Thus Spake Zuska

Over at the mansplaining thread, you can read literally hundreds of hilarious, annoying, frustrating, heartbreaking stories of how women are constantly subjected to intrusive, incessant, insensitive, inane mansplaining. Interspersed you will also find comments from d00dly d00ds whinging away about how awful it is that women are talking so MEAN about men, and their mansplanations about how mansplaining doesn’t exist. Then some douche tried to coin the phrase femsplaining.

Femsplaining, as best I can tell, is a phenomenon that arises in the following manner:

(1) A woman points out an instance of sexist behavior by some d00d.
(2) D00d becomes angry and hurt because women are not supposed to notice this shit, and/or he is a good guy, and/or he refuses to comprehend the issue.
(3) D00d has heard the phrase “mansplainer” but what it actually means he cannot/will not comprehend.
(4) D00d concludes it is just what women call men when they don’t like what they hear. Perhaps they are trying to silence all men, oh noes!
(5) Furthermore, sometimes women are rude. This totally makes them femsplainers! In fact, isn’t it kind of rude and sexist to call a man a mansplainer?

And that’s a perfect circle, ladeez. You are not supposed to notice sexist behavior, and everything in our society is carefully designed to help you understand and accept it as natural and just the way things are and evolution and the battle of the sexes and God’s will and girls like pink and boys love trucks and men are better at spatial hoo-hah and women are so verbal and boys will be boys and act like a lady and don’t be a slut and men can’t help themselves and blah blah blah. If you should, by some amazing effort of will and education, manage to pull the curtain aside, there will be a great show of smoke and fire and booming voices declaiming from a huge green glaring disembodied head “pay no attention to that patriarchy behind the curtain!” Because, well, you might notice that it’s a humbug.

And the d00ds are frantically jerking the levers and pulling the curtain back around and hoping no one’s noticed anything because they are afraid that what’s been exposed as a sham and a humbug is their personhood, rather than the patriarchy. Well, you as a person are not a humbug. But yes, it is true – d00dly masculinity is a sham and a humbug, so you will have to give that up and find something better to replace it with. There are better sorts of masculinity to build your identity around – for example, the kinds that don’t depend upon a dual core processor of homophobia and misogyny. On your journey to that better version of masculinity, you’ll need to work on your brain, heart, and courage. You could do worse than simply start by listening to these words from Skeptifem:

I wish the dudes would just listen instead of trying to argue away our experiences. As if any of us ever unthinkingly jumped into feminism, because its so easy and popular. Most of us jumped through some pretty silly mental hoops trying to make mansplaining into something else, because it is difficult to conclude that patriarchy is a real problem. Rationalizing some form of oppression is a shared experience, we have all done it at some point. You are signing up to get treated like shit in a whole new way when you become a feminist, and you actually have to try and do something about the situation instead of sitting back and accepting the world as is. Nothing makes me angrier than women being told that they didn’t go through something when they most certainly did. What dudes need to understand is that a non feminist dude perspective is what we are all saturated in, every day. It is pretty fucking impossible to alert us of it when you cannot avoid hearing it every single day. Feminist opinion has to be sought out, examined because of its distance from the mainstream. Just learning to speak up was a huge challenge for me, I would assume by default that I was not worth listening to. There are so many pieces of myself that I had to fight for that men get for free. They should listen when women talk; we had to earn it.

UPDATE: Spelling errors corrected, thanks to SKM for pointing them out. As a little bonus, enjoy this episode of How It Should Have Ended. (Annoying commercial at the start, unfortunately.)

Comments

  1. #1 DiGz
    March 14, 2010

    Zuska, on the back of another great post, I just wanted to say how much I really enjoy your blog and the perspective it gives me.

    And now… I’m off back behind the curtain to pull the levers!

  2. #2 SKM
    March 14, 2010

    That quote from skeptifem really is one for the ages.

    One little thing: you have “mansplaining” misspelled as “mainsplaining” (and “mainsplanations”) throughout the first paragraph. It’s only a matter of time before trolls enjoy that one way too much!

    I’m off back behind the curtain to pull the levers!

    Hhmmm…I think the pulling of the levers is by the folks who want to maintain the status quo…or is that what you mean?

  3. #3 Queef
    March 14, 2010

    I am trying to imagine a male version of Zuska in a world saturated with anti-male sexism. In what ways would her arguments be different (if at all)? In what ways would they be the same?

  4. #4 Zuska
    March 14, 2010

    SKM, I wish I had been that clever…alas, I was writing late last night and just too tired to catch my spelling errors. They are corrected now…I think I caught them all.

    Queef, if you could actually seriously contemplate that thought experiment it might be somewhat helpful. Of course, you would first have to seriously contemplate a world saturated with anti-male sexism and all the implications and ramifications for men. Maybe you could just try the real-world experiment of paying attention to and understanding its current configuration misogyny and sexism and homophobia? No? Imagining whole new worlds is easier? Okay.

    Actually, if one pays serious attention to the degree of homophobia that is linked to misogyny, you could make a decent argument that there is plenty of “anti-male” sentiment already in existence in our present world, without having to conjure new ones up in our imaginations. I’d wager it’s just not the kind of anti-male sentiment you have in mind, though.

  5. #5 jc
    March 14, 2010

    I’ve been mansplained that the reason for a girl pinup poster in my workplace was because the decorating d00d LOVVVVED women. Except like a houseplant that’s not supposed to talk back much less take a stand about taking it down (and I did), I disagreed and pointed out that hanging women on the wall shows the viewing audience (men and women) that the d00d objectifies women so no one thinks he’s gay. Of course, in typical mansplain fashion (pages were ripped straight from the Derail textbook), I was told by another d00d, I could hang some Chippindales on the wall and no one would be offended. Um, no.

    I just noticed how the “great and powerful” Oz called Dorothy and friends “ungrateful creatures” when she told him to keep his promises to her. The Others are expected to be grateful and “lucky to be given audience” by the douche. Oh, when the curtain of privilege comes down, there’s nothing to see alright.

    SKM linked to this on Shakes. It’s fab. One thing I have to learn is to pick my mostly-losing battles. I have yet to meet a d00d who when confronted on his mansplaining and privilege bullshit fesses up and says he’s a humbug.

    http://kateharding.net/2010/03/10/cultivate-your-inner-samuel-l-jackson/

  6. #6 Alex Besogonov
    March 14, 2010

    “And the d00ds are frantically jerking the levers and pulling the curtain back around and hoping no one’s noticed anything because they are afraid that what’s been exposed as a sham and a humbug is their personhood, rather than the patriarchy”

    As a man, I’d say that it gets a bit tiring. Yes, I support feminists and women rights. However, such over-reactions only ridicule feminists.

  7. #7 delphi4c
    March 14, 2010

    here da problem: many women want to be treated like whole rounded human beings, while most men would be perfectly content to be treated purely as sex objects… but in the real world it’s all backasswords.

  8. #8 David
    March 14, 2010

    the d00ds are frantically jerking the levers

    If you really meant that, then I am truly in awe of your superhuman ability at double-entendre.

  9. #9 Tree
    March 14, 2010

    Zuska Spake: “And the d00ds are frantically jerking the levers and pulling the curtain back around and hoping no one’s noticed anything because they are afraid that what’s been exposed as a sham and a humbug is their personhood…”

    Tree sez: OMG, yes! One only needs to witness, not even point out, the tiniest mistake or faux pas and watch the psychotic fugue begin. I saw it the other week, trapped in a dead end in a new parking garage, backing out just like the car in front of me until the car behind decided that he’d had Enough With The Backing Out and had to leap out of his car to ‘splain that ‘YOU DON’T JUST BACK UP’ (my mistake for assuming that since his SUV was twice the height of my hybrid that he was actually paying attention to what was happening with the car in front of mine) until he noticed out of the corner of his eye that yeah, it was a dead end with no free parking, and gosh, he’d just made a ass of himself. Then he dashed back to his SUV, threw it into reverse and tore out of there. Oh noes!! Caught making a mistake! The sequence of emotions was clear: Superiority and contempt, confusion, dawning awareness of the real situation, recollection of his Waiting Audience, shame of exposure and then rage that someone could see his mistake.

    I’ve seen this reaction hundreds of times. “Frantic” doesn’t begin to describe the acrobatics.

  10. #10 c.p.
    March 14, 2010

    I really enjoyed all the mansplainers explaining why mansplaining doesn’t exist. It was so beautiful and they weren’t even aware of it. Though very quickly my amusement turned to banging my head on the wall.

    I was mansplained to just the other day by my dad. I told him I got a new long leash for my dog. He proceeded to caution me for about five minutes about being careful to not get the leash wrapped around a tree, and be careful, the dog could get tangled up, and the leash could get wrapped around something and….(on and on and on). I said something about being aware of that. Because, what, I’ve never walked a dog in the woods before? It’s never occurred in my stupid little head that a long line might get wrapped around a large stationary object? What did he thing was going to happen, the dog and I were going to end up on opposite sides of the tree and we would just look at each other mournfully, unable to figure out a way out of this predicament until we died?

  11. #11 Cara
    March 14, 2010

    while most men would be perfectly content to be treated purely as sex objects…

    Ask the men in prison how true that is…

    Oh! YOU meant “treated as sex objects by women I find attractive and want to fuck“. Because that’s JUST EXACTLY how is is for women every day! We’re all surrounded, all day, every day, by attractive, kind, non-smelly, non-sexist, intelligent, funny, respectful men who just want to share their bodies with us in whatever way we want to do that! And if we don’t want to, that’s fine with them and they wish us a nice day and get on with their lives! They never follow us down the street calling us names or rape us or…

    Dumbass.

  12. #12 Comrade PhysioProf
    March 14, 2010

    The best part is that the fucking douchebag’s name is “Jacques”.

  13. #13 Zuska
    March 14, 2010

    As a man, I’d say that it gets a bit tiring. Yes, I support feminists and women rights. However, such over-reactions only ridicule feminists.

    Alex Besogonov, I’d say that it gets a bit tiring to hear “yes I support feminists…however…” I suppose you only support the REAL feminists. You know, the ones who don’t annoy men and give feminism a bad name. Go home and think a little harder.

    @David #8:

    the d00ds are frantically jerking the levers

    If you really meant that, then I am truly in awe of your superhuman ability at double-entendre.

    Heh heh heh!

  14. #14 Queef
    March 14, 2010

    Can Zuska post without relying on childish insults and the word “d00d?” Or is that just how she copes with her life?

  15. #15 Queef
    March 14, 2010

    Oh, and I’ve never once said that I’m actually against your core argument. You’ve just assumed.

  16. #16 ginger
    March 15, 2010

    “Can Zuska post without relying on childish insults and the word “d00d?” Or is that just how she copes with her life?”

    Accusations of childishness from someone whose internet handle means “an expulsion of air from the vagina”?

  17. #17 Dan
    March 15, 2010

    You have my sympathies; it must be so terribly, terribly hard being a wealthy American enjoying the plunder of empire.

  18. #18 Comrade Svilova
    March 15, 2010

    Dan: If I’m interpreting your comment correctly, you seem to be suggesting that white, middle-class feminists need to shut up since there are people in the world who are worse off than we are.

    Problem is, one of the core messages of feminism is to question the patriarchal hierarchies that relegate certain people to the status of the “Other” to maintain the privileges of the few. Feminist theorizing is directly involved in questioning a status quo that allows colonization to continue — be it colonization of goods, lands, or bodies.

    The colonization of women’s bodies by men is a particularly useful way to understand how patriarchy functions, and that can be extended to understanding how empire functions.

    HOWEVER, it is extremely frustrating to be constantly told by men that feminists’ concerns about sexism have to be ignored until everything else in the world is made better. No one can be fighting everything that is unjust all the time. And sometimes women who daily face a system that devalues us and compels us to accept patriarchal logic, roles, and values, we need to speak about it, to resist it, and to point out that this monolithic system that most people do not even notice is, indeed, extremely unjust.

    Why do you feel that it is necessary for feminists to ignore any injustice based on gender because there are other injustices in the world? There is an implicit assumption in your post that all injustices are prioritized and that only the “top” one on the list deserves attention at any one time. How do you determine what the “most important” injustice is?

  19. #19 Dan
    March 15, 2010

    “Why do you feel that it is necessary for feminists to ignore any injustice based on gender because there are other injustices in the world?”

