• Feminism and bullying: any difference whatsoever?

    Scott Alexander has a post out on Western feminism, specifically about how it seems to be centered around hating and shaming socially disaffected white males.  The inspiration was a previous post by Scott Aaronson wrote an article about how, as a clueless young nerd, he internalized so much toxic shame about being attracted to women that he actually sought chemical castration so he wouldn’t hurt women.

    Feminists promptly decided that this meant that he was just a misogynist who believed that women were just there to provide him with sex.

    And Scott Alexander went to town on them about this.  Please read it, it is a thing of beauty.  In short, feminists speak a lot about “slut shaming”, that women are made to feel ashamed of their sexual desires.  Yet they invest a massive amount of time an effort into “creep shaming”, making men feel so ashamed of their sexuality to the point that some of them actually consider self-mutilating to escape from the shame.

    The past is over. I do not hold, and have never held, any ill will toward the women who rejected me. Some of them continue to be my close friends. Some of them I’ve talked to about this Scott Aaronson thing, and even they agree with me on it. Nor did Aaronson mention any ill will to anyone who rejected him. Talking about how nerds should let go of our past resentment to our crushes is a giant red herring.

    What this entire discussion is about is our very present resentment toward the (some) feminists who continue to perpetuate the stereotypes that hurt us then, continue to attack us now whenever we talk about the experience or ask them to stop, and continue to come up with rationalizations for why they don’t have to stop. This isn’t about little Caitlin who wouldn’t return my eye contact in seventh grade, this is about Amanda Marcotte, Jezebel, Gawker, and an entire system that gets its jollies by mocking us and trying to twist the knife.

    This.  A thousand times this.  Full disclosure: prior to massive amounts of deprogramming I was the shame ridden one considering mutilation.  It is not past I like to revisit.

    The best, the absolute very best you can expect from feminists in responses to this is “I’m sorry that that happened to you, but you need to get over it, and, anyway, others have it worse”.

    Imagine this flipped around.  Anyone here remember Richard Dawkins’ infamous “Dear Muslima…” comment?  Dawkins suggested that a clumsy offer of coffee was nothing compared with what women under Islam have to suffer, and the offer was no cause for all this whining and people needed to get over it.  Result: an outrage storm for a year, one that still breaks out from time to time, and Dawkins was thrown under the bus by bloggers like PZ Myers, who owe their fame largely to Dawkins’ patronage.

    As will surprise absolutely no one, Myers has written the following post, arguing that it’s a pity that Aaronson suffered but he needs to get over it and get on..  Some of his commentators try to say, at least, that this is a “Dear Muslima…”, and get flayed in the comments.  Of course, there’s a big difference.  Dawkins “Dear Muslima…” was saying “You need to get over a cack-handed offer of coffee”.  Myers is saying “you need to get over a lifetime of toxic shaming that still goes on, and is so potent it can drive people to consider self-mutilation or even suicide.”

    Now Alexander seems an incredibly decent person.  He actually is what American “liberals” like to claim they are.  So  perhaps he can answer this: Alexander says that (Western) feminism has a serious problem of bullying in it.  What I want to know is: is there anything other than the serious problem of bullying in Western feminism?

    Let’s dispense with the whole “Feminism just means you believe in equality between the sexes” thing.  That’s about as convincing as “Communism just means you want a worker’s paradise” or “The White Man’s Burden just means you think that the nations lucky enough to develop first have a moral obligation to the rest”.  It doesn’t convince anyone who hasn’t already drunk the kool-aid.

    In the piece, Alexander notes that nerds are the ones who least fit the profiles of rapist, abusers, sexists or similar.  Yet even a cursory experience with Western feminism finds that the group that is most attacked and vilified by feminists are nerds.  If I think of the main cases of feminist outrage that have been in the news, here are the ones that spring to mind.  Gamergate.  The umpteenth complain that Dawkins is part of sexist culture in the skeptisphere.  The shaming and humiliation of the man who landed a spacecraft on an asteroid.  The expulsion of MIT mathematics professor Walter Lewin.  The hounding of president-elect of the US college of surgeons.

    Anyone notice any common denominator?

    Again, this isn’t to say that there aren’t sexist cultures out there.  For example, one could talk about ‘frat’ culture in America.  Or the problem of rape in the US armed forces.  Or, of course, the Godfather of all rape and misogynist cultures, Islam.

    Funny, I don’t seem to any wave of outrage about any of these that even begins to equal Gamergate or “Dear Muslima…”

    The only thing I can remember about frat culture is a completely fabricated rape story, and when I wrote about the manosphere, the most common source of bitterness was watching women leap into bed with men who were the opposite of every feminist tenet they preached.  Aaronson noted the same thing:

    The same girls who I was terrified would pepper-spray me and call the police if I looked in their direction, often responded to the crudest advances of the most Neanderthal of men by accepting those advances. Yet it was I, the nerd, and not the Neanderthals, who needed to check his privilege and examine his hidden entitlement!

