[You know the 'doesn't exist in a vacuum' part of that title stems from a time when science was pretty sure that life* could not exist in a vacuum. This was way back when one of a science geek's best parlour tricks was to shove someone's parrot (or other pet animal) under a sealed bell jar, pump out the air, and watch while the animal died... or, if you weren't a complete jerk, just almost died but not quite (that night anyhow) Back in those days people had to make their own entertainment and they didn't have the internet.]
I made the mistake of not going to look at the footnote -- if I had I could probably have saved myself reading on, because thereafter you realise that Ms Hurley knows exactly why the word butthurt should be left to the usage of teenage boys for whom homosexuality exists as a threat rather than a possibility. Still, as long as someone else, who may only be repeating the current internet word-of-the-day, says it, Ms Hurley can overlook that she knows better and use it because it's dismissive and been used dismissively and the other guy isn't specifically talking about anal rape (or whining about a less than satisfactory experience of anal sex). It's a damn-good-reason but the discussion she refers to in the footnote does not appear to agree that 'it's okay to use butthurt if it's not about rape' -- and the only usage of a word that anyone can totally control is their own usage. One can be angry or upset about other people using a particular word but if you find yourself making excuses as to why you should use it, having apparantly no argument with it being a word the use of which should be discouraged, then how is it wrong for someone else to use it out of ignorance, or because they also believe that this is an instance where it's excusable?
My use of it in this post in particular is in response to this dismissive tweet about latest rage, which employs it in its generally annoying way.
Butthurt is a word of derisive dismissal and very seldom actually used at a point where someone has suffered injury to their butt but almost always in a generally annoying way. The word butthurt is not often used in a vacuum, after all, but in response to someone being generally annoying (in those internet spaces where complaint is generally taken as annoying) So Ms Hurley is excusing using it in her case because she's using it the way it's normally used...
Okay, fine, enough about the footnote... [*mumbles* it's just that the footnote kind of sums up the rest of the essay.]
Ms Hurley continues with a true story about an unpleasant incident in which she used rage to good effect -- and here I am in awe of what she did and the outcome. She did good. If she were a character in a book I'd have bonded with her because of this incident. In third person anyhow. As it is I kind of wish I knew nothing about her but this story (and that she'd told it in third person)**.
There are some digressions, which if I'd been critting this as fiction I'd have recommended removing -- the whole lot about how people kept telling her that bad things happened and her being angry about it appeared to belong in another story. One where Ms Hurley responded as she did not because she couldn't stand by silent, or because her body was pumping up adrenaline for the much over-simplified flight-or-fight (and as many small mammals will tell you, screaming in a predators face can be a lifesaver) , but was raging because the two men were proving all those other people right in their assessment of the place they lived.
But that’s a post for another time.
And, sadly, I misread the intent of the story because Ms Hurley's explanation for why she yelled is entirely different from what I'd assumed. She's not angry at the predatory men, she's angry with people who're not there... people who warned her that there were predatory men about.
To an outsider seeing my screaming meltdown at these two men, in which I raved and shouted and told them how they were utter assholes for harassing us, and they should fuck off, and who the fuck did they think they were, this might have seemed like the raving of some unhinged person. After all, from afar, all you see is two guys at a bus stop talking to a woman who seems deeply uncomfortable.,
I have actually seen people raging at other people in the street more than once: sometimes they're drunk and haranguing a randomly picked victim, sometimes they're using a fairly effective self-defence strategy which I believe even comes up in self-defence training. So I'll admit my bias here -- if I'd seen a woman yelling at two men who weren't walking away in a hurry I'd have assumed I should be getting her help. I'd have assumed that the two men being yelled at were the problem.
But my rage, my “sudden” outburst was actually the result of the venting of six full months of increasing dread and terror inflicted on me not even so much by actual bad people, but people ostensibly concerned for my safety, whose admonitions that I “stay inside” and watch my back, and be careful, and who would then go on to talk about who’d been raped, shot, stabbed or mugged that week, had really started to get to me. It was a rage at the entire situation, at being expected to shut the fuck up and go inside all the time because I was a young woman. It was rage at the idea that the threat of violence so clearly worked to keep people in line.
