Tag Archives: mansplain

Why Rebecca Solnit and Jessica Valenti are bigoted morons

RebeccaSolnitYesAllWomen

Every now and then, someone writes something so utterly wrongheaded that merely providing a link to it and discussing what’s so offbase about it in general terms isn’t sufficient. When the errors contained in a piece of writing are egregious enough, the only remedy is to take it virtually line by line, and refute every brain-addled argument individually. That’s exactly what I intend to do from now on when I encounter an especially ignorant piece, provided it was written anytime within the last year or so. Today’s offender is an interview of feminist writer Rebecca Solnit from earlier this year, conducted in truly sycophantic fashion by fellow feminist Jessica Valenti, entitled “Mansplaining, explained.”

jessica-valenti_ironic

The first red flag that no attempt will be made to be fair towards men or allow any complexity into the interview is right there in the headline, and is typical of feminist hypocrites like Valenti. When a man says anything to or about women, it’s “mansplaining,” but when women discuss men it’s simply “explaining.” The gender of any speaker only needs to be wielded as a means of discrediting them if they happen to be a man. When feminist women are speaking, everyone else is supposed to take it as a given that their views are unimpeachable and their explanations entirely accurate. A more appropriate headline would have been “Mansplaining, femsplained” since the entire interview is basically nothing but Solnit and Valenti gleefully reveling in their debunked, stereotypical views of men, and talking about us in such condescending fashion that it’s impossible to think either one has ever listened to anything said by a man (who doesn’t spit out feminist talking points like Pez) without dismissing it based solely on his gender. That lopsided headline presents an inauspicious start to the interview, and it barrels downhill at full speed from there. Both the softball questions posed by Valenti and the answers given by Solnit are rife with bigoted idiocy. I’ll handle each of their bimbo exchanges one at a time.

  VALENTI: How do you feel about being considered the creator of the concept of “mansplaining”? Your now-famous essay – which really gave women language to talk about the condescending interactions they’ve had with men – certainly gave birth to the term, but you write in the book that you didn’t actually make up the word. 

Problems with the question: Women did have plenty of language they could use to express displeasure with men who talk down to them. What’s wrong with just using the word “condescending?” Since Valenti used that word in the question itself, and condescends to men all the time, I’m assuming she’s familiar with what it means. You don’t need to create gender specific terms for a condescending person unless you think it’s only wrong for certain types of people to condescend. What Valenti really means is not that women need even more words to choose from to describe what it’s like to be talked down to. She’s saying that feminists need more words that are explicitly demeaning to and dismissive of men. She doesn’t say why feminism harbors such resentment for men that it can’t accept even the possibility that some of us know a thing or two some women don’t. But we’ll just skip that and move on to Solnit’s reply.

  SOLNIT: I used to be ambivalent, worrying primarily about typecasting men with the term. (I have spent most of my life tiptoeing around the delicate sensibilities of men, though of course the book Men Explain Things to Me is what happens when I set that exhausting, doomed project aside.) Then in March a PhD candidate said to me, No, you need to look at how much we needed this word, how this word let us describe an experience every woman has but we didn’t have language for.

  And that’s something I’m really interested in: naming experience and how what has no name cannot be acknowledged or shared. Words are power. So if this word allowed us to talk about something that goes on all the time, then I’m really glad it exists and slightly amazed that not only have I contributed about a million published words to the conversation but maybe, indirectly, one new word.

Problems with the reply: It’s hard to miss the admission right off the bat that she no longer cares if men are typecast. She also dismissively states that men have “delicate sensibilitites,” as though any man who objects to her misandrous attitude is simply brittle and over-emotional. That’s pretty ironic, since the term “mansplaining” is so often used by manipulative feminists with hairtrigger tempers. Solnit then echoes Valenti nearly word for word in reiterating the ridiculous notion that bigoted feminist jargon is serving a “needed” purpose, turning the interview into an opportunity for she and Valenti to mutually masturbate each other’s fully engorged egos. Solnit even repeats the assertion that women were, in fact, entirely unable to discuss discrimination that men subjected them to before the word “mansplaining” existed. Pretty stupid idea to be put forth by a supposed historian. Solnit apparently needs to be reminded that the women’s rights movement pre-dates the coining of “mansplaining” by generations, yet women were still able to find the right words to describe what it was like to be treated as inferior by men. Moreover, “mansplaining” isn’t used solely or mainly on men who condescend to women. It’s used on almost every man who ever dares to disagree with a feminist or speak on anything related to gender, sexism, harassment, abuse, or any other matter which feminists have inaccurately labeled as a “women’s issue.” I suspect Solnit not only realizes this, but uses the word in that exact way herself, which is likely why she’s so happy it exists. It’s not needed to talk about condescension or sexism, but it’s definitely handy for feminists who are condescending sexists. Time for Valenti’s hard-hitting second question.

  VALENTI: Do men still explain things to you? 

Problems with the question: Of course men still explain things to Solnit sometimes, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t. We all have moments in our lives where we’re wrong about something, or need it explained, by people of both genders. A man explaining something to a woman is not automatically sexist, no matter how much feminists want to convince us it is so that they can present all disagreement as oppression. Why would anyone in their right minds think that merely writing a book called Men Explain Things to Me (as Solnit did) would result in all men from that point on letting them say any foolish thing they want without challenge? This is indicative of a larger problem with feminists as a whole: they almost always assume their influence is greater than it is, that far more people agree with them than actually do, and that every propaganda piece they push from their sphincter is distributed by divine messenger to everyone as irrefutable Truth. I hate to tell Valenti and Solnit, but the majority of people haven’t heard of them, and most people who have don’t see them as luminaries, or leaders that it’s important to pay heed to. This question serves no purpose except to set Solnit up to act put upon by the fact that men still dare to challenge her assertions even after she wrote her book. Know what I think? When you write something that might as well be called The Misandry Handbook, you’re both asking for men to “mansplain” to you, and in dire need of hearing what we have to say. To the astonishment of exactly no one, Solnit’s reply misses that point completely.

 SOLNIT: Do they ever! Social media are to mansplainers what dogs are to fleas, and this recent feminist conversation has brought them out in droves. I mean, guys explain ridiculous things to me like that the Lousiana Purchase gave the United States a Pacific Coast. But more than anything since I wrote Men Explain Things to Me, they’ve explained women’s experience to me and other women. With this explosive new conversation since the Isla Vista murders, there’s been a dramatic uptick in guys mansplaining feminism and women’s experience or just denying that we need feminism and we actually had those experiences.

  If there were awards to be handed out, one might go to the man who told me and a woman friend that 1) women actually like all those catcalls 2) as a man who’s spent time in men’s-only locker rooms, he knows men don’t actually speak to women that way. So we like street harassment, but that doesn’t actually exist, because we’re just crazy that way, us subjective, imaginative, unreliable ladies. Just ask an expert. Who is not a lady.”rebecca_solnit-620x412

Problems with the reply: Again, the trouble starts as soon as Solnit opens her mouth. “Mansplainers” (translation: men who disagree with feminists or point out that they’re factually incorrect) are like fleas when we use social media. Solnit doesn’t just consider us misguided or wrong, she feels the need to compare us to parasites. Imagine her reaction if a man said the same type of thing about any woman who disagrees with a man or calls him out on an error. Crap like this is a good indication of why feminists need to stop celebrating their casual sexism.

Moving on, Solnit’s claim that men are mansplaining to women about women’s experiences is largely inaccurate. There will always be condescending people of both genders (as Solnit proves by being a living example) but the reason men typically jump in to refute something a feminist woman says is that her comments reveal unsupported and inaccurate animosity towards men. Feminists are unable to talk about men without throwing around terms like “toxic masculinity” and “rape culture.” They’re unable to admit that when they talk about the reasons men do certain things, or the views men hold, that they are often just theories. To men, our reasons and our views are not just theories. We actually know why we say and do things, and when a woman states that it’s because we’re universally-heterosexual perverted rapists being slowly poisoned by our masculinity, we have every right (and should be expected) to let it be known that we have issues with that bigoted and false assertion. Feminist women are no experts on men (and feminist men are often so ashamed of being men that they forget what masculinity even is, losing touch with it’s value completely.) Men are experts on ourselves. If a man tells a woman she is wrong about something she’s said about men, he’s more than likely right, and she is more than likely wrong. What’s really happening is that feminists are spewing illogical hatred of men all over the internet, which makes it almost certain that a man is going to speak up to dispute their nonsense. When that happens, the feminist claims that it’s “mansplaining” for a man to explain men to women. It’s intellectual gibberish, but that may be the point: to catch the man in question off guard with comments so densely hypocritical that it’s likely to boggle his mind and shut him up, at least for a while.

As for the rest of Solnit’s reply, apparently she doesn’t spend much time speaking to any women who aren’t feminists. Some women do, in fact, enjoy catcalls (assuming they don’t cross certain lines, which they often don’t.) I know that for a fact because I’ve met some of these women. Being catcalled is basically being told you’re attractive. Being told you’re attractive is a compliment. People like being complimented. This isn’t advanced psychology, but it is too advanced for most feminists. Solnit’s issue is that she clearly makes no distinction between catcalling and criminal behaviors like harassment, stalking and assault. At some point, she might want to address why she thinks that saying “Damn, baby, you look good!” to someone walking by, and then forgetting them as soon as they’re out of sight, is the same as following them home, attacking them, or otherwise refusing to take no for an answer. And sure, I’m aware that some women just don’t want to be hit on, even if it’s meant as a compliment, and that some “catcallers” use foul language. Know what? I don’t care. Cry me a river. Receiving compliments isn’t going to hurt them and neither is hearing some colorful language. They need to grow some thicker skin. Freedom of speech means that we all have to hear stuff we’d rather not, including comments to or about us. It might be a trade-off, but it’s one that protects civil rights. That’s something I do care about, and I won’t support feminists in trying to curtail freedom of speech just to protect the delicate baby feelings of those women who think they’re oppressed by the fact that men are allowed to talk to them. You know what you’re supposed to do when someone says something that you don’t like? You either tell them exactly how you feel about it or you walk away. Those are options that are available to you. Silencing others is not. In summary of my broader point, no one is saying, as Solnit claims, that women “like street harassment, but that doesn’t actually exist.” We’re saying some women enjoy being catcalled, at least sometimes, and that catcalling has to cross some pretty clear lines before it can accurately be called “harassment.” We’re also saying that men have the right to catcall within reason, whether women like it or not. Any person who doesn’t understand such simple facts is certainly not an “expert” on these issues, no matter what their credentials. The Isla Vista murders committed by Elliot Rodger come up again in Valenti’s next question, and will be addressed in my response.

VALENTI: Speaking of Isla Vista, in the wake of that tragedy there’s been a lot of talk about masculinity and toxic masculinity. The misogyny was so obvious – we have a mass murderer saying hatred for women is the reason for his attack – and yet some people still argue that these murders had nothing to do with sexism. What do you make of this?welcome

Problems with the question: Valenti has put forth another false premise. Virtually no one is claiming Rodger’s killing spree had “nothing to do with sexism.” What so many are pointing out is that it wasn’t just about sexism. Rodger was clearly a misogynist, but he was also racist and mentally ill. He also hated any man who was more successful with women than he was (which is most men.) It would be much quicker to list the people that Rodger didn’t hate than to list everyone he had animus towards. To most of us, it’s important to address all the causes of a brutal killing spree, rather than focusing solely on one, to the detriment of other pressing cultural issues. To feminists such as Valenti ,though, gender is always more important than anything else, misogyny is always the only kind of prejudice worth combatting, and the female victims are always the only ones who were fully human, or should be mourned. Valenti doesn’t care about the men Rodger murdered, and she won’t stand for anyone else caring about them, either. The only thing that’s important to her is finding a way to co-opt the memories of murder victims to garner support for a movement that she has no earthly idea what they thought of. She’s not a psychologist or a criminologist, she’s just an opportunist using a bloodbath as free marketing. I don’t know how she sleeps at night, but it might have something to do with being a really shitty person. Now onto Solnit’s reply.

