Labiaplasty. Baudrillard. That is all.

3 Apr

There are circumstances in which a woman might need to subject herself to surgical correction of her labia majora and minora. But as I heard in the car driving home yesterday afternoon, more women are seeking cosmetic refinement of their pudenum femininum.

I also heard that many young women anticipating their first sexual encounter submit to a Brazilian wax, because their male partners expect a bit of tidiness down there, and pubic hair isn’t considered tidy. One must be groomed. As a Kardashian declared, the only hair a woman should have on her body is the hair on her head.

The Brazilian, in case you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know, is the total deforestation of the pubic area.

In contrast,  in pre-revolutionary France women teased up their pubic hair and decorated it with pearls, finishing off with diaphanous gowns through which prospective suitors could view their luxurious, bejewelled bush.

The modern woman also engages in the odd bit of vajazzling, gluing, pasting and sometimes piercing her Brazilianed bits with various kinds of bling.

This reminded me of my first introduction to these practices, apparently inspired by the porn industry, and about which I wrote as follows:

The last few weeks have been interesting. First up, I was bored and channel surfing and I came across the ABC’s Hungry Beast at the beginning of a report of cosmetic surgery on female genitals. This is apparently popular in Australia. It’s performed by plastic surgeons on women who think their genitals need a bit of a tidy. As I come from the generation who thought it revolutionary to crouch over the mirror and have a look, I was immediately engrossed in this report. I thought it might tell me how far we’d come.

How do you actually know your genitals need tidying, I wondered idly, as my revolution didn’t consist of a wide-scale comparative survey of loads of others. And this is where it really got scary.

The soft porn industry in Australia is allowed to publish images of female genitalia. However, these images may not be too explicit. You can’t show too many bits. So the photographs are airbrushed, with the result that the women in these magazines are portrayed as having genitals that are more likely to belong to a pre-pubescent girl.

In a wonderful example of a Baudrillardian nightmare in which the virtual not the actual has come to define what is ‘normal’, I learned that women and oftentimes their partners are taking these airbrushed models as guides to the way women’s genitals should be. The mature genitalia with their wrinkly bits and pieces are now perceived as imperfect. We can, and some think we should, get our genitals surgically deconstructed and reconstructed to look like we looked when we were ten.

The processing of photographs was described by porn industry air brushers as altering the appearance of the “vagina.” This confused me greatly for a while, being as the vagina is the inside bit. It seemed even more frightening than slicing up external bits. But to my relief the reporter explained that the industry prefers to use the term “vagina” rather than the term “labia,” due no doubt to some bizarre desire not to offend by being explicit.

I then watched in anguished disbelief as we were taken into the operating rooms of a plastic surgeon who was in the process of injecting anaesthetic into the genital area of an attractive young woman. After a bit of chat, and then getting down to some business we couldn’t see as he was filmed with his back to the camera, the surgeon emerged triumphant from his flurry under the blue sheets, holding aloft a piece of bloodied skin that immediately put me in mind of Van Gogh’s severed ear. It was, in fact, a good-sized chunk of one of the young woman’s labium.

What all of this has led me to conclude is that humans can be odd. I say humans because men also avail themselves of extensive pubic waxing, and they can buy sparklies for their dicks if they want. The beautician I heard says she stays away from waxing blokes’ bits. She doesn’t really want to go there, she said.

Clearly, intense attention to the appearance of the pubes is nothing new. The form that attention takes is dictated by the fashion and technology of the time.  We are fascinated by one another’s bits, always have been always will be.  Unlike baboons, we aren’t blessed with a natural involuntary aptitude for brilliant display. We have to figure out other ways to signal our sexual readiness. There is nothing to be done about this. In fifty years everyone may well be hairy again. But will everyone be more real?

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79 Responses to “Labiaplasty. Baudrillard. That is all.”

  1. gerard oosterman April 3, 2012 at 8:33 am #

    Right now I am having bacon and eggs but will repond soon.

  2. Colin Mackay April 3, 2012 at 8:55 am #

    Reblogged this on Secularity.