    I don’t. I do however feel that if you’re a privileged westerner then without a certain degree of self-examination – a self-examination which seems utterly missing from this blog, though I’m not a regular reader so perhaps I missed something when scanning the archives – blogs like this become little more than poor-me-bellyaching. But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this blog is “questioning a status quo that allows colonization to continue — be it colonization of goods, lands, or bodies” but if so, can you me point toward some evidence of that? Because whilst what you say is true, in practice – and rather unsurprisingly – that examination all too often stops at the point where oppression turns into privilege.

  20. #20 SKM
    March 15, 2010

    a self-examination which seems utterly missing from this blog, though I’m not a regular reader so perhaps I missed something when scanning the archives

    I’d say you have missed a lot. If you care to, you can read more. But asking others to “point to the evidence” for you is your privilege talking.

  21. #21 Zuska
    March 15, 2010

    Dear God! It had NEVER occurred to me before Dan pointed it out that peoples are oppressed around the globe! Of course, patriarchy has NOTHING to do with that oppression. Nothing at all.

    I am so ashamed of myself. Not thinking of others, like a proper woman should, and disrespectfully mocking heteronormative masculinity in an ill-advised move to act as if I have a right to use language in any way other than the socially proscribed manner for women. Queef is right. What the hell is wrong with me?

    Truly I am blessed that Dan has taken time out of his busy schedule of handwringing over the failure of U.S. feminists to save the world’s oppressed, to stop by my poor blog and help me see the error of my ways. It is a heavy burden, no doubt – clearly he has not had time to actually read this blog, as he says, and yet he has generously shared his opinion with me nonetheless.

    Gentleman readers, take note: your brethren have set some amazing standards for you to live…up to. Ask yourselves: am I helping my female colleagues as much as Dan and Queef are helping Zuska with her blogging? Could I possibly be doing just as good, or better, than they are? Am I making sure to tell the ladies what they should and should not say, what they should and should not concern themselves with? Am I making sure to observe and censure and criticize and give my opinion at every chance? Am I making sure to let her know that what she thinks or is doing is probably wrong in some fashion, or could be done better, or differently? Am I, in short, helping her to be constantly aware of her place?

    If you can answer yes to all of these questions, then congratulations. You are well on your way to being a d00dly mansplainer.

  22. #22 SKM
    March 15, 2010

    Am I making sure to tell the ladies what they should and should not say, what they should and should not concern themselves with? Am I making sure to observe and censure and criticize and give my opinion at every chance?

    Well, the mansplainer thread is pushing 400 comments now–based on that and on experience, the answer in far too many cases is YES.

    It’s also pretty funny that plenty of the “evidence” that Dan demands be pulled from the archives for his is right on the front page, no archive-diving needed.

    I guess scrolling and reading are too much work.

  23. #23 Rev Matt
    March 15, 2010

    I find the argument that “well your oppression isn’t as bad as that of others so kwityerbitchin” to be the most delightfully simpleminded one yet.

    I’ll concede that the deprived masses of [insert your favorite third world slum that you feel very deeply for but have never actually visited or taken any substantive action to help here] suffer in a very different way from relatively privileged white middle class women in the US or Western Europe. That doesn’t negate the fact that those women are still experiencing discrimination, sexism, harassment, and worse.

    All suffering is relative. That makes it no less important to each person experiencing it.

    As a practical matter it makes more sense to focus on addressing the wrongs that you can have an immediate impact upon than to exclusively advocate on ones that you cannot.

    All that said, pretty much every feminist or feminist minded person I’ve known has been as interested, informed, and passionate about the rights of Others the world around as they are in the more immediate and pressing concerns that affect their daily lives. But I’m sure that’s just a fluke.

  24. #24 EP
    March 15, 2010

    I am trying to imagine a male version of Zuska in a world saturated with anti-male sexism.

    That would be any men’s rights activist in the matriarchal USA.

  25. #25 DiGz
    March 15, 2010

    Rev Matt,

    … @23 ” pretty much every feminist or feminist minded person I’ve known has been as interested, informed, and passionate about the rights of Others the world around as they are in the more immediate and pressing concerns that affect their daily lives”

    Bang on, but we can expand that… In my own experience, the women I talk to are generally more compassionate than men, on average, and far more likely to worry about the misfortunes of others than men are (which may be one reason we have a patriarchy). So it seems like a big waste of time to point it out to women, which brings me on to…

    Dan,

    @19… your point is not logical. The argument (truth!) is that men are more privileged than women in any culture. Therefore, to point out there are cultures more impoverished than than our own does not negate the point that in EVERY culture men are more privileged than women.

    Ginger,

    @16… I didn’t know that there was a word for that! I live and learn!

  26. #26 SKM
    March 15, 2010

    the women I talk to are generally more compassionate than men, on average, and far more likely to worry about the misfortunes of others than men are (which may be one reason we have a patriarchy–DiGz

    I think it’s more likely to be the other way around: women have to be more attuned to the feelings of others because of patriarchy. Generally, marginalized folks are more aware of the experience of the dominant class than vice versa (e.g. black people don’t need white people to “offer a white perspective”–they’ve been soaking in that white perspective all their lives). If you don’t have social power, it’s a matter of survival to know how those with power over you think and feel. That skill can then be extended to those with less power, of course.

    I just don’t buy that women are marginalized as an inevitable result of our naturally being too darn nice. I know you weren’t taking it that far, DiGz, but a lot of people do; IME it is a common and convenient way of defending the status quo.

  27. #27 DiGz
    March 15, 2010

    SKM,

    interesting point. Yeah, and to be clear, I wasn’t implying that it’s women’s fault!

    At the risk of going slightly off topic (sorry Zuska) but do you think there are any innate differences between the genders? I think women in general are more empathetic and, therefore, more compassionate than men; and I have an easier time, on average, rationalising thoughts and feelings when talking with women than I do men (obviously, I’m generalising greatly here). It feels to me as though some of that is a difference in nature between the genders.

    That said, I do agree that marginalised folks need to be more sensitive (apart from you evil, testicle-eating feminists of course!). I’ve had some experiences that have left me feeling like that and it’s certainly made me more sensitive to the feelings of others.

  28. #28 SKM
    March 15, 2010

    DiGz, it really is off-topic, so I don’t want to get into it. But I’d say three things: 1) We are not at the point where we can dissect innate/genetic vs. cultural differences, no matter how it “feels” to us; 2) It doesn’t matter from the point of view of social justice: equal doesn’t mean identical; 3) There may very well be average innate differences in behavior between the sexes, but the variation within each group is greater than the variation between them.

  29. #29 FrauTech
    March 15, 2010

    …and I have an easier time, on average, rationalising thoughts and feelings when talking with women than I do men

    That’s more socialization than anything. Who comforted you (I mean, the general population YOU) when you fell down as a child? Mom. To whom did you make your kindergarten valentine? Mom. Even for Dads that loved their children very much, and were not afraid to be gentle and tender, the emotional is still considered the domain of the Mom.

    In the workplace where as a woman I notice the guys open up a lot more to me emotionally than they do to one another I think it is part of that (I am their Mother, their Sister, I am the comforting emotionally supportive female representative rather than the Dad that told them to stop crying or the Male in their lives who called them a baby when they talked about their feelings).

    But also it is because I am not competing with them. The other dudes don’t want to open themselves up because the work life is like a wolf pack of baboon pack. There’s an alpha male and there’s everyone else in the hierarchy. They risk losing their place if they expose a point of weakness. So the fact that these dudes can open up with me and not be afraid to expose their weaknesses is because I am not seen as a part of the pack. They do not see me as a challenge to take over their place.

    So while sometimes I am honored that guys can sit down and be nice to me and not be afraid to be encouraging or polite I know that behind it all as the patriarchy that forbids them from acting the same with other guys. And that though they are nice fellows and don’t even realize what they are doing this is why. So DiGz I know that’s not on your conscious mind when you sit down with the women you talk to, and I’m not suggesting you not look to female friends for the kind of support you’re able to get there, just realize it’s not about women being better about this sort of thing it’s about women not even having a place in the pack.

  30. #30 Alex Besogonov
    March 15, 2010

    “Alex Besogonov, I’d say that it gets a bit tiring to hear “yes I support feminists…however…” I suppose you only support the REAL feminists. You know, the ones who don’t annoy men and give feminism a bad name. Go home and think a little harder. ”

    Nope. I support all kind of feminists, just on general principles that ANYONE should be given the same chances and the same treatment. Even if you are a flaming -ist (Communist, Feminist, Harpist – I don’t care).

    However, is it so hard to understand that it’s easy to make a sexism, since your language (English is not my native language) itself is loaded with them?

    Also, your over-generalization: “And the d00ds are frantically jerking the levers and pulling the curtain back around…” is about as true as ‘all women are stupid’.

    You are in essence asking men to apologize for each and every sexism. Yet you yourself don’t seem to be able to understand that not all men (by far, not all) are thinking about women solely as objects. Even if we do commit a sexism sometimes, most likely unwittingly.

    That lack of middle ground is what causes problems for some feminists.

  31. #31 Vicki
    March 15, 2010

    Alex–

    Nobody here is disputing that it is easy to make sexist (and racist, and other bigoted) remarks. That doesn’t justify doing so. It means that it’s reasonable to say “I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking, I won’t do it again” if someone points out that you’re being sexist (for values of “you” that include the human race, not specifically you Alex Besogonov). That’s very different from “It’s not my fault, English is a sexist language” or “Lighten up, it’s no big deal, everyone uses those phrases.” It’s a problem partly because so many people use them. If one random person in the entire English-speaking world occasionally made anti-Etruscan remarks, it might not matter. When lots of people do something, it usually does. (It might be good, bad, or just interesting, but it’s probably not random.)

    Since English isn’t your first language, you may not realize that “d00d” as used here doesn’t mean “male human being,” it refers to specific sorts of sexist men.

    Also, saying that you support feminists because you support all human beings isn’t really different from saying that you don’t support feminists. I’m in favor of human rights: that doesn’t mean I will announce that I support groups that I’m neutral about (say, Norwegians) or disagree with, disapprove of, or fear (say, Republican politicians). And remarks of the form “I support X, but” are usually disclaimers, ways of attacking X and trying not to be criticized for it (like “some of my best friends are Jewish” or “I’m not trying to be racist, but”). Sometimes that works as cover, and sometimes it will produce a (perhaps unstated) “thanks for the warning that a prejudiced remark is coming” or “I know you’re not trying to be sexist, you’re good at it without trying.”

  32. #32 Michael Hawkins
    March 15, 2010

    Stop making your ‘argument’ be “You just don’t get it! You just don’t geeeeeeeeeeet it!” and maybe someone will listen. Time and again I see users trying to engage a discussion here and on other sites only to be told they’re sexist for even questioning anything. Okay, great, you have a perspective that others don’t understand. Now show your argument. Using letters in place of zeros does not count.

    It’s like dealing with fucking creationists who just want to throw out a fucking Gish Gallop.

  33. #33 a biologist
    March 15, 2010

    Yeah, stop being such hysterical, whining, irrational bitches!

    It doesn’t matter how many times a man challenges and ignores your experience, you still should politely listen to his POV, which is very interesting and important and you have never considered. Especially if he is calling you out on the content of your blog, which he didn’t read.

  34. #34 Cara
    March 15, 2010

    Okay, great, you have a perspective that others don’t understand. Now show your argument.

    How about listening the first thirty million times? Or reading the thirty-million Feminist 101 pieces that DO explain it so we don’t have to educate your ass?

    Oh, wait. Our time is unlimited, and all at your disposal. Woman, the biological appliance.

    Fuck off.

  35. #35 Michael Hawkins
    March 15, 2010

    Yes, Cara, because you are making a number of claims and telling me I should believe them, I actually do view you as virtually nothing more than something that is merely at my disposal. No one has ever asked to be presented with reason except women. And always by men. Thank you for the education.

  36. #36 Michael Hawkins
    March 15, 2010

    you still should politely listen to his POV, which is very interesting and important and you have never considered.

    I’m asking for your point of view and why.

  37. #37 Rev Matt
    March 15, 2010

    I haven’t seen any woman make the argument that “You just don’t get it”. Some have certainly made similar observations in the context of explaining their point of view, but I’ve not seen that be the argument itself or evening a supporting argument. I’ve seen plenty of men ignoring the explanations and ascribing to others the arguments that they wanted to debate against.

  38. #38 Michael Hawkins
    March 15, 2010

    To date I’ve only seen one user attempt to make a case for feminism. In fact, that is the only user that actually made me more aware of any sexism. It’s almost like “reason and rationality” isn’t just atheist rhetoric.