SOLNIT: There are a lot of ideologies out there passionately devoted to not connecting dots. There are climate denialists who think that 97% of all the scientists on earth are in conspiracy to spread lies and the weather is just fine; there are people who don’t want to know that American foreign policy makes us, to say the least, a little unpopular in some places; and there are people who find that thinking about misogyny and violence against women is uncomfortable and think that they have a God-given or Constitutional right to eternal comfortableness, as far as I can tell.

   Right now I think that a lot of people get it and a lot of people are getting more engaged with the ideas, with the issues, and with the urgency of the situation. I feel like I’ve been waiting all my life for women to be talking the way we are right now, and that many men have joined in the conversation or support from the sidelines or get it is magnificent and inspiriting. (And then, yeah, those other guys. “Not all men”.)

Problems with the reply: Even when Solnit is right, she’s still wrong. There are ideologies out there devoted to not connecting dots, and chief among them is feminism. Comparing feminism to science as if they’re remotely the same is absolute rubbish. Unlike the 97% agreement among scientists about climate change, feminist theories do not enjoy anything approaching majority support from anyone, including women. Feminism is not based on scientific fact. In this analogy, feminists are not the 97% of scientists who care about getting things right, they’re the climate change deniers who care more about ideology than facts. As for the assertion that anyone who doesn’t robotically regurgitate feminist dogma about the Isla Vista killing spree thinks they have a right to “eternal comfortableness,” (comfortableness isn’t a word, by the way) does Solnit have no sense of irony? Feminists are clearly the ones who think they’re entitled to eternal comfort (to use the correct phrase) or else they wouldn’t treat catcalling or opposing views of feminism as misogynistic violations of their rights. Towards the end of this reply, Solnit claims she thinks it’s “magnificent and inspiring” that men are joining in on conversations about gender and sexism, which leads one to wonder why she’s so happy that the word “mansplaining” is there to shame the majority of us for doing exactly that. Of course, she just has to add a little dig in there about guys who say “not all men”, as though feminists don’t use their own, weaker version of that retort when they reflexively blurt out “that’s not feminism!” anytime a member of their ranks is caught redhanded in a fit of undeniable bigotry. Time to deal with Valenti’s next flawed question.

VALENTI: Your essay “The Longest War” is about sexual assault and, this week, we just found out about yet another gang rape at a high school. What do you think it will take for our culture to take rape – and the notion that this is an epidemic of violence against women – seriously?

Problems with the question: You don’t have to be an extremist feminist idealogue to take rape seriously. We have laws against rape in the West. In fact, we take rape of women so seriously as a society that we’re more than willing to disregard the civil rights of college men accused of it. It’s only when women rape men that most people don’t take it seriously, despite the recent study (which I get tired of having to repeatedly reference) that found that this type of rape happens quite frequently. Of course, someone like Jessica Valenti would never consider it an “epidemic” for men to be abused on a regular basis, only to have many people mock or ignore us if we report it. Mocking the pain of men is one of Valenti’s favorite passtimes. If you have a penis or any masculine traits whatsoever, this woman is utterly incapable of feeling even a twinge of empathy for you, no matter what traumas you endure.thanksforsup  Unlike when it happens to men, tons of people offer support to women who are raped (provided they know about it.) Generally speaking, the only ones who don’t agree that raping a woman is a serious and devastating offense are the small number of people who are rapists, sociopaths, or both. While our justice system does need to be reformed so that we can prosecute more rape claims made by both genders while still protecting the rights of the accused, feminists have done almost nothing but distract from that necessity by trying to take these matters out of the hands of law enforcement whenever possible. If we can have universities handle the investigation when a college student is accused of rape, why shouldn’t we have high schools deal with it internally when a high school student is raped? Jessica Valenti should ask herself if she’d rather the poor girl she wrote about have the outcome of her case decided by experts or amateurs. If her answer is the former, she needs to start taking rape more seriously herself. By supporting the idea that rapes can be prosecuted by whoever happens to be around, Valenti and her feminist ilk are guilty of treating rape and justice like it’s all just one big joke. On to Solnit’s reply. Her answer is rather lengthy this time, so I’ll be interspersing my responses with the comments of hers that they pertain to.neckfat  SOLNIT: Part of what was shocking about the Steubenville sexual assault – one of the 2012 crimes that has opened up a new conversation about rape culture and sexual entitlement – is that the boys evidently thought that violating and humiliating a helpless human being made them cool. Where the hell did they get that idea from? And how do we take them out of that lad culture (in which it is indeed cool) and back to civilization where it’s horrible and you’d be despised and regarded as repulsive (by enough of us if, sadly, far from all of us)? I think the culture at large is getting – post-New-Delhi and Steubenville, and post a lot of great speaking and writing by feminists like you – the idea.

Problems with the reply: These crimes did open up dialogue, which is the only thing that could possibly be considered any kind of silver lining. Unless you’re a feminist of Solnit’s stripe, of course, and then the real silver lining is that you get to exploit another victim for your cause. Just look how quickly she gets the old “rape culture” chestnut in there, and how she says that the culture is having a conversation “about rape culture” while leaving out that much of that conversation has concerned whether or not rape culture is even a real thing. In typical feminist fashion, she subtly presents a highly debatable, widely panned and woefully simplistic feminist theory as accepted fact. The only way she could exploit the situation even more would be to find a way to suggest that even most high school boys are already victims of their “toxic masculinity.” Oh, wait, that’s precisely what she does next. Solnit apparently realizes that she might take some flak if she talks about teenage boys in the same dehumanizing ways that she regularly talks about grown men, so she uses the phrase “lad culture” in place of “rape culture,” but it’s pretty clear what she’s really saying. According to her, it’s only teenage boys (lads, if you prefer) who ever violate or humiliate someone in any way. It has nothing to do with kids in general often being immature and cruel, their sense of self very much still in development, their ability to withstand peer pressure and speak up for what’s right varying greatly from one teenager to the next. It should all just be blamed on “lad culture” because, God knows, young girls would never dream of abusing or victimizing anyone. That sort of thing isn’t part of “lass culture.” Females are always more morally upstanding than males, whatever their age. Here’s where I feel called upon to ask “Ever heard of Lena Dunham?” It seems Ms. Dunham couldn’t even make it to the ripe old age of eight before becoming a sexual predator. She molested her little sister on a basis regular enough that, as the younger child aged, she apparently grew to accept this type of abuse as normal and healthy. Not that most people need the Dunham example to know that girls can be just as cruel, abusive and sex driven as boys (sometimes more.) Sadly, by the time they graduate high school, most people have encountered bullies, perverts, and other dangerous types from both genders. This part of Solnit’s comments ends with a quick polishing of Valenti’s hindquarters as Solnit goes out of her way to assure her that she is important, and not just a run of the mill misandrist fearmonger. Would these two just get a room already?

    But how do we undermine the lad culture, that jeering, tittering, competing, struggling realm of young men left to themselves and to the worst notions of what it means to be a man, or undermine the segregation in our culture that leaves the young to socialize as though they were another species? I mean, in some small and rural places and other cultures, teenage is not a distinct ethnicity or caste or pariah group, and teenagers are not left largely to their own devices.

Oh, Jesus Christ. Now Solnit is more or less admitting that she wants to “undermine” all young boys because other boys their age have, on rare occasions, committed heinous crimes such as rape. It’s not enough to simply punish the guilty parties. No, it’s very important that feminists be allowed to meddle in the lives of all maturing teenage boys, in an attempt to guarantee that they don’t make it out of high school without learning to hate their penises. As for the rest of her comment, it’s all a little too vague to know for sure, but it sounds suspiciously like she’s saying that teenagers should be spending more time palling around with people considerably older than them who they’re not related to. But wait, what about this “rape culture” that adults are supposedly a part of? Isn’t she worried that if teens hang out with adults, all the adult men will teach all the teenage boys how to rape all the teenage girls, and that many of the adult women will simply shrug and say “Rape culture, ya know? Whaddaya gonna do?” It’s almost like Solnit forgot to believe in one of her favorite feminist theories for a second there.

  Too, I think we need to make blatant misogyny widely regarded as gross and despicable and ignorant the way we have racism, and this time that we means men.

Mission accomplished. Solnit can quit playing the oppression game. Blatant misogyny (and even subtle misogyny) is already widely regarded in all the ways she wants it to be. The only reason she won’t acknowledge that is because it would deny her a chance to talk down to men, who she’d rather accuse of hating and oppressing women all the live long day. This is a clear example of the kind of comment that prompts men to reply, in an effort to inform women like Solnit that most of us don’t accept or engage in misogyny. Which would, of course, result in the standard accusations of mansplaining, because men aren’t allowed to correct women about what it’s like to be a man, or how men tend to feel.

  And a lot of men are, as never before, stepping up. Only men can dissuade men from a misogyny that discounts a woman’s right to speak, let alone what she says. The sexual assault that just happened in Tennessee: this time the authorities are responding fairly appropriately and a local male columnist wrote a column about it– a tough, clear, no-excuses for assault analysis that any feminist could love.

  Finally, I think feminism has made astonishing progress over the past 50 years, so I think both that it’s going to take a long time and we’re well on our way.

Aw, look, she compliments men almost immediately after insulting us! I guess that’s supposed to make it all okay. Look, it’s 2014. There are probably about a dozen men left in the entire West who truly believe that women don’t have the right to speak. There may be a few more than that who are less likely to greet women’s words with an open mind, or who still consider women to be weak and overly emotional, but even they are nothing resembling a majority. If Solnit wants men to advocate for feminists (feminists, not women) she could try giving us a little more credit. And another thing: if a man is a misogynist, or a homophobe, or a racist, or any other kind of bigot, there is actually precious little that I, or any other man, can do to talk him out of it. We can try, and often do, but it’s pretty difficult to police another human being’s thoughts. This is something I’ve learned in the process of having to deal with bigoted men and women ever since I came out of the closet. Some people harbor bigotry without even realizing it, and do everything in their power to extricate themselves from its grip once they know its there. Other people revel in their bigotry proudly and will probably never be reached, or feel compelled to evolve (many of these people eagerly embrace feminism and find it a perfect fit.)