    The issue of sexual assault in the army was covered in a heart freezing documentary The Invisible War has sunk without a trace.  And as regards Islam, since Scott Alexander cites Laurie Penny, let me note that the first hits that google returned for “Laurie Penny Islam” are her calling David Starkley racist for speaking about the rape and exploitation of children, and that complaints about sex segregation in UK universities are just ‘Islamophobia‘.  This is even before I’ve mentioned the way that American feminists defend Bill Clinton en masse.

    Check again Alexander’s list of what nerds get called, routinely, by feminists, and look:

    I live in a world where feminists throwing weaponized shame at nerds is an obvious and inescapable part of daily life. Whether we’re “mouth-breathers”, “pimpled”, “scrawny”, “blubbery”, “sperglord”, “neckbeard”, “virgins”, “living in our parents’ basements”, “man-children” or whatever the insult du jour is, it’s always, always, ALWAYS a self-identified feminist saying it. Sometimes they say it obliquely, referring to a subgroup like “bronies” or “atheists” or “fedoras” while making sure everyone else in nerddom knows it’s about them too.

    Reality check: can you imagine any Western feminist – any Western feminist at all – not throwing a gigantic outrage tantrum about anyone using any similar language about Muslims, even after Rotherham?

    There’s no way to have this both ways.  Either we can be Prussian about this, say that people need to learn to suffer without complaining, and I can dismiss western feminists as weaklings and whiners, or we can say that all suffering is worthy of care and consideration, and I can call western feminists on their silence, as hypocrites as well as weaklings and whiners.

    At the very least this suggests a demented list of priorities.  If your aim is the equality and emancipation of women, shouldn’t the worst problems be targeted first?  If you want women to be treated with respect, why spend all your time attacking those who are least offensive? Does this make any sense whatsoever?

    But what if something else is going on here?

    I wrote that the complaints from US leftists about “white people” are really complains about “working class people”.  Complains about “white people” are a way to show that you aren’t like any of those people.  Not Quite Our Class Dear.

    Western feminism is completely understandable and predictable if you assume that it is first and foremost a system of bullying.  Then the list of priorities makes complete sense.  If your interest is to wield power over others, then whom do you chose to go after?  Obviously the most vulnerable.

    ‘Bad boys’ get a pass by feminists because they’re good lays, but nerds – well, what use are they really?  Are western feminists really so different from the ‘in’ crowd in high school?  Are they really so different from the cheerleader who gets the footballer she’s fucking to beat up nerds?

    (I don’t want to make any connection with the fact that certain ‘skepchicks’ like to pose in the buff in their pictures, but I guess I just did)

    ‘How does one man assert his power over another, Winston?’

    Winston thought. ‘By making him suffer,’ he said.

    ‘Exactly. By making him suffer. Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own? Power is in inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.

    The people who read this are going to say that I’m saying that western feminists are the equivalent of Orwell’s Thought Police.  Of course I’m saying nothing of the kind.  But this passage has always stuck with me, as it explains the nature of power and dominance so well.

    If it helps – and I know it won’t – the first time I used it I was giving advice to a girl on getting out of an abusive relationship.

    Look again at what O’Brien defines as the essence of power.  Pain and humiliation, and tearing other people’s minds apart so you can put them together as you wish.  Now read Aaronson about how he was so ashamed of his own sexuality that he wanted to be castrated rather than live with it.  Tell me there’s not a ghost of a resemblance.

    Now, again, western feminists are not the thought police.  They do not have torture chambers, telescreens, spies and snitches, or summary executions.  What feminists have is shame.  Shame is one of the most powerful emotions there is.  It is the foundation of human society.  It is so strong that it can drive people to fight and die, or kill themselves.  Its effect, especially on the shy and the outcast and the unsure, is enormous.

    Here’s Aaronson again:

    From my perspective, [feminist nerd bullying] serves only to shift blame from the Neanderthals and ass-grabbers onto some of society’s least privileged males, the ones who were themselves victims of bullying and derision, and who acquired enough toxic shame that way for appealing to their shame to be an effective way to manipulate their behavior.

    Compare and contrast the shame that homosexuals were typically made to feel about being who they were.  Interestingly, Alexander quotes a lesbian friend of his who notes that instead of being made to feel ashamed of wanting women while being a woman, she is made to feel ashamed of wanting women, period.

    Now,  if western feminism is just plain bullying, then we should also expect cowardice.  All bullies are cowards, and are quick to prostrate themselves before the bigger thug.  Street punks instinctively avoid heavy hitters and mobsters.

