Saturday, March 03, 2007

Occasionally Conversations with my Man Are Instructive

He came home from the store this afternoon and asked, "So, what's new with the thread that never ends?"

"Oh, that's dead finally," I told him. "Turns out all I hadda do to kill it was talk about the topic in great wonky and laborious detail. I wish I'd realized that 600 comments ago."

"I thought the topic was how mean you all are."

"That's what they say . . . hey, there has been one new development: Pinko Punko dropped a link to I Blame the Patriarchy at Sadly, No!"

"Oh dear God."

"Pretty much, man, pretty much."

So later I had him read the thread at Twisty's, and he said, "I have a question."


"Okay . . . I get that there's a culture on feminist blogs, and you read them all the time, you understand that culture, most of the time I'm even okay with it, but then sometimes . . . do you guys not realize how you sound?"


"I mean, if someone who'd never really read Feministe just went over and all they read was that post of piny's--well, no, not so much that post, or even Feministe necessarily, but like, I can see how some of these guys get the idea that you all hate men. Because you're talking to the regulars, and the regulars know you don't hate men, but some new guy reading some of this stuff, he's going to be all, wait, what did I do? I didn't rape anybody, I never beat up a transsexual--"

"No, I get that," I interrupted him. "That's a lot like--like, I used to have the same reaction reading blogs by people of color. I'd see something like 'white people sure suck sometimes,' and I'd be all, 'Hey! Wait! Not all of us! Not me!' Even though I probably do suck as a white person sometimes--but I mean, I'd take it too personally."

"It's hard not to take it personally."

"It's not as hard if you move yourself out of the center of everything, though. That's what I finally got through my thick skull. It's not ABOUT me, always. And even if it is about me, so what? I'm not perfect. Why shouldn't I have to take some shit once in awhile? Heaven knows I dish enough out in a day. Would it kill me to get an attitude adjustment? Would it kill me to listen to someone unlike me for five minutes?"

"But if you aren't the problem," he argued, "It sucks to be treated like you're the problem. It's like being accused of something you didn't do."

"If I'm not the problem," I explained, "then why should I get invested in identifying with the problem? If the problem is some particular batch of white people, doing or saying shit I'd never in a million years do myself, why should I feel the need to put myself in their shoes? Just because they're white and I'm white? That's stupid. Like all the idiot white dudes who identify with the Duke lacrosse players--they don't even comprehend that unless they're just as wealthy and elite, which you know 95% of them aren't, the fucking lacrosse players would SPIT on them. They're ID-ing with the players, but I guarantee you the players aren't ID-ing with them."

"A lot of the guys written about on feminist blogs do things I would never do."

"Then don't identify with them. It's not about you! You stand to pee, they stand to pee, beyond that, what's the commonality?"

"That's why the argument you guys make that I like the best is that patriarchy screws men too."

"Well, it does," I agreed with him, "but I think why you like that argument so much is because then it's about you again. All's right with the universe. Man the sun, woman the earth."

"No, I've figured out that you guys don't like that, and I'm trying not to do that, I swear, but the way you express things sometimes, isn't it just making it easier for men to get defensive?"

"No," I said firmly, "What we aren't doing is taking care of them. Nurturing them. Putting their feelings first. Looking out for them, making things safe for them. We aren't making them the center. We're talking just the way we'd talk, the way we do talk, when y'all aren't around."

"And you know sometimes that gets ugly," I continued, "but the thing to do then is to remember: Everything else IS centered around y'all. Everything else--you guys got the talk radio to take care of you, the ESPN, the CNN, the New York Times, the advertising industry--you can't bask in all that adoration day in and day out and then pitch a fit because a handful of blogs on the internet don't recognize your awesomeness. Or I mean, you can pitch a fit, go right ahead, but it's not going to end with me bringing you your binky and kissing your forehead. It's going to end with my foot in your ass."

"But for a new guy--"

"For a new guy the best policy is to lurk, read, get a feel for the place, and just keep chanting: 'It's not about me. It's not about me. It is not about me.' Twisty even has an FAQ to help people out, but does anyone ever read it? Not the guys. They figure they already know everything important and no spinster aunt is going to tell THEM."

"I don't think I Blame the Patriarchy is where they should start out."

"Word. It says 'for advanced blamers only' on it for a reason. Twisty has the S.C.U.M. manifesto posted there, for crying out loud. I don't know what Pinko was thinking."

