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Posted on Mar 29, 2013 in blogosphere, gender, responding to arguments | 40 comments

If I Admit That ‘Hating Women’ Is a Thing, Will You Stop Turning It Into a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

Jezebel writer Lindy West recently wrote a piece titled “If I Admit That ‘Hating Men’ Is a Thing, Will You Stop Turning It Into a Self-Fulfilling Propechy?” in which she argues against the existence of misandry — negative attitudes and/or hatred toward men as a group of people [she doesn’t define it, but I will]. She explains that men face “human problems,” not misandry, and that men’s “obsession” with misandry has turned it into a self-fulfilling prophecy; women are starting to hate men, West writes, and men are turning women against them. Additionally, West writes that men see misandry as a “seductive scapegoat,” but the most powerful proponents of misandry are actually those who claim it exists.

While I believe West has some good points within her article — that men face some problems not because of their gender, but because they are humans — I cannot help but see a huge blind spot she has. Rather than extending this attitude of ‘people face human problems’ to both men and women, she fails to do so while amounting problems women face to patriarchy.

Feminism, as I often see it in online circles today, is a victim narrative in which women are painted as people with no volition who are simply acted on by male aggressors which are to blame for so many of the problems women face. Rather than seeing problems women face as human problems, proponents of feminism cast concerns as problems of the patriarchy and ‘privileged white men.’ Following are some examples.

The ‘gender wage gap,’ some feminists argue, is a result of systemic discrimination against women by men. Organizations like the AAUW note that women can improve their pay in the workplace by being more assertive, negotiating for better jobs/pay, and choosing more competitive jobs — which can arguably explain the pay gap while also considering, as AAUW notes, the fact that men work more hours, are not typically burdened with childcare responsibilities, and select more high-paying fields involving substantial risk — but still consider the pay gap to be evidence of gender discrimination.

Some feminists consider all sex work, even by women who willingly engage in it, as “modern day slavery” while conflating actual instances of sex trafficking with sex work by choice. This attitude takes away the agency of women and inaccurately casts all sex workers in a light of victimhood when many engage in sex work willingly, happy with their choices.

Domestic violence and sexual assault is often inaccurately framed as a ‘gendered assault’ in which males are aggressors and women are victims even though all people, not just women, experience sexual assault and domestic violence. Bogus statistics are trumpeted and sex is portrayed as something which is “often” the result of coercion. The narrative of ‘rape culture’ ignores men who are victims of rape and sexual assault and often casts all men as ‘potential rapists.’

Some feminists portray the atheist/skeptic communities as dangerous places which are hostile and unwelcoming toward women – so much so that anti-harassment policies are “needed” for women to feel safe and that male leaders in the atheist/skeptic communities need to speak out against sexism. One popular blogger says that there is a serious discussion in the community concerning whether women are “eye candy and fuck toys for the privileged white men” or whether they are valued colleagues. Another blogger says that “angry men” have declared war on women in the community. Another blogger says that she doesn’t feel safe as a woman in the atheist/skeptic community – and less safe than walking down a sidewalk.

Feminism — at least from its most vocal and/or popular voices which I have encountered — hardly seems to be a social movement for the benefit of all persons which fights for gender equality talking about the ‘radical notion that women are people too.’ Feminists constantly portray problems women face as stemming from the purposeful intention of men (i.e. the patriarchy) and craft victim narratives – rather than considering problems women face as human problems. Problems, too, are simply created when they don’t exist. West talks of misandry being invited by men on no good basis and I believe women create problems under the scepter of patriarchy on no good basis.

A helpful rewrite of portions of West’s article, I think, replacing men with women, misandry with patriarchy, and so on should reveal West’s lack of skepticism quite plainly and hopefully offer something hopeful for women to escape the victim narrative of feminism and to stop blaming their problems on men and the patriarchy.

Without further ado, I will present my version of portions of West’s article from a ‘perspective of a man’ written to women:

Okay, so maybe you are a woman. Maybe you haven’t had the easiest ride in life—maybe you grew up in poverty; you’ve experienced death, neglect, and despair; you hate your job, your car, your body. Maybe somebody (or multiple somebodies) pulverized your heart, or maybe you’ve never even been loved enough to know what a broken heart feels like. Maybe shit started out unfair and became irreparable and you never deserved any of this. Maybe everything looks fine on paper, but you’re just unhappy and you don’t know why. These are human problems and other human beings feel for you very deeply. It is hard to be a human. I am so sorry.