[Maybe it's because I have a really bad reaction to adrenaline bursts that I am so very aware of those times when adrenaline is flooding my system.. rather than revolutionary zeal]
Where does 'shut the fuck up' come from? Did the people trying to warn her that she was putting herself at risk say that? Were they all trying to 'keep her in line'? Or were they, perhaps justifiably, concerned that as a stranger in their country they had some kind of duty of care, at least a duty of warning. Tourists frex do seem to be more likely targets for street crime so it's perhaps not unreasonable that they'd be considered generally more vulnerable. I'm unsure why Ms Hurley's anger was so overwhelmingly directed at the people offering warnings -- because she could have been unaware of the threat of violence? Because if she hadn't known there was a threat of violence she wouldn't have been kept in line? Which she wasn't. Two men are verbally assaulting a woman standing next to her and she yells at them not to defend the other woman, not because she's sick of having to put up with men like them, but because she's angry at the people who tell her men like them exist?
[ Yes, there is a social/political strategy called 'leopard in the grass' -- it's another supposedly natural history derived one, over how monkeys react when one individual calls out that there's a hidden danger and the monkeys respond to that perceived threat. The idea is that frex a political party creates a fear of danger (one that isn't ever substantiated) and uses that threat either to win power (we see the threat and we will protect you) or keep control of the population (if you don't do what we say you'll be outside of the group and the leopard will get you). For that to be what was happening to Ms Hurley would tend to require that there was some kind of pay-off for the people creating the leopard scare and I'm not seeing one.]
Anyhow, the lesson I take from this is that warning strangers to a place that there have been a string of assults/rapes/murders is not good. You can never know what baggage they've brought with them and they might get really angry with you.
BTW because people were likely to jump out of the woods and haul me off to the terrible fate all young white girls traveling abroad are assumed to inhabit, eventually. Ms Hurley isn't only dismissive of the unpleasant usage that is butthurt, she can be dismissive of rape in her own words (likewise 'sexually explicit threats and promises' is a really odd turn of phrase to choose)
After I raged for a few minutes, the guys milled about for a bit, confused, and finally wandered off. When they did, the young woman next to me breathed a sigh of relief and said, “Thank you so much. I was afraid to say something, because I was afraid they’d knife me or something.”
End of a perfectly good illustrative story a little confusingly told but yup in some circumstances yelling in someone's face is more than appropriate behaviour it can save your life. Or someone elses.
When the internet loses its shit over what, to many, looks like a single, insignificant incident unrelated to anything else, it’s easy to say they’re fucking nuts. They’re raging over some perceived slight that’s been blown waaaaay out of proportion. That, in truth, is the easier narrative. There’s a reason folks say things like, “Women are crazy,” to explain away some perceived hurt or slight, because it’s easier than thinking through why that rage makes one so uncomfortable (often because that person is complicit in acts that contribute to that rage in some way by perpetuating both sexism and the belittling of women’s voices). It’s easier to say people are crazy than to try and figure out why.
Ah, okay that's why the bit about how people looking at her yelling at those guys would have looked like she was insane. You know, maybe it's just me but the story doesn't really seem a good fit for the purpose to which it's being put.
Especially when you’re in a place where it’s never your butt getting hurt.
People discounting or dismissing your anger is not the same as being raped. Or being threatened with rape. Maybe it's because those same teenaged boys who love the word butthurt also like talking about how they totally raped some other player in a game etc but while I'm okay with rape being used metaphorically in some circumstances here it's making me uncomfortable. I don't think it's because I'm in any way complicit but a lot of this post is using rape and the threat of rape and a casual dismissive attitude to rape to create a subtextual landscape.
Internet rage is almost never a one-off. It happens in a continuum. It’s seen as one more event in a long line of connected events.
I don't think continuum is a particularly good word for this. But yes, people like stories, they think in narratives and often create them out of entirely unconnected events. The trouble is that, as in history, people will have different narratives, they will find some events more important than others etc. Conspiracy theorists often put together extremely convincing strings of events -- sometimes they're right, sometimes they're assuming that everyone involved is deliberately moving events in a certain direction (rather than not trying to control events, or other people, at all, or cackhandedly trying to say or do or achieve something else entirely).
This post includes a lot of generalisations about how other people think, including the one that says people dismiss shouting women as crazy because they're 'complicit'.
About ten years ago, some dude blogger with a big following would ask, about every six months, “Where are all the women bloggers? I don’t read any women bloggers. So women must not blog!” And the feminist blogosphere would fall on him. Every. Six. Months.
