Discomfort with "Male Tears" and "Die, Cishet Scum!" Rhetoric

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Post by Guest on Wed Oct 29, 2014 8:40 am

Werel wrote:
eselle28 wrote:
nearly_takuan wrote:
Must be nice, having a space where you can be sure other people care about your feelings and you don't have to care about another group's.

I'll leave you to it, then.
So do asexual spaces cater to the feelings of sexual people all the time? Should they? If most of their spaces become forums for sexual people to argue with them about how they're wrong, is that a good, inclusive thing?

Hm, I'm interested in the distinction between "care about" and "cater to"-- keeping it specific to this space only, I certainly don't feel I have to cater to any particular group's preferences or feelings when I post here (that is, I don't feel obligated to modify or censor what I say for fear of offending or upsetting this group or that). However, I do care about the feelings of posters here and how they may be affected by my words. Is it useful to draw a line between "catering to" a group--feeling obligated to modify one's behavior such that it's to group members' taste--and "caring about" a members of a group's feelings --having empathy for, and a voluntary desire not to unnecessarily cause, emotional distress? I feel like the distinction between free choice and obligation has a lot to do with how burdensome it is to interact with a given group.

The problem with this, for me, is that as a woman, "care about men's feelings" ALWAYS means "cater to men's feelings." Women's societal role -- one of the jobs we've been given, culturally -- is "feelings-minder." We're here to care about people. When there are arguments, we smooth things over. At work, we can't push our point of view too hard, or we're abrasive and aggressive. In the family, we're the one who are expected to soothe the kids. We often have to manage our spouse's family for him. We do a disproportionate amount of the emotional work in society, and it's exhausting.

Maybe, for once, it's okay if in our own spaces and in our own time, we say, "Fuck emotional management. Fuck nice. Fuck everybody." Do you have any idea how many times in a week, a guy says something that hurts or offends me as a woman, and I let it roll off my back because I have to, because my job or my kids' ability to get along in school or with friends depends on it? The rejection of the role of nurturing caregiver is part of the reason the meme exists.

I can't count the number of times I've seen people speak out and say, "This is wrong," to be totally ignored. "This is wrong," they insist, louder. Nothing. Finally, they shout it. "This is WRONG!" They wave flags. They make people look. And they're told, "How can you expect people to take you seriously if you're not nicer about it?" We really have two choices: invisible or obnoxious. Sometimes, I'm willing to be obnoxious. And if that makes you uncomfortable... no, I'm not really sorry. Join the club.

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Post by reboot on Wed Oct 29, 2014 8:48 am

Personally, I think "male tears" is not a great way of communicating "If you are upset about hearing my issues related to your privilege, do not come to me for comfort" but have been struggling to come up with a better way to say it. I can not say that I have ever heard/ seen someone use it outside of a discussion of women's issues, and then it is usually in response to people being persistent in badgering for explanation or justification of things the speakers said or as a clear, gallows humor, frustration joke.

The thing to remember, is if you have societally granted privilege and choose to frequent the spaces of those that do not have it, you are going to hear/see things that will make you deeply uncomfortable. The thing to remember is that you are in their house and your experiences with the issues are not the focus. Getting upset because you hear things about a group that you identify with is one option. Listening and learning about how that group experiences the world is the other option. Probability is, you only bump into negative views about your group openly expressed when you actively seek them out. The group whose house you are in bumps into them every time they are outside their safe spaces.
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Post by Guest on Wed Oct 29, 2014 8:54 am

While I agree that shaming men for feeling emotion is bad, and I would like to find a better way to say it, I also strongly agree with the last three posts.

Sometimes, just being able to put down the burden of having to be the ones responsible for men's feelings is what is needed. And having men come in and say, "Oh, but we're sad about that, also the way you expressed it is hurtful, so we think you should, er, come and manage that for us" is just not acceptable. Sometimes, there will be spaces where you are not welcome. The fact that so many men/whites/sexualpeople/straights think that they should somehow have a right to have a voice in all spaces at all times, regardless of how much harm that does, is a textbook example of privilege.

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Post by celette482 on Wed Oct 29, 2014 9:11 am

Oh and.... I've been waiting to say this... FOREVER

#NotAllMen

Not all men are terrified or insulted or shamed by the Male Tears meme. In fact, my husband sends me male tears gifs and mutters things like "Oh, yeah, so sad for you that another adult human isn't acting like a blow-up doll for your benefit" when he sees man-pain statuses on facebook. And he's a pretty emotionally stoic guy who could have benefited from being allowed to express his frustration. Oh man, now that I've discovered the heady pleasure of pluralizing anecdote as data, I don't think I can stop!

