1999: My Summer Of Being Womansplained To On The Internet

A long, long time ago, back when using the Internet often still meant listening to a click, a dialtone, and then a screeching series of sounds indicating you were about to ENTER THE WORLD WIDE WEB, I was home from college for the summer on a weird break in between the end of the semester and the start of a family vacation to Ireland, and I spent a lot of time on a message board site called ChickClick that I’m pretty sure no longer exists.

ChickClick Banner | Maia Nolan-Partnow
It’s true: There was a time when “grrl” was used unironically.

Yup, just double-checked. ChickClick.com now redirects to the IGN website, although there is a big photo of Wonder Woman just below the scroll on the homepage currently, and if you’d told the girls who hung out on the ChickClick boards back in the day that there would be a Wonder Woman movie coming out like 17 years later and it would actually be good, they would have collectively yelled “WHAT THE FUCK TOOK SO LONG” and burned down your house probably for good measure.

ChickClick was a good place for a young would-be radical to hang out late at night in Alaska when your college somehow got out before most of your friends’ schools and everyone who was home already had a summer job, which you couldn’t get until after you got back from your month in Ireland. Which, if it seems oddly specific, is probably because those were circumstances that applied more or less exclusively to me.

It was also the first place I got in a flame war, when a bunch of other college wymmon who were hungry to prove how ready they were to tear down the patriarchy piled on a remark I made about how more women running for office is always a good thing, even if the woman is Phyllis Schlafly, because men need to get used to seeing women participating in the political process and get over using gender as a reason not to vote for someone. Despite the fact that I explicitly said Phyllis Schlafly was a terrible person with awful beliefs and I under no circumstance wanted her holding public office, the entire thread ended up derailed by a bunch of angry comments about how dare I and why on earth would anyone vote for Phyllis Schlafly and I obviously knew nothing about feminism and politics and I needed to read The Feminine Mystique (joke’s on you, bitches, my copy was already dogeared AF!), and no one wanted to talk about how the fact that they were losing their collective shit about the hypothetical I’d mentioned rather than discussing the sad reality that there were men running for office everywhere every day who were as bad as or worse than Phyllis Schlafly and in order to eradicate those attitudes we needed to normalize women’s participation in government WAS JUST PROVING MY POINT.

This was also the summer, bee tee dubs, that I learned that sometimes it’s best for your own mental wellbeing to just walk away from a thread, even if that means you have to let people feel right in their wrongness. And if you somehow found this and were part of that thread all those years ago, hello and welcome to the future you built.

I guess what I’m trying to say is ChickClick was a lot more intense than the vintage Sesame Street message board I’d hung out on the summer before.

The interaction that got me to log off entirely, though, was one on a music thread. That summer, Pearl Jam had inexplicably covered the Wayne Cochran teen tragedy song “Last Kiss.” I mentioned on a thread about covers that I just didn’t understand why a band would bother to record and release a completely straight cover of another band’s song.

My point, obviously¬†(I thought) was that it’s one thing for a band to do a live cover at a performance (in my experience, something that’s fun for the crowd and the artists alike) and another completely for an artist to record and release as a single a down-the-line duplicate of someone else’s song without putting any sort of creative twist on it or bringing any kind of individuality or, you know, artistry to it.

My mistake, apparently, was phrasing it as a question, because after I posted this comment, I spent a day going back and forth with a crowd of Literal Lotties and Nuance-Impared Nanettes who legitimately thought I needed an explanation. I read and replied to more comments about how Pearl Jam just wanted to pay homage to the original, or maybe Eddie Vedder really felt connected to the story, or sometimes you just like something and want to do a version yourself, than ever needed to be typed into a clackety Gateway 2000 PC keyboard.

Having finally learned my lesson about not trying to reason with people who don’t want to be reasoned with, I ended up ditching the music thread, and ChickClick entirely. Not only was Ireland on the horizon, I didn’t have the energy to sit up all night explaining to the College Girl Music Fans of the world that I didn’t not understand that bands get paid to release singles when my whole point was the absurdity of getting overly excited about a cover that added absolutely nothing to the original song.

Anyway, this has been my review of Weezer’s “Africa.” Have a good weekend.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.