    • helvityni April 3, 2012 at 10:22 am #

      I got side-tracked here, looking at Colin’s beautiful gravatar, no tidying needed there…

      Have to check if my six-weekly haircut is due, having a bit of a bad hair morning, and the house needs tidying up…

      • Colin Mackay April 3, 2012 at 10:38 am #

        if only I knew how:(

      • Jennifer Wilson April 3, 2012 at 10:50 am #

        Yes, mine’s due tomorrow, but bugger the house. As soon as it’s clean somebody messes it up again. I’m over it. Will live in squalor.

        • samjandwich April 3, 2012 at 11:08 am #

          Unofficial rule in our house: only do housework if you feel like it. Squalor under these conditions only lasts a few days, or until just before someone comes to visit! and if all else fails, let the chickens in to clean up the crumbs in the kitchen.

        • helvityni April 3, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

          Jen & Sam, I don’t do much around the the house these days, but Easter is bringing visitors all the way from Brisbane, so I’m forced to do some tidying up…most reluctantly.

          I’ll go do some watering in the garden, start with the easiest chore.

  3. Ray (novelactivist) April 3, 2012 at 9:14 am #

    It is a bit of a myth that women are having Brazilians because of men. Many do it for their own reasons. Furthermore, women are requesting that men tidy themselves and many men now have Brazilians. I’ve been trimming for over 25 years after being introduced to the practice by a girlfriend. Depilation has been practiced for thousands of years. Who cares?

    • gerard oosterman April 3, 2012 at 9:37 am #

      Of course some men also need to ‘tidy things’ as well. Most common amongst the beautification of the male parts are penile reductions for the over- endowed and lengthening of the under privileged. It’s all in a day’s work for the surgeons specialising in those operations. Many are known to hum Verdi’s la traviata while their scalpel deftly finds its way around and around.

      • samjandwich April 3, 2012 at 10:21 am #

        Hmmm, I was just going to say, it does seem to me that while I’m sure men aren’t averse to a bit of surgery for size augmentation purposes, from a background understanding of what our sociocultural circumstances consist of I find it very hard to imagine that a man would have his bits operated on for purely cosmetic reasons.

        But is this because it’s too much of an affront to one’s manhood, or is it simply because all penises look the same to begin with? As a nurse said to me once, “seen one, seen ‘em all”.

        Trimming of pubic hair meanwhile: have you ever seen a man with a beard smoking a cigar? Well…

        Effectively though, is this yet another argument for more liberalisation and open discussion of pornography? ie, if we didn’t seek to repress all things sexual then might we be perfectly happy to leave our genitalia in its natural state? or does it not matter? Is beauty really in the eye of the beholder, or is it more objective than that?

      • 8 Degrees of Latitude April 3, 2012 at 11:43 am #

        Thank you Gerard for that fabulous word picture :)

  4. paul walter April 3, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant, Dr Jennifer Wilson- flawless work and too much to think further on while I do a shop, then rub chin and and go through a heap of stuff my mind wants to consider the implications of, that isn’t quite “there” yet.

  5. Mindy April 3, 2012 at 10:50 am #

    I discussed Brazilians with my hubby when the Hungry Beast thing had recently been on TV. As our young daughter wandered about nude, as she likes to do, we agreed that it would just be a bit weird if I looked the same being a full grown woman and all. Besides, I know from being shaved for caesarians, when the hair grows back it itches like nothing else. My husband doesn’t care, no one else sees it so I don’t give a toss.

    As for needles and surgery – not unless strictly necessary. If a bloke thinks you need to change your bits then you need to change blokes.

    • Jennifer Wilson April 3, 2012 at 10:54 am #

      I wondered about the grow back. It must be horrendously uncomfortable. And you’d have to keep waxing to keep it down. This goes into my too much pain category. Take me as I am or let me go.

  6. Doug Quixote April 3, 2012 at 11:10 am #

    Hmm. I may be in a minority, but if I may offer my views : I like women natural. That is, hairy, with all the flamboyant wrinkles and folds nature has provided to their vulva. I enjoy the differences between women and that includes their area pubic.

