Friday, March 29, 2013

"If I Admit That 'Hating Men' Is A Thing, Will You Stop Turning It Into A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?"



I have some inclination to say something about this, but I'll mostly just leave it here for now.


Just one thing...

There's a narrower and a broader point West might be making. She writes specifically of ment's rights advocates. I don't encounter those much, though when I do, I frequently think that what they say is wrong or overblown. The broader point that West might be making has to do with criticism of contemporary feminism by guys like myself. I used to consider myself a feminist. Now I don't. I have criticisms. As long as she isn't trying to make a broader point, and doesn't mean to be directing any of this fire at non-MRA (specifically male?) critics of feminism, then I don't have a ton of objections to what she says.

However, there is one rather serious problem that West (and many other feminists) should at least consider.

She argues that:

(1) Many men's right's advocates exaggerate the amount and effects of misandry.

In my opinion, that is true.

However, I also think that:

(2) Many feminists exaggerate the amount and effects of misogyny.

Now, misogyny or something like it is a real problem and it generates a lot more harm than misandry--I think everybody ought to agree about that. I don't see how even men's rights advocates could disagree. And this difference might have some implications for the comparative amounts of exaggeration that the two groups engage in. However, it seems unlikely that a tendency to exaggerate is limited to only one of these groups.

Exaggeration by feminists is not uncommon in my experience--and I say this as someone who thinks that women tend to face significantly more problems than do men. But consider how West's piece begins:
Okay, so maybe you are a man. Maybe you haven't had the easiest ride in life—maybe you grew up in poverty; you've experienced death, neglect, and despair; you hate your job, your car, your body. Maybe somebody (or multiple somebodies) pulverized your heart, or maybe you've never even been loved enough to know what a broken heart feels like. Maybe shit started out unfair and became irreparable and you never deserved any of this. Maybe everything looks fine on paper, but you're just unhappy and you don't know why. These are human problems and other human beings feel for you very deeply. It is hard to be a human. I am so sorry.
Though it is a seductive scapegoat (I understand why it attracts you), none of these terrible, painful problems in your life were caused by the spectre of "misandry."
Something similar could be said about feminists and misogyny. Though there's certainly more of that than there is misandry, the fact of the matter is that almost everybody accepts false explanations for their problems from time to time. And we have a natural tendency to seek explanations that are exculpatory when we're thinking about our own situations and actions. And playing the victim card is an incredibly powerful (rhetorical) strategy--more powerful currently than ever before, it seems. It seems like the go-to move of the early 21st century.

So look: if West thinks that feminists never do what she says men's rights advocates do constantly--in fact, exclusively--then she simply does not understand human beings. And she must not have met a lot of feminists.

Feminism is not an unusually virtuous political movement. It is subject to the same foibles as any other. And that means that its advocates go too far a lot of the time. Combine that with the fact that criticism of the movement is simply not tolerated in many quarters and, you an infallible blueprint for going too far...



If West is narrowly criticizing men's rights advocates and not all critics of contemporary feminism: ok. If she's implicitly criticizing all critics of contemporary feminism, then: not ok.

And: well...maybe I could put it this way: while you're going on, enthusiastically, about the beam in your brother's eye, you might give at least a little thought to the possibility that, just maybe, there might be at least a wee mote in your own.


Blogger Pete Mack said...

Well, I can see why women think misogyny is more pervasive than it is. Just play this game for 15 minutes, and your blood pressure will be up too.

8:47 PM  
Blogger Dark Avenger said...

Here's what Mencken, not exactly considered a feminist today, had to say about the subject.

Women always excel men in that sort of wisdom which comes from experience. To be a woman is in itself a terrible experience.

12:31 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Yeah, let me make it perfectly clear, PM and DA:

I think women get a raw deal. I think they've got plenty of reason to be pissed off about it. And I think that errors of exaggeration tend to be less consequential the greater the actual wrong.

But: feminists do often exaggerate the problems in many ways.

1:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bit of a flawed premise, in that it assumes MRAs are men, and feminists are women. Neither are true. The most popular MRA I've seen on Youtube, GirlWritesWhat, is a woman. Specifically, a bisexual Canadian mother of two.

West isn't just saying MRAs "exaggerate", she's saying their problems don't deserve addressing on their own and aren't really serious. And moreover, she's claiming greater knowledge of men's problems than men themselves. If a man did that to women, it would be "mansplaining". This is especially ludicrous in light of the fact she says that talking about men's issues literally makes her hate the men who bring them up.

Purporting to be objective when your article starts off effectively admitting bias in the title is absolutely absurd. What's even more absurd is that so many readers seem to see it as reasonable.

Thing is, when MRAs do try to talk about their issues on their own, feminists see fit to disrupt those too. There have been three talks about men's issues in the past six months at the University of Toronto. Every single one has been heavily protested by local feminists, including the most recent one, which was specifically an attempt to discuss misogyny and misandry. NSFW Audio;

There was also a twitter campaign, #INeedMasculismBecause, to bring attention to male issues. Guess who tried to shout MRAs down instead of actually listening to them?

Even Jezebel itself has an article portraying female on male abuse as rah-rah empowerment. And saying it's okay to objectify men. And here's West herself looking at a man being objectified and promptly trying to make it about women;

But the idea of having your physical appearance prioritized over your talents no matter what you do, and being harassed and ogled everywhere you go, is absolutely a feminine domain.

The biggest problem with the idea that feminism fights for men's rights is that most feminists assume anyone talking about men's rights isn't a feminist. If feminists in general spent a fraction of the time they do mocking MRAs actually trying to help men, they would drown MRAs out completely.

/not an MRA

11:18 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Thanks, A.

FWIW, I agree with basically everything you write...including that I am not an MRA. (I'm also pretty skeptical of the MRM, but am willing to be open-minded about it.)

I just discovered GirlWritesWhat like yesterday. The video I watched was fantastic. She was strikingly clear, level-headed and insightful. But I've only seen the one thing.

I've seen the videos of the feminists (male and female) disrupting the MRM stuff in Canada. Crazy lefties be crazy yo.

12:17 PM  

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