Saturday, April 10, 2010

my wiener has never been a more popular topic of conversation

The Internet is a weird place.

Now, to recap-- and I don't think that this is at all a controversial version of events, but let me know if you disagree:

-I wrote a post about some issues with feminist blogs regarding feminist men
-I wrote a pretty mean comment on a very mean post at Tiger Beatdown, including a link to the above
-Sady Doyle of Tiger Beatdown wrote this post, which entails
  • Telling me to just shut up
  • Telling me to shut the fuck up
  • Telling everyone about how impressed with herself she is. Now you might take that as interpretation, but that's text, not subtext; that whole "I'm Sady Fucking Doyle" bit, that's all explicit.
  • She talks a lot about my junk
  • She talks a lot about how I am not worthy of sleeping with, and how I must not get much sex, and how I am interested in boners
-I posted some comments. Some were defensive, some were constructive, the last few were asking for the opportunity to fix things and better understand her position. All of them got edited by the people at the blog. Most of them were edited simply to read "Boners," but some had words taken out, words put in, and words moved around.
-Apparently Megan Carpentier emailed Sady to give her the "true story" on me, which seems mostly to involve my full name and email address. This is odd, as my full name and email address are no secret. She only need to click my commenter handle. (There's even a little picture of me!)
-I emailed over there to ask if she wants to talk a couple times. No response.
-I wrote a post explaining some of my feelings.

OK, so if any of that is untrue, let me know, and we'll discuss.

I have gotten a lot of emails, and a lot of comments. Many are what you might call critical, but don't even begin to meet the standards of actual criticism; it's literally "little peepee" or "just shut up." I mean no joke, that's the emails, just like the comments on that blog. Some of the emails are more constructive. Many have been completely supportive and telling me how much better I look in all of this.

I have to say this, to the commenters and emailers who are bothering to make an argument and are quite critical: I cannot take your arguments very seriously when you don't put them at all in a context with the post that Sady wrote about me. It is very, very difficult to care about complaints that I was mean-spirited when those complaints don't have any awareness at all about a several-hundred word screed about me, my sexual desirability, and the fact that I should just shut up. You want to tell me that I've been unfair, okay. But, I'm sorry, for me to take you seriously, I do need a little bit of consistency. That is, it's true, a precondition for having a conversation with me.

Many seem to be saying, quite explicitly, that I am wrong to expect consistency at all. Many have argued that Sady's angry, cruel joking is a different way of expression, and that my acting like it is less legitimate is sexist. Yet there is no extension of an equal right to be emotional myself. I have apologized, and am here apologizing again, for being mean in the original comment. But then that comment was in response to a flagrantly mean post. It was a mistake. I don't understand, though, why Sady is entitled to act that way but I am not. Or take my initial reactions to the post that is all about me. Yes, they were a bit intemperate. Is that really not understandable? And am I really not permitted to be emotional in the same way that people are insisting Sady is entitled to be, when I had just read hundreds of words about how lame and undesirable I am? Some commenters seem genuinely to be saying that there are literally no standards of consistent argument that a feminist women has to be held to, that Sady can argue in any way whatsoever, but I am required to argue according to the standards of reasonable argument.

It's very frustrating, meanwhile, to see so many commenters insisting that I am saying things when I explicitly and loudly denied those things. "You're saying that you have equal understanding, as a man, of what it means to be a woman!" No! Actually, I explicitly said that wasn't the case. "You're saying you want to dictate to women what feminism is!" No! I was asking about the complicated issue of the insight of men in feminist discourse. I am interested because it is such a vexing question. Or so I thought; I now have an inbox and commbox full of people saying that, in fact, men have absolutely no right to participate in feminist discourse at all. Well, thanks for educating me.

Prior to this whole imbroglio, I would have considered it offensive even to be asked if feminists were capable of rational discourse. Yet here I am told, by people insisting that they and only they are empowered to say who is or isn't a feminist, that feminist women are in fact inherently emotional, and shouldn't be held to the standards of rationality. Prior to all this, I would have considered it offensive even to be asked whether feminist women should be held to the same standards of intellectual discourse as others. But now I have been told that, on the contrary, it is sexist to suppose that feminist women should be held to similar intellectual standards at all. I am told that I must operate under entirely different argumentative standards from feminist women. This utter denial of the basic principles of intellectual equality is then called feminism.

It is very important to me, and always has been, that I be subject to social correction. Here, I am telling you, I literally don't know how to begin to learn whatever lessons I am meant to learn because I can't even divine the elementary rules of the conversation. In the comments, Evan Harper reacts to some arguments from people which seem to be arguments of the standard, rational kind. He asks some pretty elementary questions. In response, he and I are told that asking for a rational exchange of ideas is some sort of hoary old sexist trick. Says Anonymous,
Evan, you can miss me with your tailor-made-for-the-Internet "Can't you just be rational!" line of argument. The sense of intellectual superiority is dauntingly arrogant. Assuming you are the lone arbiter and judge on "rationality" is ridiculous, especially when it comes to social issues, which rarely follow some nonsensical philosophical conception of rationality.
This is not an argument. Where is the response to Evan's point? Where is the response to the fact that I am asking not to be strawmanned or to have my views misrepresented? How can I begin to be corrected or educated if I can't participate in any way other than being yelled at?

Like I said, people seem to be insisting on Sady's right to engage in the way she has while demanding that I don't follow suit. Suppose I take it, though, that the right way is for me to react with similar, emotional means. If I agree that this is just another kind of discourse and that it is no worse than what I refer to as rational discussion-- what then? Should I follow suit and reply to her in exactly the way I have been talked to? Suppose I told Sady to shut the fuck up; suppose I told her she was a nobody; suppose I told her that her blog sucked and she should delete it; suppose I attacked her, again and again, on the level of sexual desire. Would the people who are here attacking me for pursuing "some nonsensical philosophical conception of rationality" suddenly applaud me for that?

No. No, and well they shouldn't, because you shouldn't treat people that way. Not women, not men, not feminist or otherwise. I am responsible for my conduct and I won't be goaded into acting in a way that diminishes me. This attitude has gotten me called pretentious and self-righteous, but I will take that. If those are the wages of refusing to attack someone in that way, I'll take it.

My questions persist. I think most feminist women do believe that men have a responsibility to be feminists. I know I think principled people should be feminists because of the elementary principles of equality, social justice, and democracy. I also continue to think that a male feminism that matters is one that actually takes a stand on things, that has some stake in the issues and that is willing to do the messy work of deciding how to advance the feminist cause. Some people doubled down on the "you just claim to be a feminist to get girls" shtick. That seems to me to be the opposite of the case. Right? The easy thing for me to do would be to have never asked these questions at all. The easy thing for me to do would be to be yet another member of the Amen-ing chorus that most of these blogs seems to have, the endless array of people lining up to say nothing more challenging and nothing more useful than "right on." Well, I don't think that's very useful for anyone. That doesn't seem to me to be the way forward for a valuable feminist ally.