    Airbrushing of genitalia should be a criminal offence, not de rigeur. It was obviously perpetrated to satisfy the demands of the wowsers, who have from time to time gained enough influence to cajole the politicians into action. Obviously at one particular point in time an influential wowser decreed that flamboyant lady bits were beyond the pale, and to be no doubt “more tastefully portrayed” if the politicians would not agree that the portrayal be totally banned.

    As far as soft porn is concerned, I recall when certain adult magazines published photographs of women in all their glorious nakedness; it must have driven the bacwa types mad with the gnashing of their teeth.

    In the 21st century, it is surely time for women to reclaim their bodies and their body image from the wowsers.

  7. gerard oosterman April 3, 2012 at 11:22 am #

    Has anyone thought of “you show me yours and will show you mine yet?

  8. 8 Degrees of Latitude April 3, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    Thank you Jennifer. A great read and a lovely laugh. On the general point, I see nothing wrong with a bit of tidiness. It works well in most landscapes, after all, unless you’re a deep forest greenie and like to get lost in the wildernes. But it does seem that we in the west are in a new age of Narcissus. It can’t be over quick enough for me, though I fear that by the time it does decline I shall have long gone to the Great Manicurist in the Sky.

  9. DontSueMeMTR April 3, 2012 at 11:52 am #

    Things may have changed, but the last time I looked, I think the informal rule was that if you wanted to avoid an R rating, you couldn’t show the labia minora or the penis with an erection of more than 30 degrees. Something like that. That was what the “lower shelf” porn mags all aimed for. The kind that kids can easily buy when they first become interested in sex.

    Again, I think if there’s a problem here, it’s that a lack of proper sex education and a general tabooing of the subject means that youngsters end up turning to porn to try to work out what is “normal” and “desirable”. In this instance, you also get a compounding effect because regulations mean what they see ends up being nothing of the sort.

    • gerard oosterman April 3, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

      Of course, during the days of Portnoy’s complaint His Honour Justice Frankfurter in the US would rule; anything published that would give an angle of excitement over 45 degrees to the male viewer was deemed pornographic and banned. It was called the Frankfurter test of lewdness and depravity. Just google it!
      In one famous case, after reading Nabokov’s Lolita in his private chamber, His Honour returned to Court without his wig on. Many speculated His Honour took a leaf out of Portnoy’s Complaint and did something strange inside his wig.

      • Hypocritophobe April 3, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

        Is the ‘anagrammatic’ irony of Portnoy and Porn toy not a welcome one?

    • Hypocritophobe April 3, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

      I pretty much agree with all you have said(again).
      If young adults are basing their ‘uneducated view of normality’ on a shared extreme or banned (or taboo) porn material, it may (probably will) become the flavour of choice to a particular sub group or peer group.Or worse become broadly viral.

      We MUST provide a relaxed, panic free, inclusive education.
      Kids (young adults) need to be informed.They also need to make mistakes to learn.To minimise any long term harm from the mistakes, we must ensure the information is broad,relevant and non-judgemental and not narrow and moralistic.
      Teens (behaviourally) will likely never change, and will always want what they can’t have.
      We must also remember we have moved on from the printed form of porn and have a multitude of mediums on which it is accessible.It is here, now and available in a flash.
      In 3D if we choose.Our approach needs to take that into account as well.

      Freedom ‘can’ and should be a conduit to knowledge.Banning is is one of the greatest forms of attracting attention, in our society.It creates a market.And in many case a black market,which can be twice as alluring.
      Educate,discuss,inform.

      Leave judgement to the judges.

  10. paul walter April 3, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

    No Doug, you’re not alone.
    It could be a generational thing.
    A good mate a few years ago decided I needed a visit to the local lap dance pub, on the way to a evening soccer match. An educational thing, everyone should do it once, I suppose.
    The best of the dancers was a rather intelligent, beautiful Italian looking lass, who I became engaged in conversation with a bit later, mentioning in passing the shaved pudenda thing.
    She seemed surprised, although not hostile, as if it were unheard of that women didn’t Brazilian wax.
    I agree as to the substantial complaint about cosmetic surgery for women, it seems another weird idea dreamed up in the northern hemisphere then imported down under (scuse pun!).
    For heaven’s sake, the little pink bits they are dickering around with are integral to women’s enjoyment of lovemaking and the joys of partner bonding.
    I really hope we are not getting to some proto stage akin to what happened in Africa millenia ago, prior to FMG becoming cultural and the unquestioned norm.
    As for Baudrillard- that’s exactly what it is and like so much else of modern society that I think is suspect,”simulacra” sums up some thing detestable beautifully.