  39. #39 a biologist
    March 15, 2010

    Are you seriously here looking for someone to make a case for feminism? Preliminary to discussing feminist issues?

    I agree with Cara. Fuck off.

  40. #40 SKM
    March 15, 2010

    The comment Michael Hawkins links makes a good point. However, it’s far from the first time I’ve seen that point raised–it’s well-established feminist thought. Hawkins is confusing his not having heard certain arguments with those arguments not existing at all.

    And I take it that one who thinks the “case for feminism” is questionable believes that women should not have the right to be persons under the law, to vote, to own things, to bring legal cases, etc. Or, he does not know what feminism is or know anything of its history. Either way I’m not wasting my time.

  41. #41 Michael Hawkins
    March 15, 2010

    I have to explain why a specific statement is not accurate. I know. It’s so sexist!

    Hawkins is confusing his not having heard certain arguments with those arguments not existing at all.

    No, I’m specifically referring to the lack of arguments presented in several threads here (and on my blog) in which I have participated or which have been about me.

    The in-group mentality is fine and dandy, and no one expects any legitimate argument to be made on a site like this, but the “You don’t geeeeeeeeeeeeeet iiiiiittttt!” screech doesn’t work to actually make any points and potentially change minds. I mean, god damn it. Look at the eight million atheist sites (including mine) which relentlessly mock those who think otherwise. They still put forth arguments. All that ever shows up here is phonetic spelling, letters replaced with numbers, and people sitting around just really wishing a man would actually use a derogatory term (“Yeah, stop being such hysterical, whining, irrational bitches!” – wouldn’t everyone just cream themselves if that actually happened?).

  42. #42 Comrade PhysioProf
    March 15, 2010

    Okay, great, you have a perspective that others don’t understand.

    Hawkins, you pathetic little jagoff, just because *you* are too morally and intellectually subnormal to understand something doesn’t mean that “others” don’t. In fact, the theoretical and pragmatic foundations for the feminism being expounded on this blog are not very difficult to understand, by those who are not immature ego-deficient fuckwad furtive woman-hating masturbators.

    Here’s a hint, holmes: It’s not “feminism’s” fault that women are disgusted by you.

  43. #43 moongrrl
    March 15, 2010

    Isn’t there some feminism 101 site you can visit, Michael? It seems you only know about Derailing for Dummies.

  44. #44 MadGastronomer
    March 15, 2010

    OK, Michael, I’ll go. Not because you demand it — and you are demanding, and yes, demanding things from women in the way you are doing, with lots of gendered insults like “screeching” is showing your privilege — but because I don’t mind doing some 101 education work.

    I suggest that you go check out Finally, a Feminism 101 Blog. I think you’ll find it helpful. But this blog is by and for feminists who are already secure in their feminism. Most people here do not want, need, or have any obligation to explain or defend feminism, to you or to anybody else. Demanding that we do so, after we’ve told you that we’re not going to, is a display of privilege: we don’t owe you an explanation, and you are acting as if we do. There are places where your questions are appropriate to ask, and this is not one of them. It’s like walking into a conference on string theory and demanding that the scientists there explain momentum to you: when they don’t want to, and ask you to leave, you shouldn’t be surprised, and if you’re rude about it (which you are being), don’t be surprised if they’re rude back.

    So, if you actually want some education about feminism, then it is your responsibility to go out and get it, not ours to hand it to you. I have given you a resource, a starting point, because I like to do things like that. But that’s all you’re getting, and if you continue to come around here and make demands out of privilege and ignorance, you will only get more people telling you to fuck off. Go educate yourself instead of demanding that people who don’t owe you anything spoonfeed it to you, or shut the fuck up.

  45. #45 Dan
    March 16, 2010

    “I am so ashamed of myself. Not thinking of others, like a proper woman should, and disrespectfully mocking heteronormative masculinity in an ill-advised move to act as if I have a right to use language in any way other than the socially proscribed manner for women.”

    Fuck me. You really are a cunt, aren’t you. But, truth be told, I don’t really give a fuck about the petty concerns of some spoilt, self-indulgent little yank fuck. The only reason I stumbled on this blog was because some twat included it in one of the ScienceBlog Select feeds but don’t worry, I won’t be visiting your woe-is-me wankfest again.

    “asking others to “point to the evidence” for you is your privilege talking.”

    Are you fucking mental?

  46. #46 Michael Hawkins
    March 16, 2010

    When I think “screeching”, I think children. I don’t equate children with gender, but you’re welcome to do so.

    Your link doesn’t work.

  47. #47 Michael Hawkins
    March 16, 2010

    Also, your analogy applies to most of the crap Franks puts up here, but not to these sort of threads. Posts which specifically criticize other people ought to be free for some actual discussion beyond “You don’t get it”. Hell, I called out a cancer quack (Andreas Moritz) on my blog and gave him a number of responses even though my focus was more or less to call him stupid and dangerous (both of which are true, incidentally).

  48. #48 MadGastronomer
    March 16, 2010

    Fine, the URL is http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/, as I cannot seem to get it to work. I assume there’s some sort of anti-spam measure in place.

    And when you’ve read it, maybe you’ll see why “screeching” is gendered, the problem with infantilizing women, and why you demanding that we explain things to you is privileged behavior regardless of what the topic of the post is. I doubt it, though, since you seem unwilling to actually examine your privilege, preferring to blindly defend it by ignoring its existence.

    And now I am done being generous enough to give you anything.

  49. #49 MadGastronomer
    March 16, 2010

    Oh, and Michael? You are aptly demonstrating why most of the people here are unwilling to give you what you’re demanding: You’re a jackass when you “ask” for it, and you’re a jackass when it’s given to you. Why would we want to give you anything at all?

    (I only bothered because I enjoying showing off what I know.)

  50. #50 Ruth
    March 16, 2010

    Michael Hawkins: To date I’ve only seen one user attempt to make a case for feminism.

    Why on earth would you expect anyone to make a case FOR feminism? I thought you claimed to be a scientist? Surely as a scientist you realise that the idea that all human beings are pretty much the same is actually the null hypothesis. You don’t need evidence to accept the null hypothesis, you need evidence to reject it.

    No one has to justify treating people the same. It’s those who believe that certain categories of people deserve less respect than other categories who need to back that up with evidence and argument.

  51. #51 Meg Thornton
    March 16, 2010

    Michael Hawkins: The case for feminism has been made multiple times over the past century or so. What you’re asking for is for the various commenters and regulars on this blog to complete your history homework for you. The problem is, you’re not asking nicely, and you’re not even offering to do their chemistry homework in return.

    However, since I’m the kind of sucker who was always giving my peers help in class, here’s a few terms to google: suffragette; “Votes for Women”; Emmeline Pankhurst; first wave feminism; second wave feminism. Plug those into your search engine and have a bit of a read of what comes up. But you’ll have to do the reading yourself, I’m afraid.

  52. #52 Comrade PhysioProf
    March 16, 2010

    Hawkins, I know it’s very difficult to see oneself clearly as others do when you are just a callow undergrad, particularly an awkward and frustrated one like you. But I’m a really nice guy, so I’m gonna help you out.

    No one is impressed by your logical skeptical rational d00d schtick. Even your massive throbbing logical skeptical rational d00d heroes that you try to emulate look down at pathetic suck-ups like you with disgust.

    Believe me, we’ve all been through the feeling of intoxication at learning new ideas when we are just beginning to throw off the shackles of adolescence and experience the freedom of manhood, and we’ve all let that intoxication get to our heads and behave in an embarrassing fashion, ineffectually bashing others over the head with those new ideas that we so enamored with. But the thing you need to get through your head is that you are letting yourself fall into the trap of remaining a third-rate derivative simplistic thinker because you feel like a big fish in your third-rate-college pond.

    People much smarter than you have tested their ideas in much more stringent environments than you. Do yourself a favor, and learn to respect yourself and the people around you. Misguided hero worship and emulation of massive throbbing logical skeptical rational d00dliness is a fool’s game, and at the end of that game, you’re gonna be left with nothing but entrenched bitterness at the raw hand you’ve been dealt.

  53. #53 DiGz
    March 16, 2010

    SKM,

    Fairy nuff on going off topic and to your point, I agree my thinking is driven by feelings which is hardly scientific and likely to be biased and blinkered. Which brings me back on topic… I wish there were more threads like this, not less, at Scienceblogs because they really have given me a perspective that I simply can’t get elsewhere. I’ve always believed in the equality of every human being and look forward to the day that we’re all treated equally and all have the same opportunities. However, these threads have made me realise that I’ve never really considered (or rather I’ve considered but rarely asked!) how inequality appears from the other side (i.e., not being in a position of privilege) and how my own behaviour may inadvertently be contributing to propogating that inequality. It’s blogs like Zuska’s and the thoughtful comments that really help me understand that. I can’t tell you how many days I’ve spent pondering some of Zuska’s posts trying to put my own behaviour in context. Digging deep into my own psyche, trying to strip out everybody’s biases and coming to a conclusion how I can be a better human being actually does my head in.

    FrauTech,

    Thank you for that post, I found it incredibly thought-provoking. I’ve never thought of it that way before and much of what you write rings true to me. For very personal reasons, I’d like to see the presumption you allude to in the first paragraph change and that parents are treated as equally capable of emotionally supporting children, regardless of their gender. And if in saying that, I haven’t extrapolated your point too far, your comments also put paid to the argument made by some men: that the point of these threads is ultimately about silencing/knocking men — clearly, you’re arguing for nothing more than equality. On your second paragraph, that reflects my experience. I’d say my dad was more emotionally open than my mum but in general, as a kid, I found women far more emotionally open than men and I’m sure that’s led to how comfortable I feel discussing my feelings with either gender.

    The bits I don’t like are in the last two paragraphs. It’s not the argument you’re making there, which agains seems very plausible, but it’s the conclusions I then draw from it that I don’t like. You’re right about the baboon pack (on occasion we’ll even pull down our trousers and show off our arses!) being a barrier to emotional discussion for fear of showing weakness — I feel it all the time. But in your final paragraph you say women don’t have a place in the pack. And I agree with that. The thing is, I’d like to see the nature of the pack change and I was hoping that as women gain traction they’d bring more emotional intelligence and openness to the pack. From the points SKM and yourself are making, I’m not sure that will happen. I find that kind of depressing. Btw, to be very clear, I’m not saying that it’s women’s job to improve my lot emotionally, rather I’m asking if you think the nature of the pack will change or will women adapt to the nature of the pack as we move towards equality? I realise I’m going off topic again but I’d really love to get some further insight on that one.

  54. #54 SKM
    March 16, 2010

    The nature of the pack won’t just magically change from the influence of women, in part because one of the ways that women succeed is to work for “honorary man” status. Marginalized folks often succeed by fitting in as much as possible with the existing structure. And keep in mind, the existing structure depends on there being a few marginalized folks at the top to point to and say “see, it’s all fair and equal here”.

    In short, men have to change too in order for the pack to change. I think it’s possible, if enough people (male and female) see what’s in it for them to do things differently.

  55. #55 SKM
    March 16, 2010

    PhysioProf @52 is speaking words of crystalline truth that should be heard and heeded by undergrads everywhere.

    My first full-time job out of undergrad was as a research technician at an institution in New York whose name rhymes with “Mockefeller Luniversity”. I was fortunate enough to work on a project with the lab of a big shot Nobelist. This was not a humble man–I once heard him describe himself as “a cross between Newton and Einstein”–but when he did not know something, he said so, and asked someone who did know to fill him in, even if that someone was a lowly summer student from Columbia. A lot got done in his lab meetings.

    I submit that this comment is not as off-topic as it may appear at first glance.

  56. #56 DiGz
    March 16, 2010

    SKM,

    “The nature of the pack won’t just magically change from the influence of women, in part because one of the ways that women succeed is to work for “honorary man” status.”

    That’s something I do hope changes over time and rather than women having to strive for honorary man status we can all just work towards equal human status. To achieve that, as you say men’s attitudes have to change and that’s what I worry about. There are men posting here that are way ahead of me but there are also plenty that don’t even recognise the problem, let alone acknowledge they need to change or worse still hurl invective when merely asked to understand the problem (take note: Michael/Dan).

  57. #57 AnonAndOn
    March 16, 2010

    Dan @ 45

    If you can’t come up with someone more articulate to add to the conversation than calling someone a cunt, perhaps you should consider staying silent.

  58. #58 Yvonne
    March 16, 2010

    PhysioProf@52: You rock. That was a totally wonderful and amazing description of the onset of mansplation.

