1. No, I have not quit Twitter. But I have felt very much like it on numerous occasions, and vacillated over whether I should or not. Probably if I did my mental health would improve. I have not quit because I enjoy Twitter, and going there to make jokes, find out new things, and chat to friends is fun. This is quite important: I use Twitter for fun. I don't use it to toughen my hdie against attack, and I don't use it as a forum to hurl abuse, and have it hurled at me. I like to go to Twitter to feel good, not to feel bad.
I have a full-time job. Not writing: an actual, 9-to-5, five day a week office job completely unrelated to my writing or my comedy. Forty hours of every week is spent at work. Around fifteen hours a week is spent travelling to and from work. Everything you read that I write, in The Age, New Matilda, King's Tribune, The Drum, Crikey, in my books, on this blog or anywhere else, was written in my personal time outside work. Any time you saw me speak or perform anywhere was my spare time, not my working day - these days I've probably come straight from work: until July last year I would have been going TO work after the gig, as I worked night shift for five years. Time for sleep and to spend with my wife, my six-year-old son and two-year-old twin daughters, is on top of this. What I'm saying is, I don't have a hell of a lot of free time. To spend any of it at all going online to absorb a torrent of abuse from complete strangers would be terribly inefficient.
2. When you tweet to me, you tweet to me. Please keep in mind that what has been grinding me down has not been people talking about me - I don't much mind what people say about me, and even if I did I wouldn't deny anyone's right to say it. But when you tweet TO me, it's addressed to me. You're not talking about me, you're talking to me, and I take it as such. If you are the kind to send abusive letters or make obscene phone calls to strangers, or walk up to people in the street and swear in their faces, then please do keep on tweeting "@benpobjie you are shit". If you are not that kind of person, then please do bear in mind mind that when you tweet that stuff, that's exactly what you're doing, and I'm going to treat you like the rude bastard you are. Talk about me all you like, but please do not expect me to take kindly to people who I don't even know talking rudely TO me. Of course a lot of people will tell me it goes with the territory, but almost all of them will be people who don't have to listen to strangers calling them a misogynist cunt on an hourly basis.
3. This whole storm is NOT about people criticising my work. The debate that sprang up about the word "hysteria" was not sparked by anything I wrote. It was a friend of mine, not I, who wrote the article referring to hysteria. I joined the conversation to defend him and put forward my belief that it was not a sexist remark and not an invalid criticism to make. I still believe that, and presumably so do the many, many people of both sexes who made exactly the same argument that I did. My opinion of what "hysteria" means is, incidentally, based on my experience of the way it's actually used, and the dictionary. Other people differ, and that is fine and I will continue to think they're absurdly wrong and they will continue to think the same of me. But I feel it is quite important to note that this controversy is not based on my own article in the King's Tribune about porn, but on somebody else's article and the furore around one single word used in that article.
4. Anyone wishing to make a point about the article I DID write should note that it is, like most things I write, comedy. This is not a defence against charges of offensiveness, but it is a defence against charges of literally meaning the absurdist jokes within it. If you're going to engage with it, you have to engage with it as comedy, or else you are, frankly, an idiot.
5. Mainly this is all because I said "fuck you" to a beloved Twitter feminist. This was not because I reject the idea of male privilege, because I don't. Male privilege is real, and it is significant, and it is an interesting area of discussion. And I don't need it explain to me, because I've had it explained to me in the past, and I've never once denied its reality and its very real effect on society. But it is not a golden snitch in arguments - you can't produce it and claim victory by default. "You couldn't possibly understand because of male privilege" may or may not, in any given situation, be true, but it is not an argument: it is what you say when you can't be bothered making an argument. Because even if it's male privilege that causes somebody to be wrong, you still have to be able to explain why they're wrong: otherwise you're just copping out (and for one thing, if it's just a case of male privilege, what have you got up your sleeve to shoot down the ten women saying exactly the same thing as me?). I have never, ever, tried to win an argument by telling my opponent, "As a woman you are incapable of understanding". For somebody else to tell me I am incapable of understanding because I am a man, thereby invalidating any opinion I might have on the basis of my gender, is not a serious attempt at debate: it is an attempt to shut the debate down and declare victory by one vagina to nil. Frankly, anyone who does that to me - especially on the end of a conversation in which I've been patronised, condescended to and told that I was letting the world down by not cimply agreeing with what I'm told - is saying "fuck you" to me: and I prefer to just say "fuck you" straight out rather than dance around it that way. Anyone telling me I have no right to an opinion because I'm a man will get the same response every time.
6. I am a feminist. I am not a feminist because feminism needs male allies or because I've decided it's a cool club to join. I'm a feminist because I can't help being one: the way I view the world is simply a feminist one and I can't change that without changing almost every opinion I hold. This doesn't mean I'm always right about gender issues: I don't know anyone who I think is always right about gender issues, so I can't see how it'd be possible for me to be. And the aforementioned male privilege means my worldview is always coloured and I do have to take extra care in examining and testing my own views.
But I am sincere, and I am dedicated, and I am going to keep being a feminist, keep expressing feminist opinions and keep acting in the feminist cause, because it is very important, it is right, it is just, and it is a far bigger deal than my hurt feelings. I've found as a male feminist that you tend to get much more abuse from other feminists than from sexists, but that's life. I may not like it, but feminism matters much more than I do.
I'm also going to keep on disagreeing with other feminists and saying "fuck you" to anyone who disrespects and patronises me - especially if they are going to accuse me of sexism or misogyny. I think I've nailed my colours to the mast with my work. Nobody who knows me personally could think I'm anti-feminist. Nobody who knows my body of work could think I'm anti-feminist. Anyone who does think so is either ignorant, misinformed or just plain stupid. And I freely admit that being accused of bigotry of any kind riles me up something fierce.
7. I am by no means famous, but I am to a certain extent a public figure, and a lot of people know who I am even though I don't know who they are. And I'm still figuring out how to negotiate that, and not get too caught up with the bad stuff. Learning on the job, so to speak. I try to be pretty open and friendly, and engage with the people who read my stuff, because I'm grateful to them and I like the fact my work allows me to meet interesting new people and converse with them. Twitter is great for that, and I don't want to end up with my tweets being reduced to carefully crafted zingers and links to my columns and nothing else, never replying to people or opening up to the public. I want Joe Hildebrand's job, but I don't want to be Joe Hildebrand. I'd rather be able to keep being me for as long as possible. I beg your forgiveness and patience for the fact that being me is often really quite annoying for everyone.
8. Whatever else you think, you can't deny King's Tribune gets people talking. Go subscribe.
9. I suffer from depression and anxiety. This means I sometimes overreact to things, and get more upset than I should. I know this. I apologise for it. I don't want to make excuses, and I'm working on improving in this regard. I don't want people to cut me slack for it - it's just an explanation.
10. I didn't want to write this, and I wish I wasn't, but it seems the affair refuses to die because some people just want to keep it going. Please bear in mind: all that happened was that some people you don't know disagreed with each other about one word, and then one of those people was rude to another one in one sentence on the internet. It's unbelievably stupid that people are still talking about it: it just doesn't freaking matter, people. I'm desperately hoping that by laying all this out I can put a full-stop on it. Henceforth anyone wishing to rekindle the argument will be blocked, mocked, and have their parentage called severely into question. Because I'm sick of it, and almost everything on earth is more important. OK? I'd love to get back to joking about the Biggest Loser and inserting the word penis into movie titles now if it's all the same to you.
11. Thank you for listening. Please enjoy this picture of Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe in the Avonlea schoolhouse.