"You should have a beginner's blog."

"Periodically someone says as much, but that's a lot of work and boring to slog through if you already have some idea. I used to think a feminism 101 blog would be great, but anymore I'm like, 'No, you can take your ass to the library. Or take a women's studies class.' But you say that last one, it's like you suggested the dude go castrate himself."

"That's what I think I figured out--I shouldn't expect one of you to walk me through everything."

"Right. You don't get a tour guide. That costs extra."

"So now you know: This is why I mostly read sports blogs. I'm lazy, and I have enough homework as it is."

"To be honest with you," I confessed to him, "There are days I think sports blogs might be the way to go myself."


Marcy said...

"And you know sometimes that gets ugly," I continued, "but the thing to do then is to remember: Everything else IS centered around y'all. Everything else--you guys got the talk radio to take care of you, the ESPN, the CNN, the New York Times, the advertising industry--you can't bask in all that adoration day in and day out and then pitch a fit because a handful of blogs on the internet don't recognize your awesomeness. Or I mean, you can pitch a fit, go right ahead, but it's not going to end with me bringing you your binky and kissing your forehead. It's going to end with my foot in your ass."


Moon Rattled said...

do you tape your conversations or do you have a photographic memory? or is this conversation paraphrased from memory? I'm astounded at the detail and the length. I could never replicate a lengthy conversation like this.

ilyka said...

Paraphrased from memory, occasionally with some shuffling around of the order of things to make neater segues, as actual conversational segues in my house tend to consist of me rudely interrupting the other person every 5 seconds. But I think taping conversations would be a little creepy.

I do usually run drafts of my conversation posts past whoever I've been talking to (usually the boyfriend, as I am a hermit) just to see if I've remembered it more or less accurately.

Anonymous said...

My husband only goes online to look at the weather radar or check out the fishing reports. But after months of listening to my allusions to the patriarchy in casual conversation, he finally decided to check out IBTP one day. And found it kind of frightening.

I forget the actual thread he stumbled upon, but it was particularly rancorous. We had a conversation about it somewhat similar to the one you had with your guy.

I told him his vantage point was that of someone who had walked into the middle of a debate in which the niceties had long since been dispensed with and the participants were slugging it out over the heart of the matter.

I'm not sure he gets it, but that's okay. As you noted, the world can't always revolve around dudes. In fact, that's sort of the point.

Jodie said...

Mostly I just lurk here off and on, but I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your writing.

Anonymous said...

Well that deserves to become one of the Great Classics of Literature of All Time.

I'm absolutely mystified by anyone reading a blog saying "X people suck sometimes" and getting upset/feeling attacked. You really have to be convinced the world revolves around your ass to make that kind of mental leap, in which case you have far more severe problems than what some total stranger is writing on their blog.

Anonymous said...

OK, so you effing rock the world. I'm serious. I screwed up because I don't ever see this culture clash at IBTP (which means I am obtuse). I posted the link because I thought TF really made the point in a non-specific way- I didn't think she was making her point on the backs of a specific person, besides random commenters at Talk Left or wherever. I thought that people would not take it personally because they wouldn't have been called out by name (i.e. "Sadly, No sucks sandwich"), but I had a momentary lapse of the tiniest clue that someone would even take it personally. I screwed up. I did however, out of loyalty have to do the "please go easy, it was my bad."

That being said, regardless of annoyance about the thread and some directions it went, I think if you read it closely a lot of people made really good comments, so I would disagree a little on it being a complete loss.

And in between that class of total chump that happens to be liberal, I think there is another class of whom we speak that still has not appreciated a vast gray area between good intentions and a larger understanding of the entire what the fuck is going on. I realize that it must be incredibly tiresome to have to deal with this other class on a daily basis, however the occasional interloping of said individuals could actually change the mind of one or two. I do believe one of the Lesleys (it is unclear to me exactly how many there are) seems to have had some sort of conversion due to this brouhaha.

I can take my lumps. I really thought the post would be appreciated.

Lesley Plum said...

I do believe one of the Lesleys (it is unclear to me exactly how many there are) seems to have had some sort of conversion due to this brouhaha.

Ha! I get confused myself sometimes.

Between regular commenters at Feministe and Sadly! No!, there's two of us. I'm the regular commenter at Feministe. It was the S!N! Lesley who had the conversion in the IBTP thread.

ilyka said...

It was the S!N! Lesley who had the conversion in the IBTP thread.

