? They way you end with, “I’m not passing judgment,” when this entire post is riddled with judgment. If you have a problem with the content of blogs and you’re “probably not going to be dropping by much” because of that content, then don’t fucking drop by. And don’t get all sanctimonious on your blog about how being covered is so much better than being naked. Heaven for-fucking-bid any girl out there wants to love and accept her body and display it in a manner she chooses in her own space. I mean, obviously the true answer to feminism is to get all 19th century and make sure everything from our neck to our ankles is completely covered. Because it is so clearly impossible for any woman to be serious, be a feminist, and also be comfortable showing her body. Especially when we have our futures to worry about with those men we might want to marry and how our lives might affect their jobs. *gasp* WHAT IS A GIRL TO DO?

Obviously, according to this super judgy post, we should cover the fuck up and make sure we don’t offend your little eyes with our flagrant disregard for propriety.

Of course, the other option is for you to stop following blogs that don’t interest you and not use your public space to shame those women who choose to show their body in their own spaces.”

You know what I did?

I deleted her rant, and you can bet I blocked her IP address.

You know why?

Because leaving a dissenting opinion in the form of an emotional, expletive-filled tirade is not something I can even begin to take seriously, and I am not obligated to publish an emotional, expletive-filled, tirade on my blog. Why should I waste my time on a commenter who is irate and negative, when I have other commenters and comments who actually deserve my space and time?

It’s not constructive and it’s not how I run things. But to make it constructive and turn a negative into a positive,  I’m going to use it as an example in this post.

Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter. Quote by Bertrand Russell

Other commenters on that post, like Steph (The Loudmouth), and Christina (Profresh Style), shared dissenting opinions that hit the mark. Christina wrote:

“Well, I’m sure you know how I feel about this.

I welcome all kinds of content, may it be for me or not. When I decided to wear (or rather lack thereof) on my blog post, it was an awakening for me of self-love. I brought in a very intimate photographer into my space to share a moment that took years to build up to. I shared my body, I shared my thoughts, I shared my acceptance. Now, I’m not too sure if that’s really the best thing to do professionally. But I ultimately am not worried of what companies will find when they search me as I’ll back every piece of content I’ve posted as there is always a reason for such.

With posting a sexually suggested image of myself on a bed, per-say, can seem like I’m asking for attention. And honestly, I was. I’m looking for my readership to see I’m normal and that I’m not looking to fit a standard to be on status. I’ve got normal skin, normal body, normal flaws, normal. I loved that I was able to share, while accepting, such beautifully executed images by Emma [who is FANTASTIC, by the way.]

I get your point – I understand where it’s coming from. In a society where we are constantly sexualized, I understand that modesty should be valued. I agree with this 100%. I hate showing my own cleavage and find that men don’t focus, obviously, when I wear looks that expose. But posts like mine and others, are about acceptance and me sharing that with people.

I, as well as others, posted about my body because there isn’t enough out there about acceptance. At least, not to my liking. I’d love to see more of it actually. It takes major guts to do what I and others have done. And I’d do it again in a heartbeat if I knew that, like last time, I changed someone’s mind about their own body.

How to Successfully Offer a Dissenting Opinion in Comments

I’ve stirred plenty of debate here on G&G, and I am certainly not afraid to publish dissenting opinions in my comments. You are all entitled to your opinions, just as I’m entitled to mine. But there is a way to debate and dissent that earns attention and respect. So if you want to share a dissenting opinion that has some credibility and can be taken seriously, here are some tips:

1. Don’t comment when you are hot under the collar.
Walk away, wait a little bit. Cool off. Come back after you’ve cleared your head and the adrenaline has stopped coursing through your body. Then after writing your comment, read it in its entirety before you hit the submit button.

2. Don’t use swear words.
If you want to be taken seriously, don’t drop the f-bomb all over your comment. It just makes you look immature and unhinged. A good dissent is crafted calmly, using language that helps construct a solid argument. I mean, can you imagine a defense attorney slinging “effs” around a courtroom to make her point? She’d lose all her credibility. And so will you if you can’t string an opinion together without curse words.

3. Don’t attack the writer.
Personal attacks are just ridiculous. Most sane, adult people can agree to disagree. Insulting or attacking the writer just makes YOU look bad.

4. Don’t overreact.
In the comment I had deleted above, the commenter wrote: “…obviously the true answer to feminism is to get all 19th century and make sure everything from our neck to our ankles is completely covered.” Uh, no, sweetheart. That is not what I wrote, and not what I implied either. Making grand, overreactive statements just makes you look like you completely missed the point.

5. Do explain why you feel the way you do.
If I like X and you like Y, don’t just hate on me for liking X. Tell me why you like Y, in a way that prompts me to thoughtfully consider it.

Christina did a super job of this when she wrote:

“I get your point – I understand where it’s coming from. In a society where we are constantly sexualized, I understand that modesty should be valued. I agree with this 100%…I, as well as others, posted about my body because there isn’t enough out there about acceptance.”

And Steph’s comment lead-in was compelling, too:

“This is such a great post V, and I totally understand where you’re coming from — but at the same time, I respect bloggers who aren’t ashamed to expose their bodies. However, it has to be in the right context… the age of the blogger, the subject of the post, the vibe of the blog, the reason for exposing one’s body in the first place, etc. If it doesn’t make sense, it’s definitely a turn-off.”

A well-crafted dissent not only earns YOU credibility, it makes ME re-evaluate what I’ve written. That is a successful debate, people! Even if we remain on our respective sides, we respect each other for it, continue on in our relationship, and others learn from our example.