Though it is a seductive scapegoat (I understand why it attracts you), none of these terrible, painful problems in your life were caused by the spectre of “patriarchy.” You can rest easy about that, I promise! In fact, the most powerful proponent of patriarchy in modern internet discourse is you — specifically, your dogged insistence that patriarchy is a genuine, systemic, oppressive force. This is specious, it hurts women and men, and it is hurting you. Most men don’t hate women, as a group (we disagree with the ideas you put forth which often casts men in a negative light) but — congratulations! — we are starting to hate you. You, the person. Your obsession with patriarchy has turned misogyny into a self-fulfilling prophecy. (I mean, sort of. Hating individual women is not the same as hating all women. But more on that in a minute.) Are you happy now? Is this what you wanted? Please stop turning us men against you.

It is nearly impossible to address problems facing women—especially problems in which men are even tangentially culpable—without comments sections devolving into cries of “patriarchy!” from women and replies of ” patriarchy hurts men too” and “patriarchy is real” from women. Men are tired of this endless, fruitless turd-pong: hollow “conversation” built on willful miscommunication, bouncing back and forth, back and forth, until both sides throw up their hands and bolt. Maybe you are tired of this too. We seem to be having some very deep misunderstandings on this point, so let’s unpack it. I promise not to yell.

When men say things like “patriarchy isn’t real,” we mean it the same way you might say, “Freddy Krueger isn’t real.” The idea of Freddy Krueger is real, Freddy Krueger absolutely has the power to scare you, and if you suspend your disbelief it’s almost plausible to blame all of the unsolved knife-crime in the world on Freddy Krueger. Additionally, it is totally possible for someone to dress up like Freddy Krueger and start murdering teens all over the place. But that doesn’t meant that Freddy-Krueger-the-dude is literally real. He is never going to creep into your dreams at night and murder you. He has the power to frighten, there are isolated forces in the world that resemble him, but he is ultimately a manufactured menace.

There might be a lot of men in your life who are mean to you, but that’s just men not liking you personally. Men are allowed to not like you personally, just like you are allowed to not like us personally. It’s not misogyny, it’s mis-Kate-dry. Or, you know, whoever you are. It is not built into our culture or codified into law, and you can rest assured that most men you encounter are not harboring secret, latent, gendered prejudices against Kates that could cost you a job or an apartment or your physical sanctity. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t isolated incidents wherein mean men hurt women on purpose. But it is not a systemic problem that results in the mass disenfranchisement of women.

There are some really shitty things about being a woman. You are 100% right on that. You are held up to unreasonable expectations about your body and your career and your ability/desire to conform to traditional modes of femininity (just like men are with traditional masculinity), and that is absolutely oppressive. There are deeply wounded men who just don’t have the patience for diplomacy anymore who absolutely hate you because of your gender. (However, for whatever it’s worth, I do not personally know a single man like that.) That is an unpleasant situation to be in—especially when you also feel like you’re being blamed for the seemingly distant problems of people you’ve never met and towards whom you feel no particular animus.

Maybe you’re saying, “Hey, but my life wasn’t fair either. I’ve had to struggle.” I know it wasn’t. I know you have. But that’s not how fairness works. If you present fairness as the goal—that some day everything will be “fair” for everyone—you’re slipping into an unrealistic fantasy land. Life already isn’t fair, because of coincidence and circumstance and the DNA you were born with, and we all have to accept the hands we’re dealt and live within that reality. But life doesn’t have to be additionally unfair because of imposed systems of disenfranchisement that only affect certain groups. We can fight against that.

We hate feminist rhetoric which demonizes men. We do not hate women.

The fact that you blame men—your allies—for problems against which they have been struggling for decades suggests that supporting men isn’t nearly as important to you as resenting men. We care about your problems a lot. Could you try caring about ours?