Did you fall over as dead as I did when that happened?

ilyka said...

I thought that people would not take it personally because they wouldn't have been called out by name (i.e. "Sadly, No sucks sandwich")

Aw, you quit flogging yourself right now. I would have thought that myself, actually--and there's no disputing that it WAS an excellent post by Twisty, as usual--except I recalled that this is a crowd that thinks Feministe is too shrill. Not to imply that Feministe is not hardcore, you know, but if you think Feministe is shrill you probably aren't going to feel at home at IBTP.

Anonymous said...

Mostly agreed, only that I think that TF always segues into the larger huger all encompassing picture, whereas in other sitches, I think that other certain peoples argue about the picture from particular examples, and sometimes the examples might or might not be the most exemplary (not that anyone should be let off the hook for only being a little bit bad) and of course once someone starts to take it personally, off the rails go the train. Also, the sad part is that people that you think are friends or acquaintances might think that they need the personalized touch, or at least some space to think about how they could be wrong and be able to come back and do so. If you start those deals off with "fuck you" it is lights out.

Also, if you mess up in an IBTP thread, the carne asada tacos you had already planned to make for dinner taste so bitter in your mouth (I learned it the hard way). Or, alternatively the flap meat bought from the carniceria might have been an eensy bit off.

Lesley Plum said...

Did you fall over as dead as I did when that happened?

Yes, but I think now all is well in the world. Lesley squared have made peace.

Unknown said...

I love this post. Your boyfriend sounds like an awesome guy (and you sound awesome, but duh, I read your blog, obviously I think so).

A few months ago, anyone looking for Feminism 101 I would have sent straight to The Happy Feminist, who awesomely made it a point to stay patient and explain everything possible to people who didn't get it (not that I think everyone should do that--I do read Pandagon--but it was nice to have one around)--she would have made a great intro to feminist blogs. But then she disappeared :(

ilyka said...

A few months ago, anyone looking for Feminism 101 I would have sent straight to The Happy Feminist,

I know!! She was so awesome for that!

Has anyone heard from her lately?

Like, I suspect, most het women, I tend to not-my-Nigel when discussing my boyfriend--but obviously he ain't perfect. I had to delete one of his comments here once because (talk about coming full circle) he'd called Ann Coulter a cunt.

Peeve: I can't find the original source for "not my Nigel"--someone somewhere out on the internet had described that as a British feminist phenomenon (though it obviously isn't limited to the UK) in which, when complaints about sexist behavior by guys arose, a woman would pipe up, "Oh, but not my Nigel. My Nigel would never--" etc.

Well, my Nigel would, and does, and thus he occasionally finds a foot in his ass instead of that blowjob he was hoping for.

Anonymous said...

A part of me fell over dead and something new was born. (Still an agnostic, though! I credit last night's eclipse whilst reading Twisty's post.)

Re what Pinko said about some people needing space to mull it over as well as face-saving room, Twisty's post helped me come to terms and express that.

On a personal note, I grew up in an angry, violent, cruel, unconscious household (like a lot of other people in our society) and find the world is largely an extension of that place i.e. cynical, back-biting, elitist, cruel, snide, cutting, unforgiving etc. I spend a lot of time buffing the old armour than I do being open and receptive and sensitive to other people's feelings. I'm out of more than in touch with my tender heart a lot of the time. But boy do I bristle and tear up (privately) when someone calls me names!

This said, I do admire the fellows over at SN! and wish I had a tenth of their brain cells and cleverness. They do a pretty good job of humorously skewering wingnuttia and I don't think for a second those guys are sexist, fatist assholes. For all the sandwich and the celery, I think they are good people, and hey, I laugh at the photos. I do. So...

Those guys aren't cruel. I have been. For that I sincerely apologize.

ilyka said...

No apology necessary. And I loved the giant celery photo myself.

I'm more disappointed in 'em than outright mad at 'em, I think. But to look on the bright side for a minute, you never know what might happen. A clue might drop out of the sky and fall on one of their heads, and then we can all have a big party with balloons and cake and ice cream.

Joolya said...

That was a great post. I've had similar conversations with my (very enlightened male) partner as well.
I also realized a while back that 1) white people, as a rule and as a group, kind of suck and 2) I don't have to take that personally because 3) I often reap the benefits of white privelege so I can handle having my poor wittle white girl ego bruised every now and again by being reminded that non-white people might think I suck sometimes even though I haven't done anything racist that day that I am aware of.
Anyway, sorry, long digression, but that is my parallel for helping the lads understand their place in the new world order.