Comments

  1. says

    Interesting post. I’ve been accused of ‘slut shaming’ before in posts and get the odd comment where because I’m a guy they seem to think I have ‘no right’ to tell women what to wear. Which I find odd, as we all know a lot of the big names in fashion are men, and they end up telling everyone what to wear each season by what they send down the catwalk. But this is what gets me… there’s no consistency. There are a lot of part time feminists who will have a pop but then applaud the latest Marc Jacobs collection. They’ll turn their nose up at another woman telling women not to be provocative and show lots of flesh but then condemn Miley Cyrus when she’s doing just that. They’ll criticise you trying to have an educated discussion on a topic about reasoning behind women wearing revealing clothing, but then go and promote or endorse blogs that promote porn sites.

    It’s like that vegetarian that always tells you not to eat meat, but then sneaks home and scoffs a bacon sandwich!

    The thing is I actually studied feminism at university as part of my degree, so I’ve read academic papers on the patriarchy and extreme feminism. I actually quite enjoy it and there are some great bloggers out there with a feminist outlook that I’ve learnt from and made me question the things around me. For example when male friends have made certain jokes about girls I’ve ended up pulling them up on it and made them think about what they’re actually saying.

    But there are also those out there that seem to pick and choose as and when they see fit. Don’t read what you’re saying properly and then go on a rant rather than trying to spark an intellectual debate. After all I could understand if your post was a full on troll of these people in a crude or distasteful manner but at least in my opinion I always try spark a discussion with people rather than just go on a raging rant.
    Arash Mazinani’s latest post: What Can You Learn From The ‘Normcore’ Trend?My Profile

    • says

      I think Arash has made so many amazing points here that there isn’t much to add.

      Other than to acknowledge that sometimes people react certain ways because they are looking for a fight. However, a fight is different than a debate, and typically leaves the aggressor looking foolish….
      Alexis Grace’s latest post: Chanel Fall 2014 CollectionMy Profile

    • says

      This comment is EVERYTHING. I echo your thoughts, and only have this to add: the whole “slut shaming” thing is beyond me. I left this comment on a different post, but I want to share it with you as well:

      I’m not “shaming” anyone, which is a ridiculous concept that has sprouted in the last couple of years.

      The way I was raised, if you did something inappropriate that could invite shame, then you probably deserved to feel it. When I was a child in the late ’70s and ’80s, exposing yourself inappropriately WAS shameful. Promiscuity WAS shameful. Pole dancing WAS shameful. Just because the pendulum has swung the other way and our society has lost its moral compass doesn’t mean I have to change my opinion to make people feel better about their own actions.

      I see this anti-shaming concept sort of as a Gen Y/Millenials defense mechanism. These are the generations who have been told they can do no wrong, who also are also heavily affected by epidemic divorce rates and the breakdown of the traditional family unit. You can’t tell me their skewed morality is not a by-product of all this. No one in centuries past has ever thought “slut-shaming,” in whatever method it was communicated, was off the mark. Because being a loose woman was an incredibly degrading, horrible thing! A woman only had her good name!

      Anyway, I could go on and on and on. And I’m sure someone will read this comment and probably go bonkers. But the truth is this: Even after hundred and hundreds of years, society will ALWAYS consider a promiscuous woman to be of ill-repute, and a promiscuous man to be a legend. That’s what these young ones just don’t understand. They are never going to change that mentality, no matter how they try to justify their own actions.

      As always, thank you for your thoughtful comment!

  2. says

    I completely agree with this post! I have had people leave comments, primarily on my YouTube channel, when they didn’t like that I criticized a celeb’s outfit or hair… they call be a bully and then proceed to call me ugly and other expletive words that I dare not repeat. The ironic thing is that what they say about me is far worse than any of the jokes I make about a celeb’s look. I’m fine with people disagreeing with me, but I wish it could be a mature adult discussion rather than an angry, tirade.
    Sarah
    http://www.TheCarpetandTheDrapes.com
    Sarah Blodget’s latest post: Academy Awards 2014My Profile

    • says

      Hi Sarah,

      It is ironic when people get all worked up about you criticizing something, but then they attack you with a swear-word-filled rant. It would be so refreshing if more people were able to debate maturely. When they can’t, though, it really doesn’t bother me. Responding to someone who gets that irate over something so minute is just not worth my time. I’d much rather focus on commenters who are calm and who can make an opposing argument in a sane, rational manner.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  3. says

    I have to say that if there is one phrase that I wish can be banned from the internet FOREVER it’s, “If you don’t like it, then don’t watch/read.”

    By blogging, we are in a sense marketing our lives and our selves whether we want to or not. By sharing photos and opinions, you’re asking people to comment on them. Heck, photography, even of nudity, can be considered art. Yet, when someone disagrees, we’re labeled “haters” or told “don’t read.”

    I’m sorry, but in what other field is this acceptable? For example, if someone doesn’t like abstract or modern art, no one says, “Well then don’t look at it.” It’s such a cop out to say that. It’s like, come up with an argument or don’t say anything all. It’s like arguing with a child sometimes and saying, “Because I said so.” It’s not a reason or an excuse.

    Sorry, rant over!
    Courtney’s latest post: Going Ad Free and Other Blogger ReflectionsMy Profile

    • says

      Oh, Courtney, your comment is brilliant and makes an outstanding point! Going to throw that one back next time someone uses that line on me!

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