Dear QRG… Am I A Misogynist? #DearQRG

Posted: April 30, 2015 in Elly Tams, Feminism

sadman

I’ve been blogging for about five years now. In that time I’ve received a lot of correspondence from readers, whether it be thoughts, ideas, links, praise, criticism or even vitriol. Occasionally someone is asking for help, or for an answer to a question or dilemma. I try and reply to them all but I doubt I solve the problem in hand. So when I received this interesting email from Jim*, I thought I would share it with the QRG crew to see if we could put our heads together and come up with some suggestions and responses. Jim writes:

I read your article “Leaving The Sisterhood…” and felt compelled to contact you, I am somewhat a misogynist (In fact, I found your article when Googling something misogynistic…) but I don’t want to be (if for no other reason than I feel ashamed when I think of my mother whilst harboring misogynistic views), and I feel that I need a reasonable woman (i.e., yourself) to help me overcome it.

To describe my misogyny, common thoughts/feelings I have are:

– “Women use the old chestnut that women have life harder because only women have to suffer child birth, but how many times in your life have you been punched in the face in some meaningless fight you didn’t start or want?”

– “You talk about how you walk down the road frightened about being viciously raped. I walk down the road frightened about being viciously attacked. Why do you only think you are the only one who is at risk, or rather, why do you think I am not at risk? Because I’m male? How does being male help against a knife wielding maniac?”

– “You talk about male privilege. WHAT MALE PRIVILEGE? I have worked very, very hard against a lot of adversity to get where I am today. I resent being told it’s due to “male privilege””.

From my perspective females have ALWAYS had the privileges. The education system seems obsessed with boosting girls’ progress whilst COMPLETELY ignoring boys’ – in my school the female teachers (the majority) actively ignored boys who weren’t achieving, in fact some disliked me for doing boyish/male things despite the fact I worked hard. Legally, women are always presumed to be the innocent party and the men as guilty. Day to day socially men are expected to make their own way in life and criticized if they don’t, whereas society seems more than happy to help out a struggling woman. If a man needs emotional support he needs to learn to suck it up because nobody cares, a woman just needs to cry before people flock around to offer support.

Can you offer any suggestions/help? I don’t want to have this anger and resentment of women (I want a happy relationship with a lovely girl!) but I can’t find or think of any method to overcome it.

QRG replies:

Dear Jim,

Thank you for your email.  I know it is difficult to speak up and articulate negative feelings about feminism, which, inspite of being presented as  marginalised,  actually seems to permeate all aspects of our culture, politics and relationships.

I had thought of trying to be witty and comical in my reply to you, to send up the often very worthy, poe-faced ‘agony aunt’ role. But others have done that much better and much funnier than me. And your very pertinent questions warrant a serious response.

First off, I have read your letter a couple of times (it’s an extract posted here) and I can’t find anything remotely ‘misogynist’ in what you’ve said. The word ‘misogyny’ which means hatred of women, has become so overused in contemporary discourse as to have been rendered meaningless.  If some feminists are to be believed we are drowning in a sea of ‘misogyny’ that is rife in pop videos, Shakespeare, figures of speech, advertising etc etc. As if anything men do or make is probable ‘misogynist’ if we look closely enough. It’s difficult, but if you try and stop yourself from judging yourself and men in general by these faulty and unfair standards, you might feel a bit better!

What you have written to me is not misogyny, but rather a clear set of examples of how feminist dogma twists reality into something where women are always presented as innocent victims of life’s inequalities and men are always presented as the big bad wolves. You know from your own experience this isn’t true. If you haven’t read it already, I recommend Neil Lyndon’s 1992 book No More Sex War  (updated version on kindle here) which covers some of the same issues.

So, on an intellectual level, my answer to your questions is simple: you’re not a misogynist and you should follow your own instincts and keep a sense of realism and rationality in the face of feminist untruths. But I think you also raise some more difficult problems. It’s all very well believing you are right, but how do you deal with the inevitable resentment that comes from having your viewpoint dismissed and discredited by what I do think is the ‘dominant’ feminist culture? And how do you proceed to form and keep relationships with women without compromising your beliefs?

I won’t pretend that is easy. But then relationships never are, so kow-towing to ideologies you disagree with won’t guarantee you get the girl and live happily ever after anyway! I still think it is best to stick to your guns and just be yourself, even if you scare off some women that way. I have been heartened lately by growing numbers of young men and women challenging feminist dogma, such as the women against feminism and some of the gamergate folk.

Also, it may not seem like it at times, but there’s more to life than gender politics. If you focus on things you enjoy and get to know people with common interests, political/ideological differences might not matter so much. I still have some feminist and pro-feminist friends, because there are other things we share and talk about like music, writing, the great outdoors, film. I’ve found networks like MeetUp excellent for finding people to do stuff with.

Good luck and thanks for sharing your thoughts with me and the QRG blog readers!’