The fact remains: feminism needs allies. It is an unfriendly Internet out there, if you care to look. I think of my being called "public asshole number one" for feminism by a particularly creative emailer, and what it makes me think of is Roissy's blog. You could poke around there, for awhile, and perhaps be disabused of the notion that I am somehow a particularly big problem for feminism. Or go to your average sports blog and check the comments if there is a picture of a woman who isn't considered conventionally attractive. There is a lot of work still to be done, and episodes like this will not make it easier.

PS When someone is making a joke about your genitals in the same sentence that they are referring to you as a troll, it's kind of a sublime moment.

Update: I have been informed, via email, that people defending me have also had their comments edited on Tiger Beatdown. This apparently is more than just changing comments to epithets but actually changes their content for the purpose of argument. I don't have any way to know if that's true, it's just what I'm being told; but then, perhaps that's why you shouldn't edit people's comments.

Update II:  Sady replies, in the comments:


Blogger Sady said...
@Freddie: "-I posted some comments. Some were defensive, some were constructive, the last few were asking for the opportunity to fix things and better understand her position. All of them got edited by the people at the blog. Most of them were edited simply to read "Boners," but some had words taken out, words put in, and words moved around." Yup, Freddie. That one's a fucking lie. I added one paragraph to your first comment. The next, I had deleted and added "boners" or, in one case, another joke, always in brackets and all-caps to clearly denote that I had done it. Because, Freddie -- BECAUSE -- you insulted me on my space and then acted as if you were entitled to keep contributing to that space and to have your voice heard. You weren't. You're still not. You never will be. You don't walk into someone's living room, tell them their couch is ugly and piss on their rug, and then just plop yourself down on that very couch and expect to be treated like a guest. You insulted me. Therefore you were explicitly unwelcome -- and I said as much, in the post! -- to continue speaking to me. You continued speaking to me. I made it clear that your voice would be, and will forever be, shut out of my blog. To be honest, Freddie, the very fact that you continued speaking after I told you to stop demonstrates your entitlement, privilege, and, yes, sexism. You think we have to make a space for you in the discussion if the discussion starts with you insulting us, and you don't listen to women when they draw clear verbal boundaries. And then you got MORE invasive, by sending me an e-mail, as if we were buddies and you thought I would ever want to talk to you. When I made it very clear I did not want to hear from you. So, for the record: A woman says "no," and "stop," and you keep going, and you escalate the behavior she's asking you to stop. "Feminist." Right. That's DEFINITELY how I would describe you. But now you're talking ABOUT me. And lying. So I thought I'd clear that one up.

69 comments:

John said...

Freddie, why do you engage with these children?

Girl About (Oak) Town said...

This is not how allies behave. Period. But then you don't even bother to engage with the fact that men identifying themselves as "feminists" is problematic or consider that "ally" might be a better term. You'd rather continue to dictate what feminism should be, and how feminists should act, while claiming you're receptive to "social correction." Nothing you have said here has demonstrated that claim in the slightest. You're lashing out because the feminists were mean because there is one space on the internet where your voice as a white man is not automatically given weight.

You seem to imply that we need you, because feminism needs allies. Feminism does need allies, but I can assure you that we do not need you.

Freddie said...

You'd rather continue to dictate what feminism should be, and how feminists should act, while claiming you're receptive to "social correction."

No, not at all. How many times do I have to tell you that I'm not telling you what feminism should be? How many times? What does it take? I'm sorry, but I can only try so hard. As time goes on, John's question becomes harder and harder for me to set aside.

mags said...

Freddie, if a lot of teh wimmenz are getting the impression that you are, in fact, telling them what feminism should be -- perhaps you are the one who is wrong. This is a possibility that maaaaaybe you should think on.

"How many times do I have to tell you" = *headdesk*

Freddie said...

Mags, I am asking you sincerely: what am I saying that indicates that I am dictating what feminism is? The whole point of this was that I was asking about the complicated issue of what responsibility and right men have to influence the feminist project.

Now, I'm sorry, but if you or anyone else can not extend to me the right to define my own position, then you are not arguing like an adult. When I say that I am not telling anyone what feminism has to be, and you continue to insist that I am, without evidence, you are not being serious. And you are exhausting my patience.

Charles said...

Freddie,

Here's a much shorter summary of events:

You thought you were engaging with thinkers. You were actually engaging with ideologues.

There's no such thing as good ideology -- and this whole mess is giving you an opportunity to see what an ideology you might think of as helpful, actually does to people.

You should keep setting John's question aside, though. It won't help you understand these people or where they're coming from. They aren't children. They have reasons for thinking what they think. People don't latch on to reality-distorting ideologies -- which prevent them from so much as correctly reading simple sentences you've written and achieving basic comprehension -- because they are stupid and childish. If you want to understand other human beings, much less figure out if it's possible to engage with them (which, in this case, it probably isn't), you can't dismiss them as children.

Freddie said...

Can you understand, on a human level, why it is hard for me to be told that I am lecturing to women about what feminism is, when I am trying very hard to impart the fact that I'm not doing that, or not intending to? Especially when no one is telling me which specific statement I'm making is an example of my doing that in spite of my repeatedly stated attempts not to?

Look, I've gotten conflicting information on the elementary questions of whether men can be feminists or merely feminist allies, and on whether we have the right to take part in feminist discourse. There are some feminist women who have said that I can be a feminist, and some who have said that I can only be an ally. So pretend you're me: what should I do when I am confronted with that? Who do I side with? Is siding with either overstepping my bounds? Is disagreeing with either an example of me dictating to women what feminism is? This is my entire point, that what does or doesn't represent a feminist opinion is not black and white and is not easily resolved.

I am asking this question because I give a shit. Perhaps the elementary thing is that I'm not supposed to give a shit. I really don't know at this point. But I am telling you, as this one human to another human, that I don't know how to synthesize the fact that I am compelled to support the feminist cause with the fact that there is no clear message about how I am best able to do that.

That's all I'm going to say on this issue for the time. I've tried. I really have.

Girl About (Oak) Town said...

Freddie -
Whether you realize you're doing it, or doing it intentionally is beside the point: repeatedly throughout this debacle you have said or strongly implied that the tone feminists take is wrong, the tone they take in reaction to your criticisms is wrong, that we're alienating male feminists, and so forth. You ask questions in one breath and in the next proclaim your stance, your woundedness, etc. I get that it's hard to be called on your shit in an anti-oppression framework. If I (and I have) fuck up in regards to some issue where I am privileged, it doesn't matter whether I meant to or not - at that point the onus is on me to *listen* and that is what is lacking, because when feminists, particularly the comments to your blog, try to explain to you the problem, you and your buddies claim we're stupid idealogues who can't argue rationally. Of course, you are setting up the discourse as what is rational, which dismisses what we're going to say before we can even say it.

You really want to know what (most) feminists would ask of you in this situation? The answer is: apologize (once), then stop talking, then think. For a while. And read. And think some more. Being called out on privileged behavior does not mean you're a bad person trying to oppress women, but it does mean that you fucked up and if you are truly sincere in wanting to understand why you're going to have to shut up for a bit until you can respond non-defensively.

