I Know You’re Smarter Than Me…

Posted: February 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

I have been involved in an interesting ‘conversation’ with my old pal feminism lately.  The reason it started up again, is that I was trying to keep out of her way, but still finding places where I could discuss gender issues. But this got very difficult and I was told to go away from those places.  I started to realise that me and my views on gender were unacceptable wherever I went.  And not even just my views on ‘gender’ as in feminist theory. When I discussed topical subjects we have all been bothered about, such as the Giffords shootings or the Assange case, with what I thought were like-minded people, or at least not unlike minded people online, I was told I was a  ‘contrarian’ or a ‘troll’.

And so I thought I’d test it out again and discover if really, I am actually not allowed to be who I am and to hold the opinions I do, or to argue with anyone, especially not feminism.  At all. This is a response I got from a feminist who should be more tolerant of me, seeing as we are both ‘sex positive’ ‘kink friendly’ and interested in ‘masculinities’.  What do you think I should do or say to this person and her feminism?

————————————————–

QRG,

I’m going to try this one more time.

I am trying to explain to you why I take you as rude, why many feminists take you as rude, and why even non-feminist commenters on my blog have taken you as rude. I am trying to explain this because I believe your perspective is valuable and I think you are alienating people from your perspective by being rude, aggressive, and insisting on dominating or derailing conversations where you have no social capital. I am trying to explain this because I want you here, participating, in a way that doesn’t make the conversation more difficult and more polarized. If I didn’t want you here, then I would just ignore you, the way I ignore the occasional trolls who come around.

This is the most effort I have ever put into trying to explain to a commenter why I thought they were being an asshole. I’ve called out other commenters on my blog before, as well, and they all seemed to take it in a spirit of trying to further discourse and improve the conversation, without forcing me to comment over and over on the same topic and derail the conversation merely to focus on their behavior.

I am asking you to tone down your comments: to state them less aggressively, to be more complex in your approach, to provide more backup for your points, and to be nice about feminism even if you disagree with it. If you aren’t willing to do that, please leave.

And yes, that goes for other anti-feminist commenters too.

Comments
  1. Mark says:

    Yes, QRG, be NICE to feminism and don’t rattle its cage. After all, it’s being SO nice to you.

    • It has also got some quite nice men in that particular cage and I wanted to be able to hang out with them and talk to them. But I think I am going to get thrown to the lions if I stick around there.

  2. Mark says:

    What else can you expect though? You have ‘no social capital’. And you dominate and derail, you wicked little minx.

    • I cant be both though Sir. I cant have no social capital and be dominant can I?

    • typhonblue says:

      “I believe your perspective is valuable and I think you are alienating people from your perspective by being rude, aggressive, and insisting on dominating or derailing conversations where you have no social capital.”

      Social capital? WTF? I’m sorry if you have a brain and a human heart then you have the right to think and emote about anything you damn well please.

      Ugh… I feel dirty just reading that phrase.

      • I know it is a bit low down and dirty!

        Oh well. I guess I can say what I want here. I hope!

      • Eh, I think Clarisse’s point on “social capital” is a valid one. One gets a lot more leeway in a group where one is known and people are favorably disposed toward you than where one is a stranger. That’s as true in online communities as it is anywhere else. That’s just basic social psychology.

  3. Jenny says:

    I agree with her actually, sorry.

  4. don’t be sorry Jenny. I don’t write prescriptions here for what people should say or think!

  5. nathan says:

    These two comments of yours are where things turned for me.

    “#80

    maybe AB discussions about feminism outside of feminist ‘safe spaces’ ‘go wrong’ because feminism can’t be justified out in the real world, it doesnt stand up to scrutiny?”

    #88

    Sorry AB you are right I did say a discussion ‘about feminism’ but I also believe that ‘feminist discussions’ go wrong in the wider world, because feminism is a weak perspective theoretically and politically.

    My point stands I didn’t mean to change your words.”

    Just about everything else you said in that thread was fair, and/or stands on it’s own, even the question “How can I be aggressive to a philosophy?” which was funny and also a good question. But the two comments above strike me as just provocation, given that there was already so much angst and energy riding on the feminism/anti-feminism motif. It was basically like me telling Pretty Amiable over at Feministe that her flip outs were using emotional aggression to shut down my comments. I may be totally right in my view on her actions, but I also knew it would just piss her off and get her and others more riled up. It was a cheap shot, and exactly the kind of shit I despise, and yet I did it myself.