To all the women who have had shitty lives and mistake that pain for “patriarchy”: I totally get it. Humans are not such complicated creatures. All we want is to feel like we’re valued, like we deserve to exist. And I’m sorry if you haven’t found that so far in your life. But it’s not men’s fault and it’s not my fault. The thing is, you’re not really that different from the men you rail against so passionately in these comment threads—the men who are trying to carve out some space and assert their value in a world of powerful women. Plenty of men know exactly what it feels like to be pushed to the fringe of society, to be rejected so many times that you eventually reject yourself. That alienation is a big part of what men are fighting against. A lot of those men would be on your side, if you would just let them instead of insisting that they’re the villains. It’s better over here, and we have room for you. So stop trying to convince us that we hate you and I promise we’ll start liking you a whole lot more.

  • Let’s try this again, as you dodged my last comment on FB (something you’ve been doing a lot of lately):

    Yet you still miss that many of the assumptions you are making in an attempt to discount the article actually support it. Patriarchy hurts both men and women by creating assumptions about we should both act and culturally enforcing them.

    You are assuming an equal footing. Try that with other minorities and see how it looks. Let’s look back to slavery, and gay rights, and what rights atheists have, and tell me that those groups have the same rights as others.

    Face it, you’ve put up a hell of a blind spot on this, while you fight these same assumptions when it comes to atheism and religion getting preferential treatment in society. Im disappointed with your lack of critical thinking on this.

    • I don’t always respond to messages in a timely manner because I get distracted with other things. Sure, there are negative attitudes about women, but is this a systematic thing? As West says, there are women who really do hate men and that most women don’t hate men as a group – but this doesn’t constitute systematized misandry (any more than, I would argue, some attitudes toward women don’t constitute a ‘rape culture’ or a patriarchy). Are women, as a group, on unequal footing with men? What evidence is there to suggest this…and is this the result of patriarchy?

      • She actually covered that in the article. Try reading it again.

        • “We live in a world of measurable, glaring inequalities. Look at politicians, CEOs, film directors, law enforcement officers, comedians, tech professionals, executive chefs, mathematicians, and on and on and on—these fields are dominated by men.”

          I discuss this above and will further discuss this in a term paper which I hope to upload.

          ” the world is not, currently, an equal, safe, and just place for women”


          “bodily autonomy…”

          I’ll grant that one – politicians motivated by religious beliefs or with beliefs that life starts at conception or otherwise that abortion is wrong.

          “They hold the majority of political positions, they make the most money (beast-bucks!), they dominate the beast media”

          Is this discrimination?

          ” If there is no social structure favoring men, then it stands to reason that men simply work harder and/or are more skilled in nearly every high-level specialized field.”

          False trichotomy – I explain above.

          “unreasonable expectations about your body and your career and your ability/desire to conform to traditional modes”

          Is this “unequal footing?”

          “certain disadvantages are absent from your experience (and, likely, invisible to you) because of your gender”


          “imposed systems of disenfranchisement”


          “But she shouldn’t have to be systematically set up, from birth, to be underqualified for all jobs (except for jobs that reinforce traditional femininity, obv).”

          Set up from birth?

          • Girls discouraged from aggressive play, discouraged from STEM education, etc.

            And stop Fisking the article. It’s a poor tactic and it’s sloppy scholarship on your part.

            • Can you explain this discouragement?

            • What is this fisking?

              • It’s the name of a particular style of blogpost whereby you do a point-by-point rebuttal, often with stacks of evidence. It’s basically similar to overkill.

                By the way, I really rather liked your inversion of genders. I thought it was quite neat. It was more imaginative than my own response to Lindy, which was simply to point out her argument was unlikely to be persuasive.

                • It’s ‘stacks of evidence’, often taking each point out of context and representing the points of the author dishonestly as a result.

                  And the inversion of genders assume an equity of situation which *does not exist*. For a better example, swap in how the religious are treated vs atheists, then try swapping that and see how it looks.

                  • Sorry. I’m not really sure what you mean.

                  • jjramsey

                    Or similarly, swap in how blacks have been treated by whites and then swap that around. It would be rather difficult to do that and not come off as cluelessly racist.

            • Metalogic42

              Patriarchy: “hey, girl, stop playing so aggressively. And don’t get into a STEM field either.”

              Girl 1: “whateva, I do what I want!”

              Girl 2: “Ok Patriarchy, I’ll do what you say.”

              Who here decides what happens? Hint: It’s not Patriarchy.