For the record, the column Solnit refers to is indeed well-written and I didn’t notice anything in it that you’d need to be a feminist to agree with. However, let’s extend this “no excuses, no tolerance” policy to all offenders, and stop taking it so lightly when women sexually violate men and boys. That Solnit limits her concern to female victims and encourages men to do the same is morally indefensible. When she says that feminism has made “astonishing progress in the last 50 years,” am I the only one who wonders if she’s referring to the movement’s success in convincing a large number of sources in the media that giving a shit about men is misogyny? After all, feminism certainly hasn’t become more popular with the general public; most women either can’t be bothered with it or actively oppose it, and its obvious misandry is chasing a growing number of men into the open arms of egalitarian and Men’s Rights movements. Feminists know this, too, which goes a long way towards explaining their desperate attempts to force every remotely “hip” celebrity they can think of to declare themselves a feminist, in hopes that their teenybopper fans will mindlessly follow suit. Phew! That was a lot of bullshit to shovel out of my path. I’m glad I can finally move on to Valenti’s final question (she actually asks two more questions of Solnit, but the last one is so devoid of journalistic value that I don’t even feel the need to bother with it.)

VALENTI: What are your thoughts about online harassment – specifically the online harassment of outspoken women? I used to to think of just abandoning the Internet, but it’s as much a public space as the street these days… there’s no avoiding it and it’s my space too!

Problems with the question: Plenty. For one thing, Valenti has never shown any indication that she cares if women are harassed unless they happen to be feminists (which means she doesn’t care if it happens to most women.) Secondly, “harassment”, like “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” is one of those terms that means something vastly different to feminists than it means to everyone else. It usually just means someone disagreed with them, hurt their feelings, or made them doubt their own dopey rhetoric. Thirdly, “outspoken” is a word feminists use to describe one another when even they know better than to use more desirable terminology like “smart”, “insightful”, or “accurate.” What Valenti is really asking is “What are your thoughts on how to make harassment charges stick when someone keeps telling a feminist woman that she’s wrong, but hasn’t done anything illegal?”

If you can’t stand disagreement or people saying mean things, many places on the internet are probably not “your space.” Those spaces are for adults who can still function after having a conflict with a person they will likely never officially meet, and you should stick to Nickolodeon message boards or Youtube videos about the best places to throw your 5th birthday party. You’re free to ignore my advice and surf on over to the adult parts of the net anyway, but you should keep a few things in mind. Adult conversation often gets heated and passionate. No one is required to alter the perfectly legal ways it’s comfortable for them to talk or behave just to appease you. If you think otherwise, you think don’t think the internet is “your space, too,” you think it’s your space, period.

If someone threatens your life or livelihood in a manner which you believe to be criminal, go to the police. Don’t scream it all over social media to people who have no idea what to do about it, or worse; who think they know what to do about it and start doxxing everyone you’ve ever crossed paths with online. And unless the threats against you are entirely legit and you’re in imminent danger of harm from a real assailant who has done more than just say mean things to you or try to scare you online, do not compare your “harassment” to the massacre committed by Elliot Rodger, as feminists have been encouraging women to do. That’s in really bad taste. You weren’t a victim in that tragedy. It’s not about you.

I predict that shortly after I post this, some feminist will come along to tell me that I’ve been insensitive to women that have been harassed online and/or that I can’t know what that’s like, because men aren’t harassed online because of our gender. I’m not going to ignore the advice I gave in the paragraph above by going into all the specifics online, but as a disclaimer: You can’t be a man who vocally disagrees with feminism online without being harassed because of your gender. As an example, a feminist once got so enraged at me for arguing against his talking points while being male that he claimed to have figured out where I lived based on a picture I’d posted, and that he was coming to eat my dog (an adorable little pomeranion named Oz who I also post pictures of sometimes, and who is basically my sun, moon and stars.) That’s all I’m telling of that story, except for the assurance that no creep ever showed up to eat my dog. And that I’m pretty sure this means Oz is now entitled to Tweet his harrowing tale under #YesAllWomen. Alright, enough about me and my dog being harassed by a feminist on social media because we’re guys, here’s Rebecca Solnit to 100% agree with Jessica Valenti that harassment online is exclusively a women’s issue.

orfems   SOLNIT: There are a lot of ways the Internet needs to be democratized and made into a public commons: when it comes to protecting our privacy and not monetizing our data for advertisers or sharing it with the NSA; and not letting advertising drive what everyone does and sees and makes; as well as not letting haters try to scare women into silence or make their lives miserable. The whole raison d’être needs to be reinvented, and I’d be all for not nationalizing but some form ofinternationalizing (or regulating for the public good) some of the more universally used sites (Siva Vaidhyanathan has a very good book about doing that with Google’s ubiquitous search engine).

  My friend Astra Taylor points out in her new book, The People’s Platform, “Those posting with female usernames, researchers were shocked to discover, received 25 times as many malicious messages as those whose designations were masculine or ambiguous.” Way too many sites tolerate, maybe even feed, really vile forms of misogyny – from Twitter to a lot of supposedly progressive news sites – because it’s all about getting the clicks or traffic that convince advertisers to give them money. Hate is profitable. And human beings are chameleons; I think that some of these sites, groups, spaces, threads, don’t just give misogyny an outlet; they breed and feed and cultivate misogyny.

  Two things, though: men intent on silencing women like you truly believe that you are a threat. They believe your voice matters, that you’re part of changing the world, and they don’t want it changed that way. So there’s a weird kind of validation in it, but one I’m sure you and Mary Beard and the rest of the women under attack could live without.

  The other thing is: these haters seem to be pretty irony-deficient. Helen Lewiscreated Lewis’s Law on Twitter in 2012: “Comments on any article about feminism justify feminism.” You go to #YesAllWomen on Twitter and see so many guys now showing up to mock, sneer, harass, and threaten, to just try to piss on the party, and you realize they have no idea they’re demonstrating why we need feminism. We need it because some men hate women; want to violate and silence and annihilate us; can’t stand us telling our truths; don’t think we have any rights; think they’re more important and sole holders of the truth. And they are those men. It’s a parade of excellent specimens. Unfortunately.

Problems with the reply: That was another really long answer in which Solnit implies what she’s really advocating for while seeming reluctant to explicitly spell it out. The NSA stuff is a distraction that has nothing to do with the question, and when she talks about “not letting ‘haters’ try to scare women” she doesn’t go into what someone would have to do to be officially classed as a “hater.” Is this a gender neutral term, or will only men be branded “haters?” She also doesn’t specify what measures, exactly, would be taken to “not let” people make comments online which women might find offensive. By the time she talks about “regulating” the internet for the “public good”, it’s tough not to think she’s talking about controlling as many online forums as possible for the good of feminism. Had Solnit showed any evidence of wanting to protect any victims of harassment who aren’t women, I might be more willing to give the benefit of the doubt. Since I don’t make any money from blogging and have to actually work, I don’t have the luxury of reading enough of the two books Solnit linked to before posting this that I’d feel comfortable addressing them in depth right now. From the skimming I did, there are parts that do seem to advance arguments similar to Solnit’s in a less Orwellian-sounding manner. However, Valenti’s interview is with Solnit, not these authors, so I’m not sure how much that matters. It doesn’t abdicate Solnit of responsibility for talking about harassment online solely as “haters scaring women” or for making her point clear even to people who don’t have time to read two books just to figure out how she would go about “regulating” the internet to abolish harassment of women. Considering the length of her comments here and that she mysteriously brought the NSA into it, there’s no excuse for a simple presentation of what actual steps she wants to see taken not being in the interview. For one thing, it would be nice if Solnit had told us who the “researchers” that allegedly discovered that female usernames elicit 25 more times the harassment were affiliated with, other than her “friend” Astra Taylor. I guess I’ll have to keep hunting to find out who they are, what study or project they were with, what their methodology was and what types of behaviors towards female usernames did or did not qualify as “harassment.” I’ll also have to figure out why it is that Solnit thinks click-based websites only tend to promote misogyny, without promoting misandry, racism, homophobia, or any other bigotries that she never talks about. Everybody has the time for that kind of research, right? Well, if you don’t, Solnit is probably perfectly okay with you being overwhelmed by all the unanswered questions and assuming she’s right about everything. As the caption on her interview picture says: “Rebecca Solnit is smarter than you.” Yet she thinks “comfortableness” is a word and that Jessica Valenti is “changing the world” by nagging Taylor Swift into saying she’s a feminist on TV. Oh, and she used the word “party” to describe a hashtag feminists ostensibly created to tell somber stories of sexism in the aftermath of a bloody killing spree.

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According to Solnit, people who don’t like Valenti think she’s a threat. That’s partly true, partly false. The idiotic misandry of Jessica Valenti in and of itself is a rather minor threat to the civil rights of men. The fact that she’s just one mouthpiece in a sea of prominent feminist bigots is the greater concern. This latest brownnosing of Valenti is left more vague than the others. Solnit doesn’t say how she believes Valenti is changing the world. She says the “haters” of women like Valenti don’t want the world to change in those ways without making a case for why they should want it to. Since Solnit gives no assurance whatsoever that the change she desires is intended for the greater good of humankind, we can’t know whether or not men are justified in feeling threatened.

j-valenti  One of the few specifics we heard about Solnit’s views in this interview is that she thinks any comment in reply to anything a feminist says justifies feminism, which sounds suspiciously like the kind of circular logic often employed by organized religion. I still want to know what her faith calls upon her to do to the internet. I’d like to know what she wants to do to keep teenage boys from taking part in “lad culture,” or who these adults are she wants teenagers to spend more time with. I’d like to know how she can act like feminists don’t give as good as they get when it comes to harassment in an online environment where feminists make up new terms because they “need” language to shame men with, and threaten to eat men’s dogs as a means of intimidating us out of “mansplaining.” Rebecca Solnit used a lot of words to say very little, never once talking about men as autonomous beings whose lives have meaning outside of our interactions with women. Instead of prodding Solnit for a thorough articulation of even one or two salient points, Jessica Valenti was happy to let the proceedings devolve into a feminist love-in where she and the subject of her interview could affirm for each other how right they both are about everything. Which makes them both doddering idiots.

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Why feminists should drop their “rape culture” rhetoric

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In recent weeks, a lengthy (and entirely uncorroborated) story in Rolling Stone about a particularly horrendous alleged rape at UVA has brought the concept of “rape culture” to the forefront of public consciousness. While awareness of the problem of rape is an eminently good thing, the feminist contention that the culture as a whole is supportive of rape in any real sense is absolutely devoid of merit. To make matters worse, most feminists are still clinging stubbornly to the notion that rape is always – or at least, usually –  a crime committed against women by men. They demonstrate no desire whatsoever to prevent men from being raped, despite recent studies indicating that men are the victims of this crime nearly as frequently as women, and that those who rape men are often women. Even those feminists who admit that men can be raped almost never admit that it’s women who often rape them. Not only are feminists ignoring almost half of the victims of rape (the same ones who are ignored far too often already), there is precious little reason to think that all their talk of “rape culture” has done anything to make anyone safer. There is, however, mounting evidence that the insistence that rape culture has been institutionalized far and wide has rendered many people utterly terrified to think critically about any particular claim of rape, no matter how far fetched said claim is in the light of day. Anyone who questions any detail of an alleged victim’s version of events is told that they are part of rape culture, which is really the same thing as saying they are personally responsible for rape.

