Through Men’s Eyes (Link and mirror)

I was on Al Jazeera’s The Stream to talk about Elliot Rodger and the #YesAllWomen hashtag.

The first video is the AJ one, watch that if you can. If it’s blocked in your country I mirrored the video in the second link, though I’m not sure how long it will stay up.

I didn’t get to cover everything I prepared, so I may add to this blog later.

Things I didn’t get to cover in the panel:

The Rodger Shootings

Lest we forget, besides Katherine Cooper and Veronika Weiss, Rodger also killed James Hong, George Chen, David Wang and Christopher Michaels-Martinez. He also killed himself, his final victim.

His ‘manifesto’ was not political, it was an autobiography as a rambling justification for his hatred. It was a narcissistic hate-bubble.

Calling what he did ‘terrorism‘ is utterly irresponsible and unforgivably inaccurate. His agenda was personal revenge. Not political change. Calling it terrorism legitimises it, fixating upon his genuine, mentally ill misogyny and calling it something broader is also irresponsible. People like to blame things, but it’s not that easy.

Rodger was not a men’s rights activist, he was not a MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way) nor was he even a Pick Up Artist. He was a member of an anti-Pick Up Artist group. The manner in which people have conflated all these things and then tried to associate them with Rodger is unethical opportunism.

The bad reporting appears to have directly contributed to actual terrorist threats of violence and disruption being made against AVFMs conference.

Blaming Rodger’s actions on Men’s Issues is like blaming Valerie Solinas’ or Aileen Wuornos’ actions on feminism – which I feel would be dishonest. Unlike these two I have not seen anyone seriously raise Rodger’s actions as laudable and I doubt his manifesto will become a standard ‘masculinist’ text in the way SCUM has.

Violence

Men are the majority victims of violence. Men are far more likely to be attacked, randomly, in the street than women are – yet are less afraid. Men are 40% of the victims of domestic violence (according to Parity). Men are the majority victims of rape – if you include prison rape and ‘made to penetrate’. Men get equal abuse to women online and the peak target of online abuse and cyberbullying is the 19 year old male – according to Know the Net and Ditch the Label.

Genuine Men’s Issues

The Men’s Movement raises genuine issues, amongst them criticism of the dominant feminist narrative in media and academia and the problems it creates. Outside of that, other genuine men’s issues include, but are not limited to:

  • Education
  • Work safety.
  • Medical funding.
  • The justice system.
  • University courts.
  • Alimony.
  • Child custody bias.
  • Censorship.
  • Military service & the draft.
  • Mental health issues.
  • Suicide.

My fellow panellists on Al Jazeera included Jackson Katz, Ravi Chandra, and Eduardo Garcia, they’re all worth checking out too.

I hope I’ve shown that a more reasonable approach can be more effective and that my desire for conversation and dialogue will be reciprocated by reasonable people on the other side of the divide.

A Voice for Me?

contrarian-investingI just posted this to the forum of A Voice for Men. I’ve been participating there for about a month or so to try and get a hook on and monitor the other side of the ongoing gender debate. With recent events it’s just become too toxic and the final straw was me setting off a feminist journalist who I regard as one of the good ones with the potential of coming to mutual understanding.

People are always going to doubt my sincerity and read anything I do – in games, blogging or otherwise – in the worst possible light, but it’s not going to do me any favours to be associated with that site and I don’t want to be associated with it any more, especially if it makes discussion and respect impossible.

I need to find a space that suits me and a place where these kinds of things can be discussed more civilly with fewer preconceptions. I don’t know what form that’ll take yet, maybe a separate blog for men’s issues where I can invite people to participate in and to engage in discussion with and on in a different style. Suggestions are welcome.

At the moment no matter how sincere I am in my attempts to understand where people are coming from, it just leads to hatred and nastiness and there’s little or no reciprocity. This has necessitated me blocking a whole lot of people and creating a list of them so I can keep abreast of the latest dramas.

I’m not about to apologise for who I am, because who I am is not as I am painted by some. I am passionately interested in human rights as a whole, men’s issues in particular and other issues like creeping private censorship etc. Other than continuing to be sincere in my criticisms, arguments and attempts to understand, and to argue and fight in a more low-key and tone-controlled way, I don’t know how else to proceed.

Post follows:

***

When I came here I was clear that I didn’t regard myself as an MHRA, but just as an egalitarian humanist who took an interest in men’s issues.

While AVFM remains a good source of information and a clearing house of good data and well reasoned arguments – on the surface – many of the articles and much of the polemicism is aggravating and deliberately insulting and confrontational. I’m given to understand this is Mr Elam’s intent, as a means of garnering publicity through controversy but while this can sometimes work I feel that – in the current environment especially – it is counterproductive.

So counterproductive, in fact, that when I raised the current issue with the conference threats a feminist journalist I regard as one of the better ones didn’t feel able to condemn it, due to the harassment and rhetoric they’d received via this site. While I don’t think that remotely compares with threats of violence it does underline the problem.

I regard reason and stoicism as being cornerstone male traits and they have even been described that way – negatively – in feminist works. In my opinion it’s necessary to at least try to hold the moral high ground, to be consistent and to not engage in the kind of vicious behaviour and insult slinging men often endure from the radical feminist fringe.

As such I think I need to withdraw even my limited support and participation here – such as it is – and to find my own way to proceed without the negative associations and the toxicity that comes with aspects of this forum, the style many articles are presented in and association with PuA and MGTOW communities. While I think you’re wrong to continue as you are, I respect your right to do so. I just need to find a more measured approach that works for me.

I’m not sure what that’ll be yet.

My conversation (names etc redacted) is attached below.

@Femini Any comment on these conference threats? [REDACTED]

@OurHero I’m not surprised that a site as violent and prejudiced as AVFM has received threats of violence in return, no.

@Femini Could you point me at some of the violence at AVFM? I’ll disassociate myself more if it’s true. Would you condemn this at least?

@OurHero how about the Occidental College rape bombing?
@OurHero I’ll condemn it when Men’s Rights activists come out to condemn centuries of gendered violence and months of specific harassment.

@Femini ‘Dear Muslima…’

@OurHero and I feel like your asking me to condemn this says a lot about your priorities.
@OurHero this is just one of the disgusting things they’ve written about me- [REDACTED]
@OurHero here’s another [REDACTED] complete with professional threats, ‘fuck you you lying cunt’, etc.
@OurHero I have no idea who’s threatening AVFM. I wouldn’t pursue that course of action myself. But I don’t blame people for being angry.

@Femini I am biased. I have bad past experience with the fallout from moral panics and see it again, in this.
@Femini I’ll double check in a bit (in the middle of gardening) but I didn’t see any threats of violence there yet. In the comments?
@Femini Thanks for taking the time to give the refs anyway, I’ll check them out thoroughly in a bit.

@OurHero right. So it’s all fine because they’re not threatening to come to my house and hurt me. Got it.
@OurHero my patience with this is not infinite.

@Femini Being nasty is nasty, and I wish they wouldn’t, but it’s not violence or bomb threats. When you said violence I thought, violence.

@OurHero you seem to think what AVFM say about me is excusable. If so, we have nothing more to say to each other.
@OurHero right. Your position is clear. Given that you’ve also attacked friends of mine in your post about my [REDACTED], and deliberately
@OurHero >disbelieved harassment received by me, [REDACTED] and [REDACTED], I give up. I’m not going to engage with you for a while- it’s not good
@OurHero for my mental health.