  59. #59 Yvonne
    March 16, 2010

    @DiGz: On the whole “changing the pack” idea. People don’t change things that work for them. Privilege works better than lack of privilege (I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor…). If you really want equality, then you have to threaten your own unearned privledge (which is totally not fun at first but is awesome later) and you have to threaten the unearned privilege of others. They *will not* like this.

    One sign that they are not liking it is they will call you names and say that you, yourself, are far too privileged to be challenging their privilege (see Dan). Another is they will argue that in order to challenge their privilege, you must first give them a convincing reason why they should allow you to challenge them in the first place (see Hawkins). One of the privileges of being privileged is being able to choose who challenges your privilege. That is the first privilege that must always be stomped on.

  60. #60 Cara
    March 16, 2010

    Hawkins is confusing his not having heard certain arguments with those arguments not existing at all.

    I think he’s confusing his not paying attention the dozens of times he’s posted (in a pretty consistently hostile fashion, I might add) and been directed to material that could enlighten him with “not having heard”, SKM.

    Same old entitled crap. We don’t drop everything and spoon-feed the poor baby when he throws a tantrum, so he projects his irrationality onto the other posters.

  61. #61 Cara
    March 16, 2010

    Dan @ 45

    If you can’t come up with someone more articulate to add to the conversation than calling someone a cunt, perhaps you should consider staying silent.

    Oh, but Anon, if he stayed silent he couldn’t tell us what he *thinks* (if you can call whatever erratic electrical impulses blat about in his largely vacant skull “thinking”). And that would be just tragic.

  62. #62 Michael Hawkins
    March 16, 2010

    And when you’ve read it, maybe you’ll see why “screeching” is gendered, the problem with infantilizing women, and why you demanding that we explain things to you is privileged behavior regardless of what the topic of the post is.

    This is probably my number one issue with these sort of arguments. You’re insisting that a particular term is related to gender and demeaning even though the intention is unrelated. What’s more, your connotations are not my connotations. I’m not running around saying there are absolutely no sexist words that get bandied about unbeknownst to the user, but this is not a case of it.

    This argument bothers me not because I hate women and want them to cook for me immediately before and after blowing me, but instead because 1) it runs counter to so much other philosophy, especially Kant’s Good Will, and 2) I actually, genuinely care about language and how it gets used and abused. Deeming every other word offensive does not solve anything, as useful as that tactic can sometimes be.

    I still see no case being made for why it’s my privilege being shown when I ask for arguments; this is just another “You don’t get it” piece.

    I’m also not “infantilizing” women. I’m comparing the method of argument to that of children. The fact that women can make childish presentations as much as the next person is no fault of mine or any institutionalized manliness. Do you honestly think I would use the same term in relation to an average feminist philosopher? You (or at least others here) should take my term a little more personally.

    Why on earth would you expect anyone to make a case FOR feminism? I thought you claimed to be a scientist? Surely as a scientist you realise that the idea that all human beings are pretty much the same is actually the null hypothesis.

    I never claimed to have any particular status here, and certainly not scientist, but that wouldn’t really matter. I’m referring to the philosophy of feminism. Unless I’m mistaken, philosophical writings usually contain arguments.

  63. #63 Queef
    March 17, 2010

    @ginger

    Why are you wary of a natural bodily occurrence?

  64. #64 Cara
    March 17, 2010

    This argument bothers me not because I hate women and want them to cook for me immediately before and after blowing me, but instead because 1) it runs counter to so much other philosophy, especially Kant’s Good Will, and 2) I actually, genuinely care about language and how it gets used and abused. Deeming every other word offensive does not solve anything, as useful as that tactic can sometimes be.

    Dude. Nobody cares what “your problem” with feminism is, and you are not the All-Powerful Arbiter of language or anything else. The very idea that you think your off-topic nattering has any bearing on the discussion would be cute if you were a kid. But you’re not, and it’s not.

    Either read the Fem 101 stuff to educate yourself or don’t, but quit being such a nuisance. You don’t know what you’re talking about, so lurk more to get a handle on it and quit interrupting.

  65. #65 Ace
    March 17, 2010

    “This is probably my number one issue with these sort of arguments. You’re insisting that a particular term is related to gender and demeaning even though the intention is unrelated. What’s more, your connotations are not my connotations. I’m not running around saying there are absolutely no sexist words that get bandied about unbeknownst to the user, but this is not a case of it.”

    Michael, I think this reveals a lack of understanding on your part. Regardless of your intentions, your words do affect other people! And, since other people aren’t mind readers, this effect is sometimes NOT what you intended, especially if you choose your words poorly. As you admit, your connotations are not universal. You don’t get to choose how other people interpret your statements, and furthermore, you don’t get to tell them that they can’t be insulted, offended, or enraged by them. What you can do is make an effort to learn how other people interpret your statements so that you can ensure that your meanings and intentions get across.

    Which I would suggest that you do.

  66. #66 Michael Hawkins
    March 17, 2010

    Dude. Nobody cares what “your problem” with feminism is

    No. My problem is with your ridiculous arguments, not feminism.

    You don’t get to choose how other people interpret your statements, and furthermore, you don’t get to tell them that they can’t be insulted, offended, or enraged by them.

    But caricature feminists get to tell everyone else to curtail their language?

  67. #67 MadGastronomer
    March 17, 2010

    Wow, Michael, it’s really funny how you whine and complain about us telling you you don’t get it . . . but somehow, you just keep proving us right!

  68. #68 Ruth
    March 17, 2010

    Michael Hawkins: Unless I’m mistaken, philosophical writings usually contain arguments.

    So where are the philosophical arguments FOR patriarchy?

  69. #69 Ruth
    March 17, 2010

    Michael Hawkins: I never claimed to have any particular status here, and certainly not scientist, but that wouldn’t really matter. I’m referring to the philosophy of feminism.

    As this is a science blog, perhaps a scientific approach might be more appropriate, don’t you think?

    I will expand on my previous point, since you do not appear to be a scientist, and therefore probably didn’t have the foggiest idea what I was on about.

    Science involves the proposal and testing of hypotheses. A scientific hypothesis often takes the form of declaring that there will be a difference, sometimes specified, sometimes not, between two objects/processes/situations. However, it is not possible to prove something true, it is only possible to prove something false. So in order to support (not prove) a scientific hypothesis, the scientist will create a negation of the hypothesis, and attempt to prove this false. This negation is referred to as the null hypothesis, and it usually takes the form of declaring that there will be no difference between the objects/processes/situations. In science, the null hypothesis is always assumed to be true until evidence is found to disprove or refute it.

    Since feminism is, in effect, a declaration that there is no important difference between men and women which can justify their different treatment, scientifically speaking it is the null hypothesis, and should be assumed to be true until it is refuted.

    Using a scientific approach to feminism, it is the anti-feminists, not the feminists, who are making the positive claim, and the onus is on them to justify that claim, not on the feminists to refute it.

  70. #70 Comrade PhysioProf
    March 17, 2010

    What you can do is make an effort to learn how other people interpret your statements so that you can ensure that your meanings and intentions get across.

    People do this when they give a shit about having their meanings and intentions understood. The thing you have to understand about Hawkins is that his delusional grandiosity makes him think that he doesn’t, and that by “winning arguments” he is going to satisfy the emptiness he feels in his gut.

    I feel sorry for the dude, and hope he figures out before it’s too late that life is not a high-school debate-team championship, and that the emptiness he feels is only going to be filled by embracing mutual empathy with his fellow human beings, not by doing the righteous battle of rational skeptical d00dliness with people who are indifferent to his “arguments”.

    And I know that Hawkins is reading this comment, and going, “Empathy!? That’s for fucking pussies! My ARGUMENT is RIGHT!!” The thing you wanna wrap your mind around, holmes, is that when it comes to *real* relationships with other human beings, all that Kant “winning arguments” shit don’t mean jack fuck.

    Seeing as how women are about half the human beings on the planet, and thus you probably are going to want to establish loving relationships with some of them, you might want to give this shit a bit of thought. Otherwise, you are gonna end up one of those bitter assholes on a men’s rights blog ranting and raving about those “greedy bitches who ruined my life”. You’re only a college kid, so there’s time to change course.

  71. #71 Endor
    March 17, 2010

    “Fuck me. You really are a cunt, aren’t you. ”

    LOL. First off, no! No woman is going to fuck you. You’re a flaccid misogynist. Second, i giggle with glee each time one of the useless, whiny losers show your true colors the moment a woman trumps you and you realize you’ve got fuck all in your arsenal but bigotry.

    have fun choking on your bigoted bile, coward!

  72. #72 Endor
    March 17, 2010

    “But caricature feminists get to tell everyone else to curtail their language?”

    Translation: MIKEY decides who’s a REAL feminist! MIKEY decides what you stupid chicks are allowed to talk about! MIKEY decides what constitutes a real argument (even though he’s never presented one himself. But he totally recognize one when he sees it. It’s whatever makes his teeny weeny happy!). MIKE SMASH GURLS!!

    I never realized I could feel such pity for clueless boys. It must really suck going throughout life with blinders on.

    *lol*

  73. #73 Endor
    March 17, 2010

    “I still see no case being made for why it’s my privilege being shown when I ask for arguments”

    *facepalm* Okay, let’s try explaining this to you AGAIN.

    The fact that you idiotically demand arguments while idiotically ignoring everything presented in any of these threads, that’s privilege. We are TELLING YOU everything you need to know. But you don’t want to hear it because its not what you decided – long before you came here – is true. That’s privilege. You’re male, you have NO FUCKING CLUE what you’re talking about, but you’re convinced WE’RE wrong, because you decided – long before you came here – that reality for all people conforms to your personal, subjective experience.

    That’s privilege, dumpling. Shut your mouth, still those typing fingers, open your eyes and THINK. And there might be hope for you yet.

  74. #74 DiGz
    March 17, 2010

    Michael,

    At 32 (your first post on the thread) you said, “Stop making your ‘argument’ be “You just don’t get it! You just don’t geeeeeeeeeeet it!” and maybe someone will listen. Time and again I see users trying to engage a discussion here and on other sites only to be told they’re sexist for even questioning anything. Okay, great, you have a perspective that others don’t understand. Now show your argument. Using letters in place of zeros does not count.”

    At 64 you were told to read Fem 101 to understand the arguments.

    At 66 you say: “No. My problem is with your ridiculous arguments, not feminism.”

    If you actually go to Fem 101 you’ll see FAQs entitled “Isn’t ‘the Patriarchy’ just some conspiracy theory that blames all men, even decent men, for women’s woes?” and “Aren’t feminists just sexists towards men?” The blog is a feminist blog and it explains in detail the thinking behind the arguments made on this and other threads (and the arguments are for equality not the oppression of men) and DIRECTLY ADDRESSES YOUR CONCERNS. So, you can’t consider these arguments ridiculous and still claim you don’t have a problem with feminism. What you do have is a problem with understanding the issues. I suspect that is because you’re not interested in understanding the issues and you’re simply here to wave your willy, consciously or otherwise.

    SKM,

    I just realised I missed your question @2… in saying I was back off to pull the levers, I was acknowledging Zuska’s point, not saying I wish to maintain the status quo. I have a dry wit (er… or at least I like to kid myself that I do), which can lead to misinterpretations. That said, again, it puts the lie to Michael’s argument that women are jumping down men’s throats on these threads. In your first post on this thread, you politely asked for clarification of my point. In Michael’s first post on this thread, he scolded the argument and the people making those arguments. Food for thought Michael.

  75. #75 Miss O. Ginny
    March 17, 2010

    ‘Mansplaining’? That’s what you cunts are whining about now? You’ll never catch husbands with that kind of sourpuss attitude.

  76. #76 Rev Matt
    March 17, 2010

    Comrade PhysioProd is up there with the inimitable ToasterLeavings as people who come up with turns of phrase that I wish I could come up with. Brilliant.

    Hawkins is a concern troll. Ignore.

  77. #77 Cara
    March 17, 2010

    Nah. It’s more fun to watch his head spin around when we laugh at his petulant demands.

  78. #78 Cara
    March 17, 2010

    But feminists get to tell everyone else to curtail their language?

    We don’t show up on your blog telling you to quit whining and get the goddamn Cheeto dust off your fingers. Who do you think you are, you little pissant?

  79. #79 Cara
    March 17, 2010

    People do this when they give a shit about having their meanings and intentions understood. The thing you have to understand about Hawkins is that his delusional grandiosity makes him think that he doesn’t, and that by “winning arguments” he is going to satisfy the emptiness he feels in his gut.