Charles said...

GA(O)T,

I'm not sure if I'm one of the 'buddies' you intend. In case I am, I'd like to clarify a few things:

1) My point is not that Freddie is arguing with stupid ideologues, but rather that he's arguing with intelligent ideologues, and that he shouldn't be tempted to dehumanize them by calling them children.

2) You write as if little argument is about FEMINISTS, even though it's actually about a small, self-selecting group of people who identify as feminists. You state that "(most) feminists" would see this situation in a certain way. I'd counter that many who identify as feminists who also spend lots of time in the echo-chamber of certain blogs would see the situation in this way. The fact that this small, self-selecting group thinks that some behavior makes someone a bad ally or a bad feminist shouldn't matter very much to someone who identifies as a feminist or an ally. The fact that this small group sees things a certain way shouldn't be used as a stand-in for most women, most feminists, or most anything. I'm pretty sure that the feminists who raised me, the feminist I'm married to, and the feminists who call me a friend would see this issue differently. (I'll find out whether or not I'm right about that.)

3) The fact that someone thinks a behavior is oppressive or prejudiced or that it involves unrecognized privilege, doesn't actually make it so, even though your ideology suggests that it does. The fact that you've seen people engage in some behavior over and over again doesn't mean you can't be wrong in interpreting someone else's behavior in that light, or that you don't often have confirmation bias on that issue. Your ideology doesn't make you epistemologically infallible. The fact that you act like it does is how I know you're being driven by ideology.

4) Which is unfortunate, because that ideology reduces feminism to a clubhouse in which people who don't swear allegiance to the secret bylaws aren't allowed in.

5) I'm not Freddie's buddy. I'm just some guy who's been reading his blog for a while.

Mysterious Man from the shadows said...

I think the fundamental problem here is that feminism is a philosophical concept, not an objective thing. And because it has no real objective truth, it can ultimately only be determined by what people believe it to be.

Because it is effectively given meaning only by collective belief in it, any attempt at redefining or examining the meaning is, in effect, breaking the "collective reality", thus threatening the concept. So, to discuss is to dictate.

That might not make any sense, but it's my take on the issue.

The Pedgehog said...

"The whole point of this was that I was asking about the complicated issue of what responsibility and right men have to influence the feminist project."

Girl About (Oak) Town already answered you: you have the responsibility to listen. Check your privilege, shut up for once, and listen.

It's not your personal fault that white male voices dominate all discussions everywhere, but it is your responsibility as someone who identifies as a feminist and/or ally to let someone else speak for once; no matter how hurtful or incorrect their words might seem to you.

Again: listen. That is all you have to do at this point.

ACG said...

First-time reader here, first-time reader at Sady's, so I don't really have an emotional connection to either one. Full disclosure: I do have a vagina, I do identify as female, and I do identify as feminist. Also, Sady's posts made me laugh, and yours kind of made me rub my eyes, but that's just a matter of writing style rather than content. I was really just observing the exchanges as a kind of sociological analysis.

1. Your very first error (and you have no idea the strength it took for me to not say "boner" there) was looking at Sady's and Amanda's comments about faux-feminists out for ass and say, "I take offense at that! I'm not like that at all, and I want women to acknowledge it!"

Here's why that doesn't work: The reason many feminists assume that every guy at a pro-choice rally is out for ass is because so many of them are--a lot of guys are quick to assume that a woman who's pro-choice, pro-contraception, sex-positive, and not out for marriage is a perfect target. And so women tend to be suspicious of any guy who doesn't come with a signed letter of recommendation. Is it fair? Maybe not, but it's a defense mechanism. You wouldn't complain, "That domestic-violence survivor won't let me hug her! I'd never hit a woman, and it offends me that she acts like I would!" So don't complain that feminists are a little bit wary of yet another guy who wanders into their sphere proclaiming himself an ally.

2. Your non-mistake was in acknowledging that your search for an equal voice within the framework of feminism could equate to a reinstatement of male privilege. Good job! But then you go and argue your bona-fides by saying that you're well-read and "come correct" and dislike arguing with someone who isn't.

Here's why that doesn't work: There's only so much about feminism that can be studied, because a great deal of it is part of the lived experience. Even if you're far more learned than the person with whom you're arguing, if she has the benefit of relevant experience--whether it's surviving rape, getting hit on in a bar, or even trying to buy a sports car at a Nissan dealership--you have to be willing to accept that she has insight there that you don't and probably never will have. I'm not saying she's automatically right, but she's got a valuable perspective. Instead of relentlessly arguing that no, aerodynamically, bees can't fly, you have to be willing to step back and acknowledge that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

3. Your third mistake was in charging onto Sady's space and telling her she's doin it rong. In your very first comment on the post, you implied that she was fearful of making any statement she couldn't later wiggle out of and told her she was "denying intellectual rigor." You called her humor a defense mechanism and told her to "say what [she had] to say."

Here's why that doesn't work: Seriously? You're wandering onto a person's blog--her space--and telling her that, sure, she's free to blog however she wants, but she obviously doesn't have the strength of her convictions or else she'd use overblown prose and convoluted structure, like you do, instead of humor to communicate her opinions. WHOA. So, yeah, she got a scootch defensive. A really, really, really big scootch.

ACG said...

4. And that defensiveness wasn't entirely your fault--if you read the post (really reading for comprehension, not just for offense), you see that she's a person whose humor has been her armor since she was young. And that doesn't mean it's a defense mechanism--it means it's her way of finding power and expressing herself, just like your grandiose writing style is yours. You had no way of knowing, when you left that comment, that you were touching a very, very sensitive nerve. Did you deserve the hell she rained down when you did? I'd say no. You didn't intentionally try to piss her off (I don't think. You don't seem like the type). And so it's natural that you'd get really insulted by her vehemence and repeated commentary about your genitalia. And so you charged back in in your own defense.

Here's why that doesn't work: When you hurt someone, even inadvertently, the response is, "Wow, I'm sorry. I didn't realize that was a soft spot, and I didn't mean to hit it." It's not, "Jesus, God, you're so freaking emotional. See, it's the spite and the emotionalism that's why we can't have intelligent discourse here." No, it's the fact that after stirring the pot terribly, you don't have the sense to back off and let it settle a bit before wading back in that's why that thread went south.

5. Given a great opportunity to take the high road and step back, you chose instead to stay on the offense, telling her that she can't defend her ideas, that she's insecure, that she's emotional and spiteful...

Here's why that doesn't work: Seriously? That's going to make things better? Did you expect her to say, "Oh, gosh, I'm sorry, I guess I was kind of a shrew there. By all means, exert a bit of privilege and dictate the manner of discourse of my own personal space."

6. Finally accepting that you'd screwed up, you tried to apologize and back off. And instead, she made your comment say "boner." And so you went back, and she made that one say "boner," and then you went back and she made that one say "boner."