@Femini And vice versa, though I was making an effort to start over. The criticisms were not intended to be attacks.
@Femini Understand the mental health thing though. Be well and get better soon. x

@OurHero ‘we were making progress’ could you be any more patronising? You have taught me nothing apart from how stubborn
@OurHero the self-pity of some corners of the MRA community can be. Don’t @ me or subtweet me again please.

@Femini I can’t leave that unanswered. ‘We’ as in both of us, as in I thought we were burying the hatchet and understanding a bit more.
@Femini I disagree with their polemical style, but that’s not unique to them and it’s not violence. Again, be well. Try again soon I hope.

No Gods, No Masters (Or Mistresses)

A Left-Anarchist Critique of Modern Feminism

Marina Ginestà of the Juventudes Comunistas, aged 17, overlooking anarchist Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War - 21 July 1937I’ve become increasing more critical of modern feminism and more sensitised to the problems faced by men over the last three years or so. Prior to that time I would have called myself a feminist and progressive and, while my values haven’t changed, I no longer call myself either. As a result I am intimately familiar with how powerful cognitive bias and apophenia can be. Prior to my ‘revelatory’ experience I would have brushed off, ignored or not even noticed the million little ways in which men are mistreated, dismissed and misrepresented. Now I see it, though much of it is still – in my opinion – down to hypersensitivity, on both sides.

I have been following many of the ‘social justice’ issues that have been churning to the surface on social media since that period and trying to understand and debate the points with the people who consider themselves activists. There’s very little willingness to engage in debate or even talk about the issues. The preconceptions of these movements – most especially feminism – are treated as though they were holy scripture and to even question them is to be kafkatrapped into a position where every argument against the proposition is taken as evidence that it is true.

Having observed these culture clashes from some distance, most especially in Canada, I started to take more of an interest in the increasingly active Men’s Human Rights Movements, recently joining their site ‘A Voice for Men’ as an observer and interested party. Having watched pundits from the Men’s Rights Movement argue eloquently and factually for some time – the likes of Girl Writes What, Warren Farrell and Janice Fiamengo – I have had high hopes that here might be a counter-voice from which a genuinely egalitarian and humanist movement might emerge.

While there are hints of this within the movement, there are unfortunately also many of the same problems that one witnesses in feminism. A great deal is driven by – understandable – bitterness. Amongst those who genuinely believe in equality there are also a number of loud and vocal kooks. Just as it is easy, but wrong, to dismiss feminism via the form of radical, man-hating, malthusian it’s a cheap shot to dismiss those who are concerned about men and boys via the crazier, gold-hoarding, libertarian, ‘Jesus said women are to serve men’ types.

Unfortunately, in both instances, it does seem like the crazies are running the asylum. In the case of the MHRM that leads to a lot of grumbling and demonisation of ‘libtards’ while in feminism it leads to a lot of grumbling and demonisation of ‘wingnuts’. All the while, here I am, a left-anarchist concerned about the societal harm being done to men and boys and the overreach of feminism.

I believe it is more than possible to criticise modern feminism from a left-anarchist position and that doing so might be more productive to discussion than other approaches, as well as disarming the instant dismissal that comes with the undue associations with the crazier end of America’s right wing.

Defining Terms

When I speak of ‘left’ I’m speaking of the traditional concerns of democratic socialism. When I’m talking about anarchism, I mean it with reference to the political ideology, not ‘chaos’. When I speak of feminism I suppose I’m talking about the public feminism that’s driving the discourse. What Christina Hoff Sommers calls ‘Gender feminism’ and what I’ve also heard referred to as ‘NGO Feminism’, combined with the hashtag, Tumblr and university feminism that I call NuFem.

Turning to Scruton as a definitional source then, what we have (paraphrased) is:

Socialism:

  1. The premise of equality, stated in terms of equal opportunity, egalitarianism and that people have equal rights.
  2. The position of the state as administrator, and limited to that role. Acting as guarantor of rights and benefits and enforcing law.
  3. Eliminating or preventing the creation of systems of control. Typically this would be through wealth redistribution, dismantling hereditary power, special groups with special privileges etc.

Note that egalitarianism does not mean homogeneity. That is, Socialism does not advocate that all people are the same, but they should have as close to equal a chance in life as possible. Equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome, as it is sometimes phrased. In practical terms examples of this might include heavy investment in public education and medicine.

Anarchism

The belief that it is preferable to minimise or abolish government and for people to self govern. That people are essentially good and that systems of mutual aid can be emergent. That the state is exploitative or vulnerable to being exploited. That human beings are naturally cooperative but that this instinct is frustrated by coercion. That reforms ‘from above’ bear the imprint of the authority that initiates them. That social change must be wrought by revolutionary action.

Note that not all anarchists share all of the beliefs listed above and that many, myself included, believe that a true anarchist society is not possible without mastering the means of production or moving into a post-scarcity world.

Feminism

Since we’re not talking about equity feminism here, I think we can safely leave that out. Equity feminism would be the advocacy of equality between men and women and, in law that is virtually universal across western civilisation, though the same cannot necessarily be said of men.

When I am talking of gender feminism then, I mean (Scruton):

Feminism is the advocacy of the rights of women and of their social, political and economic equality with men. Originally a movement among the half-emancipated women of the educated classes it has become part of a wider women’s movement which is often activist and which somes bases its stance on the belief that society, as presently known in the west, enshrines a persistent sexism and moreover constantly frustrates the right of a woman to be a person and to control her own destiny

Refined by Christine Hoff Sommers definition of Gender Feminism which could be stated as:

In contrast to equity feminism, Sommers coined the term “Gender feminism” to describe what she contends is a gynocentric and misandric branch of feminism. Gender feminists typically criticize contemporary gender roles and aim to eliminate them altogether. Sommers argues that gender feminism characterizes most of the body of modern feminist theory, and is the prevailing ideology in academia. She argues that while the feminists she designates as gender feminists advocate preferential treatment and portray “all women as victims”, equity feminism provides a viable alternative form of feminism to those who object to elements of gender feminist ideology.

The Oxford English Dictionary would define feminism as:

The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of the equality of the sexes.

It’s important to dissect this a little as it is unclear – save from Hoff Sommers definition – where the objection might lie. This can perhaps most easily be explained by adding emphasis to the OED definition:

The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of the equality of the sexes.

The difference between the advocacy of rights and striving for equality is that advocacy of rights, a women’s movement, an activist group for women can argue for more than equal rights and for preferential treatment. This is no different to any other advocacy group and needn’t be sinister. Cancer charities will agitate for more money from government to support their research, Jewish groups will try to secure funding for Israel and – more sinister perhaps – companies will agitate for tax breaks and looser restrictions. That’s where it gets a bit muddy.

While not sinister there can be a dark side to this. If the cancer charity gets more money, maybe it comes away from HIV/AIDS research. If the Israel lobby is successful, maybe there’s less overseas aid for other countries. If the company secures special privileges then the tax shortfall has to be made elsewhere and deregulation can mean anything from toxic spills to bank collapses.

In the case of feminist activism this can be reflected in the demand for special privileges for women that take away from men, distract and detract from men’s issues and promote women ahead of men in areas of society, legal representation, academia, media presentation and many other areas in life.

Objections

What then, could possibly be the objections from a socialist or anarchist perspective on the feminist movement? Keep in mind that we’re talking about today’s visible, feminist movement. The one I called NuFem, the combination of mainstream NGO feminism and the hashtag activists of Tumblr and Twitter.

Socialist Objections

Equality

Equality before the law is already the case in the UK. Women are not excluded from any political office or any job. Employment legislation means they cannot be discriminated against on the basis of their sex and that they have a right to equal pay for equal work (this being the case since 1970). There are a few lagging areas, such as the military, but they are now phasing in female soldiers to the front line.