    (His mom told him it’s just gas from the Mountain Dew, but she’s a girl so he doesn’t believe her).

  80. #80 Michael Hawkins
    March 17, 2010

    So where are the philosophical arguments FOR patriarchy?

    This is just a dirty attempt to set up a strawman. I say there are arguments for the philosophy of feminism and you attempt to say I think the arguments need to be shown for gender equality in general. I don’t understand why you’re trying to make this point. No one here is arguing against equality or saying “Show me why women and men are equal”. The sort of arguments (as opposed to the declarations presented here) I’m seeking are the ones which actually say why ‘mansplaining’ is legitimate, why it makes sense. I want to know why virtually every picture of a woman’s body is apparently sexist (refer to past threads on this blog). And when someone actually attempts that argument, I want to know why intention, will, and localized context become irrelevant. Just because feminism, like most philosophies, has significant values, that doesn’t mean it automatically trumps thousands of years worth of all other philosophy (in other words, you don’t get to ignore Kant and co).

    As this is a science blog, perhaps a scientific approach might be more appropriate, don’t you think?

    Like a presentation of the philosophical evidence? That’s rather what I want. And again, no one expects to find much of that from a site like this, but in places where phonetic spelling isn’t hip and at times when someone is saying “This argument is wrong”, I think there’s a reasonable expectation of being told why.

    Science involves the proposal and testing of hypotheses. A scientific hypothesis often takes the form of declaring that there will be a difference, sometimes specified, sometimes not, between two objects/processes/situations. However, it is not possible to prove something true, it is only possible to prove something false. So in order to support (not prove) a scientific hypothesis, the scientist will create a negation of the hypothesis, and attempt to prove this false. This negation is referred to as the null hypothesis, and it usually takes the form of declaring that there will be no difference between the objects/processes/situations. In science, the null hypothesis is always assumed to be true until evidence is found to disprove or refute it.

    Can I call you a ‘mansplainer’ now?

    Since feminism is, in effect, a declaration that there is no important difference between men and women which can justify their different treatment, scientifically speaking it is the null hypothesis, and should be assumed to be true until it is refuted.

    Using a scientific approach to feminism, it is the anti-feminists, not the feminists, who are making the positive claim, and the onus is on them to justify that claim, not on the feminists to refute it.

    Feminism constitutes a philosophy. Philosophies have arguments. On both sides.

    And I’m not arguing against equality and all that dandy jazz. No one is doing that (despite the constant insertions of phonetically spelled words and zeros in place of O’s that imply otherwise).

    Cara,

    We don’t show up on your blog telling you to quit whining and get the goddamn Cheeto dust off your fingers. Who do you think you are, you little pissant?

    The argument was that I shouldn’t be telling anyone else how to interpret my words. The response was that the person receiving the words trumps all. In addition, what that person thinks I meant still matters more than any explanation of what I actually meant.

    “Screeching” refers to making childish arguments and holds no relation to gender, either in connotation or intention.

    So? I think it is demeaning, therefore it is.

    Is anyone listening to themselves? Apply thought experiments to all this ‘arguments’ *cough*declarations*cough*. Are other words offensive because of misinterpretation? Is “niggardly” inherently offensive because a lot of people will associate it with “nigger”? If your answer is no, then why is your answer yes in a parallel situation? Is this situation not parallel? Where lies the fault in the analogy?

  81. #81 AnonAndon
    March 17, 2010

    Is anyone listening to themselves?

    Uuhm, yes. Clearly you love the sound of your own voice (sight of your own text?) so we know at least you are listening.

    I have an idea for an exercise. Stop typing a furious response to the above, (without considering it for a moment), and try to brainstorm loaded words in the English language. Seriously, can you not think of a few words whose context change based on who uses them? Words that may be empowering when used by some, but denigrating and insulting when used by others. There are many, many cases where how a word makes someone *feel* trumps it’s intended usage.

    Ultimately, if someone is offended by something you say, you cannot blame them for being too touchy-feely. Not everyone is as adept at ignoring what others say as you are.

  82. #82 Michael Hawkins
    March 17, 2010

    There are many, many cases where how a word makes someone *feel* trumps it’s intended usage.

    I agree, and we can expand this to tone, demeanor, mannerisms and other intricacies of communication. But enough context should still trump that. My point that there’s a lot of “You don’t get it” going on is all about the lack of ability (or outright refusal) to give the reasons why X,Y,Z is so/not so.

    Go look up Chris Rock’s skit about the difference between black people and niggers. Whether you like the guy or not, his usage ought not be offensive to anyone. Aside from being comedy in the first place, he qualifies what each term means. One references skin color while another references actions. Take the term out of context and it becomes offensive again, but within the appropriate context it is understood to mean something more specific. (Though that specific thing may be offensive to you, I don’t know. At the least, it should be offensive in a different way.)

    Ultimately, if someone is offended by something you say, you cannot blame them for being too touchy-feely. Not everyone is as adept at ignoring what others say as you are.

    You’re right insofar as I ought to qualify certain words, but should I be to blame once I’ve explained the term?

    And, on the reason behind the offensiveness, should I be held responsible for someone thinking ‘He thinks I’m childish as a person’ even though I’ve pointed out that I’m specifically saying ‘This argument is childish’?

  83. #83 Cara
    March 17, 2010

    Shorter Michael Hawkins: “TAKE ME SERIOUSLY!!! PAY ATTENTION TO MEEEEEEEE!!! WAAAAAHH!”

  84. #84 Cara
    March 17, 2010

    Ultimately, if someone is offended by something you say, you cannot blame them for being too touchy-feely. Not everyone is as adept at ignoring what others say as you are.

    *snort*

  85. #85 Cara
    March 17, 2010

    Where lies the fault in the analogy?

    The fault is in your head. Nobody here sees any useful analogy, or, indeed, anything resembling rational argument from you.

    Go do your homework. When you’ve really learned something instead of spouting thirdhand bullshit, come back.

  86. #86 Comrade PhysioProf
    March 17, 2010

    Jeezus fuck, Hawkins. Are you really as fucking stupid as you appear?

  87. #87 Cara
    March 17, 2010

    Jeezus fuck, Hawkins. Are you really as fucking stupid as you appear?

    He reminds me of this poor kid in one of my college classes who had no, ZERO, social skills–you know, the kind of boy that’s always blattering random argumentative bullshit at the instructor in an attempt to seem smarter than everyone else? But they don’t ever really get the effect they’re having? And they don’t notice the other people rolling their eyes? And when a few girls (it’s ALWAYS girls) take pity on them and nod and smile to be polite, these twerps get all full of themselves and think they’ve now got the harem they’re entitled to by D00d Law and keep spouting shit?

    So, actually, I guess we’re doing Mikey a favor by telling him he’s a twit. The girls in his classes are too polite to tell him the truth.

  88. #88 SKM
    March 17, 2010

    I’m going to guess that I’m not the only one here who got to college and found that some of my classmates were very used to being the smartest kid in class back in high school, and did NOT take it well when they found themselves surrounded by bright lights.

    You know–those types who think that any old threadbare contrarian shit sounds smart if you slap a “prima facie” on the front of it. And then don’t back down no matter what.

    The effect appeared to grow worse at first (after that first intro philosophy survey class!), then level off as they either got wise or got overshadowed by folks who were actually there to learn, not to protect the image of how smart they thought they were.

  89. #89 Michael Hawkins
    March 17, 2010

    The fault is in your head. Nobody here sees any useful analogy, or, indeed, anything resembling rational argument from you.

    You’ve got it all wrong. You’re suppose to be a caricature feminist. This “If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you” line is the stuff of caricature housewives.

  90. #90 MadGastronomer
    March 18, 2010

    Look, Michael, I gave you the fucking link, I told you this is not the appropriate space to ask these questions, if you actually want to understand, go read the Feminism 101 stuff. Unless, of course, you don’t want to understand, you just want to argue. In which case, fuck off and find someplace else to do it.

  91. #91 skeptifem
    March 18, 2010

    “This is probably my number one issue with these sort of arguments. You’re insisting that a particular term is related to gender and demeaning even though the intention is unrelated.”

    So what, you should have to announce your intent to be sexist before anyone interprets what you say as sexism? Please. That is like saying a joke is hilarious because the joke teller intended it to be, and that the audience should automatically laugh because of that. What a bunch of crap. Hey, maybe telling rape jokes at work isn’t sexism because the dude who told the joke intended for me to laugh, not get offended! Should I just erase the hurt that exists by replacing my own thoughts with what other people intend for me to think? That doesn’t sound very fair to me. It sounds like being a doormat.

    Anyway, thanks for quoting me zuska. This is the 3rd scienceblog article I have been mentioned in post blog(!!!). I started writing a book for fun (about feminism), but the encouragement I get makes me think maybe it could actually go somewhere. Thanks everyone!

  92. #92 KrisT
    March 18, 2010

    I am half-convinced that “Michael Hawkins” is the sockpuppet login of a regular commenter here, and that this thread, and his comments in it, is a piece of internet performance art.

  93. #93 Ace
    March 18, 2010

    “You’re right insofar as I ought to qualify certain words, but should I be to blame once I’ve explained the term?”

    If you’ve attempted to explain what you meant to clear up the confusion, and other people explain to you what effect those words have on them, and you keep using them… then you’re just showing that you don’t learn very well. You can’t just barge into someone’s community and demand that they accept your language and your definitions of things. Well, you can, but as you might be noticing, it’s really not very effective.

  94. #94 Ruth
    March 18, 2010

    Michael Hawkins: I say there are arguments for the philosophy of feminism and you attempt to say I think the arguments need to be shown for gender equality in general.

    You really, really DO need to read Feminism 101, don’t you?

    Feminism IS gender equality, dum-dum.

  95. #95 Ruth
    March 18, 2010

    Michael Hawkins: You’re right insofar as I ought to qualify certain words, but should I be to blame once I’ve explained the term?

    If you use cetrtain words/expressions to mean certain things, you are then informed that those words are likely to be interpreted to mean something insulting, and you continue to use the words, then, yes, you are to blame.

    You cannot use the excuse of ignorance once that ignorance has been corrected. If you use a word KNOWING that your audience will interpret it as insulting, then clearly your intention is to insult your audience.

  96. #96 Comrade PhysioProf
    March 18, 2010

    You’re right insofar as I ought to qualify certain words, but should I be to blame once I’ve explained the term?

    Hawkins, I’m pretty sure that no one gives a shit enough to “blame” you. I think the word you’re looking for is “pity”.

    Maybe you really do have people impressed with your massive throbbing rational skepitcal d00d schtick at your third-rate college in the middle of jeezusfuck nowhere. But whaddya gonna do when you have to join the real world?

  97. #97 SKM
    March 18, 2010

    But whaddya gonna do when you have to join the real world?

    Good question. It’s worth noting, however, that certain people hold themselves to an especially low standard when it comes to discussing feminism (or in talking with majority-female groups in general). That is, they don’t apply the same standards to themselves that they do in other fields.

    For example, I doubt that Dan is stupid enough to go into a journal club without having read the paper and say, “hey, I glanced at the paper–I didn’t read it, but I glanced at it–and I didn’t see any evidence for what you’re saying the authors show! I mean, you’re welcome to point me to the evidence, but..*skeptical shrug*.” He’d be laughed out of the room, and flunk if the journal club was for credit. yet that’s exactly what he did here.

    I think I used a similar example back in Zuska’s first Gender Knot thread to point out how some guys were demanding to have stuff spoon-fed to them, and felt entitled to do so because the subject was related to feminism. IIRC I just got some baloney back about how scientists are totally responsible for explaining basic science to woo-peddlers. IOW, they changed the subject.

    My point is that these folks probably seem more reasonable in chem lab because they respect the subject matter and hold themselves to basic minimum standards of critical thought there.

  98. #98 Endor
    March 18, 2010

    “Jeezus fuck, Hawkins. Are you really as fucking stupid as you appear?”

    Clearly he is. Blind privilege breeds stupidity. he’s been given links and explanations and he’s *STILL* claiming no one’s done either. He’s a complete and total fucking moron.

  99. #99 Rev Matt
    March 18, 2010

    “You’re right insofar as I ought to qualify certain words, but should I be to blame once I’ve explained the term? ”

    If you’re the only one in the conversation who defines the termt hat way, then yes you are to blame for insisting on using it to mean something that no one else agrees that it means. You can’t impose your preferred usage on others. You can try, but you’ll just end up being ignored. For a meaningful discussion definitions of terms have to be agreed upon and you’re simply refusing to acknowledge the accepted meanings of terms in this language community and demanding that everyone think the way you do. Not going to happen.