Dr. Alice said...

Feh. I dunno; I tend to side with the man about this. Because, me personally? I can do the "It's not about me" chant for maybe ten seconds, tops and then it's all "F--- this. I'm outta here." Topic notwithstanding.

I'm not claiming this as an attractive personality element, I'm just saying it's me.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Alice, knowing your limits and acting accordingly is cool, so what you're saying sounds fine to me.

Having a hissyfit about how others should cater to your limits on their blogs is pretty childish. That's the part people tend to object to.

Anonymous said...

I'm new to the feminist blog world, since someone sent me a link to IBTP. But I'm loving every minute of it - as frustrating as it can get - and I deeply appreciate the lack of waffling and bullshitting to protect my emotions. Thanks for pushing me out of my comfortable little world to a place where I'm forced to learn something. Keep up the great blogging.

Helen said...

Not only are there about 20 Lesleys, it looks like you have yourself two Helens, too.

I'm the other one (who also usually doesn't log in to comment, since fucking Blogger usually doesn't let me).

In fact, I'm going to claim originality and say that I'm the first, mostly because I'm churlish like that and secondly because I tend to agree with Dr. Alice most of the time.

ilyka said...

In fact, I'm going to claim originality and say that I'm the first, mostly because I'm churlish like that and secondly because I tend to agree with Dr. Alice most of the time.

You and Dr. A are most beloved. Of course you can be first.

Dr. has a point right up until it comes to I Blame The Patriarchy, if that makes sense (I know I am waffling here, but I am naturally wafflesome). Meaning: I can overlook it if someone takes a fella by the hand at a feminist blog and says "Here, here, there, there, this is how it is," providing of course he doesn't abuse the favor and be a deliberate pain in the ass (unfortunately, most new-to-feminist-blog guys can't resist the urge to be deliberate pains in the ass).

But you don't under any circumstances pull that nonsense at I Blame The Patriarchy, which I selfishly view as my refuge from entitled assholedom. And Mr. T will back me up on that.

Anonymous said...

Whoops, sorry Helen, I'll try to remember to leave a last name or something.

Helen said...

Half of the comments on that Mr. T post made no sense to me. I felt like I should be making tacos instead of trying to decipher the code.

And I'm not saying it's ok, but I am saying I understand the hand-holding thing. I'm not trying to stereotype (again) but I do work with a lot of men. Said men often don't think outside of the box (but they do think of boxes.) Said men do see other points of view if you hold them by the hand and use big gestures to show it. Then the point is made.

Sadly No makes me feel dirty. That might be what they're aiming for.

Helen said...

Sorry, not to leave duplicate comments, but I meant to include an example of the confusing comments on IBTP-

"Murdoch! You left cake in my van!"

Now, didn't surrealist jokes become uncool in the late 90's, or is it retro enough to come back now?

Lesley Plum said...

"Murdoch! You left cake in my van!"

I'm going to guess here that one is a reference to The A-Team. Murdoch was another member of the A-Team, along with B.A. Baracus (aka Mr. T).

Sadly, although I did watch it regularly (or is that the sadly part), the only quote I remember from the show is Hannibal's regular "I love it when a plan comes together!"

Generation Next said...

I came over here from reading the comment thread in "I Blame..". This is a great conversation, and really does show the male side and good arguments on both. I want to print this out and reference it whenever I try to have this conversation with someone.

Anonymous said...

I fancied myself an open-minded, non-judgemental liberal male, but it wasn't until I started reading feminist blogs several years ago that I really started to how my ideals really stood up against my thoughts and practices. I still do get personally affronted by stufft that I shouldn't take personally, but I have a much better appreciation for the value that brings me.

I think it is very important for most men to inhabit a space where they can not and will not be the center of attention. I have a huge ego. I've played the "I'm not like that card" and have had my ass handed to me. I've gotten mad at some bloggers, stopped reading them while licking my wounds, only to start again when I realized that my wounds were either self-inflicted, really not wounds at all, or caused by someone else.

Also, it's been my experience that sincerely asking for help will usually result in someone helping you. i.e. "I don't get this. Can someone explain further/recommend reading, etc?" Demanding help will bring on the smack-down. Engaging in HS debate tactics will bring on the smack down. It's all about attitude.