    • Doug Quixote April 3, 2012 at 10:22 pm #

      I understand that prostitutes have preferred to depilate because it is easier to keep things clean that way. Rather like shaving one’s head to avoid head lice. I suppose.

  11. Ray (novelactivist) April 3, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

    Another point to make clear is that there is category of porn that celebrates large labia. Indeed, given that many women are shy about even looking at their own vulva, let alone anyone else, the only place men and women can get to see the variety of shapes and sizes is through porn. It is the ridiculous censorship laws that cause some magazines to photoshop in order to meet the classification criteria. It is because these ‘rude’ bits are hidden that people are ignorant.

    And the whole pedo thing is BS too. It’s women who are the real pedos, demanding that adult men shave their face hair so they look like beardless boys – of yeah, and the increasing demand that men wax their back and chest hair to look like hairless boys.

    • helvityni April 3, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

      Girlfriend of mine found out that going out on Friday night, straight after work, having a bit of BO about, the blokes at pubs or parties were flocking to her like flies to honey, never to have to go home alone…

      It was different on Saturday nights, when she was all bathed, polished, shaved and sanitized, it was often a video watching ‘home alone’…

      Maybe it’s not all to do with soapsuds either, perhaps the expectations come into it as well…

      • Hypocritophobe April 3, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

        Perhaps she smelled of the earthy jungle soils of the Brazilian rain forests?

        • helvityni April 3, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

          Who know, I wasn’t the one doing the sniffing…

          • helvityni April 3, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

            who knows….

            • Hypocritophobe April 3, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

              Hoon nose?

  12. Macabre April 3, 2012 at 4:58 pm #

    Trim the bush? Mow the lawn? No way. Armpits are optional. I remember years ago Judith Lucy raised her arms and excited comment from her audience – her quip something like “quite a forest there isn’t it?” and she used it in the monologue.

    Women should be just what they want to be. Hairy if they want, brazilian if that’s what turns you on. Trimming the labia is gross.

    • helvityni April 3, 2012 at 5:06 pm #

      Have done the armpits , pressure from the daughters, Judith Lucy is a ‘real’ woman, trimming the Labia, oh no, how revolting…

  13. Hypocritophobe April 3, 2012 at 5:14 pm #

    Not saying I agree at all with this procedure,but if it IS being done, in the end cosmetic surgery (by consenting adults) will always come down personal choice.
    Let’s just hope they inform themselves fully before making the decisions.Informing should mean reading some of the horror stories of failed procedures.And to be fair I doubt very much that any surgeon performing these procedures did not discuss deeply the implications with the patient.
    If there are unscrupulous surgeons abusing this part of the process, lets deal with them.
    I don’t think there is an epidemic, and I don’t think porn stars number in their tens of thousands here.
    Let’s see some reliable numbers before we start raiding the trash cans out the back of Dr Polyethylenes Practise.

    Trimming hair is a different thing, its reasons could be anything from neatness,management issues,peer influence or mimicking youth.
    None of which are illegal.

  14. Doug Quixote April 3, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

    Perhaps this is relevant; my post from Pobjie’s blog 30/3/12 :

    ‘Public Announcement :

    “It is the considered opinion of the Victorian Association of Girls Institutions of the New Age (VAGINA) that women are definitely not funny at all, and that any persons pretending to be comedians and female at the same time are in fact female impersonators (eg Barry Humphries, Gerry Connolly) or were formerly males, only appearing in public after extensive ‘treatment’.

    VAGINA has commissioned research into why this is so, and will publish its findings in 2020.”

    Is there a link?

    • helvityni April 3, 2012 at 7:30 pm #

      Sorry girls, this might be true, female comedians talk too much, they explain too much, go into too much detail and don’t leave it to you to discover ‘the funny’…
      That said, I do know women who are funny, funny without trying.