    So, you’re totally justified to hold and express points about feminism being weak and unjustifiable, but to just flat out state that, twice in a row, knowing the ramped up energy of the situation, just seems like stirring up people’s emotions and not really offering something for people to actually wrestle with. Your other comments offered people more to work with, and added to the discussion, whereas those two comments just pissed people off.

    • you are right in one sense Nathan. And I think you quite astutely pick out the two comments I made that were deliberately ‘provocations’ when I knew people were already provoked.

      But the context was I had already been repeatedly personally attacked on the feministe thread, as witnessed by Clarisse, who was the OP of that thread. And she didn’t say one thing in support of me or in disagreement with those people. It wasn’t her blog. But she didn’t say anything to show she didn’t like their behaviour towards me back at clarisse HQ either.

      She pulled me up for my comments which were not personal to any individual after condoning a stream of invective against me.

      That’s where your very reasonable and I do agree with it to an extent argument falls down!

  6. kimboosan says:

    I…this…WTF?

    Which, okay, it’s her blog (in the case of your comments to her, I assume?) then sure, she can tell you to leave. But. BUT.

    Since when has activism been polite, polished, and quiet? TBH I consider this the equivalent of telling an African American civil rights activist to “stop being so uppity.”

    Maybe you DID contribute to stirring the waters in a few comments; WTF, you aren’t allowed to get frustrated and lose your temper? That’s not “proper” feminist behavior? Because if so, I missed that memo.

    Do I see her point? Yes, I do. Do I see her condescending attitude? Yes, I see that too.😦

    ::::kbs

    • You’re right Kim. People have strong feelings and ideas around gender. Why wouldn’t they express them strongly? I know what you mean about telling an activist not to get so ‘uppity’ too. Thing is I get told not to be so uppity however polite I am. Which is also probably true of some African American civil rights activists! and some women throughout history.

  7. I’d just tell her to fuck off. Ideological totalitarians aren’t worth arguing with. You’re not going to change their minds. If you’re going to argue with feminists, do it somewhere public, where uncommitted third parties might be reading and see the sense in your arguments, rather than in their “safe spaces”, where they’ve fixed it that anything they don’t agree with can be suppressed.

    Incidentally, turning the argument from the issues to what is and isn’t permissible to talk about is just about the classic “derailing” tactic, to use one of their buzzwords.

    • you are right Patrick but actually there are a lot of people, mainly men who visit Clarisse’s blog who are very critical of feminism. I think she was pissed off as I was maybe even recruiting them or trying to, away from her ‘safe space’ out into the real world!

  8. nathan says:

    QRG – I hear you about the repeated personal attacks and lack of support from Clarisse on that. It also happened to me.

    Kim, I don’t want to come off as saying activists should be polite and never get upset. That’s really not my intent. I get plenty pissed off at injustice, and I’m not always calm and cool in situations. I’d never tell someone – especially who has been oppressed for years on end, that they have no right to get angry and should stuff it and “act nice.”

    But I also think that given the fact that we are discussion all of this online, which has the advantage of allowing for people to step away, take a walk, take a few deep breaths, that option should be taken whenever possible. Since we can wait to push the send button, there are ways to tell others that what they have said ticked you off without going down the personal attack route. Because once that door is open, forget having a conversation – especially online, amongst strangers, where there is little from the given situation to help bring people back in.

    In addition, I’ve been in a few highly charged, politicized situations where if a few more people had gotten pissed off and starting insulting each other, people could have gotten the shit beaten out of them or even killed. I have seen what unchecked anger can descend into, and think it’s more intelligent to figure out ways to express outrage that might have a chance of being heard. And if you look at the history of African American civil rights activists – since that example was brought up – there have been some quite creative things done with outrage that didn’t weaken the message at all, but also kept people from getting destroyed in the process.

    It’s very true that for some people, no matter what you do, you’ll be considered uppity, angry, etc. And as Patrick said, there’s no point arguing once you’ve figured out that someone or a group of someones wants to be 100% right all the time.
    That’s why I stopped participating in Feministe.