Speaking of debate tactics, I loved your "Socrates" smack-down on a recent thread, I forget which one. You described that scenario very well.

maiken said...

Ilyka, thanks for the post. This really is a nicely balanced primer for men trying to participate in, or at least understand, feminist forums.

I had the same problem when I naively tried to wade into a discussion on IBTP with only liberal viewpoints in hand. It wasn't pretty. Although your post is great and I wish I had read something like it ahead of time, I have one thing to add:

You repeatedly point out that it is key for male participants / readers simply to realize that they are not (necessarily) being criticized. For example, you say:

"For a new guy the best policy is to lurk, read, get a feel for the place, and just keep chanting: 'It's not about me. It's not about me. It is not about me.'"

This is good advice, but you're glossing over one detail: many naive male readers will assume that feminist complaints are about them because the complaints are written as being about all men, without qualification. It's pretty hard to mentally exclude one's self from such statements.

Here are some examples from a single post-and-discussion at IBTP from a while ago. First Twisty wrote:

Periodically I am forced by circumstance to invoke Germaine Greer’s observation that women have no idea how much men hate them.

It was not until many bruised and bleeding years later that I woke up, smelled the coffee, and realized that accepting that men hate women is an indispensable survival skill.

Some comments in that thread:

The ugly comments [...] are a part of a process called testosterone poisoning, by which men are shuffled more hastily (but not hastily enough) off this mortal coil than women by their own ugly juices.

I don’t think I hate women, but I do really hate men, and one of the reasons is they hate women.

I discovered in a manner similar to the manner in which Melissa has done, how deeply and menacingly men and boys really do hate women and girls.

... I would have to be convinced “not all men are like {that} )”. ALL men are like that, given the chance, given the right siutation, given the ‘right’ woman...

All of these statements are written about "men", with no qualification. Much (but not all) of the time, the writer means something more nuanced, and if pressed, they will impatiently say "yes, yes, obviously, I don't mean ALL men". But, of course, this is far from obvious from the comments themselves.

Worse, there are some participants at IBTP and elsewhere that really do hold the view that men are intrinsically evil, untrustworthy, violent, or what have you. When everyone writes without qualification, it's impossible to distinguish one group from the other. This makes the matter worse: some people (hopefully most) don't really mean what their writing seems to say, but a few do.

When writers take shortcuts about expressing their precise meaning, I'm not sure it's fair to blame readers for misunderstanding.

Again, great post.

Rachel Luxemburg said...

Interesting post and comment thread, but I find myself disagreeing with one of the underlying premises, namely:

We're talking just the way we'd talk, the way we do talk, when y'all aren't around.

Correct me if I am wrong, but are you saying that that it's OK for members of a group to say things in their 'safe space' that they would not say were non-group members in the room? It seems to me that that's saying it's OK to call someone a [insert derogatory phrase here] behind their back, as long as you don't call them one to their face. It seems a bit hypocritical, to say the least.

If there's things you have to say about some group -- any group -- gays, men, latinos, muslims, women, you name it -- and what you have to say about them can't be said in front of them, then there's a problem there. Perhaps the problem is societal, but it could also be that the problem is internal.

ilyka said...

Correct me if I am wrong, but are you saying that that it's OK for members of a group to say things in their 'safe space' that they would not say were non-group members in the room?

Definitely not. I'm saying that when men are not around to make it all about themselves, the discussion on feminist blogs is often NOT all about them, and certainly it isn't catered to them. This can be shocking and intimidating to men who literally can't imagine a world not centered on their needs and sensibilities.

ilyka said...

To give you an example, fiat:

Many years ago I was walking through a mall with two gay men when we passed a heterosexual couple, the male half of whom was very attractive. One of the men I was with remarked, "I hate women."

Naturally I was a little taken aback by that, but I'm sure you can think of a half-dozen good explanations for what my friend meant rather than the overly literal interpretation that he really, truly, without exception, hated all women everywhere on planet Earth, including me and his own mother.

Rachel Luxemburg said...

Ilyka: fair enough. I think it's a fine line at times, though, and the idea of exceptionalism is an easy trap to fall into.

As I said over at Shakes' place, being on the right side of an issue does not give one a license to ignore the norms expected from others.

maiken said...

Ilkya, I like your anecdote. If some third party had overheard your friend's comment and shot him a dirty look, would you think they were acting unreasonably? Reacting badly to a comment like "I hate women" would seem perfectly natural to me.