Here's why that doesn't work: Dude, wake up. You give a sincere apology, she sniffs at it, and you shrug and move on. You don't grab her by the shoulders and say, "I SAID I WAS SORRY! DON'T YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY TO ME NOW?" And I can't know this for sure, because from where I was sitting, all you said was "boner," but a sincere apology takes one form, and that form isn't "I'm sorry you were offended." A sincere apology is a) acknowledge that you offended, b) acknowledge what you did that offended, and c) promise to make every effort not to offend in the future. In this case, it would be, "I'm sorry I offended you. I realize that coming into your space and asking for privileges and trying to dictate discourse was the wrong approach, and I apologize. In the future, I'll try to remember to listen more than I talk." And then, no matter what the response is, accept it and back off.

ACG said...

And while I'm totally taking advantage of your space to write my little novella here, I will say: Obviously, you mean well, and obviously, this whole incident has touched you deeply, but it looks like you're taking away the wrong takeaway. The takeaway is this: that to really be a feminist and an ally, you have to be able to police yourself to recognize when you're exerting privilege. You have a space where you get to control the discourse. It's called your blog. For that matter, it's called the whole world--you're a man, and as a feminist man, I'm sure you recognize that your voice is heard differently from ours. When a feminist carves out her own little space where she gets to control discourse, a guy who comes in to tell her that she's just goofing around and "pawing at discourse" and shouldn't be taken seriously while at the same time asking why he's not given a greater voice in her movement WILL NOT BE WARMLY EMBRACED. The takeaway from the takeaway: Enjoy your space and park your privilege.

Bethany said...

By telling Sady that her approach to feminist issues (specifically, her use of humor) was a) "pawing at discourse" and b) "the out to be able to say that [she was] just goofing, you were trying to redefine how she deals with some very real, scary issues for which, my dear Freddie, you have no context.

I understand that the way a lot of people look at "male feminist" is reductive, if not straight-up offensive, but the fact that you presume to lecture a woman about her tone on a blog dedicated to feminist discourse tells me that instead of attempting to be an ally, you're more interested in redefining that space so your voice is the most important.

Leah Raeder said...

I agree with John. It's clear that the community you're arguing with has no intention of engaging you civilly, Freddie.

They don't speak for all feminists, thankfully. You know--what they've been trying to tell you between interjections of the word "boner" and gales of laughter. Well, it applies to them, too. They don't speak for me, or for any comprehensive notion of feminism or feminists.

Grow up, girls.

Sincerely,
A vagina-owning, cisgendered, female feminist.

Anonymous said...

"Can you understand, on a human level, why it is hard for me to be told that I am lecturing to women about what feminism is, when I am trying very hard to impart the fact that I'm not doing that, or not intending to? "

It would be much easier to believe if you'd shut your face hole.

Anonymous said...

ACG got it perfect. Read her words at least 3 times before you write your next post.

Sady said...

@Freddie: "-I posted some comments. Some were defensive, some were constructive, the last few were asking for the opportunity to fix things and better understand her position. All of them got edited by the people at the blog. Most of them were edited simply to read "Boners," but some had words taken out, words put in, and words moved around."

Yup, Freddie. That one's a fucking lie. I added one paragraph to your first comment. The next, I had deleted and added "boners" or, in one case, another joke, always in brackets and all-caps to clearly denote that I had done it. Because, Freddie -- BECAUSE -- you insulted me on my space and then acted as if you were entitled to keep contributing to that space and to have your voice heard. You weren't. You're still not. You never will be. You don't walk into someone's living room, tell them their couch is ugly and piss on their rug, and then just plop yourself down on that very couch and expect to be treated like a guest. You insulted me. Therefore you were explicitly unwelcome -- and I said as much, in the post! -- to continue speaking to me. You continued speaking to me. I made it clear that your voice would be, and will forever be, shut out of my blog.

To be honest, Freddie, the very fact that you continued speaking after I told you to stop demonstrates your entitlement, privilege, and, yes, sexism. You think we have to make a space for you in the discussion if the discussion starts with you insulting us, and you don't listen to women when they draw clear verbal boundaries. And then you got MORE invasive, by sending me an e-mail, as if we were buddies and you thought I would ever want to talk to you. When I made it very clear I did not want to hear from you.

So, for the record: A woman says "no," and "stop," and you keep going, and you escalate the behavior she's asking you to stop. "Feminist." Right. That's DEFINITELY how I would describe you.

But now you're talking ABOUT me. And lying. So I thought I'd clear that one up.

Danton said...

Actually, despite my initial resistance to the idea, I'm beginning to think that the advice of some commentators here that men should "just shut up and listen" is actually quite profound. I know this advice comes across as hopelessly dogmatic and exclusionary, but perhaps there's another way to think about this.

What does it take to be recognised as a member of a community? Well, one has to be recognised by those very people you recognise as being part of the community (i.e. mutual recognition). And typically it's not enough to simply declare oneself to be a member of that community in order to earn such recognition. Indeed, for some communities, it's just a fact that you have to be born into it in order to be accepted as a member.

Now I don't think that Sady's defenders are saying that you just have to be born into feminism. What I think they are saying is that no one, and especially not men because of their socially privileged position, should expect that it will be easy to be accepted as a feminist. It is not enough to be sincere, to be rational, to be politically aligned, to be an activist, and so on. The whole question of humour and tone etc seems to point to the idea that there is no codifiable set of norms which establish your membership of this community. There are norms, subtle ones which have to be learned by wont. It's not a matter of refusing to answer the demand - "tell me what I have to do to be a feminist"; the point is that are no explicit criteria, no formal rituals or oaths. One just needs the right ears to hear what the demands of membership are, by listening to how feminists make jokes, and argue, and talk to one another. So Freddie's frustration is understandable, and his treatment at the hands of Sady still objectionable; but I guess what they're making fun of is the idea that anyone would think that there is a straight answer to the question - what is a feminist?

Anonymous said...

Danton, also, it's because Freddie successfully used a number of these tactics: http://birdofparadox.wordpress.com/derailing-for-dummies-google-cache-reconstruction/

Anonymous said...

I have no opinion on whatever you had to say in this post, but I just need to tell you that your whole blog sucks and your personal mode of self-expression is inadequate.

Now convince me to take you seriously and you just might get a date out of it.

Freddie said...

There's no excuse for the things Sady has said; no excuse for that conduct. You know that's true. You've known it is true since you were a little kid. Anyone here who is attacking me and not condemning her behavior is not being fair, or serious. And that's it.

Anonymous said...

Well of course, Freddie. We've all been told since we were born that when a man derides a woman, that's okay, but when a woman takes control of her own space, she's in the wrong. Male privilege. It's probably time to address it.

Anonymous said...

@Freddie: So, it's unfair for you to be attacked on the basis of your continued invasive responses on Sady's blog, because you should totally be allowed to make said responses, even after she asks you to stop?

Male privilege, you have it!

hantavirus said...

Extremely popular blogger, fully aware of the influence she commands, takes a huge, vicious shit on a rather low-key blogger, and dozens of her commenters follow suit. Followers quoted as saying "he should have checked his priviledge; he was totally asking for it".

Take that, oppresive social systems!

Anonymous said...