    The problem with feminists relying on shame as their weapon is that you cannot shame those who are shameless (frat boys, PUAs) or those who are enthralled to a far stronger shaming code (the military way, Islam).  Make no mistake about it: when it comes to using shame as a bludgeon, feminists are pikers – the gangbangers and petty hoodlums of shame.  Conversely, Islam is the Cosa Nostra of shame, an empire built on shame that has endured over a millennium.

    Suddenly the abject, crawling cowardice western feminists show before Islam makes sense, no?

    There’s a common theme in what you might call “nerd mythology”.  All the books and films about the outcast kid.  Harry Potter is the most recent example.  It’s when the big menace arrives, and the bullies suddenly get theirs.  So I confess a certain glee at feminists’ prostration before Allah.  All of a sudden their big words and big attitudes aren’t of any use.  It’s a certain comfort: all those who mobbed Matt Taylor, and Lazar Greenfield, and countless others who are too insignificant for us to ever know their names.  All of those will get theirs.  When the real patriarchy rears its head, they will get theirs, well and good.

    Now you might say “But surely not all feminists!  There are real issues of the oppression of women.  Don’t we need people to tackle those?”

    Indeed, and I respect many people in this greatly.  Only – feminists don’t seem to. When I think of the great figures I admire, they seem to be loathed by western feminists.  Erin Pizzey founded the first shelter for battered women in the UK and received death threats for later saying that men were also victims of domestic abuse.  Ayaan Hirsi Ali is either vilified or ignored by western feminists, and I could say the same thing for Nonie Darwish, Sabatina James or Wafa Sultan.  Oriana Fallaci and Suzanne Zeller-Hirzel were both feminists of a courage that is hard to credit, beginning with openly fighting Mussolini and Hitler, respectively, and ending in struggle with Islam.  I have yet to find a feminist who has a good thing to say about Fallaci, or one who even knows who Zeller-Hirzel was.

    And there’s another thing: when feminism is set up like this, when it becomes clear that the ferocity of its attacks are proportional to the inoffensiveness of its targets, when the worst offenders get a free pass and even defense, and those trying hard to do the right thing are beaten up with their own virtue – then eventually your prior becomes that any major fuss kicked up by feminists is bogus until proven otherwise.  That certainly doesn’t do the cause of women’s emancipation any favours.

    This is why I always say that I am 100% in favour of women’s emancipation, perhaps the most important struggle of our time.  It is only that I don’t see what feminism has to do with that.

    Category: Life and ReasonUncategorizedWomen's Rights

    Article by: The Prussian

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    • I find the headline inflammatory and I would answer strongly in the negative. You write as if feminism was a monolith; “Feminists do x” when it is an extremely nebulous identifier used to describe hundreds or thousands of kinds of people, groups, and organizations with wildly different paradigms, values, and agendas.

      There are bullies in all organized activist pursuits, and they will tend to stick out. I will admit that a serious problem working against a sane progressive agenda for gender equality is the brand-poisoning done by extremists, bullies, and liars who happen to be self-described feminists. But insulting every person who thinks of themselves as a feminist is unhelpful at best.

      • PubliusCorneliusScipio

        I would like to draw a parallel between #notallfeminists and #notallcops: Cops have recently come under criticism in the U.S.A. for a number of incidents. And the problem lies not only with the ones that abuse their power and break the law, but also with the others who stand by and do nothing to stop them.

        Similarly, If feminists ALLOW feminism to become synonymous with its nuttier fringe by not decrying it and disowning it, they are tarring THEMSELVES with the same brush.

        It is consent by silence:”Qui tacet consentire videtur, ubi loqui debuit ac potuit”.

        Right now, unless the contrary is made explicitly clear, a “feminist” is someone who wishes to ban urinals.


        • I don’t find the comparison helpful. Police culture is a relatively coherent, organized, municipal entity. It has a well-defined purpose. None of this is true about “feminism” or “feminists” which have no such organization, homogeneity, or anything resembling a consistent culture, or communal identity.

          • PubliusCorneliusScipio

            So, it is you claim that feminism is not coherent or organized and has no well-defined purpose? Funny, that is also the claim of feminism’s detractors.

            In any case, please allow me to clarify the comparison: Policemen generally claim to “protect and serve”; Feminists claim to work towards “gender equality”. on the face of it, both these aims seem unobjectionable. And yet both these lofty aims are betrayed by elements within each of those groups, elements which, while a minority are not denounced by the majority and so taint the whole group.

            Just as cops are unwilling to arrest or investigate other cops, feminists are unwilling to denounce and repudiate other feminists.

            While cops have the power to detain, arrest or even kill you, feminist only have the power to make your life a living hell and get you fired. (Just ask Dr. Matt Taylor about that).

            Cops have many subgroups with different behaviours and practices, as do feminists. And yet, just as the behaviour of policemen in Fergusson taints the reputation of policemen in Chicago or Miami, so the behaviour of feminists in one case taints the reputation of all feminist, and for the same reason: because it goes uncriticized and unrepudiated by those who would like to be seen as being better than that.