              • Teacher: Math is hard, you might want to do this instead
                Teacher2: Math is hard, you might want to do this instead
                Teacher11: Math is hard, you might want to do this instead

                Classmate18: you don’t want that boy thinking you’re a nerd

                Parent1: Well, maybe if you didn’t seem so bookish, that boy would like you…

                Coach: girls can’t play football!
                Music teacher: girls shouldn’t play metal!

                etc, etc, through the years.

                You are acting like you are some Unswayable Being. Hint: at one point, most of us belonged to a religious and bought into it hook, line, and sinker. Just because a belief system doesn’t have a mystical element doesn’t mean we can’t get pulled into it. There used to be a time when segregating white and colored kids was ‘just how things are’. Just like people are fighting back against ‘just how things are’ regarding the rights and treatment of women.

                • <-Mother is a mathematician. She ranked as the 5th highest in high school on a state wide exam.She proudly showed us the newspaper clipping in a photo of mostly boys. Considering that 1959 was the year she graduated high school, the alleged patriarchy would still have its iron grip on society, right? Perhaps mom crumbled up the memo and threw it in the trash. My mother went on to major in math, and managed to complete her Bachelor's Degree in 3 years.

                  In 9th grade, she essentially home schooled me and my best friend in algebra because the male teacher was awful. Got a B+ that semester when half the class was failing. Mom made sure I got straight A's in math until I had to change schools in 12th grade.

                  After we moved in the middle of my senior year, I was put in the Advanced Math class that was way further along than my old school. Since I entered just a few weeks before the grading period, I squeaked out a C+. But by the end of the year,I earned an A thanks to Mom home schooling me in Calculus.

                  . College calculus was a breeze thanks to my mother's gift for math that she passed on to her daughter.

                  • Once again, individual vs systemic.

                    Ever wonder why your mother was in the group of mostly boys, rather than a more even distribution? I guess boys are just better at math, and politics, and naturally get paid more money than men.

                    • Michael

                      Or, just maybe, that actually interested her mother, but not very many other girls.
                      And maybe we, as adults, need to teach our children that it is okay to not follow along with the crowd, by choosing their own path.
                      Maybe, just maybe, the problem isn’t so much patriarchy, as it’s being lazy parents and adults.
                      Ever consider that?

                  • John Anderson

                    who cares. There goes another woman. talking only about herself. selfish-creatures.

            • destroy_all_monsters

              Girls are discourage from aggressive play? By whom? Discouraged from STEM education? Again by whom? A documentary series from the incredibly equal country of Norway indicated that women typically are just less interested in those fields.

              Can you delineate the purported patriarchy in any way? How is it not a fictional construct designed to give lazy minds a straw man to bat at rather than looking at the complex reality?

      • I think most men recognize that most women are far more reasonable than feminists make them out to be.

    • Metalogic42

      “Patriarchy hurts both men and women by creating assumptions about we should both act and culturally enforcing them.”

      Ok. Who cares? I have no problem doing what I want regardless of what “culture” tells me to do. If other people give a shit about such things, sucks to be them.

      • The people who are subjected to it, like the boy who gets called ‘queer’ because he likes makeup… or has worse done to him. Or the women who gets harassed at PAX by a reporter for cosplaying a character she likes.

        Patriarchy has created assumptions on both men and women. While individually you have been able to overcome such things, there are lots of other people who have not and continue to engage in activities which harm other people.

        But I guess it sucks to be them, as you put it, for having the audacity of being born in a certain cultural environment. Yet we have people scream about patriarchy all the time when it is tied to Christian or Muslim practices…. wait…

        Many of the things that define patriarchy come from religious beginnings. Women knowing their place, etc. Yet we rail against the religious practices, but not when it’s spread through the rest of our culture. This is all stuff that has come from religious beginnings and just because it’s fallen out of the religious sphere doesn’t mean we shouldn’t address it.

        • Metalogic42

          A boy being made fun of for wearing makeup is bullying, not patriarchy. People who bully don’t care about gender roles, they care about finding anything they can to put the target down. If the boy in your example didn’t wear makeup, the person who called him ‘queer’ would have found something else about him to attack. I was teased when I was a kid for being short – is this evidence of a “Tallarchy”? No.

          And, someone getting harassed by a reporter (link?)? Seriously? Reporters “harass” practically everyone.