The more I have thought about it, the more I'm convinced that people using that term just do not care what men think about it. Like, not at all. They know what men think about it and they just don't care. Not about this. If your next response is to say "But allies!" lemme tell you this: true allies know when it's not about them. I'm white. when I venture into a black or Hispanic or Asian space, I keep my mouth shut and listen and learn and try to get my questions answered using my own common sense. I definitely do not go in and say "You know, when you say #whitepeopleproblems, it's hurtful. I have *real* problems too!"

If you cannot see that women joking that they relish the negative and unmanaged emotions of men (unmanaged by women) so much that they'll just let the men cry rather than come over and fix it for them.... isn't about you as a person and is more about women having to make men feel better for, examples coming off the top of my head that I've seen in the DNL forums, explaining how men harassing them on the bus is awful (that is to say, women being asked to make men feel better because they [women] were harassed on buses and said they didn't like it, both at the time and when relating it to strangers over the internet) If you cannot see how that isn't about you and how making it about you is the exact opposite thing you should be doing, then you are not. an. ally. and feminism doesn't want you *until* you can get that. (See, example of my husband above, it is possible to *get it*)
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Post by reboot on Wed Oct 29, 2014 9:14 am

I am going to give an example of a group I work with to show that this is not just a phenomenon that happens to men. Their focus is Middle Eastern women specifically, women of color more broadly. Often, white women hijack the discussion when it comes to any discussion of white privilege. Often, the white women get upset because they feel their voices are not being heard by the group because they forget that they and their problems are not the focus of the group. Sure, it is a feminist space, but the spotlight is on POC and Middle Eastern women, so when white women turn the narrative on themselves (as men tend to do in discussion of broader women's issues) they get shut down because it is not their space.
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Post by celette482 on Wed Oct 29, 2014 9:24 am

Let's be clear, as far as I've seen, the implication of Male Tears is NOT "I like to make men cry" but instead "When men cry and come to me for comfort, I instead milk that sacred elixir and put it in my morning coffee, to better fuel my ultimate dream of matriarchy."

When a person (generally) is used to having someone manage their emotions for them, it sure can feel like that someone is creating emotions within that person when that someone refuses to manage them. When I was a kid, I knew this boy (but gender doesn't matter in this case, really) who was incapable of self-regulation. Why? Probably some social functioning problems but more importantly because when he was a kid he had cancer and his mom lost her shit. After that, she never said no to him. Ever. No discipline, no "just handle it yourself." If he didn't like what they were eating, EVERYONE (and he had a little brother, that kid was just as messed up but in different ways) ate what he wanted. If he didn't like what they were doing for vacation, they did. something. different. Seriously. This kid never had to deal with disappointment, EVER, never had to deal with people telling him no. And he was convinced that his "friends" at school hated him because they didn't have time for his shit. He had no idea how to handle people saying "No, I don't want to do that" and would have screaming flailing physically violent fits. As an 18 year old. He was even worse to the few girls who knew him but that's another story. He's obviously the most extreme example of this phenomenon I hope to ever see. But shades of it are visible in a lot of men out there and every time Male Tears gets said, it's like a solidarity nod, because it can be really hard to weather those tantrums and it's tempting to just give in.
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Post by Mel on Wed Oct 29, 2014 9:34 am

To clarify, I agree with the points raised above. I just wanted to determine whether the guys taking issue with this particular phrase had a solution in mind, and what that was. Hoping that it is not, in fact, "women shouldn't express frustration with men's hurt feelings unless it comes with a detailed disclaimer to ensure they don't hurt any man's feelings." Razz
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Post by kleenestar on Wed Oct 29, 2014 9:41 am

See, I also agree with the points raised above, but I find it's a lot more effective to communicate them directly. I often find myself saying things like, "It's not my job to make you feel better" and "Your feelings are not my problem" and "I'm not your therapist or your mommy." I think it's more hurtful to the guy in question, actually, but it plays less into the larger narrative of "mock men for having feelings." The feelings are fine; making them my problem isn't.
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Post by celette482 on Wed Oct 29, 2014 9:50 am

kleenestar wrote:See, I also agree with the points raised above, but I find it's a lot more effective to communicate them directly. I often find myself saying things like, "It's not my job to make you feel better" and "Your feelings are not my problem" and "I'm not your therapist or your mommy." I think it's more hurtful to the guy in question, actually, but it plays less into the larger narrative of "mock men for having feelings." The feelings are fine; making them my problem isn't.