Which all sounds good in theory – and is – but in practice things are not so equal. Fewer women go for positions in politics and business, through their own choice. This creates a tension between the fact of equality before the law and its unsatisfactory (to feminists) reflection in the public sphere. This has lead to unequal, preferential treatment on the basis of gender. The introduction of quotas has also been confirmed under EU law, at least for non-executive boards of listed companies (40% women). This despite positive discrimination and quotas falling foul of various countries equality legislation (ironically enough). However, the failure of large companies to employ ethnic minorities, the disabled or ‘sufficient’ women could form grounds for a suit and so informal quotas do occur.

This is not equality of opportunity, but equality of outcome. It is a case of people getting positions because of their sex, not because they are the best or most qualified person for the job and means other, more talented individuals will be excluded, purely because they are male.

That’s homogeneity, not equality.

In the case of the military, as with the US military, British female soldiers will only go to the front lines if they volunteer, while men can simply be ordered there. Women are also, at this time, immune to any potential military draft in both countries, though this is more of an issue in the US. That’s not equality either, that’s preferential treatment for women.

Inequalities are also present in law, against men, in cases of alimony, divorce, child custody and child support payments. This is not only bias but is enshrined in law, in many countries and though it was overturned in the UK, thankfully, but you wouldn’t necessarily know it.

Feminism’s failure to argue for equality in cases of feminine advantage and male disadvantage and its unwillingness to lead from the front by disestablishing those advantages means that it offends Socialism’s basic principle of equal rights and opportunities.

The Role of the State

Socialism limits the role of the state to one of administrator and the guarantor of legal rights and benefits. It is responsible – in socialism – for the enforcement of the law in a fair and unbiased manner.

Feminism seeks to use the state as an enforcement arm of its own ideology, not of fair application of the law. While it does seek to change the law through agitation and protest, this results in the state no longer being the guarantor of universal, legal rights and benefits but an ideological police enforcing a singular point of view.

NGO feminism has become incredibly powerful within the public sphere, incontestable not because of fact or science but because it is able to leverage the perceived victim status of women into action and any opposition, on any basis, can be smeared with ‘misogyny’ and ‘sexism’ ending careers and causing damage to political parties. This is, perhaps, exemplified by the manner in which Caroline Criado-Perez was able to use a feminist front to alter the banknotes, replacing one of the greatest scientists the world has ever known with an author of romances. This was accomplished both through perceived unfairness, and by parsing any and all objections as trolling, further using her empowered victim status to push it through.

In the more private sphere, the speed of the internet, most notably Twitter, has lead to many panicked and poorly thought out decisions by private individuals and companies when faced with the near-daily Twitter storms that boil up around perceived prejudice or discrimination – which may or may not exist. It almost doesn’t matter if there’s any substance behind it, the speed and the negative publicity swiftly spirals out of control, even when it’s something ridiculous like #CancelColbert.

Feminism also expects the state to support independent women, when they do not work and to pursue their former partners and fathers of their children in order to demand money, take it directly from their wages or put them in jail. It expects the state to provide ‘safe spaces’ without dissent, while also seeking to invade spaces in order to dissent (reference Warren Farrell or Janice Fiamengo’s attempts to speak on University campuses in Canada or protests and counter-protests around pornography in the UK). Ideological ideas about sex work are promoted by feminists to the detriment and against the testimony of women working in that arena and NGO feminism is in bed with the UK Conservative coalition government in order to enforce the criminalisation of forms of sexuality and the censorship of the internet.

The state is being co-opted on ideological grounds and failing to act as the guarantor of rights to over half its citizens. This is not socialist.

Systems of Control

Socialism seeks to eliminate or prevent the creation of systems of control. Wealth might be redistributed through taxation, education and social investment. When it comes to hereditary power a socialist organisation would seek to remove that hereditary right and when it comes to special groupings, socialism would seek to ensure that they were equal with others in the eyes of the state.

This is not the case with NuFem.

NuFem wants to create, indeed is creating, systems of control and special privilege in every sphere of life. From moralising censorship of the internet and of media that offends mainstream feminist sensibilities (No More Page 3, Lose the Lads Mags etc, etc, etc) to the total domination of Gender and Women’s Studies without alternative points of view being taught, even to the point of extracurricular talks being disrupted and undermined by faculty – without penalty. An attempt to take this to court failed, not because it lacked merit, but because of the prevailing attitude and fear of backlash over ‘misogyny’.

Kirsty Ward’s documentary ‘Blurred Lines’ about a supposed rise in misogynistic and sexist culture was biased and one-sided in a way that would never pass if the topic were political, this on the BBC whose charter demands fairness and this is sadly typical of reporting on these subjects, a stance that rarely gets criticised at all, again because of the toxic and damaging nature of the way that dissent – however calm and rational – is treated.

Conclusion

Feminism has set itself up as more than merely an agent for equitable treatment for women, but as a gatekeeper to academia and the public sphere. It is a de facto censor, a group privileged by the state and which uses the state to enforce its will. It brooks little to no dissent and makes no attempt to seek true equality. It is a group that leverages perceived but no longer factual inequalities into a new position of power through social and media manipulation and the sheer power of accusations of misogyny and sexism to destroy opposition.

These are marks of totalitarianism and minority rule. Not a free and fair society such as socialism would attempt to create.

Anarchist Objections

Anarchism posits naturally emergent relationships and systems in which people can self govern and will naturally aid one another. It provides room for the maximum in personal liberty which isn’t at the expense of others (at least in its leftist form, which is where it differs from libertarianism or anarcho-capitalism).

NuFem assumes that people are bad, without investigating intentions or meaning it presumes to know what people think and how they feel. This is reflected in dogmas such as ‘objectification’ and the immediate presumption that some behaviours reflect misogyny – the hatred of women – when that’s not necessarily true. Feminism is, thus, at total odds with one of the basic tenets of Anarchism. One might argue that it is social conditioning that makes these men act in such a way and shift the blame onto society, but given the current state of gender-relations education and media campaigns, this seems 180 degrees from reality and, to add insult to injury, is calling on the state to educate or indoctrinate with acceptable behaviour.

Top down imposition of a particular social order runs counter to anarchism on such a fundamental level that such social engineering and thought policing is – or should be – completely unacceptable to most who call themselves feminists. Indeed, conventional wisdom would have it that by using the established order and top-down, hierarchical systems such as the police and government, NuFem – at least NGO feminism – should be resisted.

Hashtag activism is a little more anarchistic in that it’s attempting to use disruptive technology to overcome traditional relationships and to apply bottom up, rather than top down pressure (in the short term). However, in so doing it descends into mob rule. It is not the quality or correctness of an argument that carries the day in many cases, but rather the sheer volume of outrage and the perceived worthiness of their victim status. This is revolutionary, but more in the sense of La Terreur than Sametová Revoluce. Some may be willing to accept that, but to me it seems to merely be setting up a new authority, just as illegitimate as – say – the ‘moral authority’ of the Church.

Ultimately the goal of Anarchism would be – in the broadest sense – the maximisation of freedom and the minimisation of state interference, restriction and control over the freedoms of others. The tendency of NuFem to try and control, censor and to use mere offence rather than actual harm as a basis to do so, as well as seeking to enforce a subjective paradigm through existing state force seems – to me – to rule it out as a truly anarchistic ideology.

The accomplishments in terms of legal and societal equality (though it has gone further) seem to have fulfilled the original goals of anarcha-feminism while the puritanical, anti-sex work, anti-sex and anti-pornography stance of NuFem also appears to contradict the free love goals of the likes of Goldman, Emile Armand or de Moura.