For the average person, this isn’t that burdensome in and of itself, beyond the outrage of being guilted about things we have nothing at all to do with. Most of us wouldn’t dream of injecting ourselves into an alleged trauma that we’re not involved in. Even if we secretly suspect someone claiming to have been raped is exaggerating or lying outright, we’re not going to consider it our place to tell them so, unless we’re in possession of actual evidence that we feel a moral obligation to present, or their story fails to add up in such obvious ways that pretending to believe it is basically the same as pretending to be stupid. However, when fear of contradicting feminist ideology gets to the point that even journalists are disregarding their sacred obligation to the truth and reporting rape claims as absolute fact without bothering to confirm important details like whether or not the alleged rapists even exist, it becomes important to note that rape culture rhetoric is largely to blame for that. When universities across the country are responding to the spectre of rape culture by putting young men accused of heinous crimes on trial in campus kangaroo courts instead of courts of law, civil rights are undeniably being trampled as a direct result of misguided feminist activism. These men may not go to jail due to being found guilty of rape or sexual misconduct by campus tribunal, but they have still publicly been branded a sex criminal, ruining their reputations and annihilating their future career prospects. Sentencing someone to a lifetime of ridicule and potential poverty because they can’t find a decent job is not preferable to sending them to the slammer, and there isn’t nearly enough oversight on how these campus tribunals conduct their investigations.

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When a rape claim is handled in a court of law, rather than by a university which has repeatedly demonstrated a pro-feminist bias, belief in rape culture requires one to believe that a conviction is automatically the “correct” result every time out. There has never been a man cleared of rape charges who feminists didn’t immediately state should have been found guilty, no matter how compelling the case for his innocence may have been, and despite the fact that many prominent rape claims have been proven to be hoaxes in recent years. The woman who falsely accused three Duke lacrosse players of rape even went on to murder her boyfriend, yet neither that, nor the fact that the young men she accused were exonerated was given nearly as much attention by the media as the initial lie that she’d been raped. Making a false rape claim isn’t something most women would do, but it does seem probable that growing hysteria over rape culture is being exploited by those women who are willing to lie about serious crimes that destroy lives.

Man_wrongly_accused_of_rape_speaks_out_o_2300070002_10001779_ver1.0_320_240   It also seems (so far, at least) that lying about being raped is an exclusively female phenomenon. I’m not aware of any case where a man has lied about being raped by a woman. Contrarily, even if we don’t count Rolling Stone‘s thoroughly criticized recent article, more details of which are still likely to be brought to light, there remain dozens of known instances where women have lied about being raped by men. Defense of or support for rape is nowhere near as epidemic as feminists like to pretend, but the very idea of rape culture is victimizing people in tangible and irreversible ways. Many of those victims are men who are falsely accused and not given a fair chance to defend themselves, but we mustn’t discount the women who are convinced by feminists that they have to live in constant terror of being raped. These women often end up suffering from mental anguish similar to what actual rape victims go through. They spend so much time thinking about terrible things they’ve been warned are probably about to happen to them that it’s almost like they’ve already been raped by feminists. As far as I’m concerned, telling someone that roughly half of the human beings they’ll meet in life will rape them if given the opportunity is a form of mental abuse.

At one point or another, most people have probably encountered the much publicized statistic that 1 in 5 college women are sexually assaulted. There is much debate about the accuracy of this statistic, with some claiming that’s it’s too high and others contending that it’s too low. It’s true that sexual assault is underreported and under-prosecuted. However, false rape claims are underreported as well, and women who make these false claims are prosecuted even less often than rapists. And again, it’s worth mentioning that sexual assault that happens to men (like all forms of abuse of men) is the most underreported of all, and the most likely to be ignored when it is reported. In light of all these facts, it’s extraordinarily difficult to get a handle on exactly how many sexual assaults are occurring. What is certain is that there is no “acceptable amount” of sexual assault, and as long as any assaults are occurring, it’s only right that activists should take up the mantle of wiping them out. Even in this noble pursuit, though, feminists are unfortunately striking out. It doesn’t do anything to minimize actual rape when feminists display a blatant lack of concern for whether individual claims of rape by specific women are true or false. People who lie about rape should be the natural enemies of any activist who truly cares about making sure legitimate victims are supported, because every time a woman is caught lying about such a disgusting crime, she makes it less likely that the next woman who makes a similar claim will be seen as credible. Feminists often state that believing every woman who claims she’s been raped should be the default setting, but that is simply not how our justice system works. When we say that justice is “blind”, what we mean is that it’s impartial. Justice is not supposed to care about superficial things like gender and is not permitted to automatically punish any man who a woman claims has injured her without a proper trial. Justice demands that defendants are innocent until proven guilty, even when those defendants are men. This doesn’t mean that we assume women who charge men with rape are lying, but it does mean we’re required to examine that possibility. That isn’t patriarchy, or rape culture, or oppression of women. It’s simply what every single man or woman accused of a crime is entitled to.

We only have one justice system and no other institution, body, or entity is qualified to take its place. We should no more expect universities to prosecute rapes that happen on their grounds, or to their students, than we should expect Wal-Mart to prosecute rapes that occur in its stores or parking lots. Why not? Because it’s a serious violation of civil rights. We don’t have to choose between caring about rape victims or the rights of the accused. We can multi-task, as Emily Yoffe demonstrates with this well-reasoned piece about a young man who has filed a lawsuit against the university that trampled his right to due process. This is just one suit in an avalanche of similar litigation being brought to bear on universities all over the country.

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It may well be that certain college campuses don’t take sexual assault as seriously as they should. Feminists attribute this to rape culture, because that’s their personal pet theory, but ironically, it may actually be due, in large part, to the efforts of feminists themselves. They’ve emboldened dishonest women to lie about rape, secure in the conviction that they will receive unquestioning support, and that anyone who fails to give them that will be labeled a rape enabler. Perhaps universities are sometimes reluctant to take rape claims seriously because so many such claims in recent years have turned out to be bogus. For many women who are willing to lie about rape, young men in college are apparently prime targets, and any college administrator who hasn’t noticed that by now isn’t paying very close attention. Sadly, for a lot of people out there, any terrible thing you tell them about frat boys will instantly be swallowed hook, line and sinker. There is typically a kernel of truth in stereotypes, and many frats have certainly earned the negative views some have of them. But fraternities do a lot in the way of community outreach and raising money for charity, too, and the vast majority of men who have been in fraternities have never raped a single, solitary soul. Beyond that, feminists are still crying “rape culture!” on campuses of universities that now regularly expel male students accused of rape without a shred of compelling evidence that would prove guilt. What more do they want? It seems that even allowing a young man to have a hollow mockery of a legitimate trial is too much for feminists, even though these cases are often decided by Women’s Studies majors and feminist professors. And yes, I’m aware that a handful of schools, like UVA, have never expelled anyone for rape. Most people would at least consider the possibility that this is a good thing, in that it could mean no rape has ever been proven to have taken place. Not so for feminists, who all too often seem to think that if a man isn’t hauled away for rape every five minutes, it goes without saying that five rapes have gone unpunished. Another thing: that UVA has never expelled anyone for rape doesn’t mean no UVA student has ever been tried for rape by the court system and dropped his classes voluntarily upon conviction, which would negate any need to expel him.

Feminists need to drop their “rape culture” rhetoric, for too many reasons to detail all of them here. In a rape culture, there wouldn’t be laws against sexual assault on the books to argue about the correct enforcement of. The media wouldn’t cheer universities on as they violate the civil rights of men who have been denied their day in court, nor would journalists eagerly wrap their arms around even the most spurious claims of rape. In a rape culture, we would salute men that we knew had committed rape as heroes instead of branding them as criminals and pariahs. The more feminists talk about rape culture, the more clear it becomes that it simply isn’t there. The only ones who believe in it are those who feminists have managed to indoctrinate with terror, guilt and other forms of psychological trauma. That’s not making women safer, it’s making them weaker, while simultaneously destroying due process. Just as importantly, by advocating for rape cases to be taken away from the justice system which feminists claim is failing victims, they are preventing reform of that same system. Where’s the need for any real change in the way the system works if we can just delegate the jobs of police and prosecutors to a third party? Feminists have forgotten to be concerned about any rape victims who are not in college. What will become of all the other victims if they’re left to deal with a corrupt legal system which will likely only get worse as feminists work to divert public attention away from it? If feminists truly cared about justice, they would work to address systemic problems in our legal system (many of which disadvantage men.) It’s rather telling that most feminists seem to prefer creating a host of new problems instead, which a more competent and benevolent movement will no doubt have to clean up for them down the road.

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Toss out your rape culture garbage, feminists. Stop shaming the vast majority of men who would never rape anyone just because you feel it’s the job of all men to constantly protect all women, even as you ignore the men being victimized right alongside them. All you’re doing is preventing needed reforms and creating a rape accusation culture. Your efforts have set victims of sexual assault back years, if not decades, and dealt a potentially crippling blow to the justice system which protects women and men alike.

Why feminism just had a really bad week

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  A lot of shortsighted feminists out there are probably pretty drunk on their ability to blather and bully others into capitulation right now. After all, they won a couple of high profile (if rather petty) skirmishes this past week, using harassment and faux outrage to wring apologies from people who had absolutely nothing to apologize for. In the process, they even managed to make an accomplished scientist cry with remorse during what should have been one of the proudest, most celebratory times in his life, vicariously drinking in that most coveted of feminist elixirs – male tears.

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   The kerfuffles I’m referring to are what has come to be known on social media as both #shirtgate and #shirtstorm (inspired by the utterly hateful and powerfully oppressive garment pictured directly above) and the uproar resulting from TIME magazine’s bold inclusion of the word “feminist” in this year’s poll of terms that should potentially be banned. In both conflicts, feminists were able to efficiently badger those parties who dared to wear or write something offensive to their sensibilities into admitting having made grave errors which doubtlessly caused irreparable harm to innocents far and wide. On the surface, it would seem feminists have much to congratulate themselves for. They may not comprise anything near a majority anywhere in the West, but they’re apparently able to get in your ear enough to make it sound like they do if you’re a scientist or a magazine editor.

   In the long run, however, the events of the past week do not bode well for this “equality movement” in the slightest, partly because of the outsized influence the public is witnessing feminists exert over the rest of us. The more commonplace it becomes for anyone who sins against feminist dogma to have to immediately fall on their swords, the harder it gets to buy the theory that America is a patriarchy. Simply put, a patriarchy would ignore feminist demands, not cave to them practically every single time out. Feminism’s dependancy on an idea which grows more noticeably inaccurate by the moment is just one of many dark clouds on the movement’s horizon. The way feminists conducted themselves in their handling of both #shirtgate and the campaign against TIME magazine could come back to bite them in a number of specific ways which I intend to elaborate on here.

                                                        In-this-image-issued-from-ESA-showing-B     Let’s deal with the silliest stuff first, and talk about that shirt. Dr. Matt Taylor, known by those he works with for wearing bright, unconventional attire, decided to wear a shirt made for him by his friend Elly Prizeman the day he successfully landed a probe on a comet. The shirt was a birthday present, and features comic book-esque renderings of women who feminists are referring to as “scantily clad”, though that term applies more to some of the figures depicted than others. Dr. Taylor manuevered the Philae into the correct position despite the probe having sustained damage to a thruster, but that was basically just an afterthought, as the media disregarded his accomplishment and focused almost entirely on how he was dressed. As Glenn Harland Reynolds noted in a recent column for USA Today, it’s a smidge hypocritical for feminists to be mentioning Dr. Taylor’s clothes at all.

     “feminists have been telling us for years that women can wear whatever they want, and for men to comment in any way is sexism. But that’s obviously a double standard, since they evidently feel no compunction whatsoever in criticizing what men wear. News flash: Geeks don’t dress like Don Draper.”