You only claim we're unfair and unserious because you're incapable of having a substantive debate on the issue of the suckiness of your blog and the inadequacy of your writing.

Anonymous said...

hantavirus - You're getting overemotional. Take a step back and a deep breath. Try to approach this discussion rationally.

Anonymous said...

ACG: "The reason many feminists assume that every guy at a pro-choice rally is out for ass is because so many of them are--a lot of guys are quick to assume that a woman who's pro-choice, pro-contraception, sex-positive, and not out for marriage is a perfect target."

It's not wrong to stereotype people if it's true sometimes! Don't blame me for thinking that black guy was a mugger, lots of them actually are criminals!

Anonymous said...

Charles has nailed it down, F. For cryin' out loud, quit engaging with these people -- who have clearly, repeatedly told you they won't hold a thoughtful, respectful conservation with you. How many time does someone have to shout "shut up!" before they've made it clear they aren't interested in conversation? (Because asking for conversation, you know, that is an assertion of privilege.)

There's an object lesson here, that not everyone is polite, rational or reasonable. Not everyone is interested in thinking ideas through carefully; or willing to be wrong, publicly; or simply willing to treat others and be treated as an adult.

Reasonable people make this mistake all the time: Assuming that everyone else is reasonable, too.

femt said...

roissy's a staggering misogynist, yet I still read his blog. In the same way, I'm a feminist with a digital porn archive.

Freddie: How do you find that lust complicates your feminism?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous April 11, 2010 1:25 AM

Because guys who attend pro-choice rallies are a historically marginalized group, just like black men. Why they're practically like paraplegic Native American lesbians for all the oppression they suffer!
Just because abuses in the banking system has fucked up the U.S. economy is no reason to not implicitly trust the banking system. That would be stereotyping bankers, which is exactly the same as racism!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous April 11, 2010 1:29 AM

Oh you mean thinking carefully through Freddie's assertion that Sady uses humor too much for him to take her seriously? She should have dropped everything to converse on that specific subject? Because that's all he had to offer.

Marissa said...

Seriously, I hope you read ACG's comment and take it to heart, it's the best response you're going to get.

Also:

"Anonymous":
(Because asking for conversation, you know, that is an assertion of privilege.)

Yes, it is, actually, when you try to enforce having the conversation on your own terms, or the other person just doesn't want to talk to you.

Anonymous said...

Every time I write something, I end up erasing it because it sounds mean or condescending or it's unhelpful. I basically have nothing positive to contribute to this discussion, other than noting the obvious that this
whole ordeal is frustrating and depressing.

eilit said...

Well, it is possible that all of this is one big misunderstanding... possibly.
But if you really want to set things right go and apologize to Sady. Because she wrote many, many times how you insulted her and frankly... she take much better than I would if someone treated me like that.
Because I read each article, all comments, and, I think you acted pretty stupid and inaccurate.

Just because you do not agree with her, calling her names and demeaning her is not the right way.
Do you understand me?

Lungfish said...

Wow. So, you get extremely detailed, extensive comments, (i.e ACG) answering your question , and instead of addressing them, you simply write, "Anyone here who is attacking me and not condemning her behavior is not being fair, or serious. And that's it."

This seems to contradict your expressed desire for a serious discussion. If you really want to talk, you also have to listen. That's a rule everyone must follow.

eilit said...

You want constructive? Here is constructive - devaluing someone's words because they are emotional is pretty stupid. So you are trying to say that after you insulted her, she insulted you and that hurt your feeling?
Well... if you don't give a crap about her feeling, why would anyone care for yours?
Please, be consistent.

Anonymous said...

Freddie,
Mary Wollstonecraft and John Stuart Mill were wrong.
Feminist is not a subset of humanism, it is a power ideology and a crass one at that.
Once you get your head around this, you'll understand why feminist non feminist discourse always descends into yelling screeds of self righteous fury.

Jonquil said...

Please reread ACG. She explains, courteously and in detail, what's going down.

Note especially this:

"When a feminist carves out her own little space where she gets to control discourse, a guy who comes in to tell her that she's just goofing around and "pawing at discourse" and shouldn't be taken seriously while at the same time asking why he's not given a greater voice in her movement WILL NOT BE WARMLY EMBRACED. "

It is true that Sady reacted with anger. It is also true that she explained, in some detail, why you'd hit her on a sore spot. And there is only one way to apologize that will actually be received as an apology.

"I'm sorry. I'll step back."

Anything else -- especially "I'm sorry that you perceived it that way" and "...but I was really right" isn't an apology. It's self-defense.

You have three options. Apologize. Shut up and listen. Or keep telling the person you offended why you were really right, in the process using a lot of the discourse that has historically been used to shut feminists up. ("emotional". "insecure", "spiteful".) Words are not born fresh from your mind unless they're things like lallygohootenin. They have contexts. They have history. All of those words have a history as being used to shut women up, and when you use them you are allying yourself not with feminists, but with the people who, throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, have tried to shut feminists up.

" I was asking about the complicated issue of what responsibility and right men have to influence the feminist project."

You asked. People have answered. The very first responsibility -- the very first -- is to listen to what the people who actually are getting the short end of the stick in our society have to say. And to think about it. And not to react defensively until you've stepped bak and thought about it.

chickwithmonkey said...

Sady and Amanda: "There are men who pretend to be feminists just to get laid."

This is what should have happened.

You: "I believe that you have encountered those men. I am not one of those men."

Feminists of the world: "Thank you, Freddie, for not being one of those men. Please encourage other men to be real feminists instead of pretend feminists."

This is how it went.

You: "How dare a woman suspect a man of having ulterior motives. I do not have ulterior motives. I don't understand why women and their experiences mean more than my lack of ulterior motives."

Do you see how your response is devaluing the experience of the women to whom you were addressing your comments? I can only imagine that these women who say, "what would you know about it, MAN?" (as you quoted in your first response to Sady) are having the same type of conversation with you.

Shorter: I believe that you want to be a feminist. I don't believe you are succeeding. Please try harder.

m said...

The Unified Theory of Douchebaggery. Just a simple flowchart to help anyone own up to mistakes.

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4036/4506083164_2c41987129.jpg

Danton said...

Jonquil: You asked [about men in relation to the feminist project]. People have answered.

No. What his critics have done is tell Freddie he had no right to speak to Sady the way he did, that he should apologise (which he has done), or he should apologise differently, that he should shut up (which it seems he intends to do), that he should just listen, and that he should park / check his privilege. These are not answers to the general question Freddie wanted to ask. They are all comments on the way he asked it. And it's pretty clear that nothing Freddie says will get us beyond this obsession with his tone of voice, as opposed to the content of his question. Which is fine if people don't want to discuss that general question. Or if they think Freddie is someone who is incapable of understanding the answer. But it's not like someone said to Freddie: "O.K. I think the way you went about asking the question was wrong, but we're only human, so let's get over that, and here is what I think the answer to your question is..." Nobody said that. Certainly not ACG, whose constant refrain was "and here's why that doesn't work."