The point I'm trying to make about over-broad feminist condemnation of men is the same: if you go around saying things like "I hate men", you shouldn't be too surprised if some people get upset, even if that's not what you actually meant, and even if you only left out the qualification because it's tedious.

maiken said...

Ugh. Blogger has changed my display name mid-stream. "Mark", above, and me are the same. Sorry for the confusion.

Anonymous said...

I don't want to stop all hyperbole from ever leaving my mouth and I cannot expect others to do the same. When I hear something possibly hateful towards men or whites or people who put ketchup on hotdogs, 1) I can react as if they hated me (but I buy good hotdogs and cook them tenderly before applying ketchup!). 2) I can acknowledge their anger or frustration and try to better understand their perspective. Or 3) I can ignore them.

I still often immediately react with 1 or 3, because I'm judgmental and egotistical. My goal is to lessen the lag time to get to 2. I credit feminism to a large extent because as a male, I get a whole lot less of a smackdown for being egotistical and judgmental than women often do for just having opinions.

belledame222 said...

I started to read that feministe thread and its lead-ins, and my brain, finally, quietly, rose up and said, "No. You will not do this thing. NO MORE VICARIOUS DRAMA. Especially after you missed the boat. Put it down; back awayyy from the car..."

I am just starting to get to the point where I get same-named commenters appear simultaneously. I have two Emilys--actually, now I'm thinking of it, there -might- even be three, just one doesn't comment so much. anyway one of 'em decided that the way to resolve it is that she's the evil one.

what i really hate is when people who have almost the same names keep getting quotes attributed to each other because people were skimming.

belledame222 said...

...because, she explained, whereas when it's the same identical name, people tend to laugh it off as an amusing and understandable mistake, when it's like, Jane and June, people are way more likely to get all bent out of shape:

"I am NOT HER! I don't sound ANYTHING LIKE HER! cannot you READ??"

ScottM said...

Alas, A Blog, was a good introduction into feminism-- a good beginner's blog. Of course, comment threads are as dangerous there as anywhere-- and your "lurk until you figure out the local culture" should be everyone's default.

Dan said...

How odd... I had a nearly identical conversation with my wife just the other day.

We resolved that I'm a pedant who greatly dislikes hyperbole, but that hyperbole is also wrong, since it discredits your original argument.
We further resolved that she'll try to do less hyperbole, and I'll try to react to it less, instead stressing that I do, in fact, agree with her meaning, if not her exact words.

Anonymous said...

"You should have a beginner's blog."

You mean like Blind Privilege (which could use some more contributors, actually), Ally Work (racism 101, but still focusing on privileged groups dealing with privilege), or Feminist Allies?

Or perhaps he meant that he needed some easy-to-find primers on feminism and privilege. Such as...
Feminism 101:
Are you a feminist?
Feminism is about Choice
From anti-feminist to feminist
Men Are Not Babies

Privilege 101:
Bias and Privilege
Who teaches you about privilege?
"Check my what?"

And those are just some examples taken from the clearly marked categories on my blog's sidebar.

It's not that these resources don't exist, but rather that -- once again -- it becomes the non-privileged group's responsibility to hand-hold the privileged group. I mean, not only is it not our responsibility to make sure that the privileged people who read our blogs have done their homework, but even when we do go out of our way to provide them with resources they continue telling us to provide them with resources as if it was a new and brilliant idea that no one else thought of.

Right now I'm just hoping that the more posts like yours there are, the easier it will be for people to understand the systems of privilege and how we all contribute to them.

TS said...

"If I'm not the problem," I explained, "then why should I get invested in identifying with the problem?"

Because, usually, I am being identified with the "problem". I thought that's what the whole "group identity" thing is about?

If you believe that the "NYT" gives women the right to treat men in a way they would not want to be treated in a discourse, then I'd recommend a chapter of Immanuel Kant instead of Andrea Dworkin for a change.

Something wrong isn't righted because it's done in the name of a good cause. To the contrary, it taints the cause.

And I've hardly ever seen a more condescending title.

Still, thanks for a post that indeed did illustrate a few things.

Anonymous said...

I agree with fiat lux and t. schwarz, here.

When Twisty writes about men and "their natural impulse for vicious savagery", it's kind of hard to pretend she's not making a generalization about men. Of course, it's not her place to coddle anyone's precious fee-fees, etc., etc., but this contradicts the notion that men have no standing to claim that said fee-fees have been stepped on.