    If you’re not interested in actual dialogue then you’re wasting everyone’s time including your own. If you are interested then you have to adjust your language to suit your audience. Interpersonal communication 101.

  100. #100 Cara
    March 18, 2010

    For example, I doubt that Dan is stupid enough to go into a journal club without having read the paper and say, “hey, I glanced at the paper–I didn’t read it, but I glanced at it–and I didn’t see any evidence for what you’re saying the authors show! I mean, you’re welcome to point me to the evidence, but..*skeptical shrug*.” He’d be laughed out of the room, and flunk if the journal club was for credit. yet that’s exactly what he did here.

    Well, SKM, everyone knows that feminism is all just a bunch of girly stuff, it’s not like you have to think about anything. All a guy has to do is listen to the women bitch about being raped to figure it all out. The problem is that the bitches are too dumb to listen when a guy tries to help them out (by explaining why that shit happens to them and telling them how they can do life better to prevent it). You know, the easy stuff they’d all get if they weren’t spending their time talking to each other.

  101. #101 Cara
    March 18, 2010

    Blind privilege breeds stupidity. He’s been given links and explanations and he’s *STILL* claiming no one’s done either. He’s a complete and total fucking moron.

    Oh, he’s stirring shit so he can go tell his little libertarian/MRA-wannabe buddies how he pissed off the humorless feminists (I guess laughing at him doesn’t count as humor). ;) He’s a fucking moron in the sense that he thinks he’s upset anyone, but he’s not trying to understand anything. If he did it would defeat his whole purpose.

  102. #102 Cara
    March 18, 2010

    One of the privileges of being privileged is being able to choose who challenges your privilege. That is the first privilege that must always be stomped on.

    Yvonne is awesome.

  103. #103 Endor
    March 18, 2010

    “little libertarian/MRA-wannabe”

    Oy. I should have known. Where’s there’s intense stupidity, bigotry and boring trolling, there’s little libertarian/MRA-wannabes.

  104. #104 Michael Hawkins
    March 18, 2010

    skeptifem,

    So what, you should have to announce your intent to be sexist before anyone interprets what you say as sexism?

    Don’t quote mine me. The rest of that post goes on to point out that I’m not disagreeing that sexist terms exist unbeknownst to the user. I am not claiming that sexism does not exist because people may not realize they are being sexist.

    Intent is important, however. It’s reasonable to say, “Hey, wait a minute…that term sounds demeaning to X group”, but what isn’t reasonable is to then listen to the explanation of the word, the context, the intended connotations, and (especially in this case) the complete lack of relevance to X group, only to then ignore all that. “Screech” is meant to trivialize and demean the argument, yes. But it is based upon the fact that the argument is childish and children tend to screech.

    This reminds me of that congress member in ’08 that called the Obamas “uppity”. His intention was obvious: he was playing off the whole elitist rhetoric. He understood the word choice to have that meaning. He later claimed ignorance of the racial connotations of it all and apologized. It’s easy to see why many would be skeptical of his claim of ignorance, but for those who actually didn’t know that use of the word (which includes myself and countless other random schmoes who chimed in on the Internet, TV, and radio), his claim is plausible. But for the sake of argument, say he really had no idea what the word meant in reference to black people. Does that make him racist? Does he hate black people all of a sudden?

    If you’ve attempted to explain what you meant to clear up the confusion, and other people explain to you what effect those words have on them, and you keep using them… then you’re just showing that you don’t learn very well.

    Does it make any difference if the word is defined immediately prior to its use? Look up Chris Rocks’ bit about niggers and black people. He makes a distinction, but he obviously knows the effect the term has on many people. Is he being racist?

    If you use a word KNOWING that your audience will interpret it as insulting, then clearly your intention is to insult your audience.

    I actually like the first part of your argument (which is roughly the same as the one I just quoted), but this part is a jump. If I say “Here’s what this means” and then I use the word, I think a case can be made for insensitivity or a disregard of others, but the case for intended insult is harder. It’s fundamentally unfair for someone to tell me what I did or did not intend after I’ve said otherwise; if someone believes me to be a liar here, then why bother with any discussion?

    And in fact, any further use of the term is based upon a rebellion toward the PC junk that is out there. Believe it or not, I really do care about language. I don’t want to see it curtailed because it might offend someone. (Another anecdotal story…I referred to the people with whom a friend works as “retarded” once because, well, that’s what they are. What’s more, my friend’s company makes a distinction between mentally ill and mentally retarded, freely using the term. In this context, it’s descriptive of a condition. Of course, someone freaked out upon my use, assuming I was just calling people retards. Explanation did not matter. And neither did context, evidently.)

    you’re simply refusing to acknowledge the accepted meanings of terms in this language community and demanding that everyone think the way you do. Not going to happen.

    So if a majority thinks a word means X, it should always mean X? Like when someone says “That was niggardly of him”, that person should be shamed because a lot of people think the term is related to “nigger”?

    And I’m not demanding you think any particular way. You can define the term how you please. I’ve told you how I actually used it. You still don’t get to ignore Kant and co.

  105. #105 Michael Hawkins
    March 18, 2010

    Two more points.

    First: I’m libertarian? I think people should generally be allowed to do as they please – socially – provided it causes no harm to others, but I’m also pretty much disgusted when anyone tries to label Obama a socialist economically. He has not come close to earning such a prestigious title. (And in case you’ve missed it, my views are fucking utilitarian, if anything. Christ.)

    Second: If you would like to save time, Comrade Major Meltdown, I am literally not reading your posts (bar the occasional circle-jerk Endor is trying to get going…or I guess segment jerk). You’re a spamming troll.

  106. #106 Comrade Svilova
    March 18, 2010

    “What isn’t reasonable is to then listen to the explanation of the word, the context, the intended connotations, and (especially in this case) the complete lack of relevance to X group, only to then ignore all that.”

    Your assumption that your analysis of the gendered connotations of a word is more valid and must be accepted once explained is an example of privilege.

    Read the Feminism 101 FAQs. Read some books and take some gender studies classes. STAT.

  107. #107 Michael Hawkins
    March 18, 2010

    Your assumption that your analysis of the gendered connotations of a word is more valid and must be accepted once explained is an example of privilege.

    1) I did not say one version is more valid than the other. Feel free to point out where I did.

    2) I did not say you must accept my definition. I actually said, “And I’m not demanding you think any particular way. You can define the term how you please. I’ve told you how I actually used it. You still don’t get to ignore Kant and co.

    I’m saying it is unreasonable to say the word does not mean what I’m saying it means in my context, in my usage, with my connotations – after I’ve given a definition and explanation. This reminds me of all those people who accuse Dawkins of using “selfish” in some anthropomorphic way.

    And you still don’t get to ignore Kant and co.

  108. #108 Zuska
    March 18, 2010

    Mikey. You are so dull and tiresome. Nothing about you is even amusing anymore. Either go read ALL of Feminisim 101 before posting here again, or else find somewhere else to troll. I have eldercare responsibilities and I can’t be bothered with babysitting a whiny ass d00dche at the same time.

  109. #109 skeptifem
    March 19, 2010

    “So if a majority thinks a word means X, it should always mean X? ”

    The meaning of X can change, but not because one person says so. Social constructions do actually mean something and exist collectively. If you don’t believe me, try to convince a shop that your one dollar bill actually represents twenty dollars in purchasing power.

    As for the rest, I am not going to debate someone who won’t read basic material on the subject. I didn’t quote mine you either, you consistently made the argument that the intent of the speaker trumps the effect the words had on the audience. I’m not going to play debate team with you though, why would I? I wasted far too much time trying to nicely/calmly explain feminism to dudes who simply weren’t interested to fall for this whole deal again. You’re like a whiny creationist, who wants people to respond to their not even wrong arguments, and ignores links to talkorigins. You can educate yourself, or be ignored. Someone who genuinely wants to learn does not act like you have on scienceblogs.

  110. #110 Michael Hawkins
    March 19, 2010

    The meaning of X can change, but not because one person says so. Social constructions do actually mean something and exist collectively. If you don’t believe me, try to convince a shop that your one dollar bill actually represents twenty dollars in purchasing power.

    Feminist philosophy concedes that “screech” and similar words often are not taken to mean anything related to gender – it’s male privilege and there often is not awareness. The argument is that it is not this definition that then matters, but rather how the connotations are perceived, what the historical relevance is, and how the oppressed react that matters. If this is so, then the meaning of a term cannot change for feminism just because feminists say so. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

    As for the rest, I am not going to debate someone who won’t read basic material on the subject.

    I’m hardly disagreeing with the broad* overview of feminism. My dispute is on specific examples. Unlike the representation of the philosophy given here, context matters to me.

    I didn’t quote mine you either, you consistently made the argument that the intent of the speaker trumps the effect the words had on the audience.

    I’ve argued that intent is important and that you don’t get to ignore it because it’s inconvenient; I doubt feminism somehow trumps hundreds of years of other philosophy. I’ve also argued – immediately after your quote mine, in fact – that context matters.

    I’ve offered specific examples where if what you’re saying is true, then it should be true in what I’ve offered (i.e., Chris Rock or “niggardly”).

    *Was this offensive? I know the word can mean different things in different contexts. Sorry I just oppressed you here, I guess.

  111. #111 LostMarbles
    March 19, 2010

    Does that make him racist? Does he hate black people all of a sudden?

    Yes, he is racist. No, no he didn’t suddenly start hating black people.

    You seem to be labouring under the misapprehension that the default is not-racist/sexist/ableist/classist/etc. when the exact opposite is true. I am sexist. You are sexist. Pretty much everyone is sexist to some degree because sexism is not simply something that “bad” people who hate an oppressed group do, it’s a cultural system based around privilege that everyone is taught from a young age.

    If you want to actually talk about feminist, or any other anti-oppression philosophy, you better do some reading on privilege fist because you clearly don’t understand the concept and it’s important. Like everyone else here, I would suggest reading Feminism 101. Googling “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” is also very informative. Also, searching for Zuska’a post on “The Gender Knot” and maybe even reading the book would be a good idea. But I guess you’re probably going to completely ignore this because doing some background reading would distract you from how awesomely you think you are doing at the debate you imagine to be having with us “caricature feminists”.

  112. #112 thebewilderness
    March 19, 2010

    Do you ever wonder how hard a person has to work in order to not see the sexism that is everywhere?
    Michael Whoozit has just given a demonstration of what it takes and how it is done.
    Any eight year old girl or boy has a clearer understanding of what is being discussed on these threads than Michael Whoozit does. Understandable, I suppose, since willful ignorance of the obvious requires years of dedicated effort to achieve.

  113. #113 Michael Hawkins
    March 19, 2010

    Yes, he is racist. Yes, he is racist. No, no he didn’t suddenly start hating black people.

    You seem to be labouring under the misapprehension that the default is not-racist/sexist/ableist/classist/etc.

    So that congressman was showing his privilege by engaging in rhetoric that was about elitism?

    Understandable, I suppose, since willful ignorance of the obvious requires years of dedicated effort to achieve.

    This sentence claims that very few people are willing to admit the obvious inference of the last two sentences, with an implication that the reader is not one of those very few people.

  114. #114 veganrampage
    March 19, 2010

    For fuck’s sake did you finally cut that Mikey idiot off?

    I come here for the terrific posts, education, and mansplaining guffaws but that “moran” was the energizer bunny of fucktwits.
    I couldn’t drag my eyes through the sludge of his last comments, but thanks to all for the entertaining replies.

  115. #115 Zuska
    March 19, 2010

    Well, we’ve all had fun watching Michael fuss and spit and practice his best high school debate team schtick. But I really am serious about having lost my patience for this – maybe it’s just the elder care talking – but if the next time I log in and see a comment from Michael, and it DOESN’T say “I’m off to read all of Feminism 101 and promise not to come back and comment till I’ve done so!”, his ass is going to be banned here. I am so not joking.

  116. #116 veganrampage
    March 19, 2010

    I just watched that little movie you made with that tool Mikey.

    I see you are miles ahead of me, and have mocking him publicly well underway and well in hand. Absolutely beautiful.

    Now can you please add that cunt Queef, the one whose tiny brain matches his tiny penis? He asked for it, and he should get it.
    You know what they say, “he was asking for it.”

  117. #117 skeptifem
    March 19, 2010

    I predict a persecution complex will result from the banning. It will be pretty funny to see when it spills onto other science blogs.