I'm sorry but I don't buy this whole "derailing" idea - Freddie was not asking for women to tell him stories about their oppression, and then interrupting them to tell them that's not how it is. He was asking for a dialogue, one in which his position clearly differed from that of the speaker, but in which one assumes it's still possible to reach agreement. Unfortunately, his initial attempts at initiating this dialogue were clumsy, but by the same token the space for dialogue was immediately shut down with insults and censorship, and then on his own blog, the discussion never advanced beyond the issue of how rude he had been.

So no, none of his critics have even tried to answer his question.

eilit said...

Danton, are you trying to say that everybody are just mean to dear old Freddie, who just wanted a dialogue?

Well... here is a newsflash. To insult someone verbally is much easier than doing it in written form. And we spend most of our lives learning how to show our feelings or thoughts (or how not to) in small, but revealing ways with our actions/words.

So... to be pissed at someones demeaning voice and attitude is such a crime, although the same attitude has been something totally regular for the past hundreds/thousands of years and not everybody has the patience to understand that the fact that they are treated like idiots, is in fact someone who is trying to use his brain (not too successfully). No one is supposed to be that patient or understanding. This is cutesy that is earned.

Women have (and still are) called irrational, stupid, emotional, angry, man-haters... especially women who define themselves as feminists. And this was used to devalue them as human beings, their words and actions - ridiculed or ignored.
So what kind of person would go and speak like that, especially if he is trying to imply that he understands women or feminism? Are you trying to say that he is just an idiot and we shouldn't get angry with him, because of it? Some defense is that.

But I do not think he is an idiot, I think he just doesn't understand. And it is none of my business to go back in time and to re-educate Freddie or to sit with him and explain slowly what went wrong. If he is a grown, sane person, he can do it himself. If he is not... I do not think there is anything I can do about it. Or anyone else from the rest of us for that matter.

So... everything boils to this:
Freddie - are you that stupid that you don't understand what you are saying or you have no idea what is feminism and how to communicate with other people?

Anonymous said...

Danton - "These are not answers to the general question Freddie wanted to ask."

http://tigerbeatdown.com/?p=1043#comment-8798

There is no question in that comment. There's not even a point in there that's relevant to the discussion.

Rebecca said...

You say you're a feminist.

I was curious to see just what you think feminism means, so I tried to search your blog for previous discussions of feminism or women. In one post you say you self-identify as a feminist because you "care about women's issues . . . recognize continued gender inequality, and find it the continued responsibility of thinking people to work democratically to end gender inequality."

However, when I tried to figure out what, exactly, you have done to end gender inequality, it seems you mostly want women to stop doing feminism wrong and to stop getting all of the super-awesome benefits that womanhood bestows upon them.

I found a number of whiny posts about how jezebel does feminism wrong in one way or another, a whiny post about how women like mean guys like Don Draper instead of Nice Guys like you and aren't they really hurting feminism when they do that, a post asking if it is okay to talk about how hot feminist vloggers are, a few abortion posts that do not even mention women, some posts about how Sarah Palin shouldn't be shielded from criticism just because she is a woman (hint: she was not) and then exactly two posts where you address any ways in which women have faced gender inequality: a post where you say the rape was bad in watchmen (agreed, although not sure why you had to distinguish yourself as not as sensitive as most feminists), and then a post discussing the dearth of women in creative positions in entertainment.

Are there other posts I'm missing? I'm certainly willing to be corrected, my search methodology may be flawed. Because mostly I am seeing a lot of posts saying "I'm an ardent feminist, but . . ." I get the "but" part, but don't really see the "feminist" part. It's one thing to slap a label on yourself, its another to actually live that and stand up against inequality.

Anonymous said...

This controversy is tedious and, as one poster said before, "frustrating and depressing." It is also astonishingly heteronormative on both sides; but that's just the gay guy feeling left out of the abbatoir, as usual.

It is possible that Freddie was wrong in trying to launch a critique of Sady's particular brand in the way he did, for reasons given ad nauseam above. It is also possible that Sady was wrong to react to that critique with such violence.

In any case, smart people shouldn't hate on each other so much. I'm not a hippie, I swear-- But seriously? Has anybody become a better person or furthered the cause of feminism because of this debate, which never had the look of a civilized, reciprocal critique? Partisans on both sides ought to consider what of value can be added at this point.

Taylor.SB said...

I just wanted to say I'm with you on this 100%, Freddie. It's hard to be told that as a white male you can't possibly contribute anything meaningful to feminism. You don't have the right experience -- and empathy and understanding don't exist -- so you'll never have a good idea. And for some reason feminism is a movement that can't furthered from an outsider's perspective, literally ever.

In response to people who keep comparing Freddie to guys who go to rallies: you know we're on the internet right? You can't have sex over the internet. This seems like kind of a stupid comparison. Also isn't stereotyping based solely on gender one of the things feminists are against? I hope I'm not overstepping my bounds by suggesting that it should be.

I also agree that it's hard to take people seriously when they don't make any distinction between when they're joking and when they're being serious. It's really hard to do both at the same time. I don't think Sady pulls it off, but that's just me. Using profanity every other sentence doesn't make you sound more serious either. Not that I'm against profanity, but there's a reason you don't often see it used by journalists.

Freddie here's the conclusion that I have come to after my attempts to be a feminist on the internet: don't try to be a feminist on the internet. The "real" feminists will get really upset and then call you a misogynist (which is actually pretty funny). Instead, try humanism. All of the goals are the same, and I've never heard a humanist tell someone else can't self-identify as a humanist. Internet feminists are some of the most egregious offenders in the fight to keep the feminist movement marginalized. Despite the fact I agree with virtually all of their goals they managed to scare me away!

Good luck Freddie

Danton said...

eilit, anon,

Freddie has conceded that the way he originally formulated his question wasn't constructive, and in subsequent posts he tried to frame the issue differently. Too late, damage done. I get that. And maybe it's best to leave it there. But it's a shame, when you consider the amount of interest this episode has generated, and the number of intelligent people commenting on it, that all we (i.e. both sides) have managed to do is go around in circles.

ACG said...

Freddie--If you go back to the fifth comment on your original post, you'll find a perfectly reasonable answer to the question implied in your post. Your response to that comment was pretty defensive, or at least reads that way. The eighth comment on that same post--from Leah Raeder--is also a perfectly reasonable answer to your post, this one from a different perspective.

The 17th comment, from Lauren Jr., is also a more-or-less accurate answer to your question, albeit framed pretty abrasively.

Judging from all of that, it would seem that your complaint isn't that no one from the feminist sphere will answer your question but that Sady didn't answer your question on her blog. But put yourself in her place--if someone posted a link to a post asking a reasonable and sincere question and then proceeded to discard the importance of your perspective and blast you for your writing style and your lack of "intellectual vigor," would you be interested in clicking the link and seeing what this complete asshole has to say on the subject?

And then after you devoted a post (that was somewhat over the top, but you were deeply offended, and it is your own space to express your offense) ripping that asshole to shreds, if said asshole came back and, rather than apologizing, told you again that you're insecure, emotional, and incapable of rational debate, would you now be interested in taking the time to address his question?