      And there are also some female comedians that are not too bad, I just can’t think of anyone right now, how sad…

      • Doug Quixote April 3, 2012 at 7:46 pm #

        Don’t surrender like that Helvi! It was a joke!

        I always find Tracy Ulmann excellent; then there is Catherine Tate – how very dare you!

        Judith Lucy is good value.

        Jo Brand has her moments, and what of the AbFab – Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley?

        Dawn French is excellent,

        and Kath and Kim – Jane Turner and Gina Riley?

        and Magda Szubanski . . .

        give me a break!

        • helvityni April 4, 2012 at 7:57 am #

          DQ, I said there are some, of course, there are plenty of women out there, but there are also many irritating, shrill, try-to hard ones…

          I love Magda, and Dawn and Kath and Kim, Lumley…but Lucy takes some getting used to…
          Yet every second Englishman is funny, without trying too hard…

          Here on Jen’s story about a lover leaving, I read a very funny reply by Julia….it was most likely a man who wrote it..

      • hudsongodfrey April 3, 2012 at 10:22 pm #

        Take heart Helvi! There was always Joan Rivers’ bear claw line to get back at the male half of the audience!

  15. Hypocritophobe April 3, 2012 at 9:33 pm #

    Will there be a follow up topic on ‘bleached ginger’?
    Or can we spare ourselves the pain, and consider it part and parcel of the current one?

    • Doug Quixote April 3, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

      And what about merkins? (google it)

      • Hypocritophobe April 3, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

        I think DAAS were merkin fans.
        At least my memory recalls McDermott prattling on about merkins a fair bit.

        And the merkin covered naked beaver/pussy/ lady bits, (way back when) so the ‘Brazilian’ concept is certainly not a newbie.

        And the mysterious ‘cod-piece’.

        http://www.thefreedictionary.com/codpiece

        • Jennifer Wilson April 4, 2012 at 5:56 am #

          merkins. Now there’s a word.
          codpiece. Now there’s another.
          I like.

          • hudsongodfrey April 4, 2012 at 10:46 pm #

            Black Russian is two words but who wore it?

            (hint it wasn’t Henry VIII, but it might as well have been)

            • Hypocritophobe April 4, 2012 at 11:06 pm #

              Ra Ra Rasputin?

  16. NormanK April 3, 2012 at 11:30 pm #

    I had intended to provide a helpful educational comment to the effect that a Brazilian is “a style of waxing a woman’s pubic hair so that only a narrow central strip remains” (OED) but thought I’d better check further afield.
    The source of all things worth knowing (Wikipedia) assures me that I am out-of-date (but I could have told them that) and the Oxford mob might need to update their entry. According to Wiki the landing strip (that I always thought was a Brazilian) is in fact a French wax and the whole deal is commonly referred to as a Sphinx.
    The things you learn when you’re not trying.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bikini_waxing

    The whole labiaplasty thing is seriously disturbing. Is it going to become the case that magazines, films and TV are going to be allowed to dictate what is ‘normal’ or attractive to the extent that we need to modify our genitals in order to conform? If I were a woman I would be saying “love me, love my lips!”

    • Jennifer Wilson April 4, 2012 at 5:54 am #

      I think it already is the case for some people, Norman. But throughout human history some of us have willingly accepted the dictates of fashion, no matter how ludicrous. There’s just more of us now, and more media.

  17. Doug Quixote April 3, 2012 at 11:32 pm #

    I think I need to raise the tone of this discussion :

    ‘What have you urged that I cannot reprove?
    The path is smooth that leadeth on to danger:
    I hate not love, but your device in love,
    That lends embracements unto every stranger.
    You do it for increase: O strange excuse,
    When reason is the bawd to lust’s abuse!

    ‘Call it not love, for Love to heaven is fled,
    Since sweating Lust on earth usurp’d his name;
    Under whose simple semblance he hath fed
    Upon fresh beauty, blotting it with blame;
    Which the hot tyrant stains and soon bereaves,
    As caterpillars do the tender leaves.

    ‘Love comforteth like sunshine after rain,
    But Lust’s effect is tempest after sun;
    Love’s gentle spring doth always fresh remain,
    Lust’s winter comes ere summer half be done;
    Love surfeits not, Lust like a glutton dies;
    Love is all truth, Lust full of forged lies.