    I can’t blame anyone for wanting to ban him. When I post “I am not having a debate about feminism when you won’t go read anything on the subject” he seems to read “Wow, that chick really wants to have a debate with me”. Knob.

  118. #118 MartinB
    March 19, 2010

    @Michael Hawkins
    Here is one link- reading this you might start to understand why language can be sexist even without the speaker intending to be:
    http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~evans/cs655/readings/purity.html

  119. #119 Comrade Svilova
    March 19, 2010

    P.S. Michael:

    Before you bring up Kant on a feminist blog, you need to read and contemplate Jane Flax’s chapter on Kant and Enlightenment thinking in “Disputed Subjects.”

    If anything, resting your argument on Kant (why?) offers a plethora of reasons for feminists to question these premises. But again, until you’re willing to engage with what feminists define as feminism (rather than your own statement of what you believe feminism is) there’s no point in discussing feminist theories with you. Check your privilege at the door; it is not up to you to define what feminism is and to say that you “agree with feminism” when you refuse to engage with feminist thought. Especially when links and resources to the very, very basic elements of feminism have been provided.

  120. #120 Zuska
    March 19, 2010

    Please don’t use ‘cunt’ as an insult on this blog. Thank you. Also I am far too tired to find a link for you right now but Samia has schooled me on the problems with dick size insults.

  121. #121 ek_ladki
    March 19, 2010

    ROFL @ #10 c.p.

  122. #122 ek_ladki
    March 19, 2010

    you’re cool Zuska. i like your blog.

  123. #123 Yvonne
    March 19, 2010

    RT ek_ladki@122. Yup, you’re cool, Zuska.

  124. #124 Yvonne
    March 19, 2010

    I thought The Sexists’ interview with Thomas from “Yes Means Yes”, which ran today, would make a good intro piece for the folks who are genuinely asking for more resources as it is about points of access to feminist thought for the guys (d00ds may find it hard to understand). Plus, it’s a lovely antidote to the Hawkins slog. (I’m leaving the links out ’cause I think if you are new to this- as opposed to already knowing who Amanda Hess is – you should do the work of looking for it. I’ve given enough information to make that possible.)

  125. #125 capsiplex
    March 19, 2010

    Your assumption that your analysis of the gendered connotations of a word is more valid and must be accepted once explained is an example of privilege.

  126. #126 Michael Hawkins
    March 19, 2010

    My apologies. I have been reading the links I’ve been given here and in the past, including Fem 101, and especially as they pertain to the specific issues raised. What I did not realize, however, was that what you really meant was “Go read these sites and THEN come back…and agree with us.”

  127. #127 Michael Hawkins
    March 19, 2010

    Comrade Svilova,

    That criticism of Kant addresses the context of the writings, not the direct implications of it or any of the issues I’ve raised. Intention matters – even if it was a sexist man who originally said it.

  128. #128 Yvonne
    March 19, 2010

    @126 Hawkins wants to argue about the underpinnings of statements people have presented here. The people he seeks to argue with have repeatedly said they do not want to argue about those underpinnings. Hawkins has repeatedly ignored those statements and insisted on his right to argue with people even when they do not consent. What other situation does this sound like?

  129. #129 SKM
    March 19, 2010

    One of the problems here is that neither this thread nor the original thread to which Zuska links in this post were ever about “debating” “feminist philosophy”; they are about women’s lives. The threads are tagged “naming experience”. Abstract discussions of philosophy mean little without engaging with lived reality. And well, these threads happen to be about the latter.

    It’s like going into a butcher shop and demanding to be presented with cakes for sale.

  130. #130 SKM
    March 19, 2010

    Yvonne: I recall a thread on another SciBlogs blog where a commenter kept second-guessing the experience behind my comments (yes, it was about intent behind language!) until I finally just summarized my position and said I would leave it at that.

    The guy came back with “I hope you weren’t serious about being done here” and “if I can entice you to continue, consider…”. Really.

    Sometimes the words are wheedling, and sometimes outright coercive, but people who do this in comments threads have boundary issues that likely extend into face-to-face interactions. I just doubt that someone can be respectful in person and abandon that online.

    In short: I take your point, and it’s pretty scary.

  131. #131 Michael Hawkins
    March 19, 2010

    I’ve summarized and addressed a number of issues here.

    And I am very pleasant and polite in person. Just a big teddy bear.

  132. #132 Zuska
    March 19, 2010

    At one time, pet rocks were all the rage, and everybody amused themselves with them to while away boring hours. Then we all said, “this is a dumb senseless hunk of gravel that someone glued human-like features on and passed off as worth our attention, if only for amusement. I am SO over that!” And in the trash bin they all went.

    Goodby, Michael D00dche-kins!!!!

  133. #133 Yvonne
    March 19, 2010

    SKM: Yeah, it’s like the fractal of privilege. The shape repeats at different levels, different levels of threat, different levels of impact. But it’s the same shape repeated in different ways. At least having it on display like this gives me the opportunity to see the shape so I can better recognize when I might be accessing my own unearned privilege without realizing it. That’s about the only good I can see to reading someone who refuses to respect the discourse rules of the house he inserts himself into.

  134. #134 SKM
    March 19, 2010

    The notable yet not surprising thing about Hawkins’s posted response is the low standard he sets for himself. For example, he states that there is not “a significant number of people who really do think it is a woman’s fault for getting raped. Instead, the only close argument that actually gets made is that it is a good idea for women to not walk alone at night in dangerous places or that women should carry rape whistles and/or cell phones”

    This casual assumption is factually incorrect, yet he expects people to go over there and seriously engage his thinking. Good luck with that.

  135. #135 SKM
    March 19, 2010

    At least having it on display like this gives me the opportunity to see the shape so I can better recognize when I might be accessing my own unearned privilege without realizing it.

    Oh yes, this! Also, one can learn to spot the boundary issues and bad faith and cut one’s losses early. Of course, that’s harder to do if the boundary-crasher is in a position of power (boss, etc.), but in many casual interactions, we can hone the privilegometer and save ourselves by cutting off an interaction that will come to no good.

  136. #136 Zuska
    March 19, 2010

    Yvonne: thanks for pointing that out. This is one of the things I try to do with this blog, one of the reasons I let threads run amuck. You can learn things from studying the actual speech of the dominant group and its various apologists…it’s not the same as saying “this is what d00ds think and believe”. Show and tell is better than just tell.

    Even so, even I have had my fill of this particular show and tell.

  137. #137 Comrade Svilova
    March 20, 2010

    This isn’t perhaps important, but for those not following this discussion as it has bled over into Hawkins own blog, I’d like to point out that he responded to my recommendation that he read Jane Flax by a rebuttal — including a quote he attributed to Flax which not only is not penned by her and thus *does not* represent her scholarship on the gendering of language in Enlightenment thinking, but is part of an article by another author who specifically distances herself from Flax’s analysis, asserting that she (the other author) is more interested in pursuing another line of analysis. And it is this distancing sentence that Hawkins uses as an example of how Jane Flax is (supposedly) not addressing the actual texts of the Enlightenment.

    *headdesk*

  138. #138 veganrampage
    March 20, 2010

    Sorry Zuska, I got queef and Dan mixed up. Dan called a female commenter the C word in the beginning of this thread, and queef picked his screen name to be offensive. I take note of your objection, and promise not to do it again.

    It still amazes me that these manly types can’t stand to let a few women have VIRTUAL space, space that literally does not take up any space that is in the actual way of their space without crapping all over it. Then they repeatedly, obnoxiously re-state dribble when they have been asked to leave or just shut up by a number of people.

    I feel for your elder care duties, as I too am involved with that, and hope I didn’t make your life harder by also mis-crediting you with “mansplaining” in another thread as well. Sleep deprivation coupled with ire; not a great combo.

    I make many mistakes, but it is a comfort to know that no matter how many I make, I can never be the worst offender on this thread!

    Thanks to Zuska and all the great commenters.

  139. #139 Queef
    March 21, 2010

    I still don’t get what’s wrong with my name. It’s just something that happens.

  140. #140 Dedj
    March 21, 2010

    No one is debating whether it does or does not happen, so please refrain from using that line of arguement further.

    What is being debated is your stunning lack of foresight in deciding to name yourself after an often insulting and derogatory slang term on a website that is predominantly visited by women.

    You are either clueless, or you knowingly did it for your own amusement. You cannot claim any form of coincidence or innocent lack of malintent as a defence.

    You did not name yourself hypogonadism, or faecal compaction, yet – by your own arguement – they would have been equally valid names.

    Please stop trying to plead innocence. It’s clear as day that you’re being ‘controversial’ on purpose.

  141. #141 Rev Matt
    March 22, 2010

    @Yvonne: on continuing to demand a debate when everyone had already said they weren’t interested in a debate: I hadn’t even made that connection, that sheds a lot of light on what was happening there.

  142. #142 Endor
    March 22, 2010

    translated queef: This is the only way chicks will talk to me! Negative attention is better than none!

  143. #143 skeptifem
    March 23, 2010

    Rev Matt- yeah, I had the same thought at yvonne, but I didn’t want to say anything. I worry about trivializing things or looking hysterical. But when Yvonne wrote that I realized that having my words and will disregarded is something to be angry about whenever it happens. Thanks you guys, both of ya.

  144. #144 Rev Matt
    March 23, 2010

    @skeptifem: and yet plenty of men will claim that there’s nothing keeping women from speaking up. Any oppressed population will begin to self censor rather than risk the consequences.

    Not that you need me to tell you this, but you needn’t worry about trivializing or looking hysterical. If your perception is that x is happening then speaking out is always appropriate.

  145. #145 thebewilderness
    March 23, 2010

    Wherever feminists gather to observe the quality and density of the rain (sexism) there always seems to be some d00d who shows up to deny that water is wet and then demand a debate about it.

  146. #146 Ariel
    March 24, 2010

    I’m really late to this party, but I will say that my facebook status is officially, “I’m a femsplainer and I see sexism everywhere.”

  147. #147 Yvonne
    March 24, 2010

    @skeptifem: yeah, I wouldn’t have posted that just anywhere, but I could tell the main folks here would hear what I was actually saying. That’s why spaces like this are so important. If I’ve made a point that helps others, it’s because others have helped make a space in which the point could be made in the first place.

  148. #148 akitchenwitch
    March 24, 2010

    My favorite example of mansplaining:

    12 years ago, I went on a date with a tall handsome man to a terrible movie. (Deep Impact.) It was a first date. At one point during the boring movie, the phrase “Orion drive” was mentioned, without explanation. The man leaned over and began to explain, in detail, what an Orion drive was.

    “I know what it is,” I whispered, a little put out.

    He looked at me and kept explaining!

    I repeated, “I know what an Orion Drive is.”

    He blinked and kept explaining!

    I snarled, angrily, “I know what the hell an Orion drive is!” He shut up.

    For reasons I won’t go into here, I did agree to a second date with this man. And a third. And 12 years later, we’re married and he never has mansplained again.

  149. #149 Queef
    March 26, 2010

    Dedj, I came up with it long before I ever posted on Zuska’s blog. I’ve posted with it on plenty of other blogs before this. So, that fails. I also don’t see it as derogatory. I see it as a natural bodily function. If you don’t, sorry.

    You can use hypogonadism if you wish. I won’t get offended. Promise.

    Endor, I don’t see it that way either. Nice attempt at snarkiness though.

  150. #150 Endor
    March 26, 2010

    tell yourself whatever lies you need to get through the day, dumplin’.

  151. #151 Dedj
    March 26, 2010

    “I’ve posted with it on plenty of other blogs before this. So, that fails.”

    It doesn’t fail because you still elected to use it on this blog, in a thread that was/is about the gender based invalidation of general and specific experiences of women.

    You elected not to use a less obviously offensive name, despite the clear and obvious warning signs that such a name might just not go down very well on a site like this.

    That you don’t get how offensive it can be in context is the point that has been explained to you multiple times now.

    “I also don’t see it as derogatory. I see it as a natural bodily function. If you don’t, sorry.”

    Again, you confuse the selection of the name, and the action it describes. That you don’t get the distinction is why people have been pointing it out to you.

    So, you basically admitted lack of forethought, and this somehow absolves you from the responsibility of facing up to your lack of forethought?

    You really haven’t thought your defence out at all.

  152. #152 Queef
    March 26, 2010

    It didn’t deserve forethought. I’m not the one somehow forcing you to be offended by it.

  153. #153 Dedj
    March 26, 2010

    First, I’m not that much offended by it. This may be because I’m not a woman. However, I am aware that it can be seen as crass and offensive, and can perceive how some women may be offended – especially on a blog that has a fairly obvious focus on gender issues.