I'm not sure if this is the same blogger or a new one -- and I'm in small mammal thinking so I wonder if this isn't like people blowing on hamsters. I came across the phenomenon on Youtube but it's your basic human compulsion to tease. Dwarf hamsters, as I understand it, mostly don't like having wind blown in their faces. Some react with displays of rage, and some by leaping backwards etc Many people find this hilarious. They make vids of the reactions. They find it cute or hilarious or... whatever. The hamsters probably aren't enjoying it and may well fit this event in to a string of other abuses of ignorance that they suffer and believe the monkeys are being intentionally cruel and that they should always bite back... (but then blowing on hamsters is often given as a usable reprimand for biting so that probably doesn't help interspecies communication)
[On Youtube you can also find vids with really ugly lablels and (mostly) inside they're not what they're labelled as being. They're supposed jokes, often involving promises of animal cruelty. Maybe they're looking to get hits from sick bastards, or maybe they think it's funny to get the animal rights folks reporting them and making angry comments, or maybe they're sick bastards who're one step away from doing what they're pretending to do. I don't know which of those narratives is true. I don't even know if they're not so hopelessly innocent of what people do to animals that they think it's genuinely outrageous comedy (I've seen a few professional comics voyage into similar territory and there's that thing with the kitten in Brothers Grimm...). People do not all think the same. But a lot of them like scoring points off, and bullying, and offending, and causing distress to those they see to be vulnerable]
Did the feminist blogosphere ever wonder if they weren't behaving like a windblown hamster?
[And is the term 'fall on him' not making any of those inclined to fall heavily on others uncomfortable? Probably not, because like butthurt it's about dominating someone and forcing them to behave the way you want them to behave. It's done for a range of reasons that are mostly summed up by notions of personal satisfaction and aggrandisment]
We’d clog up his blog comments with our voices. We’d link to other women’s blogs. We’d point out that the reason he never saw women is because it was easier to not see them. It was easier to link to the dudes that he knew. You don’t see people you don’t listen to. That went on for a couple of years. At some point, after Wonkette got big and Amanda Marcotte got tapped to do social media outreach for a major political candidate, these conversations stopped
Do I think that those two events in two women's lives were the reason the conversations stopped? I guess I should but since I don't know them from Eve and the logic pursued is that the dudes weren't listening to women and didn't see them, it seems sort of unlikely that there was a link. Things do just stop. Pranks stop being funny, hamsters die... people grow and move on. The linkage between the events mentioned is one narrative possibility, but it's just as if not more likely that there is no connection.
[ (now it’s “here are all the white people you should be following on Twitter” lists that don’t have a single person of color on them, even though people of color make up over 40% of Twitter users and generate the majority of tweets and some of the biggest online memes and movements have originated with influencial folks on that end. Same shit, different pocket).
I don't do Twitter much. Clearly lots and lots of nonwhite people also don't use Twitter (I believe that's going to be an excuse for putting large numbers of low flying drones over the developing world... which isn't sounding like a creepy scary conspiracy at all). None of what are given as reasons why the 40% should be followed are reasons for which I follow people -- kind of the reverse.
Seriously, I follow very few people and I'm beginning to skim a couple of them because their tweets are getting kind of generic. That is, I think, a flaw of Twitter as a social medium... an infinite number of monkeys will type the same strings of keys over and over and over... and then hit retweet]
We got all sorts of push back on this, about how we should be more “civil” and “settle down.” We got told we were “over-reacting.” We were being “pushy bitches” and “making something out of nothing." But the truth was that unless we made a big fucking stink, people went back to the status quo.
And apparantly after Ms Hurley et al made a big fucking stink people went back to the status quo. So quo was the status that the stink happened every six months. And if the difference was made by Wonkette and Marcotte gaining notoriety then how was it the stink that did anything to the status quo?
Folks will always, always, always go back to the comfortable status quo, with its silent voices and lack of conflict, if you give them the chance.
Or the status quo with its regular slapfights and endless conflict? Cycles of violence are also pretty comfortable institutions for some. People have been known to make careers on regular bloodlettings. People yell at other people on the internet. Hamsters get stressed into eating their own babies. The world goes on barely noticing.
“Settle the fuck down, you got your way,” also doesn’t work after a fight is over, because though dudes may go “Yeah, we get it, women blog” unless you’re on it like a fucking trainwreck, you’ll have the conversation again six months later.