This is my usual strategy too. When my husband and I were first dating, he developed this habit of turning "Hey you said you were going to take out the trash but you didn't" into "I think you're an idiot and a failure" and would get pouty and sad and down on himself verbally with the unconscious but truly present hope that I would make him feel better about it. I told him, using these exact words "The fact that you are upset because I told you how upset I was that you had done something upsetting (not to mention the fact that I'm clearly not upset and just stating a fact with an implicit "take out the trash at now please") is not a thing that I am going to help you with."

It's more targeted and perhaps more effective at getting a particular guy to sit down and shut up, because what are you going to say to that? "Actually, you are my mommy"?
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Post by Guest on Wed Oct 29, 2014 9:53 am

kleenestar wrote:See, I also agree with the points raised above, but I find it's a lot more effective to communicate them directly. I often find myself saying things like, "It's not my job to make you feel better" and "Your feelings are not my problem" and "I'm not your therapist or your mommy." I think it's more hurtful to the guy in question, actually, but it plays less into the larger narrative of "mock men for having feelings." The feelings are fine; making them my problem isn't.

See, I agree with this when you're communicating directly with a specific man, making a specific complaint. Mostly, though, I see Male Tears used in a space separate from the incident in question. Someone who owns a "Male Tears" coffee cup isn't responding to an incident, they're making a general life statement that they're not mommying 50% of the population any more. If someone posts the meme in a feminist community in response to a story someone's recounting, they're expressing solidarity.

My perception of where this thread began was with discomfort at the existence of the rhetoric, not discomfort at being told it to your face. Honestly, if someone came up to me specifically and said, to my face, "Die, cishet scum," I'd be really upset. But just seeing the meme crop up? Doesn't bug me. I feel the same way about male tears. If a guy says, "Look, the things you're saying really hurt me," I'm not going to say, "I drink male tears" to him. But later on, sharing the story inside a feminist circle? Yeah, maybe it comes up.


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Post by UristMcBunny on Wed Oct 29, 2014 10:21 am

Funny thing is, I've actually never used the "male tears" thing myself, simply because I find it more satisfying to go on energised and thorough rants that drive the point home. But I do - on the face of it - understand where the statement comes from.

That's not to say it never gets used problematically - I've seen people using it in hurtful ways that have nothing to do with feminism, mostly young people new to feminism who are still at the angry-righteous-stupid stage where they're still getting out a lot of old anger. Much like people who are newcomers to body positivity often go through an early "fuck skinny bitches" phase.

One thing I find that helps me with the equivalents to this phrase that target people like me, is to use them as a call to pay attention. Like the "white women's tears" meme. Now, when I first heard that meme I was surprised and didn't understand it, but when I looked into it, I found it opened up an awareness of an area of privilege I didn't even know I had - the way white women learning about race issues re-frame it as being "about them" in discourse by getting openly emotional about how sad and terrible racism is, leaving people of colour feeling burdened to make them feel better about it. I had no idea that was even a Thing, but when I thought about it I could recall times when I'd contributed to that sort of situation - not intentionally, but the effect was still to draw attention to myself when my proper place in the discussion should have been to sit down, shut up, feel the discomfort and listen to what I was being told.

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Post by BasedBuzzed on Wed Oct 29, 2014 10:52 am

What strikes me most about this is that "parse who is targeted by criticism" and "check if someone wants to be vented to" are elementary social lessons anyway, even though some groups that society caters more to need the clue-by-four more than others. After it gets cemented with "your intent isn't magic if I feel offended" and "you need having the bandwidth to listen is an excuse to avoid being confronted with your privilege", it can easily be viewed as a one-way street, and is also why privilege guilt is utterly useless: it prevents people from asserting their own boundaries in such situations.

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Post by Mel on Wed Oct 29, 2014 11:01 am

BasedBuzzed wrote:What strikes me most about this is that "parse who is targeted by criticism" and "check if someone wants to be vented to" are elementary social lessons anyway, even though some groups that society caters more to need the clue-by-four more than others. After it gets cemented with "your intent isn't magic if I feel offended" and "you need having the bandwidth to listen is an excuse to avoid being confronted with your privilege", it can easily be viewed as a one-way street, and is also why privilege guilt is utterly useless: it prevents people from asserting their own boundaries in such situations.