          “Yet we have people scream about patriarchy all the time when it is tied to Christian or Muslim practices…. wait…”

          Obviously there are actual patriarchal societies. But no woman in the first world is being threatened by the government with a beheading for going into a STEM field.

  • you remember what happened to the last guy that tried to do something like this? You know, write his own version, based on a prior work (in that case a poem) of a feminist writer.

    • Clare45

      I was just thinking the same. This article is just begging to be quote mined and taken out of context!

  • I think radfems and MRA’s should just get married already.

    Meanwhile, neither gender feminism nor men’s rights on-line, that I have seen, are sufficiently equipped to deal with the complex realities of gender, sexuality and discrimination based on either one. I know less about MRA’s but I’ve heard from friends that they can get pretty homophobic. Radfems on-line generally aren’t overtly homophobic, they do pay lip service to LGBT equality since they have to, because if they didn’t they’d lose their liberal credibility. Their black-and-white, men vs. women view of the world, though, erases the experiences of gay men. When “Elevatorgate” went down, I had skeptics yapping at me on facebook, saying things like “you’re a man, you have no idea what it’s like to be sexually intimidated by a man larger than you.” Actually, yes I do. When the Jezebel author here broadly addresses “men”, is she talking to me? Doesn’t seem so.

    When I get preached at about my ‘male privilege’ from heterosexual, cisgender, white men and women, I just roll my eyes. When I was in high school I was living in a very small, conservative town, I was terrified, lonely, and suicidal. Do you think any of the cis/hetero “social justice warriors” on the Internet crying about the horrors of the “patriarchy” have ever contemplated committing suicide for the sole reason that they happened to have been born a certain way? Has this Jezebel author ever thought to herself “I hate that I was born a woman, I wish I could change it, I can’t tell anybody about it, if my family finds out I’ll be disowned, if my co-workers find out I’ll be fired, and sometimes I wish I were dead”?? Possibly. But I highly doubt it. I know that unless she happens to also be queer, she doesn’t know what it’s like to be actively, legally discriminated against, as LGBT people still are in many places.

    Here is a snapshot to illustrate this further: Adria Richards is on twitter complaining about a damn “dongle” joke. Meanwhile gay and lesbians are being debated in the highest court of the land, not just our legal right to be married, but our worth as humans and in some lines of questioning, our very existence. Spare me.

    And when it comes to trans issues, again, I know less about MRA’s (since I never gave a shit about them or even knew what they were until radfems on-line started constantly promoting them), but I suspect from my limited dealings with it that the men’s rights movement probably knows next to nothing about transgender people and doesn’t concern itself with their issues. I know for certain, though, that there are radical feminists who are very blatantly bigoted toward trans people.

    All this ideology is stupid. A lot of the blathering on-line is just rationalization, a poor excuse to be awful to other people. “It’s okay for me to be horrible to you, because… privilege! And patriarchy! Or something.” It’s nonsense. Equality is about respecting individual people based on the content of their character and wanting all citizens to have the same legal rights. If you can’t do those two simple things, then I don’t know what’s wrong with you.

    • Cool story and nice concern troll on it. Meanwhile, there are kids starving in Africa. We shouldn’t even be worry about gay marriage until those kids get fed, right?

      We’re not playing misery poker here. We’re pointing out on a systemic level there are problems affecting both men and women, although women proportionately so.

      And I think that’s the problem: many people individually had differing experiences. And the author addresses that. But systemically, there are things in place which are levering the system against women.

      And against gay people.

      And against atheists.

      This author chose to address the topic of women. Feel free to write about those other issues for your activism.

    • MHRM advocate

      Grant, I’m Married 24 years and my wife happens to agree
      with most MRAs issues. As far asHomophobic I think you have some bad info because in our group we have Gay,Trans Gendered who are very open and share their ideas, much of which issupported by MHRMs. In fact I get the message they find us strait forward and refreshing over being “Feminist pets”. Many have had bad experiences with
      Feminists especially the transgendered folks as you mentioned. I agree with much of what you say but want to add something else, Men’s rights advocates are not projecting an ideology and we certainly are not projecting a revolutionary stance or political movement. We are just addressing the issues at hand. The gays and Transgendered folks are educating us on their issues and we address the ones that cross over.