    I don’t believe I mentioned anything about blaming you for the offensiveness of the word, so you will cut that shit out right now.

    Your defence against the concern that you failed to consider the possibility of the inappropriateness of choosing to use that name here is……….that you didn’t consider the possiblity of the inappropriateness of your choice to use that name here.

    Well done. Perhaps you might like to engage your brain next time.

    You’ve basically spent the last few exchanges with myself and others admitting that you didn’t think about it how it may have come across to others or don’t care, and that you don’t care what others think of your actions.

    That you didn’t think about it is exactly the concern that was laid before you.

    No one here wants to know whether you thought about it or not – because you clearly didn’t – nor what your opinion is – because you’re clearly an inconsiderate asshole – what is under contention here is why you think your opinion should be adopted by everyone around you.

    Until you can properly adress the concerns with something more substantial than “I did it because I’m the sort of person that does that does these things” it would be appreciated by all if you were to kindly shut up and behave.

    What a waste of time you have been.

  154. #154 Cara
    March 27, 2010

    Oh, Dedj, he did it to impress other boyz. Ooh, so edgy he is. “Asshole” is giving the little tweaker too much credit.

    And his spit-up isn’t exactly a waste of time (except maybe his, if he’s trying to upset the grownups), because it beautifully illustrates our points to those who say things like, “Aren’t you all just oversensitive and looking for things to be upset about?”

    If someone has to have a handle like “Queef” to get attention on ANY site, how much power does he think he has to be acknowledged for his actual intelligence? And from whom does one want acknowledgment if one’s posting as “Queef” on a feminist site? Little Fauntleroy here isn’t quite the subtle genius he thinks he is (or has been told he is by those adolescents who can’t type a sentence at all).

    He must really be trying to stir something up, but isn’t bright enough to post something of substance. It’s like the teabaggers yelling racial slurs–no thought, just lizard-brain outbursts, like an infant crying for food.

    It’s sort of sad–or would be if it were an adult posting. For kids it’s a developmental stage (especially for boys who are mad that Mom can still tell them to clean their rooms) and with luck he’ll outgrow it.

  155. #155 Cara
    March 27, 2010

    This isn’t perhaps important, but for those not following this discussion as it has bled over into Hawkins own blog,

    Oh, I see. The poor kid has no traffic on his blog, so he taps into the handy ever-present current of misogyny as bait. I think he’d do better with LOLcats; still, making macros takes time and effort.

  156. #156 ginger
    March 28, 2010

    Eh. If your handle was Fart, queef, no one would even bother to read your posts, though flatulence is also a natural, indeed universal, part of life. The only reason you haven’t been snubbed on other forums is the word itself is obscure. I think you chose it so you could snicker like a ten-year-old because “I made you use a shocking word! And you don’t even know it!” Or, even worse, you see it as some form of vocabulary test – but it’s a stupid word, as the event it describes is rare, medically irrelevant, and doesn’t merit much discussion.

    Either way, your choice of handle is immature and you should probably live with the fact that women of broader vocabulary are going to sneer at you for using it.

  157. #157 ginmar
    March 30, 2010

    “It didn’t deserve forethought. I’m not the one somehow forcing you to be offended by it.”

    And allow me to show you just how much contempt I have for you, anything that concerns you, and how little interest I have in you, your opinions, and anything but the attention I feel is my due. From you bitches.

    You know, I’d have more—er, make that SOME—respect for these assholes if they’d just own up to it. Of course, then that would result in them being deservedly dropkicked into the Troll Purgatory…..

    The thing tha gets me about all these oh-so-edgey dudes is that the little fuckers never realize that the edgiest and most courageous thing they can do these days is be an unabashed, front-line male feminist, because that will make them everybody’s enemy and give that that sought-after rebel cred. Oh, wait, but then the other doodz will probably call them pussywhipped.

  158. #158 Cara
    March 31, 2010

    They’re whipped either way. Being decent means they’re pussywhipped, but joining in with their little boyfriends is just a form of Stockholm Syndrome–after all, one slip and they’re next. They know what awaits them if they don’t follow the crowd.

    It takes real guts to be a decent person. Most kids don’t have what it takes. Some develop courage and decency eventually. Most, sadly, don’t.

  159. #159 Helen Huntingdon
    April 2, 2010

    I run into the Michael Hawkins’ of the world every now and then. They’re the yapping incontinent lapdogs in the hardcore engineering world. The accepted mode of dealing with them in such circles is for the alpha geek present to absentmindedly squash them like a bug, then rub their nose in their effluvia until they appear likely to shut the fuck up.

    A good alpha geek never enjoys this process but only takes it on with a weary sigh to gain some peace, and then promptly forgets about it unless the Hawkins starts peeing on the carpet again. If you want to see a frantic crisis of anxious masculinity, try to catch one of them after said squashing was performed by an alpha geek who happens to be a woman.

  160. #160 Helen Huntingdon
    April 3, 2010

    ROFL. I just clicked through to Hawkins’ blog, and only managed to get through a few sentences before collapsing in helpless laughter.

    You see, he’s chosen his sticking point regarding Zuska, feminism, and anything else he chooses to lump together — he absolutely, frantically, anxiously cannot stand the notion that he should be judged on the consequences of his actions alone, without holding of his precious hand and coddling listening sympathetically to whatever he happens to make up about his intentions.

    What I said earlier about the yapping incontinent lapdogs of the engineering world? Yeah, this is another of their favorite symptoms.

    Hawkins, honey, soothing assurances that your intentions matter are for six-year-olds. You are not six, and the world is not your mommy. In any environment where only the real matters, such as in hardcore engineering groups or among serious feminists, you’re never going to be regarded as anything but a big baby with nothing to contribute so long as you carry on with that line.

    Rest assured, though, it does work to get you attention, if the sort of attention you were hoping for is having the people who actually accomplish things snicker at you behind your back.

  161. #161 Queef
    April 6, 2010

    “…you should probably live with the fact that women of broader vocabulary are going to sneer at you for using it.”

    Yeah, sure. If that’s how you want to handle it, I’m not stopping you.

    “…the little fuckers never realize that the edgiest and most courageous thing they can do these days is be an unabashed, front-line male feminist”

    When did I ever say that I do not support feminism?

    “If your handle was Fart…”

    But, fart doesn’t rhyme with my first name.

  162. #162 Queef
    April 6, 2010

    I think you should realize, ginmar, that just because something is related to being female, doesn’t automatically make it bad.

    Queefs happen.

  163. #163 Jim
    April 7, 2010

    They’re the yapping incontinent lapdogs in the hardcore engineering world.

    The need to be fired.

  164. #164 Dedj
    April 7, 2010

    “Yeah, sure. If that’s how you want to handle it, I’m not stopping you.”

    Yet, by asserting that ‘queefs happen’ and that there is therefore nothing wrong with electing to use that name (you still seem bizzarely focused on the word, when it has been made clear to you that the concern is with your selection of it), you are, in fact, attempting to invalidate any opposition to you using that name.

    You have shown no recognition, despite repeated instruction, of what the actual concern is.

    You have been repeatedly informed that, yes, queef can be a derogatory term, and that your use of it is highly suspicious in this context. That you do not think so, is the problem, not the answer.

    There is no reason to debate with you further until you can recognise this.

  165. #165 Cara
    April 10, 2010

    A prepubescent boy trying to stir up the wimmens (by using the worst word he knows and being disingenuous about it) and being ignored by the grownups isn’t “debate”. It’s “Mom’s not home to stop me from trolling feminist sites because it’s Spring Break.”

  166. #166 Alec
    July 9, 2010

    as a male, i fully acknowledge that mansplainin as you call it happens. it is real. some men talk down to women and look at them as “slower”. i dont know what this feels like. but as a young male i have been talked down to condescendingly and i empathize (or sympathize? idk) but i dont feel this justifies how you treat male poster who disagree with you. you call any guy who disagrees a sexist and when they try to defend themselves you say “oh whatever SEXIST. why would we listen to a SEXIST?” without addressing his arguments. This quote from another male poster accurately describes my feelings:

    –Sexism is whatever a woman subjectively feels it is and objective evidence has no bearing on the matter.

    It saddens me to see that when this blog’s conclusions were challenged in a respectful manner, the response was basicly:

    Shut up, you’re just a man

    Even if men and women are treated the same, it’s still sexism because of the history of unequal treatment.

    This was just an emotional outpouring, so the conclusions don’t have to be true and/or men are not allowed to comment on it.————————

    i would appreciate a serious response but if you want to just say that i dont understand because im a man i guess ill take that too. i’d like to end this post with a quote from one of my favorite rappers

    “The thing that men and women need to do is stick together,
    progressions can’t be made if we’re separate forever”

  167. #167 Comrade Svilova
    July 9, 2010

    First, read some Feminism 101. There are several great Feminism 101 blogs online.

    Men are not always sexist. There are amazing male feminists and feminist allies. But sometimes men (and women) say things that fit in with overall patterns of sexism — patterns that have existed for thousands of years — and women who have spent many years studying these patterns of institutionalized discrimination and have lived their whole lives experiencing it may indeed be better at identifying sexism than a guy who just stumbled across a feminist blog.

    It’s not as black and white as you paint it. All men aren’t sexist. Some women are sexist (i.e. participate in sexist discourse against women). And those of us who have spent a lifetime noticing sexism and have studied it extensively have an understanding of sexism that goes beyond that which is displayed by the poster you’re concerned about.

    Before you say that we’ve studied it so much that we’re biased, think about whether you’d tell someone who speaks fluent French that hir translation of a text is probably wrong because ze has spent too much time with the language and probably doesn’t have the necessary objectivity that you have. (These ideas are all paraphrased from Melissa McEwan’s Feminism 101 blog at Shakesville.)

    And that’s all the teaching I’m doing today. You questions are very basic 101 questions, and you can find the answers to them yourself with a little googling and reading.

  168. #168 Dedj
    July 9, 2010

    “It saddens me to see that when this blog’s conclusions were challenged in a respectful manner, the response was basicly:

    Shut up, you’re just a man”

    The opening post was very clear in terms of which particular behaviour and context it was talking about.

    The responses included:

    repeated posts by a person with a derogatory username (which we MUST accept because he’s given his reasons for choosing it, even if those reasons don’t actually address any of the concerns with the fact that he chose that name). Hardly respectful.

    a poster who made repeated sarcastic accusations of ignorance and lack of insight which had nothing to do with the content or context of the thread, but which were merely grandstanding his own bugbear. Hardly respectful.

    a poster who ignored the carefully laid out explanation of the specificity of the complaint in the background material in order to make patently false accusations of over-generalisation, and who persisted even after direct and specific correction. Hardly respectful.

    a poster who made repeated unreasonable demands for extensive background knowledge, despite being informed directly and explicitly that those demands are unreasonable, and who also refused to accept that some of his terms and behaviour could be offensive merely because he didn’t think so. Hardly respectful.

    In essence, the posters concerned were dismissed and ridiculed because either :

    they clearly hadn’t understood the original complaint, despite the specifity given in the original background material.

    OR:

    they were demanding, offensive or derogatory, failed to address the existance of the phenomenon, failed to accept any experiential observations (whilst giving utmost weight to their own, despite these being indicated as logically bizarre and factually weak) and failed to show any concern for other participants in the thread, or any concern for the impact their own behaviour may have had on others, and who failed to address any gaps in thier background knowledge despite instruction and direction.

    “This was just an emotional outpouring, so the conclusions don’t have to be true and/or men are not allowed to comment on it.————————”

    If you mean the thread, then there are a number of male posters involved in the discussion, including those that have that agreed with the existance of the phenomenon, and including those that provided rebuttals to people that have disagreed.

    “Just an” and “emotional outpouring” is an attempt to depict the thread as having an irrational basis, or an attempt to devalue the thread due to its emotional content.

    This is a phenomenon that affects all people of all ages for all reasons (i.e. I’m older/married/have kids/have a MSc to your BSc/used to work at/have a cousin who…./have a dad who… therefore I know more than you do, even though I don’t know how much you know), however, this particular thread – and the background material – was very specifically about the particular brand of ‘splainin that is done with clearly identified intent and context by men towards women.

    Mansplaining can be be really subtle as well as in your face. I’ve been noticing this phenomenon for the past two decades, and some of the related phenomenon have definetly been noticable whenever I’ve been the only male in ward/case meetings as any technical question or command decision seems to be relayed through me (or the most senior male) even by staff, even when a more senior female with more contact hours has been front and centre.

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