I'm a little confused by what you're saying here.  Most of the people above are specifically talking about this term being used between women talking to each other, when they are in a mutually agreed upon venting session, not women trying to educate men about their privilege. Are you suggesting that women are using it when venting to other women without checking if those women want to be vented to, and if so, what are you basing that on?

People have expressly said that they don't think it's an appropriate/constructive way try to have a discussion directly with a guy to criticize something he's said or explain his privilege, so I'm not sure where a guy's boundaries would come into this.
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Post by celette482 on Wed Oct 29, 2014 11:03 am

The circumstance where I see men getting vocally upset about Male tears most often is this: You walked into our house and heard things you didn't want to hear, but you're not supposed to be in here listening anyway.

Not every house is your house.
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Post by Enail on Wed Oct 29, 2014 11:30 am

@Mel, there was a bit of discussion of this on the first page. http://nerdlounge.canadian-forum.com/t186-discomfort-with-male-tears-and-die-cishet-scum-rhetoric#3061 particularly.

Pragmatically, in regards to asking people who use it to/around you not to use it or explaining the gender role enforcement problem with "male tears,"  I think you're more likely to have success if you try to speak to people after the fact. As we've discussed here, it's often something used in moments of particular frustration with having to cater to privileged group, or at a bit of a "wow, it's so exciting to not have to cater here" in-group bonding, both of which are times where people are likely to react pretty negatively to someone from the privileged group it's about turning the conversation once again to the feelings of that group. Speaking afterwards shows that it's in good faith, not just a clever tactic to derail, and gives you a less heated situation to explain your concerns in.
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Post by BasedBuzzed on Wed Oct 29, 2014 11:34 am

Ah, I see what my mistake is, I keep reading these comments in the light of webspace interactions instead of meatspace interactions. The boundary between houses is a lot less clear on sites in which these debates rage the most vigorously(Twitter and Tumblr), especially with the acts of simultaneously adding as many public tags as possible and the "no X may comment on this post" tags. Then I probably agree with the gist of the convo.

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Post by celette482 on Wed Oct 29, 2014 11:45 am

I'm not talking about physical houses either. But webspace interactions not like the ones you describe, but ones that are essentially private.

By the way, there is a difference between a public declaration and a failure to declare something private. What you're talking about, tagging lots of public tags is a public declaration. But just because someone doesn't explicitly say "GTFO men (white people whathaveyou)" doesn't mean that Men (white people whathaveyou) are welcome to come in and hijack the discussion.

Because ultimately, seeing someone say "I'm sick of managing man-pain" and saying "That causes me pain, you shouldn't do that, manage it for me" is *hijacking.*

Women and PoC and other disadvantaged groups are constantly checking out a space to decide if it is a safe place for them, if it's meant for them, before spouting opinions. It's a habit that men and white people and privilege holders could and should get into.
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Post by Enail on Wed Oct 29, 2014 11:55 am

I do think that differing ideas of what counts as public and private, and what conversations you expect to be welcome in, are something that complicate the whole issue. And they're much harder to disentangle/find agreement on than the visible component of the problem, "meme that some people find hurtful/problematic," which is a deceptively simple-seeming topic.
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Post by eselle28 on Wed Oct 29, 2014 11:58 am

Something occurred to me: I see men mentioning that they don't feel they're allowed to be sad. I think it's worth considering that the gender policing twin of that is that women aren't allowed to be angry. I would say that at this point, men are given more rein to be sad than women are to be angry - even when women are talking about being oppressed and discriminated against and harassed, they're expected to be soft and sweet and accommodating. I think this ends up being quite restrictive, both for the women who are not soft and sweet and accommodating by nature and for ones who are and who have to pick up all the burdens of making their points when those women are excluded.
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Post by Conreezy on Wed Oct 29, 2014 12:05 pm

The Wisp wrote:Sure, but I feel like it's rather crappy to decide to "ignore men" just so happens to be when men are telling them that they're reinforcing shitty patriarchal gender norms, even if it is unintentionally.

I disagree, as I think it's rather obvious that its usage pertains to people who are acting in a sexist way.  (That doesn't mean people can't use the phrase to encompass all sorts of legit male suffering or whatnot, especially when looked at on a case-by-case basis,  but the phrase itself isn't inherently silencing of male emotion.)  I read it as an accusation of sexist thinking or action on the "crying" party.  Like any accusation of such, it shouldn't come unless it's been well vetted, but there's no reason to tell women that they can't use it anymore just because it hurts an oppressors feelings.  