    • nathan says:

      I also think it’s worth noting what just happened in Egypt. In my view, it was precisely because the majority of protesters were able to use their outrage in non-violent ways that they were actually able to succeed in getting Mubarak out. Had it been hundreds of thousands of people breaking shit, insulting the army members around them, and shooting up those who were against them, the whole would look very different today. I fully supported the outrage and non-politeness Egyptians were expressing, but what was more impressive was how they that used all of that so that they were heard, and ultimately started the ball rolling towards freedom.

      • i agree Nathan about Egypt but I really dont think I was aggressive and certainly not violent. surely if I am someone committed to social change who is getting hounded out of places where that change is supposed to be a goal, something is a bit wrong?

  9. nathan says:

    I’m bringing those examples up for larger context. Because large scale violence begins with the really small scale stuff, that builds up over time.

    And actually, I was much responding to the “lose your temper” comment Kim made, than pointing to what your two comments did. You were not violent, nor did you stoop to personal attacks. Really, you could have been a hell of a lot nastier, as could have I over at Feministe.

    Going back to the temper issue, though, that is exactly what I saw over and over from some members of Feministe. Seemed like almost anything could spark some folks over there to lose their tempers. And the way I see it, people who flip out so easily don’t create social change, period. So, even though it sucked to be lambasted again and again, it reminded me that just getting ticked off doesn’t solve anything. If my response in that situation, for example, is just to loose my temper back, then what’s the point. I want to be treated better, but if I’m not willing to figure out a way to both stand up for my views and also treat others better, then I have no leg to stand on.

    That’s really my main point in speaking about all of this. Part of social change includes changing how we relate to each other in conflict – a major part in my opinion.

    “surely if I am someone committed to social change who is getting hounded out of places where that change is supposed to be a goal, something is a bit wrong?”

    We completely agree here. Something is wrong. The thing I wonder though is that with sites like Blame the Patriarchy, Feministe, Jezebel, etc. – it’s hard to really tell of social change is a major goal of the actual activity occurring on those sites. It often seems more like the goals are the following:

    1. provide “safe space” for women to say whatever.

    2. debate theory and culture

    3. take pot shots at celebrities, politicians, and other public figures displaying “bad behavior”

    4. come up with more theory through debate

    5. bring awareness to certain “pro” or “anti” feminist pieces of legislation.

    But rarely have I seen any sustained efforts to organize people around issues, to link theory into specific practice or actions, or even much talk about activism in general. In fact, I often found that comments I made about being involved in social actions and trying to link that to what was being talked about were dead ends. Either no one cared, or they thought I was trying to “prove street cred” – whatever that means.

    I have no doubt that those who run and participate in these blogs want some kind of major social change to happen, but the actual activity of their writing and comments is at best indirectly about making that social change. So, I don’t know, perhaps one of the reasons why you, and I, and some others are seen as so disruptive on those sites is that we are trying to link theory and practicing, thinking with social action. And once you do that, some of the heady stuff always falls apart, no matter how wonderful a given theory is.

    • I believe very few feminists – very few women, in fact – want social change. They like things the way they are, where men are more likely to be in positions of power, but women have more choices, more rights, fewer responsibilities, more concern from others for their physical and emotional well-being, and more access to financial and emotional support from others, so long as, and this is the clincher, they can convince men to feel guilty about it. Someone who feels guilty will naturally want to make it up to the person they feel they have done wrong.

      To use a micro example I have observed in my own family, a woman might marry a man with a well-paid job and prospects, and enjoy the lifestyle and spending power that comes from that – but berate him for never “being there” because he’s always at work, and for making her financially dependent on him. She gets what she wants, he feels he has done her wrong so indulges her more, and so on. It’s a feedback loop.

      The same applies at the macro level – feminists bemoan the wage gap, but refuse to consider the factors – better employment conditions making women more expensive to employ than men, more generous state benefits for women than for men, women’s expectation of financial support from a male partner, enforced by law in the case of divorce – that make it inevitable. So they keep all those differential rights, and use the logical outcome of those differential rights to morally blackmail governments into giving them more of the same.

      How else can you explain elements of the last government responding to Home Office statistics that showed women were treated more leniently at every level of the criminal justice system by trying to abolish imprisonment for women?

  10. Stoner With A Boner says:

    I remember I saw a bumper sticker that said “Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History”

    I though that was kind of cool.