While anarcha-feminism has also opposed traditional family and gender roles, NuFem has failed to challenge them in the form they exist that leads to inequality for men and failed to address inequality as it affects men throughout society. A necessary compliment to doing the same for women.

Conclusion

Anarchism is ultimately about the maximisation of freedom but relies on the consent and cooperation of all involved. How it deals with those who transgress is what is most telling about any particular form on anarchism and any particular anarchist.

NuFem’s presumption of intent and focus on emotional rather than actual harm, along with its willingness to be prescriptive and to use force to censor free expression – one of the most fundamental of human rights – makes it incompatible with anarchism in any meaningful way.

Summary

Criticism and opposition to feminism is often perceived as being rooted in the right wing and associated with the far right. It is often seen as the purview of religious conservatives, social conservatives and those who see a woman’s place as being barefoot and pregnant, standing at the stove.

I believe in a robust discussion that includes everyone, whether I agree with their point of view or not. However the lack of strong leftist voices related to men’s issues is something that very much limits the potential for progress and allows it to be stereotyped with the gold-hoarding, Cliven Bundy type of person. This is, of course, not to say that this kind of person does not have the right to political participation and to free express, just that if that is all there is, it is counterproductive.

I see leftist and anarchistic views as encouraging and guaranteeing the best possible chances for everyone and to be devoted to the concept of equality before the law and equality of opportunity. It is for these very reasons that I oppose NuFem because it is my understanding, from direct experience and professed ideology and claims, that it is not about equality or even what is best for women. It is another prescriptive, controlling and domineering political position which is not based on sound evidence or a desire for genuine freedom or equality. In many instances it seems to be directly trying to impinge upon and prevent fairness and equality for men, particularly as relates to equality in the courts.

The pursuit of equality and fairness is one thing, but NuFem is overstepping those bounds into thought policing, show trials and mob rule as well as abusing its ‘moral’ position to force potentially very dangerous and regressive changes via government.

Genuine equality and human rights is no longer a gendered issue and feminism is not concerned with men’s issues. Either we need a parallel activism that advocates for men’s rights and against the excesses of feminism (and vice versa) or we need a new, syncretic movement for genuine equality that deals with the facts as they genuinely are and with the interplay between the differences, rights, responsibilities and freedoms of both genders and society in general.

A New Culture of Misogyny?

Misandry-report

Sinfest. Used to be funny. This one’s just ironic.

My original piece on the BBC TV documentary ‘Blurred Lines’ was intended as a counter to the show, which was incredibly biased and one sided with only two, half-hearted opposing views being presented. This article is intended to be a more balanced examination of some of the issues presented in the show.

The central issue presented by the show is to claim that we’re in a new era of misogyny and sexism, made worse by the media, culture and – in particular – the internet.

To determine whether this is true or not, we first need to understand what is meant by ‘misogyny’ and ‘sexism’.

What is Misogyny?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines misogyny as:
Dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.

Feminism has its own definition – or definitions – of misogyny as it does with other terms. There doesn’t seem to be any particular, overall agreement on the term but it does seem to go beyond the commonly understood meaning from the OED.

Commonly referenced in online debates and arguments the Finally Feminism 101 blog describes misogyny more broadly as:

Misogyny is a… more personal and emotional prejudice, resulting in contempt, scorn and dismissiveness towards women who step outside the bounds sexism lays down as appropriate. Misogynistic anger openly displayed against women who challenge their sexist preconceptions is part of an intimidatory silencing tactics arsenal, and of course the perpetrators don’t display those tactics against women who stay within the notional boundaries – approval is the reward for behaving appropriately.

What is Sexism?

The Oxford English Dictionary defines sexism as:

Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex.

Again, feminism has its own definition. Unlike misogyny’s feminist definition, the sexism definition is fairly consistent and is also found in arenas like racial discrimination. Within feminism, sexism is defined as:

Sexism is both discrimination based on gender and the attitudes, stereotypes, and the cultural elements that promote this discrimination. Given the historical and continued imbalance of power, where men as a class are privileged over women as a class (see male privilege), an important, but often overlooked, part of the term is that sexism is prejudice plus power. Thus feminists reject the notion that women can be sexist towards men because women lack the institutional power that men have.

This definition has come in for considerable criticism as it excludes sexism from women towards men, and has been used to excuse prejudice and bigotry towards men, but in this context that’s not especially relevant.

How can we examine this claim?

How can we hope to quantify something as subjective as misogyny or sexism? It’s a very challenging question to try and answer but we can make a few safe assumptions that might allow us to examine, at least, the truth of the claim that things are getting worse and – if they are – where the blame might possibly lie.

If misogyny has gotten worse, if sexism has gotten worse, we might well expect indicators stemming from that spread in various measures of gender equality, sex crime and similar concerns. We do have statistics on these factors that we can examine and, while methodologies have changed over time, some have remained the same for long periods of time.

So, are things Worse?

By any objective measure the situation for women has not gotten worse.

  • The World Economic Forum lists the United Kingdom as being 18th out of 136 countries in terms of gender equality, improving from a score of 0.7365 in 2006 to 0.7440 in 2013.
  • According to the British Crime Survey (chapter 4 Intimate personal violence and domestic abuse) sexual assault (against women) has dropped by around 1% since 2005 and domestic violence and stalking (against women) has dropped by 2.5% since 2005.
  • This is part of a longer term trend which has been noted across western countries, showing that sex crimes have nosedived since the 1990s. (The correlation of this to access to online pornography is well covered in Freakonomics and A Billion Wicked Thoughts).

Figure_1._Rape_and_sexual_assault_victimization_rates_among_females,_1995–2010

Conclusion

Whatever the case when it comes to the subjective experience of misogyny and sexism, the statistics simply don’t support a conclusion that things are getting worse for women. It would be my suspicion that rather than things getting worse we are seeing a higher degree of sensitivity and an ongoing clash of gender influenced behaviour and expectations as we adjust to a wired-up world.

A Fundamental Problem

The assumption of misogyny on the part of trolls, smack-talking online game players, singing sports teams and off-colour comedians is not a safe assumption. Expression is not, necessarily, an indicator of true values.

You can think of much of this, but especially the trolling and smack talking, as being akin to acting. The Swiss actor, Bruno Ganz, played Hitler, but nobody would make the immediate presumption that he was a Nazi simply because he played the part.

When it comes to trolls and smack-talking in online games the motivation is similar. In both instances the person is trying to get a rise. Amongst trolls the reaction and distress is what they are after while in online games they are seeking to make their opponent upset in order to gain advantage or to cause them to quit.

This has been known for some time and it isn’t to say that trolling isn’t problematic but, rather that thinking a troll is genuinely misogynistic or sexist and to take it seriously on that basis is to misdiagnose the problem. Trolls are, often, sadistic, psychopathic or sociopathic but that is no indicator of any views whatsoever.

We’ve had all this straight from the horse’s mouth before. Trolls are perfectly willing to explain why they do what they do and genuinely holding misogynistic or other nasty views doesn’t seem to rate mention.

Troll/Activist Synergy

Since trolling first emerged as a recognisible phenomenon on Usenet the received wisdom has been ‘Don’t feed the trolls’. The trolls want attention, want a reaction and the bigger the reaction the better, if you deny them that reaction they go away. That has been true and it has been the only way to deal with the problem and preserve the value of internet anonymity and security.

So what has changed? Why are the Criado-Perezs, Suey Parks and Anita Sarkeesian’s of this world suddenly playing up the trolling and treating it seriously?

Criado-Perez’s profile and cause was advanced by taking the trolling seriously, it got her a great deal of attention, media appearances, sympathy and social and political capital to spend on her activism. Same for Suey Park.