    William Shakespeare (aka Edward De Vere, the Earl of Oxford) from ‘Venus and Adonis’

    • Hypocritophobe April 4, 2012 at 12:37 am #

      And what doth the meaning of the ‘shaker of spears’ meaneth, in the context of yonder banter?

      (Seriously, as a writing geezer, he wasn’t ‘alf bad.
      Innit?)

    • Jennifer Wilson April 4, 2012 at 5:51 am #

      Oh, a little class. Many thanks DQ.

  18. Doug Quixote April 5, 2012 at 8:54 am #

    Jennifer and gerard :

    On a different topic, I note that the ABC Drum put up articles and close them at strange intervals. For example Peter Reith’s last effort was posted at about 7.30 am on the 3rd April, first comment at 7.40am, and closed down about 9.00am on 4 April, last comment at 8.49am. I noticed that Reith made several comments between 7.30am and 8.30am, and only one poster was able to reply before curfew.

    Questions arising : Do the article writers know when the comments to the article will be closed down?

    Is that time scale normal, and why do some stay open for days whilst others are closed down the same day?

    I’ll put the same questions to the ABC, but if I get any answer at all it will be a straight bat.

    • Hypocritophobe April 5, 2012 at 9:18 am #

      Or why suddenly an article takes no comments at all and then suddenly hours later,or as late as the next day you revisit and it’s closed.it has 100+ more posts which all ‘coincidentally’, happen to steer the article in the opposite direction to where it was heading prior to closure.
      Or why over in R&E the resident Catholic commenters get to post inflammatory comments (clearly outside their own rules) and dominate the skyline?
      If you are looking for an explanation for the many anomalies at the Drum and the ABC fora, DQ,you better (A) Make sure you have food,water, a first-aid kit and a phone.let others know where you are.[You will be there a while].(B) Be sitting down,when you get it and (C) re-kindle your love affair with the word ‘co-incidence.’

      PS:If you can,ask them why the Hetty Johnston reply to Barns got shutdown midweek after 38 replies.Good luck with that.

    • Jennifer Wilson April 5, 2012 at 11:39 am #

      I never knew when comments were going to be closed on my articles. Sometimes they went on for days. Lately they don’t seem to be open as long as they were a few months ago. If there are any rules about this, I don’t know them.

      • hudsongodfrey April 5, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

        They used to be open in perpetuity, but then about a year or so ago they redid the whole website and started to close all the comments within the same week. They also shut down all the older comments against articles in the archive.

        More recently they have started to close comments within 24 hours everywhere except on the R&E section. Sometimes as in Hetty’s case they close the comments a lot quicker than that.

        Basically what used to be a space for conversation between commenters about the articles has been effectively curtailed. This means that there no longer is as effective a marketplace of ideas within the confines of the ABC opinion pages.

        While I’ve never had a lot of trouble getting posted it now also takes a lot longer which coupled with the short life of the conversation is also aggravating.

        I think part of the problem has always been the time and effort demands made upon the moderator or moderators at the ABC. They eschew humour too easily and want to discourage spats erupting between posters for much the same reasons. One has to draw a fine line between acceptable wit and anything likely to gratuitously offend just as it takes an extra effort to discern a fruitful argument from an outbreak of trolling. These things require all the messages to be read by a person, and with so many articles being posted on a daily basis my guess is that there aren’t the staff numbers to cope with that on an ongoing basis.

        • Hypocritophobe April 5, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

          And to witness inconsistency of Moderation at it’s extreme, review blogs on climate change,feminism,abortion,party politics.(Which has a Troll ratio of about 5:1)
          In R&E come within a mile of topics of Islam,Catholicism or abortion and watch the zealotiscious egg-beaters deface the place.
          An area I regard as a sewer these days.

          NG said:”They also shut down all the older comments against articles in the archive.”

          I think you ‘may’ find some comments on the ABC fora have been removed post archive.
          Which ‘if true’, and it is not unacknowledged at the article, can only be construed as an operation of unknown motivation.
          If it were all about standards or legality, a disclaimer would accompany any changes.