    I’ve been told that I “mansplain”-that sounds like a phrase from a lite beer commercial-and no I don’t drink lite beer.

    Do I have a pint here….

    I guess I’m just rambling on….

  11. Stoner With A Boner says:

    hahaha,

    I meant point not pint but since I mentioned beer it all ties together….

  12. Stoner With A Boner says:

    Nathan,

    If you are the Nathan I am thinking of, you held your ground quite well.

    Seems like some of the feminazi’s would’ve tried the empathy they so spoke of in reading your comments. I guess empathy only works in their favor against us unfeeling, brutish men that they secretly want to control….

  13. nathan says:

    I’m the same Nathan. It’s been an interesting ride.

  14. elissa says:

    Stoner with a Boner – eh!

    Are you available for dating?

  15. @iamcuriousblue I don’t know if I can talk about Ms Thorn for much longer I don’t want to say anything I regret, even somewhere where I have plenty of ‘social capital’!

  16. Stoner With A Boner says:

    Hiya Elissa,

    I charge by the hour with discounts for overnight stays….

    Anything **additional** that may happen is between consenting, fun loving adults….

    I jest, I jest…

  17. elflojo84 says:

    To be fair she sounds better than most, but Paddy has it bang-on with his “safe spaces” comment.

    SWAB:

    “Seems like some of the feminazi’s would’ve tried the empathy they so spoke of in reading your comments”

    I fucking hate the way those arseholes throw around the word ’empathy’ like some fucking all-winning trump card while resolutely refusing to empathise with anyone with a penis (unless the penis is attracted to other penises)

    • “Empathy” is impressive, touchy-feely-sounding word, but it has its limits. Being aware of the feelings of others does not necessarily imply sharing those feelings – that’s sympathy. Cruelty requires empathy as much as compassion does.

      • elflojo84 says:

        Mainly to feminists “empathy” seems to mean “agreement”. It’s that totalitarianism again, they cannot see that empathy might take a different form, in fact I’m not sure some of the more extreme ones actually do experience empathy for the women they claim to.

        I empathise with BdJ’s emotional response to having sex for money, ie, that it doesn’t bother her or make her feel ‘grubby’ – I don’t think I could feel that way myself, but I can empathise. I also empathise with those prostitutes who are coerced into it or are drug-dependent or whatever. I can separate two different emotional responses to the same situation which ARE NOT NECESSARILY THE SAME AS MINE and understand them as valid. The anti-prostitution fems are actually incapable of appreciating an emotional response which isn’t the same as theirs, they are actually projecting themselves into her positioon (not the same thing) and they mistake that for empathy. They empathise with what they think a woman should feel, not what she does feel – and get incredibly angry with any woman who publically refuses to feel what she “ought” to

  18. Labour peer Baroness Corston’s
    2007 report recommended closing down all women’s prisons within ten years and replacing them with smaller, more open facilities in city centres, following recommendations from the Howard League for Penal Reform the previous year. I gather we have Jack Straw to thank for blocking it.

  19. Stoner With A Boner says:

    Hiya Quiet Riot Girl,

    On second thought, it seems to me that you went through a hazing. My understanding was that hazing only happened in all male groups. It was driven by a poison called testosterone. It seems that a senior member of a group would tell a newer member to allow the hazing to continue and once they ‘paid their dues” they could let more of their real selves show. But I must be mansplaining, all those estrogen driven womyn must be doing this for a much more altruistic goal. It is common scientific fact that estrogen makes one absolutely moral. It is such a well known fact that science didn’t even have to test it out and blindly accepted it. They can’t be behaving like boys because they know what Empathy means whereas I only know that I saw it in a dictionary. I’m lucky I don’t know what empathy means as a man because if men had feelings they would be women with penises and that would be ten times worse than being a fag–that would be a SISSY. I’m lucky that I wasn’t one of the unfortunate few males whose brain can process feelings and didn’t adapt to societies systematic abuse, uh, I mean conditioning. They usually end their own lives somewhere before their 21st birthday. And it must be a good thing that they do, otherwise the good womyn at feministe would be outraged. But, I must be very wrong about this because testosterone has reduced my brain capacity. If I wasn’t boorish, and I must be by definition because I am male, I would apologise to you for my outlandish misconceptions….😉

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