Sarkeesian made $160,000 off the back of it, along with awards and becoming the go-to spokeswoman for women in gaming despite being revealed as a fraud, a thief (more than once) and being linked to exploitative junk science (handwriting analysis) and pyramid schemes. Being able to point at trolls and act as though they were serious allows her to deflect attention from these problems and to ignore the wealth of, in depth, legitimate criticism of her analysis and positions, to block comments on her videos and even to ignore people asking where she’s spent the money.

Nor has the vehement reaction to Sarkeesian been unique and nor is it gendered. Much has been made of the cheap and nasty flash game someone made where you could slap Sarkeesian around and the abuse she had gotten, but those with a memory may remember another person who attacked the gaming culture, Jack Thompson, getting virtually identical treatment.

There’s at least one study that shows men suffer as many threats and as much abuse online (or more), but it’s telling that I had huge trouble finding it due to the way in which the Google search terms are completely flooded with the singular concern over the threats made towards women online. Ditch the Label also found the bullying was equal, not directed especially at women.

Why Might Men be Resentful?

I think the above, in which I’ve striven to support my assertions and to present a more balanced view than the previous article demonstrates that what is going on is not what is being assumed by activists are two different things. If we can properly identify what is going on without the pre-existing assumptions we may be able to figure out ways to cope with or address the issues as they actually are.

Is there any legitimacy to the claims that men – or at least many men – are resentful, angry or upset?

There, I think, there are some things to be considered, but the existing feminism dominated paradigm is too fixated on the idea that men are bad and that everything is their fault. The problems men face aren’t taken seriously and these kinds of anti-male accusations end up contributing to the problem rather than helping to solve anything.

If men are feeling disaffected and besieged, it does not mean that they’re afraid or angry because their supposed privilege and power is being eroded. It can be – and I think is – down to genuine inequality, unfairness and the loss of respect and rights without a commensurate reduction in responsibilities.

What we have at the moment needs to be replaced with a genuine, properly informed dialogue that takes in both sides.

#Atheism and the MRA ‘Problem’ – Follow Up

free_thought_white_by_betolaza-d5rp0aeFreethought Blogs, perhaps the most ironically named website since ‘Reasonable Faith’, posted a response to my previous item on this. The article didn’t actually progress the discussion any and merely restated the same issues again, without addressing any of the content honestly. Still, it’s worth a reply to point this out:

There was a piece of research done on the MRA of r/mensrights on Reddit which showed that they are mainly White, Young and Atheist. Now I know there was a bot entering values so it should be discounted but I do think there are is a fairly large representation of MRA or their ideas that are vocal among atheists.

‘Research’ is a strong word for a survey limited to a single site. I do not find it surprising in the slightest that skepticism of feminism – and other ideological claims – is present in atheism. The problems seem to occur when those who hold to these claims are called to defend them, explain them, consider other points of view or are presented with the same sort of skepticism we give to religious claims. Then you get the abuse, the accusations etc and very little – if any – examination of the actual arguments.

This one’s by Grimachu and there are problems with this. And the major one is the request for dialogue while simultaneously excusing bad behaviour. This has always been a problem. See the notion is that we are at fault. That FTB is a monolith. Never mind the fact that I noticed the slymepit coo gleefully over my stance against certain A+ members and indeed feminists over FGM without realising that feminism is itself not a monolith.

Properly dissenting views have been excluded from FTB (Thunderf00t), the blocking etc policies certainly appear to be biased and, well, you can see the problem here. Saying that I am excusing bad behaviour while simultaneously excusing FTB, A+ and feminism as ‘not a monolith’ is just ironic.

While MRA may have become a slur, it is a slur brought on by the actions of MRA. The MRA have not worked to help men but to fuck over women.

Well, allow me to retort. ‘While feminist may have become a slur, it is a slur brought on by the actions of feminism. Feminism has not worked to help women, but to fuck over men’. This is just as valid (or invalid) a statement as the one above. Valid or not, it is the crux of MHRA’s objections to modern feminism.

Except if MRA actually were dedicated to men’s health, welfare and the various discrepancies of power they would not be raising so much fuss. Seriously? We need more support for male victims of rape. No one is saying not to this. People will however say no when you demand the closure of women’s shelters or if you demand women’s shelters also take men when the entire point is that women’s shelters are gender segregated because a lot of women are running FROM men.

They are, from what I’ve seen. While there’s also a bitter, nasty side to it (and I wouldn’t call myself an MHRA incidentally, because I think they make a lot of the same mistakes as feminism) there’s also valid points, same as with feminism. The problem we have, and the source of conflict, is that feminist ideological doctrine is often promoted in a way that does directly and indirectly harm and silence men.

My last tangling with Thunderfoot was over a video from India that he blundered into and floundered about like a tazed octopus. He literally didn’t understand the context of a video or the entire joke. That the women in a video were reciting REAL statements made by famous Indian politicians to excuse rapes. Of women being blamed for wearing leggings under their salwar kameez rather than baggy trousers. Of women being blamed for wearing jeans, talking to boys, going out after dark and eating chinese food. Thunderfoot blundered into that with a spiel about defensive clothing which is laughable because it assumes that there is no rape if you wear a burkha and about body language using a mountain lion as an example.

I have reason to doubt your reading of this. His point really didn’t seem that hard to grasp, being that while, yes, the rapist is always culpable, suggesting ways to minimise risk and threat do not amount to rape apologia. He’s right, but frankly it doesn’t matter whether he was right or wrong on that point or not, it has nothing to do with whether he’s right or wrong on the other points. Which again, in my opinion, he is.

Because it shows how detached from reality the dialogue is if the most well off and benefited group from society thinks it has it the worst. It also shows the entrenched racism within it since places like the Spearhead exist which bemoan the loss of the “White lady” to the dastardly coloureds. It also shows the lack of diversity within it and indeed the lack of any outside views. It is the same as the Republican party. It literally is a poisonous circle jerk that deludes its followers into think the world sucks for men due to dastardly women rather than the world benefits men but has a couple of hand grenades since benefits and power do not come without responsibility.

I don’t think anyone’s claiming they have it the worst – overall – but then each group or subsection you care to look at has its advantages and its disadvantages. The point, once again missed, is that this is utterly, breathtakingly and absolutely irrelevant to the arguments in question. Its fallacious. Being subjectively ‘privileged’ doesn’t make your arguments invalid, doesn’t strip you of empathy and the comparisons with racism are disingenuous at best. More irony in the accusation of ‘poisonous little circle jerk’ which is exactly what the nexus of ‘Social Justice’ and A+ and its ilk is. The world does suck in many ways for men, some of them because of women, some of them because of various other factors. The problem comes when this is twisted into a blame on ‘patriarchy’ and no grander scale form of victim blaming can be conceived of than to claim men control and dominate society for their own benefit and then use it to harm themselves.

The benefits and responsibilities point is a good one, but not in the way the article writer believes I think. Men did used to have many more rights and much more social regard in many arenas. That has, rightfully, been eroded in the name of fairness but the reduction in responsibilities, duties and the strictures of male roles have not been commensurately reduced. Arguably men now put in to society far, far more than they get out.

Ah yes. The bad behaviour of MRA is due to trolls. But Atheism + is due to the movement. Good to know.

Anonymous, anime-avatared non-entities versus proud social justice warriors who are more than happy to use their real identities and to consider what they do to be for ‘great justice’. Yes, I feel fairly secure in stating that this is true in the majority of cases. I’m not an MHRA but I recently joined AVFM’s forum as I have some criticisms and thoughts I want to reach them and because I want to keep as much of an eye on them as I do internet feminism. A ‘professional troll’ there has been posting articles and content recently and has received a great deal of push-back and criticism there. Something I do not see happening within the ‘social justice’ sphere.

