Reading the Comments: Space, Funerals and Toesie-Woesies

I read the comments today. Oh, boy.

The first place I went- as is my wont of a morning over a nice cup of Barry’s- was Lovely little news site it is, and the 9 at 9 is just about right for my precaffeinated brain. I saw a column by Norah Patten, who wants to be Ireland’s first female astronaut. As someone who spent most of my childhood dreaming of climbing out of this great bit gravity well we call home, I gave it a click. Turns out that Norah had the same dreams I did, but she’s spent her life doing everything she can to make them a reality- she’s an aeronautics engineer who’s Chair of a Space Management and Business Department, teaches at a Space Studies Program and is generally the kind of high-achiever who makes the likes of me simultaneously feel terrible about our sofa habits and want to get out there and cheer our Local Woman Made Good on. Now she’s entering a competition that’s offering 22 people the chance to go to space. No better woman, I say, before toddling over to give her my vote.

And then I cast my eyes below the line and you have got to be kidding me we are not doing this wtf? The very second comment

But Nora – who will make the dinner and do the washing/ironing in your house?

Oh. Well. Okay. It’s going to be like this, isn’t it? Really, internet? Really? Let’s see what else the delightful folks from the bottom half of the internet have to offer:

Chill out dude, this poor girl has not the slight chance of getting into orbit so no big deal.

She will prob bring the wrong shoes!

Surely there must be some sort of quota system in place for female astronauts? It would be unjust to the sisters if they have to acheive high places on merit alone.

And oh yes, there is more but my poor ctrl-C key can’t take it. This is a fairly light-hearted story, though, so you’d expect the comments to be a bit on the jovial side. I popped over to something a little more serious- a  report on the death and funeral plans of Dolours Price. If you’re not familiar with her, Dolours was a Provisional IRA member who’s known for car bombings and hunger strikes. Her death is bound to lead to some complicated feelings. Off I go below the line and:

Jais she was a fine bit of stuff….

Well. Um. Okay. In fairness, most of the comments were sharing their (justifiably heated) opinions on Dolours’ checkered life. But there’s always one, and normally more than one, who take any mention of a woman in any context as licence to let us all know precisely how they feel about her looks. Always. Every damn time.

A little later I’d moved on from the news to charming stories about fluffy animals and ended up clicking on a link to a story in- of all places- the Daily Mail about Elton John and David Furnish’s new baby. Who is a baby! Toesies! Little fingernails! Sleepy frown-y face! As I was on the Daily Fail, I had zero intention of reading the words between the pictures of happy people with babies, but I ended up scrolling down too far and my eye hit on the words “very selfish” beginning a comment. As I’m sure you know, once you’ve started reading a comment you’re going to end up following it to the bitter end. And when it’s a comment on a Daily Mail article about LGBTQ folks, I really do mean the bitter, bitter end. Let’s see what Jen From Southampton had to say:

very selfish, elton is 65 for goodness sake!!! my dad was 47 when i was 20, this baby probably wont have one of his dads by the time he is 20! people should think about the needs of the children before they have them for their own selfish reasons.

Wait, what? Jen From Southampton thinks these guys shouldn’t be having another baby because one of his dads mightn’t survive into his adulthood? That’s almost reasonable. I mean, ageism is a thing and it’s likely that Our Elton will be able to afford the kind of medical care to give him at least another few decades. But this feels almost like progress. Maybe. Almost. Kind-of.

In conclusion: sexism is infuriating. Some people who comment on Daily Mail articles seem to have run out of homophobia. Dogs and cats may possibly live together. And I’m going to leave you with a nice song.


Reading the Comments: Space, Funerals and Toesie-Woesies

5 thoughts on “Reading the Comments: Space, Funerals and Toesie-Woesies

  1. 1

    So I went off to vote for Norah Patten and couldn’t help but notice the message after I had voted. “Thanks for voting, Norah Patten is now one step closer to space. You can help [b]him[/b] out even more by sharing your vote.” Just a reminder how ingrained certain gender roles are in society that most people still assume male as default when thinking of astronauts/doctors/firefighters/etc.

  2. 2

    I kinda think it’s the responsibility of the journal to moderate comments for sexism, racism etc. I feel like the author does participate in discussions sometimes, so must be moderating them. Why not just simply not publish comments that are sexist, transphobic, etc? Or collect them in a separate space (like, which is a german site).

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