————————————————

*not his real name

Image at top: Sad young man on a train by Marcel Duchamp

Comments
  1. Lyall says:

    The question writer may find the book ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy’ by Robert Glover useful as it addresses many of his concerns and stated goals.

  2. Ginkgo says:

    “The word ‘misogyny’ which means hatred of women, has become so overused in contemporary discourse as to have been rendered meaningless.”

    Oh, it has a very definite meaning now, at least in the usage of those who fling it around as an all-purpose silencing tactic. Anything less than prostrate adoration of women is misogyny.

    • Elly Tams says:

      and especially adoration of *certain* women. I think there’s still some women one is allowed to hate on without getting called a ‘misogynist’, e.g. non-feminist women!

  3. innegative says:

    This isn’t misogyny. It’s a legitimate, and increasingly commonplace response to an increasingly dominant narrative. It becomes misogyny only when you start allowing this reaction to colour your view of all women – as if all women were represented by this narrative.

    I don’t know as I buy that women ‘have all the privileges’ mind – from what I can gather, being alive is just hard. At a certain level, it’s a complete nonsense to work out who has it harder than who, but I think it’s reasonable to suggest women are saddled with certain natural disadvantages, such as physical weakness; the burden of being penetrated rather than doing the penetrating; their natural binding to children through their biological connection to them (they carry them). In a way, an underlying awareness of this lack might well be what underpins the success of the feminist narrative. Men know how damaging they can be to women and women know it’s in their interests to deter men, by stealth, appearance, manipulation and such.

    These problems get exacerbated in productive, hyper-individualistic, informational, security obsessed, death-phobic economies such as ours. The domestic role has mostly been downgraded and in its place, productive roles, competitive roles, identity roles and so on have been consecrated – production ihere ncludes ‘discourse’ and ‘identity’ as much as anything tangible. In short, a traditional, biology-based foundation for women is increasingly useless and many of them seem to suffer greatly under this weight.

    And as the traditional roles/conceptions of women are annihilated, so too are the roles and conceptions of men. So as women produce themselves, become free of biology, change the society so that it becomes freer for them to ‘succeed’, freer of violence or threat, males are being generally thrown asunder in the process. The narrative by which women are now produced has no essential foundation. Like everyone else, they are living for screens, living for text, living for leisure, living for pleasure, living for irresponsibility, for liberation and so on.

    I think the short answer is this: Jim’s problem is a Western human problem. It is a problem inherent in what we call ‘progress’ – that at its horizon, there is a fantasy of stultifying and unchallenging emptinesss. What is ‘liberation’ if not a freeing oneself of all challenge? All alterity? All negativity? All dependency? He should try not to take it so personally. It’s all going to get a lot worse before it gets any better and there are no winners.

    • Ginkgo says:

      “It becomes misogyny only when you start allowing this reaction to colour your view of all women – as if all women were represented by this narrative.”

      Absolutely. White woman =/= women

      “Men know how damaging they can be to women and women know it’s in their interests to deter men, by stealth, appearance, manipulation and such. ”

      This is a Western perception, specifically Anglophone. This narrative erases how damaging women can be period, but especially to men. Victims of female rapists, whether male or female, find out real fast just how entrenched this perception is. Narratives around male disposability and male utility (to women) complete the picture as facilitating mythology.

      This perception of female innocuousness is largely culturally conditioned. It does not operate in China in the slightest: http://honeybadgerbrigade.com/2015/04/22/if-women-ran-the-world-and-the-chinese-answer-to-the-princess-culture/

      ” In a way, an underlying awareness of this lack might well be what underpins the success of the feminist narrative.”

      Cultural gynocentrism in Anglo culture is a better explanation, because every supposed disability you list pertains to all cultures and yet do not uniformly promote a feminist narrative. (And by the way, being penetrated rather than penetrating as some kind disadvantage? Really? Normally I have to crawl around on homophobic religious right sites to find that kind of characterization of bottoming.)

      This is how you can have a situation where a privileged social parasite like Christabel Pankhurst gets away with, hell is encouraged to, give white feathers to working class boys and shame them into enlisting to fight in a war she would never, ever even be asked to serve in. In this case her femininity was considered to have wiped out all her privilege and no one thought she was punching down at all.

      • innegative says:

        “This is a Western perception, specifically Anglophone.”

        Agreed. I should have been clearer here. I was trying to show how the feminist argument functions structurally by embodying that structure myself. Or I was trying to distil what we value in the West that allows their arguments to function.

        So, for example, it is obvious men in general could take women in general in a fist fight. By extrapolation, it’s obvious that if a man sets his mind to it he can have most women by force. Similarly, the male’s penetrative function gives him the appearance of being the active agent and puts the women in the apparent position of permanent passivity as an object of action. It’s perhaps the West’s emphasis on this kind of power (that of action and that of objective demonstrability) that allows the feminist narrative to function. I’m trying to get at what makes it persusive. I’m fully aware it can be endlessly reversed, albeit more often than not in the same language-terms of ‘privilege’ and ‘power’.