            Frankly, anyone who sees what people calling themselves “feminists” say and do and is not only unwilling to call them out about it but happy to call themselves “feminist” AS WELL is not someone whose feelings I am inclined to coddle.

      • Nice Ekhat

        There’s a saying that “everyone’s a feminist,” and to a certain extent, I agree: when it comes to actual equality- equal pay, the vote, and so on- the feminists won a long time ago and deserved to. But when the war ended, the generals didn’t want to face the loss of power that would come with their army disbanding. So they’ve spent decades starting regional conflicts over utterly trivial nonsense- bowling shirts, toy aisles, “manspreading-” to justify their Grievance Studies professorships.

    • kraut2

      Feminism is a middle class phenom and as such a waste of anybodies time – unless you are concerned about the vanishing middle class.. If you belong to the working class it does not matter a fucking bit if you are male or female – you get the shitty end of the stick no matter what.
      I am almost back at the beginning of my political journey that started as a Marxist Leninist in the late sixties – a unadulterated hatred for a capitalist class supported by a bourgeoisie whose only interest is to earn their living on the back of the working class and in the process spreading chaos and mayhem across the continents through wars, environmental degradation etc. In light of that – fuck all feminists – actually, don’t fuck any, because who wants them to breed.

      • JBP

        I’m a little confused. Do you think that democracy extends to the realm of production or not?

    • Very well put.

      If I may make a suggestion, I think @Skeptic_Ink:disqus’s take is right. There’s some kind of war for the “feminist” label, and I don’t see of any use letting bullies have it.

      I’ve always considered myself a feminist, is just that I’m not a feminazi or Third Wave feminist. Would you consider not allowing the bullies to get the label just for themselves? I’m sure that pisses’em a great deal.

    • Psmith

      This is like a crime novel where the lazy detective immediately concludes, “The butler did it” without much of an investigation. Because surely the lords and the ladies and other gentry cannot be accused of a crime.The butler is a soft target. He belongs to a powerless social class.

      “The nerd did it. He killed equality”

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    • Jenkins

      Disagree. It’s due to the prevalence of “nerds” on the internet that these issues flare up. Chad doesnt have a blog. Psychotic, trollish feminists who attack and belittle nerds float to the top because by the nature of someone disagreeing with them their voices are propagated. The meme propagates by the anti meme as well.

    • I’m a traditional woman and can’t stand them. They viciously attack anyone – man or woman – if they disagree with their stupid and, often selfish, agendas.

      You’re right. These shrews use shame. Sooner or later, the backlash was going to happen. I hope more and more people push back against them. Perhaps then they would go back to doing something useful, such as helping women living in destitute conditions with no way out.

      • SBOC

        I’m starting to feel the same way. My husband was shamed on a Facebook group I was on to the point of leaving the group disgusted…and my husband is far from a quitter. When I came back to the thread to explain some things I learned but made mention about how people come to a group to learn something and if they say things and then get blown out of the water for it because of all the hate and anger directed their way…well then what have we accomplished? It would seem to me that nothing was accomplished. Does applauding the fact that someone left a “freethinker” website by shaming them do anything. I’m starting to appreciate the ability to question EVERYTHING because things start to slide too much in other directions. One woman said she wasn’t “bullying” my husband. It’s a conversation for another time but I have a feeling that to her “bullying” cannot happen to a man because he is “white male with privilege”.

        As my husband asked of me “What good is my white privilege if I’m surrounded by people who themselves at that point make up the majority?” I would say that anyone who uses verbal attacks on someone that is presented as being 97% female in nature with 3% male present…that would mean that he, in that particular case is a minority. He’s been completely self-conscious the last 48 hours wondering if everyone he sees…ONLY see him for being a white male with privilege versus seeing him for anything else…like the type of person he is. I had to get a reality check to see that while I agreed with what some of these woman were saying…I felt like there was a major double standard there in the context of how they view minorities and majorities. If you only view it on a country wide scale then its like you don’t have to take any accountability or responsibility for it when, in reality, things and interactions happen on a much smaller scale (workplace, street corner, in a store, etc). Can males be raped: YES. Why is it that people will step in when they see a man yelling at a woman but will laugh when a man is getting verbally and physically assaulted by a woman?

        • Thanks for sharing. I’m sure it must have been painful seeing your husband being abused like this. There’s little rational discussion with feminists. I tried but eventually, it became obvious they’re incapable of polite disagreement.

          It made me understand why many men dislike feminism and feminists so much. Those terms they use to label people: cis-gendered, white/coloured etc only places barriers between people. At the end of the day, white or not, male or female, we are ALL humans. Nobody should be made to feel bad for being HUMAN.

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