Since I defended Melody Hensley I have received hate mail. I ignore most. The one that got me was the charming man who tried to trigger my PTSD with balloon explosions. Rather droll, since my net is poor and “popping balloons” in the title made me turn it off. Had my volume been turned up and I not paid attention it may have shocked me a bit. But the goal was to try and trigger my PTSD.

You ‘defended’ someone misusing and abusing an alleged mental health diagnosis and by attaching yourself to them you attracted trolls. Quelle fucking surprise. I’ve had a great deal of internet abuse, some of which contributed towards my depression, but that was the people who were genuine. Not the trolls who were trying to get a rise. I coped, so can you.

No I am afraid if your argument is that people cannot suffer mental trauma from the Internet then your target being Melody Hensley is fucking small potatoes. Take on Dan Savage and it Gets Better. Go tell those poor gay  kids who are bullied to suicide that the Internet can be turned off and “it is just trolls”.

False comparisons. Though that would be great advice for them. Toughening up may actually be a valid piece of advice, rather than telling people to define themselves by their weaknesses. Here’s a suggested read on the topic.

No. You picked on Melody because the conflation of MRA and Atheist would agree with your harassment. And you wanted to trigger her. That was the goal of all of this. Watson? Really? She just said “do not approach women in closed spaces where you traditionally do not engage in socialisation”. Is your game so reliant on Elevator Sex?

I chose Melody and Elevatorgate because they are two of the most well known and egregious examples of social justice nonsense going off the rails. They are so obviously and utterly ridiculous that the first, and correct, response of sane people is to scoff and roll their eyes. They are representative of the problem.

So your statement is “we shouldn’t respond to injustices”. Then what’s the damn point. What the fuck are for? Your response to racism is to stay quiet. Mine’s to point out that it is bad. I get lumped with more racism thanks to that. Your statement is “see trolls”. Mine is this. If you stand quiet and don’t oppose the status quo of harassment, bigotry and douchebaggery then the status quo remains. You are merely propping it up. Those trolls exist and are validated by the fact that you keep silent.

Of course we should respond to injustices. What you fail to see or to understand is that responding to injustices is exactly what your critics are doing. It’s exactly what the MHRA is doing. It’s exactly what Thunderf00t, myself and other critics are doing. Even if you don’t agree with us, you should at least understand that this is what we see ourselves as doing. You see, I understand that (some of) you think this is what you’re doing, which is why I invest so much time trying to understand how and why you came to this viewpoint, especially while simultaneously claiming to be critical thinkers and skeptics.

When you respond to trolls you are giving them exactly what they want. Attention. You’re responding. You’re getting emotional and that’s what they like. The age old advice of ‘don’t feed the troll’ remains the best advice and that, along with blocking, remains the best way to deal with them.

Think about it. Do you really want to end internet anonymity? Do you want to cut battered women and men off from support structures they can access privately? Do you want to sell out political dissidents around the world simply because someone called you a ‘vile shitlord’ on Twitter? That’s what an end to internet anonymity would mean, and that’s the only thing that would end trolling, and even then not for those with any real computer skills. I think the minimal cost justifies the enormous benefit.

But then, we’re in a weird position now where the Social Justice types are feeding off the trolls and vice versa. Trolls can get a huge reaction, even hitting the mainstream media or making public figures flip out on social media and become international laughing sticks. In return the SJW types can point at the trolls, yell, scream, act like it’s a real and serious problem and bend the ear of government to their cause. Then we get nonsensical trials which are a huge waste of taxpayers money and only reveal what we already knew all along. That trolls are sad little sociopaths parasitising internet controversy.

Where does it end?

You’re into your self-righteous rant and accusatory mode by this point, which was a huge part of what I was criticising, so that’ll be irony again. Still, I think you misunderstood what GWW was getting at by framing Afghanistan contextually and I think you should go listen again. Again, even if she is wrong on that one point, it doesn’t invalidate anything else. She’s meticulous in her research and factual presentations, unlike many other gender commentators who are much more celebrated, and at least deserves some respect for that.

It is the MRA whose entire dialogue is entrenched in the notion that women are all out to get them thanks to feminism. Rather than society is patriarchal and for a long time, men had a major advantage. In losing the advantages men are made to realise that there are some disadvantages to being top dog too. Rather than try and equal out the disadvantages, the MRA are all about opposing the equalisation of advantages.

The people I mentioned are the problem. These are the ones killing debate, splitting and harming atheism and skepticism and even – I would say – harming the causes of racial and gender equality by conforming to what I used to think were outdated stereotypes. They’re the ones driving the discussion and distorting reality.

Western society is not a patriarchy. It was, but it is not now (see previous posts). As we covered earlier, men have rightly lost a lot of advantages, but there has not been a commensurate reduction in responsibilities. Furthermore masculinity is being rebranded, by feminism, as toxic. Men are being treated as though they are all violent rapists. Men get virtually no help or attention where they’re at a disadvantage while women get lots of help, even where they are already advantaged (such as education). When it comes to sex crime allegations even the most basic presumption of the justice system (innocence until proven guilty) is under attack.

If you genuinely think the MHRA are against actual equality, you’re not paying attention and again, both sides think that’s what they’re for but it may not necessarily be true, though in my experience it’s less true on the feminism side.

Veronica Varlow’s ‘Riot Grrl’ feminism is the kind of thing that I recognise as feminism. Equality, not domination, not man hating. I wouldn’t call that feminism though, because feminism no longer fits that definition. That’s egalitarianism and humanism.

Now to address some of the equally shoddy comments:

Sally strange claims that criticisms of feminism:
Yes, but their arguments fall, consistently, and all in the same manner. The observation that the same type of people make the same type of failed arguments is not dismissing the arguments because they come from white cishet men. It is explaining why white cishet men are wrong, over and over again, in that same particular flavor of wrong.

Saying that they fail is not demonstrating that they fail and blaming it on being white is racist, cis is cissexist, and male is sexist, not to mention heterophobic. The arguments do not, in my opinion, fail but rather feminism descends into religious style apologetics and hands-over-ears behaviour rather than deal with it. It’s so much easier to hurl abuse an accusations than to debunk.

Besomyka wrote:
And all that is fine in it’s way. Disappointing and sad, but it’s pretty standard right-wing libertarian things are as equal as we can make them stop complaining arguments. Until he argued that money going into STEM programs should be cut or redirected to men “who it might work on better”. When he brought up the STEM stuff, a bell went off in my head and I knew I had to bow out. I was just going to get angry, and that doesn’t benefit anyone. I recognized the position, it was from Charles Murray. I don’t know if that fellow even knows who that is or that his position mirrors Mr. Murray’s, but it did and I just can’t argue with something that view in good faith, making it seem like they have any validity worth considering at all.

I’m a left-anarchist.

With regard to STEM, a hell of a lot of money has been poured into trying to recruit women into STEM fields whilst participation and educational path choice for both men and women has dropped sharply. We need more people in STEM fields, desperately, but all this effort is not making much of an impact in persuading women to choose STEM careers. My point was, merely, that the money might be better spent encouraging either a) everyone or b) men (who it seems are already more inclined to take STEM careers) to do so, rather than throwing away more money essentially trying to force people who aren’t interested into a field they don’t like.

To extra-clarify, though it shouldn’t be needed, it’s not a matter of capability, but interest. I was good at maths at school, but I hated it and didn’t want to pursue it. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t any good at it.