  But, hey, when have minor details like hypocrisy or fairness ever stood between feminists and their sense of outrage, right? If not acting exactly like the sexists they’re perpetually condemning means missing a chance to demonize a cis man for enjoying somewhat risque drawings of women, well…compromises must be made. Who cares if some of the women on Dr. Taylor’s shirt are dressed more conservatively than how many feminists dress when embarking on their ever-so-effective and consciousness-raising “slutwalks?” We’re dealing with the objectification of cartoon women who are clearly intended to be analogues for every female colleague Dr. Taylor crosses paths with! What reasonable human being could help identifying and empathizing with figures on a shirt so completely that whatever happens to the drawings might as well be happening to them? What difference does it make if the shirt was made by a woman? She should have forwarded her shirt design to the Royal Feminist High Council for approval before going through with it. Surely, they would have gently informed her that her shirt is just crackling with misogyny. At least, that’s how Alice Bell makes it sound in her #shirtgate response piece for The Guardian, which features the sub-headline:

“ESA can land their robot on a comet. But they still can’t see misogyny under their noses.”

  For the record, while the definition of “misogyny” is simply “a hatred of women” on Merriam-Webster.com, the Wikipedia page for the word does state that it can be expressed through the objectification of women. However, if “objectification of women” in this case merely means “indicating via clothing choice a likely enjoyment of looking at women’s bodies,” it’s a pretty big leap of logic to assume the reason this man likes looking at women’s bodies is because he despises them. Objectification of women minus any hate isn’t “misogyny”, it’s just sexualization, and in this case, it wasn’t even the man wearing the shirt who determined how sexualized the images should be. Is it Alice Bell’s contention that merely putting the shirt on transformed Dr. Taylor into a woman-hater? Is she suggesting that people typically hate whatever gender they sexualize? Either one would be an interesting theory to hear her expound on, but it seems to me that maybe she doesn’t understand something really basic about human nature: people often sexualize someone cos they kinda like them. Unless we’re just talking about drawings on a shirt, of course. Drawings either come pre-sexualized by the artist, or else most people don’t necessarily find them all that sexy. That feminists all over the internet and on television this past week have demonstrated an inability to understand such no-brainer concepts is another sign of a rough future ahead for feminism. The movement seems to be doing some real damage to many within its ranks by so often treating “sex” and “assault” as though they’re the exact same thing.

   There was a regular shirtstorm of other complaints leveled against Dr. Taylor’s attire, containing varying degrees of absurdity. The most common allegations were that Taylor’s shirt was inappropriate for the venue and that any women who saw it would be so offended or traumatized by it that they’d flee their current careers in scientific fields or decide never to enter those fields in the first place.  The now infamous shirt is certainly not what most people would wear to a scientific endeavor sure to receive a lot of press, and perhaps it wasn’t in the best taste, but so what? Dr. Taylor doesn’t seem to like dressing the way most people do. Should he be guilted for that? Does it make him a bigot? Besides, maybe he just wore that shirt to thank his friend for her gift and advertise her work to the public.

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    The women on the shirt may be dressed “unscientifically”, but nothing misogynistic is happening to them. They aren’t being beaten, raped, harassed or made subordinate to men. In fact, they seem to all be shown in positions of arguable strength or power. One is aiming a gun confidently and looks a little bit like Black Widow from the Avengers. For that matter, all of the women on the shirt look like they could be superheroine-inspired. While some feminists may not appreciate how superheroines often dress, superhero comics have still produced many of the strongest, most powerful, most self-assured female characters ever created.  More women are reading comic books and watching superhero movies than ever before, and nerdy, sci-fi pop culture is something enjoyed by many people of both genders who enter the sciences. We can’t assume that every woman will be familiar enough with comic book art to be reminded of superheroines by Dr. Taylor’s shirt, but we can’t assume most women see weakness or oppression in the garment, either. Even many women who don’t read comic books can probably tell that the style of the shirt’s artwork is somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Still, it clearly bothers a certain segment of very vocal women (or, in some cases, feminists have convinced them they should be bothered) so I’ll admit the shirt has potential to offend. Almost everything has the potential to offend someone, though, and we all generally still have the right to dress however we want. The pertinent question here is how many women is this shirt likely to offend enough that they’re chased away from the sciences completely? I can’t prove it, but I have a feeling the answer is “not even one.” Most adults don’t hinge their plans for their futures on the idea that no one in their chosen field will ever dress in a way they disapprove of.

    Feminism is often seen as a wing of liberalism. If feminists continue to police things as petty as shirts with comic booky depictions of women on them, they’ll be handing conservatives ammunition to use against liberalism as a whole, and the broader liberal movement will grow impatient with feminism. We’re already seeing the beginnings of this. Shirtgate inspired Jon Gabriel to write an op-ed for the conservative Ricochet.com entitled When Did the Left Turn into Rick Santorum?

    Meet the Press - Season 67

       As a liberal myself, I hate admitting even a sliver of a possibility that the left could have anything in common with Mr. Santorum. To my regret, I can’t deny that the comparison is becoming apt (largely due to the efforts of feminists.) There are obvious similarities between Mr. Santorum constantly fighting to ensure that people only have certain kinds of sex, certain kinds of marriages and certain kinds of families and feminists fighting to ensure that people only wear certain kinds of clothes, only have access to certain sources of information and only develop or play certain kinds of video games.

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     The main reason I’ve considered myself a liberal for as long as I can remember is because I loathe bigotry and rigidly enforced, arbitrary “moral standards” which oppress freedom of choice.  I’m well aware that not all conservatives hold bigoted views, but I’ve always believed that oppression is the ultimate result of social conservatism.  Apologies to any of my conservative friends who read this, but I still believe that, which is why I’ve grown to consider it a widespread misconception that feminism has been lumped together with liberalism.

   Like most liberals are conditioned to do, I used to take it as a given that “feminism” was just a synonym for “women’s rights” and should therefore be supported. After all, I want women to be able to vote, pursue any careers they choose and have equal access to everything society has to offer. I also see a clear need for abortion to remain a civil right. Feminists kept insisting those things were the meat and potatoes of what their movement stood for, and I supposed I must be a feminist, cos I stand for those things, too. Then I watched with gobsmacked amazement and increasing disillusionment as feminists used the same kind of fear-mongering tactics against men that conservatives have often employed in their efforts to oppress minorities. I listened to feminists complain about how American women can’t do anything, then fumble their answer everytime someone asked them to name even one thing modern women are barred from doing in America, and I realized feminism is as stuck in the past as conservatism has ever been. Upon doing some research, I discovered that feminism and conservatism even have a history of homophobia in common (which I’ve written about in other posts.)

  I rejected feminism as the anti-thesis of true liberalism quite a while ago and have been speaking out about its backwards thinking and bigoted tendencies ever since. Stories like mine are increasingly common among liberals. Most of us are not Rick Santorum, Anita Sarkeesian, Alice Bell or any of their spiritual cousins. Most of us truly are trying to expand equality and make people more free, no matter how much some may disagree with us. Which means that most people on the left are going to end up every bit as fed up with the bigotry of the feminist “moral majority” as I am in fairly short order. Especially because feminism is only becoming more unhinged as time goes on. Feminists have spent so much time hypocritically bashing the conservatives whom they have most in common with that when liberals disavow feminism, it will find no safe harbor in the conservative camp, either.

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 Let’s move on to TIME’s poll, which I’m not going to give feminists quite as much grief about. I completely understand exactly why it’s freaking  them out so badly that such a prominent magazine suggested banning the word “feminist.” When Beyonce recently writhed around at the VMAs with that word in giant letters as a backdrop, ridiculous human being Jessica Valenti wrote that “the zeitgeist is indisputably feminist.” Many of her fellow feminists who also see pop singers and other celebrities as the guiding stars of their movement eagerly believed Valenti’s sage wisdom. A respected and relatively evenhanded news source like TIME including “feminist” in a list of annoying words that have lost all meaning or relevance to most people, and so soon after Beyonce’s ascendence to feminist spokeswoman, must sting like a slap in the face. Especially because part of TIME’s reasoning for including the word was “when did it (feminism) become a thing every celebrity has to state their position on…?”, which could be seen as a strong rebuke of 3rd wave feminism’s creepy monitoring of and obsession with Beyonce, Taylor Swift, and almost every other breakthrough or up-and-coming female entertainer. TIME’s poll made it abruptly more difficult for feminists to deny that their movement has alienated at least as many people as it’s attracted. Then “feminist” pulled into a clear lead over every other term in the poll (which included things like “bae”, “bossy”, “turnt” and “I can’t even…”) and it seemed  probable that feminism had ticked off way more people than it had drawn support from. Suddenly, the zeitgeist was looking indisputably anti-feminist.

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   The poll afforded feminists a golden opportunity to heed a clear wake up call and engage in real soul searching about feminism’s numerous missteps, both recently and throughout its past. So how did feminists react? By claiming “feminist” was beating out the rest of the words in the poll entirely due to the efforts of “4chan trolls” and launching petitions aimed at forcing an apology from TIME magazine. They got their apology, in the form of a note from editor Nancy Gibbs which now graces the top of the poll on TIME’s website, and an apparent disabling of user ability to vote for the term “feminist.” When I tried to vote for the word, I found you could no longer do that. By the way, I’ve never had any involvement with 4chan and am not even entirely sure what it is. I am, however, reasonably sure that even people who do know what 4chan is are still permitted to vote in magazine polls.

    Regardless of my personal feelings about their movement, feminists have every right to criticize whoever and whatever they want. I wouldn’t have thought too much about it if they had stuck to writing sternly worded letters to the editor in response to TIME’s poll, which i’m sure the magazine will be publishing many of. Starting petitions to coerce someone into apologizing anytime a publication takes a stance feminists don’t like is an overreach, though, and forcing TIME to block people from being able to vote for “feminist” once the poll had already been released is a real dick move that absolutely reeks of desperation. Feminists had the exact same ability to vote in the poll as everyone else did. If their movement was really the wave of the future they act like it is, why couldn’t they just turn out in large enough numbers to ensure “feminist” didn’t win the vote?  Instead of encouraging their own supporters to vote en masse for one or any of the other terms, feminists did everything in their power to keep other people from indicating their agreement that the word is useless, counterproductive, and/or supremacist. If feminists are aware that TIME magazine is not a branch of the US government with legal authority to ban words, and that this was all just a non-binding attempt to measure public opinion, you wouldn’t know it by their hysterical overreactions. Or perhaps public opinion is what they’re so scared of.

  They were able to generate a lot of backlash against TIME magazine, but feminists also generated a tidal wave of backlash against themselves in the process. The American public can seem pretty thick headed at times, but feminism’s continual efforts to assume control of or shut down any national conversation that contradicts their dogma are now impossible not to notice.  Feminism isn’t interested in engaging in any kind of “marketplace of ideas”, because the movement has no confidence in its own positions or ability to win a majority of decent, sane people over. If they were truly fighting for equality, feminists would enjoy majority support all over the West, instead of comprising less than a quarter of the population. But feminism is a supremacist movement whose core tenets are closer to fundamentalism than to logic. This movement is grabbing for absolute power and control, and any feminist who claims not to be aware of that at this point is someone I would suspect of being willfully oblivious. Now that they’ve gotten a taste of the power they desire so deeply, feminists have grown impatient with anyone who refuses to hand them more of it, and overtly hostile towards any person or entity that challenges the power they’ve already acquired. They’re getting meaner. More aggressive. More willing to publicly stifle the rights of others in their attempts to intimidate them into falling in line. In essence, they’re inadvertently sacrificing the war to win a few battles, and leaving precious little doubt in the minds of the general public that feminists do consider this a war, and that most of us are not nearly extreme or bigoted enough to avoid being counted among their enemies.