Go back to your original post, re-read the comments, and consider your question fairly thoroughly answered. And use your empathy to understand why Sady has no interest in being the one to do it--and, under the circumstances, shouldn't reasonably expected to do it.

Andrew said...

I like one commenter's distinction between feminism and humanism. From reading through this whole debacle, I got the sense that many self-identified feminists identify as such due more to personal experience than some kind of 'book learnin.' And the reason that men's voices tend to be devalued in the feminist discourse is because they do not have that experience.

So as a man whose sympathy toward feminism is informed by abstract overarching ideals of equality rather than direct experience of female inequality, perhaps using the label of humanist is the most accurate depiction for me (and perhaps Freddie).

Anonymous said...

Sure, Andrew. What you're looking for is the difference between theory and reality. So when you identify - theoretically - as someone who wants equality, don't come into the space of someone who is seeking equality in reality and try to impose your ideas when they amount to little more than a thought experiment. I'm not suggesting you have - however, Freddie did. I hope you learn from his mistakes.

Anonymous said...

Danton said...

"eilit, anon,

But it's a shame, when you consider the amount of interest this episode has generated, and the number of intelligent people commenting on it, that all we (i.e. both sides) have managed to do is go around in circles.
"
April 12, 2010 9:37 AM

Actually, as ACG has pointed out, Freddie's points and questions have been clearly and thoroughly addressed. So it's really only one side that's only been going around in circles.

Anonymous said...

Andrew -
yeah, exactly what the anonymous commenter directly below you said. If you don't care about the "direct experience of female inequality" then what is even the point of "abstract overarching ideals of [gender?] equality"?

Google "the terrible bargain we have regretfully struck" for the best discussion of this issue that I have ever seen. Here's the money quote: "Why do you have to take this stuff so personally? ask the intellectual, clever, and engaged men, who have never considered that the content of the abstract exercise that's so much fun for them is the stuff of my life." That's it in a nutshell.

Taylor.SB said...

ACG,

As I read it, the main point of Freddie's post is this: "If we are to address this imbalance, it is worth asking if a deeper integration of men into the feminist movement is the way forward, and simultaneously whether the tendency of female feminists on the Internet to undercut the male feminist position isn't an obstacle to that integration." He repeated this idea several times, and two of those times were posed as questions directly to Sady while on a hypothetical date. Her response was: "...I am never, ever, EVER going to fuck you..." and then a paragraph later "You are not a feminist. You have, actually, nothing to contribute to feminist discourse." Sady has made it pretty clear that the answer to Freddie's question is no, men cannot be right when they disagree with women about feminism, ever.

bmichael's comparison isn't an apt one. The question isn't what to do, it's how to do it. If everyone was picking up cans while hopping on one foot and Freddie asked, "would this be faster if we didn't hop on one foot?" And then the house owner replied "It's my house you can't know the best way ever because it is not your house! Also I'll never fuck you and you'll never be an ally in the fight to get the house clean because you disagreed with me."

I'm not sure what point Leah Raeder made that is a good response to Freddie that doesn't agree with him. Her main point was that he needs to not make issues personally. I tend to agree with Freddy on this one, because it's hard to not take that attitude personally. "You can't have a dissenting opinion, ever" is pretty damn personal. Then she writes "I think this exclusionary practice of excommunicating any feminist, regardless of gender, who dares question a particular feminist community's dogma is stupid, counter-productive, and contributes to Balkanizing feminism when unity is more important." I read that as her conceding he's right.

Freddie responds to Leah: "Thanks, Leah. I know you and b michael have a good point. I just hope you can understand that, at this very moment, it's a little hard to be anything but defensive." Lesser men might have been tempted to reply to Leah, "Your point is invalid, you don't know what it's like being a man who identifies as feminist, you're a WOMAN." That would of course be counter-productive, but that's his point.

Taylor.SB said...

Lauren's main point was mostly the same as Leah's, that Freddy made it personal. Well, that's just not even true. He said pretty explicitly near the beginning "I don't want to be too unfair with this; I know that they are having a bit of fun with this conversation. But, really, this ATTITUDE drives me insane." (emphasis mine) She ignores entirely whether or not he has a good point. I'm going to guess it's because she's in a privileged position in feminism and has never had to deal with this obstacle. She points out that the vast majority of feminists know feminism won't succeed without men, and that Tiger Beatdown has men who guest post. That doesn't address the reality of men being marginalized in feminism. She seems to be suggesting that it never happens after he says it's a pervasive problem. Which, to re-iterate, it is, at least online. She goes on to say that he "feels no obligation towards women" because he used the word 'mankind'. It seems funny that she accused him of over-generalizing.

I realize that men being marginalized in the feminist movement isn't a priority. I'm not equating it to the marginalization (and worse) that happens constantly to women, which we all agree is a more pressing and severe problem.

The only person who has addressed his point is Sady, and she did it in a way that proves his point pretty conclusively; many female feminists don't give credence to male feminist's arguments because they come from men. Everyone else has made fun of him or said he's being too defensive. And even if he is too defensive that doesn't make his point invalid.

Anonymous said...

How about many female feminists don't give credence to male feminist's arguments when they are not demonstrably feminists? Seriously, in what way did Freddie signal that he is a feminist interested in advancing the cause of feminism, other than declaring himself to be one?

Once you are a member of a movement who, you know, does things to contribute to that movement, THEN you can be involved in the conversation about how best to carry that movement forward.

Freddie, if you're interested in hearing opinions on how feminist men can contribute to the conversation about feminism, here's mine: first and foremost, be a feminist and do feminist stuff.

ACG said...

Taylor S.B.--As I said before, Sady's statements as to Freddie's sexual desirability were in response not to a) his post but to b) his ridiculously insulting comment that included a link to the post. She likely didn't address the views laid out in his post because it was impossible to move past the dismissive, patronizing, entitled, flat-out nasty fruit-flavored shell surrounding his sweet little Tootsie Roll of reason. Once again, a person who--rightly--thinks, "What an absolute and unmitigated prick" is unlikely to go on and think, "I wonder what else he has to say."

Quite simply: Sady wasn't saying, "Your opinion is worthless, because you're a man!" She was saying, "I don't give a rat's ass about your opinion, because you're an asshole!" And who wouldn't? If you can't see and appreciate the distinction there, there's really no point to any further discussion.

Anonymous said...

"Sady has made it pretty clear that the answer to Freddie's question is no, men cannot be right when they disagree with women about feminism, ever."

I like that you're reading comprehension skills are negative, though you're scoring pretty high on logical fallacies. As long as you own that, I'm happy. Sady said Freddie couldn't disagree with women about feminism. Freddie isn't "ALL FEMINIST MEN." Really, he's not even a feminist, as many, many other commenters have pointed out. Sorry.

"That doesn't address the reality of men being marginalized in feminism."

OMG LIKE THE WAY I FEEL MARGINALIZED AS A WHITE, MIDDLE-CLASS PERSON IN A LOW-INCOME, MINORITY NEIGHBORHOOD? LIFE IS SO HARD!!!