Point is: removal of sexism gets rid of the reasons behind the phrase, not the removal of emotion.

I would say that at this point, men are given more rein to be sad than women are to be angry

Regarding these gender-relation discussions, I would agree with you.

Outside of that, I'm not so sure. A sad man is still pitiful, culturally, but I think our general culture has heard enough stories about abuse, rape, and shootings to make an angry man something to be afraid.

Maybe it's just me, but I feel very uncomfortable really letting my anger go, and not only because of the lack of self control it implies, but because of how bestial men can be made out to be. Still, it's more accepted to be angry than sad, I would agree.


Last edited by Conreezy on Wed Oct 29, 2014 12:08 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by celette482 on Wed Oct 29, 2014 12:07 pm

Enail wrote:I do think that differing ideas of what counts as public and private, and what conversations you expect to be welcome in, are something that complicate the whole issue. And they're much harder to disentangle/find agreement on than the visible component of the problem, "meme that some people find hurtful/problematic," which is a deceptively simple-seeming topic.

Yes to this. Who owns this space? Can anyone own a space? Is it hypocritical for minority groups or women to carve out spaces of their own when their primary goal is to reduce the influence/ exclusivity of the spaces belonging to people of privilege?

For what it's worth, I think the answer to that last one is no, not really. The spaces of privilege that minorities and women are trying to get into are spaces that hold things like "careers, power, influence, wealth, safety, education, entertainment" - all things that are desirable by all people. The spaces of nonprivilege they want to keep to themselves are full of solidarity, topics that are of no interest to "default humans," and otherwise... well valuable to them but useless to everyone else, like a child's security blanket. The only reasons privileged persons want into these spaces that I can think of are a. Honest curiosity about others (in which case, they can study better if they keep out of it and just observe) or b. because all other spaces belong to them and they can't fathom the idea that there is a space not for them, unconsciously at least (in which case, they are really not wanted).

And I think there is a big difference between a place like this forum, which is basically a 101 space for all comers, and these carved out spots. How you differentiate on the face, or how you form a carved out spot is a different discussion. But in a 101 space, memes like Men's Tears are reductive.
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Post by BasedBuzzed on Wed Oct 29, 2014 12:10 pm

What further complicates things are:
a)sentiments that parse as private venting that are problematic(not just person X being beaten up by minority Y for the third time going on a racist rant, but also non-dominant groups perpetuating ignorant stereotypes à la *"dude complained about pushy dudette, doesn't know he doesn't have to fear drunken rape" going into tangent about own problems*)
b)people asserting these opinions in an explicitly public space to provoke Lewis' Law
c)retroactive claims of hijack if the discussion moves in the wrong direction
d)how much of the argument can be flipped to guard against callouts("how dare you comment my art isn't diverse, this wasn't intended for you anyway")

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Post by Conreezy on Wed Oct 29, 2014 12:12 pm

But in a 101 space, memes like Men's Tears are reductive

I think they can be made that way because they may be more nuanced than someone might think.

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Post by Guest on Wed Oct 29, 2014 12:18 pm

celette482 wrote:The spaces of privilege that minorities and women are trying to get into are spaces that hold things like "careers, power, influence, wealth, safety, education, entertainment" - all things that are desirable by all people. The spaces of nonprivilege they want to keep to themselves are full of solidarity, topics that are of no interest to "default humans," and otherwise... well valuable to them but useless to everyone else, like a child's security blanket. The only reasons privileged persons want into these spaces that I can think of are a. Honest curiosity about others (in which case, they can study better if they keep out of it and just observe) or b. because all other spaces belong to them and they can't fathom the idea that there is a space not for them, unconsciously at least (in which case, they are really not wanted).

SO MUCH TRUTH.

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Post by fakely mctest on Wed Oct 29, 2014 12:19 pm

kleenestar wrote:See, I also agree with the points raised above, but I find it's a lot more effective to communicate them directly. I often find myself saying things like, "It's not my job to make you feel better" and "Your feelings are not my problem" and "I'm not your therapist or your mommy." I think it's more hurtful to the guy in question, actually, but it plays less into the larger narrative of "mock men for having feelings." The feelings are fine; making them my problem isn't.

I agree with you in terms of general vs. specific approaches and was definitely thinking of those niche spaces in terms of "male tears" specifically. One thing I would push back against is the "not your mommy" trope. It's a personal peeve of mine because I see it as a way of saying, "Well, I'm not going to manage your emotions for you, that's your mom's job," which is the same sort of woman-as-emotional-arbiter stuff.

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