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   Look out, everybody. The feminists are coming to force you to apologize for thinking you were free. Let’s see how that works out for feminism over the long term.

Why white men understand bigotry as well as anyone

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To hear feminists and other SJWs tell it, white men are universally ignorant knuckle-draggers who just can’t help internalizing and adopting any bigoted idea we encounter over the course of our lives. Our brains are so eaten up by our whiteness that we are utterly incapable of discernment. None of us have ever found ourselves in any situations that led us to contemplate bigotry, discrimination or oppression of our own accord. Every story of oppression told by any minority is news to us; full of alien concepts that blow our sheltered little minds. Before we can speak on most social issues, we need to run our views by a woman or person of color, and let them edit out any of our opinions which they find inappropriate. To do any less is a failure to “check our privilege”, and we’re not supposed to notice that the women and people of other ethnicities who bark orders at us to do just that as if they have some kind of authority over us are acting pretty damn privileged themselves.

Here’s the thing, though: white men understand bigotry just as well as anyone else does. I’m not saying we understand it perfectly. There are gaps in our understanding and we can find ourselves laboring under misconceptions at times. We still have much to learn. You know what, though? Everyone else has similar gaps in their understanding of bigotry, too. Everyone has misconceptions at times – including women and people of color who think white men are just bubbling cauldrons of ignorance. White men are not the only ones with a lot to learn, we’re just the only ones routinely pressured to flagellate ourselves for what others assume we don’t know.

Contrary to popular belief, a lot of white boys first encounter bigotry in elementary school at the latest. For many of us, this is when we start making friends of our own choosing. Sadly, for some of us, this is also when we get our first inkling that there are certain types of people our parents or someone in our extended family would rather us keep our distance from. While many children internalize and emulate bigoted views from their families, kids aren’t all the same (not even the white ones) and that is by no means the only possible reaction. Many children instinctively realize, even at very young ages, that something is off with anyone who judges entire groups based on things like skin color, and any illusions they held about the infallibility of the adults in their families are abruptly shattered. White children dealing with such sudden disillusionment may not have ever heard of terms like “racism” or “bigotry”, but they can still sense these forces at work, infecting even some of the people they love the most. These kids often decide inwardly that they will spend their lives forming bonds with whomever they please, both because it seems only right and because not allowing their own psyches to be corrupted by bigotry has become important to them. Long before SJWs ever get ahold of them with their preaching and self-righteousness, many young white males have already spent considerable time wrestling with discrimination and its implications.

As we grow up, white males learn that everyday bigotry is not limited to white families. When we stay over at the homes of certain black friends, or when we’re sitting behind a black family in the theater, we sometimes overhear snippets of conversations we  weren’t meant to.  We meet some people of color who feel perfectly entitled to make quips about “why white people suck” that no non-racist person would ever find acceptable about any other race.  Friends of other ethnicities sometimes reluctantly confess to us that they’ve been raised not to trust that white people (especially white men) will ever accept them as equals. We learn that many of our non-white peers frequently receive warnings about “how white people are” from members of their families which are strikingly similar to what we’ve heard from certain individuals in our own families about them.

We find out that white males are often considered incapable of recognizing discrimination in any form, no matter how obvious it may be. Even worse, we discover that people of color sometimes assume that discrimination against them is something we’re all in favor of, or at the very least, give tacit approval to. On top of all that, we’re often confronted by the insulting realization that certain people assume our lives have been a cakewalk merely because we’re white. That even those of us who are dirt poor have never had to work for anything, because everything we need is just issued to us for being caucasian and male. That even those of us who are gay or bisexual have never been treated unfairly or oppressed. That there is no need for any kind of societal outreach to assist white men, even at a time when fewer and fewer of us are attending or graduating from college and more and more of us are committing suicide. In addition to facing constant stereotyping because of our whiteness, we’re  often treated as if we owe constant apologies for our whiteness (presumably because we’ve failed to go back in time and prevent other white people we never met from thinking they could own their fellow human beings as property.)

The inescapable conclusion I personally draw from all this is that bigotry is so deeply rooted and complex that no one of any gender or ethnic background can possibly wrap their minds around the full scope of it. It isn’t that most people are too thickheaded or unwilling to understand. It’s simply that too many different forms of bigotry are constantly co-existing in too many different places, on too many secretive levels,  for any one person or group to have all the information (although anyone who’s been in a long term interracial relationship does have a lot of the information, and these couples typically face enough ignorance from all sides to know that bigotry is categorically not just a “white people problem”.) The more we allow people of any and every race or gender to speak about these issues without shaming or silencing them, the better we’ll all understand them.

A black person who doesn’t get called for a job interview despite being a well-qualified individual who correctly filled out numerous applications may start to wonder if it’s because their name sounds “too black.” Meanwhile, a similarly well-qualified white person who lives in a predominantly black area and is dealing with the same situation may start to wonder if their name sounds “too white.” A black person who does get hired for a job may be accused of only getting the position because of Affirmative Action. A white person who doesn’t get hired for a new job may wonder if Affirmative Action is the reason they didn’t get the position. For both the black and the white individual, they may feel oppressed, but the only people who actually know whether discrimination has taken place are the strangers in charge of hiring at the various places applications were turned in, along with anyone those strangers might choose to take into their confidence. Allegations can be brought, investigations conducted, but unless and until that happens (and sometimes even after), there are too many unknown variables. Both the hypothetical black and white people in our illustration could be absolutely correct that they were discriminated against, but there are other possibilities, too. Other applicants may have wowed the hiring managers or seemed more suited for the position. Some companies may have forgotten to take down notices about positions that had, in fact, long since been filled (this happens quite frequently.) However, even if such innocuous explanations were known for a fact to be the case, that wouldn’t be incontrovertible proof that the companies in question weren’t rife with bigotry, it would just make it less likely that black or white people were the targets of the dominant strain of bigotry in those particular working environments. Any or all of them could still be stubbornly opposed to hiring Arab Americans, or Mexican Americans, or homosexuals, or little people, or some other group entirely.

Ascertaining the full extent of bigotry in spheres of public life that both citizens and government have some degree of oversight on is complicated, but getting a sense of how pervasive or influential it may be in people’s private lives is next to impossible. A lot of the awful things some folks say about other ethnicities or genders are said in private, to their families or friends – and the people they say them to often have no interest in repeating such obviously offensive nonsense, because they feel that to do so would only give it power. Unless it somehow comes up organically in the process of conversation, I’m not going to burden or further traumatize any of my black friends who have had to deal with enough discrimination already by relaying to them any of the racist things my grandmother said when I was growing up. Nor am I typically going to brag about how I frequently responded with a ten-minute monologue outlining all the ways I could think of that she was being racist and narrow minded. I assume that many of my friends of other ethnicities have heard some of their family members and friends say similarly indefensible things about white people which they’d rather not share with me, and which they hopefully didn’t approve of. Most people don’t seek out special praise just for shouting down the bigoted views of people who they wish they weren’t related to (or otherwise stuck with.) It’s only SJWs who make a big deal about this kind of thing, because they’re typically the only people who think they deserve accolades simply for not being intractable bigots.

Ironically enough, SJWs often are some of the most intractable bigots you could ever be unfortunate enough to meet. These are the main people who insist that white males can’t possibly know anything about bigotry, absolutely oblivious to the fact that stereotyping white men in such a fashion is bigotry. These are the people who assume white men they just met are heterosexual unless we immediately state otherwise or are completely limp in the wrist. They assume we’re “Men’s Rights Activists” unless we’re completely besotten with feminism. They assume we’re trying to undermine all people of color unless we agree with everything they say, because of their assumption that all people of color automatically agree with them, and could never possibly take the side of a white man against an SJW deluded into thinking they always have the moral highground by default. They assume that, even in the year 2014, most white men go through our whole lives without having any meaningful interactions or forming any deep bonds with people different than ourselves. They assume not just that they need to explain to us what life is like for other ethnicities, but also that we need them to explain to us what being white is like, and that we should listen in rapt silence as they detail a host of overblown “white privileges” that many of us apparently never got the memo about. They complain endlessly about how tired they are of having to “teach” white men, yet they never let a white man walk by without trying to do exactly that. Nor do they consider for even a millisecond how sick white men are of people who know nothing about us assuming we need to be “taught.”  SJWs, generally speaking, are utterly incapable of self-reflection. They can’t admit any fault or misconceptions on their own part in their dealings with white men. As far as they’re concerned, to do so would be conceding defeat to the enemy (and no, they don’t think it’s even slightly bigoted to think of white men as “the enemy.”) If it wouldn’t have been too unwieldy of a headline, I would have called this article Why white men understand bigotry as well as anyone, and way better than social justice warriors do.

Case in point: When I was in college, we were given an assignment requiring us to write a paper detailing 3 stereotypes faced by different groups of people. The assignment was graded by a black teaching assistant who, when introducing herself to the class, had been very vocal about her work in the field of social justice . For my first stereotype, I wrote that black people often face the unfair and typically untrue assumption that they’re criminals, or somehow dangerous. I received high praise for making note of that. For my second stereotype, I wrote that women often face the unfair and usually  baseless assumption that they’re overly emotional creatures who can’t make sound decisions based on logic. Again, I received high marks. For my third and final stereotype, I wrote that white men often face the assumption that we are all bigots who don’t understand most social issues. I related my experiences as a white, gay man whose first serious boyfriend was a significantly older black man and how, despite constant assertions to the contrary from SJWs, there was absolutely no way I could come out of that relationship without having gained a deep understanding of racism, homophobia, ageism and intersectionality. I concluded by lamenting the fact that none of these SJWs ever bothered getting to know me or where I’d been for even five minutes before judging my capacity for understanding. The teaching assistant responded by scrawling on my paper in red ink:  “Incorrect. White men do not face stereotypes.” She completely invalidated my experience, even after I’d proven to her satisfaction with the other stereotypes I wrote about that I fully understood what constitutes stereotypical treatment.

When it comes to how SJWs conduct themselves in interactions with white men, stuff like this is the rule, and not the exception. For a group that kicks up such sound and fury about how important it is to actually listen to others when they’re relating their personal struggles, they’re remarkably unwilling to follow their own advice. They see absolutely no bigotry or hypocrisy in treating white men as if we are the only people who  -individually or as a group-  it’s not important to listen to. Scratch that. They don’t just act like it’s not important to listen to us, they act like it’s of vital importance that no one listens to us. That is a dangerous sentiment, and it’s why I felt this subject was important enough to write about. Anyone who seriously advocates that an entire group of people should go uniformly unheard based on characteristics beyond their control may very well be trying to put in place an infrastructure to disenfranchise that group down the road. I’m not saying white men are more oppressed as a whole than anyone else right now, but no group of people should be encouraged to sit back and wait until they are shut out of everything with any meaning or impact before they speak out about ongoing attempts to marginalize them. Feminists and assorted SJWs who mock white men because they don’t see us as disadvantaged “enough”  to fight for our rights are really mocking themselves. Is it our fault they haven’t gotten better at oppressing us yet?