      P.S. I’m strait and have been involved in the gay and lesbian
      community so maybe I’m not your typical activist. Many Men’s rights activists actually get thegay marriage issues and the 1138 rights/privileges granted by the US government
      to married couples. Many of us have
      voted for these rights in our states.

      Anyway, I don’t disagree with much of your comments I just
      wanted to ad my advocacy and understanding from my perspective. Do well.
      Respectfully, an MHRM.

  • Just an idle curiosity. You do realize that prior to 1980, women tended to get absolutely nothing from a divorce except alimony, right? Like, the concept of marital property didn’t exist. The property was simply owned by the person who owned the title…and given women had only recently been allowed to take part in the work force in any real way, the title holder was very rarely the female in the relationship.

    So, within living memory (heck, a mere two years before I was born!), a woman could have her choice be “stay married to this abusive asshole, or be forced to live on whatever scraps I can convince the judge to make him give me”, and you don’t think there’s still a strong cultural bias against women?

    • 1970s and 80’s – no fault divorce

      I’m skeptical…

      • Why are you skeptical? He’s providing actual citations while you’ve given us… a wiki page, which actually don’t clarify your point other than showing that some places had it in the 1970s.

      • No fault divorce has precisely zero to do with the creation and distribution of marital property. It simply allowed a person to receive a legal divorce without having to prove fault in their spouse.

        Be as skeptical as you want, but actually read the information being presented.

    • Ronlawhouston

      I don’t know where you’re getting these facts but many are misleading and some are clearly wrong. First of all, there are about 7 states where the marital estate is based upon “community property.” This assumes that each spouse owns 50% of the marital estate. Even in those states that have what’s called the “inception of title” rule, there was nothing that prevented women from owing property and title is often taking in both spouses names to insure a way to manage the property is a spouse dies or becomes incapacitated.

      Your asserting about “whatever scraps” a judge gives also shows a strong bias. The fact is that both sides come out poorer when they divorce. Further considering that women win custody at rates (I think in the 80% range) that would show a bias against fathers, using results in divorce courts as a way to argue for male privilege falls flat.

    • Ronlawhouston

      You know I find the “stay married to this abusive asshole” line pretty ironic. For one it assumes that women were trapped in marriages. For another it just shows the inherent bias of the poster. In the same vein, many men feel they must stay married to the “crazy bitch” lest they lose everything they have worked hard for all their lives.

      The fact is 2’s don’t marry 10’s. Cinderella doesn’t marry Godzilla. If you want to point the finger of blame in divorce court you can usually point it at everybody.

  • I really love this bullshit.

    We live in a capitalist society, which by definition means accumulation of capital – frozen labour – into the fewest hands possible (if you need an explanation, read Marx: Kritik der politischen Oekonomie) without regard to gender, race, sexual persuasion etc.

    Those side conflicts are to divert attention from a societal structure where a minority actually runs the economy and therefore the political machinery to its own benefit.

    As if men did not get exploited and thrown before the economic juggernaut of a more and more consolidated financial elite, as if the minor differences in percentages of exploitation have any real meaning except to support keeping in the financial (=political) elites by dividing the vast majority of the deluded poor who support this system with their life’s blood and the unfulfillable hope to ever climb out of their personal economical misery.

    Who claims otherwise really did not learn the latest lessons from a capitalism that has developed money and money transactions as a means of production to create capital almost unlimited.

  • Thanks for this post and the invite, Justin.
    More on this tomorrow.
    I see you are getting hit with the ‘patriarchy hurts men too’ balderdash. Challenge them to define patriarchy and see if they can give you an answer that

    A. Isn’t circular
    B. Doesn’t deny women’s agency in setting up this structure
    C. Doesn’t amount to confusing a ‘patriarchy’ with an ‘andrarchy ‘rule of , (and presumably FOR) all men.

    In fact, I’ve merely found that most feminists use the term to mean “the male dominance hierarchy”(and of course there isn’t even a singular one of those), which means their conflation of this with a system set up to benefit all men, or a system that women have no say or part in, is doubly ridiculous.

  • Dvda

    I read that article a few months ago and after a bit of thought was going to write exactly that in the response forum when I saw the link to your article. Sometimes you have to turn the tables to show people how stupid they’re saying is. Brilliant article.

  • laustcawz
  • lvlelanite

    Holy shit this is some hot bullshit. Way to miss the point and lie about everything.