          Why would the ABC be a bastion of virtue of a level playing field?
          Integrity is in the eye of the beholder.

          • hudsongodfrey April 5, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

            If you’ve ever run a blog or a forum then you’ll know what hard work people who ingratiate themselves can be. My view is that if you run a website then you’re entitled to have whatever content you deem fit on there, but that you’ll be judged for your content by your audience.

            My experience has been that you can set up a Spam filter, set a policy against immoderate language and basically trust people to post mostly sensible remarks. If users are prepared to register a valid email address then in general the process weeds out most of the nonentities who’d otherwise simply post garbage. You then allow other readers to flag only the comments which offend them so that as a moderator you’re dealing far more selectively with only the more genuinely dubious content. That’s how ordinary bloggers do it if they’re just about geeky enough to figure out how to set things up.

            The ABC clearly feel themselves to be a special case with a higher obligation to their readers and as such have made a rod for their own backs. Its a pity that they haven’t gone with the more user input driven model that I described above. They have it seems never managed to distance themselves from that special relationship they forged with the finger waving classes who like to complain at the slightest provocation. It seems to be their gig in life to cater to those sections of society who are given the short shrift elsewhere.

            I think that the ABC moderation in general when applied is quite good, but I suspect too onerous for them to maintain at that standard as they do. I don’t want to read 100’s of comments telling Hetty Johnson to go do something predictably improbable to herself. But I am very disappointed that questions that should have been put to the woman weren’t including my own. Clearly that whole episode has been an exceptional low point that stands as a blot on the ABC’s copybook.

            • Doug Quixote April 5, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

              Maybe that’s why they closed down Hetty’s article so early – the hate mail may have been very ugly. But may we suppose the same sort of thing happens whenever say Damon Young attacks the concept of God?

              BTW we seem to have a remarkable number of would-be posters on the Drum; I’ve posted comments to the NY Times, PBS and the like, usually without too much difficulty or competition.

              I consider what they could do is to allow all comments made by a proven group of commenters : there must be about 30 or so who put up regular comments of sanity and relevance, to most articles. Those who establish a good track record should be allowed in – until say a comment is objected to successfully, then they go back into the moderators’ queue.

              This would surely lighten their workload. Any suggestions?

            • gerard oosterman April 5, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

              Helvi says:

              I don’t think many people were interested in Hetty , she been done to death in the past. Gerard and I did not bother commenting.

            • gerard oosterman April 5, 2012 at 7:37 pm #

              Hudson, been there, done Hetty, many times, you too Huds…

              Regards, Helvi

            • hudsongodfrey April 5, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

              Helvi? Your voice seems deeper than usual today ;)

    • Doug Quixote April 11, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

      Further to my post of April 5 I received a reply :

      “The Drum opens its stories for comment to allow discussion and debate on the issues of the day. We aim to keep most article open for approximately 24 hours, however this is dependent upon daily resourcing and may vary day-to-day.

      Authors are aware that stories are open for comment. They are not notified of when the discussion is to be closed down.

      Kind regards,

      Moderation Team
      The Drum”

      A straight bat? Or is it the truth?

      • Hypocritophobe April 11, 2012 at 10:35 pm #

        DQ’s Reply:
        Further to my post of April 5 I received a reply :

        “The Drum opens its stories for comment to allow discussion and debate on the issues of the day. We aim to keep most article open for approximately 24 hours,
        24 hours? (WTF? Accountability to parents is a one day cycle event?)

        however this is dependent upon daily resourcing ( Read “if we are down on staff we will just slam the door shut to all comments”.How convenient.Now coincidental) and may vary day-to-day.
        (No shit)

        Authors are aware that stories are open for comment. (Rocket surgery!)
        They are not notified of when the discussion is to be closed down.(Perhaps officially, but ???)

        Kind regards,

        Moderation Team
        The Drum”

        A straight bat? Or is it the truth?

        Spin City.
        So what happened to Hetty?
        She would be the ONLY one I can EVER recall getting such a cushy 38 comment ride.
        ___________________________________________________
        Hypothetical:
        Too many articles transgressing these particular topics on the ABC are rife with cosy coincidence.
        ___________________________________________________

        The Mods reply is either total naivety, wishful thinking or pure bullshit.
        None of which I eat.