So angrily falling on people and clogging up their blogs etc doesn't achieve any lasting results. (And no we're not talking about a conversation we're talking about unleashing rage and in rage there are no conversations.) At least none of the lasting results those orchestrating the trainwreck want. I'm pretty sure from my own observations that shouting in people's faces does change how many of them feel about the people shouting in their faces and how they communicate with others from that point on.
They forget. They start rewriting the narrative.
Or write it from a different perspective.
But it's kind of weird to claim that print newspapers are rewriting a narrative that's only days old because they've had time to forget. Their narrative is simply different. My narrative of events would also be different from Ms Hurley's. It's one thing screaming and raging like a madwoman in a situation outsiders can understand as involving threats of bodily harm, quite another using that same kind of rage in reaction to an announcement that a chat show host one does not like is in danger of handing someone an award... It was pretty obvious what the story would be if the mainstream media decided to comment at all.
Calls for civility, as good-intention as they may be, smack to me of folks telling me I should have swallowed my tongue at the bus stop. After all, it’s not as if the men were physically harming the young woman. And I should have held my tongue when people said women don’t blog, because obviously, if I wrote well enough, and shut up enough, and acted demure enough, people would just magically notice me, right?
None of what Ms Hurley has said so far is about calls for civility. And there's a serious difference between civility and silence. I'm not being silent. I hope I am being civil.
But we are back to comparing a situation of actual threat, with clear right and wrong, to... yelling at people on the internet (and quite often making threats about their livelihoods, persons, etc) because frex they don't think women blog.
There is a massive gulf between silence and screaming in which almost all the great words of wisdom have been spoken. Maybe it isn't such a bad idea that the internet should live a little more in the place between silence and oppressive volume. Because, so far as I've witnessed, it is the oppressive volume that silences people, not some dude saying 'women don't blog'.
And is all that yelling about a cause? Or so that people will notice Ms Hurley?
Clearly, ya’ll have no idea how this works.
Well I do know a fair bit about being shouted at. And bullied. And about standing up to people who want me to do what they say, or go away (some on the internet and some where you feel the heat of their breath on your face as they scream).
If I shut the fuck up, then all the people you quote, all the people who write the post-narrative, the big pieces that folks look back on to create the history and narrative of an event, even a successful one, will be made by the powerful, influencial people who believe their hurt feelings at being called out as problematic somehow outweigh the concerns of an entire community of folks with no media pull and no platform whose voices have been marginalized their whole lives, and are now being reduced to a crazy, screaming, angry mob acting up out of nowhere, instead of a passionate community of folks reacting to an event they see as existing on a problematic continuum.
I just don't get how people being asked not to scream into the microphone always ends up in the realms of censorship. But then the word 'passionate' in ref to people being violent or angry has always made me wince... it's an excuse-me word. He's not a violent man he's just passionate. She's not got poor self-control she's just passionate. Passionate people get to hit or slap or coerce or force because THEY'RE PASSIONATE DAMN IT! and all those other people are grey and dull and passionless and there to be hit, slapped, coerced, and forced into doing whatever the passionate people want them to.
[Mostly I've found the alleged grey dull people in this world to be more truly passionate than the screaming shouty hitty ones... the screaming shouty hitty ones tend to be passionate about themselves and their own desires and rights, the grey dull people get passionate about gardening or knitting or volunteer work or injustice... they get passionate about something other than themselves and those passions are long lasting and deep and real. It's true love versus narcissism]
We have a strange habit of falling back on “civility” as if every social movement was entirely civil. Like unions didn’t bust up on scabs. Like Nelson Mandela didn’t blow shit up. Like MLK would tell us all to shut the fuck up, and women never chained themselves to the fences in city squares, stormed political buildings or committed acts of arson and violence in an effort to achieve suffrage.
We have a strange habit of falling back on civility because it works. I say please and thank you and keep to the basic code of behaviour. Other people do the same. No one gets hurt. No one is dismissed. I show people the same respect I expect them to show me. That way everyone gets some respect. I do not piss on other people's doorsteps and count as civil those people who do not piss on mine. Yes some social movements are uncivil--
Wait, yelling at people on the internet is a social movement? Is it me or is this getting a little... odd?