I don’t appreciate the disingenuous comparison with racists either.

Seven of Mine said:
This sentence is, in a nutshell, why MRAs aren’t taken seriously. They speak as if the ideas they consider crazy are self-evidently crazy. It’s one big argument from ignorance. The resolute pretense that they don’t understand any difference between interpersonal prejudice and systemic prejudice is infuriating, even accounting for the fact that, colloquially, we use “racism” and “sexism” as if they’re synonymous with personal prejudice. When I was active at the A+ forums, and on at least one occasion around FTB, I’ve been involved in lengthy arguments over the definition of these words as “prejudice plus power.” This equivocation (not unlike creationist equivocation between scientific and colloquial definitions of “theory”) is a deliberate derailing tactic right up there with the “we’re not all like that” argument.

Many of these ideas are what I would consider self-evidently crazy. Such as the idea that in an age of freely accessible internet porn, banning Page 3 is a meaningful act, or that we live in a patriarchy, or a rape culture. However, in my experience people do not stop at saying ‘this is crazy’, but go on to explain in great detail how and why it is crazy. They are, then, however dismissed with ‘check your privilege’ or similar, which IS fallacious and empty.

The second half of this about *ism, and just repeats the mistake. Sexism and racism and all the other *isms are not being used colloquially when they refer to prejudice on the basis of race/sex etc. They are being used correctly. ‘Prejudice plus power’ is a fallacy of redefinition, used to excuse the prejudices of the person using that definition. This is a rare, rare case of Rationalwiki getting it right.

It is nothing like creationist abuse of the term theory and no, it’s not a derailing tactic. It’s making sure communication is possible with a parochial grouping that abuses language. Neither is ‘we’re not all like that’ derailing, it is – after all – simply what various anti-prejudice movements have done down the ages. Humanise themselves and point out that stereotyping is invalid.

Not all bitches be crazy, not all bros be dogs.po

F says:
And for those who find some kinship with MRA groups because they have been fucked over by the system, treating feminists as the enemy is about the dumbest thing one could possibly do. Feminists are fighting against that same system. But I haven’t seen any self-identified MRA group ever join feminist groups to fight these problems, they just tend to sling mud at any women (or other men, but the women take the damage) who simply won’t nod and agree with them. They don’t want to fix what is broken in society, they just want to go back to when everything was completely broken in their favor (even if not all of it really was in their favor).

Why would someone screwed over by the system, side with the people who made the system screw them over? Feminists aren’t fighting the system that screws over men, they’re fighting to turn it to their benefit. That’s why feminists don’t campaign on issues where men are screwed over, like custody hearings, reproductive rights, alimony, job safety etc but concern themselves with their own issues – which is fine until they start actively campaigning against men.

Taking things to an extreme, why would the Black Panther Party join with a white supremacist group, even if they’re both – ostensibly – against ‘the man’?

Within the skeptic/atheist movement our positions are not so diametrically opposed. Nor are the STATED positions of the MHRA or modern feminist movements, but the stated positions don’t necessarily match the reality.

Xanthe said:
It’s really quite laughable how MRAs of the calibre of Paul Elam think that putting the word ‘human’ into their acronym to obtain ‘MHRA’ makes their lack of activism and appalling misanthropy any more acceptable. Their human rights are not under any sort of challenge and even if it were, their activism is possibly the worst way of going about it. From the quotes given I see Grimachu seems to have bought into that pathetic rebranding exercise; that says it all, even if he hadn’t gone on to endorse GWW, what a fool.

Adding the ‘H’ emphasises the point I think. That men should also be regarded as human and that men’s rights are human rights. If you think they’re not under threat, I think you’re not paying enough attention. As to the lack of activism, it’s a relatively small movement but I do see more happening from their side, which will hopefully add to the conversation and oppose some of the more excessive nonsense being passed around by feminists, especially on campuses. The constant bashing of GWW who always seems calm, reasonable and well researched to me suggests that insults are all her critics have.

Gillell said:
Why on earth should I want to work with people who don’t see and treat me as a full human being, who don’t think that my gay family members should have equal rights? I know quite a lot of people who are religious and who agree with me on those issues and I’ll choose them over some atheist dudebro every time. Because actions speak louder than words.

Now you understand why men don’t necessarily want to work with feminists. The rest is just bizarre and unjustified conflation of nonsense, trying to tar with the same brush and also irrelevant. Secularism – for example – is one fight, equal marriage another. Expecting everyone to agree is what killed Occupy. Spare me the adhom ‘dudebro’.

Thetalkingstove said:
I’d like to see the examples of prolonged, vicious harassment of MRAs with the slurs ‘fedora’ and ‘neckbeard’. There must be lots of them in order to make a genuine comparison to the treatment Watson, Sarkeesian, Hansley et al have received. Right? Or maybe those words are just thrown around occasionally as little jabs and are actually nothing like rape threats and misogynistic abuse. Who can tell! I’m still baffled by this. Someone you don’t know makes a claim that you find dubious. Ok. You’re free to disbelieve them. But why would this *incense* you? Melody’s claim of PTSD is hurting exactly nobody. It makes no one else’s PTSD worse or less worthy of sympathy.

Hie thee to Twitter or Tumblr if you want to see it. There’s plenty. However, you’re comparing apples to oranges, or, rather, logical fallacies (ad hom, poisoning the well) to spurious and meaningless trolling.

Melody’s claim of PTSD is harmful, potentially very harmful if the idea spreads at all. It trivialises a very serious condition and sets the bar incredibly low. It’s hard enough to get mental health problems recognised and taken seriously already without someone claiming to be traumatised over some internet insults. It falls into the same nonsensical category as article trigger warnings and characterising things like misgendering someone as ‘violence’.

Not that I think that my feelings alone are sufficient reason to damn her for it, but I do have a ‘dog in this race’, so to speak.

SMRNDA said:
I tend to find that meme of ‘one isn’t ALLOWED to question feminism’ (or that racism is a thing, or issues involving homosexuals and such) kind of deliberately missing the point. I can question that the earth revolves around the sun, but I still have to actually deal with the evidence. One cannot dismiss something by fiat. It seems many MRAs want to be able to void any and all conclusions of feminism by assertion.

Gender studies and women’s studies courses do not include critique of the assumptions made by those courses. It would be like a political science class teaching everything from the perspective of 16th Century monarchy. It’s just not good practice apart from anything else. Dissent is not allowed, men’s lectures and groups are shut out, protested, accused. The conversation never really gets started.

The claims made by modern feminism, gender feminism if you will (CH Sommers at least has a good term for it) are not akin to ‘the Earth revolves around the sun’. They’re sociological and psychological claims which, to quote Walter Bishop is ‘Not an exact science’ and to quote Peter Bishop is ‘NOT EVEN SCIENCE!’

To get to the truth we have to struggle past all sorts of biases, control for all sorts of factors, acknowledge that the situation is fluid, meticulously craft studies and try to get down to the truth of it. Gender feminism has dominated all these concerns for too long with no real opposing voice, to the point where many of its claims have become dogma – as was seen in this article and the comments.

The wage gap, for example, virtually disappears when you control for all the other factors leaving a small fraction which may be down to innate gender differences. Less than 5% or so. It is simplistic and ‘economical with the actualite’ to cry sexism without a proper, critical examination.

The evidence does not support a lot of the claims, or does not support them to the extent that they are pushed or the zeal with which they are wielded like weapons.

Until disagreement and skeptical examination can be treated as what it is, without demonisation and merely making the same mistakes all over again – as this blog in reply to me did – there’ll be no progress.

#Atheism has an MRA Problem?

tumblr_mqkupetBAj1syitgfo1_500A response to this article.