Feminism isn't about men. Freddie is trying to make it about him. Not about how to be a good ally, but about him. Further, feminism isn't the study of how to be a good ally. Master google and figure it the fuck out. He's not marginalized. He's getting called out for being a fucking douche.

Andrew said...

Despite all of the intensity in this thread and the one over on TigerSmackdown, I think this conversation has been really instructive. Blogs tend to be echo-chambers, so when a dustup like this occurs everyone (hopefully!) re-evaluates.

In response to the anonymous posters who addressed my previous comment, I'd just like to clarify that it's not that I don't care about the "direct experience of female inequality" it's that as a white male I just don't have that experience.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that this is one of the main reasons men are not trusted in the feminist movement (besides our insatiable need to get our rocks off) - female feminists KNOW what it's like to crash against male privilege while men can only imagine what it's like.

Anyway thanks everyone for your comments this has been helpful.

Anonymous said...

Andrew, I was one of those anonymous commenters. Thanks for clarifying, I misunderstood you.

As for your point, I think that you are right - women's descriptions of their own experiences are probably more relevant than men's opinions about how those experiences have gone. And sometimes that probably does mean that men will need to listen a bit. That listening can come in different ways - reading, observing, talking, etc. - and it doesn't have to mean that men's experiences are devalued. After all, men also have the boot of the patriarchy on their neck, and have their own experiences.

ACG said...

Andrew 8:32 a.m. FTW.

Katie said...

"'Why do you have to take this stuff so personally? ask the intellectual, clever, and engaged men, who have never considered that the content of the abstract exercise that's so much fun for them is the stuff of my life.' That's it in a nutshell."

DING DING DING DING WE HAVE A WINNER! (Among other winners).

See, a lot of feminists don't often have that much patience for guys who are simply interested in intellectual discussions about feminism, especially when those discussions include chastising about "tone" or "attitude," and ESPECIALLY when it's all up in their personal space.

And while you may have meant well, the fact is that you essentially dismissed Amanda and Sady's experiences because you thought what they were saying was mean. This a)is a really fucking common critique of feminists in general; b) a really common tactic of derailing trolls in particular, and c) something women are expected to give a shit about at the expense of their own feelings every goddamn day of their lives.

Can you begin to understand her reaction now? Women are told ALL THE TIME to sit down, shut up, stop talking so loudly, stop cursing, stop acting slutty, stop interrupting...we are expected to be sweet, compliant, and take care of everyone's fee fees. Now, can you imagine why it might sting a little to be told by a supposed ally that you need to act in a way that the patriarchy requires you to act EVERY FUCKING DAY in order to dismantle it? Do you understand when you say that feminists marginalize men in the feminist movement, you are ASKING US TO REPLICATE ELEMENTS OF THE PATRIARCHY IN THE FEMINIST MOVEMENT?

It's pretty goddamn frustrating to have an "ally" come in and tell us that if we were just a little less angry, or a little less idealistic, or a little more serious, then feminism would succeed. Aside from issues of privilege, that's not how political and intellectual movements work. They work with people screaming at the top of their lungs "THIS IS WRONG AND WE AREN'T GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE" enough that people actually start to listen. We will be loud and unserious and angry, because that's how we'll win, and if that's at the expense of some male "allies," then they weren't allies to begin with.

My hope, Freddie, is that you think about this and you learn from it. It's tough to shed your privilege--as a white, middle class cis chick, I try to address it every day. But checking your privilege isn't as difficult as being oppressed is, so it's up to you to look past your hurt and anger and listen to what the people you'd like to ally with are saying. As embarrassing as this might have been for you, I hope that it helped you to understand feminism better, and that you'll still consider it to be important.

As a male feminist ally friend said about you:"'Dude, suck it up,' is basically all I wanted to say to him. I did, when I was younger, and so am less douchey, now."

(Hmm. I don't know if I'm in moderation, or if this didn't post. Sorry if it's a repeat).

eilit said...

Amin Katie.

Anonymous said...

just discovered all this stuff, now that it's blown over. enjoyed a post of freddie's a few weeks ago, actually WORRIED when i first started reading sady's post that she might be talking about THIS freddie, a recent "discovery" of mine. which would, you know, implicate me, or something.

gotta say, freddie fucked up. needs to think about what "shut the fuck up" actually means, as it has been well stated by some of the above commenters. ACG's summary of what went on, above, is pretty perfect. i'll still come and read things here, but the hyper-defensiveness on this issue needs to be overcome.

Alexandra Erin said...

Dear Freddie:

Here, recorded for your convenience, is the moment where you lost all license to invoke "PEOPLE ARE SAYING I SAID THINGS THAT I DIDN'T SAY!" as a grievance.

"Yet here I am told, by people insisting that they and only they are empowered to say who is or isn't a feminist, that feminist women are in fact inherently emotional, and shouldn't be held to the standards of rationality."

License to air said grievance can be reinstated with the citation of no less than two persons (thus constituting "people") saying words to this effect.

Rigor, Freddie. Show us it. We expect it here in the real world.

Cato said...

I am sorry this had to happen to you Freddie. I really am. But it was pretty much inevitable as soon as you started this whole line of discussion.

Feminism begins with the assumption that every interaction between the overarching culture and women is made in bad faith. Dialogue, decorum, common courtesy, the presumption of good faith; all of these things are, as a logical outcome of feminist thought, part and parcel of the patriarchy.

It is impossible for you to have a serious dialogue with this stripe of dedicated feminist, as I trust you have now discovered, because they will always, always see any appeal to reason or common humanity as an assertion of male privilege.

You are trying to break through a shell created by too much pain, anger, fear and hatred. As you can see, all that your attempts will earn you is that hatred that only a Quisling to his sex can merit in the eyes of a feminist.

It was decent of you to try, though.

belledame222 said...

Yes; why on earth would anyone assume this:

Look, I have to tell you: your whole enterprise here, the whole long and short of it, appears to be an edifice designed to give you a platform that paws at discourse while denying the possibility of you ever getting called on anything. I mean the whole apparatus of the place. It’s like this constant recursion of LOLspeak/serious speak/LOLspeak, this Russian dolls style thing you’re so enamored with. It’s just a mechanism to introduce a self-limiting aspect on what you want to say; you want to be heard and to be taken seriously, but you want the out to be able to say that you were just goofing. Well, goof away, it’s the Internet, and it’s your dime, but understand that you are denying intellectual rigor when you do so.

This is your space, your place of power, and you can define it any particular way you choose. I am not particularly impressed with this post or the assumptions that undergird it, but mostly I am unimpressed with your defense mechanisms.


...was in anything other than "good faith?"

And yes, terrible of people to pick up the gauntlet, especially with a self-promoting link back to his own place. Attention, attention must be paid. No, wait! Not THAT kind of attention! Gee, maybe he shouldn't have been wearing that short shrift.

Cute when you're angry, though, y'all are. Now, how about lightening up and getting a sense of humor?

p.s.

[BONERS]

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