Of course, any good SJW will tell you that white men can’t be oppressed, because white men are the literal embodiment of oppression. It’s certainly true that white people in America have some unspeakably oppressive stuff in our history. Things like enslaving other human beings understandably end up being held against people in the long run, and I absolutely agree that any 200 year old white person who owned slaves and has gone unpunished should receive their due societal condemnation now. Exile or death for them, I say. I will not, however, support punishing subsequent generations for the sins of their forebears. Segregation ended far more recently, and the fact that so many white people could support (sometimes even revel in) that kind of blatant racism almost into the 1960s has left scars that are still fresh to many. It was white people who owned slaves and supported segregation, by the way. Many feminists try to obfuscate this truth, but white women committed these atrocities right alongside white men. Despite the shameful crimes white people have committed against other races in America (including not just slavery and segregation, but also Japanese internment camps during World War II) oppression has never been limited to places where caucasians comprise the majority. Slavery and violence motivated by religion, gender, race or social status has marred the history of regions all over the world for as long as humankind has existed, and white people have been victimized by these toxic facets of human nature just like everyone else.  Attempting to lay blame for every trace of bigotry on the doorsteps of white people and acting as though it’s something only white people are even capable of is the height of inanity, and anyone who does so is demonstrating a jawdropping lack of knowledge about human history.

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Someone’s race or gender doesn’t make them any more or less likely to understand bigotry or oppression, though different types of people are more likely to face oppression or bigotry in different regions. Understanding that they’ve been discriminated against doesn’t necessarily mean a person understands why the discrimination happened, or why any discrimination happens, at least not for a while after it occurs. As someone who has been discriminated against repeatedly in my life, I can attest that people often just feel bewildered, sad and angry in the immediate aftermath of being subjected to bigotry, and do not feel overwhelmed with enlightened understanding, for the simple fact that bigotry ultimately does not make sense. Reaching an understanding of that is a big part of the battle for anyone looking to wrap their heads around issues related to discrimination and oppression. Beyond that, factors that SJWs don’t seem to be aware even exist play into  how successfully a person can conceptualize bigotry; little things like personality, experience and IQ,  none of which are primarily determined by race or gender.

With possible exceptions made for  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and a scant few others, I doubt any mere mortal’s take on race, gender, bigotry and oppression has ever been perfect, and I’m sure my own understanding isn’t perfect, either. However, neither is my understanding of these things automatically less extensive than every woman and/or person of color on the planet. No one has ever been required to be all-knowing about a subject just to relate the things they do know about it, and holding white men to a higher standard of understanding than everyone else is overtly racist and sexist. Learning more about complex, important issues is and should be a lifelong process for anyone who gives a damn about creating a better world, and I’m more than willing to give a fair, open-minded hearing to anything any man or woman of any race has to say that they feel would improve my understanding, as long as they don’t open with “you can’t speak or comprehend, cos you’re a white man.”

It’s never made sense to me that the people who most stridently insist that my whiteness means I can’t possibly ever understand these things no matter what anyone does are the same people who keep trying to explain them to me over and over, ad infinitum. Furthermore, anyone who contends that white men are naturally incapable of reaching an understanding of what bigotry even means is basically arguing that those white men who are ignorant racists or misogynists aren’t responsible for their own oppressive views and behaviors. If they can’t help it, society doesn’t get to blame them for it. SJWs are inadvertently using their own bigoted misconceptions of the average white man to entirely excuse the discriminatory views and actions of the minority of white men who truly are bigots. Let’s all just pause for a moment and appreciate the cognitive dissonance it must take for them to not even notice that’s what they’re doing.

Most people probably already understand the majority of the points I’m making here. Regardless of skintone or gender, normal, well-adjusted people don’t tend to spend  much time getting hung up on the race or gender of every single person they interact with as they go about their days. The majority of us don’t have time for that and it simply doesn’t make much difference to us. We judge people based on their characters, their ideas and how they treat their fellow human beings, which is why so many interactions between people of differing ethnicities and/or genders are perfectly respectful, often amiable, and unfold without anyone condescending to anyone else. These interactions don’t always result in diverse people making powerful, lifelong connections, but most people have no objections when that does happen, either.  It’s really only SJWs and bigots of other stripes who are likely to find my views controversial, because it truly does take a bigot to insist that ultimately superficial qualities like someone’s skincolor and what genitals they have are the all-important determiners of their capacity, or lack thereof.

I’ll give SJWs one thing: they’ve been smashing successes at teaching white men (and everyone else) about bigotry, just not in the ways they think. They’ve never been the beacons of enlightenment they arrogantly credit themselves with being, but they do a great job of demonstrating exactly what bigotry and oppression look like every time they tell a white man his only function is to sit down, shut up and be taught. 

 

Why Rose McGowan is wrong for telling gay men to be feminists

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Rose McGowan is facing criticism over comments she made on a recent podcast with Bret Easton Ellis, which she herself admits is warranted. She’s owned up to making overgeneralizations and apologized, including in this recent op-ed for Advocate.com.

I believe that all human beings make mistakes, and for most of us, that includes saying something stupid every now and then. There’s not really much point in continuing to harp on unfortunate comments that have already been apologized for by the source, especially when there’s no reason to think the apology is insincere. Ms. McGowan has strived to be an ally and activist for the LGBT community, so I believe her offensive stereotyping of gay men truly was unintentional and something that she regrets. I can’t speak for gay men at large, but for my part, I accept her apology completely and without reservation. Water under the bridge.

As such, I will not be addressing or even mentioning her most offensive statements, which are the ones she apologized for. She’s taken her lumps and we can move on. I will instead be addressing new and troubling remarks made by McGowan in the op-ed linked to above, in which she stands by some of the same misconceptions she already revealed. My intent is not to further vilify a celebrity already under fire. Although Rose McGowan still doesn’t seem to realize exactly how offbase her views are in regards to gay men and why many of us aren’t more invested in feminism, those views are common among feminists, and that’s a problem that doesn’t begin or end with her.

Frankly, there are too many inaccuracies in McGowan’s short op to address all of them in depth without typing up one epic, unwieldy monster of a blog post. No one has time for all that, so let’s just skim over the fact that she indicates feeling like she’s not allowed to criticize the gay community now that she’s taken flak for overgeneralizing us (she is, it’s just that we’re allowed to criticize her right back.) Let’s also give short thrift to her obvious belief that the smaller-than-feminists-will-admit pay gap between men and women has been proven to be symptomatic of anti-woman discrimination, since that has been debunked repeatedly and hasn’t much to do with the matter at hand.

We’ll start here instead, with her third paragraph:  “Misogyny infuriates me and it endangers me as a human. It also endangers the LGBT community. Empathy for the plight of women isn’t making it better. Your voice will.”

There’s nothing wrong with those remarks in and of themselves, though we could nitpick that empathy alone can often make a difference to someone experiencing a plight. Sometimes it comes at just the right time to help a person locked in struggle hold on for another day. That is huge and those moments of human connection can often be more beneficial, in immediate and non-abstract ways, even than committed activism. They help us sustain one another long enough to become activists.

What’s problematic about McGowan making this remark in the context of how she perceives gay men is that she’s obviously making a lot of uncharitable, unsupported assumptions about us.  1) Misogyny doesn’t infuriate gay men unless we proclaim ourselves feminists and channel any activism we do through feminism-approved channels. 2) Gay men need Rose McGowan to remind us that bigotry is dangerous. 3) Gay men universally agree that feminism is a benevolent movement which helps women and/or anyone else. There’s no valid reasons for gay men to oppose feminism.

These views are incredibly simplistic and McGowan doesn’t seem to realize what she’s asking of gay men. The feminist movement has hurt our community repeatedly in the past. This is something that remains largely unexplored by the media and is swept under the rug when feminists deal with the general public or newbies to their movement. McGowan may not have ever heard of the redstockings, a feminist group which was founded in 1969 and advanced the view that gay men are misogynists who only form relationships with other men as a means of rejecting women.

She may also be ignorant of the fact that, at least as far back as the 1970’s, many gay men have felt that feminists have worked to the detriment of pro-homosexual advocacy (and harmed women in the process, to boot.) John Lauritsen‘s Dangerous Trends in Feminism couches that criticism of feminism in terms consistent with how many other gay men, including myself, feel about it: “Self-proclaimed feminists have acted in ways that were harmful to both gay liberation and women’s liberation, and reactionary ideas have been advanced under the banner of feminism.”  

Lauritsen goes on to note that:  “Although criticism of male homosexuality and gay liberation has issued freely from the feminist camp, there has been almost no reciprocal criticism from gay men, not even in self defence.” 

Even if McGowan is unaware of this sentiment among gay men, it’s hard to believe she’s never encountered the awful ways in which feminists still often speak to and about us (especially now that she’s said similar things herself.) Either way, there’s no excuse for McGowan to be ridiculing gay men for not doing more to support a movement that continues to belittle us after a history of anti-gay discrimination and hostility. She should just count herself lucky that more gay men aren’t aware of this history, and that more of us aren’t out there every day taking feminists to task for daring to paint their movement as a stalwart ally of gay rights this late in the game.

A typical feminist reaction to all this might be: “But wait, feminists often advocate for the rights of gay men now, so why make a big deal about stuff that happened in the 70’s?” I’ll tell you why. For one thing, the 70’s is when manifestations of feminist homophobia first became undeniable, but the sentiments themselves likely go back even further and persist to this day. For another, feminists still pat themselves on the back for women getting the right to vote, which has been a reality since 1920. If they can still constantly bring up something awesome from the 20’s, terrible stuff the movement did in the 70’s is fair game for gay men, especially since it did lasting damage to how we’re perceived and slowed down progress for our entire community. Perhaps gay men should be scolding McGowan because she does support feminism, instead of her accusing us of not caring about women simply for not using a homophobic movement to advocate for them.

A number of feminists advocate for gay rights, including those who are homosexual themselves, but mainstream feminism all too often persists in talking about “men” in ways which make gay men wonder if they even remember we exist. Being forgotten is often the best we can hope for from feminists, who often see everything with a kind of tunnel vision that can only see how any particular bit of information affects women.

Later in the op, McGowan says: “What I want is for gay rights activists to help other disenfranchised groups.These activists are experts while so many other groups flounder. It’s time to share the wealth and knowledge…..gay men certainly aren’t more misogynistic than heteros, but I’ve met some who have come damn close.”

  It’s unclear whether the bulk of McGowan’s op is targeted at gay male activists, or gay men in general. Whether or not each member of any minority group has an obligation to spend X amount of time as an activist for that group – or indeed, whether they can help acting as an activist just to get through their day even if they care nothing for political action of any kind – is something McGowan might have bothered to address. That way, gay men would know exactly how many of us she’s holding to a higher standard than straight people.

As for gay men and misogyny, of course some gay men act in misogynistic ways sometimes. Just like some straight men do. Just like some women do – many of them feminists, who often conduct themselves with ghastly disrespect in interactions with any other woman who has freely chosen not to sign on feminism’s dotted line. The vast majority of gay men are not misogynistic in the least, though the small minority of gay men who feel perfectly entitled to bat women’s breasts to-and-fro without asking permission, or touch women they just met in strangely intimate ways are obnoxious enough to draw quite a lot of attention. If McGowan thinks most other gay men approve of this behavior, or that most of us don’t intervene when we see it happening to someone of any gender, she’s mistaken on both counts. For the record, straight women do often act in much the same, unacceptable ways towards gay men. Who hasn’t encountered the type of heterosexual woman who goes hysterical every time she meets a gay man, proclaiming him her new-BFF, whether he likes it or not, hugging him tightly, feeling his butt and his muscles without invitation, commenting on how the “hot ones are always gay” as he wriggles to escape her and looks around for help? No one typically provides any help to these men, both because men of every sexual orientation are stereotyped as loving any attention we get and because it’s pretty much culturally acceptable for women to act that way. Maybe Rose McGowan could encourage feminists to make addressing that a priority, since men already step up when a woman is in distress more often than women do for men.