Yes, unions bust up on scabs. And in the 30th anniversary year of the Miner's Strike, you can probably still find families who were split forever by bitterness over that legacy. Is it right to break people's legs? Or their tools? Or was that taking things too far and part of why the unions in the UK lost so much support that they've gone from being power-brokers to a virtual irrevalance? Less influential than internet petitions.
Yes, Nelson Mandela blew shit up. In response to people being shot, tortured, wrongfully imprisoned... He went to prison. He suffered. He was released from prison... and was responsible for there not being a shouty hitty screamy bloodbath but a really civil and peaceful reconcilliation. He's not respected for being an angry young man but a wise elder statesman.
Sorry, I am going to pause in writing this because really... raging on the internet with some dude who says women don't blog is not the same thing. It's not that it isn't in the same league it's that it isn't the same game. Ms Hurley is not throwing herself under the King's horse she's being unpleasant on the internet. Raging from the comfort and safety of her home at people she doesn't know.
Surprise! My specialization is in the history of revolutionary movements, and let me tell you, folks – being nice and holding hands didn’t get shit done. Or sure, it was one tactic. But never the only tactic. I wish a nice circle jerk got shit done as much as the next person, but if it were so, history would look much, much different.
Wooo! Someone did this to me the other day -- asking if I'd done a course on X recently that I dared talk about it -- which amuses me since the places you go to do courses are all about the sexism, racism, and the money. Looking for the results of being nice and holding hands when specifically studying revolutionary movements is silly because courses about revolutionary movements seldom cover the quiet revolutions. The same way they seldom talk about the influence of women in history.
And of the four examples given, only MLK's quietish and civilish approach brought results. Sitting on buses instead of blowing them up. The suffragettes direct actions achieved very little in the UK... it was WW1 and the women working on the home front in a total war (and a shortage of men post-war) which helped tip public opinion. The miner's union lost and provoked a public reaction that haunts any strike action to this day. The ANC carried on blowing things and people up long after Mandela was imprisoned, and violence was the status quo for decades, until it stopped being the status quo. The violence didn't make anything better. Other things did.
Without the quiet social changes the world would indeed look very different -- and is it me or is it really really ironic that someone who wants to rage about people not acknowledging women bloggers etc bases her argument on internet rage on a historical narrative viewpoint which has systematically downplayed the influence of women and non-violent men in favour of a dominance-submission fantasy of a time when men were real men, women were real men, (and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri.)
[And mostly the important ones were white etc]
I personally, would welcome a history that looked much much different. Such a history could easily be written without any change in past events. But imagine if the shouty hitty stabby people hadn't done their thing? Certainly there'd have been a few fewer dead witches.
Change is messy. It’s angry. It’s uncomfortable. It’s full of angry people saying angry things, because they’ve been disrespected and forgotten again and again and again and again, and they’re tired of being fucking nice because it makes you uncomfortable if they act in any way that is not deferential or subservient to you and your worldview.
Change may often be messy but it isn't always bloody and violent with a legacy of resentment and hatred. The same can't be said for internet rage.
BTW anger is not the same as rage. A person can be angry without expressing that anger, without letting it get out of hand, without screaming in someone's face. And being uncomfortable around people who scream at other people because they say something 'wrong' isn't about being complicit with the perceived offence, it's pretty much the same as being uncomfortable when two men start making sexual threats to a stranger at the bus stop. Or when someone starts screaming at the person standing next to you.
[And civility is not subservience or deference. When I thank wait staff I am not being subservient. When I say please, I am not showing deference. I am demonstrating respect -- I do not expect you to do something for me without my saying the magic words... the words which turn 'pass me the salt' into a request not an order, and acknowledge when you do so that you have done me a favour]
I’m sorry if we’ve interrupted your latest Kickstarter, or pin-up calendar, or the purchase of your million-dollar estate in California, and you’re throwing all your Hugo pins into Mount Doom in the hopes it will shame us into silence. That must be really, really tough..
Really? Can people actually read this without wincing?
I’m sympathetic, I really am. Because I too know what it is to be comfortable and safe and pretend everything’s fine. I’m white. My parents aren’t poor, and I make decent money now. I get how annoying it can be, to get called out on that, and to have to listen to people who have problems you don’t. Real fucking problems and issues that exist on a continuum of shame, disrespect, and forced subservience they’ve had to deal with their whole lives.