  19. Hypocritophobe April 5, 2012 at 3:35 pm #

    I’m sure it’s hard.
    but that’s the game they are in.
    If the Moderation was consistent in it’s execution it would make it far easier for all concerned.
    I also think it (The Drum) can be either free for all, or reasoned and civil.
    it cannot be both.
    The ongoing struggles of trying to be all things to all demographs is a total failure.
    (The topics I mentioned are living proof)
    It’s like asking Mike Tyson to sex day old chicks when he’s having a bad day.

    One regd ID per validated/identified person would be a good start(Definitely no more than 3!)

    As hard as it is the ABC has made it’s own bed.

  20. Hypocritophobe April 5, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

    DQ
    There’s no REPLY button on your comment so I’ll put it here.

    What you are proposing sounds very much like a sub-internet filter.
    And if a commenter had legitimate reason to criticize the Mods or the ABC I think you will find they would live their life out on the Mods Queue.

    • Doug Quixote April 5, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

      Isn’t that what happens now? But I have often criticised the mods, politely, without adverse effect.

      I am a little miffed if a comment isn’t published; it is rare. Usually the ones that criticise the article writer or another contributor are the ones that may miss out.

      • gerard oosterman April 5, 2012 at 7:29 pm #

        Helvi says:
        Most times I get published…sometimes I say something very critical about ABC or The Dum, and know i’ll not get publishd, but I want them to know that there is room for improvement.

  21. Hypocritophobe April 5, 2012 at 4:43 pm #

    Yes it does happen now.Me too.Sometimes I get sin binned by stealth.
    (Nothing gets through after questioning the standard of a post which is well outside house rules.)
    I get over NOT being posted pretty quick.But it’s a downer when you see so many after you, posting racist or other inflammatory comments outside their house rules.

    IMHO Limiting people to a set numbers of Ids and real email addresses is essential.
    That way if a commenter needs pulling into line they can be.
    If the ABC follows up an email address and finds its a hoax they can delete all content from said address.
    However if the former proposition were implemented the latter would be a rare event.
    The advent of GMail,HotMail,Yopmail etc means we are constantly being bombarded with propaganda and puerile crap, from the spineless who know they cannot be traced, aka Trolls..

    I think the ABC and its patrons deserve better.Let Bolt have the Trolls,he incubates and feeds most of them.

    • gerard oosterman April 5, 2012 at 7:25 pm #

      Hypo, who are you on the Drum, ‘hypocrite’?

      Regards,Helvi

      • Hypocritophobe April 5, 2012 at 7:44 pm #

        Hi Gelvi,
        I see your beard is back!
        No I am not using the name I use here,or the name Hypocrite.
        Is there a new me over yonder?

        • Doug Quixote April 6, 2012 at 9:39 am #

          Can you give a hint? bury it deep if you will.

          • Hypocritophobe April 6, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

            I am like Chicken Man.

            • Hypocritophobe April 6, 2012 at 12:34 pm #

              ….and yet,not unlike Jesus (well it is Easter!)

          • Doug Quixote April 6, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

            Does the Aeneid ring any bells?

            • Hypocritophobe April 6, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

              Troy
              Trojans
              Dido
              Venus, and all the other its i picked up in Google in a 3 second flash???

        • gerard oosterman April 6, 2012 at 8:18 pm #

          Hypo, I thought it would less work just letting it grow ; it’s Julia who clips those chin hairs, not me, or Gerard….by looks of it….

          Helvi ( I left my computer in Sydney)

          • Hypocritophobe April 6, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

            “Helvi ( I left my computer in Sydney)”

            Which is a far more a palatable cabaret number than an over the hill, Tony Bennett doing,
            ‘I left my heart in San Francisco’
            I find him way to ‘false-etto’, as in plastic.

            Mind you I find some of the duets he has done lately interesting, by way of his choice of off-sider.

            Lady Gaga for one, with Lady is a Tramp.
            (Frankie would be rotating in his sarcophagus.)
            _____________________________
            Pleasant holiday to you and Gerard.
            Watch out on the roads.

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