McGowan’s disdainful assumptions about gay men don’t end there, sadly: “Do I think the LGBT community needs to address and combat the misogyny in its midst? Absolutely. I’ve lived and breathed gay rights for as long as I can remember. I’ve seen so much change, and now I want more. Women, myself included, have given blood, sweat, and tears to the gay rights movement. I’m asking for help in return. Casual and accepted misogyny no longer works for me, and it shouldn’t work for you.”

Misogyny should be addressed and combatted anywhere it exists. Gay people don’t need Rose McGowan to tell us this. Again, most gay men hate it when we see another gay man taking liberties with women’s bodies or disrespecting them with either language or action, but we’re not always going to be able to stop that kind of thing before it happens. Our gay superpowers of precognition are notoriously unreliable. Sometimes if we’re tired or distracted by a cute guy, we can barely peer into the future at all. We can’t intervene in anything before we know it’s happening. This doesn’t mean we’ve ever supported casual misogyny. As for the broader matter of activism, which is randomly injected again, asking for help in supporting women is one thing. I don’t think there’s any lack of support among gay men for women’s rights, though. In fact, I’d be surprised if we don’t support them in much stronger numbers than most men. Beyond that, McGowan comes across here a little more like she’s arguing that gay men owe her for previous activism in our name. Kind of a low blow. I appreciate anything McGowan has done on behalf of the gay community, but does she not realize how unseemly it is to lord your activism over the people you engaged in it for and use it to guilt them into supporting a movement many of them feel harbors animus towards them? I’m calling it unseemly, anyway. Someone less willing to give the benefit of the doubt might use the word “immoral.”

Ask yourself: is McGowan agitating for even more support from gay men for women, or is she demanding even more support from gay men for feminism? I think it’s the latter, and she’s doing this just as many of us are coming to grips with the sordid truth about feminism and the dismissive, insulting and oppressive ways it has treated us, both recently and throughout its history. I doubt she means to do so, but it’s not inaccurate to say that McGowan is using guilt and illogical appeals to our emotions in an attempt to chain gay men directly to our oppressors.

Was that hyperbolic? Not in any way that even compares to what McGowan has said. Feminists are big on a story of oppression always being valid if someone feels oppressed, right? Well, I feel strongly that feminism has been oppressive to gay men, to all other men, to anyone with any masculine traits, and, in many ways, even to women (sometimes especially to women.) Casual and accepted deference to feminism no longer works for me, and it shouldn’t work for McGowan.

In the remainder of her op, she details a productive conversation she had with a gay man who used the word “slut” in reference to women and says she was able to open his eyes to how offensive that is. She then reiterates her strong support for the gay community, compares the entire squabble to a family fight, and expresses a desire for all of us to do better in the future, including her. So at least she ended strong, expressing sentiments you’d have to be an a-hole to disagree with. She’s correct about this much: families fight, no matter how much people in them care about each other. However, the angriest and most outraged member of the family isn’t always the one who’s seeing things the clearest. If Rose McGowan truly considers gay men to be family, and wants us to think the same of her, she needs to get as good at learning things from us as she claims to be at teaching us things.

I don’t say it to be mean, Rose, I really don’t. I loved you in Scream.

Why feminists make up words like “mansplaining” and why I’m co-opting the term

heshould

For my first post, I thought it best to detail the manipulative reasons feminists love creating phrases like “mansplaining” and why I refuse to let accusations of being a mansplainer deter me from joining in on discussions about cultural and social issues. In fact, when a feminist shrieks “mansplaining!” at me, I take it as confirmation that I’ve put them on the defensive; they can’t refute any of the points I’ve made or tough questions I’ve asked. Acting like they’re “above” talking to any man who remains uncowed by feminist nonsense is a handy way for these SJWs to distract from their inability to provide sufficient responses to any arguments that run counter to their own views. Suddenly, the conversation isn’t about what’s being said, it’s about who is saying it. Ideas put forth by women are treated as if they automatically contain more veracity than anything said by a man. Ideas put forth by women of color naturally boast even more veracity than ideas held by white women. If you happen to be a lesbian woman of color, you can basically tell everyone else on the planet they’re not allowed to talk about anything. And so it goes, deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole of identity politics that feminism would be absolutely lost without.

Men of every color, sexual orientation and background are getting fed up with being treated as if our only choices are to either agree with women or be cut out of every conversation. Many women who care about real social justice and aren’t willing to let feminism indoctrinate them are right there with us. When a woman says anything in defense of the basic rights of men, feminists show up so quickly to call her a fat, ugly, gender traitor that I’ve sometimes wondered if they teleported in from a spaceship hovering above the earth, scanning the planet for any sign that women might be thinking of men as human beings. But what happens to men who dare to speak up in defense of our own rights and relate our own experiences with feminist oppression is even more absurd: we get accused by feminists of mansplaining about what it’s like to be a man. Feminist women don’t simply tend to think they know more about oppression and sexism than men do, they think they know more about masculinity, manhood and what everyday situations men do or don’t face. Men are not welcome in discussions of our own behavior. Men are called misogynists for correcting women’s misconceptions about men. Any suggestion that women might not be the ultimate authorities on the male human experience is treated as oppression of women. All of which is, of course, one big reason terms like “mansplaining” catch on so quickly with feminists. Though some are doubtlessly ignorant or naive about what they’re doing, most feminists know full well that “mansplaining” is a bigoted word, misandrous to its very core. The word was created and continues to be popularized for the clear and certain purpose of suggesting that men should be ashamed merely for explaining our positions on the issues of the day. Our experiences as men are treated as invalid; something we shouldn’t allow to have any part in forming our beliefs or world view.

An inversion of identity politics comes into play here in which certain types of men are supposed to feel even more guilt than other types merely for elaborating on our views. No man should be correcting a woman under any circumstances, no matter how inaccurate she may be about something, but if you’re a white man, you deserve a double dose of ridicule and punishment. If you’re a heterosexual man, forming your own opinions is part of rape culture. However, even if you’re a gay man, you’re fully expected to sit there silently while predominantly heterosexual feminists tell you that you can’t possibly know a single thing about oppression or feeling unsafe on the street, despite the fact that gay men are far more oppressed than straight women are and face at least as much risk of being attacked when out in public, unless we can successfully do something we shouldn’t have to, and hide our true sexual identity. Furthermore, men in general are victimized by street violence more often than women.

Gay men such as myself pose a unique problem for feminism. Feminists try their damndest to proliferate the notion that women cannot be oppressors of men, yet that thoroughly silly argument falls apart when people consider the large numbers of women who have protested and voted against equal civil rights for homosexuals. Or the large number of mothers who have disowned their gay sons when they came out of the closet. Or the fact that feminism has a history of derailing events aimed at advocacy for gay men, and even putting forth the idea that gay male relationships aren’t actually about any real love between two men, but are in fact a “deeply misogynistic rejection of women.”

You read that correctly. Feminists are prone to thinking that even the dynamics of gay male relationships without any women in them aren’t really about men, but are instead all about women. Gay men are not really turned on by other men, they argue, we’re turned on by the thought that, in some nebulous way, we might be oppressing women. And while this view doesn’t seem to be as prevalent in feminism as it used to be (largely because feminists have realized that bashing gay men makes it harder to exploit us when they need our help in supporting their latest cause de jure) it does still exist. Encountering a feminist who expresses unwavering support for lesbians as well-adjusted human beings of sound mind before unironically mentioning that they suspect gay men just have “issues with women” is one of the most baffling and homophobic experiences a gay man can go through. It may be anecdotal, but the feminists I’ve met who hold such inane views have all been big fans of the term “mansplaining.”

Feminism’s history of homophobia makes it especially troubling when a heterosexual feminist makes reflexive charges of mansplaining against a homosexual man, which is why I feel like I have every right to take the term away from the feminist movement and advertise it freely as something I am not at all ashamed of doing. Congratulations, feminists, you took the words “man” and “explain” and smushed them together. Even though that’s the kind of game stoners play with their friends when they’re too blazed to move but not quite too blazed to talk, writers on the internet who had already proven they’d support anything you say lauded you for your linguistic brilliance. I honestly find the term spectacularly unclever, but it’s what you squawk at me everytime I open my mouth, even if it’s just to yawn because of how much your hypocrisy bores me, so I guess I’ll work with it.

Every man who wants to speak on any social issue must work with that word now, whether they like it or not. Because feminists will eventually proclaim every social issue exclusively as a “women’s issue” and bring accusations of mansplaining to bear on any man who speaks about it. They’ve already done it with reproductive rights, domestic violence, so-called “cat-calling”, and even, fairly recently, mass killings that claimed the lives of women and men alike. Despite the fake consternation and deflective catchprases feminists employ, there is absolutely nothing misogynistic about a man pointing out to a woman why he thinks she’s wrong about specific claims she has made. Peruse any site on the internet where “mansplaining” is bandied about; any comment section, pretty much any feminist or MRA blog, and it’s hard not to notice that in the vast majority of instances, men aren’t telling women they don’t understand something because they’re women. Nor are they usually saying that they’re not bothered by the same social problems that concern women, or that abuse or oppression of women is A-OK with them.They’re usually either saying that something the woman in question has said is demonstrably false or that the issue she’s speaking about affects men too and that we’d all be better able to solve any problems it presents if we’d acknowledge that. If all of that is far too complex for a movement like feminism, which is constantly on outrage-autopilot and leans heavily on jingoism, we can hardly be surprised. I guess feminists don’t check the likes and upvotes in comment sections, though, cos if the things that get men accused of mansplaining were really as gleefully misogynistic and condescending as they claim, they probably wouldn’t receive so much approval from women.

My advice to all men who contribute to conversations because they care about what’s happening in the world around them, or even just because some people enjoy a rousing debate, is to keep doing so without guilt or shame.You will not always be right about everything you say, but that doesn’t mean you can’t tell someone else you think they’re wrong, even if that person is a woman. As a culture, we celebrate how liberating it is for women to tell their stories and relate their experiences as women; to fight for respectful treatment and to not have their words discounted because of their gender. It’s good for all of society that we do so and anyone out there who actually does hold it against women simply that they dare to talk about whatever the hell they feel like should just go ahead and evolve already. However, there’s also something deeply wrong and harmful to society going on when that same culture tells men “Don’t celebrate the liberation of telling your stories or relate your experiences as men. Don’t fight for respectful treatment or to not have your words discounted because of your gender.”  That’s all that mansplaining really is, in the final analysis, which is why the next time a feminist replies to me with “thanks for the mansplain!” I will simply say “you’re welcome.”

(AFTERWORD: I hope you liked my first post. Either way, comments are enabled. Mansplaining, womansplaining and non-gender-binarysplaining are all perfectly welcome here, but femsplaining will not be greeted kindly.)