For instance, "goddamn Jews have all the money", "what did you say?!", "dude, you're poor, I didn't mean you" is, one might think, a conversation betraying a level of anti-Semitism. Or, for example, "black people are thugs", "hey, that's not fair; I'm not a thug!", "yeah, but you're not one of those black people" is racist, and might offend some of those tender fee-fees mentioned earlier.

Note that my examples involve generalizations made about minority or marginalized groups, which inclines me to read that you're saying that it's okay to make this sort of generalization if you're part of an oppressed group, and your target is powerful. That's probably a defensible position, but it's not the argument that you made--you sad that men have no standing to claim that feminists are making generalizations about the foul nature of all men, not that one's privilege mitigates that standing.

Starfoxy said...

For those who were wondering about The Happy Feminist- she's finally back.

Anonymous said...

Hello. I cruised over from the new Feminism 101 blog, specifically their FAQ page on not hating men (
) because I saw your quote and felt like responding. Admittedly out of context, but after reading I think the point I want to make is still there.

First, though, I like the concept of the discussion. Showing thought processes and arguments like this is very interesting to me, and enlightening. I'm seeking understanding too, however inexpertly (which is why this post will likely be long.) The point, however, that came to mind is this:

You say 'don't identify with them.' You miss the fact that men are already being identified _with_ them. By saying all men. This is not unlike, although certainly not as institutionalized, as being offended at a stereotype of a woman/black/gay person being treated as the entire class. Men want to keep women down. Men are drunken slobs. Etc. (And no, I don't think popular culture's doing men any favors on those fronts, whether it be TV or just statements in the press.)

Now, patriarchy is a far cry from 'feminist blogosphere' in terms of societal picture and power, but when the feminist blogosphere plays into the heteronormative stereotypes and expected anti-women behavior by treating the stereotypical men like that's how they are, all of a sudden, you're tying right back into the power structure that happens to subtly hurt men while aiming explicitly to hurt women, and playing along with it very nicely. All of a sudden, feminist agrees with society, and the guy who's seeking understanding and trying to keep an open mind gets slammed with the belief that that's how they are from both sides.

It's easy to say that it's all about the guys focusing on them, them, them, and trying to assert privilege and dominance, but that... really doesn't necessarily make it so. It's just a rule of thumb. Once people have started to adapt to their privilege, they should be allowed to examine (or 50) of a behavior critically and determine that, yes, it is about them. An example of this, which I work over in my mind as I try to understand, is in rape discussions, which explicitly discuss the fact that 'Rape is about the rapist (often male), and their choice to rape,' If a guy offers his opinion, however, he tends to a high risk of hitting a 'It's not about you' roadblock, which is contradictory to it... actually being about them. If women are discussing the man-as-rapist, just as if men were discussing the woman-as-homemaker/whore/what-have-you, then it seems that a man(woman), speaking up about it is not an exercise of privilege, but a natural consequence of the topic.

I hope to hear back as to what you (or other contributers) think. Thank you for the forum to discuss such things in.


Anonymous said...

Oh, Jesus, I give up. Sorry, but privileged groups and oppressed groups just aren't the same. (I know, it's becasue oppressed groups live on easy street while privileged groups have to deal with the debilatating effects of privilege, which is a nightmare of epic proportions.) Sometimes, you need to just deal with the fact that it isn't all about you and your fee-fees. And STFU and GTFU. Okay? If someone's talking about white guys and they're not talking about you, awesome. Give yourself a cookie instead of pounding on the floor and derailing the conversation and demanding ample praise, an acknowledgement of your specialness and a cookie. Because if you do that, it makes you look like a whiny, privileged, egocentric asshat who's divorced from reality, and that's not the way to dispel the notion that white guys tend to be whiny, privileged, ecocentric asshats who are divorced from reality. Demonstrating that that's not who you are would go a long, long way towards actually dispelling that notion, as would having a clue that people get upset and with good reason. But good job just comparing yourself to someone who's gay, at least you didn't compare yourself to a slave or someone in a concentration camp. Why the hell is this so hard to understand? It's hard to think of someone as a legitimate ally when all he thinks about is himself and the constant watch against any potential, possible slurs on the great white male and how that's JUST THE SAME as....We'll get right on that, but there are a few items on the priority list that come first, yanno?