        Hobbes’ State of Nature fails in that it shows life at its most skeletal. It’s a crude model and it conceives of ‘power’ only in terms of its force, never in terms of how it reciprocates, challenges, and demands counter-challenge. It’s a view stripped of all communicative nuance and the self-flagellating cycles of social exchange.

        Such a view of ‘power’ is maybe part of the problem. It’s the Western tendency to measure everything in terms of who is winning and who is losing – always the individual being liberated from adverse forces. This inter-gendered struggle is the consequence of our having invented ‘power’ and given it such precedence in everything.

        Perhaps Christabel did her working-class compatriot a favour by giving him his white feather: she validating his sacrifice by underwriting his actions with a cost. Why an ‘oppression’? Why not a social exchange?

        • Ginkgo says:

          “I was trying to show how the feminist argument functions structurally by embodying that structure myself. ”

          That got right past me; thanks for helping me out.

          ” I’m fully aware it can be endlessly reversed, albeit more often than not in the same language-terms of ‘privilege’ and ‘power’. ”

          “Topping from the bottom’ for example. Good observations and now I see what you were saying. Good point about how the narrative reinforce passivity and the hyperagency/hypoagency dyad.

          “Perhaps Christabel did her working-class compatriot a favour by giving him his white feather: she validating his sacrifice by underwriting his actions with a cost. Why an ‘oppression’? Why not a social exchange?”

          Madam is witty today. I can think of some “social exchanges” she could have offered him that would have been a lot less oppressive than exposing him to chemical weapons and machine gun fire.

          “she validating his sacrifice by underwriting his actions with a cost.”

          This is gold, pointing out the silliness of a man counting a woman’s approval worth more than his life.

  4. innegative says:

    BTW, I think the QRG response to this was a very good one. It covers a lot of bases.

    So much of this ideological separation seems to be inherent in our far-too-deep involvement in information and artificial/produced reality. The way language is able to separate and identify aspects of the world and thereby separate us too. Involvement in information is subordinating involvement in life and as such, information (here, ideology) is becoming the dominant ‘reality’ from which we extract our truth.

    A philosophical distancing is required: to get back to life and stop measuring reality by what we read. In other words, I think the advice to get off the internet and start talking to real people, deriving your truth from real relationships, is sound. Life among people in real-space is a wholly different qualitative experience to a life among identity and discourse in information-space. The mysteries of real-space are far more nuanced and there are way more possibilities there than a reality defined by language allows us.

    One reason ideologues are so forceful in their arguments is that deep down they know their truth is so tenuous – that pressed in the right places, the whole thing collapses. In fact, they are probably at their most vulnerable in the places they are most vociferous. In the places they are most keen to silence, you’ll probably find the most exciting truths.

    • Elly Tams says:

      Interesting perspective, thanks innegative.

      Though I think it’s worth noting the interlinking between ‘online’ and ‘offline’ spaces. e.g. ‘meet up’ that helps people find like minded folk in ‘real-space’, is still a website and social networking site! I like the mixture of both!

      • innegative says:

        ” I like the mixture of both!”

        Aye, you’re not alone in this, though I’m somewhat more pessimistic. But then I would be – I always seem to find myself more attracted to the impossible than the possible.

        Social networks on the one hand, connect people (sort of), but on the other they distribute them and intensify the illusion and allure of ‘like-mindedness’. The ‘like-mind’ itself includes a sort of giving up on ‘the other’. Community as consumption, etc.

        I’ll check out meet up though😉 – I’ve never seen that one.

  5. Henry says:

    Well the others have said it all. Feminists are rarely quite silly enough to openly claim that there are millions of men who seriously hate all women. But they work their way towards implying it. We “see evidence of misogyny” in adverts, wage-gaps etc – though how this works remains unspecified. Anyone who opposes unlimited abortion rights for women is *definitely* a misogynist, just for disagreeing with them.

    Though feminists seem to use misogyny interchangeably with “sexism”, they never define the word. I know this, as I’ve asked many times and just get a mystifying silence in reply. One feminist once lectured me about how you can tell a misogynist because he’s “awkward with women”. Of course! That’s what misogyny is! Just her vague impression of a bloke she doesn’t get on with, through no fault of her own (ahem)

    If you question whether misogyny exists, you probably a misogynist – which tells you everything you need to know: it’s one big confidence trick.

    And feminists have persuaded some ordinary men and women of this nonsense. They use the word in all media with tedious repetitiveness.

    …. aaaaand the writer of the letter apparently thinks his doubts over feminists’ version of male privilege is misogyny too. I don’t know what to say to you, mate. You’re having doubts about something you’ve been told. You really think that means you’re full of hate? Blimey

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