Everyone on the internet who says 'please stop shouting it makes me sad/afraid/angry' is not white, or middle class, or living in denial. Nor are all the real problems of life related to belonging to an oppressed/angry minority. (And I suspect continuum does not mean what you think it does here either) Some people who are white and middle class demonstrate sympathy with and understanding of complex social problems and actively work to overcome problems that they don't have. Many people who consider themselves the victims of complex social problems are interested only in their perception of their own problems and unsympathetic to the problems of people in similar or worse situations.
For a community of folks who grew up reading comic books and farmers-who-become heroes, we sure do balk when we suddenly go from farm boy to hero. Because that’s a heavy fucking responsibility, and it’s easier to pretend you’re still mewling Peter Parker, complaining about how no girl will fuck you. You may not feel like you have power or influence, but you do – as do I.
Who is going from farm-boy to hero? Who are 'we'? And err so far as the film versions I've sat through, Peter Parker and Spiderman are pretty much equally unpleasant characters.
I hate heroes who I'm told are heroes because they've got a white hat and know how to wear it at a jaunty angle while kicking puppies. I like heroes who use their powers for good, but I have a deep mistrust of anyone in real life or fiction who seriously thinks of themselves as being heroic. ("I will just help this little old lady across the street because I am a HERO!!!" is kind of creepy. I guess this is why superhero narratives and I do not engage well).
[ I ask little old ladies standing by shopping bags looking cold if they're okay or need help because it's what you do not because I'm a hero in my own lunchtime. When they tell me that they're just waiting for their husband to bring the car round but thank you for asking I rush on my way trying not to blush. I keep an eye on people I suspect are going to steal a dog because I care about the dog not because I want an excuse to wear my underpants outside my tights. I write posts like this not because I have influence or power but because I don't have influence or power, all I have is self-published words and a deep mistrust of people who continually justify their own behaviour while condemning lesser misdeeds in others.]
What is so heroic about ganging up on someone to make unpleasant threats and promises? I don't see heroism in the predators at the bus stop, and if I'm forced to compare events then how can I see heroism in a mob descending on a blogger to silence him?
There are a few things we can do when we have power and influence. We can take our toys and go home. Or we can get the fuck up and fight for the people who are continually shit on, and act like a fucking hero would act. I know which I’d rather do.
And clearly your heroes are not my heroes. I watch action movies -- but they're fiction. I turn off my brain and watch the pretty explosions. In action movies every man the hero kills deserves to die. Even the collateral damage is acceptable. The hero is never wrong and whatever they hate is worthy of hate. In Hollywood-land all Russians are bad, they always have been and always will be, and if the hero happens to kill half a dozen random Russians, while he's running around doing some terribly heroic thing that's all about increasing US dominance, he's still a hero. Standing up for the rights of oppressed US citizens everywhere.
I have an icon that reads 'what would Beowulf do?' but I don't mean it literally -- I'm not about to go hack someone's arm off -- nor am I actually comparing myself to a hero of Old English literature. ( Beowulf probably wouldn't have spent time posting on live journal but possibly he'd have been able to adapt that whole insult contest thing to Twitter... ) I don't have an icon saying 'what would Nelson Mandela do?' or one saying 'what wouldn't MLK say?'.
And is it me or is the idea that someone rides out as a self-appointed hero for the oppressed kind of... disturbing. I'm not opposed to narratives where a priviliged individual becomes an ally of the needy, though I prefer if they first demonstrate an actual learning process and affinity, but a narrative where a person who considers themselves priviliged sets out to be the hero of the revolution because being a farm-boy equates to invisibility? Not so hot on that one.
Here too is where I'd want to deploy the word continuum -- there is a lot of middle ground between going home and starting out swinging. There aren't only two options. There's a whole lot of room in between for all those other and less 'heroic' acts like giving up tea and coffee and writing blog posts and petitions and raising money for charity and working with food banks and raising awareness and being one of the people who keeps on and on talking quietly about injustice. It's not only a choice between join-the-mob or walk away. Men of violence*** the world over just like to pretend that it is.
*No one ever said that nothing exists in a vacuum, because plenty of things that are not life are perfectly comfortable in a vacuum.
** I have the same problem with Katniss -- the first film really did the book a service by *not* spending time in her head.
*** I believe that there are times when violence is appropriate or at least forgivable -- I believe that people resort to violence more often than is reasonable or forgiveable because it is the easiest narrative to develop. And that's in fiction as well as real life and vice versa.