No, atheism doesn’t have an MRA problem and, frankly, I expect a bit better of Patheos than to take sides in this particular, ongoing conflict.

‘MRA’ has become a slur to be hurled at anyone of dissenting opinion in the arguments over gender etc in much the same way as ‘feminist’ used to. Maybe we’ll see that change over time (the shift to MHRA -Men’s Human Rights Activist – is hopeful). It says nothing, it’s just an ad hominem shut-down attack in the same way ‘fedora’, ‘neckbeard’ and other nonsensical terms have become. None of it adds anything to the debate, but these slurs tend to go ignored while trolling gets taken seriously and treated as though it were people genuinely involved in the debate.

It is, perhaps, more appropriate to say that atheism has a feminism problem, in the shape of Atheism Plus.

Atheism Plus and it’s Tumblrist, pseudo-progressive nonsense has driven a wedge clear through the atheist community. The arrogant presumption was that simply because everyone who was an atheist didn’t believe in god they would have to agree with everything else they thought. That’s not the case at all. The only thing that unites atheists is their lack of belief. Otherwise you will find atheists of all manner of beliefs, all manner of political affiliations, all manner of positions on other topics.

There’s some things that are true as a demographic, we will TEND to be more liberal, TEND to be more intelligent, TEND to be more educated, TEND to be more law abiding but a tendency doesn’t describe the whole. Personally, I find the kind of ‘social justice activism’ promoted by A+, FTB and their ilk to be archly conservative, dangerously censorious and perilous to free thinking.

As with our engagements with religion, we find that people are perfectly happy for us to be skeptical in our examinations of any faith but theirs. We are not, it seems, allowed to be skeptical of feminism. As an ideology it seems to be considered beyond criticism, beyond challenge. Any challenge to its ideas, even the crazier ones, is treated as though it were heresy. Little wonder, then, that people like Thunderf00t, frequently criticised for his skepticism of feminist claims, have taken exception to it.

Are we skeptics or not? Do we want to know what’s true or not? Why would we tolerate conspiracy theories like ‘Patriarchy’ and leave them unchallenged when we’re willing to critically examine closely held beliefs that have lasted thousands of years? Why can’t we point out the flaws in the Wage Gap when we can challenge the very claimed existence of Jesus?

There’s a deep inconsistency there.

I also expect better from Patheos than to use fallacies in attacking something they don’t like. What possible difference does it make that MHRAs are white, (racism), young (Ageism), male (sexism) or conservative? An argument stands or falls on its merit, surely? Ah, but then according to some of these people you can’t be racist to whites, sexist to men etc etc. Pure bunk and another idea that should be subject to robust critique.

There’s another false assumption in the article that mass attacks by trolls are somehow the actions of MHRAs or other atheists rather than… trolls. It’s never been adequately explained to me why people think this. I’m sure there’s some crossover of course, but who benefits from treating trolls like they’re serious threats and genuinely mean it? Well, you need only look at how Sarkeesian, Criado-Perez and Watson have profited from their victim status (legitimate or not) to see why someone might take trolling more seriously than it deserves.

Speaking of this, Melody Hensley has come under concerted attack recently. Why? She’s publicly a feminist (a popular troll target because feminists react), she’s publicly an atheist (another popular target for trolls), and she’s claimed to have PTSD – a dubious claim and another big red rag to trolls.

Should she be trolled? No. Is it understandable that she is being? Yes. Can we separate the trolling from the scoffing, skepticism and arched eyebrows? Sure we can. What about the claim itself? PTSD from social media? That sounds unlikely in the extreme and little wonder that a great many people who do suffer from PTSD and other forms of mental illness (myself included) are incensed by what we see as her trivialisation and devaluing of a very real and present problem for a lot of people.

Still, conflating MHRA with troll is just as unfair and dishonest as conflating feminist and troll, and believe me, it’s tempting to do that. I’ve been verbally attacked, threatened, had my jobs come under attack, my work boycotted (failed) and it blows up again and again. Whenever I try to honestly engage in debate and try to understand the Social Justice Warrior position all I get is my appearance attacked, called names, my hat mistaken for a fedora (as though that were relevant), my past scraped over, threats of doxing (not that I’m that secretive) and on and on and on. Something I’ve not suffered from actual trolls or people who just disagree with me – even religious nutters, even Jihadis and right wing terrorist groups like Christian Identity.

I think that says a lot, but I’ll still – try – to take people one at a time.

So what’s really going on here?

I think I’m going to blame ‘intersectionality’. It sounds good on paper, considering the way different forms of advantage and disadvantage interact, but in practice it divides and subdivides a community more and more, diminishing and diffusing any power it has to be a unified voice.

Here’s a radical idea I want to present. So long as we all agree about religion being wrong, let’s agree about that and work on that problem – debunking creationism, promoting skepticism, secularism and freethinking. If we don’t agree on what political party to vote for or whether same sex marriage should be legal or not, who gives a fuck? We can campaign on those individual issues with people who agree with us there.

We don’t NEED to be a homogenous whole.

That’s not to say we can’t have this debate, but let’s make it a ‘goddamn’ debate, not a slagging match.

My door’s always open to sensible debate and there are no sacred cows here. Let’s extend that to the rest of the community.

 

Post-Script:

A few short years ago I would have considered myself a feminist, in that I would advocate for equal rights for women. However, that is no longer what feminism is and that became abundantly clear to me when my defence of freedom in fiction made me a target. ‘The radical notion that women are people’ or the cause of equality is not the feminism of the censors, it’s not the feminism of Criado-Perez or Suey Park, it’s not the feminism of Watson, Sarkeesian or Atheism Plus. It’s not the feminism of holding men guilty until proven innocent, it’s not the feminism of blaming everything on ‘patriarchy’ or using ‘privilege’ to silence contributions. It’s not the feminism that speaks of ‘male violence’ or terrifies people with specious talk of ‘rape culture’. If you’re a feminist in terms of equality, you’re not the kind of person being grumped about.

I’m on the verge of actually ‘joining’ the MHRA movement if only because I see the same kinds of irrational bitterness driving it I also see in feminism and I think it needs more sane voices. I also think the association with the right is problematic, as is feminism’s association with the ‘left’. There are plenty of left/liberal critiques to be made of modern feminism that are going unsaid.

#Genderweek – Not All Men

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Hilarious, right?

Not really, but we’ll get to that. First let’s deal with the cartoon:

  1. There’s no such thing as reverse sexism. It’s just sexism. Prejudice on the basis of sex.
  2. Dismissing misandry – irrational hatred of men – in a way misogyny would never be dismissed. Of course irrational hatred of men exists, just as irrational hatred of women obviously exists. Spend five minutes on social justice Tumblr and you’ll see plenty of evidence of that.
  3. Defender of the defended… presumptuous, especially in the context of the gender conversation over which men have very little input and are actively and even violently prevented from doing so. Access to legal representation in the face of discrimination is also virtually impossible for men.

Given that so much of feminism seems to be concerned with addressing broad-brush and prejudicial statements about women, is it not somewhat hypocritical to both make and spread broad-brush statements about men and then to dismiss objections that would be upheld if the positions were reversed? Do you think the statement ‘Bitches be crazy’ isn’t hateful just because it obviously doesn’t apply to all women? Is the statement excused my making fun of those who point that out?

That’s a trivial example, but when feminists are seriously talking about ‘male violence‘ it becomes much more serious, especially since they genuinely seem to believe it applies. This is prejudice, pure and simple and, so long as it continues ‘Not All Man’, ‘Not All Woman’ and all their derivatives will be needed.